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Title: History of the Reformation in Europe in the time of Calvin. Vol. 2 (of 8)

Author: Merle d'Aubigné

Release Date: August 23, 2019 [EBook #60152]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Brian Wilson, David Edwards, Colin Bell, Chris
Pinfield and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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Transcriber's Note:

Obvious printer errors have been corrected silently.

Hyphenation has been rationalised. Inconsistent spelling (including accents) has been retained.

Running headers, at the top of each right-hand page, have been moved in front of the paragraphs to which they refer and surrounded by =equal signs=.





'Les choses de petite durée ont coutume de devenir fanées, quand elles out passé leur temps.

'Au règne de Christ, il n'y a que le nouvel homme qui soit florissant, qui ait de la vigueur, et dont il faille faire cas.'








Calvin's Friend—The Students at Orleans—Pierre de l'Etoile—Opinions concerning Heretics—Calvin received in the Picard Nation—Calvin nominated Proctor—Procession for the Maille de Florence—Distinguished by the Professors—His Friends at Orleans—Daniel and his Family—Melchior Wolmar—Calvin studies Greek with him—Benefit to the Church of God

Page 1


Wolmar teaches him about Germany—Orleans in 1022 and 1528—Calvin's Anguish and Humility—What made the Reformers triumph—Phases of Calvin's Conversion—He does not invent a new Doctrine—I sacrifice my Heart to Thee—His Zeal in Study—He supplies Pierre de l'Etoile's place—Calvin sought as a Teacher—He seeks a Hiding-place for Study—Explains the Gospel in Private Families—His first Ministry.

Page 14


Calvin at his Father's Bed-side—His first Letter—Beza arrives at Orleans—Calvin goes to Bourges—Brilliant Lessons of Alciati—Wolmar and Calvin at Bourges—Wolmar calls him to the Evangelical Ministry—The Priest and the Minister—Calvin's Hesitation—He evangelises—Preaches at Lignières—Recalled by his Father's Death—Preachings at Bourges—Tumult

Page 27


Margaret's Regret—Complaints of Erasmus—Plot of the Sorbonne against Berquin—His Indictment prepared—The Queen intercedes for him—Berquin at the Conciergerie—Discovery of the Letter—He is imprisoned in a strong Tower—Sentence—Recourse to God—Efforts of Budæus to save him—His Earnest Appeals to Berquin—Fall and Uprising of Berquin—Margaret writes to the King—Haste of the Judges—Procession to the Stake—Berquin joyous in the presence of Death—His Last Moments—Effect on the Spectators—Murmurs, Tricks, and Indignation—Effect of his Death in France—The Martyrs' Hymn—The Reformer rises again from his Ashes

Page 41


Calvin turns towards a Christian Career—His old Patrons—Calvin's Sermon and Hearers—Determines to go to Paris—Focus of Light—Coiffart's Invitation—Professor Cop goes to see him—Visit to a Nunnery—An Excursion on horseback—Devotes himself to Theology—Speaks in the Secret Assemblies—Movement in the Quartier Latin—Writings put into circulation—Calvin endeavours to bring back Briçonnet—Fills the Vessels with costly Wine—Efforts to convert a young Rake—Beda attacks the King's Professors—Calvin's Scriptural Principles—Small Beginnings of a great Work

Page 63


Margaret promotes Unity—Progress of the Reformation—Death of the Queen's Child—Orders a Te Deum to be sung—Marriage of Francis I. and Eleanor—Crowd of learned Men—Margaret in the Desert—The Fountain Pure and Free—Fatal Illness of Louisa of Savoy—Margaret's Care and Zeal—Magnificent but chimerical Project

Page 82


Charles V. accuses the Protestants—The German Protestants to Francis I.—The King sends an Envoy to them—The Envoy's Imprudence and Diplomacy—Queen Margaret's Prayer-book—Lecoq's Sermon before the King—Sursum Corda—Lecoq's Interview with the King—Lecoq's Fall—Fanaticism at Toulouse—Jean de Caturce finds Christ—Twelfth-night Supper—Caturce arrested—His Degradation—He disputes with a Monk—Two Modes of Reformation

Page 93


Daniel tries to bind Calvin to the Church—Calvin resists the Temptation—His Commentary on Seneca's Clemency—His Motives—His Difficulties and Troubles—Zeal in making his Book known—Calvin's Search for Bibles in Paris—An unfortunate Frondeur—Calvin receives him kindly—Various Attacks-The Shop of La Forge—Du Tillet and his Uncertainty—Testimony rendered to Calvin—Relations between Queen Margaret and Calvin—He refuses to enter the Queen's Service—The Arms of the Lord

Page 110

(March to October 1532.)

William du Bellay and his Projects—Luther opposed to War—Alliance of Smalkalde-Assemblies at Frankfort and Schweinfurt—Luther's Opposition to Diplomacy—No Shedding of Blood—Du Bellay's Speech—Du Bellay and the Landgrave—The Wurtemberg Question—Peace of Nuremberg—Great Epochs of Revival—Francis I. unites with Henry VIII.—Confidential Intercourse at Bologna—Plan to emancipate his Kingdom from the Pope—Message sent by Francis to the Pope—Christendom will separate from Rome

Page 126

(Autumn 1532.)

Alarm occasioned by this Conference—Christopher of Wurtemberg—His Adversity—The Emperor and his Court cross the Alps—Christopher's Flight—He is sought for in vain—Claims the Restoration of Wurtemberg

Page 142

(Lent 1533.)

Roussel invited to preach in the Churches—His Fears—Refusal of the Sorbonne—Preachings at the Louvre—Crowded Congregations—Effects of these Preachings—Margaret again desires to open the Churches—Courault and Berthaud preach in them—Essence of Evangelical Preaching—Its Effects—Agitation of the Sorbonne—They will not listen—Picard, the Firebrand—Sedition of Beda and the Monks—The People agitated—God holds the Tempests in his Hand

Page 150


The Chiefs of the two Parties imprisoned—Beda traverses Paris on his Mule—Indignation of the King—He insults the Deputies of the Sorbonne—Duprat imprisons Picard—Priests and Doctors summoned—Francis resolves to prosecute the Papists—Condemnation of the three Chiefs—Is the Cause of Rome lost?—Grief and Joy—Illusions of the Friends of the Reform—A Student from Strasburg—The four Doctors taken away by the Police—Belief that the Reform has come—The Students' Satire—Their Jokes upon Cornu—Appeal of the Sorbonne—Fresh Placards—Progress of the Reform—If God be for us, who can be against us?—Agitation—Siderander at the Gate of the Sorbonne—Desires to speak to Budæus—Fresh Attacks prepared

Page 165

(Winter 1532-1533.)

The Parties face to face—The Emperor demands a Council—Reasons of the Pope against it—Moral Inertia of the Papacy—The Pope's Stratagems—Italian League—Tournon and Gramont arrive—They try to win over the Pope—A great but sad Affair—Catherine de Medici—Offer and Demand of Francis I.—The Pope's Joy—Thoughts of Henry VIII. on the proposed Marriage—Advantages to be derived from it

Page 188

(Winter 1532-1533.)

Doubts insinuated by Charles V.—Let the Full Powers be demanded—The King's Hesitation—The Full Powers arrive—The Emperor's new Manœuvres—His Vexation—Charles V. demands a General Council—Francis I. proposes a Lay Council—Importance of that Document—True Evangelical Councils—Charles condemns and Francis justifies—Secularisation of the Popedom—The Pope signs the Italian League—Cardinals' Hats demanded—Vexation of Charles V.— Projected Interview between the King and the Pope—The Marriage will take place

Page 202

(Summer 1533.)

Uneasiness and Terror of the Ultramontanes—Plot against the Queen of Navarre—The Mirror of the Sinful Soul—Beda discovers Heresy in it—Denounces it to the Sorbonne—Assurance of Salvation—The Queen attacked from the Pulpits—Errors of Monasticism—The Tales of the Queen of Navarre—Search after and Seizure of the Mirror—Rage of the Monks against the Queen—Margaret's Gentleness—Comedy acted at the College of Navarre—The Fury Megæra—Transformation of the Queen— Montmorency tries to ruin her—Christians made a Show

Page 219

(Autumn 1533.)

Montmorency—The Prior of Issoudun—The Police at the College—Arrest of the Principal and the Actors—Judgment of the Sorbonne denounced to the Rector—Speech of Rector Cop—The Sorbonne disavows the Act—Le Clerq's Speech—The University apologises—Reform Movement in France—Men of Mark—New Attacks

Page 236

(October 1533.)

The Marriage announced to the Cardinals—Stratagems of the Imperialists to prevent it—The Swiss—The Moors—The Pope determines to go—Catherine in the Ships of France—The Pope sails for France—Various Feelings—The Pope's Arrival at Marseilles—Nocturnal Visit of the King to the Pope—Embarrassment of the First President—Conferences between the King and the Pope—The Bull against the Heretics—The Wedding—Catherine's Joy—What Catherine brings—The Pope's Health declines—The Modern Janus

Page 247

(November 1533.)

Calvin and Cop share the Work—Inaugural Sitting of the University in 1533—Calvin's Address—The Will of God is manifested—Effect of the Address—Indignation of the Sorbonne—One only Universal Church—The University divided—Interest felt by the Queen—Calvin summoned by the Queen—No one shall stop the Renewal of the Church—The Rector going in State to the Parliament—Stopped by a Messenger—Cop's Flight—Order to arrest Calvin—He is entreated to flee—Calvin's Flight—Disguise— Probability of the Story—Goes into Hiding—Many Evangelicals leave Paris—Margaret's Farewell

Page 264

(Winter 1533-1534.)

Christopher applies to Francis—Will the King unite with the Protestants?—Du Bellay urges him—Du Bellay passes through Switzerland—His Speech to Austria—Christopher's Friends—Du Bellay pleads for him—His Threats—The French Envoy triumphs—The Landgrave's Projects—Luther opposes them—Conversation between Luther and Melanchthon—Their Efforts with the Landgrave—Conference between the Landgrave and the King—Philip and Francis come to an Understanding— Francis asks for Melanchthon—The Treaty signed—Contradictions in Francis I

Page 285

(Winter 1533-1534.)

The Churches of Paris closed against the Gospel—Private Assemblies—Dispersed by Morin—New Attack against the Faculty of Letters—Lutherans threatened with the Stake—Three hundred Evangelicals sent to Prison—Disputation between Beda and Roussel—Beda's Book exasperates the King—Margaret intercedes for the Evangelicals—They are set at liberty—Alexander at Geneva and in Bresse—He preaches at Lyons—His Activity and Prudence—He is believed to possess Satanic Powers—Margaret at Paris—The Populace hinder Roussel from preaching—Alexander preaches at Lyons at Easter—Seized and condemned to Death—Journey from Lyons to Paris—Appears before the Parliament—Put to the Torture—Sacerdotal Degradation—Martyrdom—Testimony rendered to Alexander

Page 303

(Spring 1534.)

Interview between Du Bellay and Bucer—The great Fusion is preparing—Francis I. aids it—His Hopes—Fears and Predictions in Germany—Austria invokes the Help of the Pope—Sanchez's Interview with Clement VII.—Consequences of the Temporal Power—The Landgrave advances with his Army—Melanchthon's Trouble—The Landgrave's Victory—Terror at Rome—Joy at the Louvre—Wurtemberg restored to its Princes—Religious Liberty established by the Treaty—Accessions to the Reform

Page 326

(Summer 1534.)

A Student of Nismes arrives at Wittemberg—Melanchthon's Letter to Margaret—Conversation between Margaret and Baduel—Francis I. sends Chelius into Germany—Melanchthon's Anguish—Chelius received with Joy—Melanchthon's Zeal—Diverse Opinions on the Union—Bucer's Approval and Sincerity—Memoirs of the three Doctors—Sitting at the Louvre—Bucer and Melanchthon denounce the Blemishes of Popery—Moderation—The Church must have a Government—One single Pontiff—Justification and the Mass—The Sacraments—Protest against Abuses—Melanchthon's Prayer

Page 342

(Summer 1534.)

Death of the Provostess of Orleans—The Provost and the Friars—Vengeance invented by the Cordeliers—First Appearance of the Ghost—Second Appearance—The Provostess tormented for her Lutheranism—The Official's Investigation—The Students in the Chapel—The Provost appeals to the King—Arrest of the Monks—They are taken to Paris—The Novice confesses the Trick—Condemnation—End of the Matter

Page 361

(Autumn 1534.)

Francis acknowledges his Mistakes in Religion—Promises Help to the German Protestants—French Edition of the Articles communicated to Rome and the Sorbonne—Alarm of the Sorbonne—The French Spirit—Discussion between the King's Ministers and the Sorbonne—The Bishops and the Roman Pontiff—Indifferent Matters—Prayers to the Saints and Saints' Days—The Mass-mongers—Restoration of the Lord's Supper—Communion with Christ by Faith—Transubstantiation and the Monasteries—An Assembly of Laymen and Divines—Peril of Catholicism—England and France—Fresh Efforts of the Sorbonne—Is Protestantism to be feared by Kings?—Uneasiness of Calvin's Friends—Dangers of these Conciliations—An Event about to change the State of Things

Page 375



The Crisis—The Means of Salvation—The Nations behindhand—New Position of Geneva—The Castles and the neighbouring Seigneurs—Pontverre against the Swiss Alliance—The Gentlemen on the Highway—Violence and Contempt— Sarcasms and Threats—The Genevans under arms—Moderation of the Genevans towards the Disloyal—Favre's Mission to Berne—Cartelier's Condemnation—Pardoned by the Bishop—The Bishop's Hesitation and Fear

Page 397

(January to June 1527.)

Laymen and Ecclesiastics—Councillor Ab Hofen, the Friend of Zwingle, at Geneva—His Christian Conversations—The Priests—The Politicians—Zwingle's Encouragement—He cheers up Ab Hofen—Opposition and Dejection—Ab Hofen's Departure, Death, and Influence—The Sack of Rome—Effects of this Catastrophe—The Genevans compare the Pope and their Bishop—Union of Faith and Morality

Page 412

(Summer 1527.)

The Bishop desires to ally with the Swiss—The Swiss refuse—Plot of the Duke against the Bishop—The Duke's Scheme—Preparations and Warning—The Bishop escapes—Failure of the Plot—Terror of the Bishop—The Huguenots wish to get rid of the Canons—The Bishop puts the Canons in prison—The Bishop desires to become a Citizen—The Syndics call for Lay Tribunals—The Bishop grants them—Joy of the Citizens—Prerogatives of the Bishop questioned—The Duke's Irritation—A Ducal Envoy releases the Canons—They quit Geneva—Various Opinions about their Departure

Page 425

(July and August 1527.)

Bishopers and Commoners—Complaints against the Priests—A Young Woman kidnapped by the Bishop—The People compel him to restore her—Right of Resistance—Quarrels of the two Parties—The Duke's Threats—The Bishop's Fears—He determines to quit Geneva—His Night Escape—He arrives at St. Claude—Hugues returns in safety—The Hireling abandons his Flock

Page 443

(August 1527 to February 1528.)

The Duke tries to gain the Bishop—The State of Geneva constituted—The Ducal Arms fall at Geneva—Geneva excommunicated—Geneva interdicts the Papal Bulls—Funeral Procession of Popery—Complaints of the Priests—Attempt to deprive Bonivard of St. Victor's—Bonivard on Excommunication—The Duke claims Authority in Matters of Faith—Resolute Answer of the Genevans—Canons sharply reprimanded by the Duke—Intentions of Charles

Page 456

(March 1528.)

Complaints of Bonivard about Geneva—Certain Huguenots go to St. Victor's—Bonivard's Address to them—Faults to be found in it—Huguenots eat Meat in Lent—The Meeting at Bursinel—Pontverre and the Spoon—The Fraternity of the Spoon—Alarm in Geneva—Rights of Princes and Subjects—Bonivard defends Cartigny—The Savoyards take the Castle—Bonivard fails to retake it—Progress of the Gospel in Geneva—Duke and Bishop reconciled—The City looks upon the Bishop as an Enemy

Page 469

(Spring and Summer 1528.)

The Bishop desires to withdraw the Criminal Administration from the Syndics—Noble Answer of the Genevans—The Bishop's Irritation—His furious Reception of a Genevan Envoy—Calm of the Genevans—The Duke convokes a Synod—Speech of Bishop Gazzini—Coldness of the Swiss—Ducal Intrigues in the Convents—The Order of the Keys—The Syndics at the Dominican Convent

Page 484

(October 1528 to January 1529.)

Pontverre plunders Bonivard—Convokes the Fraternity at Nyon—Insolence of Pontverre when passing through Geneva—Conference at the Castle of Nyon—Resolutions adopted there—Pontverre desires to take Geneva by Treachery—Again attempts to pass through Geneva—His Insolence, Jests of the Genevans—Struggle on the Rhone Bridge—Pontverre flees—Last Struggle and Death—Act of Divine Justice—Honours paid him—Violence of the Nobles increases—Courageous Enterprise of Lullin and Vandel—A Genevan crucified—The Night of Holy Thursday—The Day of the Ladders

Page 495

(April 1529 to January 1530.)

Disorders and Superstitions in Geneva—Speech on the Saints' Bodies at St. Gervais—The Souls from Purgatory in the Cemetery—Protest at St. Gervais—Negative Reform—Representations of the Bishop—Genevans trust in God—The Cantons cool towards Geneva—The Swiss propose to revoke the Alliance—Energetic Refusal of the Genevans—They incline towards the Reform—Gazzini asks an Audience of the Pope—His Speech about Geneva and Savoy—The Pope's Answer—Letter of Charles V. to the Genevans—Emperor and Pope unite against Geneva

Page 513

(March to May 1530.)

The Procurator-Fiscal's Complaints to the Council—Penalty denounced against the Lutherans, and against Impure Priests—Building the Wall of St. Gervais—Discourse of the Evangelical Swiss—Vandel wishes for a Preacher at St. Victor's—Bonivard claims his Revenues—His difficult Position—The Duke covets St. Victor's—Bonivard visits his sick Mother—Bonivard's Enemies at Geneva—He goes to Friburg—Determines to give up his Priory—Bellegarde welcomes Bonivard—Bonivard and his Guide in the Jorat—He is treacherously arrested—Bonivard at Chillon—His Future

Page 529

(August, September, October.)

Arrest of the Fiscal Mandolla—The Bishop takes his part—Hastens his Plans against Geneva—Bishop's Appeal to the Knights—He gives them their Instructions for the War—Crusade to maintain the Holy Faith—Prisoners in the Castles—Projects at Augsburg and Gex—De la Sarraz at the head of the Knights—Troops march against Geneva—Plans of the Enemy—A Friburg Herald maltreated—The Savoyard Army occupies the Suburbs—Preparations for the Assault—The Emperor receives Intelligence of the War—The Army retires—What is the Cause?—The Mercy of God—15,000 Swiss arrive—Soldierly Controversy—Burning of the Convent of Belle Rive—Good Catholics quartered at St. Claire—Mass at St. Claire; Preachings at St. Pierre—Castles taken and burnt—Devotedness of the Nuns of St. Claire—Truce of St. Julian

Page 547

(November 1530 to October 1531.)

Emperor's Letter to the Genevans—Their Answer—Fresh Armaments of the Duke—Decision of the Diet of Payerne—Pardon and Pilgrimage to St. Claire—Pilgrims sent back—Fresh Pardon; Religious Liberty—Repasts of the Pilgrims and Sarcasms of the Genevans—Angels protect St. Claire—The Pardon followed by an Awakening—De Christo meditari—Farel watches Geneva—Comprehends its Wants—Desires to send Toussaint to Geneva—He shrinks from the Struggle—Zwingle's Prayer; Fears of the Genevans—Examination of the Suspected—Friburg and Berne—Allies of the two Parties at Cappel

Page 573

(October 1531 to January 1532.)

Geneva attacked because elected of God—Defeat of Cappel—Triumph of the Romanists—Berne turns her back on Geneva—The Duke and his Army approach—Reply of Geneva to Berne—Seven Black Knights without Heads—God prepares Geneva by Trials—Effects produced within by Evils from without—The Swiss Patricians desire to rescind the Treaty—Geneva appeals to the People of Berne—The Great Councils are for Geneva—Retirement and Death of Hugues

Page 591

(Spring 1532.)

The Emperor desires to give Geneva to the Duke's Son—Zeal of the Duke, Firmness of the Genevans—The two Spheres of Christianity—Insufficiency of Negative Protestantism—Olivétan at Chautemps' House—His Piety, Zeal, and Courage—Conversations and Sermons—Olivétan's Discourse—The Judge—Carnal Men—Intellectual Men—Redemption by Blood—The Spirit of Jesus Christ—The Pioneer—Olivétan's Work

Page 603

(June and July 1532.)

Roman Jubilees—Fermentation at Geneva—A Power which devours everything that is given to it—Gospel Pardon of all Sins—Tumult around the Placards—Fight in the City—Catholic Intervention of Friburg—The Council strives to give Satisfaction—Reaction of the Evangelicals—Order to preach without Fables—The Nuncio and the Archbishop at Chambéry—Joy of the Evangelicals out of the City—The little Flock of Payerne—Letter of the Lovers of the Holy Gospel—The Standard-bearers of the Gospel of Christ—The Standard raised in Geneva—Geneva attacked by both Parties—Which will prevail?—The Struggle grows fiercer every day—The Strong Things of this World destroyed by the Weak

Page 615




CALVIN, whom his father's wishes and his own convictions urged to abandon the priestly career, for which he was preparing, had left Paris in the autumn of 1527, in order to go to Orleans and study jurisprudence under Pierre de l'Etoile, who was teaching there with great credit. 'Reuchlin, Aleander, and even Erasmus, have professed in this city,' said his pupils; 'but the Star (Etoile) eclipses all these suns.' He was regarded as the prince of French jurists.[1]

When Calvin arrived in that ancient city to which the Emperor Aurelian had given his name, he kept {2} himself apart, being naturally timid, and repelled by the noisy vivacity of the students. Yet his loving disposition sighed after a friend; and such he found in a young scholar, Nicholas Duchemin, who was preparing himself for a professorship in the faculty of letters.[2] Calvin fixed on him an observing eye, and found him modest, temperate, not at all susceptible, adopting no opinion without examination,[3] of equitable judgment, extreme prudence, and great mildness, but also a little slow in his movements. Duchemin's character formed a striking contrast with the vivacity, ardour, severity, activity, and, we will add, the susceptibility of Calvin. Yet he felt himself attracted towards the gentle nature of the young professor, and the very difference of their temperaments shed an inexpressible charm over all their intercourse. As Duchemin had but moderate means, he received students in his house, as many of the citizens did. Calvin begged to be admitted also, and thus became one of the members of his household. He soon loved Duchemin with all the energy of a heart of twenty, and rejoiced at finding in him a Mommor, an Olivétan, and even more. He wanted to share everything with Nicholas, to converse with him perpetually; and they had hardly parted, when he began to long to be with him again. 'Dear Duchemin!' he said to him, 'my {3} friend, you are dearer to me than life.'[4] Ardent as was this friendship, it was not blind. Calvin, true to his character, discovered the weak point of his friend, who was deficient, he thought, in energy; and he reproved him for it. 'Take care,' he said, 'lest your great modesty should degenerate into indolence.'[5]


The scholar of Noyon, consoled by this noble friendship, began to examine more closely the university population around him. He was surprised to see crowds of students filling the streets, caring nothing for learning, so far as he could tell. At one time he would meet a young lord, in tight hose, with a richly embroidered doublet, small Spanish cloak, velvet cap, and showy dagger. This young gentleman, followed by his servant, would take the wall, toss his head haughtily, cast impertinent looks on each side of him, and want every one to give way to him. Farther on came a noisy band composed of the sons of wealthy tradesmen, who appeared to have no more taste for study than the sons of the nobility, and who went singing and 'larking' to one of the numerous tennis-courts, of which there were not less than forty in the city. Ten nations, afterwards reduced to four, composed the university. The German nation combined with 'the living and charming beauty of the body' that of a mind polished by continual study. Its library was called 'the abode of the Muses.'[6]

Calvin made a singular figure in the midst of the world around him. His small person and sallow face {4} formed a strong contrast with the ruddy features and imposing stature of Luther's fellow-countrymen. One thing, however, delighted him: 'The university,' he said, 'is quite a republican oasis in the midst of enslaved France.' The democratic spirit was felt even by the young aristocrats who were at the head of each nation, and the only undisputed authority in Orleans was that of Pierre de l'Etoile.


This 'morning-star'[7] (as the registers of the Picard nation call him) had risen above the fogs and was shining like the sun in the schools. The great doctor combined an eminently judicial mind with an affectionate heart; he was inflexible as a judge, and tender as a mother. His manner of teaching possessed an inexpressible charm. As member of the council of 1528, he had advocated the repression of heresy; but he had no sooner met Calvin at Orleans than, attracted by the beauty of his genius and the charms of his character, he loved him tenderly. Although opposed to the young man's religious opinions, he was proud of having him as his pupil, and was his friend to the last: thus giving a touching example in the sixteenth century of that noble christian equity which loves men while disapproving of their opinions.[8]

Calvin, sitting on one of the benches in the school, listened attentively to the great doctor, and imbibed certain principles whose justice no one at that time in all christendom thought of disputing. 'The prosperity of nations,' said Pierre de l'Etoile, 'depends upon obedience to the laws. If they punish outrages against {5} the rights of man, much more ought they to punish outrages against the rights of God. What! shall the law protect a man in his body and goods, and not in his soul and his most precious and eternal inheritance?... A thief shall not be able to rob us of our purses, but a heretic may deprive us of heaven!' Jurists and students, nobles and people, were all convinced that the law ought equally to guarantee temporal and spiritual goods. 'Those insensate and furious men,' said the code which Pierre de l'Etoile was expounding to his pupils, 'who proclaim heretical and infamous opinions, and reject the apostolic and evangelical doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in one only Godhead and one holy Trinity, ought first to be delivered up to divine vengeance, and afterwards visited with corporal punishment.[9] Is not that a public offence?' added the code; 'and although committed against the religion of God, is it not to the prejudice of all mankind?'[10]

Pierre de l'Etoile's youthful hearers received from these words those deep impressions which, being made while the character is forming, are calculated to last through life. The mind of man required time to throw off these legal prejudices, which had been the universal law of the understanding for more than a thousand years.[11] Could it be expected that a young {6} disciple, rising up against the most venerable teachers, should draw a distinction between the temporal and the spiritual sphere, between the old and the new economy, and insist that, inasmuch as grace had been proclaimed by virtue of the great sacrifice offered to eternal justice, it was repugnant to the Gospel of Christ for man to avenge the law of God by severe punishments? No: during the sixteenth, and even the seventeenth century, almost all enlightened minds remained, in this respect, sunk in lamentable error.

Calvin, bashful and timid at first, gradually came round; his society was courted, and he conversed readily with all. He was received into the Picard nation. 'I swear,' he said, 'to guard the honour of the university and of my nation.'[12] Yet he did not suffer himself to be bound by the university spirit: he had a larger mind than his fellow-students, and we find him in relation with men of all nations, towards whom he was drawn by a community of affection and study. Etoile gave his lessons in the monastery of Bonne Nouvelle. Calvin listened silently to the master's words, but between the lessons he talked with his companions, went in and out, or paced up and down the hall like the rest. One day, going up to one of the pillars, he took out his knife and carved a C, then an A, and at last there stood the word Calvin, as the historian of the university informs us. It was Cauvin perhaps, his father's name, or else Calvinus, for the students were fond of latinising their names. It was not until some time after, when the Latin word had been retranslated into French, that the Reformer {7} bore the more familiar name. This Calvin long remained on the pillar where the hand of the young Picard had cut it—a name of quarrels and discussions, insulted by the devout, but respected by many. 'This precious autograph has disappeared,' says the historian, 'with the last vestiges of the building.'[13]


The Picards, proud of such a colleague, raised him to the highest post in the nation—that of proctor. Calvin was thus in the front rank in the public processions and assemblies of the university. He had to convene meetings, examine, order, decide, execute, and sign diplomas. Instead of assembling his nationals at a jovial banquet, Calvin, who had been struck by the disorders which had crept into these convivial meetings, paid over to the treasurer the sum which he would have expended, and made a present of books to the university library.[14] Erelong his office compelled him to display that firmness of character which distinguished him all his life. This hitherto unknown incident is worthy of being recorded.

Every year, on the anniversary of the Finding of the Body of St. Firmin, the inhabitants of the little town of Beaugency, near Orleans, appeared in the church of St. Pierre, and, after the epistle had been chanted, handed to the proctor of the Picard nation a piece of gold called maille de Florence, of two crowns' weight.[15] 'The origin of this ancient custom,' {8} they told Calvin, 'was this. On the 13th of January, 687, the body of St. Firmin the martyr having been solemnly exhumed, a marvellous change took place in nature. The trees put forth fresh leaves and blossoms, and at the same time a supernatural odour filled the air. Simon, lord of Beaugency, who suffered from leprosy, having gone to the window of his castle to witness the ceremony, was restored to health by the sweet savour. In token of his gratitude he settled an annual offering of a gold maille, payable at first to the chapter of Amiens, and afterwards to the Picard students embodied in their nation at Orleans.'[16]

Calvin, who blames 'the old follies and nonsense which men substitute for the glory of Jesus Christ,' did not place great faith in this miracle. However, as the tribute was not paid in 1527, he resolved to go with his 'nation' and demand it. He assembled his fellow-students, and placing a band of music and the beadles in front, he led the procession; all his 'nationals' followed after him in a line, and in due course the joyous troop arrived at Beaugency, where the maille was placed in his hand. It bore in front an image of John the Baptist, and on the reverse a fleur-de-lys with the word Florentia. The Picard students were satisfied, and, with their illustrious chief at their head, resumed the road to Orleans, bringing back the golden maille in triumph, as Jason and the Argonauts had in days of yore returned from Colchis with the golden fleece. The procession reentered the city amid the shouts of the university. Calvin was one {9} day to rob the dragon of a more magnificent treasure, and nations more numerous were to show their joy by louder shouts of gladness.[17]


Although Calvin would not separate from his fellow-students, he often suffered in the midst of this noisy and dissolute multitude, and turned with disgust from the duels, intrigues, and excesses which filled so large a space in the student life. He preferred study, and had applied to the law with his whole heart.[18] The vivacity of his wit, the strength of his memory, the remarkable style in which he clothed the lessons of his masters, the facility with which he caught up certain expressions, certain sentences, which fell from their lips, 'the starts and flashes of a bright mind, which he displayed at intervals,'—all this, says a Roman-catholic historian, soon made him distinguished by the professors.[19]

But he was destined to find something better on the banks of the Loire: the work begun at Paris was to be strengthened and developed at Orleans. Calvin, always beloved by those who knew him, made numerous friends, especially among certain men attacked by the priests, and whose faith was full of christian meekness. Every day he had a serious conversation with Duchemin.[20] In order to lessen his expenses, he had shared his room with a pious German, formerly a grey friar, who having learnt, as Luther said, that it is not the cowl of St. Francis which {10} saves, but the blood of Jesus Christ, had thrown off his filthy frock[21] and come to France. The Picard student talked with him of Germany and of the Reformation; and some persons have thought that this was what first 'perverted Calvin from the true faith.'[22]


Next to the house of Duchemin where the wind of the new doctrine was blowing; next to the library, whose curator, Philip Laurent, became his friend: Calvin loved particularly to visit the family of an advocate where three amiable, educated, and pious ladies afforded him the charms of agreeable conversation. It was that of Francis Daniel, 'a person,' says Beza, 'who, like Duchemin, had a knowledge of the truth.' He was a grave and influential man, possessing inward christianity, and (perhaps his profession of lawyer had something to do with it) of a very conservative mind, holding both to the forms and ordinances of the Church. Calvin, on leaving the schools, the library, and his study, used to seek relaxation in this house. The company of educated and pious women may have exercised a happy influence over his mind, which he would have sought in vain in the society of the learned. And accordingly, whenever he was away, he did not fail to remember his friend's mother, wife, and sister Frances.[23]

In the company of these ladies he sometimes met a young man for whom he felt but little sympathy: he {11} was a student from Paris, Coiffard by name, lively, active, intelligent, but selfish.[24] How much he preferred Daniel, in whom he found a mind so firm, a soul so elevated, and with whom he held such profitable conversations! The two friends were agreed on one point—the necessity of a Reformation of the Church; but they soon came to another point which at a later day occasioned a wide divergence between them. 'The reformation,' said the advocate, 'must be accomplished in the Church; we must not separate from the Church.' The intercourse between Calvin and Duchemin gradually became less frequent; the latter, being naturally rather negligent, did not reply to his friend's letters.[25] But Calvin's attachment for Daniel grew stronger so long as the reformer remained in France, and to him almost all the letters are addressed which he wrote between 1529 and 1536.

But all these friendships did not satisfy Calvin; at Daniel's, at Duchemin's, at the library, and wherever he went, he heard talk of a man whom he soon burned to know, and who exercised over him more influence than all the rest. A poor young German of Rotweil, named Melchior Wolmar, had come to Paris, and, being forced to work for a living, had served for some time as corrector for the press.[26] Greedy of knowledge, the youthful reader quitted his proofs from time to time, and slipped among the students who crowded round the illustrious John Lascaris, Budæus, and Lefèvre. In the school of the latter he {12} became a sincere christian; in the school of the former, a great hellenist. When he took his degree of M.A. along with a hundred others, he occupied the first place. Having one day (when in Germany) to make a speech in his mother-tongue, Wolmar asked permission to speak in Greek, because, he said, that language was more familiar to him. He had been invited to Orleans to teach Greek; and being poor, notwithstanding his learning, he took into his house a small number of young children of good family. 'He was my faithful instructor,' says one of them, Theodore Beza; 'with what marvellous skill he gave his lessons, not only in the liberal arts, but also in piety!'[27] His pupils did not call him Melchior, but Melior (better).


Calvin, whose exalted soul was attracted by all that is beautiful, became attached to this distinguished professor. His father had sent him to study civil law; but Wolmar 'solicited him to devote himself to a knowledge of the Greek classics.' At first Calvin hesitated, but yielded at last. 'I will study Greek,' he said, 'but as it is you that urge me, you also must assist me.' Melchior answered that he was ready to devote to him abundantly, not only his instruction, but his person, his life, himself.[28] From that time Calvin made the most rapid progress in Greek literature. The professor loved him above all his pupils.[29] In this way he was placed in a condition {13} to become the most illustrious commentator of Scripture. 'His knowledge of Greek,' adds Beza, 'was of great service to all the Church of God.' What Cordier had been to him for Latin, Wolmar was for Greek.

[1]   'Jurisconsultorum Gallorum princeps.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[2]   'Jam dedisti nomen inter rei litterariæ professores.'—Calvinus Chemino, Berne MSS. This letter will be found in the Letters of John Calvin, published in English at Philadelphia, by the learned Dr. Jules Bonnet, to whom I am indebted for the communication of the Latin manuscripts.

[3]   'In ea natus es dexteritate, quæ nihil imprudenter præjudicare soleat.'—Calvinus Chemino.

[4]   'Mi Chemine! amice mi! mea vita charior!'—Calvinus Chemino.

[5]   'Vide ne desidem te faciat tuus pudor!'—Ibid.

[6]   Le Maire, Antiquités d'Orléans, i. p. 388.—Theod. Beza von Baum, i. p. 27.

[7]   'Ille quasi stella matutina in medio nebulæ et quasi sol refulgens emicuit.'—Bimbenet, Histoire de l'Université des Lois d'Orléans, p. 357.

[8]   Ibid. pp. 354-357.

[9]   'Hæretici divina primum vindicta, post etiam ... ultione plectendi.'—Justiniani Codicis lib. i. tit. i.: De summa Trinitate, et ut nemo de ea publice contradicere audeat.

[10]   'Publicum crimen, quia quod in religionem divinam committitur in omnium fertur injuriam.'—Ibid. tit. v.: De Hæreticis.

[11]   The Justinian code dates from 529 A.D., just a thousand years before the time of Calvin's studies; but the greater part of the laws contained in it were of older date.

[12]   Bimbenet, Hist. de l'Univ. des Lois d'Orléans, p. 30.

[13]   Bimbenet, Hist. de l'Univ. d'Orléans, p. 358. The prefecture now occupies the site of Bonne Nouvelle.

[14]   Ibid. pp. 40, 41, 51, 52, 358.

[15]   This maille was probably the gold florin of Florence. The giglio fiorentino is the badge of this city, and John the Baptist its patron.

'La lega suggellata del Batista,'

says Dante in the Inferno, xxx. 74.

[16]   M. Bimbenet, chief greffier to the Imperial Court of Orleans, gives this tradition in his Hist. de l'Univ. d'Orléans, pp. 161, 162, 179-358.

[17]   Hist. de l'Univ. d'Orléans, pp. 173, 176, 179.

[18]   'Ut patris voluntati obsequerer, fidelem operam impendere conatus sum.'—Calv. in Psalm.

[19]   'Singularem ingenii alacritatem,' &c.—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. ix.

[20]   'Longa consuetudine diuturnoque usu.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[21]   'Läusige Kappe.'

[22]   Remarques sur la Vie de Calvin, Hérésiarque, by J. Desmay, vicar-general, p. 43.

[23]   'Saluta matrem, uxorem, sororem Franciscam.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[24]   'De Coiffartio quid aliud dicam, nisi hominem esse sibi natum?'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS.

[25]   Calvin's Letters, Philadelphia, i. p. 32.

[26]   Wolmar, Commentaire sur l'Iliade.

[27]   Beza, Vie de Calvin et Histoire des Eglises Réformées, i. p. 67.

[28]   'Quam liberaliter paratus fueris te mihi officiaque tua impendere.'—Calv. in 2ᵃᵐ Ep. ad Cor.

[29]   'Præ cæteris discipulis diligere ac magnifacere eum cœpit.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. ix.



CALVIN was to receive something more from Wolmar; he was about to begin, under his guidance, the work of all his life—to learn and to teach Christ. The knowledge which he acquired at the university of Orleans, philosophy, law, and even Greek, could not suffice him. The moral faculty is the first in man, and ought to be the first in the university also. The object of the Reformation was to found, not an intellectual, but a moral empire; it was to restore holiness to the Church. This empire had begun in Calvin; his conscience had been stirred; he had sought salvation and found it; but he had need of knowledge, of increase in grace, of practice in life, and these he was about to strive after.


Melchior, like Melanchthon, had set himself to study the Holy Scriptures in the original languages, and in them had found light and peace. Calvin, on his side, 'having acquired some taste for true piety,' as he informs us, 'was burning with a great desire to advance.'[30] The most intimate confidence and the {15} freest communication were established between the professor and the scholar. Melchior spoke to Calvin of Germany and the Reformation; he read the Greek Testament with him, set before him the riches of Christ announced therein, and, when studying the Epistles of St. Paul, explained to him the doctrine of imputed righteousness which forms the essence of their teaching. Calvin, seated in his master's study, listened in silence, and respectfully embraced that mystery so strange and yet so profoundly in harmony with the righteousness of God!... 'By faith,' said Wolmar, 'man is united to Christ and Christ to him, so that it is no longer man whom God sees in the sinner, but his dearly beloved Son himself; and the act by virtue of which God makes the sinner an inheritor of heaven, is not an arbitrary one. The doctrine of justification,' added Wolmar, 'is in Luther's opinion the capital doctrine, articulus stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiæ.'[31]

But Calvin's chief teacher was God. At Orleans he had more of those struggles, which are often prolonged in strong natures. Some take him simply for a metaphysical thinker, a learned and subtle theologian; on the contrary, no other doctor has had more experience of those tempests that stir up the heart to its lowest deeps. 'I feel myself pricked and stung to the quick by the judgment of God. I am in a continual battle; I am assaulted and shaken, as when an armed man is forced by a violent blow to stagger a few steps backwards.' The light which had rejoiced him so much when he was in college at Paris, seemed {16} almost to have faded away. 'I am like a wretched man shut up in a deep dungeon, who receives the light of day obliquely and in part, only through a high and narrow loop-hole.' He persevered, however; he fixed his eyes on Jesus, and was soon able to say: 'If I have not the full and free sight of the sun, I distinguish however his light afar, and enjoy its brightness.'[32]

People at Orleans soon found out that there was something new and strange in this young man. It was in this city, in the year 1022, that the revival of modern times, if we may so speak, had begun among the heads of a school of theology at that time very celebrated. Priests and canons had told the people who listened to them, both in Orleans and in the neighbouring towns, 'that they ought to be filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit; that this Spirit would reveal to them all the depths and all the dignity of the Scriptures;[33] that they would be fed with heavenly food and refreshed by an inward fulness.'[34]

These heretics had been put to death at Orleans. Would they be seen rising again, after more than five centuries, in the city and even in the university? Many doctors and students opposed Calvin: 'You are a schismatic,' they said; 'you are separating from the Church!' Calvin, alarmed at these accusations, was a prey to fresh anguish.


Then, as he informs us, he began to meditate on {17} the Psalms, and in the struggles of David he found an image of his own: 'Ah!' he exclaimed, 'the Holy Spirit has here painted to the life all the pains, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, anxieties, perplexities, and even the confused emotions with which my mind is wont to be agitated.... This book is an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.... There is no affection in man which is not here represented as in a glass.'[35]

This man, whom the Romish and other legends describe as vain, proud, and insensible, desired to see himself as he was, without screening any of his faults. 'Of the many infirmities to which we are subject,' he said, 'and of the many vices of which we are full, not one ought to be hidden. Ah! truly it is an excellent and singular gain, when all the hiding-places are laid open, and the heart is brought into the light and thoroughly cleansed of all hypocrisy and foul infection.'[36]

Such are the principles by which the Reformation has triumphed. Its great organs desired that men's hearts should be 'cleansed of all foul infection.' It is a singular delusion of those writers who, seeing things otherwise than they are, ascribe this divine work to vile interests and base passions. According to them, its causes were jealousy of the Augustine monks, the ambition of princes, the greed of nobles, and the carnal passions of priests, which, however, as we have seen, had but too free scope during the middle ages. A searching glance into the souls of the Reformers lays bare to us the cause of the revival. If the writers of whom I have spoken were right, the {18} Reformation ought not to have waited until Luther for its accomplishment; for there had existed for ages in christendom ambitious princes, greedy nobles, jealous monks, and impure priests. But what was really a new thing was to find men who, like the reformers, opened their hearts to the light of the Holy Spirit, believed in the Word of God, found Jesus Christ, esteemed everything in comparison with him as loss, lived the life of God, and desired that 'all hiding-places should be laid open,' and men's hearts cleansed of all hypocrisy. Such were the true sources of the Reformation.

The adversaries of the Gospel understood the danger incurred by the Church of Rome from the principles professed by Calvin; and hence they called him wicked and profane, and, as he says, 'heaped upon his head a world of abuse.' They said that he ought to be expelled from the Church. Then the student, 'cast down but not destroyed,' retiring to his chamber, would exclaim: 'If I am at war with such masters, I am not, however, at war with thy Church, O God! Why should I hesitate to separate from these false teachers whom the apostles call thy enemies?[37] ... When cursed by the unrighteous priests of their day, did not thy prophets remain in the true unity of thy children? Encouraged by their example, I will resist those who oppress us, and neither their threats nor their denunciations shall shake me.'[38]


The conversion of Calvin, begun at Paris, was {19} completed at Orleans. There are, as we have said, several phases in this work. The first is that of the conscience, where the soul is aroused; the second is that of the understanding, where the mind is enlightened; then comes the last, where the new man is built up, where he strikes deeper root in Christ, and bears fruit to God. At Paris, Calvin had heard in his heart the divine voice calling him to eternal life; at Orleans, he constantly studied the Holy Scriptures,[39] and became 'learned in the knowledge of salvation,' as Theodore Beza tells us. The Church herself has gone through similar phases: the first epoch of her history, that of the apostolic fathers,[40] was that of simple piety without the scientific element; the second, the age of the apologists, was that of a christian understanding seeking to justify its faith in the eyes of reason. Calvin had followed this road; but he did not give way to an intellectualism which would have brought back death into his heart. On the contrary, the third phase began immediately, and from day to day the christian life became in him more spiritual and more active.

The conversion of Calvin and of the other reformers—we must insist upon this point—was not simply a change wrought by study in their thoughts and in their system. Calvin did not set himself the task of inventing a new theology, as his adversaries have asserted. We do not find him coldly meditating on the Church, curiously examining the Scriptures, and seeking in them a means of separating a portion {20} of christendom from Rome. The Reformation was not the fruit of abstract reasoning; it proceeded from an inward labour, a spiritual combat, a victory which the reformers won by the sweat of their brow, or rather ... of their heart. Instead of composing his doctrine chapter after chapter, Calvin, thirsting for righteousness and peace, found it in Christ. 'Placed as in the furnace of God (they are his own words), the scum and filth of his faith were thus purified.' Calvin was put into the crucible, and the new truth came forth, burning and shining like gold, from the travail of his melted soul. In order to comprehend the productions of nature or of art, we must study closely the secrets of their formation. We have on a former occasion sought to discover the generative principle of the Reformation in the heart of Luther; we are now striving to discern it in Calvin also. Convictions, affections, intelligence, activity—all these were now in process of formation in that admirable genius under the life-giving rays of truth.


There came a moment when Calvin, desirous of possessing God alone, renounced the world, which, from that time, has never ceased to hate him: 'I have not sued thee by my love, O Christ,' he said; 'thou hast loved me of thy free will. Thou hast shone into my soul, and then everything that dazzled my eyes by a false splendour immediately disappeared, or at least I take no count of it. As those who travel by sea, when they find their ship in danger, throw everything overboard, in order that, having lightened the vessel, they may arrive safely in port; in like manner I prefer being stripped of all that I have, rather than be deprived of thee. I would rather live poor and miserable {21} than be drowned with my riches. Having cast my goods into the waves, I begin to have hope of escape since the vessel is lightened.... I come to thee naked and empty.... And what I find in thee is not a trifling vulgar gain: I find everything there.'[41]

Thus lifting up his hands to God, Calvin offered the sacrifice of a heart burning with love. He made this grand thought the charter of his nobility, his blazon, and engraving this design on his seal, a hand presenting a heart in sacrifice, he wrote round it: Cor meum velut mactatum Domino in sacrificium offero—'O Lord, I offer unto thee as a sacrifice my heart immolated to thee.' Such was his device—such was his life.

The eyes of many began already to be turned upon him with admiration. The surprising clearness of his mind, the powerful convictions of his heart, the energy of his regenerated will, the strength of his reasoning, the luminous flashes of his genius, and the severe beauties of his eloquence—all betokened in him one of the great men of the age. 'A wonderful mind!' says Florimond de Rémond, one of his chief adversaries, 'a mind keen and subtle to the highest degree, prompt and sudden in its imaginations! What a praiseworthy man he would have been, if, sifting away the vices (heresy), the virtues alone could have been retained!'[42] There was doubtless something wanting in Calvin: he may not have had that smiling imagination which, at the age he had now reached, generally gilds life with the most brilliant colours; the world appeared to him one wide shipwreck. But, possessing {22} the glance of the eagle, he discovered a deliverance in the future, and his powerful hand, strengthened by God, was about to prepare the great transformations of the Church and of the world.

He was indefatigable in labour. When the day was ended, and his companions indulged in dissipation or in sleep, Calvin, restricting himself to a slight repast for fear of oppressing his head, withdrew to his room and sat down to study the Scriptures. At midnight he extinguished his lamp,[43] and early in the morning, when he awoke and before he left his bed, he 'ruminated,' says Beza, on what he had read and learnt the night before.[44] 'We were his friends, we shared his room with him,' said Theodore Beza's informants. 'We only tell you what we have seen.'—'Alas!' adds the reformer, 'these long vigils, which so wonderfully developed his faculties and enriched his memory, weakened his health, and laid the foundation of those sufferings and frequent illnesses which shortened his days.'[45]


His taste for Holy Scripture did not divert Calvin from the study of law. He was unwilling that the labours of his profession should suffer in any degree from the labours of piety. He made such remarkable progress in jurisprudence that he was soon looked upon, by both students and professors, as a master and not as a scholar.[46] One day, Pierre de l'Etoile begged him to give a lesson in his place; and the young man of nineteen or twenty discharged his duty with so much {23} skill and clearness, that he was considered as destined to become the greatest jurist in France. The professors often employed him as their substitute.[47]

To knowledge he joined communion. While still continuing to follow the lessons of Etoile, Calvin 'sought the company of the faithful servants of God,' as he tells us. All the children of God (he thought) should be united together by a bond of brotherly union. He mixed also with everybody, even with the gainsayers, and if they attacked the great doctrines of Gospel truth, he defended them. But he did not put himself forward. He could discern when, how far, and to whom it was expedient to speak, and never exposed the doctrine of Christ to the jeers of the unbeliever by imprudence or by the fears of the flesh. When he opened his mouth, every one of his words struck home. 'Nobody can withstand him,' they said, 'when he has the Bible in his hand.'

Students who felt a difficulty in believing, townspeople who could not understand, went and begged him to teach them.[48] He was abashed. 'I am but a poor recruit,' he said, 'and you address me as if I were a general.'[49] As these requests were constantly renewed, Calvin tried to find some hiding-place where he could read, meditate, and pray, secure from interruption.[50]

At one time it was the room of a friend, a nook in the university library, or some shady retreat on the banks of the river. But he was hardly absorbed {24} in meditation or in the study of Scripture, before he found himself surrounded by persons eager to hear him, and who refused to withdraw. 'Alas!' he exclaimed, 'all my hiding-places are turned into public schools.'[51]

Accordingly he sought still more private retreats; for he wished to understand before he taught. The French love to see clearly into things; but their defect in this respect is that they often do not go deep enough, or fail to observe that by going deep they arrive at truths in whose presence the most eminent minds ought to confess their insufficiency and believe in the revelation from God. In the middle ages there had been men who wished to bring the mysteries of the catholic faith to the test of reason;[52] Abelard was at the head of that phalanx. Calvin was not a new Abelard. He did not presume to fathom impenetrable mysteries, but sought in Scripture the light and the life of his soul.


His admirers returned to him. Several citizens of Orleans opened their houses to him, saying: 'Come and teach openly the salvation of man.' Calvin shrank back. 'Let no one disturb my repose,' he said; 'leave me in peace.' His repose, that is to say his studies, were his only thought. But these souls, thirsting for truth, did not yield so easily. 'A repose of darkness!' replied the most ardent; 'an ignoble peace![53] Come and preach!' Calvin remembered the saying of St. Chrysostom: 'Though a thousand persons should call {25} you, think of your own weakness, and obey only under constraint.'[54] 'Well, then, we constrain you,' answered his friends. 'O God! what desirest thou of me?' Calvin would exclaim at such moments. 'Why dost thou pursue me? Why dost thou turn and disturb me, and never leave me at rest? Why, despite my disposition, dost thou lead me to the light and bring me into play?'[55] Calvin gave way, however, and understood that it was his duty to publish the Gospel. He went to the houses of his friends. A few men, women, and young people gathered round him, and he began to explain the Scriptures. It was quite a new order of teaching: there were none of those distinctions and deductions of scholastic science, at that time so familiar to the preachers. The language of the young man possessed an admirable simplicity, a piercing vitality, and a holy majesty which captivated the heart. 'He teaches the truth,' said his hearers as they withdrew, 'not in affected language, but with such depth, solidity, and weight, that every one who hears him is struck with admiration.' These are the words of a contemporary of Calvin, who lived on the spot, and in the very circle in which the Reformer then moved. 'While at Orleans,' adds this friend, Theodore Beza, 'Calvin, chosen from that time to be an instrument of election in the Lord's work, wonderfully advanced the kingdom of God in many families.'[56]

It was at Orleans, therefore, that Calvin began his evangelist work and manifested himself to the world {26} as a christian. Calvin's activity in this city is a proof that he was then converted to the Gospel, and that he had been so for some time; for his was not one of those expansive natures which immediately display externally what is within them. This first ministry of the reformer negatives the hypotheses which place Calvin's conversion at Orleans, or at Bourges somewhat later, or, even later still, during his second residence at Paris.

Thus the young doctor, growing in knowledge and acting in love, refuted the objections of the gainsayers, and led to Christ the humble souls who thirsted for salvation. A domestic event suddenly withdrew him from this pious activity.

[30]   Calvin, Préface aux Psaumes.

[31]   ('The touch-stone of a standing or of a falling Church.') 'Wolmarus lutheranum virus Calvino instillabat.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. ix.

[32]   Calvin, Institution, liv. iii. ch. ii. 17-19.

[33]   'Sancti Spiritus dono repleberis, qui scripturarum omnium profunditatem ac veram dignitatem te docebit.'—Mansi, Gesta Synodi Aurelianensis, xix. p. 376.

[34]   'Deinde cœlesti cibo pastus, interna satietate recreatus.'—Ibid.

[35]   Calvin, Préface des Commentaires sur les Psaumes.

[36]   Ibid.

[37]   'Quos pronuntiabant apostoli esse habendos pro hostibus, ab iis cur dubitassem me sejungere?'—Opusc. Lat. p. 124; Franç. p. 169.

[38]   Opuscules.

[39]   'Interea tamen ille sacrarum litterarum studium simul diligenter excolere in quo tantum etiam promoverat.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[40]   From 70 to 130 A.D.

[41]   Calvin, in Ep. Johan.; Pauli ad Philip. &c.

[42]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. x.

[43]   'Ad mediam usque noctem lucubrare.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[44]   'Mane vero, quæ legisset, in lecto veluti concoquere.'—Ibid.

[45]   'Et tandem etiam intempestivam mortem attulit.'—Ibid.

[46]   'Doctor potiusquam auditor haberetur.'—Ibid.

[47]   'Quum sæpissime obiret ipsorum doctorum vices.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[48]   'Omnes purioris doctrinæ cupidi ad me, discendi causa, ventitabant.'—Præf. in Psalm.

[49]   'Novitium adhuc et tyronem.'—Ibid.

[50]   'Tunc latebras captare.'—Ibid.

[51]   'Ut mihi secessus omnes instar publicæ scholæ essent.'—Præf. in Psalm.

[52]   'Catholicæ fidei mysteria ratione investiganda.'—Abelard, Introd. ad Theol. p. 1059.

[53]   'Ignobile otium colere.'—Præf. in Psalm.

[54]   Chrysostomus, De Sacerdotio, lib. iv.

[55]   Calv. Præf. in Psalm. p. 3.

[56]   Théod. de Bèze, Histoire des Eglises Réformées, p. 6.




ONE day, probably at the beginning of April 1528, about the Easter holidays, Calvin received a letter from Noyon. He opened it: it contained sad news! his father was seriously ill. He went at once to Duchemin in great agitation: 'I must depart,' he said. This friend, and many others, would have wished to keep him in a place where he had become so useful; but he did not hesitate. He must go to his father; he would, however, only stay as long as was necessary; as soon as the sick man was better, he would come back. 'I promise you to return shortly,' he said to Duchemin.[57] Calvin, therefore, bade farewell to his cherished studies, to his beloved friends, and those pious families in which he was advancing the kingdom of God, and returned to Picardy.

We have but few particulars of his sojourn at Noyon. Assuredly his filial piety indulged at his father's bedside in what has been termed with reason the sweetest form of gratitude. Yet the weak condition of the episcopal secretary was prolonged, {28} without any appearance of imminent danger. A question began to rise up in the young man's heart: shall he go, or shall he stay?[58] Sometimes, when seated by the sick man's pillow during the watches of the night, his thoughts would transport him to Orleans, into the midst of his studies and the society of his friends; he felt himself impelled, as by a vigorous hand, towards the places that were so dear to him, and he made in his mind all the arrangements necessary for his return.[59] ... Suddenly his father's disease grew worse, and the son did not quit the sufferer's bedside. The old secretary, 'a man of sound understanding and good counsel,' says Beza, was much respected by those around him, and love for the author of his days was profoundly engraven in the young man's soul. 'The title of father belongs to God,' he said; 'when God gives it to a man, he communicates to him some sparks of his own brightness.'[60]


Erelong a crisis appeared to take place; the doctors held out hopes: the patient might recover his health, they said.[61] Calvin's thoughts and desires were turned once more towards Orleans; he would have wished to go there instantly,[62] but duty was still the strongest, and he resolved to wait until his father's convalescence was complete. Thus one day after another glided away.[63] Alas! the doctors were deceived. 'There is no longer any hope of a cure,' they soon told {29} him; 'your father's death cannot be far off.'[64] Calvin, therefore, determined (14th of May, 1528) to write to Duchemin, which he had not yet done since his departure. It is the first of the reformer's letters that has been handed down to us. 'You know,' he says, 'that I am very exact in my correspondence, and that I carry it even to importunity.[65] You will be astonished, perhaps, that I have been wanting in my extreme punctuality; but when you know the cause, you will restore to me your friendship, should I perchance have forfeited it.' He then tells Duchemin of his father's condition, and adds: 'Happen what may, I will see you again.'[66] What did happen is not very clear. Calvin was at Noyon, as we have seen, on the 14th of May, 1528; perhaps he remained all the summer with the sick man. It has been concluded from this letter to Duchemin that Gerard Calvin died shortly after the 14th of May; at that time the approach of death was certain, according to the doctors; but doctors may be mistaken. According to Theodore Beza, he died during his son's residence at Bourges, nine or ten months later, and a passage from Calvin, which we shall quote further on, confirms Beza's testimony, of itself so decisive.

One circumstance, which has some interest, seems to show that Calvin was not at Orleans during the latter part of this year. On the 5th of December, 1528,[67] {30} eight months after his sudden departure, a boy eight or nine years old arrived at Melchior Wolmar's house in that city. He had a sickly look, but was a well-made child, playful and well-bred, with a keen glance and lively wit. This boy, who was one day to be Calvin's best friend, belonged to a Burgundian family. His father, Pierre de Beza, was bailli of Vezelay, a very old town, where the child was born on the 24th of June, 1519,[68] and received the name of Theodore. One of his uncles, named Nicholas, seignior of Cette and of Chalonne, and councillor of parliament, having paid the bailli a visit a few months after the child's birth, adopted him, being an unmarried man, and took him to Paris, although he had not been weaned.[69] Nine years later (1528), at the recommendation of an Orleanese, who was connected with the Bezas and a member of the royal council, the uncle sent his nephew to Wolmar, who was described to him as very learned in Greek and of great experience in education. Nothing in Calvin's biography written by Beza indicates that the latter met Calvin at that time at Orleans. When Margaret of Valois, who was Duchess of Berry, endeavoured about this time to gather together a number of pious and learned men in her university of Bourges, she invited Wolmar there;[70] and it was here that young Beza saw Calvin for the first time.


The scholar, set at liberty by the apparent restoration {31} of his father's health, had once more turned his thoughts towards his studies. He desired to take advantage of the instruction of a doctor whose reputation surpassed even that of Pierre de l'Etoile. All the learned world was at that time talking of Alciati of Milan, whom the king had invited to Bourges, and to attend whose brilliant lessons the academic youth flocked from every quarter. Calvin had other motives besides this for going to that city. Under Margaret's influence, Berry had become a centre of evangelisation. Returning, therefore, to Orleans, he made known his intention of going to Bourges, and the professors of the university where he had studied, and even taught with credit, unanimously offered him the degree of doctor. It would appear that his modesty did not permit him to accept it.[71]

There were fewer resources at Bourges than at Orleans. 'As we cannot live as we wish,' said the students, 'we live as we can.' Everything was dear: board alone cost one hundred francs a year.[72] 'France is truly a golden country,' bitterly remarked a poor scholar, 'for without gold you can get nothing.' But the Noyon student cared little for the comforts of life; intellectual and spiritual wealth satisfied him. He was anxious to hear Alciati, and was surprised to find him a tall corpulent man, with no very thoughtful look. 'He is a great eater,' said one of his neighbours, 'and very covetous.'[73] Intelligence and imagination, {32} rather than sentiment, were his characteristics: he was a great jurist and also a great poet. Mingling literature with his explanation of the laws, and substituting an elegant style for barbarism of language, he gave quite a new éclat to the study of the law. Calvin listened with admiration. Five years later Alciati returned to Italy, allured by greater emoluments and greater honours.

Erelong Calvin gave himself up entirely to other thoughts. Bourges had become, under Margaret's government, the centre of the new doctrine in France; and he was accordingly struck by the movement of the minds around him. There was discussing, and speaking, and assembling, wherever the sound of the Gospel could be heard. On Sunday students and citizens crowded the two churches where Chaponneau and Michel preached. Calvin went with the rest, and found the christian truth pretty fairly set forth 'considering the time.'[74] During the week, evangelical truth was taught in the university by Gamaire, a learned priest, and by Bournonville, prior of St. Ambrose.


But nothing attracted Calvin like Wolmar's house. It would appear that this scholar had arrived at Bourges before him.[75] It was there that Calvin met young Beza, and then began in Theodore's heart that filial piety which continued all his life, and that admiration which he professed afterwards in one of his Latin poems, where he calls Calvin

Romæ ruentis terror ille maximus.[76]

{33} And truly Calvin was training for this. If Wolmar at Orleans had confirmed the christian faith in him, Wolmar at Bourges was the first who invited him distinctly to enter upon the career of a reformer. The German doctor communicated to the young man the books which he received from beyond the Rhine—the writings of Luther, Melanchthon, and other evangelical men.[77] Wolmar, modest, gentle, and a foreigner, did not think himself called to do in France what these illustrious servants of God were doing in Germany: but he asked himself whether there was not some Frenchman called by God to reform France; whether Lefèvre's young fellow-countryman, who united a great understanding with a soul so full of energy, might not be the man for whom this work was reserved.

Wolmar seems to have been to Calvin what Staupitz was to Luther; both these doctors felt the need of minds of a strong temper for the great things that were about to take place in the world. One day, therefore, the professor invited the student to take a walk with him, and the two friends, leaving behind them that old city, burnt down by Cæsar and Chilperic, rebuilt by Charlemagne, and enlarged by Philip Augustus, drew near the banks of the Auron, at its confluence with the Yèvre, and strolled here and there among the fertile plains of Berry.[78] At last Wolmar said to Calvin, 'What do you propose doing, my friend? Shall the Institutes, the Novels, {34} the Pandects absorb your life? Is not theology the queen of all sciences, and does not God call you to explain his Holy Scriptures?'[79] What new ideas then started up before Calvin! At Paris he had renounced the priesthood, and at Bourges Wolmar urged him to the ministry.... What should he do?

This was quite another calling. In the theocratic and legal Church, the priest is the means by which man is restored to communion with God. The special priesthood, with which he is invested, is the condition on which depends the virtue of the sacraments and of all the means of grace. Possessed of a magical power, he works the greatest of miracles at the altar, and whoever does not partake in the ministrations of this priesthood can have no share in redemption. The Reformation of the sixteenth century, by setting aside the formal and theocratic Church of Rome, which was shaped in the image of the Jewish theocracy, and by substituting for it the Evangelical Church, conformably to the principles of Christ and his apostles, transformed the ministry also. The service of the Word became its centre—the means by which, with the aid of the Holy Ghost, all its functions were discharged. This evangelical ministry was to work its miracles also; but whilst those of the legal {35} ministry proceed from a mysterious virtue in the priesthood, and are accomplished upon earthly elements, those of the evangelical ministry are wrought freely by the divine Word, and by a heartfelt faith in the great love of God, which that ministry proclaims,—strange spiritual miracles, effected within the soul, transforming the man and not the bread, and making him a new creature, destined to dwell eternally with God.


Did Calvin at this time see clearly the difference between the Roman priesthood and the Gospel ministry? We doubt it. It was not until later that his ideas became clear upon this important point. The notion, however, of abandoning not only the priesthood, but also the study of the law for the Gospel, was not new to him. More than once in his retirement, he had already asked himself: 'Shall I not preach Christ to the world?' But he had always shrunk away humble and timid from this ministry. 'All men are not suited for it,' he said; 'a special vocation is necessary, and no one ought to take it upon himself rashly.'[80] Calvin, like St. Augustin, the ancient doctor whom he most resembled (the irregularities excepted which mark the youth of the bishop of Hippona), feared to undertake a charge beyond his strength. He thought also that his father would never consent to his abandoning the law and joining the heretics. And yet he felt himself daily more inclined to entertain the great questions of conscience and christian liberty, of divine sovereignty and self-renunciation. 'So great a desire of advancing in the {36} knowledge of Christ consumed me at that time,' he said, 'that I pursued my other studies very coldly.'[81] A domestic event was soon to give him liberty to enter upon the new career to which God and Wolmar were calling him.[82]

Nor was this the only call he received at Bourges. Wolmar had spoken of him, and several families invited him to their houses to edify them. This took the young man by surprise, as it had done at Orleans; he remained silent, lost in the multitude of his thoughts. 'I am quite amazed,' he said, 'at seeing those who have a desire for pure doctrine gather round me to learn, although I have only just begun to learn myself!' He resolved, however, to continue at Bourges the evangelical work which he had timidly commenced on the banks of the Loire; and he brought more time and more decision to the task.


Calvin accordingly entered into relations with students and townspeople, nobles and lawyers, priests and professors. The family of the Colladons held at that time a considerable station in Berry. Two brothers, Leo and Germain, and two sisters, Mary and Anne, were the first to embrace the Gospel in Berry. Leo and Germain were advocates, and one of their cousins, styled Germain II. in the genealogies, now eighteen years old, afterwards became Calvin's intimate friend at Geneva. These ties of friendship had probably begun at Bourges.[83]

{37} The evangelist soon extended his christian activity beyond the walls of the city. Many natives of Berry, who had heard him at Bourges, had been charmed with his addresses. 'Come and preach these beautiful words to us,' they said. Calvin gradually laid aside his natural timidity, and being cheerful and fond of walking, he visited the castles and villages.[84] He introduced himself affectionately into all the houses at which he stopped. 'A graceful salutation,' he said in after years, 'serves as an introduction to converse with people.'[85] He delivered several sermons in these hamlets and country-seats.

On the banks of the Arnon, ten leagues from Bourges, there stands a little town named Lignières, at that time the seat of a considerable lordship.[86] Every year certain monks came to preach in the parish church, and were bountifully received at the château, where they complained of their wretchedness in the most pitiable tone. This offended the lord of Lignières, who was not of a superstitious character. 'If I am not mistaken,' he said, 'it is with a view to their own gain that these monks pretend to be such drudges.'[87] Disgusted with their hypocrisy, M. de Lignières begged Calvin to come and preach in their stead. The law-student spoke to an immense crowd with such clearness, freedom, depth, and vitality, that {38} every one was moved.[88] 'Upon my word,' said the lord to his wife, 'Master John Calvin seems to me to preach better than the monks, and he goes heartily to work too.'[89]


When the priests saw the young evangelist so well received, they cried out and intrigued against him, and did all in their power to get him put into prison.[90] It was at Bourges that Calvin began to see that 'everything among men is full of vexation.' He said: 'By the assaults made against them, Christ sounds the trumpet to his followers, in order that they may prepare themselves more cheerfully for battle.'[91]

In this way Calvin laboured in the town, in the villages, and in the châteaux, conversing tenderly with children, preaching to adults, and training heroes and martyrs. But the same circumstance which had taken him away from Orleans, suddenly occurred at Bourges. One day he received a letter from Noyon, written probably by his brother Anthony. Alas! his father was dead! and he was far from him, unable to lavish upon him the attentions of his filial piety. 'While he was at Bourges his father died,' says Theodore Beza, 'and he was obliged to return to Noyon.'[92] The death was very sudden.[93] Calvin did {39} not hesitate; he bade farewell to Berry, to those pious families which he had edified, to his studies, and to his friends. 'You held out your hand to me,' he said to Wolmar, 'and were ready to support me from one end to the other of my course; but my father's death takes me away from our conversations and our lessons.'[94]

Bourges did not fall back into darkness after Calvin's departure. A venerable doctor, named Michel Simon, perhaps that Michel whom we have already mentioned, displayed a holy boldness notwithstanding his age. One day a Pelagian cordelier (as all the doctors of that order are) had effrontery enough to maintain that man can be saved by his natural strength alone. Simon confronted him, and succeeded in getting it laid down that in the public disputations every proposition must be established by the text of Scripture. This gave a new impulse to theological studies.

The priests came to an understanding with one another, and made their preparations without saying a word. On the following Sunday, Michel Simon, having entered the pulpit, was about to begin his sermon, when the curé, with his vicars and choristers, entered the choir, and began to chant the office for the dead. It was impossible either to preach or to hear. The exasperated students rushed into the choir, threw the books about, upset the lecterns, and drove out the priests, who ran off 'in great disorder.' Simon, who remained master of the field, delivered {40} his sermon, and, to the surprise of his hearers, ended by repeating the Lord's prayer in French, without adding the Ave Maria! Whereupon a man, sitting in one of the upper stalls (he was the king's proctor), stood up, and with a sonorous voice began: Ave Maria, gratia.... He could not complete the sentence. A universal shout interrupted him; the women, who are easily excited, caught up their little stools, crowded round the proctor, and shook them over his head. These people were catholics, disgusted with the priests, not with the disciples of the Saviour.

While the student of Noyon was devoting himself to the preaching of the Gospel, extreme danger threatened him who had been his forerunner in this work.

[57]   'Quod tibi promiseram discedens me brevi adfuturum.'—Calvinus Chemino, May 14, 1528, Berne MS.

[58]   'Ea me expectatio diutius suspensum habuit.'—Calvinus Chemino.

[59]   'Nam dum reditum ad vos meditor.'—Ibid.

[60]   Calvini Opera.

[61]   'Sed cum medici spem facerent posse redire in prosperam valetudinem.'—Calvinus Chemino.

[62]   'Nihil aliud visum est quam tui desiderium.'—Ibid.

[63]   'Interim dies de die trahitur.'—Ibid.

[64]   'Certum mortis periculum.'—Calvinus Chemino.

[65]   'In litteris missitandis plus satis officiosum, ne dicam importunum.'—Ibid.

[66]   'Utcunque res ceciderit, ad vos revisam.'—Ibid.

[67]   'Factum est ut ad te pervenirem anno Domini 1528, nonis Decembris.'—Letter of Theodore Beza to Wolmar, Preface to the Confessio Fidei Christianæ.

[68]   'Anno Domini 1519 die 24 junii, placuit Deo O. M. ut mundi lucem aspicerem.'—Letter of Theodore Beza to Wolmar, Preface to the Confessio Fidei Christianæ.

[69]   'Ut me quamvis adhuc a nutricis uberibus pendentem.'—Ibid.

[70]   'Aureliæ primum, deinde Biturigibus, quum in eam urbem regina Navarræ te evocasset.'—Ibid.

[71]   'Eique discedenti doctoratus insignia absque ullo pretio offeruntur.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[72]   Conrad Gessner von Hanhait, p. 22. Theodor. Beza von Baum, p. 12.

[73]   'Vir fuit corpulentus, proceræ staturæ. Auri avidus habitus est et cibi avidior.'—Panzivole, De claris Legum Interpret. lib. ii.

[74]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, p. 6.

[75]   Ibid.

[76]   'Of Rome in its decline the greatest dread.'—Bezæ Icones.

[77]   'Libros quos e Germania acceperat, mittebat.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, ii. liv. vii.

[78]   'Die quodam cum discipulo magister, animi gratia, deambulans.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie.

[79]   'Ut posito Justiniani codice ad Theologiæ omnium scientiarum reginæ studium, animum applicaret.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. ix. Florimond Rémond was so hostile to the Reformation which he had abjured, that he cannot be trusted when his prejudices are concerned; but he ought to be believed when his predilections do not mislead him. I cannot see what object he could have had in inventing this conversation. 'The Calvinists, in order to be avenged of this writer,' says Moreri, 'have endeavoured to traduce his memory.' The most sensible course is to hold a just mean between the Romish apologists and the protestant detractors.

[80]   'Non omnes esse Verbi ministerio idoneos . . . requiritur specialis vocatio.'—Calv. Opera.

[81]   'Tanto proficiendi studio exarsi, ut reliqua studia quamvis non abjicerem, frigidius tamen sectarer.'—Calv. Præf. in Psalm.

[82]   'Acriter exhortans ut de reformanda atque illustranda Dei ecclesia cogitationem ac curam serio inciperet.'—Flor. Rémond, Histoire de l'Hérésie.

[83]   Leo Colladon died at Geneva on the 31st of August, 1552. His son Nicholas took refuge there in 1553, and in 1556 succeeded Calvin in the chair of divinity. Germain II., made free of the city in 1555, was the compiler of the Genevese code. Galiffe, Généalogie des Familles Genevoises. Haag, France Protestante, article Colladon.

[84]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, p. 7.

[85]   Calvin, Commentaire sur Mathieu, ch. x.

[86]   In the reign of Louis XIV. this lordship belonged to Colbert.

[87]   'Contrefont les marmitons.'

[88]   'Nonnullas interdum conciones in agro Biturigum, in oppidulo quod Linerias vocant.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[89]   Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, p. 7.

[90]   'Nisi me ab ipsis prope carceribus mors patris revocasset.'—Calvinus Volmario, in 2ᵃᵐ Ep. ad Corinth.

[91]   Commentaire sur Mathieu, ch. x.

[92]   Théod. de Bèze, Vie de Calvin (French text), p. 11. 'In agro Biturigum ... mors patris nuntiata in patriam vocavit.'—Ibid. in Latin text.

[93]   'Repentina mors patris,' says Beza. This sudden death proves that Calvin's father did not die, as some assert, of the long illness described in the letter to Duchemin.

[94]   Dédicace de la 2ᵉ aux Corinthiens.



WHEN Calvin passed through the capital on his way from Bourges to Noyon, on the occasion of his father's death, he might have remarked a certain agitation among his acquaintances. In fact, the Sorbonne was increasing its exertions to destroy Berquin, who, forsaken by almost everybody, had no one to support him but God and the Queen of Navarre.


Margaret, who was at St. Germain-en-Laye, enjoyed but little repose. The brilliant court of Francis I. filled the noble palace with their pastimes. Early in the morning every one was afoot; the horns sounded, and the king set off, accompanied by the King of Navarre, a crowd of nobles, the Duchess of Etampes, and many other ladies, and joined one of those great hunting parties of which he was so fond. Margaret, remaining alone, recalled her sorrows, and sought the one thing needful. Her husband sometimes indulged in gaming, and the queen entreated Montmorency to give him good advice. Henry, who thought his wife rather too pious, complained of this with all the impetuosity of his character. It was not Margaret's only vexation. At first her mother had appeared to {42} take part with the Reformation. One day, in December 1522, Louisa of Savoy had said to her daughter, who was delighted to hear it: 'By the grace of the Holy Ghost, my son and I are beginning to know these hypocrites, white, black, grey, and all colours.... May God, by his mercy and infinite goodness, defend us from them; for, if Jesus Christ is not a liar, there is no such dangerous brood in all human nature.'[95] But this princess, whose morality was more than doubtful, had now become reconciled, and even leagued with these 'hypocrites black, white, and grey,' and the king was beginning to give them his support. Thus Margaret saw the three objects of her tenderest affection alienating themselves from God; and remaining at the palace while Francis with his lords and ladies and his hounds was chasing the wild animals, she walked sadly in the park, saying to herself:

Father and mother I have none;
Brother and sister—all are gone,
Save God, in whom I trust alone,
Who rules the earth from his high throne.
All these loved ones I would forget;
Parents and friends, the world, its joys,
Honour and wealth however great,
I hold my deepest enemies!
Hence, ye delights!
Whose vanity
Jesus the Christ has shown to me!
But God, God only is my hope;
I know that he is all in all,
Dearer than husband to the wife—
My father, mother, friend, my all!
He is my hope,
My resting-place,
My strength, my being, and my trust,
For he hath saved me by his grace.
Father and mother I have none;
Brother and sister—all are gone,
Save God, in whom I trust alone,
Who rules the earth from his high throne.[96]


Whilst Margaret was seeking consolation in God, there came a support which she had not expected. Erasmus was growing uneasy; the letters which he received were full of alarming news; he saw that Francis I., on whom he had so much relied, was stumbling and ready to fall. This would give the victory to the Sorbonne. Having a presentiment that the ultramontanists were daring revolutionists, prepared to sacrifice not only literature and the Gospel, but royalty itself, he laid aside his usual prudence, and resolved to tear the veil from the king's eyes, which concealed the perverted designs of the Roman party, and to show him conspirators in those who called themselves the supporters of the throne. 'These men,' he wrote, 'under the cloak of the interests of the faith, creep into all sorts of dark ways. Their only thought is of bringing the august heads of monarchs under their yoke and of suspending their power. Wait a little. If a prince resists them, they call him a favourer of heresy, and say that it is the duty of the Church (that is to say, of a few apocryphal monks and false doctors) to dethrone him. What! shall they be permitted to scatter their poisons {44} everywhere, and we be forbidden to apply the antidote?'[97]

This epistle from the prince of letters, who with so much discernment placed his finger on the sore, soon became known; and when it reached the Sorbonne, the doctors, dismayed that a man so moderate and respected should reveal their secrets so boldly, saw no other means of saving their cause than by striking their enemies with terror. They dared do nothing against the sage of Rotterdam, who was besides out of their reach; but they swore that his friend Berquin should pay for his master. The theologians of the Sorbonne demanded that this gentleman should be brought to trial; Duprat, Louisa of Savoy, and Montmorency supported their petition. There was no means of evading it, and twelve judges were nominated by the pope and by the king.[98] These men were greatly embarrassed, for Berquin's irreproachable life, amiable character, inexhaustible charity, and regular attendance at public worship, had won universal esteem. However, as the first president De Selva, the fourth president Pailot, and some others, were either weak or fanatical persons, the Sorbonne did not lose all hope. One alone of the twelve caused any fear: this was William Budæus, called by Erasmus 'the prodigy of France;' an enlightened man, who, while professing a great respect for the Catholic Church, had more than once betrayed certain evangelical tendencies to his wife and children. The twelve judges proceeded with their investigation, {45} without requiring the accused man to be shut up in prison. Berquin went and came as he pleased; he spoke to the judges and parliament, and convinced them of his innocence. But terror began to paralyse the weak minds among them; they were afraid of the righteous man; they would have nothing to do with 'that sort of people,' and turned their backs upon him.


Berquin now resolved to address the king and to get Margaret to support him. 'It was generally reported,' says one of the enemies of the Reform, 'that the Queen of Navarre took wondrous pains to save those who were in danger, and that she alone prevented the Reformation from being stifled in the cradle.'[99] Berquin went to the palace, and made his danger known to the queen. He found in Margaret the compassion which failed him elsewhere. She knew that we ought not 'to stand aside from those who suffer persecution for the name of Christ, and would not be ashamed of those in whom there was nothing shameful.'[100] Margaret immediately took up her pen, and sitting down at that table where she had so often pleaded both in prose and verse the cause of Christ and of christians, she wrote the king the following letter:—

'Monseigneur,—The unhappy Berquin, who maintains that God, through your goodness, has twice saved his life, presents himself before you, to make manifest his innocence to you, having no one else to whom he can apply. Knowing, Monseigneur, the esteem in which you hold him, and the desire which he has {46} now and always has had to serve you, I fear not to entreat that you will be pleased to have pity upon him. He will convince you that these heretic-finders are more slanderous and disobedient towards you than zealous for the faith. He knows, Monseigneur, that you desire to maintain the rights of every one, and that the just man needs no advocate in the eyes of your compassion. For this cause I shall say no more. Entreating Him who has given you such graces and virtues to grant you a long and happy life, in order that he may long be glorified by you in this world and everlastingly in the world to come,

'Your most obedient and most humble subject and sister,


Having finished, the queen rose and gave the letter to Berquin, who immediately sought an audience of the king. We know not how he was received, or what effect Margaret's intercession had upon Francis. It would seem, however, that the king addressed a few kind words to him. We know at least that Beda and the Sorbonne were uneasy, and that, fearing to see their victim once more escape them, they increased their exertions, and brought one charge after another against him. At last the authorities gave way; the police received orders to avoid every demonstration calculated to alarm him, lest he should escape to Erasmus at Basle. All their measures were arranged, and at the moment when he least expected it, about {47} three weeks before Easter (in March 1529), Berquin was arrested and taken to the Conciergerie.


Thus then was 'the most learned of the nobles,' as he was termed, thrown into prison in despite of the queen. He paced sadly up and down his cell, and one thought haunted him. Having been seized very unexpectedly, he had left in his room at Paris certain books which were condemned at Rome, and which consequently might ruin him. 'Alas!' he exclaimed, 'they will cost me serious trouble!'[102] Berquin resolved to apply to a christian friend whom he could trust, to prevent the evil which he foresaw; and the next day after his incarceration, when the domestic, who had free access to him, and passed in and out on business, came for orders, the prisoner gave him, with an anxious and mysterious air, a letter which he said was of the greatest importance. The servant immediately hid it under his dress. 'My life is at stake,' repeated Berquin. In that letter, addressed to a familiar friend, the prisoner begged him without delay to remove the books pointed out to him and to burn them.

The servant, who did not possess the courage of a hero, departed trembling. His emotion increased as he proceeded, his strength failed him, and as he was crossing the Pont au Change, and found himself in front of the image of Our Lady, known as la belle ymage, the poor fellow, who was rather superstitious, although in Berquin's service, lost his presence of mind and fainted. 'A sinking of the heart came over him, and he fell to the ground as if in a swoon,' says the catholic chronicler.[103] The {48} neighbours and the passers-by gathered round him, and lifted him up. One of these kind citizens, eager to assist him, unbuttoned his coat to give him room to breathe, and found the letter which had been so carefully hidden. The man opened and read it; he was frightened, and told the surrounding crowd what were its contents. The people declared it to be a miracle: 'He is a heretic,' they said. 'If he has fallen like a dead man, it is the penalty of his crime; it was Our Lady who did it.'—'Give me the letter,' said one of the spectators; 'the famous Jacobin doctor who is preaching the Lent sermons at St. Bartholomew's dines with me to-day. I will show it to him.' When the dinner-hour came, the company invited by this citizen arrived, and among them was the celebrated preacher of the Rue St. Jacques in his white robe and scapulary and pointed hood. This Jacobin monk was no holiday inquisitor. He understood the great importance of the letter, and, quitting the table, hastened with it to Beda, who, quite overjoyed at the discovery, eagerly laid it before the court. The christian gentleman was ruined. The judges found the letter very compromising. 'Let the said Berquin,' they ordered, 'be closely confined in a strong tower.' This was done. Beda, on his side, displayed fresh activity; for time pressed, and it was necessary to strike a decisive blow. With some the impetuous syndic spoke gently, with others he spoke loudly; he employed threats and promises, and nothing seemed to tire him.

From that hour Berquin's case appeared desperate. Most of his friends abandoned him; they were afraid lest Margaret's intervention, always so powerful, {49} should now prove unavailing. The captive alone did not give way to despair. Although shut up in a strong tower, he possessed liberty and joy, and uplifting his soul to God, he hoped even against hope.


On Friday, the 16th of April, 1529, the inquiry was finished, and at noon Berquin was brought into court. The countenance of Budæus was sorrowful and kind; but the other judges bore the stamp of severity on their features. The prisoner's heart was free from rancour, his hands pure from revenge, and the calm of innocence was on his face. 'Louis Berquin,' said the president, 'you are convicted of belonging to the sect of Luther, and of having written wicked books against the majesty of God and of his glorious mother. Wherefore we condemn you to do public penance, bareheaded and with a lighted taper in your hand, in the great court of our palace, asking pardon of God, of the king, and of justice, for the offence you have committed. You shall then be taken, bareheaded and on foot, to the Grève, where you shall see your books burnt. Next you shall be led to the front of the church of Notre Dame, where you shall do penance to God and the glorious Virgin, his mother. Afterwards you shall have your tongue pierced—that instrument of unrighteousness by which you have so grievously sinned.[104] Lastly, you shall be taken to the prison of Monsieur de Paris (the bishop), and be shut up there all your life between four walls of stone; and we forbid you to be supplied either with books to read, or pen and ink to write.'

Berquin, startled at hearing such a sentence, which {50} Erasmus terms 'atrocious,' and which the pious nobleman was far from expecting,[105] at first remained silent, but soon regaining his usual courage, and looking firmly at his judges,[106] he said: 'I appeal to the king.'—'Take care,' answered his judges; 'if you do not acquiesce in our sentence, we will find means to prevent you from ever appealing again.' This was clear. Berquin was sent back to prison.

Margaret began to fear that her brother would withdraw his support from the evangelicals. If the Reformation had been a courtly religion, Francis would have protected it; but the independent air that it seemed to take, and, above all, its inflexible holiness, made it distasteful to him. The Queen of Navarre saw that the unhappy prisoner had none but the Lord on his side. She prayed:

Thou, God, alone canst say:
Touch not my son, take not his life away.
Thou only canst thy sovereign hand outstretch
To ward the blow.[107]

Everything indicated that the blow would be struck. On the afternoon of the very day when the sentence had been delivered, Maillard, the lieutenant-criminal, with the archers, bowmen, and arquebusiers of the city, surrounded the Conciergerie. It was thought that Berquin's last hour had come, and an immense crowd hurried to the spot. 'More than twenty thousand people came to see the execution,' says a manuscript.[108] 'They are going to take one of the king's officers to the {51} Grève,' said the spectators. Maillard, leaving his troops under arms, entered the prison, ordered the martyr's cell to be opened, and told him that he had come to execute the sentence. 'I have appealed to the king,' replied the prisoner. The lieutenant-criminal withdrew. Everybody expected to see him followed by Berquin, and all eyes were fixed upon the gate; but no one appeared. The commander of the troops ordered them to retire; the archers marched back, and 'the great throng of people that was round the court-house and in the city separated.' The first president immediately called the court together, to take the necessary measures. 'We must lose no time,' said some, 'for the king has twice already rescued him from our hands.' Was there no hope left?


There were in France at that time two men of the noblest character, both friends of learning, whose whole lives had been consecrated to doing what was right: they were Budæus on the bench, and Berquin in his cell. The first was united to the second by the purest friendship, and his only thought was how to save him. But what could he do singly against the parliament and the Sorbonne? Budæus shuddered when he heard of his friend's appeal; he knew the danger to which this step exposed him, and hastened to the prison. 'Pray do not appeal!' said he; 'a second sentence is all ready, and it orders you to be put to death. If you accept the first, we shall be able to save you eventually. Pray do not ruin yourself!' Berquin, a more decided man than Budæus, would rather die than make any concession to error. His friend, however, did not slacken his exertions; he desired at whatever risk to save one of the most {52} distinguished men of France. Three whole days were spent by him in the most energetic efforts.[109] He had hardly quitted his friend before he returned and sat down by his side or walked with him sorrowfully up and down the prison. He entreated him for his own safety, for the good of the Church, and for the welfare of France. Berquin made no reply; only, after a long appeal from Budæus, he gave a nod of dissent. Berquin, says the historian of the University of Paris, 'sustained the encounter with indomitable obstinacy.'[110]


Would he continue firm? Many evangelicals were anxiously watching the struggle. Remembering the fall of the apostle Peter at the voice of a serving-maid, they said one to another that a trifling opposition was sufficient to make the strongest stumble. 'Ah!' said Calvin, 'if we cease but for an instant to lean upon the hand of God, a puff of wind, or the rustling of a falling leaf, is enough ... and straightway we fall!' It was not a puff of wind, but a tempest rather, by which Berquin was assailed. While the threatening voices of his enemies were roaring around him, the gentle voice of Budæus, full of the tenderest affection, penetrated the prisoner's heart and shook his firmest resolutions. 'O my dear friend,' said Budæus, 'there are better times coming, for which you ought to preserve yourself.' Then he stopped, and added in a more serious tone: 'You are guilty towards God and man if by your own act you give yourself up to death.'[111]

{53} Berquin was touched at last by the perseverance of this great man; he began to waver; his sight became troubled. Turning his face away from God, he bent it to the ground. The power of the Holy Spirit was extinguished in him for a moment (to use the language of a reformer), and he thought he might be more useful to the kingdom of God by preserving himself for the future, than by yielding himself up to present death. 'All that we ask of you is to beg for pardon. Do we not all need pardon?' Berquin consented to ask pardon of God and the king in the great court of the palace of justice.

Budæus ran off with delight and emotion to inform his colleagues of the prisoner's concession. But at the very moment when he thought he had saved his friend, he felt a sudden sadness come over him. He knew at what a price Berquin would have to purchase his life; besides, had he not seen that it was only after a struggle of nearly sixty hours that the prisoner had given way? Budæus was uneasy. 'I know the man's mind,' he said. 'His ingenuousness, and the confidence he has in the goodness of his cause, will be his ruin.'[112]

During this interval there was a fierce struggle in Berquin's soul. All peace had forsaken him; his conscience spoke tumultuously. 'No!' he said to himself, 'no sophistry! Truth before all things! We must fear neither man nor torture, but render all obedience to God. I will persevere to the end; I will not pray the leader of this good war for my discharge. Christ will not have his soldiers take their ease until they have conquered over death.'

Budæus returned to the prison shortly afterwards. {54} 'I will retract nothing,' said his friend; 'I would rather die than by my silence countenance the condemnation of truth.'[113] He was lost! Budæus withdrew, pale and frightened, and communicated the terrible news to his colleagues. Beda and his friends were filled with joy, being convinced that to remove Berquin from the number of the living was to remove the Reformation from France. The judges, by an unprecedented exercise of power, revised their sentence, and condemned the nobleman to be strangled and then burnt on the Grève.

Margaret, who was at St. Germain, was heartbroken when she heard of this unexpected severity. Alas! the king was at Blois with Madame ——.... Would there be time to reach him? She would try. She wrote to him again, apologising for the very humble recommendations she was continually laying before him, and adding: 'Be pleased, Sire, to have pity on poor Berquin, who is suffering only because he loves the Word of God and obeys you. This is the reason why those who did the contrary during your captivity hate him so; and their malicious hypocrisy has enabled them to find advocates about you to make you forget his sincere faith in God and his love for you.'[114] After having uttered this cry of anguish, the Queen of Navarre waited.


But Francis gave no signs of life. In his excuse it has been urged that if he had at that time been victorious abroad and honoured at home, he would have saved Berquin once more; but the troubles in Italy and {55} the intrigues mixed up with the treaty of Cambray, signed three months later, occupied all his thoughts. These are strange reasons. The fact is, that if the king (as is probable) had desired to save Berquin, he had not the opportunity; the enemies of this faithful christian had provided against that. They had scarcely got the sentence in their hands, when they called for its immediate execution. They fancied they could already hear the gallop of the horse arriving from Blois, and see the messenger bringing the pardon. Beda fanned the flame. Not a week's delay, not even a day or an hour! 'But,' said some, 'this prevents the king from exercising the right of pardon, and is an encroachment upon his royal authority.'—'It matters not! put him to death!'—The judges determined to have the sentence carried out the very day it was delivered, 'in order that he might not be helped by the king.'[115]

In the morning of the 22nd of April, 1529,[116] the officers of parliament entered the gloomy cell where Berquin was confined. The pious disciple, on the point of offering up his life voluntarily for the name of Jesus Christ, was absorbed in prayer; he had long sought for God and had found him; the Lord was near him, and peace filled his soul. Having God for his father, he knew that nothing would be wanting to him in that last hour when everything else was to fail him: he saw a triumph in reproach, a deliverance in death. At the sight of the officers of the court, some of whom {56} appeared embarrassed, Berquin understood what they wanted. He was ready; he rose calm and firm, and followed them. The officers handed him over to the lieutenant-criminal and his sergeants, who were to carry out the sentence.

Meanwhile several companies of archers and bowmen were drawn up in front of the Conciergerie. These armed men were not alone around the prison. The news had spread far and wide that a gentleman of the court, a friend of Erasmus and of the Queen of Navarre, was about to be put to death; and accordingly there was a great commotion in the capital. A crowd of common people, citizens, priests and monks, with a few gentlemen and friends of the condemned noble, waited, some with anger, others with curiosity, and others with anguish, for the moment when he would appear. Budæus was not there; he had not the courage to be present at the punishment. Margaret, who was at St. Germain, could almost see the flames of the burning pile from the terrace of the château.

When the clock struck twelve, the escort began to move. At its head was the grand penitentiary Merlin; then followed the archers and bowmen, and after them the officers of justice and more armed men. In the middle of the escort was the prisoner. A wretched tumbrel was bearing him slowly to punishment. He wore a cloak of velvet, a doublet of satin and damask, and golden hose, says the Bourgeois of Paris, who probably saw him pass.[117] The King of heaven having invited him to the wedding, Berquin had joyfully put on his finest clothes. 'Alas!' said {57} many as they saw him, 'he is of noble lineage, a very great scholar, expert and quick in learning ... and yet he has gone out of his mind!' There was nothing in the looks or gestures of the reformer which indicated the least confusion or pride. He neither braved nor feared death: he approached it with tranquillity, meekness, and hope, as if entering the gates of heaven. Men saw peace unchangeable written on his face. Montius, a friend of Erasmus, who had desired to accompany this pious man even to the stake, said in the highest admiration: 'There was in him none of that boldness, of that hardened air which men led to death often assume; the calmness of a good conscience was visible in every feature.'—'He looks,' said other spectators, 'as if he were in God's house meditating upon heavenly things.'[118]


At last the tumbrel had reached the place of punishment, and the escort halted. The chief executioner approached and desired Berquin to alight. He did so, and the crowd pressed more closely round the ill-omened spot. The principal officer of the court, having beckoned for silence with his hand, unrolled a parchment, and read the sentence 'with a husky voice,' says the chronicler. But Berquin was about to die for the Son of God who had died for him; his heart did not flinch one jot; he felt no confusion, and wishing to make the Saviour who supported him in that hour of trial known to the poor people around him, he uttered a few christian words. But the doctors of the Sorbonne were watching all his movements, and had even posted about a certain number {58} of their creatures in order to make a noise if they thought it was necessary. Alarmed at hearing the soft voice of the evangelist, and fearing lest the people should be touched by his words, these 'sycophants' hastily gave the signal. Their agents immediately began to shout, the soldiers clashed their arms, 'and so great was the uproar that the voice of the holy martyr was not heard in the extremity of death.' When Berquin found that these clamours drowned his voice, he held his peace. A Franciscan friar, who had accompanied him from the prison, eager to extort from him one word of recantation, redoubled his importunities at this last moment; but the martyr remained firm. At length the monk was silent, and the executioner drew near. Berquin meekly stretched out his head; the hangman passed the cord round his neck and strangled him.


There was a pause of solemn silence ... but not for long. It was broken by the doctors of the Sorbonne and the monks, who hastily went up and contemplated the lifeless body of their victim. No one cried 'Jesus! Jesus!'—a cry of mercy heard even at the execution of a parricide. The most virtuous man in France was treated worse than a murderer. One person, however, standing near the stake, showed some emotion, and, strange to say, it was the grand penitentiary Merlin. 'Truly,' he said, 'so good a christian has not died these hundred years and more.' The dead body was thrown into the flames, which mounted up and devoured those limbs once so vigorous and now so pale and lifeless. A few men, led away by passion, looked on with joy at the progress of the fire, which soon consumed the precious {59} remains of him who should have been the reformer of France. They imagined they saw heresy burnt out, and when the body was entirely destroyed, they thought that the Reformation was destroyed with it, and that not a fragment of it remained. But all the spectators were not so cruel. They gazed upon the burning pile with sorrow and with love. The christians who had looked upon Berquin as the future reformer of France, were overwhelmed with anguish when they saw the hero in whom they had hoped reduced to a handful of dust. The temper of the people seemed changed, and tears were seen to flow down many a face. In order to calm this emotion, certain rumours were set afloat. A man stepped out of the crowd, and going up to the Franciscan confessor, asked him: 'Did Berquin acknowledge his error?'—'Yes, certainly,' answered the monk, 'and I doubt not that his soul departed in peace.' This man was Montius; he wrote and told the anecdote to Erasmus. 'I do not believe a word of it,' answered the latter. 'It is the usual story which those people invent after the death of their victims, in order to appease the anger of the people.'

Some such stratagems were necessary, for the general agitation was increasing. Berquin's innocence, stamped on his features and on all his words, struck those who saw him die, and they were beginning to murmur. The monks noticed this, and had prepared themselves beforehand in case the indignation of the people should break out. They penetrated into the thickest of the crowd, making presents to the children and to the common people; and having worked them up, they sent them off in every direction. The impressionable {60} crowd spread over the Grève and through the neighbouring streets, shouting out that Berquin was a heretic. Yet here and there men gathered in little groups, talking of the excellent man who had been sacrificed to the passion of the theological faculty. 'Alas!' said some with tears in their eyes, 'there never was a more virtuous man.'[119] Many were astonished that a nobleman who held a high place in the king's affections should be strangled like a criminal. 'Alas!' rejoined others indignantly, 'what caused his ruin was the liberty which animated him, which is always the faithful companion of a good conscience.'[120] Others of more spirit exclaimed: 'Condemn, quarter, crucify, burn, behead ... that is what pirates and tyrants can do; but God is the only just judge, and blessed is the man whom he pardoneth.' The more pious looked for consolation to the future. 'It is only through the cross,' they said, 'that Christ will triumph in this kingdom.'[121] The crowd dispersed.


The news of this tragedy soon spread through France, everywhere causing the deepest sorrow. Berquin was not the only person struck down; other christians also suffered the last punishment. Philip Huaut was burnt alive, after having his tongue cut out; and Francis Desus had both hand and head cut off. The story of these deaths, especially that of Berquin, was told in the shops of the workmen and in the cottages of the peasants. Many were terrified at it; but more than one evangelical christian, when he heard {61} the tale at his own fireside, raised his head and cast a look towards heaven, expressive of his joy at having a Redeemer and a Father's house beyond the sky. 'We too are ready,' said these men and women of the Reformation to one another, 'we are ready to meet death cheerfully, setting our eyes on the life that is to come.' One of these christian souls, who had known Berquin best, and who shed most tears over him, was the Queen of Navarre. Distressed and alarmed by his death and by the deaths of the christians sacrificed in other places for the Gospel, she prayed fervently to God to come to the help of his people. She called to mind these words of the Gospel: Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him?[122] A stranger to all hatred, free from every evil desire of revenge, she called to the Lord's remembrance how dear the safety of his children is to him, and implored his protection for them:

O Lord our God, arise,
Chastise thy enemies
Thy saints who slay.
Death, which to heathen men
Is full of grief and pain,
To all who in heaven shall reign
With thee is dear.
They through the gloomy vale
Walk firm, and do not quail,
To rest with thee.
Such death is happiness,
Leading to that glad place
Where in eternal bliss
Thy sons abide.
Stretch out thy hand, O Lord,
Help those who trust thy Word,
And give for sole reward
This death of joy.
O Lord our God, arise,
Chastise thy enemies
Thy saints who slay.[123]

This little poem by the Queen of Navarre, which contains several other verses, was the martyrs' hymn in the sixteenth century. Nothing shows more clearly that she was heart and soul with the evangelicals.

Terror reigned among the reformed christians for some time after Berquin's martyrdom. They endured reproach, without putting themselves forward; they did not wish to irritate their enemies, and many of them retired to the desert, that is, to some unknown hiding-place. It was during this period of sorrow and alarm, when the adversaries imagined that by getting rid of Berquin they had got rid of the Reformation as well, and when the remains of the noble martyr were hardly scattered to the winds of heaven, that Calvin once more took up his abode in Paris, not far from the spot where his friend had been burnt. Rome thought she had put the reformer to death; but he was about to rise again from his ashes, more spiritual, more clear, and more powerful, to labour at the renovation of society and the salvation of mankind.

[95]   Journal de Louise de Savoie.

[96]   Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. p. 502.

[97]   'Illis licere venena sua spargere, nobis non licere admovere antidota.'—Erasmi Epp. p. 1109.

[98]   Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris sous François I. p. 380.

[99]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, p. 348.

[100]   Calvin.

[101]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, ii. p. 96.

[102]   Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 381.

[103]   Ibid.

[104]   'Lingua illi ferro perfoderetur.'—Erasmi Epp. p. 1277. Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 382.

[105]   'Audita præter expectationem atroci sententia.'—Erasmi Epp.

[106]   'Constanti vultu.'—Ibid.

[107]   Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. p. 444.

[108]   Chronique du Roi François I. p. 76, note.

[109]   'Budæum triduo privatim egisse cum Berquino.'—Erasmi Epp.

[110]   Crévier, v. p. 206.

[111]   Crespin, Martyrologue, p. 103, verso.

[112]   Crespin, Martyrologue, p. 103, verso.

[113]   'At ego mortem subire, quam veritatis damnationem, vel tacitus approbare velim.'—Bezæ Icones.

[114]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, ii. p. 99.

[115]   Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 383.

[116]   Crespin and Theodore Beza speak of the month of November; the Bourgeois de Paris mentions the 17th of April, but most of the authorities give the 22nd.

[117]   'Des chausses d'or.'—Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 384.

[118]   'Dixisses illum in templo de rebus cœlestibus cogitare.'—Erasmi Epp. p. 1277.

[119]   'Prædicant eo nihil fuisse integrius.'—Erasmi Epp. p. 1313.

[120]   'Libertas, bonæ conscientiæ comes, perdidit virum.'—Ibid. p. 113.

[121]   'Christo, nonnisi sub cruce, in Gallis triumphaturo.'—Bezæ Icones.

[122]   Luke xviii. 7.


'Reveille-toi, Seigneur Dieu,
Fais ton effort,
Et viens venger en tout lieu
Des tiens la mort.'
Les Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. p. 508.



CALVIN, having bid farewell to the towns and châteaux of Berry, had arrived in the midst of those hills and plains, those green pastures and noble forests, which stretch along both sides of the Oise. He approached that little city of Noyon, which had been one time the capital of the empire of Charlemagne, and where Hugues Capet, the head of the third race, had been elected king. But his thoughts were not on these things: he was thinking of his father. As soon as he caught a glimpse of that beautiful Gothic cathedral, beneath whose shadow he had been brought up, he said to himself that its pavement would never more be trodden by his father's feet. He had never before returned to Noyon in such deep emotion. The death of Berquin, the death of his father, the future of the Church and of himself—all oppressed him. He found consolation in the affection of his family, and especially in the devoted attachment of his brother Anthony and of his sister Mary, who were one day to share his exile. Bowed down by so many afflictions, he would have sunk under the burden, 'like a man half dead, if God had not {64} revived his courage while comforting him by his Word.'[124]

His father—that old man with mind so positive, with hand so firm, and whose authority he had venerated—was not there to guide him: he was free. Gerard had decided that his son should devote himself to the law, by which he might rise to a high position in the world. Calvin aspired, indeed, to another future, but from obedience he had renounced his most ardent desires; and now, finding himself at liberty, he turned towards that christian career in which he was to be, along with Luther, the greatest champion of modern times. 'Earthly fathers,' he said on one occasion, 'must not prevent the supreme and only Father of all from enjoying his rights.'[125]

As yet, however, Calvin did not meditate becoming a reformer in the same sense as Luther. At that time he would have liked to see all the Church transformed, rather than set himself apart and build up a new one. The faith which he desired to preach was that old christian truth which Paul had preached at Rome. The scribes had substituted for it the false traditions of man, but this was only one reason the more for proclaiming in the Church the doctrine which had founded the Church. After the first phase of christian life, in which man thinks only of Christ, there usually comes a second, where the christian does not voluntarily worship with assemblies opposed to his convictions. Calvin was now in the first of these phases. He thought only of preaching the Gospel. {65} Did he not possess a pulpit in this very neighbourhood, and was it not his duty to glorify God from it? Had it been in his power, he would have done so in St. Peter's at Rome; why, then, should he refrain in his own church?


Calvin had friends in Picardy, even among the dignitaries of the clergy. Early attached to their young fellow-townsman, these men had received him with joy; they had found him more advanced in piety and learning, and had observed nothing in him opposed to their opinions. They thought that he might become one of the pillars of the Church. The circumstance that he had studied the law did not check them; it rendered him, in their eyes, fitter still to maintain the interests of the faith ... and of the clergy. Far from repelling him, his former patrons endeavoured to bind him still closer to them. That noble friend of his boyhood, Claude de Hangest of Momor, now abbot of St. Eloy, offered to give him the living of Pont L'Evêque in exchange for that of St. Martin of Marteville. Calvin, seeing in this offer the opportunity of preaching in the very place where his ancestors had lived, accepted; and then resigned, in favour of his brother Anthony, the chapel of La Gésine, of which he had been titulary for eight years. The act is dated the 30th of April, 1529.[126]

The same persons who presided over these several changes encouraged Calvin to preach. When a young man who has gone through his studies for the ministry of the Word returns to his native place, every one is anxious to hear him. Curiosity was still more keenly {66} aroused in Calvin's case, for his reputation had preceded him, and some little charge of heresy, put forward from time to time, served but to increase the general eagerness. Everybody wanted to hear the son of the episcopal secretary, the cooper's grandson. The men and women who knew him hastened to the church; people even came from Noyon. The holy place was soon filled. At last a young man, of middle height, with thin pale face, whose eyes indicated firm conviction and lively zeal, went up into the pulpit and explained the Holy Scriptures to his fellow-townsmen.[127] The effects of Calvin's preaching were various. Many persons rejoiced to hear, at last, a living word beneath that roof which had reechoed with so much vain and useless babbling. Of this number were, no doubt, certain notable men who were seen pressing round the preacher: Laurent of Normandy, who enjoyed great consideration in that district; Christopher Lefèvre, Lancelot of Montigny, Jacques Bernardy, Corneille de Villette, Nicholas Néret, Labbé surnamed Balafré, Claude Dupré, and Nicholas Picot, Anthony Calvin's brother-in-law. All were afterwards accused of having embraced the new doctrine, and were condemned by the parliament of Paris to be drawn on hurdles and burnt in the great square of Noyon; but they had already quitted the kingdom.[128]

The words of the young speaker did not merely communicate fresh knowledge—they worked a transformation of the heart and life. But there were men {67} present quite ready to receive certain evangelical ideas, who yet did not mean to change either their life or their heart. The same word thus produced faith in some and opposition in others: it divided the light from the darkness.[129] Certain bigots and priests, in particular, inveighed against the preaching of that serious-looking, earnest young man, and exclaimed: 'They are setting wolves to guard the sheep!'[130]


Calvin stayed only two or three months at Noyon. Perhaps a growing opposition forced him to depart. He desired also to continue his Greek studies; but instead of returning to Orleans or Bourges, he resolved to go to Paris. The moment was favourable. Classical studies were at that time making great progress in the capital. Francis I., at the request of Budæus and Du Bellay, had just founded (1529) several professorships for teaching Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. It was a complete revolution, and Paris was full of animation when Calvin arrived. The fantastical framework which the scholastics, theologians, jurists, and philosophers had erected during the middle ages, fell to the ground in the midst of jeering and laughter, and the modern learning arose amid the unanimous applause of the rising generation. Pierre Danès, a pupil of Budæus and Lascaris, and afterwards a bishop, taught Greek;[131] Francis Vatable introduced young scholars to the knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, although he failed himself to find the counsel of God therein;[132] other illustrious professors completed this precious {68} course of instruction. Paris was a centre whence light emanated; and this was the reason which induced Calvin to forsake Noyon, Bourges, and even Orleans, and hasten his steps thither.

The journey was a painful one; Calvin (whether on horseback or on foot is unknown) arrived in Paris about the end of June, quite worn out with fatigue. 'It is impossible,' he said next morning, 'for me to go out of doors;'[133] indeed, he did not leave his room for four days. But the news of his arrival soon spread; his friends and admirers hastened to his inn, and during these four days his room was never empty.[134] All the agitation of the schools seemed to be transported thither.


They talked of Budæus, Vatable, and Danès, of Greek and Hebrew, and of the sun of learning then shining over the old Lutetia.... Calvin listened and learnt the state of men's minds. One of the first who hurried to him was Coiffard, his fellow-collegian at Orleans, who brought his father with him. People contended for the student of Noyon, who had already become celebrated. 'Come and stay with us,' said the young Parisian; and when Calvin declined, 'I entreat you,' said Coiffard in the most affectionate manner, 'to grant me this favour.'[135] The father also insisted, for the worthy citizen knew what a steady friend his rather frivolous son would find in the Picardin student. 'There is nothing in the world I desire so much,' he said, 'as to see you associate {69} with my son.'[136] —'Come, do come,' urged the son, 'and be my companion.' Calvin was touched by this affection; but he feared the interruptions of the family, its distance from college, and he had but one object—study. 'I would accept your offer with both hands,' he said, 'but that I intend to follow Danès' Greek course, and his school is too far from your house.'[137] The father and son went away greatly disappointed.

Not long after this, a more important personage entered the room. It was Nicholas Cop, professor at St. Barbe, whose father, a native of Basle, had just been appointed physician to the king. Both father and son were strongly suspected of belonging to the 'new opinions;' but at that time Francis cared little about them. The elder Cop had translated Galen and Hippocrates, and the king had confided to him the care of his health. A strict friendship erelong united Calvin and the son. The latter, although a professor in the university, listened to the student of Noyon as a disciple listens to his master; it is one of those marks of Calvin's superiority, which every one recognised instantly. He showed his friend 'how Christ discharges the office of physician, since he is sent by the Father to quicken the dead.'

The conversations which these two young men then held together resulted in after years in an event which exercised a certain influence over the destiny of the reformer and of the Reform itself.


An object of less importance occupied them now: it was Calvin's first business in Paris, and the {70} account he gives of it throws a new light on the future legislator. The custom of shutting up in convents the young persons who had any tendency towards the Gospel had already begun. 'Our friend Daniel, the advocate,' said Calvin to Cop, 'has a sister in a nunnery at Paris; she is about to take the veil, and Daniel wishes to know if it is with her full consent.'—'I will accompany you,' said the professor, and on the following Sunday, Calvin having recovered from his fatigue, the two friends set out for the convent. The future reformer, who was already opposed to monastic vows, especially when taken under constraint, cleverly devised a plan for learning whether any restriction was placed upon the young lady's liberty. 'Converse with the abbess,' he said to Cop, as they were going to the nunnery, 'and contrive that I may be able to talk privately with our friend's sister.' The abbess, followed by the girl, entered the parlour. 'We have granted her,' said the former, 'the privilege of taking the solemn vows.'[138] According to his instructions Cop began to talk with the superior on different subjects which had no connection with the matter in hand. During this time, Calvin, who believed he saw a victim before him, took advantage of the opportunity, and said to Daniel's sister: 'Are you taking this yoke upon you willingly, or is it placed on your neck by force?[139] Do not fear to trust me with the thoughts that disturb you.' The girl looked at Calvin with a thoughtless air, and {71} answered him with much volubility: 'The veil is what I most desire, and the day when I shall make my vow can never come too soon.' The future reformer was astonished: he had before him a giddy young person, who had been led to believe that she would find great amusement in the cloister. 'Every time she spoke of her vows,' said Calvin, 'you might have fancied she was playing with her doll.'[140] He desired, however, to address one serious word to her: 'Mademoiselle,' he said to her, 'I beg of you not to trust too much to your own strength: I conjure you to promise nothing as if you could accomplish it yourself. Lean rather on the strength of God, in whom we live and have our being.'[141] Perhaps Calvin thought that by speaking so seriously to the young girl, she would renounce her rash undertaking; but he was mistaken.

He returned to his inn, and two days after (the 25th of June) he wrote to Daniel an account of his visit to the convent. Having finished, he was beginning another letter to a canon of Orleans,[142] when one of his friends arrived, who had come to take him for a ride. We might suppress this incident as being of no importance; but it is perhaps also an unexpected feature in Calvin's habits. He is generally represented as absorbed in his books or reprimanding the disorderly. And yet he was no stranger to the decent relaxations of life: he could ride on horseback and took pleasure in the exercise. He accepted his friend {72} Viermey's offer. 'I shall finish the letter on my return,' he said,[143] and the two students set off on their excursion in the neighbourhood of Paris. A few days later Calvin hired a room in the college of Fortret, where he was near the professors, and resumed his study of languages, law, and philosophy.[144] He desired to learn. Having received the knowledge of divine things, he wished to acquire a true understanding of the world.

But erelong the summons from on high sounded louder than ever in his heart. When he was in his room, surrounded by his law books, the voice of his conscience cried to him that he ought to study the Bible. When he went out, all his friends who felt a love for pure religion begged of him to devote himself to the Gospel.[145] Calvin was one of those fortresses that are not to be taken at the first assault. As he looked upon the books scattered about his study, he could not make up his mind to forsake them. But whenever in the course of his life God spoke clearly to him, he repressed his fondest desires. Thus urged from within and from without, he yielded at last. 'I renounce all other sciences,' he said, 'and give myself up entirely to theology and to God.'[146] This news spread among the secret assemblies of the faithful, and all were filled with great satisfaction.

A mighty movement had taken place in Calvin's {73} soul; but it must be understood that there was no plan laid down in his mind. He had no ambition, no art, no rôle; but he did with a strong will whatever God set before him. The time he now spent in Paris was his apprenticeship. Having given himself to God, he set to work with the decision of an energetic character and the firmness of a persevering mind. He studied theology with enthusiasm. 'The science of God is the mistress-science,' he said; 'the others are only her servants.' He gave consistency to that little chosen band who, in the midst of the crowd of scholars, turned lovingly towards the Holy Scriptures. He excited young and noble minds; he studied with them and endeavoured to explain their difficulties.


He did more. Berquin's death had struck all his friends with terror. 'If they have burnt this green wood,' said some, 'they will not spare the dry.' Calvin, not permitting himself to be checked by these alarms, began to explore that city which had become so dangerous. He joined the secret assemblies which met under the shadow of night in remote quarters,[147] where he explained the Scriptures with a clearness and energy of which none had ever heard the like. These meetings were held more particularly on the left bank of the Seine, in that part of the city which the catholics afterwards termed Little Geneva, and which, on the other hand, is now the seat of Parisian catholicism. One day the evangelicals would repair mysteriously to a house on the property of the abbey of St. Germain des Prés; another day they would meet in the precincts of the university, {74} the quartier latin of our times. In the room would be a few wooden benches, on which the poor people, a few students, and sometimes one or two men of learning, took their seats. They loved that simple-hearted young man, who so effectually introduced into their minds and hearts the truths he found in the Scriptures. 'The Word of Christ is always a fire,' they said; 'but when he explains it, this fire shines out with unusual brilliancy.'

Young men formed themselves on his model; but there were many who rushed into controversy, instead of seeking edification as Calvin did. In the university quarter the pupils of Daniel and Vatable might be seen, with the Hebrew or Greek Testaments in their hands, disputing with everybody. 'It is thus in the Hebrew text,' they said; 'and the Greek text reads so and so.' Calvin did not, however, disdain polemics; following the natural bent of his mind, he attacked error and reprimanded the guilty. Some who were astonished at his language asked: 'Is not this the curé of Pont l'Evêque, the friend of Monseigneur de St. Eloy?' But, not allowing himself to be checked by these words, he confounded alike the superstitious papists and the incredulous innovators. 'He was wholly given up to divinity and to God, to the great delight of all believers.'[148]


It was already possible to distinguish in him, in some features at least, the character of chief of the Reform. As he possessed great facility of correspondence, he kept himself informed, and others also, of all that was passing in the christian world. He {75} made about this time a collection of papers and documents relating to the most recent facts of the Reformation, and sent them to Duchemin, but not for him to keep.[149] 'I send them to you on this condition,' wrote Calvin, 'that, in accordance with your good faith and duty, they may pass through your hands to our friends.'[150] To this packet he added an epitome,[151] some commentaries, and a collection of notes made probably by Roussel during his residence at Strasburg. He purposed adding an appendix:[152]'But I had no time,' he said.[153] Calvin desired that all the friends of the Gospel should profit by the light which he himself possessed. He brought the new ideas and new writings into circulation. A close student, an indefatigable evangelist, this young man of twenty was, by his far-seeing glance, almost a reformer.

He did not confine his labours to Paris, Orleans, Bourges, or Noyon: the city of Meaux occupied his attention. Meaux, which had welcomed Lefèvre and Farel, which had heard Leclerc, the first martyr, still possessed Briçonnet. This former protector of the evangelicals would indeed no longer see them, and appeared absorbed in the honours and seductions of the prelacy. But some men thought that at the bottom of his heart he still loved the Gospel. What a triumph if the grace of God should once more blossom in his {76} soul! Daniel had friends at Meaux; Calvin begged of him to open the door (or, to use his own expression, the window) of this city for him. In the number of these friends was a certain Mæcenas. The young doctor, writing from Meaux, gives a portrait of this individual which exactly fits the bishop. He does not name Briçonnet; but as he often suppresses names, or employs either initials or pseudonyms, we might almost say that the name was not necessary here. Daniel accordingly wrote to Mæcenas, who returned a very cold answer.[154] 'I cannot walk with those people,' he said; 'I cannot conform my manners to theirs.'[155] Daniel insisted; but it was all of no use: the timid Mæcenas would on no account have anything to do with Calvin. Briçonnet, we learn, was surrounded by friends who were continually repeating to him: 'A bishop ought to have no commerce with persons suspected of innovation.'[156] Calvin, animated by the noblest ambition, that of bringing back to God a soul that was going astray, finding himself denied every time he knocked at the gate of this great personage, at last gave up his generous enterprise, and, shaking the dust from his feet, he said with severity: 'Since he will not be with us, let him take pleasure in himself, and with a heart full, or rather inflated by his own importance, let him pamper his ambition.'[157]



Calvin did not, however, fail completely at Meaux: 'You have given me prompt and effectual aid,' he wrote to Daniel; 'you have opened me a window, and have thus given me the privilege of being in future an indiscreet petitioner.'[158] He took advantage of this opening to propagate the Gospel. 'I will do it,' he said, 'without imprudence or precipitation.' And, calling to mind that 'the doctrine of Christ is like old wine, which has ceased working, but which nevertheless gives nourishment to the body,'[159] he busied himself in filling vessels with this precious drink: 'I will take care,' he wrote to Daniel, 'that the inside shall be well filled with wine.'[160] He ended his letter by saying: 'I want the Odyssey of Homer which I lent Sucquet: pray tell him so.'[161] Luther took Plautus and Terence into the convent with him; Calvin asked for Homer.

He soon returned to Paris, which opened a wider field of labour to him. On the 15th of January, 1530, he wrote Daniel a letter which he dated from the Acropolis, as if Paris were to him the citadel of catholicism or the Parthenon of France.[162] He was always trying to save some lost sheep, and such a desire filled his mind on the 15th of January. On that day he {78} expected two friends to dinner. One of them, Robert Daniel, brother to the advocate of Orleans, an enthusiastic young man, was burning with desire to see the world. Calvin, who had already done all in his power to win him over, flattered himself that he would succeed that day; but the giddy young fellow, suspecting perhaps what awaited him, did not come. Calvin sent a messenger to Robert's lodging. 'He has decamped,' said the landlord; 'he has left for Italy.' At Meaux Calvin had desired to win over a great personage; at Paris he had hoped to win over a young adventurer: in both cases he failed. 'Alas!' he said, 'I am but a dry and useless log!' And once more he sought fresh strength in Christ.


Meanwhile the Sorbonne, proud of the victory it had gained in bringing Berquin to the stake, decided to pursue its triumphs. The war was about to begin again. It was Beda who renewed the combat—that Beda of whom Erasmus said: 'There are three thousand priests in that man alone!' He did not attack Calvin, disdaining, or rather ignoring him. He aimed at higher game, and having triumphed over one of the king's gentlemen, he attacked the doctors whom Francis had invited to Paris for the propagation of learning. Danès, Vatable, and others having been cited before the parliament, the fiery syndic rose and said: 'The king's doctors neglect Aristotle, and study the Holy Scriptures only.... If people continue to occupy themselves with Greek and Hebrew, it is all over with faith. These folks desire to explain the Bible, and they are not even theologians!... The Greek and Hebrew books of the Holy Scriptures come mostly from Germany, where they may have been altered. Many of {79} the persons who print Hebrew books are Jews.... It is not, therefore, a sufficient argument to say: It is so and so in the Hebrew.[163] These doctors ought to be forbidden to interfere with Holy Scripture in their courses; or at least they should be ordered first to undergo an examination at the university.' The king's professors did not hold back in the cause of knowledge. They boldly assumed the offensive. 'If the university of Paris is now in small esteem among foreign nations,' they said to the parliament, 'it is because instead of applying themselves to the study of the Holy Gospels and of the ancient fathers—Cyprian, Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustin—its theologians substitute for this true knowledge a science teaching nothing but craft and sophistry. It is not thus that God wills to enlighten his people. We must study sacred literature, and drink freely of all the treasures of the human mind.'[164] Beda had gone too far. At court, and even in parliament, numerous voices were raised in behalf of learning and learned men. Parliament dismissed the charges of the syndic of the Sorbonne.

The exasperated Beda now employed all his eloquence to get the professors condemned by the Sorbonne. 'The new doctors,' he exclaimed, 'horrible to say! pretend that Holy Scripture cannot be understood without Greek, Hebrew, and other such languages.' On the 30th of April, 1530, the Sorbonne did actually condemn as rash and scandalous the proposition of the professors which Beda had denounced.[165]



Calvin anxiously observed in all its phases this struggle between his teachers and the doctors of the Sorbonne. All the students were on the watch, as was Calvin also in his college; and when the decision of the parliament became known there, it was received with loud acclamations. While the Sorbonne placed itself on the side of tradition, Calvin placed himself still more decidedly on the side of Scripture. He thought that as the oral teaching of the apostles had ceased, their written teaching had become its indispensable substitute. The writings of Matthew and John, of Peter and Paul, were, in his opinion, the living word of these great doctors, their teaching for those ages which could neither see nor hear them. It appeared to Calvin as impossible to reform the Church without the writings of the apostles, as it would have been to form it in the first century without their preaching. He saw clearly that if the Church was to be renewed, it must be done by faith and by Scripture—a twofold principle which at bottom is but one.

But the hour had not yet come when Calvin was to proclaim these great truths with the authority of a reformer. A modest and devout man, he was now performing a more humble work in the remotest streets and loneliest houses of the capital. One would have taken him for the most insignificant of men, and yet he was already a conqueror. The light of Scripture, with which his mind was saturated, was one day to shine like the lightning from east to west; and no man since St. Paul was to hold the Gospel torch so high and with so firm a hand. When that student, so thin, pale, and obscure, in appearance so mean, in manner so timid, passed down the street of St. Jacques {81} or of the Sorbonne; when he crept silently past the houses, and slipped unobserved into one of them, bearing with him the Word of life, there was not even an old woman that noticed him. And yet the time was to come when Francis I., with his policy, conquests, priests, court, and festivities, would only call up frivolous or disgusting recollections; while the work which this poor scholar was by God's grace then beginning, would increase day by day for the salvation of souls and prosperity of nations, and would advance calmly but surely to the conquest of the world.

[124]   Calvini Opusc.

[125]   'Unico omnium patri suum jus integrum maneat.'—Calvin in Matthæum.

[126]   Desmay, Vie de Calvin, pp. 40-42. Drelincourt, Défense de Calvin, pp. 167, 168.

[127]   'Quo loco constat Calvinum ... ad populum conciones habuisse.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[128]   Archives Générales, x. 8946. France Protestante, article Normandie.

[129]   Genesis i. 5.

[130]   Desmay, Vie de Calvin, p. 41. Drelincourt, Défense de Calvin, p. 168.

[131]   Crévier, Hist. de l'Université de Paris, v. p. 245.

[132]   'Quo alios introduxisti, nusquam ipse ingressus.'—Bezæ Icones.

[133]   'Lassus de itinere pedem extrahere domo non potui.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[134]   'Proximos quatuor dies, cum me ægre adhuc sustinerem.'—Ibid.

[135]   'Multis precibus, iisque non frigidis, sæpe institit.'—Ibid.

[136]   'Nihil magis appetere quam me adjungi filio.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[137]   'Nihil unquam magis ambabus ulnis complexus sum, quam hanc amici voluntatem.'—Ibid.

[138]   'Eam obtinuisse ex solenni more voti nuncupandi potestatem.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[139]   'Num jugum illud molliter exciperet? num fracta potius quam inflexa cervix?'—Ibid.

[140]   'Diceres eam ludere cum puppis, quoties audivit voti nomen.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[141]   'Omnia reponeret in Dei virtute in quo sumus et vivimus.'—Ibid.

[142]   'Habeo litteras inchoatas ad canonicum.'—Ibid.

[143]   'Viermæus cum quo equum ascendo.'—Calvinus Danieli, Berne MSS.

[144]   'In collegio Forterestano domicilium habuit.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, ii. p. 246.

[145]   Theodore Beza, Vie de Calvin, in French text, p. 12. 'Omnibus purioris religionis studiosis.'—Ibid. Latin text.

[146]   'Ab eo tempore sese Calvinus, abjectis reliquis studiis, Deo totum consecravit.'—Ibid.

[147]   'Qui tunc Lutetiæ occultos cœtus habebant.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[148]   Beza, Vie de Calvin, French text, p. 12. 'Summa piorum omnium voluptate.'—Ibid. Latin text.

[149]   'Mitto ad te rerum novarum collectanea.'—Calvinus Chemino, Berne MSS.

[150]   'Hac tamen lege, ut pro tua fide officioque per manus tuas ad amicos transeant.'—Ibid.

[151]   'Mitto Epitomem alteram G. nostri.'—Ibid.

[152]   'Cui velut appendicem assuere decreveram.'—Ibid.

[153]   'Nisi me tempus defecisset.'—Ibid.

[154]   'Supinum illum Mæcenatem.'—Calvinus Danieli Aureliano, Idibus Septembris 1529. Geneva MSS. Calvin borrows this expression from Juvenal, i. 65: 'Multum referens de Mæcenate supino.'

[155]   'Non potest mores suos nobis accommodare.'—Ibid.

[156]   Maimbourg, Histoire du Calvinisme, liv. ii.

[157]   'Sit assentator suus, et pleno, seu verius turgido pectore, foveat ambitionem.'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS.

[158]   'Apertam esse fenestram, ne post hæc simus verecundi petitores.'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS. An expression imitated from Suetonius, lib. xxviii.

[159]   Calvin, in Lucam, ch. v. 39.

[160]   'Interim tamen penum vino instruendum curabo.'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS. This passage presents some difficulty. 'Penus' in Persius means a safe where meat is kept; in Festus and Lampridius, the sanctuary of the temple.

[161]   'Odysseam Homeri quam Sucqueto commodaveram, finges a me desiderari.'—Ibid.

[162]   Calvin's Letters, i. p. 30. Philadelphia, edit. J. Bonnet.

[163]   'Ita habent Hebræa.'—Actes du Parlement.

[164]   Crévier, Hist. de l'Université de Paris, v. p. 249.

[165]   'Hæc propositio temeraria est et scandalosa.'—D'Argentré, Collectio Judiciorum de novis Erroribus, ii. p. 78.



WHEN was France to turn herself towards the Word of God? At the time of her brother's return from his Spanish captivity, Margaret had solicited him to grant liberty of preaching the Gospel, and the king, as will be remembered, had deferred the matter until his sons were restored to freedom. That moment seemed to have arrived. In order to recover his children, Francis had sacrificed at Cambray (June 1529), in the Ladies' Peace, the towns he had conquered, the allies who had been faithful to him, and two millions of crowns besides.

It was not, however, until ten months later that the children of France returned. All the royal family hurried to the Spanish frontier to receive them; all, except Margaret. 'As it would be difficult to take you further without danger,' said her mother, 'the king and I have determined to leave you behind for your confinement.'[166] Margaret, uneasy and perhaps a little jealous, wrote to Montmorency: 'When the King of Navarre is with you, I pray you to advise {83} him; but I much fear that you will not be able to prevent his falling in love with the Spanish ladies.'[167] At the beginning of July the king's children were restored to their father; Margaret was transported with joy, and showed it by her enthusiastic letters to Francis I.[168] She loved these princes like a mother. More serious thoughts soon filled her mind: the epoch fixed by her brother had arrived, but would he keep his promise?


Margaret lost no time. Being left alone at Blois, she endeavoured to strengthen the good cause, and carried on an active correspondence with the leaders of the Reform. 'Alas!' said the priests, 'while King Francis is labouring to protect his kingdom from the inundations of the Rhine (that is, the Reformation), his sister the Queen of Navarre is trying to break the dykes and throw down the embankments.'[169] There was one work above all which Margaret had at heart; she wished to put an end to the divisions among the evangelicals. She entreated the Frenchmen who were at Strasburg, 'waiting for the consolation of Israel,' to do all in their power to terminate the disunion; she even commanded Bucer to do so.[170] Bucer's fine talents, benevolent character, and cultivated understanding, the eloquence of his language, the dignity of his carriage, the captivating sound of his voice, his discerning of spirits, his ardent zeal—all seemed to fit him for a peace-maker. He set to work without {84} delay, and informed Luther of the princess's injunctions. 'If our opinions are compared with yours,' he said, 'it will be easily seen that they are radically the same, although expressed in different terms. Let us not furnish our enemies with a weapon with which to attack truth.'[171]

If Margaret had confidence in Bucer, he too had confidence in her. He admired the sincerity of her faith, the liveliness of her piety, the purity of her manners, the beauty of her understanding, the charms of her conversation, and the abundance of her good works. 'Never was this christian heroine found wanting in her duty,' he wrote to Luther.[172] The Strasburgers thought that if Luther and the Germans on one side, and Margaret and the French on the other, were united, the cause of the Reformation would be triumphant in Europe. Whenever any good news arrived from France, Bucer thrilled with joy; he ran to communicate it to Capito, to Hedion, to Zell, and to Hohenlohe; and then he wrote to Luther: 'The brethren write to us from France, dear doctor, that the Gospel is spreading among them in a wonderful manner. A great number of the nobility have already received the truth.[173] There is a certain district in Normandy where the Gospel is spread so widely that the enemy call it Little Germany.[174] The king is no stranger to the good doctrine;[175] and as his children are now at liberty, he will no longer pay such regard to what the pope and {85} the emperor demand. Christ will soon be publicly confessed over the whole kingdom.'[176]


The Queen of Navarre was obliged to discontinue her correspondence with the reformers of Germany; great joys and great anguish gave another direction to her thoughts. About a fortnight after the return of the children of France, Margaret became the mother of a fine boy at the castle of Blois. When the king passed through that place on his return from the Pyrenees, he took his sister with him, after her churching, to Fontainebleau. But erelong bad tidings of her child summoned Margaret to Alençon, where he was staying with his nurse; he died on Christmas day, 1530, at the age of five months and a half. The mother who had watched near him, who had felt his sweet breath upon her cheek, saw him now lying dead in his little cradle, and could not turn away her eyes from him. At one time she thought he would revive, but alas! he was really dead. The queen felt as if her life had been torn from her; her strength was exhausted; her heart bled, but God consoled her. 'I place him,' she said, 'in the arms of his Father;' and as she felt the necessity of giving glory to God publicly, she sent for one of her principal officers, and, with a voice stifled by tears and sighs, ordered that the child's death should be posted up in the principal quarters of the city, and that these words should be at the foot of the notice:

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.

A sentiment of joy mingled, however, with her inexpressible sorrow; and, confident that the little child {86} was in the presence of God, the pious mother ordered a Te Deum to be sung.[177] 'I entreat you both,' she wrote to her brother and to her mother, 'to rejoice at his glory, and not give way to any sadness.'[178] Francis, who had not long before lost two daughters, was moved at this solemn circumstance, and replied to his sister: 'You have borne the grief of mine, as if they were your own lost children; now I must bear yours, as if it were my own loss. It is the third of yours and the last of mine, whom God has called away to his blessed communion, acquired by them with little labour, and desired by us with such great travail.'[179] There are afflictions from God which awaken deep feelings, even in the most frivolous hearts, and lips which are ordinarily dumb sometimes utter harmonious sounds in the presence of death. Other consolations were not wanting to the queen. Du Bellay, at that time Bishop of Bayonne, and afterwards of Paris, hastened to Alençon: 'Ah!' said Margaret, 'but for our Lord's help, the burden would have been more than I could bear.'[180] The bishop urged her, on the part of the king, to go to St. Germain, where preparations were making for the coronation of Queen Eleanor, the emperor's sister. Margaret, who always obeyed her brother's orders, quitted Alençon, though with sorrow, in order to be present at his marriage.


The court had never been more brilliant. The less happiness there was in this marriage, the more pomp the king desired to display; joy of the heart was replaced by the sound of the fife and drum and of the {87} hautboy. The dresses were glittering, the festivities magnificent.

There were mysteries and games, and the streets were gaily drest,
And the roads with flowers were strewn of the sweetest and the best;
On every side were galleries, and, if 't would pleasure yield,
We'd have conjured up again for thee a new Elysian field.[181]

Princes, archbishops, bishops, barons, knights, gentlemen of parliament, and the magistrates of the city, were assembled for this illustrious marriage; scholars and poets were not wanting. Francis I. would often repeat the proverb addressed by Fouquet, Count of Anjou, to Louis IV.:

Un roi non lettré
Est un âne couronné.[182]

Philologers, painters, and architects had flocked to France from foreign countries. They had met in Paris men worthy to receive them. William Budæus, the three brothers Du Bellay, William Petit, the king's confessor; William Cop, the friend of Lascaris and Erasmus; Pierre du Châtel, who so gracefully described his travels in the East; Pellicier, the learned commentator on Pliny, whose papers have not, however, been printed;[183] Peter Danès, whose talents and knowledge Calvin esteemed so highly: all these scholars, who entertained sympathies, more or less secret, for the Reform, were then at court. These men of letters passed among the Roman party as belonging to Luther's flock.[184] Somewhat later, indeed, when one of them, Danès, was at the Council of Trent, a French {88} orator inveighed strongly against the lax morals of Rome. The Bishop of Orvieto said with contempt: 'Gallus cantat!'—'Utinam,' sharply retorted Danès, then ambassador for France, 'utinam ad galli cantum Petrus resipisceret!'[185] But the cock has often crowed, and Peter has shed no tears.

In the midst of all these men of letters was

Margaret, the fairest flower
That ever grew on earth,

as Ronsard called her. But although her fine understanding enjoyed this select society, more serious thoughts occupied her mind. She could not forget, even in the midst of the court, the little angel that had flown away from her; she was uneasy about the friends of the Gospel; the worldly festivities around her left her heart depressed and unsatisfied. She endeavoured to pierce the thick clouds that hung over her, and soaring in spirit to the 'heavenly kingdom,' she grasped the hand that Christ stretched out to her from on high. She returned to the well of Jacob, where she had drunk when she was so tired with her journey. She had been as a parched and weary land, having neither dew nor moisture, and the Lord had refreshed her with the clear springs of his Holy Spirit. 'A continual sprinkling (to use her own words) kept up in her a heavenly eternity;' and she would have desired all who gathered round her to come to that well where she had so effectually quenched her own thirst. Accordingly, in the midst of the worldly agitation of the court, and of all the {89} honours lavished on her rank and her wit, the poor mother, whose heart was bruised but consoled, looked out in silence for some lamb which she could recall from its wandering, and said:


'Come to my fountain pure and free,
Drink of its stream abundantly.'
Hasten, sinners, to the call
Of your God, who speaks to all:
'Come and drink—it gives relief
To every form of mortal grief;
Come and drink the draught divine,
Out of this new fount of mine.
Wash away each mortal stain
In the blood of Jesu slain.
No return I seek from thee
But works of love and charity.'
Hasten, sinners, to the brink
Of this stream so pure, and drink!
Fill your hearts, so that ye may
Serve God better every day.
Then, well washed of every stain
That of earth might yet remain,
By Jesu's love at last set free,
Live in heaven eternally.
'Come to my fountain pure and free,
Drink of its stream abundantly!'
Listen, sinners, to the call
Of your God, who speaks to all.[186]

These appeals were not unavailing. The Reformation was advancing in France by two different roads: one was on the mountains, the other in the plain. The Gospel gained hearts among the sons of labour and of trial; but it gained others also among the learned and high-born, whose faculty of inquiry had been aroused, and who desired to substitute truth in {90} the place of monastic superstitions. Margaret was the evangelist of the court and of the king. Her mother, with Duprat and Montmorency, ruled in the council-chamber, the Duchess of Etampes in the court festivities, but the gentle voice of the Queen of Navarre supported Francis in his frequent periods of uneasiness and dejection. Yet not to the king alone did Margaret devote at this time the attentions of her ardent charity. All the affections of her heart were just now concentrated on a single object.


She had not recovered from the death of her child, when another blow fell upon the Queen of Navarre. The brilliant and gay festivities of the court were succeeded by the sullen silence of the grave; and the icy coldness, which had presided over the marriage of Francis with his enemy's sister, was followed by the keen anguish and the bitter sorrows of the tenderest of daughters. About the end of the year 1531 the Isle of France was visited by an epidemic. Louisa of Savoy was taken seriously ill at Fontainebleau, where the children of the king were staying. Margaret hurried thither immediately. Louisa, that great enemy of the Reformation, weakened by her dissolute life, was suffering from a severe fever, and yet, imagining that she would not die, she continued to attend to business of importance, and, between the paroxysms of the disease that was killing her, dictated her despatches to the king. Never had mother so depraved and daughter so virtuous felt such love for each other. As soon as she saw the Duchess of Angoulême, the Queen of Navarre anticipated 'the greatest of misfortunes,' and never left her side. The king's children afforded their grandmother some diversion. Charles, {91} Duke of Angoulême, then nine years old, thought only of his father. 'If I only meet him,' said the boy one day, 'I will never let go his hand.'—'And if the king should go to hunt the boar?' said his aunt.—'Well! I shall not be afraid; papa will be able to take care of me.'—'When Madame heard these words,' wrote Margaret to her brother, 'she burst into tears, which has done her much good.'

In the midst of all these mournful occupations, Margaret kept watch over the friends of the Gospel. 'Dear nephew,' she wrote to the grand-master Montmorency, 'that good man Lefèvre writes to me that he is uncomfortable at Blois, because the folks there are trying to annoy him. For change of air, he would willingly go and see a friend of his, if such were the king's good pleasure.' Margaret, finding that the enemies of the Reform were tormenting the old man, gave him an asylum at Nerac in her own states. We shall meet with him there hereafter.

On the 20th of September, Louisa, feeling a little better, left Fontainebleau for Romorantin; but she had hardly reached Grez, near Nemours, when her failing voice, her labouring breath, and her words so sad 'that no one could listen to them, gave her daughter a sorrow and vexation impossible to describe.'[187] 'It is probable that she will die,' wrote Margaret to the king. Louisa, notwithstanding her weakness, still busied herself with affairs of state; she wished to die governing. Deep sorrow filled her daughter's heart. It was too much for her, this sight of a mother whom she loved with intense affection, trifling on the brink {92} of the grave, strengthening herself against death by means of her power and her greatness, 'as if they would serve her as a rampart and strong tower,' forgetting that there was another besides herself, who disposed of that life of which she fancied herself to be the mistress. Margaret did not rest content with only praying for her mother; she sat by her and spoke to her of the Saviour. 'Madame,' she said, 'I entreat you to fix your hopes elsewhere. Strive to make God propitious to you.'[188] This woman, so ambitious, clever, false, and dissolute, whose only virtue was maternal love, does not appear to have opened her heart to her daughter's voice. She breathed her last on the 29th of September, 1531, in the arms of the Queen of Navarre.

Thoughts of a different order were soon to engross Margaret's attention. Hers was a sincere and living piety, but she had an excessive fear of contests and divisions, and, like many eminent persons of that epoch, she desired at any cost, and even by employing diplomatic means, to achieve a reform which should leave catholicity intact. To set before herself a universal transformation of the Church was certainly a noble and a christian aim; but Calvin, Luther, Farel, and others saw that it could only be attained at the expense of truth. The Queen of Navarre's fault was her readiness to sacrifice everything to the realisation of this beautiful dream; and we shall see what was done in France (Francis lending himself to it from mere political motives) to attain the accomplishment of this magnificent but chimerical project.

[166]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 247.

[167]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 246.

[168]   Ibid. ii. p. 105.

[169]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, p. 487.

[170]   'Jussu reginæ Navarræ, ut hoc tandem dissidium tollatur.'—Buceri Opera Anglicana, fᵒ 693. Gerdesius, ii. p. 33.

[171]   'Præbetur telum hostibus.'—Gerdesius, iv. p. 33.

[172]   'Nunquam suo officio deest christianissima illa heroīna, regis soror.'—Ibid.

[173]   'Procerum magnus numerus jam veritati accessit.'—Ibid.

[174]   'Ut cœperint eam vocare parvam Allemaniam.'—Ibid.

[175]   'Rex a veritate alienus non est.'—Ibid.

[176]   'Bona spes est, brevi fore, ut Christus publicum apud ipsos obtineat.'—Gerdesius, iv. p. 33.

[177]   Charles de Sainte-Marthe, Oraison funèbre de Marguerite.

[178]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 269.

[179]   Ibid.

[180]   Ibid. i. pp. 272, 273.

[181]   Marot, Chronique de François I. p. 90.

[182]   'An unlettered king is a crowned ass.' A.D. 936.

[183]   Teissier, Eloge des Hommes savants, i. p. 200.

[184]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, p. 884.

[185]   The Latin word gallus signifies both Frenchman and cock. 'The Frenchman crows,' said the bishop. 'Would to God,' retorted Danès, 'that Peter (the pope) would repent at the crowing of the cock!' Sismondi, Hist. des Français, xvi. p. 359.

[186]   Les Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. pp. 505-508.

[187]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 280; ii. p. 120.

[188]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 269.




THE royal trio was now broken up. Margaret, knowing well that her mother had always influenced her brother in favour of popery, hoped to profit by an event that had cost her so many tears, and immediately attempted to incline her brother to the side of the Reform. But there were other influences at work at court: the Sorbonne, the bishops, Montmorency, and even the emperor endeavoured to set Francis against the evangelicals. Charles V. especially desired to take advantage of the alliance which drew him closer to France, in order to turn its sovereign against Luther. His envoy, Noircarmes, had very positive instructions on this point. One day, when this ambassador had gone to present his homage to the king, they had a long conversation together, and Noircarmes gave utterance to all the usual calumnies against the Reformation. Francis did not know what answer to make, but fixed the diplomatist's accusations in his memory, with the intention of repeating them to his sister. He paid her a visit, while still in a state of excitement. 'Madame,' said he angrily, 'do you know that your friends the protestants preach the community of goods, the nullity {94} of the marriage tie, and the subversion of thrones? Noircarmes says that if I do not destroy Lutheranism, my crown will be in danger.'[189] To justify the innocent was one of the tasks which the Queen of Navarre had imposed upon herself. 'Sire,' she said to the king, 'the reformers are righteous, learned, peaceful men, who have no other love than that of truth, no other aim than the glory of God, and no other thought than to banish superstition and to correct morals.' The Queen of Navarre was so gracious, so true, so eloquent, that the king left her completely changed—at least for the day.[190] But it was not long before perfidious insinuations again roused his anger.


Margaret, either by her own hand or through her agents, informed the protestants of Germany of the charges brought against them by Charles's ambassador, and called upon them to contradict Noircarmes. This they did immediately. One of them, Matthew Reinhold, a man devoted to the Gospel and a clever diplomatist, arrived in Paris about the middle of April 1531, and having been received by the king, attended by his lords and his bishops, he handed in a letter from the Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, and their allies. Francis opened it and appeared to read it with interest. 'Sire,' wrote the princes, 'a few monks (Tetzel and his friends) having through avarice hawked their indulgences about the country to the dishonour of Christ and the ruin of souls,[191] certain just and wise men have reproved {95} them; the sun has risen upon the Church, and has brought to light a world of scandals and errors. Help us, Sire, and use such means that these disputes may be settled, not by force of arms, but by a lawful judgment, which shall do no violence to the consciences of christians.'[192]

While Francis was reading this letter, the lords and prelates of his court eyed the Lutheran from head to foot. They went up to him and asked the strangest questions. 'Is it true,' said a bishop, 'that the women in your country have several husbands?'—'All nonsense!' replied the German envoy. To other questions he returned similar answers; the eagerness of the speakers increased, and the conversation was becoming animated, when the king, who had finished the letter, declared that he thought it very reasonable, and, to the great surprise of the court, smiled graciously upon Reinhold.[193] A few days later (21st April) he gave the envoy an answer: 'In order to heal the sores of the christian republic,' he said, 'there must be a council; provided the Holy Ghost, who is the lord of truth, has the chief place in it.' Then he added: 'Do not fear the calumnies of your enemies.'[194] The first step was taken.

The grand idea of the counsellors of Francis I., and of the king himself, was, at this time, to substitute for the old policy of France a new and more independent policy, which would protect it against the encroachments of the papacy. Melanchthon was charmed at the king's letter. 'The Frenchman answered us in {96} the most amiable manner,' he said.[195] A council guided by the Spirit of God was precisely what the German protestants demanded: they thought themselves on the point of coming to an understanding with the King of France. This hope took possession of Margaret also, and of the powerful party in the royal council who thought, like her, that the union of France, Germany, and England would lead to an internal and universal reform of christendom. The king, urged to form an alliance with the German princes, resolved to send an ambassador on his part, and selected for this mission one Gervais Waim. The choice was an unlucky one: Waim, a German by birth, but long resident in Paris,[196] desired that everything in Germany should remain as he had left it. A blind partisan of the ancient state of things, he regarded any change as an outrage towards the German nation, and was full of prejudices against the Reformation. Accordingly, he had hardly arrived at Wittemberg (this was in the spring of 1531), when he sought every opportunity of gratifying his blind hatred. He met with a grand reception; banquets and entertainments were given in his honour. One day there was a large party, at which Luther was present with his friends and many evangelical christians, who were desirous of meeting the envoy of the King of France. The latter, instead of conciliating their minds, grew warm, and exclaimed: 'You have neither church nor magistrate nor marriage; every man does what he pleases, and all is confusion as among the brutes. The king my master knows {97} it very well.'[197] On hearing this extravagant assertion, the company opened their eyes. Some got angry, others laughed, many despaired of ever coming to an understanding with Francis I. Melanchthon changed his opinion entirely. 'This man,' he said, 'is a great enemy of our cause.... The kings of the earth think of nothing but their own interest; and if Christ does not provide for the safety of the Church, all is lost.'[198] He never said a truer thing. Waim soon found that he had not been a good diplomatist, and that he ought not to have shocked the protestant sentiment; he therefore confined himself to his duty, and his official communications were of more value than his private conversations.[199] We shall see presently the important steps taken by France towards an alliance with evangelical Germany.


Margaret, believing that the triumph of the good cause was not far off, determined to move forward a little. She had struck out of her prayer-book all the prayers addressed to the Virgin and to the saints. This she laid before the king's confessor, William Petit, Bishop of Senlis, a courtier, and far from evangelical, though abounding in complaisance for the sister of his master. 'Look here!' she said; 'I have cut out all the most superstitious portions of this book.'[200] —'Admirable!' exclaimed the courtier; 'I should desire no other.' The queen took the prelate at his word: 'Translate it into French,' she said, 'and I will have it printed with your name.' The courtier-bishop did {98} not dare withdraw; he translated the book, the queen approved of it, and it appeared under the title of Heures de la Royne Marguerite ('Queen Margaret's Prayer-book'). The Faculty of Divinity was angry about it, but they restrained themselves, not so much because it was the queen's prayer-book, as because the translator was a bishop and his Majesty's confessor.


Nor did the Queen of Navarre stop here. There was at that time in Paris a curé, named Lecoq, whose preaching drew great crowds to St. Eustache. Certain ladies of the court, who affected piety, never missed one of his sermons. 'What eloquence!' said they, speaking of Lecoq, one day when there was a reception at St. Germain; 'what a striking voice! what a flow of words! what boldness of thought! what fervent piety!'—'Your fine orator,' said the king, who was listening to them, 'is no doubt a Lutheran in disguise!'—'Not at all, Sire,' said one of the ladies; 'he often declaims against Luther, and says that we must not separate from the Church.' Margaret asked her brother to judge for himself. 'I will go,' said Francis. The curé was informed that on the following Sunday the king and all his court would come to hear his sermon. The priest was charmed at the information. He was a man of talent, and had received evangelical impressions; only they were not deep, and the breath of favour might easily turn him from the right way. As this breath was just now blowing in the direction of the Gospel, he entered with all his heart into this conspiracy of the ladies, and began to prepare a discourse adapted, as he thought, to introduce the new light into the king's mind.

When Sunday came, all the carriages of the court {99} drew up before the church of St. Eustache, which the king entered, followed by Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, and his attendant lords and ladies. The crowd was immense. The preacher went up into the pulpit, and everybody prepared to listen. At first the king observed nothing remarkable; but gradually the sermon grew warmer, and words full of life were heard. 'The end of all visible things,' said Lecoq, 'is to lead us to invisible things. The bread which refreshes our body tells us that Jesus Christ is the life of our soul. Seated at the right hand of God, Jesus lives by his Holy Spirit in the hearts of his disciples. Quæ sursum sunt quærite, says St. Paul, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens. Yes, seek those things which are above! Do not confine yourselves during mass to what is upon the altar; raise yourselves by faith to heaven, there to find the Son of God. After he has consecrated the elements, does not the priest cry out to the people: Sursum corda! lift up your hearts! These words signify: Here is the bread and here is the wine, but Jesus is in heaven. For this reason, Sire,' continued Lecoq, boldly turning to the king, 'if you wish to have Jesus Christ, do not look for him in the visible elements; soar to heaven on the wings of faith. It is by believing in Jesus Christ that we eat his flesh, says St. Augustin. If it were true that Christ must be touched with the hands and devoured by the teeth,[201] we should not say sursum, upwards! but deorsum, downwards! Sire, it is to heaven that I invite you. Hear the voice of the Lord: {100} sursum corda, Sire, sursum corda!'[202] And the sonorous voice of the priest filled the whole church with these words, which he repeated with a tone of the sincerest conviction. All the congregation was moved, and even Francis admired the eloquence of the preacher. 'What do you think of it?' he asked Du Bellay as they were leaving the church.—'He may be right,' answered the Bishop of Paris, who was not opposed to a moderate reform, and who was married.—'I have a great mind to see this priest again,' said the king.—'Nothing can be easier,' replied Du Bellay.


Precautions, however, were taken that this interview should be concealed from everybody. The curé disguised himself and was introduced secretly into the king's private cabinet.[203] 'Leave us to ourselves,' said Francis to the bishop.—'Monsieur le curé,' continued he, 'have the goodness to explain what you said about the sacrament of the altar.' Lecoq showed that a spiritual union with Christ could alone be of use to the soul. 'Indeed!' said Francis; 'you raise strange scruples in my mind.'[204] This encouraged the priest, who, charmed with his success, brought forward other articles of faith.[205] His zeal spoilt everything; it was too much for the king, who began to think that the priest might be a heretic after all, and ordered him to be examined by a Romish doctor. 'He is an arch-heretic,' {101} said the inquisitor, after the examination. 'With your Majesty's permission I will keep him locked up.' The king, who did not mean to go so far, ordered Lecoq 'to be set at liberty, and to be admitted to prove his assertions by the testimony of Holy Scripture.'

Upon this the Cardinals of Lorraine and Tournon, 'awakened by the crowing of the cock,'[206] arranged a conference. On one side was the suspected priest, on the other some of the most learned doctors, and the two cardinals presided as arbiters of the discussion. Tournon was one of the ablest men of this period, and a most implacable enemy of the Reformation; in later years he was the persecutor of the Waldenses, and the introducer of the Jesuits into France. The discussion began. 'Whoever thought,' said the doctors of the Sorbonne to Lecoq, 'that these words sursum corda mean that the bread remains bread? No; they signify that your heart should soar to heaven in order that the Lord may descend upon the altar.' Lecoq showed that the Spirit alone gives life; he spoke of Scripture; but Tournon, who had been the means of making more than one pope, and had himself received votes for his own election to the papacy, exclaimed in a style that the popes are fond of using: 'The Church has spoken; submit to her decrees. If you reject the authority of the Church, you sail without a compass, driven by the winds to your destruction. Delay not!... Save yourself! Down with the yards and furl the sails, lest your vessel strike upon the {102} rocks of error, and you suffer an eternal shipwreck.'[207] The cardinals and doctors surrounded Lecoq and pressed him on every side. Here a theologian fell upon him with his elaborate scholastic proofs; there an abbé shouted in his ears; and the cardinals threw the weight of their dignity into the scales. The curé of St. Eustache was tossed to and fro in indecision. He had some small taste for the Gospel, but he loved the world and its honours more. They frightened and soothed him by turns, and at last he retracted what he had preached. Lecoq had none of the qualities of a martyr: he was rather one of those weak minds who furnished backsliders to the primitive Church.

Happily there were in France firmer christians than he. While, in the world of politics, diplomatists were crossing and recrossing the Rhine; while, in the world of Roman-catholicism, the most eloquent men were becoming faithless to their convictions: there were christian men in the evangelical world, among those whose faith had laid hold of redemption, who sacrificed their lives that they might remain faithful to the Lord who had redeemed them. It was a season when the most contrary movements were going on.

Toulouse, in olden times the sanctuary of Gallic paganism, was at this period filled with images, relics, and 'other instruments of Romish idolatry.' The religion of the people was a religion of the eye and of the ear, of the hands and of the knees—in short, a religion of externals; while within, the conscience, {103} the will, and the understanding slept a deep sleep. The parliament, surnamed 'the bloody,' was the docile instrument of the fanaticism of the priests. They said to their officers: 'Keep an eye upon the heretics. If any man does not lift his cap before an image, he is a heretic. If any man, when he hears the Ave Maria bell, does not bend the knee, he is a heretic. If any man takes pleasure in the ancient languages and polite learning, he is a heretic.... Do not delay to inform against such persons.... The parliament will condemn them, and the stake shall rid us of them.'[208]

A celebrated Italian had left his country and settled at Agen. Julius Cesar della Scala, better known by the name of Scaliger, belonged to one of the oldest families of his native country, and on account of the universality of his knowledge, many persons considered him the greatest man that had ever appeared in the world. Scaliger did not embrace the reformed faith, as his son did, but he imported a love of learning, particularly of Greek, to the banks of the Garonne.


The licentiate Jean de Caturce, a professor of laws in the university, and a native of Limoux, having learnt Greek, procured a New Testament and studied it. Being a man of large understanding, of facile eloquence, and above all of thoughtful soul, he found Christ the Saviour, Christ the Lord, Christ the life eternal, and adored him. Erelong Christ transformed him, and he became a new man. Then the Pandects lost their charm, and he discovered in the Holy Scriptures a divine life and light which enraptured him. He meditated on them day and night. He was consumed {104} by an ardent desire to visit his birthplace and preach the Saviour whom he loved and who dwelt in his heart. Accordingly he set out for Limoux, which is not far from Toulouse, and on All Saints' day, 1531, delivered 'an exhortation' there. He resolved to return at the Epiphany, for every year on that day there was a great concourse of people for the festival, and he wished to take advantage of it by openly proclaiming Jesus Christ.


Everything had been prepared for the festival.[209] On the eve of Epiphany there was usually a grand supper, at which, according to custom, the king of the feast was proclaimed, after which there was shouting and joking, singing and dancing. Caturce was determined to take part in the festival, but in such a way that it should not pass off in the usual manner. When the services of the day in honour of the three kings of the East were over, the company sat down to table: they drank the wine of the south, and at last the cake was brought in. One of the guests found the bean, the gaiety increased, and they were about to celebrate the new royalty by the ordinary toast: the king drinks! when Caturce stood up. 'There is only one king,' he said, 'and Jesus Christ is he. It is not enough for his name to flit through our brains—he must dwell in our hearts. He who has Christ in him wants for nothing. Instead then of shouting the king drinks, let us say this night: May Christ, the true king, reign in all our hearts!'[210]

The professor of Toulouse was much esteemed in {105} his native town, and many of his acquaintances already loved the Gospel. The lips that were ready to shout the king drinks were dumb, and many sympathised, at least by their silence, with the new 'toast' which he proposed to them. Caturce continued: 'My friends, I propose that after supper, instead of loose talk, dances, and revelry, each of us shall bring forward in his turn one passage of Holy Scripture.' The proposal was accepted, and the noisy supper was changed into an orderly christian assembly. First one man repeated some passage that had struck him, then another did the same; but Caturce, says the chronicle, 'entered deeper into the matter than the rest of the company,' contending that Jesus Christ ought to sit on the throne of our hearts. The professor returned to the university.

This Twelfth-night supper produced so great a sensation, that a report was made of it at Toulouse. The officers of justice apprehended the licentiate in the midst of his books and his lessons, and brought him before the court. 'Your worships,' he said, 'I am willing to maintain what I have at heart, but let my opponents be learned men with their books, who will prove what they advance. I should wish each point to be decided without wandering talk.' The discussion began; but the most learned theologians were opposed to him in vain, for the licentiate, who had the Divine Word within him, answered 'promptly, pertinently, and with much power, quoting immediately the passages of Scripture which best served his purpose,' says the chronicle. The doctors were silenced, and the professor was taken back to prison.[211]


The judges were greatly embarrassed. One of them visited the heretic in his dungeon, to see if he could not be shaken. 'Master Caturce,' said he, 'we offer to set you at full liberty, on condition that you will first retract only three points, in a lecture which you will give in the schools.' The chronicler does not tell us what these three points were. The licentiate's friends entreated him to consent, and for a moment he hesitated, only to regain his firmness immediately after. 'It is a snare of the Evil one,' he replied. Notwithstanding this, his friends laid a form of recantation before him, and when he had rejected it, they brought him another still more skilfully drawn up. But 'the Lord strengthened him so that he thrust all these papers away from him.' His friends withdrew in dismay. He was declared a heretic, condemned to be burnt alive, and taken to the square of St. Etienne.

Here an immense crowd had assembled, especially of students of the university who were anxious to witness the degradation of so esteemed a professor. The 'mystery' lasted three hours, and they were three hours of triumph for the Word of God. Never had Caturce spoken with greater freedom. In answer to everything that was said, he brought some passage of Scripture 'very pertinent to reprove the stupidity of his judges before the scholars.' His academical robes were taken off, the costume of a merry-andrew was put on him, and then another scene began.


A Dominican monk, wearing a white robe and scapulary, with a black cloak and pointed cap, made his way through the crowd, and ascended a little wooden pulpit which had been set up in the middle {107} of the square. This by no means learned individual assumed an important air, for he had been commissioned to deliver what was called 'the sermon of the catholic faith.' In a voice that was heard all over the square, he read his text: The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.[212] The monks were delighted with a text which appeared so suitable; but Caturce, who almost knew his Testament by heart, perceiving that, according to their custom of distorting Scripture, he had only taken a fragment (lopin) of the passage, cried out with a clear voice: 'Read on.' The Dominican, who felt alarmed, stopped short, upon which Caturce himself completed the passage: Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe. The monks were confounded; the students and other friends of the licentiate smiled. 'We know them,' continued the energetic professor, 'these deceivers of the people, who, instead of the doctrine of faith, feed them with trash. In God's service there is no question of fish or of flesh, of black or of grey, of Wednesday or Friday.... It is nothing but foolish superstition which requires celibacy and abstaining from meats. Such are not the commandments of God.' The Dominican in his pulpit listened with astonishment; the prisoner was preaching in the midst of the officers of justice, and the students heard him 'with great favour.' The poor Dominican, ashamed of his folly, left his sermon unpreached.


After this the martyr was led back to the court, where sentence of death was pronounced upon him. Caturce surveyed his judges with indignation, and, as he left the tribunal, exclaimed in Latin: 'Thou seat of iniquity! Thou court of injustice!' He was now led to the scaffold, and at the stake continued exhorting the people to know Jesus Christ. 'It is impossible to calculate the great fruit wrought by his death,' says the chronicle, 'especially among the students then at the university of Toulouse,' that is to say, in the year 1532.[213]

Certain preachers, however, who had taught the new doctrine, backslided deplorably at this time, and checked the progress of the Word in the south; among them were the prothonotary of Armagnac, the cordelier Des Noces, as well as his companion the youthful Melchior Flavin, 'a furious hypocrite,' as Beza calls him. One of those who had received in their hearts the fire that warmed the energetic Caturce, held firm to the truth, even in the presence of the stake: he was a grey friar named Marcii. Having performed 'wonders' by his preaching in Rouergue, he was taken to Toulouse, and there sealed with his blood the doctrines he had so faithfully proclaimed.[214]


We must soon turn to that external reformation imagined by some of the king's advisers, under the inspiration of the Queen of Navarre, and by certain German protestants who, under the influence of motives partly religious, partly political, proposed to reform Christendom by means of a council, without {109} doing away with the Romish episcopate. But we must first return to that humble and powerful teacher, the noble representative of a scriptural and living reformation, who, while urging the necessity of a spiritual unity, set in the foremost rank the imprescriptible rights of truth.

[189]   Seckendorf, pp. 1170, 1171.

[190]   'Fratris iras pro viribus moderavit.'—Bezæ Icones.

[191]   'Propter quæstum, cum contumelia Christi et cum periculo animarum.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 472.

[192]   Sleidan, ch. viii.

[193]   'Ihm eine gnädige Mine gemacht.'—Seckendorf, p. 118.

[194]   Sleidan, ch. viii. p. 232.

[195]   'Gallus rescripsit humanissime.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 503.

[196]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, iv. p. 167.

[197]   'Sondern gienge alles unter einander wie das Viehe.—Schelhorn, p. 289.

[198]   'Illi reges sua agunt negotia.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 518.

[199]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 167.

[200]   Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 8.

[201]   'Corpus et sanguinem Domini, in veritate, manibus sacerdotum tractari, frangi, et fidelium dentibus atteri.' (The formula which Pope Nicholas exacted of Bérenger.)—Lanfranc, De Euchar. cap. v.

[202]   'Speciebus illis nequaquam adhærendum, sed fidei alis ad cœlos evolandum esse. Illud subinde repetens: Sursum corda! sursum corda!'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, ii. p. 225. See also Maimbourg, Calvinisme, pp. 22-24.

[203]   'Bellaii opera, Gallus hic in secretiorem locum vocatus.'-Flor. Rémond, ii. p. 225.

[204]   'Regi scrupulos non leves injecit.'—Ibid.

[205]   'Idem de aliis quoque fidei articulis.'—Ibid.

[206]   A play upon the priest's name, both in French and in Latin. 'Lotharingus et Turnonius cardinales Galli hujus cantu excitati.'—Flor. Rémond, ii. p. 225.

[207]   'Antennas dimittite ac vela colligite, ne ad errorum scopulos illisa navi æternæ salutis naufragium faciatis.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, ii. p. 225.

[208]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 7.

[209]   This jour des Rois corresponds with our Twelfth day.

[210]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 7. Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[211]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 7. Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[212]   1 Timothy iv. 1.

[213]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 7. Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[214]   Ibid.



LECOQ had been caught in the snares of the world; Caturce had perished in the flames; some elect souls appeared to be falling into a third danger—a sort of christianity, partly mystical, partly worldly, partly Romanist. But there was a young man among the evangelicals who was beginning to occasion some uneasiness in the lukewarm. Calvin—for it is of him we speak—was successively attacked on these three sides, and yet he remained firm. He did more than this, for every day he enlarged the circle of his christian activity. An advocate, a young frondeur, a pious tradesman, a catholic student, a professor of the university, and the Queen of Navarre—all received from him at this time certain impulses which carried them forward in the path of truth.


The advocate Daniel loved him dearly, and desired to keep him in the Romish communion. His large understanding, his energetic character, his indefatigable activity seemed to promise the Church a St. Augustin or a St. Bernard; he must be raised to some important post where he would have a prospect of making himself useful. The advocate, who thought {111} Calvin far less advanced in the ways of liberty than he really was, had an idea of obtaining for him an ecclesiastical charge which, he imagined, would perfectly suit his young friend: it was that of official or vicar-general, empowered to exercise episcopal jurisdiction. Would Daniel succeed? Would he rob the Reformation of this young and brilliant genius? Influential men were ready to aid him in establishing Calvin in the ranks of the Romish hierarchy. Accordingly the first temptation to which he was exposed proceeded from clerical ambition.

An ecclesiastic of high birth, John, Count of Longueville and Archbishop of Toulouse, had been appointed Bishop of Orleans in 1521, with permission to retain his archbishopric.[215] In 1532 a new bishop was expected at Orleans, either because Longueville was dead, or because, on account of his illness, a coadjutor had become necessary. The pluralist prelate was a fellow-countryman of Calvin's.[216] Daniel, thinking that he ought to seize this opportunity of procuring the post of official for the young scholar, made the first overtures to Calvin on the 6th of January, 1532. 'I never will abandon,' he said, 'the old and mutual friendship that unites us.' And then, having by this means sought to conciliate his favourable attention, he skilfully insinuated his wishes. 'We are expecting the bishop's arrival every day; I should be pleased if, by the care of your friends, you were so recommended to him that he conferred on {112} you the charge of official or some other post.'[217] There was much in this to flatter the self-love of a young man of twenty-three. If Calvin had been made vicar-general at so early an age, he would not have stopped there; that office often led to the highest dignities, and his brilliant genius, his great and strong character, would have made him a bishop, cardinal, who can say? ... perhaps pope. Instead of freeing the Church he would have enslaved it; and instead of being plain John Calvin he might perhaps have been the Hildebrand of his age.

What will Calvin do? Although settled as regards doctrine, he was still undecided with regard to the Church: it was a period of transition with him. 'On the one hand,' he said, 'I feel the call of God which holds me fast to the Church, and on the other I fear to take upon myself a burden which I cannot bear.... What perplexity!'[218] Erelong the temptation presented itself. 'Consider!' whispered an insidious voice; 'an easy, studious, honoured, useful life!'—'Alas!' he said, 'as soon as anything appears which pleases us, instantly the desires of the flesh rush impetuously after it, like wild beasts.' We cannot tell whether these 'wild beasts' were roused in his ardent soul, but at least, if there was any covetousness within, 'which tempted the heart,' he forced it to be still. Strong decision distinguishes the christian character of Calvin. The new man within him rejected with horror all that the old man had loved. Far from entering into new ties, he was thinking of {113} breaking those which still bound him to the Roman hierarchy. He therefore did not entertain Daniel's proposal. Of the two roads that lay before him, he chose the rougher one, and gave himself to God alone.


Having turned his back on bishops and cardinals, Calvin looked with love upon the martyrs and their burning piles. The death of the pious Berquin and of other confessors had distressed him, and he feared lest he should see other believers sinking under the same violence. He would have desired to speak in behalf of the dumb and innocent victims. 'But, alas!' he exclaimed, 'how can a man so mean, so low-born, so poor in learning as I, expect to be heard?'[219] He had finished his commentary upon Seneca's treatise of Clemency. Being a great admirer of that philosopher, he was annoyed that the world had not given him the place he deserved, and spoke of him to all his friends. If one of them entered his little room and expressed surprise at seeing him take such pains to make the writings of a pagan philosopher better known, Calvin, who thought he had discovered a vein of Gospel gold in Seneca's iron ore, would answer: 'Did he not write against superstition? Has he not said of the Jews, that the conquered give laws to their conquerors? When he exclaims: "We have all sinned, we shall all sin unto the end!"[220] may we not imagine that we hear Paul speaking?'

Another motive, however, as some think, influenced {114} Calvin to select the treatise on Clemency. There was a similarity (and Calvin had noticed it) between the epochs of the author and of the commentator. Seneca, who lived at the time of the first persecutions against the christians, had dedicated his treatise on Clemency to a persecutor. Calvin determined to publish it with a commentary, in the hope (it has been said) that the king, who was fond of books, would read this legacy of antiquity. Without absolutely rejecting this hypothesis, we may say that he was anxious to compose some literary work, and that he displayed solid learning set off by an elegant and pleasing style which at once gave him rank among the literati of his day.

These are the words of Seneca, which, thanks to Calvin, were now heard in the capital of the kings of France: 'Clemency becomes no one so much as it does a king.—You spare yourself, when you seem to be sparing another. We must do evil to nobody, not even to the wicked; men do not harm their own diseased limbs. It is the nature of the most cowardly wild beasts to rend those who are lying on the ground, but elephants and lions pass by the man they have thrown down.[221] To take delight in the rattling of chains, to cut off the heads of citizens, to spill much blood, to spread terror wherever he shows himself—is that the work of a king? If it were so, far better would it be for lions, bears, or even serpents to reign over us!'[222]


As soon as the work was finished, Calvin thought of publishing it; but the booksellers turned their backs {115} on him, for an author's first work rarely tempts them. The young commentator was not rich, but he came to a bold resolution. He felt, as it would appear, that authorship would be his vocation, that God himself called him, and he was determined to take the first step in spite of all obstacles. He said: 'I will publish the book on Clemency at my own expense;' but when the printing was finished, he became uneasy. 'Upon my word,' he said, 'it has cost me more money than I had imagined.'[223]

The young author wrote his name in Latin on the title-page of the first work he published, Calvinus, whence the word Calvin was derived, which was substituted for the family name of Cauvin. He dedicated his book to the abbot of St. Eloy (4th April, 1532), and then gave it to the world. It was a great affair for him, and he was full of anxiety at its chances and dangers. 'At length the die is cast,'[224] he wrote to Daniel on the 23rd of May; 'my Commentary on Clemency has appeared.'

Two thoughts engrossed him wholly at this time: the first concerned the good that his book might do. 'Write to me as soon as possible,' said he to his friend, 'and tell me whether my book is favourably or coldly received.[225] I hope that it will contribute to the public good.' But he was also very anxious about the sale: all his money was gone. 'I am drained dry,' he said; 'and I must tax my wits to get back from every quarter the money I have expended.'

Calvin showed great activity in the publication of {116} his first work; we can already trace in him the captain drawing out his plan of battle. He called upon several professors in the capital, and begged them to use his book in their public lectures. He sent five copies to his friends at Bourges, and asked Sucquey to deliver a course of lectures on his publication. He made the same request to Landrin with regard to the university of Orleans.[226] In short, he lost no opportunity of making his book known.

Daniel had asked him for some Bibles. Probably Calvin's refusal to accept office in the Church had not surprised the advocate, and this pious man desired to circulate the book which had inspired his young friend with such courage and self-denial. But it was not easy to execute the commission. There was Lefèvre's Bible, printed in French at Antwerp in 1530; and the Latin Bible of Robert Stephens, which appeared at Paris in 1532. The latter was so eagerly bought up, that the doctors of the Sorbonne tried to prohibit the sale. It was probably this edition which Calvin tried to procure. He went from shop to shop, but the booksellers looked at him with suspicion, and said they had not the volume. Calvin renewed his inquiries in the Latin quarter, where at last he found what he sought at a bookseller's who was more independent of the Sorbonne and its proclamations than the others. 'I have executed your commission about the Bible,' he wrote to Daniel; 'and it cost me more trouble than money.'[227] Calvin profited by the opportunity to entreat his friend to deliver a course {117} of lectures on the Clemency. 'If you make up your mind to do so,' he wrote, 'I will send you a hundred copies.' These copies were, no doubt, to be sold to Daniel's hearers. Such were the anxieties of the great writer of the sixteenth century at the beginning of his career. Calvin's first work (it deserves to be noted) was on Clemency. Did the king read the treatise?... We cannot say; at any rate, Calvin was not more fortunate with Francis I. than Seneca had been with Nero.


Another case of a very different nature occupied his attention erelong. Calvin had a great horror of falsehood: calumny aroused his anger, whether it was manifested by gross accusations, or insinuated by equivocal compliments. Among his friends at the university there was a young man whom he called his excellent brother, whose name has not been preserved. All his fellow-students loved him; all the professors esteemed him;[228] but occasionally he showed himself a little rough. This unknown student, having received the good news of the Gospel with all his soul, felt impelled to speak about it out of the abundance of his heart, and rebelled at the obligation he was under of concealing his convictions. There was still in him some remnant of the 'old man,' and feeling indignant at the weakness of those around him, and being of a carping temper, he called them cowards. He could not breathe in the atmosphere of despotism and servility in which he lived. He loved France, but he loved liberty more. One day this proud young man said to his friends: 'I cannot bend my neck beneath the yoke to which you so willingly {118} submit.[229] Farewell! I am going to Strasburg, and renounce all intention of returning to France.'

Strasburg did not satisfy him. The eminent men who resided there sometimes, and no doubt with good intentions, placed peace above truth. The caustic opinions of the young Frenchman displeased Bucer and his friends. He was a grumbler by nature, and spoke out bluntly on all occasions.[230] He had a sharp encounter with a Strasburger, whose name Calvin does not give, and who was perhaps just as susceptible as the Parisian was hasty. The young Frenchman was declaiming against baptismal regeneration, when on a sudden his adversary, whom Calvin judges with great moderation, began to accuse the poor refugee of being an anabaptist. This was a dreadful reproach at that time. Wherever he went the Strasburger scattered his accusations and invectives. Every heart was shut against the poor fellow; he was not even permitted to make the least explanation. He was soon brought to want, and claimed the assistance of friends whom he had formerly helped. It was all of no use. Reduced to extreme necessity, having neither the means of procuring food nor of travelling, he managed however to return to France in a state of the greatest destitution. He found Calvin at Noyon, where the latter chanced to be at the beginning of September 1532.


The young man, soured and disappointed, drew a sad picture of Strasburg. 'There was not a single person in the whole city from whom I could obtain a {119} penny,' he said. 'My enemy left not a stone unturned; scattering the sparks of his wrath on every side, he kindled a great fire.... My sojourn there was a real tragedy, which had the ruin of an innocent man for its catastrophe.' Calvin questioned him on baptism, and the severe examination was entirely to the advantage of the young refugee. 'Really,' said the commentator on Clemency, 'I have never met with any one who professed the truth on this point with so much frankness.' Calvin did not lose a moment, but sat down (4th of September) to write to Bucer, whom he styled the bishop of Strasburg. 'Alas!' he said, 'how much stronger calumny is than truth! They have ruined this man's reputation, perhaps without intention, but certainly without reason. If my prayers, if my tears have any value in your eyes, dear Master Bucer, have pity on the wretchedness of this unfortunate man![231] You are the protector of the poor, the help of the orphan; do not suffer this unhappy man to be reduced to the last extremity.'

Shortly after writing this touching appeal, Calvin returned to Paris. As for the young man, we know not what became of him. He was not, however, the only one who first attacked and then called for pity.

The literary movement of the capital manifested itself more and more every day in a biblical direction. Guidacerio of Venice, devoting himself to scriptural studies, published a commentary on the Song of Solomon, and an explanation of the Sermon on the Mount,[232] {120} to the great annoyance of the doctors of the Sorbonne, who were angry at seeing laymen break through their monopoly of interpreting Scripture. Priests in their sermons, students in their essays, put forward propositions contrary to the Romish doctrine; and Beda, who was beside himself, filled Paris with his furious declamations. He soon met with a cutting reply. Some young friends of learning gave a public representation of a burlesque comedy entitled: 'The university of Paris is founded on a monster.'[233] Beda could not contain himself: 'They mean me,' he exclaimed, and called together the Faculties. They laid the matter before the inquisitors of the faith, who had the good sense to let it drop.[234]


When Calvin returned to Paris, he did not join this literary world, which was jeering at the attacks of the priests: he preferred the narrow and the thorny way. Every day he attended the meetings which were held secretly in different parts of the capital. He associated with pious families, sat at the hearths of the friends of the Gospel, and discoursed with them on the truth and on the difficulties which the Reformation would have to encounter in France. A pious and open-hearted merchant, a native of Tournay, Stephen de la Forge by name, particularly attracted him at this time. When he entered his friend's warehouse, he was often struck by the number of purchasers and by the bustle around him. 'I am thankful,' said La Forge, 'for all the blessings that God has given me; and I will not be sparing of my wealth, either to {121} succour the poor or to propagate the Gospel.' In fact, the merchant printed the Holy Scriptures at his own expense, and distributed copies along with the numerous alms he was in the habit of giving. Noble, kind-hearted, ready to share all that he possessed with the poor, he had also a mind capable of discerning error. He was good, but he was not weak. Certain doctors, infidel and immoral philosophers, were beginning at that time to appear in Paris, and to visit at La Forge's, where Calvin met them. The latter asked his friend who these strange-looking people were: 'They pretend to have been banished from their country,' said La Forge; 'perhaps.... But if so, believe me it was for their misdeeds and not for the Word of God.'[235] They were the chiefs of the sectarians afterwards known by the name of Libertines, who had just come from Flanders. La Forge not only gave his money, but was able somewhat later to give himself, and to die confessing Jesus Christ. When Calvin remembered at Geneva the sweet conversations they had enjoyed together, he exclaimed with a sentiment of respect: 'O holy martyr of Jesus Christ! thy memory will always be sacred among believers.'[236]

Besides La Forge, Calvin had another intimate friend at Paris, whose personal character possessed a great attraction for him, although the tendency of his mind was quite different from that of his own. Louis du Tillet was one of those gentle moderate christians, who fear the cross and are paralysed by the opinion of the world. The frondeur and he were two extremes: {122} Calvin was a mean between them. Du Tillet wished to maintain the Catholic Church, even when reforming it, for he respected its unity. The reformer had been struck with his charity, his humility, and his love of truth; while Louis, on the other hand, admiring 'the great gifts and graces which the Lord had bestowed on his friend,' was never tired of listening to him. He belonged to a noble family of Angoulême; his father was vice-president of the Chamber of Accounts; his eldest brother was the king's valet-de-chambre; and his other brother was second chief-registrar to the parliament. He was continually fluctuating between Calvin and his own relatives, between Scripture and tradition, between God and the world. He would often leave Calvin to go and hear mass; but erelong, attracted by a charm for which he could not account, he returned to his friend, whose clear ideas threw some little light into his mind. Du Tillet exclaimed: 'Yes, I feel that there is much ignorance and darkness within me.' But the idea of forsaking the Church alarmed him, and he had hardly uttered such words as these when he hurried off again to confess.

Calvin, thanks to the numerous friends who saw him closely, began to be appreciated even by those who calumniated his faith. 'This man at least leads an austere life,' they said: 'he is not a slave to his belly; from his youth he has abhorred the pleasures of the flesh;[237] he indulges neither in eating nor drinking.[238] ... Look at him ... his mind is vigorous; his soul unites wisdom with daring.... But his body is thin {123} and spare; one clearly sees that his days and nights are devoted to abstinence and study.'—'Do not suppose that I fast on account of your superstitions,' said Calvin. 'No! it is only because abstinence keeps away the pains that disturb me in my task.'


Professor Nicholas Cop, son of that William Cop, the king's physician, the honour of whose birth (says Erasmus) both France and Germany disputed,[239] had recognised an inward life in Calvin, and a vigorous faith which captivated him, and he never met him in the neighbourhood of the university without speaking to him. They were often seen walking up and down absorbed in talk, while the priests looked on distrustfully. These conversations disturbed them: 'Cop will be spoilt,' they said, and they endeavoured to prejudice him against his friend; but their intimacy only became stricter.

Calvin's reputation, which was beginning to extend, reached the ears of the Queen of Navarre, and that princess, who admired men of genius and delighted in agreeable conversation, wished to see the young literary christian. Thus there was an early intercourse between them. The christian and learned scholar undertook the defence of the sister of Francis I. in a letter written to Daniel in 1533, and this princess afterwards made known to him the projected marriage of her daughter Jeanne d'Albret—circumstances which indicate an intimate connection between them. During the time when the piety of the Queen of Navarre was the purest, a mutual respect and affection united these two noble characters. 'I conjure {124} you,' said Margaret to Calvin, 'do not spare me in anything wherein you think I can be of service to you. Rest assured that I shall act with my whole heart, according to the power that God has given me.'[240]


'A man cannot enter the ministry of God,' says Calvin, 'without having been proved by temptation.' The queen's wit, the court of St. Germain, intercourse with men of genius and of rank, the prospect of exercising an influence that might turn to the glory of God—all these things might tempt him. Would he become Margaret's chaplain, like Roussel? Would he quit the narrow way in which he was treading, to enter upon that where christians tried to walk with the world on their right hand and Rome on their left? The queen's love for the Saviour affected Calvin, and he asked himself whether that was not a door opened by God through which the Gospel would enter the kingdom of France.... He was at that moment on the brink of the abyss. What likelihood was there that a young man, just at the beginning of his career, would not gladly seize the opportunity that presented itself of serving a princess so full of piety and genius—the king's sister? Margaret, who made Roussel a bishop, would also have a diocese for Calvin. 'I should be pleased to have a servant like you,' she told him one day. But the rather mystical piety of the princess, and the vanities with which she was surrounded, were offensive to that simple and upright heart. 'Madame,' he replied, 'I am not fitted to do you any great service; the capacity is wanting, and also you have enough {125} without me.... Those who know me are aware that I never desired to frequent the courts of princes; and I thank the Lord that I have never been tempted, for I have every reason to be satisfied with the good Master who has accepted me and retains me in his household.'[241] Calvin had no more longing for the semi-catholic dignities of the queen than for the Roman dignities of the popes. Yet he knew how to take advantage of the opportunity offered him, and nobly conjured Margaret to speak out more frankly in favour of the Gospel. Carried away by an eloquence which, though simple, had great power, she declared herself ready to move forward.

An opportunity soon presented itself of realising the plan she had conceived of renewing the universal Church without destroying its unity; but the means to be employed were not such as Calvin approved of. They were about to have recourse to carnal weapons. 'Now the only foundation of the kingdom of Christ,' he said, 'is the humiliation of man. I know how proud carnal minds are of their vain shows; but the arms of the Lord, with which we fight, will be stronger, and will throw down all their strongholds, by means of which they think themselves invincible.'[242]

Luther now appears again on the scene; and on this important point Luther and Calvin are one.

[215]   'Cum facultate retinendi simul archiepiscopatum tolosanum.'—Gallia Christiana.

[216]   'Scis nos episcopum nationis tuæ habere.'—Daniel Calvino, Berne MSS.

[217]   'Ut officialis dignitate aut aliqua alia te ornaret.'—Daniel Calvino, Berne MSS.

[218]   Calvin, Lettres Françaises.

[219]   'Unus de plebe, homuncio mediocri seu potius modica eruditione præditus.'—Calvinus, Præf. de Clementia.

[220]   'Peccavimus omnes ... et usque ad extremum ævi delinquemus.'—De Clementia, lib. i.

[221]   'Ferarum vero, nec generosarum quidem, præmordere et urgere projectos.'—De Clementia, cap. v.

[222]   'Si leones ursique regnarent.'—Ibid. cap. xxvi.

[223]   'Plus pecuniæ exhauserunt.'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS.

[224]   'Tandem jacta est alea.'—Ibid.

[225]   'Quo favore vel frigore excepti fuerint.'—Ibid.

[226]   'Ut Landrinum inducas in protectionem.'—Calvinus Danieli, Geneva MSS.

[227]   'De Bibliis exhausi mandatum tuum.'—Ibid.

[228]   'Ita se gessit, ut gratiosus esset apud ordinis nostri homines.'—Calvinus Bucero, Strasburg MSS.

[229]   'Cum non posset submittere diutius cervicem isti voluntariæ servituti.'—Calvinus Bucero, Strasburg MSS.

[230]   'Cassait toutes les vitres.'

[231]   'Si quid preces meæ, si quid lacrimæ valent, hujus miseriæ succurras.'—Calvinus Bucero, Berne MSS.

[232]   Versio et Commentarii, published at Paris in 1531.

[233]   'Academiam parisiensem super monstrum esse fundatam.'—Morrhius Erasmo, March 30, 1532.

[234]   'Res delata est ad inquisitores fidei.'—Ibid.

[235]   'Quod ex Stephano a Fabrica (De la Forge) intellexi, istos potius ob maleficia ... egressos esse.'—Adv. Libertinos.

[236]   Ibid.

[237]   'Calvinus strictiorem vivendi disciplinam secutus est.'—Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, ii. p. 247.

[238]   'Cibi ac potus abstinentissimus.'—Ibid.

[239]   'Illum incomparabilem, quem certatim sibi vindicant, hinc Gallia, hinc Germania.'—Erasmi Epp. p. 15.

[240]   Calvin's Letters, i. p. 342. Philadelphia, ed. J. Bonnet.

[241]   Lettres Françaises de Calvin. A la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 114, ed. J. Bonnet.

[242]   Calvin, in 2ᵃᵐ Epist. ad Corinth. ch. x.


(March to October 1532.)


FRANCE, or at least the king and the influential men, appeared at this time to be veering towards a moderate Reform. Francis I. seemed to have some liking for his sister's religion; but there were other motives inclining him to entertain these ideas. Finding himself without allies in Europe, he endeavoured to gain the friendship of the protestants, hoping that with their help he would be in a condition to oppose the emperor and restore the French preponderance in Italy. One man in particular set himself the task of directing his country into a new path; this was William du Bellay, brother to the Bishop of Paris, and 'one of the greatest men France ever had,' says a catholic historian.[243] A skilful, active, and prudent diplomatist, Du Bellay called to mind the memorable struggles that had formerly taken place between the popes and the kings of France; he believed that christendom was in a state of transition, and desired, as the Chancellor de l'Hôpital did in later years, that the new times should be marked with more liberty, and not with more servitude, as the Guises, the Valois, and the Bourbons would have {127} wished. He went even farther: he thought that the sixteenth century would substitute for the papacy of the middle ages a form of christianity, catholic of course, but more in conformity with the ancient Scriptures and the modern requirements. From that hour his dominant idea, his chief business, was to unite catholic France to protestant Germany.

Having received the instructions of Francis I., Du Bellay left Honfleur, where the king was staying,[244] on the 11th of March, 1532, and crossed the Rhine about the middle of April. At Schweinfurth-on-the-Maine, between Wurtzburg and Bamberg, he found an assembly composed of a few protestant princes on one side, and a few mediators on the other, among whom was the elector-archbishop of Mayence. As this brings us into Germany, it is necessary that we should take a glance at what had happened there since the great diet of Augsburg in 1530.[245]

The catholics and protestants had made up their minds at that time for a contest, and everything foreboded the bursting of the storm in the next spring (1531). There were, so to say, two contrary currents among the friends of the Reformation in Germany. One party (the men of prudence) wished that the evangelical states should seek powerful alliances and prepare to resist the emperor by force of arms; the other (the men of piety) called to mind that the Reformation had triumphed at Augsburg by faith, and added that from faith all its future triumphs {128} were to be expected. These two parties had frequent meetings at Wittemberg, Torgau, and elsewhere. One man especially, with open countenance and firm look, whose lips seemed always ready to speak, made his clear and sonorous voice heard: this was Luther. 'To God alone,' he told the elector, 'belongs the government of the future; your Highness must therefore persevere in that faith and confidence in God which you have just displayed so gloriously at Augsburg.'[246] But the jurists of Torgau were not entirely of that opinion, and they endeavoured to prove that their rights in the empire authorised the protestants to repel force by force. Luther was not to be shaken. 'If war breaks out,' he replied, 'I call God and the world to witness, that the Lutherans have in no wise provoked it; that they have never drawn the sword, never thrown men into prison, never burnt, killed, and pillaged, as their adversaries have done; and, in a word, that they have never sought anything but peace and quietness.'[247] The politicians smiled at such enthusiasm, and said that in real life things must go on very differently. A conference was appointed for the consideration of what was to be done, and in the meanwhile great efforts were made to win over new allies to the protestant cause.


On the 29th of March, 1531, the deputies of the protestant states met at Smalcald, in the electorate of Hesse. In the eyes of the peace party this was a place of evil omen: the town was fortified, and there were iron mines in the neighbourhood, from which arms have been manufactured and cannons founded. As {129} the deputies proceeded to the castle of Wilhelmsburg, built on a hill near the town, they wore a mournful anxious look. They were disappointed in the hope they had entertained of seeing Denmark, Switzerland, Mecklenburg, and Pomerania join them. Nevertheless they did not hesitate, notwithstanding their weakness, to assert their rights against the power of Charles V. Nine princes and eleven cities entered into an alliance for six years 'to resist all who should try to constrain them to forsake the Word of God and the truth of Christ.'

This resolution was received with very different sentiments. Some said that it was an encroachment on the spirituality of the Church; others maintained that since liberty of conscience was a civil as well as a religious right, it ought to be upheld, if necessary, by force of arms. They soon went farther. Some persons proposed, with a view of making the alliance closer, to introduce into all the evangelical churches a perfect uniformity both of worship and ecclesiastical constitution; but energetic voices exclaimed that this would be an infringement of religious liberty under the pretence of upholding it. When the deputies met again at Frankfort, on the 4th of June, these generous men said boldly: 'We will maintain diversity for fear that uniformity should, sooner or later, lead to a kind of popery.' They understood that the inward unity of faith is better than the superficial unity of form.[248]

After various negotiations the evangelicals met at Schweinfurth to receive the proposals of their adversaries; {130} and it was during this conference (April and May 1532) that the ambassador of the King of France arrived. When the protestants saw him appear, they were rather embarrassed; but still they received him with respect. He soon found out in what a critical position the men of the confession of Augsburg were placed. True, the mediators offered them peace, but it was on condition that they made no stipulations in favour of those who might embrace the Gospel hereafter. This proposal greatly irritated the Landgrave of Hesse, his chancellor Feig, and the other members of the conference. 'What!' exclaimed the Hessians, 'shall a barrier be raised between protestantism and popery, and no one be allowed to pass it?... No! the treaty of peace must equally protect those who now adhere to the confession of Augsburg and those who may hereafter do so.'—'It is an affair of conscience,' wrote the evangelical theologians, and Urban Regius in particular; 'this is a point to be given up on no account.'[249] The electoral prince himself was resolved to adopt this line of conduct.


Luther was not at Schweinfurth, but he kept on the look-out for news. He spoke about the meeting to his friends; he attacked the schemes of the politicians; all these negotiations, stipulations, conventions, signatures, ratifications, and treaties in behalf of the Gospel annoyed him. When he learnt what they were going to do at Schweinfurth, he was dismayed. To presume to save the faith with protocols was almost blasphemous in his eyes! One of his {131} powerful letters fell like a bomb-shell into the midst of the conference. 'When we were without any support,' he said, 'and entirely new in the empire, with struggles and combats all around us, the Gospel triumphed and truth was upheld, despite the enemies who wished to stifle them both. Why should not the Gospel triumph now with its own strength? Why should it be necessary to help it with our diplomacy and our treaties? Is not God as mighty now as then? Does the Almighty want us to vote the aid that we mean to give him in future by our human stipulations?'...

These words of Luther caused general consternation. People said to one another that 'the Doctor had been ill, and that he had consoled his friends by saying: "Do not be afraid; if I were to sink now, the papists would be too happy; therefore I shall not die." They added that his advice against treaties was no doubt a remnant of his fever; the great man is not quite right in his mind; the prince-electoral and the excellent chancellor Bruck wrote to the elector, who was in Saxony, that everybody was against Luther, who appeared to have no understanding of business.' But the reformer did not suffer himself to be checked; on the contrary, he begged the elector to write a sharp letter to his representatives. 'The princes and burgesses have embraced the Gospel at their own risk and peril,' he said, 'and in like manner every one must in future receive and profess it at his own expense.' At the same time he began to agitate Wittemberg, and drew up an opinion which Pomeranus signed with him. In it he said: 'I will never take upon my conscience to provoke the shedding of blood, even to maintain {132} our articles of faith. It would be the best means of destroying the true doctrine, in the midst of the confusions of war.'[250] The reformer thought that if the Lutherans and the Zwinglians, the Germans and the Swiss united, they would feel so strong, that they would assume the initiative and draw the sword—which he wished to avert by all means in his power.


But the politicians were not more inclined to give way than the theologians. On the contrary, they made preparations for receiving the ambassador of France, in which, however, there was some difficulty. The diplomatist's arrival compromised them with the imperialists; they could not receive him in the assembly at Schweinfurth, since catholic princes would be present. The protestants therefore went a few miles off, to the little town of Königsberg in Franconia, between Coburg, Bamberg, and Schweinfurth. Here they formed themselves into a secret committee and received the ambassador. 'Most honoured lords,' said Du Bellay, 'the king my master begs you will excuse him for not having sent me to you sooner. That proceeds neither from negligence nor from want of affection, but because he desired to come to some understanding with the King of England, who also wishes to help you in your great enterprise. The negotiations are not yet ended; but my august master, desirous of avoiding longer delay, has commissioned me to say that you will find him ready to assist you. Yes, though he should do it alone; though his brother of England (which he does not believe) were to refuse; though the emperor should march his armies against {133} you, the king will not abandon you. On the honour of a prince, he said. I have received ample powers to arrange with you about the share of the war expenses which his Majesty is ready to pay.'[251]

The circumstances were not favourable for the proposals of Francis I. The pacific ideas of Luther prevailed. The Elector of Saxony, who was then ill, desired to die in peace. He therefore sided with the reformer, and it was agreed to name in the act of alliance the princes and cities that had already adhered to the confession of Augsburg, and that they alone should be included in the league. These peaceful ideas of the protestants did not harmonise with the warlike ideas of King Francis. Du Bellay was not discouraged, and skilfully went upon another tack; while the Saxon diplomatists were compelled to yield to the will of their master, Du Bellay remarked a young prince, full of spirit and daring, who spared nobody and said aloud what he thought. This was the Landgrave of Hesse, who complained unceasingly either of Luther's advice, or of the resolution of the conference. 'The future will show,' he told everybody, 'whether they have acted wisely in this matter.' The minister of Francis I., who was of the landgrave's opinion, entered into communication with him.

An important question—the question of Wurtemberg—at that time occupied Germany. In 1512 Duke Ulrich, annoyed because he had not more influence in the Suabian league, had seceded from it, quarrelled with the emperor, thrown that prince's adherents into prison, burdened his subjects with {134} oppressive taxes, and caused trouble in his own family. In consequence of all this, the emperor expelled him from his states in 1519 and 1520, and he took refuge in his principality of Montbéliard. It seemed that adversity had not been profitless to him. In 1524, when Farel went to preach the Reformation at Montbéliard, Ulrich (as we have seen[252] ) defended religious liberty. When the emperor was at Augsburg in 1530, wishing to aggrandise the power of Austria, he had given the duchy of Wurtemberg to his brother Ferdinand, to the great indignation of the protestants, and especially of the landgrave. 'We must restore the legitimate sovereign in Wurtemberg,' said this young and energetic prince: 'that will take the duchy from the catholic party and give it to the protestants.' But all the negotiations undertaken with this view had failed. If, however, one of the great powers of Europe should take up the cause of the dukes of Wurtemberg, their restoration would be easier. Francis I. had not failed to see that he could checkmate the emperor here. 'As for the Duke of Wurtemberg,' said Du Bellay to the Königsberg conference, 'the king my lord will heartily undertake to serve him to the utmost of his power, without infringing the treaties.'[253] The landgrave had taken note of these words, and their result was to establish the Reformation in a country which is distinguished by its fervent protestantism and its zeal in propagating the Gospel to the ends of the world.


A mixed assembly of catholics and protestants having met at Nuremberg in the month of May, the {135} protestants demanded a council in which everything should be decided 'according to the pure Word of God.' The members of the Romish party looked discontented: 'It is a captious, prejudiced, and anti-catholic condition,' they said. Yet, as the Turks were threatening the empire, it was necessary to make some concessions to the Reformation, in order to be in a condition to resist them. The violent fanatics represented to no purpose that Luther was not much better than Mahomet; peace was concluded at Nuremberg on the 23rd of July, 1532, and it was agreed that, while waiting for the next free and general council, the status quo should be preserved, and all Germans should exercise a sincere and christian friendship. This first religious peace cheered with its mild beams the last days of the elector John of Saxony. On the 14th of August, 1532, that venerable prince, whom even the imperialists styled 'the Father of the German land,' was struck with apoplexy. 'God help me!' he exclaimed, and immediately expired. 'Wisdom died with the elector Frederick,' said Luther, 'and piety with the elector John.'

Yet Du Bellay was always harassed by the desire of emancipating from Rome that France which the Medici, the Guises, the Valois, and afterwards the Bourbons, were about to surrender to her. He therefore increased his exertions among the protestants to induce them to accept the friendship, if not the alliance, of his master. But they had no great confidence in 'the Frenchman;' they were afraid that they would be surprised, deceived, and then abandoned by Francis; they 'shook with fear.' The ambassador was more urgent than ever; he accepted the conditions of the {136} protestants, and the two parties signed a sort of agreement. Du Bellay returned to Francis I., who was then in Brittany, and the king having heard him, sent him instantly to England, to give Henry VIII. a full account of all his negotiations with the protestant princes.[254]

Thus politicians were intriguing on every side. In Germany, France, and England, the princes imagined that they could conquer by means of diplomacy; but far different were the forces by which the victory was to be gained. In the midst of all this activity of courts and cabinets, there was an inner and secret activity which stirred the human mind and excited in it a burning thirst, which the truth and the life of God alone could quench. Centuries before, as early as 1020, the revival had begun in Aquitaine, at Orleans, and on the Rhine. Men had proclaimed that christians 'ought to be filled with the Holy Ghost; that God would be with them, and would give them the treasures of his wisdom.'[255] This inward movement had gone on growing from age to age. The Waldenses in the twelfth century, the purest portion of the Albigenses in the thirteenth, Wickliffe and the Lollards in the fourteenth, and John Huss and his followers in the fifteenth, are the heroes of this noble war. This christian life arose, increased, and spread; if it was extinguished in one country, it reappeared in another. The religious movement of the mind gained strength; the electricity was accumulated in the battery; the mine was charged, {137} and the explosion was certain erelong. All this was being accomplished under the guidance of a sovereign commander. He applied the match in the sixteenth century by the hand of Luther; once more he sprang the mine by the powerful preaching of Calvin, Knox, and others. It was this that won the victory, and not diplomacy. However, we have not yet done with it.


At this time Francis I. was enraptured with Henry VIII., calling him his 'good brother' and 'perpetual ally.' Wearied of the pope and of the popedom, which appeared as if unable to shake off the tutelage of Charles V., the King of France saw Germany separating from Rome, and England doing the same, and Du Bellay was continually asking him why he would not conclude a triple alliance with these two powers? Such a coalition, formed in the name of the revival of learning and of reform in the Church, would certainly triumph over all the opposition made to it by ignorance and superstition. Francis I. had not made up his mind to break entirely with the pope, though he was resolved to unite with the pope's enemies. In order to conclude a close alliance with Henry, he chose the moment when that prince was most out of humour with the court of Rome. The articles were drawn up on the 23rd of June, 1532.[256]

The two kings were not content with making preparations only for the great campaign they meditated against the emperor and Rome: they determined to have an interview. On the 11th of October, 1532, the gallant Henry, accompanied by a brilliant court, crossed the Channel and arrived at Calais, at that time {138} an English possession; while the elegant Francis, attended by his three sons and many of his nobles, arrived at Boulogne one or two days later. The great point with Francis was glory—a victory to be gained over Charles V.; the great point with Henry was to gratify his passions, and as Clement VII. thwarted him, he had a special grudge against the pope. With such hatreds and such intentions, it was easy for the two kings to come to an understanding.

Their first meeting was at Boulogne, in the abbot's palace, where they stayed four days under the same roof. Francis was inexhaustible in attentions to his guest; but the important part of their business was transacted in one of their closets, where these impetuous princes confided to each other their anger and their plans. The King of England gave vent to 'great complaints and grievances' against Clement VII. 'He wants to force me to go to Rome in person. If he means to institute an inquiry, let him send his proctors to England. Let us summon the pope (he added) to appear before a free council empowered to inquire into the abuses under which princes and people suffer so severely, and to reform them.'[257]

Francis, who also had 'goodwill to complain,' filled the abbot's palace with his grievances: 'I have need of the clergy-tenths (the tenth part of the Church revenues), in order that I may resist the Turk; but the holy father opposes my levying them. I have need of all the resources of my subjects; but the holy father is continually inventing new exactions, which transfer the money of my kingdom into the coffers of {139} the popedom. He makes us pay annates, maintain pontifical officers at a great expense, and give large presents to prothonotaries, valets, chamberlains, ushers, and others. And what is the consequence? The clergy are poor; the ruined churches are not repaired; and the indigent lack food.... Most assuredly the Roman government is only a net to catch money. We must have a council.'[258]

The two princes resolved to 'take from the pope the obedience of their kingdoms,' as Guicciardini says.[259] However, before resorting to extreme measures, Francis desired to begin with milder means, and Henry was forced to consent that France should forward his grievances to Rome.


After living together for four days at Boulogne, Henry and Francis went to Calais, where the latter found his apartments hung with cloth of gold, embroidered with pearls and precious stones. At table, the viands were served on one hundred and seventy dishes of solid gold. Henry gave a grand masked ball, at which the King of France was considerably tantalised by a masked lady of very elegant manners with whom he danced. She spoke French like a Frenchwoman, abounded in wit and grace, and knew, in its most trifling details, all the scandal of the court of France. The king declared the lady to be charming, and her neck the prettiest he had ever seen. He little imagined then that this neck would one day be severed by the orders of Henry VIII. At the end of the dance, the King of England, with a smile, removed the lady's mask, and showed the features of {140} Anne Boleyn, Marchioness of Pembroke, who (it will be recollected) had been brought up at the court of the French king's sister.[260]

Pleasure did not make the two princes forget business. They were again closeted, and signed a treaty, in accordance with which they engaged to raise an army of 65,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry, intended apparently to act against the Turks.[261] Du Bellay's policy was in the ascendant. 'The great king,' he said, 'is staggering from his obedience.'[262]


Wishing to make a last effort before determining to break with the pope, Francis summoned Cardinals de Tournon and de Gramont, men devoted to his person, and said to them: 'You will go to the holy father and lay before him in confidence both our grievances and our dissatisfaction. You will tell him that we are determined to employ, as soon as may be advisable, all our alliances, public as well as private, to execute great things ... from which much damage may ensue and perpetual regret for the future. You will tell him that, in accord with other christian princes, we shall assemble a council without him, and that we shall forbid our subjects in future to send money to Rome. You will add—but as a secret and after taking the pope aside—that in case his holiness should think of censuring me and forcing me to go to Rome for absolution, I shall come, but so well attended that his holiness will be only too eager to grant it me....

'Let the pope consider well,' added the king, 'that {141} the Germans, the Swiss League, and several other countries in Christendom, have separated from Rome. Let him understand that if two powerful kings like us should also secede, we should find many imitators, both Italians and others;[263] and that, at the least, there would be a greater war in Europe than any known in time past.'[264]

Such were the proud words France sent to Rome. The two kings separated. A young prince, held captive by Charles V., gave them the first opportunity of acting together against both emperor and pope.

[243]   Le Grand, Hist. du Divorce de Henri VIII. i. p. 20.

[244]   'Ex oppido unde fluctu Lexoviorum.'—Rommel, Philippe le M. ii. p. 259.

[245]   History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, vol. iv. bk. xiv. ch. xii.

[246]   Lutheri Epp. iv. p. 201—Dec. 1530.

[247]   Warnung an seine lieben Deutschen. Lutheri Opp. lib. xx. p. 298.

[248]   Seckendorf, pp. 1174-1192, sqq.

[249]   Urban Regius to the Landgrave.

[250]   Lutheri Epp. iv. pp. 335, 337, 369, 372, sqq.

[251]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 168, 169, Paris, 1588. The historian is very well informed, especially on everything concerning his brother's missions.

[252]   Hist. of the Ref. of the Sixteenth Cent. vol. iii. bk. xii. chap. xi.

[253]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 171, 172.

[254]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 171, 172.

[255]   'Deus tibi comes nunquam deerit, in quo sapentiæ thesauri atque divitiarum consistunt.' See Ademarus, monk of Angoulême in 1029, Chronic. Gesta Synodi Aurelianensis, &c.

[256]   The articles are given in Herbert's Life of Henry VIII. p. 366, sqq. Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 171.

[257]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 173.

[258]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 173, 174.

[259]   Guicciardini, Hist. des Guerres d'Italie, ii. liv. xx. p. 893.

[260]   'The French king talked with the marchioness a space.'—Hall, p. 794.

[261]   Le Grand, Hist. du Divorce de Henri VIII. p. 238.

[262]   Brantôme, Mémoires, i. p. 235.

[263]   The words tant italiens que autres, are not in the speech delivered at Calais according to Du Bellay; but they are in the written instructions given to the two cardinals. Preuves des Libertés, p. 260.

[264]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 175, 176, sqq.


(Autumn 1532.)

THE news of the meeting of Francis I. and Henry VIII. alarmed Germany, Italy, and all Europe. 'The kings of France and England,' it was said, 'are going to take advantage of the emperor's campaign against the Turks, to unite their armies with those of the protestants and gain a signal victory.'[265] But nobody was more alarmed than the pope. Abruptly addressing the Bishop of Auxerre, the minister of France, he made the bitterest complaints to him.[266] Already he saw France, like England, shaking off the yoke of Rome. 'I have it from good authority,' says Brantôme, 'that the King of France was on the point of renouncing the pope, as the King of England had done.'[267]

On leaving Boulogne, Francis went to Paris, where he spent the winter and took his measures for 'the great effort' with which he threatened the pope. The priests were very uneasy, and began to dread a reform {143} similar to that in England. Calling to mind that in Denmark, Sweden, and elsewhere, a great part of the ecclesiastical property had been transferred to the treasury of the State, they granted the king all he asked; and the prince thus obtained between five and six hundred thousand ducats, which put him in a condition to do 'the great things' with which the cardinals were to menace the pontiff.[268] An unexpected event furnished the opportunity of employing the priests' money in favour of the Reformation.


The haughty Soliman had invaded Hungary, in July 1532, at the head of numerous and terrible hordes. Displaying a luxury without precedent, he gave audience on a golden throne, with a crown of solid gold at his side, and the scabbards of his swords covered with pearls. But erelong the sickly Charles succeeded in terrifying this magnificent barbarian. Having raised an army which combined the order and strength of the German lansquenets with the lightness and impetuosity of the Italian bands and the pride and perseverance of the Spanish troops, he forced Soliman to retreat. The emperor was all the more delighted, as the conference between Henry and Francis made him impatient to settle with the Mussulmans. It was even said in the empire that it was this conference which brought Charles back, as he desired to join the pope in combating projects which threatened them both. The emperor passed the Alps in the autumn of 1532.[269]

{144} Among the nobles and warriors who accompanied him, was a young prince of eighteen, Christopher, son of Duke Ulrich of Wurtemberg. He was only five years old when his father was expelled from his duchy by the Austrians; and the latter, wishing to make him forget Wurtemberg, resolved to separate him from his country and his parents. The little boy and his guardians having left Stuttgard, stopped to pass the night in a town near the frontier. A lamb was gambolling in the yard; the poor boy, delighted with the gentleness of the animal, ran and took it up in his arms, and began to play with it. In the morning, just as they were leaving, little Christopher, less distressed at their taking away his sceptre than at their separating him from his pet companion, kissed it with tears in his eyes, and said to the host: 'Pray take care of it, and when I return I will pay you for your trouble.'

Christopher was taken to Innsbruck, where his life was a hard one. The young prince who, in later times, filled his country with evangelical schools, had no one to cultivate his mind, and he who was one day to sit at the table of kings was often half-starved; his dress was neglected, and even the beggars, when they saw him, were moved with compassion. From Innsbruck he was transferred to Neustadt (Nagy-Banya) in Hungary, beyond the Theiss. One day a troop of Turkish horsemen, having crossed the Carpathians, scoured the country that lay between the mountains and the river, and, catching sight of the prince, rushed upon him to carry him off. But a faithful follower, who had observed their movements, shouted for help, and succeeded in saving Christopher from the {145} hands of the Mussulmans. And thus the heir of Wurtemberg grew up in the bosom of adversity.


The noble-hearted man who had saved him at the peril of his own life was Michael Tifernus. In his early childhood he had been carried off by the Turks, and, being abandoned by them, he had succeeded in reaching a village near Trieste, where some kind people took care of him. Tifernus (who derived this name from the place of his adoption, for his parents' name was never known) was sent to a school in Vienna, where he received a sound education. King Ferdinand, who was guilty of negligence towards Christopher rather than of ill-will, gave him Tifernus for tutor. The latter attached himself passionately to the prince, who, under his care, became an accomplished young man. In the midst of the splendours of the court of Austria and of the Roman worship, grew up one who was erelong to rescue Wurtemberg from both Austria and Rome. An important circumstance occurred to agitate the young prince deeply, and throw a bright light over his dark path.

Christopher accompanied the emperor in 1530 to the famous diet of Augsburg. He was struck by the noble sight of the fidelity and courage of the protestants. He heard them make their confession of faith; his elevated soul took the side of the oppressed Gospel; and when, at this very diet, Charles solemnly invested his brother Ferdinand with the duchy of Wurtemberg,—when Christopher saw the standard of his fathers and of his people in the hands of the Austrian archduke—the feeling of his rights came over him; he viewed the triumphant establishment of the evangelical faith in the country of his ancestors as a task {146} appointed him. He would recover his inheritance, and, uniting with the noble confessors of Augsburg, would bring an unexpected support to the Reformation.

The emperor, after the war against the Turks, desired the prince to accompany him to Italy and Spain; perhaps it was his intention to leave him there; but Christopher made no objection. He had arranged his plans: two great ideas, the independence of Wurtemberg and the triumph of the Reformation, had taken possession of his mind, and while following the emperor and appearing to turn his back on the states of his fathers, he said significantly to his devoted friend Tifernus: 'I shall not abandon my rights in Germany.'[270]


Charles V. and his court were crossing the Alps in the autumn of 1532. The young duke on horseback was slowly climbing the passes which separate Austria from Styria, contemplating the everlasting snows in the distance, and stopping from time to time on the heights from whose base rushed the foaming torrents which descend from the sides of the mountains. He had a thoughtful look, as of one absorbed by some great resolution. The news of the interview of Francis I. and Henry VIII., which had alarmed Austria, had inflamed his hopes; and he said to himself that now was the time for claiming his states. He had conversed with his governor about it, and it now remained to carry the daring enterprise into execution. To escape from Charles V., surrounded {147} by his court and his guards, seemed impossible; but Christopher believing that God can deliver out of the mouth of the lion, prayed him to be his guide during the rest of his life. As etiquette was not strictly observed in these mountains, Christopher and his governor lagged a little in the rear of their travelling companions. A tree, a rock, a turn in the road sufficed to hide them from view. Yet, if one of the emperor's attendants should turn round too soon and look for the laggards, the two friends would be ruined. But no one thought of doing so: erelong they were at some distance from the court, and could see the imperial procession stretching in the distance, like a riband, along the flanks of the Norican Alps. On a sudden the two loiterers turned their horses, and set off at full gallop. They asked some mountaineers to show them a road which would take them to Salzburg, and continued their flight in the direction indicated. But there were some terrible passes to cross; Christopher's horse broke down, and it was impossible to proceed. What was to be done? Perhaps the imperialists were already on their track.

The two friends were not at a loss. There was a lake close at hand; they dragged the useless animal by the legs towards it, and buried it at the bottom of the water, in order that there might be no trace of their passage. 'Now, my lord,' said his governor, 'take my horse and proceed; I shall manage to get out of the scrape.' The young duke disappeared, and not before it was time. 'What has become of Prince Christopher?' asked Charles's attendants. 'He is in the rear,' was the reply; 'he will soon catch us up.' As he did not appear, some of the imperial {148} officers rode back in search of him. The little lake into which the prince's horse had been thrown was partly filled with tall reeds, among which Tifernus lay concealed. Presently the imperialists passed close by him; he heard their steps, their voices; they went backwards and forwards, but found nothing. At last, they returned and mournfully reported the uselessness of their search. It was believed that the two young men had been murdered by brigands among the mountains. The court continued its progress towards Italy and Rome. All this time Christopher was fleeing on his governor's horse, and by exercising great prudence he reached a secure asylum without being recognised, and here he kept himself in concealment under the protection of his near relatives the dukes of Bavaria. Tifernus joined him in his retreat.


The report of Christopher's death was circulated everywhere; the Austrians, who had no doubt about it, felt surer than ever of Wurtemberg; they were even beginning to forget the prince, when a document bearing his name and dated the 17th of November, 1532,[271] was suddenly circulated all over Germany. Faithful to his resolution, the young prince in this noble manifesto gave utterance to the bitterest complaints, and boldly claimed his inheritance in the face of the world. This paper, which alarmed Ferdinand of Austria, caused immense joy in Wurtemberg and all protestant Germany. The young prince had everything in his favour: an age which always charms, a courage universally acknowledged, virtues, talents, {149} graceful manners, an ancient family, a respected name, indisputable rights, and the love of his subjects. They had not seen him, indeed, since the day when he had bedewed the pet lamb with his tears; but they hailed him as their national prince who would recover their independence. Protected by the Duke of Bavaria, by the Landgrave of Hesse, and by the powerful King of France, Christopher had all the chances in his favour. He had more: he had the support of God. As a friend of the Gospel, he would give fresh strength to the great cause of the Reformation. Du Bellay would use all his zeal to reestablish him on the throne, and thus procure an ally for France who would help her to enter on the path of religious liberty.

We must now return to the country of Margaret of Navarre, and see how this princess began to realise her great project of having the pure Gospel preached in the bosom and under the forms of the Roman Catholic Church.

[265]   'The people was marvellously affrayed less you would have joined armies.'—Hawkins to Henry VIII., Nov. 21, 1532. State Papers, vii. p. 388.

[266]   'Hys Holynes taketh it greatly for ill.'—Ibid. p. 381.

[267]   Brantôme, Mémoires, p. 235.

[268]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 174. Relation des Ambassadeurs Vénitiens, i. p. 52.

[269]   Hammer, iii. p. 118. Schoertlin, Lebens Beschreibung. Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. p. 425.

[270]   'Entschlossen seine Gerechtigkeiten in Deutschland nicht zu verlassen.'—Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. pp. 448-451. This narrative is based upon Gabelkofer, extracted by Sattler and Pfister.

[271]   This document will be found in Sattler, ii. p. 229. See also Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. p. 450.


(Lent 1533.)

THE alliance with England, and the hope of being able, sooner or later, to triumph over Charles V., filled the King of France with joy; and accordingly the carnival of the year 1533 was kept magnificently at Paris. The court was absorbed in entertainments, balls, and banquets. The young lords and ladies thought of nothing but dancing and intriguing, at which soberer minds were scandalised. 'It is quite a Bacchanalia,' said the evangelicals.[272] As soon as the carnival was ended, Francis started for Picardy; leaving the King and Queen of Navarre at Paris. Margaret now breathed more freely. She had been compelled, willingly or unwillingly, to take part in all the court fêtes; and she now determined to make up for it by organising a great evangelical preaching instead of the 'bacchanalia' at which she had sometimes been present. Was not Francis holding out his hand to the King of England and to the protestants of Germany? The opportunity should be seized of preaching the new doctrine boldly. The {151} Queen of Navarre sent for Roussel and communicated her intention to him. She will open the great churches of the capital, and from their pulpits the inhabitants of Paris shall hear the mighty summons. The poor almoner, in whom courage was not the most prominent virtue, was alarmed at first. In the handsome saloons of Margaret he might indulge in his pious and rather mystical aspirations; but to enter the pulpits of Paris ... the very thought dismayed him, and he begged the queen to find some other person. Roussel did not deny that it was right to preach the Gospel publicly, but declared himself to be incompetent for the work. 'The minister of the Gospel,' he said, 'ought to possess an invincible faith.[273] The enemy against which he fights is the kingdom of hell with all its powers.[274] ... He must defend himself on the right hand and on the left.... What do you require of me? To preach peace, but under the cross! To bring in the kingdom of God, but among the strongholds of the devil.... To speak of repose in the midst of the most furious tempests, of life in the midst of death, of blessedness in the midst of hell! Who is fitted for such things?... Doubtless it is a noble task, but no one ought to undertake it unless he is called to it. Now I feel nothing in me which a minister of the Gospel of Christ ought to possess at this moment.'[275]


Such a man as Calvin would certainly have been {152} preferable, but Margaret would neither have dared nor wished to put him in the front. These sermons undoubtedly formed part of the chaplain's duty; and hence the Queen, an energetic and impulsive woman, being determined to profit by the opportunity of giving the Gospel free entrance into Paris, persisted with Roussel, promised him the help of her prayers and of her favour, and at last prevailed on him to preach. In truth, his modesty is an honour to him: no doubt there was boldness wanted; but many humble and candid souls would have hesitated like him. He was fitter than he imagined for the work which the Queen of Navarre had taken in hand.

This obstacle having been surmounted, Margaret met with another. It was the custom for the Sorbonne to appoint the preachers, and it was impossible to get them to accept Roussel. 'They will nominate some furious and insolent monks,' says Calvin, 'who will make the churches ring with their insults against truth.'[276] The struggle began, and despite the absence of Francis, despite the influence of the Queen of Navarre, the Sorbonne gained the day, and the pulpits of the capital were closed against the almoner. Margaret was very indignant at these doctors, who looked upon themselves as the doorkeepers of the kingdom of heaven, and by their tyranny prevented the door from being opened; but Roussel was by no means sorry to be prohibited from a work beyond his strength.


But nothing could stop the queen. Being resolved {153} to give the Gospel to France, she said to herself that it must be done now or never. Her zeal carried her to an extraordinary act. The Sorbonne closed the doors of the churches against Roussel: Margaret opened to him the palace of the king. She had a saloon prepared in the Louvre, and gave orders to admit all who desired to enter. Was the king informed of this? It is possible, and even probable, that he was. He did not fear to show the pope and Charles V. how far his alliance with Henry VIII. and the protestants would extend. He would not have liked to appear schismatic and heretical; but he sometimes was pleased that his sister should do so; and he could always vindicate himself on the ground of absence.

A Lutheran sermon at the Louvre! That was truly a strange thing; and accordingly the crowd was so great that there was not room for them. Margaret threw open a larger hall, but that too was filled, as well as the corridors and ante-chamber.[277] A third time the place of meeting was changed.[278] She had vainly selected the largest hall; the galleries and adjoining rooms were filled, and room was wanting still. These evangelical preachings at the Louvre excited a lively curiosity in Paris. They were all the fashion, and the worthy Roussel, to his great surprise, became quite famous. He preached every day during Lent,[279] and every day the crowd grew larger. Nobles, lawyers, men of letters, merchants, scholars, and tradespeople {154} of every class flocked to the Louvre from all parts of Paris, especially from the quarters of the University and St. Germain. At the hour of preaching, the citizens poured over the bridges in a stream, or crossed the Seine in boats. Some were attracted by piety, some by curiosity, and others by vanity. Four or five thousand hearers crowded daily round Roussel.[280]

When the worthy citizens, students, and professors had climbed the stairs at the Louvre, crossed the antechambers, and reached the door of the principal saloon, they stopped, opened their eyes wide, and looked wonderingly on the sight presented to them in the monarch's palace. The King and Queen of Navarre were in the chief places, seated in costly chairs, whence the active Margaret cast a satisfied glance on all those courtiers, those notables of the city, those curious Parisians, those friends of Reform, who were flocking to hear the Word of God. There were people of every rank: John Sturm, already so decided for the Gospel, was seen by the side of the elegant John de Montluc, afterwards Bishop of Valence. At length the minister appeared; he prayed with unction, read the Scriptures with gravity, and then began his exhortations to the hearers. His language was simple, but it stirred their hearts profoundly. Roussel proclaimed the salvation obtained by a living faith, and urged the necessity of belonging to the invisible Church of the saints. Instead of attacking the Roman religion, he addressed his appeals to the conscience; and this preaching of the Gospel (rather softened down as it was) won, instead of irritating, men's minds. {155} Accustomed as they were to the babbling of the monks, the congregation listened seriously to the practical preaching of the minister of God. Here were no scholastic subtleties, no absurd legends, no amusing anecdotes, no burlesque declamations, and no unclean pictures: it was the Gospel.[281] As they quitted the Louvre, men conversed about the sermon or the preacher. Sturm of Strasburg and John de Montluc, in particular, often talked together.[282] The satisfaction was general. 'What a preacher!' they said; 'we have never heard anything like it! What freedom in his language! what firmness in his teaching!'[283] Some of his hearers wrote in their admiration to Melanchthon, who informed Luther, Spalatin, and others of it.[284] Germany rejoiced to see France begin to move at last.

Margaret, who had a lively imagination and warm heart, was all on fire. She spoke to the worldlings of that 'peace of God which passeth all understanding.' She said to the friends of the Gospel: 'The Almighty will graciously complete what he has graciously begun through us.' She added: 'I will spend myself in it.' She excited and stirred up everybody about her, and the crowded congregations of the Louvre were in great measure the result of her incessant activity. She knew how by a word or a message to attract courtiers whose only thoughts were of debauchery, and catholics whose only wish was for the pope. Like a sabbath-bell, she called Paris to hear the {156} voice of God, and drew the crowd. Possessing in the highest degree, so long as her brother did not check it, that energy which women often show in religious matters, she was resolved to prosecute her work and win the prize of the contest.

She returned to her first idea. She said to herself that the best way to effect a reform in the Church without occasioning a schism, was for the Gospel to be preached in the churches of Paris and of France. The ceremonies of the Roman worship and the jurisdiction of the bishops would remain, but Christ would be proclaimed. This system, which was fundamentally that of Melanchthon and even of Luther at this time,[285] she did her best to realise. The victory she had just achieved at the Louvre doubled her courage; she determined to have the churches which had been refused to her at first. She therefore began to work upon the king, and, as he was thinking only of his alliances with Henry VIII. and the protestants, she obtained from him an order authorising the Bishop of Paris to appoint whom he pleased to preach in his diocese.[286] The prelate, who was a brother of the diplomatist Du Bellay, passed like him for a friend of the Reformation. At Margaret's request he named two evangelical Augustine monks—Courault and Berthaud. 'Strange!' said the public voice; 'here are men of the order to which Luther belonged going to preach the doctrine of the great reformer in the capital of France.' All the evangelicals were overjoyed and wrote to their friends everywhere that 'Paris was supplied with three excellent {157} preachers, announcing the truth ... with a little more boldness than was customary.'[287]


Courault, a sincere scriptural christian, who did not participate in Margaret's subtleties, preached at St. Saviour's. The inhabitants of the quarter of St. Denis and from other parts crowded to this church. Many persons who had said of the preachings at the Louvre, 'They are not for us,' hastened to the place which belonged to the people. The man who occupied the pulpit was about the middle age; he did not possess Roussel's grace, he was even somewhat rough, and preached the Gospel without reserve and without disguise. His lively and aggressive style, his expressive and rather threatening gestures arrested attention. He attacked unsparingly the errors of the Church and the vices of christians. Courault did not come, as the Roman preachers had done up to that very hour, to impose on his hearers certain laws, ceremonies, and acts of worship by means of which they could be reconciled to God and merit his favour. He spoke not of feasts, or of dedications, or of customs, or of those mechanical prayers and chantings, in which the understanding and the heart have no share, and with which the Church burdened believers. He had a special horror of all that mixes up the worship of the creature with the adoration of God, and would not suffer the perfect work of Christ to be obscured by the invocation of other mediators. He preached that the true worship of the New Testament was faith in the Gospel, and the love which proceeds from faith; that it was communion with Christ, patience under the cross, and a holy activity in doing good, accompanied by the {158} constant prayers of the heart. This preaching, so new in the capital, attracted an immense crowd. The enthusiasm was universal. 'This man is in the first rank among good men,' was the general opinion.[288] 'He is like a sentinel on a tower who, with his eyes fixed on the east, proclaims that the sun, so long hidden, will shine at last upon the earth.'[289] Light beamed from Courault's discourses. His sight was weak, and in after years, during his exile in Switzerland, where he was Calvin's colleague, he became quite blind; but his language was always marked by great clearness. It was said of him that 'although blind he enlightens the soul.'[290] Among his hearers was Louis du Tillet, Calvin's friend, and the youthful canon was deeply excited by the living faith of the aged Augustine. 'Oh! what piety I found in him!' he exclaimed on a later occasion.[291]

Berthaud, the other preacher named by the bishop, subsequently deserted the Gospel and died a canon of Besançon: so that each of them reminds us of our Saviour's words: There shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.[292]

These evangelical preachings in the palace of the king and in the churches of Paris were important facts, and there has been nothing like it since in France. The alarm was consequently at its height. People asked whether the sentinels of the Church were asleep, and whether the bark of St. Peter would founder, {159} while the Gospel ship seemed floating onwards in full sail.


But the doctors of the Sorbonne were not asleep; on the contrary, they were on the watch, they sent their spies into the evangelical assemblies, received their reports, and took counsel together every day. The members of this society, the principal, the prior, the senior, the recorder, the professors, the proctors, and the librarians declared boldly and unanimously that all was lost if they did not make haste to check the evil. The evangelicals and the men of letters were informed of these fanatical discussions. 'What a horde of scribes and pharisees!' they exclaimed.[293] But that did not stop the horde. 'What must be done?' they asked; and Beda replied: 'Let the preachers be seized and put to death like Berquin.' Some, more moderate or more politic, knowing that Roussel was preaching by order of the king's sister, shrank from this proposal, fearing they would offend their sovereign.[294] 'What foolish policy!' exclaimed Beda, 'what ineffable cowardice!... Is not the Sorbonne the oracle of Europe? Shall it render ambiguous answers, like the pagan oracles of old?'

Beda prevailed, and Roussel was denounced to the king. 'Apply to my chancellor,' said Francis, who did not wish to say either yes or no. The Sorbonne delegates then waited upon Duprat. 'Apply to the bishop,' said the cardinal, who was afraid of displeasing the king. The Sorbonnists went to their {160} diocesan, rather anxious about the reception they would receive from him; and with good reason, for the liberal Du Bellay only laughed at them.[295] The exasperated but indefatigable doctors now turned to the first president, who was one of their party; but that magistrate, believing the Sorbonne to be in disgrace, was not anxious to support their cause. The wrath of the doctors now became unbounded. Would there no longer be any justice in France for the champions of the papacy? The friends of letters, who had carefully noted all these repulses, smiled at the confusion of the priests; and Sturm in particular, the reviver of learning at Strasburg, and now professor at Paris, did not spare them: 'Look at these Thersites!' he said, comparing them to the ugliest, most cowardly, and most ridiculous of the Grecian host at Troy. 'They are at the end of their tether and cannot succeed,' continued Sturm; 'for those who can help them will not, and those who will cannot.'[296]

The doctors of the Sorbonne now lost all moderation. 'The king,' said they, 'who publicly supports the heretics, his sister and the Archbishop of Paris, who protect them, are as guilty as they.' Orders were sent through all the camp: every pulpit became a volcano. Furious declamations, superstitious sermons, scholastic discourses, violent and grotesque speeches—the supporters of Rome made use of all. 'Do you know what an heretical minister is?' asked a monk. 'He is a pig in a pulpit, decorated with cap and {161} surplice, and preaching to a congregation ... of asses.'[297]


The most active firebrand in this conflagration was Le Picard, a bachelor of divinity, professor of the college of Navarre, and subsequently dean of St. Germain l'Auxerrois. He was twenty-nine years old, of a 'stormy' temper if ever there was one, and in truth he did 'storm' in the churches and at the meetings of the priests. He went into the pulpit to oppose Courault; and the people who had gone to hear the Augustine monk, crowded also to hear his opponent. The latter gesticulated much, shouted loudly, invoked the Virgin, and attacked the king, accusing him bluntly of heresy. He was a true precursor of those who advised the massacre of St. Bartholomew; and indeed he made a proposal, not long after, worthy of the Guises and the Medici. 'Let the government pretend to be Lutheran,' he said, 'in order that the reformed may assemble openly; then we can fall upon them and clear the kingdom of them once for all.'[298] A monk, charmed with his virtues, has written his life under the title of The Perfect Ecclesiastic.[299]


Yet if Le Picard was the most active champion, Beda was still general. Placed as on a hill, he overlooked the field of battle, examined where it was necessary to send help, wrote every day to the orators of his party—to Le Picard, Maillard, Ballue, Bouchigny, and {162} others, and conjured them not to relax for an instant in their attacks. 'Stir up the people by your discourses,' he said.[300] It was a critical moment: it was in the balance whether France would remain catholic or become heretic. 'Though the monarch deserts the papacy,' he said, 'agitate, still agitate!' Then the fanatical monks went into the pulpits and aroused the people by their fiery eloquence: 'Let us not suffer this heresy, the most pestilential of all, to take root among us.... Let us pluck it up, cast it out, and annihilate it.'[301]

All the forces of the papacy were engaged at this time as in a battle where the general launches his reserves into the midst of the struggle. The mendicant friars, those veteran soldiers of the popedom, who had access into every family, were set to work. Dominicans, Augustines, Carmelites, and Franciscans, having received their instructions, entered the houses of Paris. The women and children, who were used to them, saluted them with 'Good morning, friar John or friar James;' and while their wallet was being filled, they whispered in the ears of the citizens: 'The pope is above the king.... If the king favours the heretics, the pope will free us from our oaths of fidelity.'

They went still further. Whenever it is felt desirable to arouse the people, they require to be excited by some spectacle. A neuvaine was ordered in honour of St. James. The crowd flocked to adore the good saint with his long pilgrim's staff; and for nine {163} days the devout of both sexes, kneeling round his image, crossing themselves and employing other usual ceremonies, loudly called upon the saint to give a knock-down blow with his staff to those who protected the heretics.

These incendiary discourses and bigoted practices succeeded. The people began to be restless and to utter threats.[302] They paraded in bands through the streets, they collected in groups in the public places, and cries were heard of: 'The pope for ever! down with his enemies!... Whoever opposes the holy father, even if he be a king, is a knave and a tyrant, to whom the Grand Turk is preferable.... We will dye our streets with the blood of those people.'... There was already in the veins of the inhabitants of Paris the blood of the men of the Reign of Terror. The crowds who filled the streets stopped before the booksellers' shops, where books and pictures, defamatory of the reformers and even of the Queen of Navarre, were displayed. Among the books was a 'stage play' aimed at the king's sister: it was probably that entitled: The Malady of Christendom, with thirteen characters.[303]

But even that was not sufficient. There was still wanting a theological decision from the first academical authority of christendom, which should place Roussel in the same rank as the arch-heretic Luther. The {164} Sorbonne, wishing to strike a decisive blow, published a certain number of the so-called pernicious and scandalous doctrines imputed to Roussel, and condemned them as being similar to the errors of Luther. The alarm and agitation were now at their height; the people fancied they could see the monk of Wittemberg breathing his impious doctrines over Paris. Rome fought boldly, and everything was in confusion.[304]

What became of Calvin during all this uproar? 'What is this madness,' he said on a later occasion, 'which impels the pope and his bishops, the priests and the friars, to resist the Gospel with such obstinate rebellion?... The servants of God must be furnished with invincible constancy in order to sustain without alarm the commotions of the people. We are sailing on a sea exposed to many tempests; but nothing ought to turn us aside from doing our duty conscientiously.[305] The Lord consoles and strengthens his servants when they are thus agitated.... He has in his hand the management of every whirlwind and of every storm, and appeases them whenever it seems good to him.... We shall be roughly handled, but he will not suffer us to be drowned.'[306]

[272]   'Bacchanalia factis multis regiis conviviis.'—Siderander Bedroto, Strasburg MSS. ed. Schmidt.

[273]   'Exigit invictum fidei robur.'—Roussel to Œcolampadius, Ep. Ref. Helvet. p. 20.

[274]   'Adversus totum inferorum regnum, a dexteris et a sinistris.'—Ibid.

[275]   'Nihil minus in me sentiam quam quod ad evangelicum dispensatorem et ministrum attinet.'—Ibid.

[276]   'Quisque erat clamosissimus et stolido furore præditus.'—Calvinus Danieli, Epp. p. 3. Genève, 1575.

[277]   'Vix enim locus inveniebatur qui satis capax esset.'—Letter dated Paris, May 28, 1533, by Peter Siderander. Strasburg MSS. Schmidt, G. Roussel, p. 201.

[278]   'Adeo ut ter mutare locum coactus sit.'—Ibid.

[279]   'Concionatus est autem quotidie per totam hanc quadragesimam.'—Ibid.

[280]   'Ut nulla fere concio facta fuerit quin hominum quatuor vel quinque millia adfuerint.'—Siderander, Strasburg MSS.

[281]   Schmidt, G. Roussel, p. 85.

[282]   See Sturm to Montluc, June 17, 1562.

[283]   'Gerardus libere docet Evangelium in ipsa Lutetia ... in aula reginæ Navarræ magna animi constantia.'—Melanchthon, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 658.

[284]   'Hæc certa sunt et mihi, ex Parisiis, ab optimis viris diligenter perscripta.'—Ibid.

[285]   Negotiations of Smalcald, Aug. 1531.

[286]   'Allatum est regium diploma quo parisiensi episcopo permittitur præficere quos velit singulis parochiis concionatores.'—Calvini Epp. p. 3.

[287]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, i. p. 9.

[288]   'Qui inter bonos postremus non erat.'—Calvini Epp. p. 3.

[289]   'In specula nostra, donec appareat quod nunc absconditum est.'—Ibid.

[290]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, i. p. 9.

[291]   Correspondance de Calvin et Du Tillet, p. 78.

[292]   Matthew, xxiv. 40.

[293]   'Turba illa scribarum et pharisæorum.'—Strasburg MSS.

[294]   'Non facile contra regem temere ausi sunt certamen suscipere.'—Ibid.

[295]   'Hic aperte eos illusit.'—Sturm to Bucer, ed. Strobel, p. 106.

[296]   Isti Thersitæ . . . hi qui possunt nollent, et qui cuperent non auderent adesse.'—Ibid.

[297]   One of the stalls in a church at Toulouse represents a similar scene, with these words: Calvin the pig preaching.

[298]   Labitte, Démocratie des Prédicateurs de la Ligue, p. 3.

[299]   H. de Coste, Le parfait Ecclésiastique, ou Histoire de Le Picard, 12mo, Paris, 1658.

[300]   'Beda sollicitabat suos oratores ut ne cessarent in suis demegoriis concitare populum.'—Sturm to Bucer. Strasburg MSS.

[301]   'Populum stimulare ne hæresim hanc pestilentissimam radices agere pateretur.'—Siderander Bedroto. Ibid.

[302]   'Ad extremum populus etiam mussitare et minari cœpit.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[303]   Typographi in suis pægmatis scriptura et pictura et ludo scenico læserunt reginam.'—Ibid. The Moralité de la Maladie de la Chrétienté, 8vo, appeared at Paris this very year (1533). The learned biographer of Roussel and of Sturm supposes, very reasonably as it appears to me, that this is the ludus scenicus, the play of which Sturm speaks.

[304]   'Omnino res cœpit esse θορυβώδης.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[305]   'En rondeur de conscience.'—Calv. Opusc.

[306]   Calvin, in Acta xix.




MARGARET and her husband, with the Bishop du Bellay, alarmed at the storm, resolved to lay their complaints before Francis I. The kingly authority was threatened; these hot-headed 'wallet-bearers' were the predecessors of those who instigated the murders of Henry III. and Henry IV. The King of Navarre on the one hand, and the Bishop of Paris on the other, laid before their sovereign an alarming picture of the state of the capital. 'The blood of Berquin does not satisfy these fanatics,' they said; 'they are calling for fresh acts of cruelty.... And who will be their victims now?... They are planning a crime, a revolt!'[307] But while Francis was listening to his sister's denunciations with one ear, he was receiving those of the Sorbonne in the other. 'Sedition!' said one party. 'Heresy!' cried the other. 'Sire,' repeated the theologians incessantly, 'shut the pulpits against Roussel and his colleagues.'[308] Thus pulled in different directions, the king, puzzled which to believe, resolved {166} to punish both parties alike. 'I will confine them all to their houses,' he said; 'Beda with his orators on one side, and Gerard Roussel with his preachers on the other. We shall then have some peace and be able at our leisure to examine these contradictory accusations.'[309] Thus, at the same moment, Beda, Maillard, Ballue, and Bouchigny of the church party, and Roussel, Courault, and Berthaud of the evangelical party, received orders not to leave their houses. The schoolmaster thus punished the quarrelsome boys by putting them in opposite corners.

Preparations were made for investigating the two cases, but the matter was not so easy as the king had imagined. The theologians were indignant at finding themselves placed in the same rank with the Lutherans. Far from submitting to be prosecuted for sedition, they claimed to prosecute the others for heresy. They would not be the accused or even the accusers; they took their stand as inquisitors of the faith and as judges.[310]


The terrible Beda, shut up in the college of Montaigu,[311] and not daring to go out, found himself condemned, considering his restless temper, to the severest penance. At first he was content to keep his agents at work, who were ready at any moment to bear his orders. But when he learnt that his right to judge was disputed, and that he was to be put in the same rank with Roussel, the turbulent doctor could {167} restrain himself no longer. His room was too narrow to contain his anger. He made light of the king's commands, and, disobeying his orders, mounted his mule and rode into the city. From time to time he stopped. The catholic tribune, the defender of the pope, was soon recognised; a crowd gathered round him; he addressed the people from his mule, and did his best to arouse their fanatical passions. While the catholics flocked round him, some evangelicals were watching the orator and his audience from a distance. 'I saw him riding on his mule,' says Siderander.[312] Beda thought himself stronger than the king, and in some respects he was; he reigned over the savage appetites of an ignorant and fanatical populace. Such was the power in the sixteenth century by which the pope triumphed more than once in the capital of France and elsewhere.

Beda was vigorously supported by all his subalterns: Le Picard especially, who had not been put under arrest, expressed his indignation in his fanatical discourses that the king should desire to hold the balance even between the Church and heresy; and advocated a resort to force to insure the triumph of the oppressed papacy. A riot seemed about to break out. The friends of learning and of the king were alarmed. Might not the Roman party take advantage of Francis's absence to establish another power than his in Paris, and to treat this monarch as the Seize in after years treated his grandson Henry III.?

The King of Navarre and the Bishop of Paris hastened to Meaux, where Francis was staying with {168} his court, and informed him that Beda, Le Picard, and their colleagues had thrown aside all reserve, and that, unless energetic measures were taken, the public tranquillity and perhaps his crown might be endangered. The king gave way to a paroxysm of anger. Beda's freak of parading the streets of Paris on his mule, notwithstanding the prohibition, was one of those insults that Francis felt very keenly. He ordered Cardinal Duprat and the Bishop of Senlis to make all haste to Paris, and stop the intrigues of the Sorbonne and the promenades of Beda, and also arrest Le Picard. 'As for the inquiry about heresy,' said the king, 'I reserve that for myself.'[313] Heresy was treated with more tenderness than the first catholic faculty of christendom. Francis began to find the Lutherans gentle as lambs in comparison with the hot-headed papists. Certain personages, whose arrival was soon to be announced by the officers of his court, confirmed him in this opinion.


Scarcely had the two prelates left Meaux, when a deputation from the Sorbonne arrived. When Francis received them, he was evidently in a bad humour, but he did not address them sharply, as the courtiers had expected. The theologians approached him with all the required formalities; they desired, if possible, to win him by meekness. But by degrees they raised their tone; they beset him with their accusations, and irritated him with their pretensions, repeating again and again that it was the prerogative of the Sorbonne, and not of the prince, to give their opinion in a matter of heresy. There was some truth in this, but the {169} truth did not please Francis, who claimed to be master in everything. Still he contained himself, until the doctors, coming to threats of revolt, and shouting their loudest, reminded him of the possibility of a deposition of kings by the popes.[314] These recollections of the middle ages, with which they menaced the haughty monarch, who claimed to begin a new era, and who desired that the Reformation should serve at least to abate the pretensions of Rome, and emancipate princes from its yoke, made the king shudder, and aroused a terrible fit of anger. His face grew red, his eyes flashed fire, and putting aside his usual courtesy, he drove the reverend fathers from his presence, calling them beasts, and saying: 'Get about your business, you donkeys!'[315] At this moment Francis inaugurated modern times—though certainly in a fashion rather cavalier.

However, Cardinal Duprat was on the road. What would he do, this vile courtier of the popes, who at their demand had destroyed the bulwark of the Gallican liberties, and who hated the Reformation? The Sorbonne placed their hope in him. But Duprat served his master before all things, and he could not hide from himself that the hot-headed catholics were threatening the king's crown. He resolved to strike heavily. As soon as he reached Paris, he had Le Picard arrested, as being the most compromised. He confined him in his own palace, seized his books and papers, and had him interrogated by the advocate-general. The seditious bachelor raved in his prison, {170} and protested aloud against the indignity of such treatment; but all his storming was of no use. He was condemned to be shut up in the abbey of St. Magloire, and forbidden to teach.[316]

Nor did Duprat stop here. He was shocked that paltry priests should dare speak against that royal majesty of Francis I. for which he, a cardinal and chancellor, had nothing but humble flatteries. He never ceased to be the mortal enemy of the Gospel, and originated many a measure of persecution against the reformed; but his chief quality was a slavish devotion to the wishes of his master. To the mendicant monks sent out by the Sorbonne he opposed 'inquirers'—the name he gave to the spies who were in every parish, and who skilfully interrogated men and women, nobles and sacristans, to find out whether the preachers or the friars had attacked the king's government in their hearing. Many of the townspeople were unwilling to say anything; yet the clever and dreaded minister attained his ends, and having discovered the most refractory priests, he summoned them before him. This summons from a cardinal of the holy Church, from the most powerful person in the kingdom, alarmed these violent clerics; on a sudden their courage collapsed, and they appeared before his eminence with downcast eyes, trembling limbs, and confused manner. 'Who permitted or who authorised you to insult the king and to excite the people?' asked the haughty Duprat.[317] The priests were too much terrified to conceal anything: 'It was {171} with the consent and the good pleasure of our reverend masters,' they replied.[318]

The theologians of the Sorbonne were now summoned in their turn. They were quite as much alarmed as their creatures, and, seeing the danger, denied everything.[319] They managed to take shelter behind certain clever reservations: they had hinted the insult, but they had not commanded it. At heart both chiefs and followers were all equally fanatical, and not one of them needed any stimulus to do his duty in this holy war. These reverend gentlemen, having thus screened themselves under denials, withdrew, fully convinced that no one would dare lay hands upon them. But a hundred Bedas would not have stopped the terrible cardinal. In the affair of the concordat, had he taken any notice of the fierce opposition of the sovereign courts, of the universities, or even of the clergy of France? Duprat smiled at his own unpopularity, and found a secret pleasure in attracting the general hatred upon himself. Catholics and evangelicals—he will brave and crush them all. He went to the bottom of the matter, and having discovered who were the Æoluses that had raised these sacerdotal tempests, he informed the king of the result.


Francis had never been so angry with the catholics. He had met with men who dared resist him!... It was his pride, his despotism, and not his love of truth, that was touched. Besides, was he not the ally of Henry VIII., and was he not seeking to form a league {172} with the protestants of Germany? Severe measures against the ultramontane bigots would convince his allies of the sincerity of his words. He had another motive still: Francis highly valued the title 'patron of letters,' and he looked upon the friars as their enemy. He put himself forward as the champion of the learning of the age, and not of the Gospel; but for a moment it was possible to believe in the triumph of the Reformation under the patronage of the Renaissance.


On the 16th of May, 1533, the indefatigable Beda, the fiery Le Picard, and the zealous friar Mathurin, the three most intrepid supporters of the papacy in France, appeared before the parliament. An event so extraordinary filled both university and city with surprise and emotion. Devout men raised their eyes to heaven; devout women redoubled their prayers to Mary; but Beda and his two colleagues, proud of their Romish orthodoxy, appeared before the court, and compared themselves with the confessors of Christ standing before the proconsuls of Rome. No one could believe in a condemnation; was not the King of France the eldest son of the Church? But the disciples of the pope did not know the monarch who then reigned over France. If they wanted to show what a priest was like, the sovereign wanted to show what a king was like. When signing the letters-royal in which Francis had suggested the arrest to parliament, he exclaimed: 'As for Beda, on my word, he shall never return to Paris!'[320] The king's ordinance had been duly registered; the court was complete; and not a sound could be heard, when the president, turning to {173} the three doctors, said: 'Reverend gentlemen, you are banished from Paris, and will henceforward live thirty leagues from this capital; you are at liberty, however, to select what residences you please, provided they be at a distance from each other. You will leave the city in twenty-four hours. If you break your ban, you will incur the penalty of death. You will neither preach, give lessons, nor hold any kind of meeting, and you will keep up no communication with one another, until the king has ordered otherwise.'

Beda, Le Picard, Mathurin, and their friends, were all terrified. Francis had, however, reserved for the last a decision which must have abated their courage still more. As if he wished to show the triumph of evangelical ideas, he cancelled the injunction against Roussel; and Margaret's almoner was able once more to preach the Gospel in the capital. 'If you have any complaint against him,' said the king to the Sorbonne, 'you can bring him before the lawful tribunals.'[321]

This decree of the parliament fell like a thunderbolt in the midst of the Sorbonne. Stunned and stupefied, unable to say or do anything, the doctors shook off their stupor only to be seized with a fit of terror. They visited each other, conversed together, and whispered their alarms. Had the fatal moment really come which they had feared so long? Was Francis about to follow the example of Frederick of Saxony and Henry of England? Would the cause of the holy Roman Church perish under the attacks of its enemies? Would France join the triumphal procession of the {174} Reformation?... The old men, pretty numerous at the Sorbonne, were overwhelmed. One of them, a broken-down, feeble hypochondriac, was so terribly disturbed by the decree, that he fairly lost his senses. He suffered a perpetual nightmare. He fancied he saw the king and the parliament, with all France, destroying the Sorbonne, and trampling on the necks of the doctors while their palace was burning. The poor man expired in the midst of these terrible phantoms.[322] Yet the blow which stunned some, aroused others. The more intrepid doctors met and conferred together, and strove to encourage their partisans and to enlist new ones: they took no rest night or day.[323] Unable to believe that this decree really expressed the king's will, they determined to send a deputation to the south of France, whither he had gone; but Francis had not forgotten their hint about the deposition of kings by the popes, and, angry as ever, he rejected every demand.


Nor was the Sorbonne alone agitated: all the city was in commotion, some being against the decree, others for it. The bigots, in their compassion for 'the excellent Beda,'[324] exclaimed: 'What an indignity, to expose so profound a divine, so high-born a man, to such a harsh punishment!'[325] But, on the other hand, the friends of learning leapt for joy.[326] A great movement {175} seemed to be accomplishing; it was a solemn time. Some of the most intelligent men imagined that France was about to be regenerated and transformed.... Sturm in his college was delighted. What news to send to Germany, to Bucer, to Melanchthon!... He ran to his study, took up his pen, and wrote in his transport: 'Things are changing, the hinges are turning.... It is true there still remain here and there a few aged Priams, surrounded by servile creatures, who cling to the things that are passing away.... But, with the exception of this small number of belated men, no one any longer defends the cause of the Phrygian priests.'[327] The classic Sturm could only compare the spirit of the ultramontanists to the superstition and fanaticism of the priests of Phrygia, so notorious for those qualities in ancient times. But the friends of the Reform and of the Renaissance were indulging in most exaggerated illusions. A few old folks, mumbling their Ave-Marias and Pater-nosters, seemed to them to constitute the whole strength of the papacy. They had great hopes of the new generation: 'The young priests,' they said, 'are rushing into the shining paths of wisdom.'[328] Francis I. having shown an angry face to the Sorbonne, every Frenchman was about to follow his example, according to the belief of the friends of letters. They indulged in transports of joy, and, as it were, a universal shout welcomed the opening of a new era. But alas! France was still far distant from it; she was not judged worthy of such happiness. Instead of seeing the triple banner of the {176} Gospel, morality, and liberty raised upon her walls, that great and mighty nation was destined, owing to Romish influence, to pass through centuries of despotism and wild democracy, frivolity and licentiousness, superstition and unbelief.


In the midst of the contrary movements now agitating Paris, there was a certain number of spectators who, while leaning more to one party than to the other, set about studying the situation. In one of the colleges was a student of Alsace, the son of an ironmonger at Strasburg, who, wishing to give himself a Greek or Latin name, called himself Siderander, 'man of iron.' Such, however, was not his nature; he was particularly curious; he had a passion for picking up news, and his great desire to know other people's business made him supple as the willow, rather than hard as the metal. Siderander was an amiable well-educated young man, and he gives us a pretty faithful picture of the better class of students of that day. On Monday, May 26, he was going to hear a lecture on logic by Sturm, who, leaving the paths of barren scholasticism, was showing by example as well as by precept how clearness of thought may be united with elegance of language. Just as the Alsatian was approaching the college of Montaigu, where Sturm lectured, he met with a piece of good-luck. He saw an immense crowd of students and citizens collected in front of the college, where they had been waiting since the morning to witness the departure of the Hercules of the Sorbonne.[329] He ran as fast as he could, his heart throbbing with joy at the thought of {177} seeing Beda, the great papist, going into banishment.... For such a sight, the student would have walked from Strasburg. The rumour had spread through Paris that the three or four disgraced doctors were to leave the capital on that day. Everybody wished to see them: some for the joy they felt at their disgrace; others, to give vent to their sorrow. But, sad misfortune! the lucky chance which had delighted the student failed him. The government was alarmed, and fearing a riot, the exiles did not appear. The crowd was forced to disperse without seeing them, and Siderander went away in great disappointment. The next morning, at an early hour, the four culprits, Beda, Le Picard, Mathurin, and a Franciscan, came forth under guard and without noise. The doctors, humiliated at being led out of the city like malefactors, did not even raise their heads. But the precautions of the police were useless: many people were on the look-out, the news spread in a moment through the quarter, and a crowd of burgesses, monks, and common people filled the streets to see the celebrated theologians pass, dejected, silent, and with downcast eyes. The glory of the Sorbonne had faded; even that of Rome was dimmed; and it seemed to many as if the papacy was departing with its four defenders. The devout catholics gave way to sighs and groans, indignation and tears; but at the very moment when these bigots were paying the last honours to popery, others were saluting the advent of the new times with transports of joy. 'They are sycophants,' said some among the crowd, 'banished from Paris on account of their lies and their traitorous proceedings.'[330]


The disciples of the Gospel did not confine themselves to words. Matters were in good train, and it was desirable to persevere until the end was reached. While the Sorbonne bent its head, the Reformation was looking up. The Queen of Navarre and her husband, with many politicians and men of rank, encouraged Roussel, Courault, and others to preach the Gospel fearlessly; even these evangelists were astonished at their sudden favour. Roussel in particular advanced timidly, asking whether the Church would not interpose its veto? But no; Bishop du Bellay, the diplomatist's brother, did not interfere. During the whole period of the king's absence, Paris was almost like a country in the act of reforming itself. Men thought themselves already secure of that religious liberty which, alas! was to cost three centuries of struggle and the purest blood, and whose lamentable defeats were to scatter the confessors of Jesus Christ into every part of the world. When a great good is to be bestowed on the human race, the deliverance is only accomplished by successive efforts. But at this time men thought they had attained the end at a single bound. From the pulpits that were opened to them in every quarter of Paris, the evangelists proclaimed that the truth had been revealed in Jesus Christ; that the Word of God, contained in the writings of the prophets and apostles, did not require to be sanctioned or interpreted by an infallible authority; and that whoever listened to it or read it with a sincere heart, would be enlightened and saved by it. The tutelage of the priests was abolished, and emancipated souls were brought into immediate contact with God and his revelation. The great salvation purchased by the death of Christ upon the {179} cross was announced with power, and the friends of the Gospel, transported with joy, exclaimed: 'At last Christ is preached publicly in the pulpits of the capital, and all speak of it freely.[331] May the Lord increase among us day by day the glory of his Gospel!'[332]


The most serious causes always find defenders among trivial men, who do not thoroughly understand them, but yet despise their adversaries. The Reformation has no reason to be proud of some of its auxiliaries in the sixteenth century. A serious cause ought to be seriously defended; but history cannot pass by these manifestations, which are as much in her domain as those of another kind. Satire was not spared in this matter. The students especially delighted in it: they posted up a long placard, written carefully with ornamented letters in French verse, in which the four theologians were described in the liveliest and most fantastic colours.[333] Two of their colleagues were also introduced, for the four doctors on whom the king's wrath had fallen were not the only criminals. A cordelier especially was notorious for his curious sermons, full of bad French and bad Latin, and still more notorious for the clever and popular eloquence he displayed, whenever a collection was to be made in favour of his order. This Pierre Cornu, who had been nicknamed des Cornes, was wonderfully touched off in the poem of the students. Groups of scholars, {180} burgesses, and Parisian wits gathered round the placards, some bursting with laughter and others with anger. The vehement and ridiculous Cornu especially excited the mirth of the idlers. A profane author who had nothing to do with the Reformation, speaks of him in his writings:—'Ha! ha! Master Cornu,' said one, 'you are not the only man to have horns.... Friend Bacchus wears a pair; and so do Pan, and Jupiter Ammon and hosts besides.'—'Ha! ha! dear Master Cornibus,' said another, 'give me an ounce of your sermon, and I will make the collection in your parish.' Strange circumstance! The public voice seemed at this time opposed to these forerunners of the preachers of the League. The Sorbonne, however, had friends who replied to these jests by bursts of passion. 'The man who wrote these verses is a heretic,' they exclaimed.[334] From insults they passed to threats; from threats they came to blows, and the struggle began. The bigots wished to pull down the placard. A creature of the Faculty succeeded; springing into the air, he tore it down and ran off with his spoil.[335] Then the crowd dispersed.


In that age placards played a great part, similar to that played by certain pamphlets in later times. There was no need to buy them at the bookseller's; everybody could read the impromptu tracts at the corners of the streets. Rome was not in the humour to leave these powerful weapons in the hands of her enemies, and the Sorbonne determined to appeal to the people against the abhorred race of innovators. It did not jest, like the youth of the schools; it went {181} straight to the point, and invoked the stake against its adversaries. Two days after that on which the former placard was posted up, another was found on the walls, containing these unpolished verses:

To the stake! to the stake! with the heretic crew,
That day and night vexes all good men and true.
Shall we let them Saint Scripture and her edicts defile?
Shall we banish pure science for Lutherans vile?
Do you think that our God will permit such as these
To imperil our bodies and souls at their ease?
O Paris, of cities the flower and the pride,
Uphold that true faith which these heretics deride;
Or else on thy towers storm and tempest shall fall....
Take heed by my warning; and let us pray all
That the King of all kings will be pleased to confound
These dogs so accursed, where'er they be found,
That their names, like bones going fast to decay,
May from memory's tablets be clean wiped away.
To the stake! to the stake! the fire is their home!
As God hath permitted, let justice be done.

A crowd equally great assembled before this placard, as cruel as it was crafty. The writer appealed to the people of Paris; he entitled them 'the flower and pride of cities,' knowing that flattery is the best means of winning men's minds; and then he called for the stake. The 'stake' was the argument with which men opposed the Reform. 'Burn those who confute us!' This savage invocation was a home-thrust. Many of the citizens, kneeling down to write, copied out the placard, in order to carry it to every house: the press is less rapid, even in our days. Others committed the verses to memory, and walked along the streets singing the burden:

To the stake! to the stake! the fire is their home!
As God hath permitted, let justice be done.

These rude rhymes became the motto of their party; this cruel ballad of the sixteenth century erelong summoned the champions of the Church in various quarters to fatten the earth with the ashes of their enemies. Pierre Siderander happened to be in the crowd; noticing several papists copying the incendiary verses, the Strasburg student did the same, and sent copies to his friends. By this means they were handed down to our times.[336]

The next day there was a fresh placard. The Sorbonne, finding the people beginning to be moved, wished to arouse them thoroughly. This ballad was not confined to a general appeal to the stake; Roussel was mentioned by name as one who deserved to be burnt. The fanatical placards of the Sorbonnists were not so soon torn down as the satirical couplets of their pupils. They could be read for days together, such good watch did the sacristans keep over them.

But the Sorbonne did not limit themselves to a paper war; they worked upon the most eminent members of the parliament. Their zeal displayed itself on every side. 'Justice! justice!' they exclaimed; 'let us punish these detestable heretics, and pluck up Lutheranism, root and branch.'[337] The whole city was in commotion; the most odious plots were concocted; and the matéologues, as the students called the defenders of the old abuses, took counsel at the Sorbonne every day. {183}


In the midst of all this agitation the Reformation was advancing quietly but surely. While the Queen of Navarre boldly professed her living piety in the palace, and preachers proclaimed it from their pulpits to the believing crowd, evangelical men, still in obscurity, were modestly propagating around them a purer and a mightier faith. At this period Calvin spent four years in Paris (1529-1533), where he at first engaged in literature. It might have been thought that he would appear in the world as a man of letters, and not as a reformer. But he soon placed profane studies in the second rank, and devoted himself to the service of God, as we have seen. He would have desired not to enter forthwith upon a career of evangelical activity. 'During this time,' he said, 'my sole object was to live privately, without being known.' He felt the necessity of a time of silence and christian meditation. He would have liked to imitate Paul, who, after his conversion and his first preaching at Damascus, passed several quiet years in Arabia and Cilicia;[338] but he had to combat error around him, and he soon took a step in advance. While Courault and Roussel were preaching in the churches to large audiences and dealing tenderly with the papacy, Calvin, displaying great activity,[339] visited the different quarters of Paris where secret assemblies were held, and there proclaimed a more scriptural, a more complete, and a bolder doctrine. In his discourses he made frequent allusions to the dangers to which those were exposed who desired to live piously; and {184} he taught them at the same time 'what magnanimity believers ought to possess when adversity draws them on to despair.'—'When things do not go as we wish,' he said, 'sadness comes over the mind and makes us forget all our confidence. But the paternal love of God is the foundation of an invincible strength which overcomes every trial. The divine favour is a shelter against all storms, from whatever quarter they may come.' And he usually ended his discourses, we are told, with these words: 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'[340]

Mere preaching did not satisfy Calvin: he entered into communication with all who desired a purer religion,[341] made them frequent visits, and conversed seriously with them. He avoided no one, and cultivated the friendship of those whom he had formerly known. He advanced step by step, but he was always busy, and the doctrine of the Gospel made some progress every day. All persons rendered the strongest testimony to his piety.[342] The friends of the Word of God gathered round him, and among them were many burgesses and common people, but there were nobles and college professors also.

These christians were full of hope, and even Calvin entertained the bold idea of winning the king, the university, and indeed France herself, over to the Gospel. Paris was in suspense. Every one thought that some striking and perhaps sudden change was about to {185} take place in one direction or another. Will Rome or will the Reformation have the advantage? There were strong reasons for adopting the former opinion, and reasons hardly less powerful for adopting the latter. Discussions arose upon this point, even among friends. Men were on the look-out for anything that might help them to divine the future, and the more curious resorted to the various places where they hoped to pick up news. Public attention was particularly turned towards the Sorbonne, when it was known that the heads of the Roman party were holding council.


On the 23rd of May, 1533, Pierre Siderander (who was naturally inquisitive), instigated by a desire to learn what was going to happen, and wishing in particular to know what was doing in the theological clubs (for from them, he doubted not, would proceed the blow that would decide who should be the victors), stole into the buildings belonging to the faculty of divinity.[343] He did not dare penetrate farther than the great gate: stopping there like any other lounger, he began to look at the pictures that were sold at the entrance of the building.[344] But, with all his innocent air, his eyes and ears were wide open, trying to pick up a word or two that would tell him what was going on; for the doctors, as they went in or out talking together, must necessarily pass close by him. Pierre wasted his time sauntering about before the pictures of the saints and of the Virgin (which he looked upon as idolatrous). On a sudden he saw the illustrious {186} Budæus coming out of the Sorbonne.[345] At that time Budæus was playing the same part as the noble Chancellor l'Hôpital afterwards did: he was present in every place where it was necessary to moderate, enlighten, or restrain the hot-headed. He passed Siderander without saying a word, and quitted the building; but the curious student could not resist; he left his post and began to follow the celebrated hellenist, wishing to look at him at his ease, and hoping no doubt to learn something.[346] 'Am I not,' he said, 'the friend of his two sons who like myself attend the course of Latomus? Has not the eldest invited me to come and see his museum?[347] Did not I go there the other day, and ought he not to return my visit along with his brother?' Siderander, who burnt with desire to know what was said in the assembly which the founder of the college of France had just left, quickened his pace; the words were already on his lips, when he suddenly stopped intimidated. Timidity was stronger than curiosity, and he soon lost sight of the man whom Erasmus called 'the prodigy of France.' And yet, had he asked him, he would perhaps have learnt what the Roman party was plotting, and been able to tell his friends the probable issue of the crisis. He had often asked the sons of Budæus what their father was planning.[348] 'He is much with the bishop,' answered they, 'but he is planning nothing.'[349] Thus Siderander did all he could, {187} but to no purpose, to elicit some interesting communication and to learn some rare news. He was unable to satisfy his extreme curiosity. 'And that is not all,' he said to himself, 'for if, instead of losing my time under the portico of the Sorbonne, I had been elsewhere, I might have learnt something.' He desired to be everywhere, and yet was nowhere. 'Ha!' he said with vexation as he returned from running after Budæus, 'while I throw my hook in at one place, the fish goes to another. Things occur in our quarter which the inhabitants of the others know nothing about, and we know nothing of what takes place elsewhere.[350] Alas! everything assumes a threatening aspect; everything announces a violent storm.'[351]


The Sorbonne, the religious orders, and all fervent catholics, being convinced that the innovators, by exalting Jesus Christ and his Word, were humbling the Church and the papacy, were determined to wage a deadly war against them. They thought that if they first struck down the most formidable of their adversaries, they could easily disperse the rest of the rebel army. But against whom should the first blow be aimed? This was the subject of deliberation in those councils which the curious Siderander desired so much to overhear.

Before we learn what was preparing at the Sorbonne, we must enter more illustrious council-chambers, and transport ourselves to Bologna.

[307]   'Rex Navarræ instinctu uxoris et episcopus regem sollicitare ... seditionis crimen intendere.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[308]   'Gerardum removeat a concionibus.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 648.

[309]   'Placuit regi ut Beda cum suis oratoribus et G. Rufus, quisque in suis ædibus, tanquam privata custodia detineretur.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[310]   'Ut ne accusatores viderentur, sed opinatores tantum, et inquisitores hæreticæ pravitatis.'—Ibid.

[311]   'Tum bonus noster Beda in Monte suo Acuto manere coactus est.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[312]   'In mulo suo equitantem vidi.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[313]   'Judicium de hæresi sibi reservavit.'—Sturmius Bucero.

[314]   'Vociferati sunt seditiosissime, regi minantes ipsi.'—Melanchthon to Spalatin, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 685.

[315]   'Rex, quoniam esset exacerbatus, irrisit tanquam Arcadicorum pecorum.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[316]   H. de Coste, Le parfait Ecclésiastique, p. 73.

[317]   'Cujus vel permissu vel jussu populum commovissent et læsissent regem.'—Sturm to Bucer, ed. Schmidt.

[318]   'Responderunt ex consensu et placito magistrorum nostrorum.'—Sturm to Bucer, ed. Schmidt.

[319]   'Theologi cum pericula animadverterent, negabant.'—Ibid.

[320]   'Nunquam velit Bedam reverti.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[321]   'Gerardus libere concionatur; et imperatum theologis, si quid habeant negotii adversus eum, ut jure agant.'—Melanchthon to Spalatin, July 22. Corp. Ref. ii. p. 658.

[322]   'Senex quidem theologus hanc contumeliam theologici ordinis adeo ægre tulit, ut delirio vitam amiserit.'—Melanchthon to Spalatin. Corp. Ref. ii. p. 658.

[323]   'Ὁι θεολόγοι non die, non nocte, unquam cessant ab opere.'—Siderander, Strasburg MSS.

[324]   'Illi miserantur optimi Bedæ.'—Ibid.

[325]   'Hominem tam grandem natu, exilium tam durum pati oportere.'—Ibid.

[326]   'Audias alios qui gaudio exultent.'—Ibid.

[327]   'Vide rerum commutationem ... Praeter senes Priamos et paucos alios, nemo est qui faveat istis sacerdotibus Phrygiis.'—Sturm to Bucer.

[328]   'Juniores theologi jam sapere incipiunt.'—Ibid.

[329]   'Maximam turbam ante collegium Montis Acuti vidi.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[330]   'Beda urbe pulsus cum aliis quibusdam sycophantis.'—Melanchthon to Spalatin, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 658.

[331]   'Palam prædicare Christum quidam cœperunt, omnes loqui liberius.'—Bucer to Blaarer. Strasburg MSS.

[332]   'Christus evangelii gloriam augeat.'—Melanchthon to Spalatin. Corp. Ref. ii. p. 658.

[333]   'In qua pulcherrime suisque coloribus omnes isti theologi depingebantur.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[334]   'Alii auctorem clamabant esse hæreticum.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[335]   'Tandem nescio quis delator dilaceravit.'—Ibid.

[336]   'Quos cum viderem, descripsi et ipse,' and here follow the verses. Schmidt, G. Roussel. Pièces Justificatives, p. 205.

[337]   'Ut supplicium de detestandis illis hæreticis sumat, eosque extirpet funditus.'—Ibid.

[338]   Galatians i. 17-21.

[339]   'Nec ei mox defuit in quo sese strenue exerceret.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[340]   Bezæ Vita Calvini. Herzog, Real Encyclopädie, art. Calvin. Schmidt, G. Roussel, p. 94.

[341]   'Omnibus purioris religionis studiosis innotuit.'—Bezæ Vita Calv.

[342]   'Non sine insigni pietatis testimonio.'—Ibid.

[343]   'Heri videre volui quidnam in Sorbonna ageretur.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[344]   'Picturas et imagines quæ ibi venduntur.'—Ibid.

[345]   'Budæum egredientem video.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[346]   'Quem relicto instituto secutus sum.'—Ibid.

[347]   'Me rogavit ut musæum suum viderem.'—Ibid.

[348]   'Quid novi jam pater moliretur.'—Ibid.

[349]   'Negabat quicquam moliri.'—Ibid.

[350]   'Quod nos ignoramus.'—Siderander Bedroto.

[351]   'Nemo est qui possit expiscari omnia ... Omnia tumultum minari videntur.'—Ibid.


(Winter 1532-1533.)

THE emperor, having descended the Italian slopes of the Alps and crossed the north of Italy, arrived at Bologna on the 5th of December, 1532, somewhat annoyed at the escape of Duke Christopher, but not suspecting that it would lead to any serious consequences. This city, afterwards made famous by Guido, Domenichino, the two Caracci, and by Benedict XIV., one of the most distinguished popes of the eighteenth century, grew more animated every day. The pope had arrived there: princes, nobles, prelates, and courtiers filled its splendid palaces; a new world was in motion around the churches, the Asinelli, the fountain of Neptune, and the other monuments which adorn that ancient city. The emperor had desired a conference with the pope, with the intention of uniting closely with him, and through him with the other catholic princes, to act together against their two enemies, France and the Reformation. But Charles was mistaken if he thought to find himself alone with the pope at Bologna. He was to meet with opponents who would hold their own against him: a struggle was about to begin around Clement VII. between {189} France and the empire. Francis I., who had just had a conference with Henry VIII., did not care, indeed, to meet Charles; but his place in Italy was to be supplied by men who would do his work better than he could do it himself. On the 4th of January, 1533, Cardinals de Tournon and de Gramont, sent by Francis to Clement to threaten him with a certain 'great injury' which he might have cause to regret for ever, arrived in this city. Would the presence of the two cardinals thwart Charles's plans?


The first point which the emperor desired to carry was the convocation of a general council. A grave man and always occupied with business, he possessed a soul greedy of dominion. Ferdinand and Isabella having founded their power in Spain by restoring that country to unity, he desired to do in central Europe what they had done in the peninsula, that is, unite it under his patronage, if not under his sceptre. And lo! Germany is suddenly broken in his hands and divided into two parts. Sad humiliation! When he had crossed the Alps, after Soliman's retreat, he had no longer that unlimited confidence in his genius and authority which he had felt two years before, when going to the diet of Augsburg. He had come from Spain to crush that new sect which thwarted the dreams of his ambition; and instead of crushing it, he had been forced to recognise it. After the retreat of the Turks, Charles found himself at the head of a numerous and triumphant army, and men asked one another if he would not fall upon the protestants with it; but the best soldiers of that army were protestant themselves. Other means must be resorted to in order to bring the schism to an end. He weighed everything carefully, {190} and brought to this business that nice and calm attention which always distinguished him. Knowing that the result of an appeal to arms was uncertain, and that instead of restoring concord he might stir up a hatred that nothing could extinguish, he decided in favour of a council to restore unity, and made his demand to the pope at Bologna. But Clement VII. feared a council as much as Charles desired it. 'They would want to redress grievances,' he said to his confidants, 'and reform abuses, quite as much as to extirpate heresy.' Possessing great intelligence and rare ability, vain, cunning, false, and with no elevation of soul, Clement determined to put off this assembly indefinitely, although always promising it. While the emperor recognised the inefficiency of temporal arms, the pope felt still more keenly the inefficiency of spiritual arms. Each of these two personages distrusted the power of which he had most experience. The humble Gospel of the reformers intimidated both Church and Empire. Clement conferred on the subject with the Archbishop of Cortona, governor of Bologna, with the legate Campeggio, and with the nuncio Gambara: all agreed with him, and declared that to desire to bring back protestants to the Romish faith otherwise than by force was a very perilous enterprise.


As, however, neither the pope nor the emperor would give way, they desired a conference, at which each would endeavour to convince the other. A day, therefore, was appointed, and the two potentates met in the palace of Bologna. Charles represented to Clement, that 'a great number of catholics desired and demanded a council as necessary to destroy the heresy of Luther, which was gaining strength every {191} day, and to suppress the numerous disorders that existed in the Church.'[352] But the pope replied: 'If we assemble a council, and permit the protestants to be present and to question the doctrines sanctioned by the Church, they will attack them all, and numberless innovations will be the result. If, on the contrary, we do not allow them to speak, they will say that they are condemned unheard; they will leave the assembly, and the world will believe that we are in the wrong. As the protestants reject the decisions of past councils, how can we hope that they will respect the decisions of future councils? Do we not know their obstinacy? When we put forward the authority of the Church, do they not set the authority of Holy Scripture in its place? They will never acknowledge themselves defeated, which will be a great scandal. If the council decrees that the pope is above the council (which is the truth), the heretics will hold another, and will elect an anti-pope (Luther, perhaps). Sire, the remedy which you propose will give rise to greater evils than those which we have now to cure.'[353]

The papacy in the sixteenth century had fallen into a state of inertia. It was active enough as a political power; but as a spiritual power it was nothing. It had great pretensions still, as far as appearances went; but it was satisfied if certain preferences and a certain pomp were conceded to it. It was afraid of everything that possessed any vitality, and feared not only those it called heretics, but even an assembly {192} consisting of prelates of the Roman Church. And while the papacy was thus affected with a general weakness as regards spiritual powers, the Reformation was full of vigour and of life. It was a young warrior attacking a decrepid veteran. Besides these general causes, there were private motives which added to Clement's inactivity; but these he kept to himself. When he was alone in his chamber, he called to mind that his birth was not legitimate; that the means he had used to obtain the popedom had not been irreproachable; and that he had often employed the resources of the Church for his own interest ... in waging a costly war, for instance. All this might be brought against him in a council, and endanger his position. But as his position was dearer to him than the unity of the Church, he would grant nothing, and so reduced Charles to despair by his evasions.

The hatred which the emperor bore to the pope was still further increased by the pontiff's resistance.[354] In his anger he appealed to the cardinals. At first he succeeded, having brought powerful inducements into play, and a consistory decided in favour of the immediate convocation of a council. The alarmed Clement set to work to bring back the misguided cardinals, and he was successful; for a second consistory, held on the 20th of December, coincided with the pope. 'We cannot think of assembling a council,' said the sacred college, 'before we have reconciled all the christian princes.'[355] The emperor openly expressed his dissatisfaction. Wait {193} until Henry VIII., Francis I., and Charles V. are agreed ... as well put it off to the Greek calends! Clement endeavoured to pacify him. He would assemble it at a suitable time, he said; and then, as he feared that the Germans, on hearing of his refusal, would hold a national council, he sent off envoys to prevent it, at the same time hinting to the emperor that they were empowered to prepare that nation for a general council.[356] Was Charles V. the pope's dupe? It is a doubtful point. Clement, an enthusiastic disciple of his fellow-countryman Machiavelli, was, conformably to the instructions of his master, supple and false, without conscience and without faith. But the emperor knew full well that such were the precepts of the illustrious Florentine.


For some time past Charles had been silently meditating another project which, he thought, could not fail to render him master of Italy. It was the formation of a defensive Italian league against Francis. He communicated his plan to the pope with the reserve and ability that characterised him, and set himself up as the defender of Rome. Clement, however, did not believe in his generosity, but on the contrary feared that this confederation would give him a master; nevertheless he appeared to be charmed with it. 'Yes!' he exclaimed, 'Italy must set itself against the ambition of France.' At the same time he informed the ambassador of Venice that he had said these things, not as being his own opinion, but the emperor's. 'Report this prudently to your lords,' he added.[357] The pontiff had always two faces and two meanings. {194}

In reality, he did not know what course to pursue. At one time he was ready to throw himself into Charles's arms and run the same chances with him; and then, on learning what had taken place at Boulogne and Calais, he trembled lest the King of France should throw off his obedience. These two terrible monarchs made a shuttlecock of the pope, and drove him to despair. But he remembered how Machiavelli had said, that the world is governed by two things—force and cunning; and leaving the former to the emperor, he took refuge in the latter. 'Accordingly Clement determined to move softly,' says Du Bellay, 'temporising, quibbling, waiting, and stopping to see what the French cardinals would bring him.' They arrived just at this critical moment. It was an ill-omened embassy for France, since no event of the sixteenth century did more to strengthen the dominion of intrigue, cowardice, debauchery, crime, and persecution in that country.


Cardinal de Tournon, the most influential of the two ambassadors, was a skilful priest, devoted to the pope and popery, cruel, the accomplice of the Guises in after years, and all his life one of the greatest enemies of religious liberty. His colleague, Cardinal de Gramont, Bishop of Tarbes and afterwards Archbishop of Toulouse, was a more pliable diplomatist, and had been employed in England at the time of the dissolution of Henry's marriage with Catherine of Arragon. The first of these two men was the more hierarchical, the second the more politic; but both had the interests of their master Francis at heart. Their mission was difficult, and they had many a consultation about what was to be done. Tournon was ready to sacrifice {195} everything, truth in the first place, in order to unite the king with the pope. 'It is to be feared,' he said to his colleague, 'that if we let the holy father know all the discontent of the two kings, we shall but increase his despair; and that the emperor, profiting by our threats, will gain him over and do with him as he likes, which would lead to the disturbance of christendom.' Instead of carrying out the Calais resolutions, Tournon and Gramont determined to put them aside. They thought that Francis I. was going wrong, and desired to be more royalist than the king himself. To win the pope from Charles V. and give him to Francis I. was the great work they resolved to attempt at Bologna. The emperor was there, and he was a stout antagonist; but the two priests were not deficient in skill. To save catholicism threatened in France, and to lay the kingdom at the pope's feet, was their aim. 'Let us carry out our instructions,' they said, 'by beginning with the last article. Instead of employing severity first and mildness last, we will do just the contrary.'[358]

The two cardinals having been received by the pontiff, paid him every mark of respect, and tried to make him understand that, for the good of the holy see, he ought to preserve the goodwill of the most christian king. They therefore proposed an interview with Francis, and even with the King of England, that prince being eager to put an end to the difficulties of the divorce. 'Finally,' they added, laying a slight stress upon the word, 'certain proposals, formerly put forward in the king's name, might be {196} carried out.'[359] —'These proposals,' says Du Bellay, 'would lead, it must be understood, to the great exaltation of the pope and his family.' The last argument was the decisive stroke which gained Clement VII.

Francis, even while desiring to throw off the Roman tutelage, wished to gain the support of the pope in order to humiliate Charles V. He had therefore revived a strange idea, which he had once already hinted at, without overcoming, however, the excessive repugnance which it caused him. But he saw that the moment was critical, and that, to ally himself with both Henry and Clement, he must make some great sacrifice. He had therefore sent a special ambassador to Bologna, to carry out a scheme which would fill all Europe with surprise: a deplorable combination which by uniting the pope, indissolubly as it appeared, to the interests of the Valois, was sooner or later to separate France from England, change the channel that divides them into a deep gulf, infuse Florentine blood into the blood of France, introduce the vilest Machiavellism into the hearts of her kings who boasted of their chivalrous spirit, check the spread of learning, turn back on their hinges the gates that were beginning to open to the sun, confine the people in darkness, and install an era of debauchery, persecution, and assassination both private and public.

The special ambassador charged with the execution of this scheme was John, Duke of Albany, qualified by his illustrious birth for transacting the great affair. Alexander Stuart, son of James II., King of {197} Scotland, having been exiled by his eldest brother James III., had gone to France in 1485. His son John, the last Duke of Albany, attached himself to Louis XII., and followed him into Italy. Being recalled to Scotland, he was made regent of the kingdom in 1516, and again quitted his country to follow Francis I. into Lombardy. This royal personage, supported by Gramont and Tournon, was commissioned by the King of France to propose to the pope the marriage of his son Henry, Duke of Orleans, with a girl of fourteen, a relative of the popes, and who was named Catherine de Medici.


Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo II. de Medici, nephew of Leo X., and invested by his uncle in 1516 with the duchy of Urbino. Lorenzo, who had made himself hateful by his despotism, died the very year of his daughter's birth (1519). The duchy reverted to Leo X., and subsequently to its former masters the Della Rovera, and Catherine was left a portionless orphan. A marriage with this girl, descended from the rich merchants of Florence, was a strange alliance for the son of a king, and it was this that made Francis hesitate; but the desire of winning the pope's favour from his rival helped him at last to overcome his haughty disgust. Clement, who held (says Du Bellay) his family 'in singular esteem,' was transported with delight at the offer. A Medici on the throne of France!... He could not contain himself for joy. At the same time Francis intended to make a good bargain. He asked through the Duke of Albany, whose wife was Catherine's maternal aunt, that the pope should secure to his son Henry a fine Italian state composed of Parma, Florence, Pisa, {198} Leghorn, Modena, Urbino, and Reggio; besides (said the secret articles) the duchy of Milan and the lordship of Genoa, which, added the French diplomatists, 'already belong to the future husband.' In order to fulfil these engagements the pope was to employ his influence, his negotiations, his money, and his soldiers. Clement said that the conditions were very reasonable.[360] He knew perfectly well that he could not give these countries to his niece; but that was the least of his cares. The preceding year, when he was speaking to Charles's ambassador of the claims of Francis upon Italy, the Austrian diplomatist had said abruptly: 'The emperor will never yield either Milan or Genoa to the King of France.'—'Impossible, no doubt!' answered the pope, 'but could not they be promised to him?'[361] ... The scion of the Medici brought to France neither Genoa nor Milan, nor Parma, nor Piacenza, nor Pisa, but in their stead she gave it the imbecile Francis II., the sanguinary Charles IX., the abominable Henry III., the infamous Duke of Anjou, and also that woman, at once so witty and dissolute, who became the wife of Henry IV., and in comparison with whom Messalina appears almost chaste. Four children of the Medici are among the monsters recorded in history, and they have been the disgrace and the misery of France.


The pope stalked proudly and haughtily through the halls of his palace, and gave everybody a most gracious reception. This good-luck, he thought, had come from heaven. Not only did it cover all his family with {199} glory, but secured to him France and her king, whose reforming caprices began to make him uneasy; 'and then,' adds Du Bellay, 'he was very pleased at finding this loophole, to excuse himself to the emperor, who was pressing him so strongly to enter into the Italian league.'[362] Nevertheless the pope stood in awe of Charles V., who seemed eager to set himself up for a second Constantine, and he appeared anxious and embarrassed.

Charles, whom nothing escaped, immediately remarked this, and thought to himself that some new wind had blown upon the pontiff. In order to find it out, he employed all the sagacity with which he was so eminently endowed. 'The emperor knew from the language and countenance of the holy father,' says Du Bellay, 'that he was less friendly towards him than before, and suspected whence the change proceeded.'[363] Charles had heard something about this marriage some time before; but the ridiculous story had only amused him. The King of France unite himself with the merchants of Florence!... And Clement can believe this!... 'Hence Charles V., thinking,' as Du Bellay tells us, 'that the affair would never be carried out, had advised the pope to consent.'[364]


Meanwhile Francis lost no time. He had commissioned Du Bellay, the diplomatist, to communicate his intentions to his good brother the King of England, who had a claim to this information, as he was godfather to the future Henry II.—worthy godfather, and worthy godson! The self-conceit of the Tudor was {200} still more hurt than that of the Valois. He said to Lord Rochford, whom he despatched to the King of France: 'You will tell the Most Christian King, our very dear brother, the great pleasure that we enjoy every day by calling to mind the pure, earnest, and kind friendship he feels for us.'[365] He added: 'Since our good brother has asked us, we are willing to declare, that truly (as we know how he himself considers it), having regard to the low estate and family from which the pope's niece is sprung, and to the most noble and most illustrious blood, ancestry, and royal house of France, from which descends our very dear and very beloved cousin and godson, the Duke of Orleans, the said marriage would be very ill-matched and unequal; and for this reason we are by no means of opinion that it ought to be concluded.'[366] At the same time, after Henry had given his advice as a sovereign, he could not fail to consult his personal interests; and Rochford (Anne Boleyn's father) was to say to the King of France: 'If, however, by this means our brother should receive some great advantage, which should redound to the profit and honour both of himself and us; if the pope should do or concede anything to counterbalance and make up for the default of noble birth ... let him be pleased to inform us of it; he will find us very prompt to execute whatever shall be thought advisable, convenient, and opportune by him and us.'[367] Henry, therefore, consented that Francis should deal with the pope about his godson: he only wished that he might be sold dear. His {201} full restoration to the favour of the court of Rome after his marriage with Anne Boleyn was the price that he asked. And then the royal godfather, who was at heart the most papistical of kings, would have declared himself fully satisfied and the pope's most humble servant.

[352]   'Concilii, desiderati da molti, come necessarii per la eresia di Lutero, che ogni di ampliava e per molti discordini che sono nella chiesa.'—Guicciardini, Discorsi politici, Opere inedite, i. p. 388.

[353]   'Al contrario, remedio e piu pericoloso et poi partorire maggiori mali.'—Lettere di Principi, ii. p. 197. Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 183-185.

[354]   'Il papa con chi forse avea odio.'—Guicciardini, loc. cit.

[355]   Despatch of the Bishop of Auxerre, ambassador of France, dated December 24, 1532.

[356]   Instructions for the nuncio Rangoni. Pallavicini, liv. iii. ch. xiii.

[357]   Despatch of the Bishop of Auxerre, dated January 1, 1533.

[358]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 177.

[359]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 178.

[360]   The secret articles are in the Bibliothèque Impériale at Paris. MSS. Béthune, No. 8541, fol. 36. Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. p. 439.

[361]   Bucholz, ix. p. 101. Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. p. 439.

[362]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 178.

[363]   Ibid. p. 179.

[364]   Ibid. p. 180.

[365]   Henry's instructions are in French. State Papers, vii. p. 423.

[366]   Ibid. p. 428.

[367]   Ibid.


(Winter 1532-1533.)

WHEN the emperor was informed of these matters, he began to knit his brows. A flash of light revealed to him the ingenious plans of his rival, and he took immediate steps to prevent the dangerous union. Charles V., Francis I., Henry VIII., and the pope were all in commotion at the thought of this marriage, and little Catherine was the Briseis around whom met and contended the greatest powers of the world.


At first the emperor endeavoured to instil into the pope's mind suspicions of the good faith of the King of France. That was no difficult matter. 'Clement dared not feel confident,' says Du Bellay, 'that the king really wished to do him such great honour.'[368] —'The Orleans marriage would certainly be very honourable and advantageous,' said Charles V. and his ministers; 'but his holiness must not rely upon it; the king makes the proposal only with the intention of befooling him and using him to his own benefit.'[369] And when the pope repeated the promises of Albany, {203} Gramont, and Tournon, the ministers of Charles kept silence, and replied only by a slight smile. The blow had told. Clement, who always tried to deceive, was naturally inclined to believe that the king was doing the same.

When the emperor and the diplomatists saw that they had made a breach, they attempted a new assault. Charles asked the young lady's hand for Francis Sforza, Duke of Milan. This scheme was worthy of that exuberant genius which Charles always displayed in the invention of means calculated to secure the success of his policy. This union would, in fact, have the double advantage of wresting Catherine and the Milanese from France at one blow. Charles hinted to her uncle that he would do much better to accept for his young relative a real marriage than to run after a shadow. 'It is a great offer, and the match is a good one,' said Clement; 'but the other is so grand and so honourable for my house, regard being had to dignities, that I never could have hoped for such honour ... and so much progress has been made, that I cannot listen to any other proposal without offending the king.'[370]

Clement had become hard to please. If the Medici were the descendants of a merchant, the Sforzas came from a peasant, a leader of free troops, a condottiere. Clement looked down upon the Duke of Milan. 'Besides,' says Guiccardini, 'he burnt with desire to marry his niece to the second son of Francis I.'[371] This is what he always came back to. Charles told him that {204} Francis wanted, by this offer, to break up the Italian league, and when that was done, the marriage would be broken off too.[372] But Clement maintained that the king was sincere in his offer. 'Good!' said the emperor to the pope; 'there is a very simple means of satisfying yourself on that point. Ask the two cardinals to procure immediately from France the powers necessary for settling the marriage contract. You will soon see whether his proposal is anything better than base money which they want to palm off upon you.'[373]

The emperor's remarks were not without their effect upon Clement: he was thoughtful and uneasy. The French ambassadors had been lavish of words, but there was nothing written: verba volant. The pope caught at the idea suggested by Charles. If the full powers do not arrive, the king's treachery is unveiled; if they arrive, the game is won. Clement asked for them. 'Nothing is more easy,' said Tournon and Gramont, who wrote to their master without delay.[374]


Francis I. was startled when he received their despatch. His proposal was sincere, for he thought it necessary to his policy; but the remarks of Charles V. and Henry VIII. about the daughter of the Florentine merchant, and the astonishment of Europe, which unanimously protested against 'such great disparity of degree and condition,'[375] had sunk into his {205} mind. He, so proud of his blood and of his crown ... countenance a misalliance! He hesitated; he would only proceed slowly ... step by step ... and with a long interval after each.[376] If Charles, who was impatient to return to Spain, should leave Italy without banding it against France ... then ... new facts, new counsel ... he would consider. But now he was driven to the wall: the question must be answered. Shall Catherine de Medici come and sit on the steps of the throne of St. Louis, or shall she remain in Italy? Shall she continue to receive abominable lessons from her relative Alexander de Medici, a detestable prince who exiled and imprisoned even the members of his own family, and confiscated their property, and was addicted to the most scandalous debauchery? ... or shall she come to France to put in practice those lessons among the people of her adoption? The king must make up his mind: the courier was waiting. One thing decided him. His old gaoler, the emperor, said that this marriage proposal was a trick. If Francis refused what the pope asked, Charles would triumph, and turn against him both pope and Italy. The king's ambition was stronger than his vanity, and coming to a desperate resolution, he had the full powers drawn up, signed, and sent off.[377]

They arrived at Bologna about the middle of February. Albany, Gramont, and Tournon carried them in triumph to the pope, who immediately communicated {206} them to the emperor. The latter read the procuration, which contained 'an express clause for settling the marriage of the Duke of Orleans with the Duchess of Urbino,' and was greatly surprised.[378] 'You see,' said Clement, 'there is no hole by which he can creep out.' Charles could not believe it. 'The king has only sent this document for a show,' he said to Clement; 'if you press the ambassadors to go on and conclude the treaty, they will not listen to you.'[379] A little while ago there had been nothing but words, and now there was only a piece of paper.... The new propositions were communicated to the duke and the two cardinals, who replied: 'We offer to stipulate forthwith the clauses, conditions, and settlements that are to be included in the contract.'[380]


Clement breathed again, and believed in the star of the Medici. If that star had placed his ancestors the Florentine merchants at the head of their people, it might well raise Catherine, the niece of two popes, the daughter and grand-daughter of dukes, to the throne of France. He informed the emperor that everything was arranged, and that the terms of the contract were being drawn up. Clement's face beamed with joy. The emperor began to think the matter serious, 'and was astonished and vexed above all,' says Du Bellay, 'at the frustration of his plan, which was to excite the holy father against the king.' Charles saw that the impetuosity of Francis had been too much for his own slowness; but he knew how to retrace his steps, and the fecundity of his genius suggested a last means {207} of breaking up 'this detestable cabal.'—'Since it is so,' he said, 'I require your holiness at least to include among the conditions of the contract now drawing up, the four articles agreed to between us, the first time you spoke to me of this marriage.' Clement appeared surprised, and asked what articles they were. 'You promised me,' said Charles, 'first that the king should bind himself to alter nothing in Italy; second, to confirm the treaties of Cambray and Madrid; third, to consent to a council; and fourth, to get the King of England to promise to make no innovations in his country until the matter of his divorce was settled at Rome.' The King of France would never agree to such conditions; the pope was dismayed. Would he be wrecked just as he had reached the harbour?—'I made no such promises,' he exclaimed eagerly. 'The holy father,' says Du Bellay, 'formally denied ever having heard of these matters.'[381] The altercation between the two chiefs of christendom threatened to be violent. Which of them was the liar? Probably the pope had said something of the kind, but only for form's sake, in order to pacify Charles, and without any intention of keeping his promise. He was the first to recover his calmness; he detested the emperor, but he humoured him. 'You well know, Sire,' he said, 'that the profit and honour accorded by the king to my family in accepting my alliance, are so great, that it belongs to him and not to me to propose conditions.'[382] He offered, however, to undertake that everything should remain in 'complete peace.' The emperor, a master in dissimulation, tried to conceal {208} his vexation, but without success; this unlucky marriage baffled all his plans. Francis had been more cunning than himself.... Who would have thought it? The King of France had sacrificed the honour of his house, but he had conquered his rival. Confounded, annoyed, and dejected, Charles paced up and down with his long gloomy face, when an unexpected circumstance revived his hopes of completely embroiling the pope and the King of France.

We have witnessed the conferences that took place between Clement and Charles on the subject of a general council. The emperor had asked for one in order 'to bring back the heretics to union with the holy faith, and he observed that if it were not called, it was to be feared that the heretics would unite with the Turks; that they would fancy themselves authorised to lay hands upon the property of the Church, and would succeed in living in that liberty which they called evangelical, but which,' added Charles, 'is rather Mahometan, and would cause the ruin of christendom.'[383] The pope, who thought much more of himself and of his family than of the Church, had rejected this demand. He had smiled at seeing the great potentate's zeal for the religious and evangelical question.... Clement never troubled himself about the Gospel: Machiavelli was the gospel of the Medici. They cherished it, and meditated on it day and night; they knew it by heart, and put it into admirable practice. Clement and Catherine were its most devoted followers and most illustrious heroes.


The policy of the King of France was quite as interested, {209} but it was more frank and honest. Even while politically uniting with the pope, he did not mean to place himself ecclesiastically under his guardianship. He had, like Henry VIII., the intention of emancipating kings from the pontifical supremacy, and desired to make the secular instead of the papal element predominate in christian society. For many centuries the hierarchical power had held the first rank in Europe: it was time that it gave way to the political power. Francis, having come to a knowledge of the opposite opinions of the pope and the emperor touching the council, slipped between the two and enunciated a third, which filled the emperor with astonishment and the pontiff with alarm. It was one of the greatest, most original, and boldest conceptions of modern times: we recognise in it the genius of Du Bellay and the aspirations of a new era. 'It is true, as the holy father affirms,' said the King of France, 'that the assembling of a council has its dangers. On the other hand, the reasons of the emperor for convoking it are most worthy of consideration; for the affairs of religion are reduced to such a pass that, without a council, they will fall into inextricable confusion, and the consequence will be great evils and prejudice to the holy father and all christian princes. The pope is right, yet the emperor is not wrong; but here is a way of gratifying their wishes, and at the same time preventing all the dangers that threaten us.[384] Let all the christian potentates, whatever be their particular doctrine (the King of England and the protestant princes of Germany {210} and the other evangelical states, were therefore included), first communicate with one another on the subject, and then let each of them send to Rome as soon as possible ambassadors provided with ample powers to discuss and draw up by common accord all the points to be considered by the council. They shall have full liberty to bring forward anything that they imagine will be for the unity, welfare, and repose of christendom, the service of God, the suppression of vice, the extirpation of heresy, and the uniformity of our faith. No mention shall be made of the remonstrances of our holy father, or of the decisions of former councils; which would give many sovereigns an opportunity or an excuse for not attending.[385] When the articles are thus drawn up by the representatives of the various states of christendom, each ambassador will take a duplicate of them to his court, and all will go to the council, at the time and place appointed by them, well instructed in what they will have to say. If those who have separated from the Roman Church agree with the others, they will in this way take the path of salvation. If they do not agree, at least they will not be able to deny that they have been deaf to reason, and refused the council which they had called for so loudly.'[386]

This is one of the most remarkable documents that we have met with in relation to the intercourse between France and Rome, and it has not attracted sufficient attention. In it Francis makes an immense stride. Convinced that the new times ought to tread in a {211} new path, he inaugurates a great revolution. He emancipates the political power, so far as regards religious matters, and desires that it shall take precedence of the pontifical power in everything. If his idea had been carried out, great ecclesiastical questions would no longer have been decided in the Vatican, but in the cabinets of princes. This system, indeed, is not the true one, and yet a great step had been taken in the path of progress. A new principle was about to influence the destinies of the Church.

Up to this time the clerical element had reigned in it alone; but now the lay element claimed its place. The new society was unwilling that priests alone should govern christians, just as shepherds lead their flocks. But this system, we repeat, was not the true one. Christian questions ought not to be decided either by pope or prince, but by the ministers of the Church and its members, as of old in Jerusalem by the apostles, elders, and brethren.[387] For this we have the authority of God's Word. That evangelical path is forbidden to the Roman-catholic Church; for it is afraid of every christian assembly where the opinions of believers are taken into account, and finds itself miserably condemned to oscillate perpetually between the two great powers—the pope and the king.


It was very near the end of February when the emperor received at Bologna this singular opinion of the French king. Having failed in his attempts to prevent the Orleans marriage, he was busy forming the Italian league, and preparing to leave for Spain. {212} Charles instinctively felt the encroachment of modern times in this project of Du Bellay's. To deprive the pope and clergy of their exclusive and absolute authority would lead (he thought) to taking it away from kings also. It seemed to him that popery rendered liberty impossible not only in the Church but also among the people. Francis, or rather Du Bellay, had imagined that Charles would say (as one of his successors said[388] ): 'My trade is to be a king,' and that he would grasp at the institution of a diplomatic papacy. But whether Charles wished to profit by this opportunity 'to fish up again' the pope who had plunged into French waters, or simply yielded to his Spanish catholic nature and the desire he felt for unlimited power, he rejected Francis's proposal. 'What!' he exclaimed, 'shall the ambassadors of christian kings and potentates lay down beforehand the points to be discussed in the council?... That would be depriving it of its authority by a single stroke. Whatever is to be discussed in the council ought to depend entirely on the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and not on the appetites of men.'[389]


This answer vexed Francis considerably. His proposition failing, it became a weapon in the hands of his rival to destroy him. He therefore sought to justify himself. 'I cannot help being surprised,' he said, 'that, with a view to calumniate me, my opinion has been misrepresented to the emperor. Is it not more reasonable to have this business managed by ambassadors who can arrive speedily in Rome, than to wait for a council which at the soonest cannot meet {213} within a year?... And as for everything depending upon the Holy Ghost, assuredly my proposal has been wickedly and malignantly interpreted; for as we shall send ambassadors guided by a sincere affection for the Church, is it not evident that this assembly cannot be without the Holy Ghost?'[390] Thus the king, in defending himself, took shelter under the inspiration of his diplomatists. We may well admit that the Holy Ghost was less with the pope than with the king; but He was really with neither of them.

Thus for a moment the idea of Francis I. fell to the ground; it was premature, and only began to be realised in after days by the force of circumstances and in the order of time. It was in 1562, when the council which had been so much discussed, and which opened at Trent in 1545, met for the third time, that this new fashion was introduced into Roman catholicism. The prelates could not come to an understanding, the Italian deputies wishing to maintain everything, while the French and German deputies demanded important concessions with a view to a reconciliation between the princes and their subjects. There were struggles, jests, and quarrels: they came to blows in the streets. The majority of the council were angry because the Roman legates regularly delayed to give their opinions until the courier arrived from Rome. 'Their Inspiration,' said the French, who were always fond of a joke, 'their Inspiration comes to Trent in a portmanteau.' The meeting was about to be broken up, when the papacy, being obliged to choose between two evils, resolved to come to an understanding with the princes. The {214} pope agreed that all important questions should be previously discussed in the secular courts, and the secondary questions be left to the council, provided that all proper respect was shown to the papacy. Rome triumphed within the walls of Trent, but she ceased to be a pure hierarchy. From that hour the political element has had the precedence, and the papacy has become more and more dependent on the secular power. The scheme of Francis I. has been partly realised. There remains, however, one step more to be taken. Instead of the interested decisions of kings, it is the sovereign and unchangeable Word of God which ought to be placed on the throne of the Church.

Charles V. hoped that the singular opinion of the King of France would incline Clement to enter into the Italian league; but the pope was not very susceptible in religious matters. Still, as the emperor was impatient, Clement resolved to give him this trifling satisfaction. Why should he refuse to enter into a league whose object was to exclude Francis I. from Italy? As at that very time he was signing secret articles by which he bound himself to give to France Parma, Piacenza, Urbino, Reggio, Leghorn, Pisa, Modena, and even Milan and Genoa, there was no reason why the worthy uncle of Catherine should not sign another treaty with Charles which stipulated exactly the contrary. Francis would not be alarmed at the pontiff's entering the league; he would understand that it was simply an honorary proceeding, a diplomatic measure. The marriage of the pope's niece caused the poor emperor so much annoyance, that he deserved at least this consolation. Besides, {215} when the pope gave his signature to Charles V., he was doing (as he thought) a very honest thing, for he had not the least intention of keeping the solemn promises he had made to Francis.[391]

It was now the 28th of February, and the imperial equipage was ready: horses, mules, carriages, servants, officers, noblemen, were all waiting the moment of departure. The ships that were to convey the mighty Charles and his court to Spain were in the harbour of Genoa, ready to weigh anchor. This very day had been fixed for signing the act of the Italian league. The high and mighty contracting powers met in the palace of Bologna. The document was read aloud before the delegates of the princes and sovereigns of Italy included in it. Every one assented, the signatures were affixed, and Clement eagerly added his name, promising himself to sign another contract very shortly with the King of France.


Everything seemed as if it would pass off in a regular way, without Charles allowing his vexation to break out. That prince, who knew so well how to restrain himself, raised a sensation, however, among the great personages around him. Addressing the pope, he demanded a cardinal's hat for three of his prelates: it was a trifling compliment (he thought) which Clement might well concede him; but the pope granted one hat only. The ambassador of France then came forward, and, on behalf of his master, demanded one for John, Bishop of Orleans and uncle of the Duke of Longueville, which was granted. Then the same ambassador, growing bolder, begged, on {216} behalf of the King of England, a cardinal's hat for the Bishop of Winchester. This was too much for Charles. 'What! ask a favour for a king who has put away my aunt Catherine, who is quarrelling with the pope and rushing into schism!'... 'The emperor took this request,' says Du Bellay, 'in very bad part.'—'We can see clearly,' said Charles to those around him, 'that the affairs of these two kings are in the same scales; that one does not less for the other than for himself.' Then, throwing off his usual reserve, he openly expressed his disapprobation. 'This request of a hat for England,' said he, 'displeases me more than if the ambassador of France had asked four for his master.'[392] The diplomatists there present could not turn away their eyes from that face, usually so placid, and now so suddenly animated; they were secretly delighted at seeing any feeling whatever, especially one of ill-humour, on the features of that powerful monarch, all whose words and actions were the result of cold reflection and calculated with the nicest art. But no one was so rejoiced as Hawkins, the English ambassador: 'The emperor departed from hence evil-contented,' he wrote to Henry forthwith, 'and satisfied in nothing that he came for. All he did was to renew an old league, lest he should be seen to have done nothing.'[393] Charles was eager to leave the city where he had been duped by the pope and checkmated by the king, and already he repented having shown his displeasure. He descended the steps of the palace, threw himself into his carriage, and departed for Milan, where he had some business to settle before {217} going to Genoa and Spain. It was, as we have said, Friday, the 28th of February.[394]


The pope remained ten days longer at Bologna. There was a talk of an interview between him and the King of France, to whom he had written with his own hand. The papal nuncio had proposed to the king that the emperor should be present also. 'Provided the King of England be the fourth,' answered Francis.[395] 'We should be unwilling, the King of England and I,' added he, 'to be present at the interview except with forces equal to those of the emperor, for fear of a surprise.... Now it might happen that, the escorts of these not very friendly princes being together, we should begin a war instead of ratifying a peace.'[396] They accordingly fell back upon the conference of two, pending which the marriage should be completed. Nice was at first selected as the place of meeting; but the Duke of Savoy, who did not like to see the French at Nice, objected. 'Well, then,' said the pope, 'I will go to Antibes, to Fréjus, to Toulon, to Marseilles.' To ally himself with the family of France, he would have gone beyond the columns of Hercules. Francis, on his side, desired that the pope, who had waited for the emperor in Italy, should come and seek him in his own kingdom. The pope thus showed him greater honour than he had shown Charles—on which point he was very sensitive. Marseilles was agreed upon.

At last all was in proper train. The blood of the Valois and of the Medici was about to be united. The {218} clauses, conditions, and conventions were all arranged. The marriage ceremony was to be magnificently celebrated in the city of the Phocæans. The pope was at the summit of happiness, and the bride's eyes sparkled with delight. The die was cast; Catherine de Medici would one day sit on the throne of France; the St. Bartholomew was in store for that noble country, the blood of martyrs would flow in torrents down the streets of Paris, and the rivers would roll through the provinces long and speechless trains of corpses, whose ghastly silence would cry aloud to heaven.

But that epoch was still remote; and just now Paris presented a very different spectacle. It is time to return thither.

[368]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 179.

[369]   Ibid. p. 180.

[370]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 180. Guicciardini, Wars of Italy, ii. bk. xvi. pp. 894-897.

[371]   Guicciardini, ibid.

[372]   'Cæsar arbitratus illud conjugium quasi per simulationem a rege oblatum.'—Pallavicini, Hist. Concil. Trid. lib. iii. cap. ii. p. 274.

[373]   'Adulterinam esse monetam qua rex ipsum commercari studebat.'—Ibid.

[374]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 180. Pallavicini, ibid. Guicciardini, Wars of Italy, ii. p. 898.

[375]   Guicciardini, ii. p. 898.

[376]   'Quo fortasse magis dubitanter ac pedetentim processisset.'—Pallavicini, Hist. Concil. Trid. i. p. 274.

[377]   'Gallus explorato æmuli consilio, ut ipsum eluderet, eo statim properavit.'—Ibid. Du Bellay, Mémoires. Guicciardini, Wars of Italy.

[378]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 182.

[379]   Ibid.

[380]   Ibid. Guicciardini. Pallavicini.

[381]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 182.

[382]   Ibid. pp. 182, 183.

[383]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 186.

[384]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 185.

[385]   The protestant sovereigns.

[386]   Du Bellay, Mém. pp. 186, 187.

[387]   Acts xv. 23.

[388]   The Emperor Joseph II.

[389]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 189.

[390]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 187.

[391]   Guicciardini. Du Bellay.

[392]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 189.

[393]   State Papers, vii. p. 439.

[394]   'The 28th the emperor departed from hens' (State Papers, viii. p. 438), 'and went to Milan' (p. 447).

[395]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 189.

[396]   Ibid.


(Summer 1533.)


THE Romish party would not be comforted under its defeat. Beda, Le Picard, and Mathurin in exile; evangelical sermons freely preached in the great churches of the capital; the new doctrines carried through Paris from house to house; and the Queen of Navarre seated, as it were, upon the throne during her brother's absence, protecting and directing this Lutheran activity—it was too much! The anxiety and alarm of the ultramontanists increased every day: they held numerous conferences; and if the young Alsatian whom we saw at the gate of the Sorbonne, or any other inquisitive person, could have crept into these catholic committees, he would have heard the most violent addresses. 'It is not only the approach of the enemy that alarms us,' they said: 'he is there ... the revolutionary, immoral, impious, atheistic, abominable, execrable monster!' Other epithets were added, to be found only in the popish vocabulary. 'He is making rapid progress; unless we resist him vigorously, it is all over! The world will perhaps see crumbling under his blows those ancient walls of Roman catholicism under which the nations have {220} taken shelter for so many ages.' And hence the Sorbonne was of the same opinion with the priests and the most hot-headed laymen, that, overlooking for the moment secondary persons, it was necessary to strike the most dangerous. In their eyes the Queen of Navarre was the great enemy of the papacy; the monks, in particular, whose disorders she had not feared to expose, were full of fury against her; their clamours were heard in every quarter. 'The queen,' they said, 'is the modern Eve by whom the new revolt is entering into the world.'—'It is the nature of women to be deceived,' said one; and to prove it he quoted St. Jerome. 'Woman is the gate of the devil,' said another, citing the authority of Tertullian. 'The wily serpent,' said the greatest doctors, 'remembers that memorable duel fought in Paradise. Another fight is beginning, and he is again putting in practice the stratagems that succeeded so well before. At the beginning of the world and now, it is always against woman—that tottering wall, that pannel so weak and easy to break down—that he draws up his battery. It is the Queen of Navarre who supports the disciples of Luther in France; she has placed them in schools; she alone watches over them with wonderful care, and saves them from all danger.[397] Either the king must punish her, or she must publicly recant her errors.' The ultramontanists did not restrict themselves to words: they entered into a diabolical plot to ruin that pious princess.


This was not an easy thing to do. The king loved her, all good men revered her, and all Europe admired {221} her. Yet, as Francis was very jealous of his authority, the priests hoped to take advantage of his extreme susceptibility and set him at variance with a sister who dared to have an opinion of her own. Besides, the Queen of Navarre, like every other eminent person, had powerful enemies at court, 'people of Scythian ingratitude,' who, having been received in her household and raised by her to honours, secretly did all in their power to bring her into discredit with the king and with her husband.[398] The most dangerous enemy of all was the grand-master Montmorency, an enterprising, brave, and imperious man, skilful in advancing his own fortune, though unlucky with that of the kingdom; he was besides coarse and uncultivated, despising letters, detesting the Reformation, irritated by the proselytism of the Queen of Navarre, and full of contempt for her books. He had great influence over Francis. The Sorbonne thought that if the grand-master declared against her, it would be impossible for Margaret to retain the king's favour.

An opportunity occurred for beginning the attack, and the Sorbonne caught at it. The Queen of Navarre, sighing after the time when a pure and spiritual religion would displace the barren ceremonial of popery, had published, in 1531, a christian poem entitled: The Mirror of the Sinful Soul, in which she discovers her Faults and Sins, as also the Grace and Blessings bestowed on her by Jesus Christ her Spouse.[399] Many persons had read this poem with interest, and admired the queen's genius and piety. Finding that this edition, {222} published in a city which belonged to her, had made no noise, aroused no persecution, and had even gained her a few congratulations, she felt a desire to issue her pious manifesto to a wider circle. Encouraged, moreover, by the position which her brother had just taken up, she made an arrangement with a bookseller rather bolder than the rest, and in 1533 published at Paris a new edition of her book, without the author's name, and without the authorisation of the Sorbonne.

The poem was mild, spiritual, inoffensive, like the queen herself; but it was written by the king's sister, and accordingly made a great sensation. In her verses there were new voices, aspirations towards heaven long unknown; many persons heard them, and here and there certain manifestations showed themselves of a meek and inward piety long since forgotten. The alarmed Sorbonne shouted out—'heresy!' There was, indeed, in the Mirror something more than aspirations. It contained nothing, indeed, against the saints or the Virgin, against the mass or popery, and not a word of controversy; but the essential doctrine of the Reformation was strongly impressed on it, namely, salvation by Jesus Christ alone, and the certain assurance of that redemption.


At the time of which we are writing, Beda had not been banished. At the beginning of 1533 he had been intrusted by the Sorbonne with the examination of all new books. The fiery syndic discovered the Mirror, and with excess of joy he fell upon it to seek matter of accusation against the king's sister. He devoured it; he had never been so charmed by any reading, for at last he had proof that the Queen of {223} Navarre was really a heretic.[400] 'But understand me well,' he said; 'they are not dumb proofs nor half proofs, but literal, clear, complete proofs.' Beda prepared therefore to attack Margaret. What a contrast between the formal religion of the Church and that of this spiritual poem! St. Thomas and the other chiefs of the schools teach that man may at least possess merits of congruity; that he may perform supererogatory works, that he must confess his sins in the ear of the priest, and satisfy the justice of God by acts of penance, satisfactio operis. But according to the Mirror, religion is a much simpler thing ... all is summed up in these two terms: man's sin and God's grace. According to the queen, what man needs is to have his sins remitted and wholly pardoned in consequence of the Saviour's death; and when by faith he has found assurance of this pardon, he enjoys peace.... He must consider all his past life as being no longer for him a ground of condemnation before God: these are the glad tidings. Now these tidings scandalised Beda and his friends exceedingly. 'What!' he exclaimed, holding the famous book open before them, 'what! no more auricular confessions, indulgences, penance, and works of charity!... The cause of pardon is the reconciliatory work of Christ, and what helps us to make it our own is not the Church, but faith!' The syndic determined to make the 'frightful' book known to all the venerable company.

The Sorbonne assembled, and Beda, holding the heretical poem in his hand, read the most flagrant {224} passages to his colleagues. 'Listen,' he said, and the attentive doctors kept their eyes fixed on the syndic. Beda read:

Jesus, true fisher thou of souls!
My only Saviour, only advocate!
Since thou God's righteousness hast satisfied,
I fear no more to fail at heaven's gate.
My Spouse bears all my sins, though great they be,
And all his merits places upon me....
Come, Saviour, make thy mercies known....
Jesus for me was crucified:
For me the bitter death endured,
For me eternal life procured.[401]

It has been said that Margaret's poems are theology in rhyme. It is true that her verses are not so elegant as those of our age, and that their spirit is more theological than the poetry of our days; but the theology is not that of the schools, it is that of the heart. What specially irritated the Sorbonne was the peace and assurance that Margaret enjoyed, precious privilege of a redeemed soul, which scholasticism had condemned beforehand. The queen, leaning upon the Saviour, seemed to have no more fear. 'Listen again,' said Beda:

Satan, where is now thy tower?
Sin, all withered is thy power.
Pain or death no more I fear,
While Jesus Christ is with me here.
Of myself no strength have I,
But God, my shield, is ever nigh.[402]


Thus, argued the doctors of the Sorbonne, the queen imagines that sins are remitted gratuitously, no satisfaction being required of sinners. 'Observe the foolish {225} assurance,' said the syndic, 'into which the new doctrine may bring souls. This is what we find in the Mirror:

'Not hell's black depth, nor heaven's vast height,
Nor sin with which I wage continual fight,
Me for a single day can move,
O holy Father, from thy perfect love.'[403]

This simple faith, supported by the promises of God, scandalised the doctors. 'No one,' said they, 'can promise himself anything certain as regards his own salvation, unless he has learnt it by a special revelation from God.' The council of Trent made this declaration an article of faith. 'The queen,' continued her accuser, 'speaks as if she longed for nothing but heaven:

'How beautiful is death,
That brings to weary me the hour of rest!
Oh! hear my cry and hasten, Lord, to me,
And put an end to all my misery.'[404]

Some one having observed that the Queen of Navarre had not appended her name to the title of her work, her accuser replied: 'Wait until the end, the signature is there;' and then he read the last line:

The good that he has done to me, his Margaret.[405]

In a short time insinuations and accusations against the sister of the king were heard from every pulpit. Here a monk made his hearers shudder as he described Margaret's wicked heresies; and there another tried to make them laugh. 'These things,' says Theodore Beza, 'irritated the Sorbonne extremely, and especially {226} Beda and those of his temper, and they could not refrain from attacking the Queen of Navarre in their sermons.'[406]

Other circumstances excited the anger of the monks. Margaret did not love them. Monachism was one of the institutions which the reformers wished to see disappear from the Church, and the Queen of Navarre, in spite of her conservative character, did not desire to preserve it. The numerous abuses of the monastic life, the constraint with which its vows were often accompanied, the mechanical vocation of most of the conventuals, their idleness and sensuality, their practice of mendicancy as a trade, their extravagant pretensions to merit eternal life and to atone for their sins by their discipline, their proud conviction that they had attained a piety which went beyond the exigencies of the divine law, the discredit which the monastic institution cast upon the institutions appointed by God, on marriage, family, labour, and the state politic; finally, the bodily observances and macerations set above that living charity which proceeds from faith, and above the fruits of the Spirit of God in man:—all these things were, according to the reformers, entirely opposed to the doctrine of the Gospel.


Margaret went further still. She had not spared the monks, but on the contrary had scourged them soundly. If Erasmus and Ulrich von Hutten had overwhelmed them with ridicule, the Queen of Navarre had in several tales depicted their grovelling character and dissolute life. She had, indeed, as yet communicated these stories to few besides her brother and mother, {227} and never intended publishing them; but, some copies having been circulated among the attendants of the court, a few leaves had fallen into the hands of the monks, and this was the cause of their anger. Margaret, like many others of her time, was mistaken—such at least is our opinion—as to the manner in which the vices of the monasteries ought to be combated. Following the example of Menot, the most famous preacher of the middle ages, she had described faithfully, unaffectedly, and sometimes too broadly the avarice, debauchery, pride, and other vices of the convents. She had done better than this, however; to the silly nonsense and indecent discourses of the grey friars she had opposed the simple, severe, and spiritual teaching of the Gospel. 'They are moral tales,' says a contemporary author (who is not over favourable to Margaret); 'they often degenerate into real sermons, so that each story is in truth only the preface to a homily.'[407] After a narrative in illustration of human frailty, Margaret begins her application thus: 'Know that the first step man takes in confidence in himself, by so much he diverges from confidence in God.' After describing a false miracle by which an incestuous monk had tried to deceive Margaret's father, the Count of Angoulême, she added: 'His faith was proof against these external miracles. We have but one Saviour who, by saying consummatum est (it is finished), showed that we must wait for no successor to work out our salvation.' No one but the monks thought, in the sixteenth century, of being scandalised by these tales. There was then a freedom of language {228} which is impossible in our times; and everybody felt that if the queen faithfully painted the disorders of the monks and other classes of society, she was equally faithful in describing the strict morality of her own principles and the living purity of her faith. It was her daughter, the austere Jeanne d'Albret, who published the first correct edition of these Novels; and certainly she would not have done so, if such a publication had been likely to injure her mother's memory.[408] But times have changed; the book, harmless then, is so no longer; in our days the tales will be read and the sermons passed over: the youth of our generation would only derive harm from them. We acquit the author as regards her intentions, but we condemn her work. And (apologising to the friends of letters who will accuse us of barbarism) if we had to decide on the fate of this book, we would willingly see it experience a fate similar to that which is spoken of in the Bible, where we are told that many Corinthians brought their books together and burned them.[409]


Let us return to the Mirror, in which the pious soul of Margaret is reflected.

The Faculty decided that the first thing to be done was to search every bookseller's shop in the city and seize all the copies found there.[410] Here Beda disappeared: he no longer played the principal part. It is probable that the proceedings against him had already begun; but this persecution, by removing its leader, helped to increase the anger of the Romish {229} party, and consequently the efforts of the Sorbonne to ruin the Queen of Navarre. As Beda was absent, the priest Le Clerq was ordered to make the search. Accompanied by the university beadles, he went to every bookseller's shop, seized the Mirror of the Sinful Soul, wherever the tradesman had not put it out of sight, and returned to the Sorbonne laden with his spoils. After this the Faculty deliberated upon the measures to be taken against the author.

This was no easy matter: they knew that the king, so hasty and violent, had much esteem and affection for his sister. The most prudent members of the Faculty hesitated. Their hesitation exasperated the monks, and the rage with which the more fanatical were seized extended even to the provinces. A meeting of the religious orders was held at Issoudun in Berry to discuss what ought to be done. The superior of the grey friars, an impetuous, rash, and hardly sane person, spoke louder than all the rest. 'Let us have less ceremony,' he exclaimed; 'put the Queen of Navarre in a sack and throw her into the river.'[411] This speech, which circulated over France, having been reported to the Sorbonne doctors, alarmed them, and many counselled a less violent persecution, to which a Dominican friar answered: 'Do not be afraid; we shall not be alone in attacking this heretical princess, for the grand-master is her mortal enemy.'[412]

Montmorency, who next to Francis was now the {230} most important personage in the kingdom, concealed under the cloak of religion a cruel heart and peevish disposition, and was feared by everybody, even by his friends. If he were gained over, the Queen of Navarre, attacked simultaneously by the priestly and the political party, must necessarily fall.

Margaret supported these insults with admirable mildness. At this very time she was carrying on an almost daily correspondence with Montmorency, and subscribed all her letters: 'Your good aunt and friend.' Full of confidence in this perfidious man, she called on him to defend her. 'Dear nephew,' she wrote, 'I beg you to believe that, as I am just now away from the king, it is necessary for you to help me in this matter. I rely upon you; and in this trust, which I am sure can never fail me, confides your good aunt and friend, Margaret.' The queen made some allusion to the violent language of the monks, but with great good-humour. 'I have desired the bearer,' she said, 'to speak to you about certain nonsense that a Jacobin monk has uttered in the faculty of theology.' This was all: she did not make use of one bitter word.[413] Montmorency, that imperious courtier who before long persecuted the protestants without mercy, began to think himself strong enough to ruin Margaret, and we shall soon see what was the result of his perfidious insinuations. The Sorbonne deliberated as to what was to be done. According to the decrees of Sixtus IV. and Alexander VI., no books, treatises, or writings whatsoever[414] could be printed without an express {231} authorisation; but the Queen of Navarre had printed her book without any such permission. The society, without pretending to know the author, declared the Mirror of the Sinful Soul prohibited, and put it in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.


This was not enough. The priests excited the students; but while the former were playing a tragedy, the latter (or rather their teachers) resorted to satire. The scholars of the college of Navarre, who passed from the grammar to the logic class, were in the habit of giving a dramatic representation on the 1st of October. The clerical heads of the college, wishing to render the queen hateful to the people and ridiculous to the court, composed a drama. The parts were distributed among the pupils; the rehearsals began, and those who were admitted to them agreed that the author had so seasoned the plot with gall and vinegar, that success was certain.[415] The report spread through the Latin quarter: and even Calvin heard of it, for he kept himself well informed of all that took place in the schools. While applying himself constantly to the work of God, he kept watch also upon the work of the adversary. There was so much talk about this play, that, when the day of the representation arrived, there was a rush for admission, and the hall was crammed. The monks and theologians took their seats in front, and the curtain rose.

A queen, magnificently dressed and sitting calmly on the stage, was spinning, and seemed to be thinking of nothing but her wheel. 'It is the king's sister,' {232} said the spectators; 'and she would do well to keep to her distaff.'

Next a strange character appeared: it was a woman dressed in white, carrying a torch and looking fiercely around her. Everybody recognised the fury Megæra. 'That is Master Gerard,' they said, 'the almoner of the king's sister.'[416] Megæra, advancing cautiously, drew near the queen with the intention of withdrawing her from her peaceful feminine occupation, and making her lay aside her distaff. She did not show her enmity openly, but came slily forward, putting on a smiling look, as if bringing additional light. She walked round and round the queen, and endeavoured to divert her attention by placing the torch boldly before her eyes.[417]

At first the princess takes no heed, but continues spinning; at length, alas! she stops and permits herself to be attracted by the false light before her; she gives way, she quits her wheel.... Megæra has conquered, and in exchange for the distaff she places the Gospel in the queen's hand.[418] The effect is magical; in a moment the queen is transformed. She was meek, she becomes cruel; she forgets her former virtuous habits; she rises, and, glaring around with savage eyes, takes up a pen to write out her sanguinary orders, and personally inflicts cruel tortures on her wretched victims. Scenes still more outrageous than these follow. The sensation {233} was universal! 'Such are the fruits of the Gospel!' said some of the spectators. 'It entices men away to novelties and folly; it robs the king of the devoted affection of his subjects, and devastates both Church and State.'[419]


At last the play was ended. The Sorbonne exulted; the Queen of Navarre, who had formerly lashed the priests and monks, was now scourged by them in return.

Shouts of approbation rose from every bench, and the theologians clapped the piece with all their might; such applause as that of these reverend doctors had never been heard before.[420] There were, however, a few reasonable men to whom such a satire written against the king's sister appeared unbecoming. 'The authors have used neither veil nor figure of speech,' they said: 'the queen is openly and disgracefully insulted in the play.'[421] The monks, finding they had gone too far, wished to hush up the matter; but in a short time the whole city was full of it, and a few days after a mischievous friend went and spoke of it at court, describing the whole play, scene after scene, to the queen herself.[422]

The Sorbonne, the highest authority in the Church after the pope, had struck the first blow; the second had been given in the colleges; the third was to be aimed at Margaret by the court. By ruining this princess in the eyes of her brother, the enemies of {234} the Reformation would cause her the most unutterable sorrow, for she almost adored Francis. Afterwards they would get her banished to the mountains of Béarn. Montmorency lent himself to this intrigue; he advanced prudently, speaking to the king about heresy, of the dangers it was bringing upon France, and of the obligation to free the kingdom from it for the salvation of souls. Then, appearing to hesitate, he added: 'It is true, Sire, that if you wish to extirpate the heretics, you must begin with the Queen of Navarre.'[423] ... And here he stopped.

Margaret was not informed of this perfidious proceeding immediately; but everybody told her that if she allowed the impertinence of the monks and the condemnation of the Sorbonne to pass unpunished, she would encourage their malice. She communicated what had taken place to her brother, declared herself to be the author of the Mirror, and insisted on the fact that it contained nothing but pious sentiments, and did not attack the doctrines of the Church: 'None of us,' she said, 'have been found sacramentarians.' Finally, she demanded that the condemnation by the theological faculty should be rescinded, and the college of Navarre called to account.


Calvin watched the whole business very closely; it might almost be said, after reading his letter, that he had been among the spectators. He censured the behaviour of both scholars and masters.[424] 'Christians,' he said later, 'are made a show of, as when in a triumph the poor prisoners are paraded through the city before being taken to prison and strangled. But {235} the spectacle made of believers is no hindrance to their happiness, for in the presence of God they remain in possession of glory, and the Spirit of God gives them a witness who dwells steadfast in their hearts.'[425]

[397]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, pp. 847-849.

[398]   Sainte-Marthe, Oraison funèbre de Marguerite, p. 45.

[399]   The first edition of the Miroir de l'Ame pécheresse, was published at Alençon, by Simon Dubois.

[400]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, i. p. 8. Génin, Notice sur Marguerite d'Angoulême, p. iii. Freer, Life of Marguerite d'Angoulême, ii. p. 112.

[401]   Les Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. p. 60.

[402]   Ibid. p. 63.

[403]   Les Marguerites, i. p. 65.

[404]   Ibid. pp. 51, 57.

[405]   Ibid. p. 70.

[406]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Eglises Réformées, i. pp. 8, 9.

[407]   Génin, Notice sur Marguerite d'Angoulême, p. 95, preceding her letters.

[408]   Marguerite de Valois, Reine de Navarre, étude historique, 1861.

[409]   Acts xix. 19.

[410]   'Quum excuterent officinas bibliopolarum.'—Calvini Epp. p. 2; Genève, 1617.

[411]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 282. Freer, Life of Marguerite, ii. p. 118. Castaigne, Notice sur Marguerite.

[412]   Lettre de la Reine Marguerite à Montmorency. Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 282.

[413]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. pp. 282, 283.

[414]   'Libri, tractatus aut scripturæ quæcunque.'—Raynald, Annales Eccl. xix. p. 514.

[415]   'Fabula felle et aceto, ut ait ille, plusquam mordaci conspersa.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[416]   The word Megæra is made up of the first syllables of Magister Gerardus. 'Megæram appellant alludens ad nomen Magistri Gerardi.'

[417]   'Tunc Megæra illi faces admovens, ut acus et colum abjiceret.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[418]   'Evangelia in manus recepit.'—Ibid.

[419]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, p. 844.

[420]   'Mirabiliter applaudentibus theologis.'—Sturmius Bucero.

[421]   'Quam non figurate, nec obscure, conviciis suis proscindebant.—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[422]   'Re ad reginam delata.'—Ibid.

[423]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 58.

[424]   'Indigna prorsus ea muliere.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[425]   Calvini Opp. passim.


(Autumn 1533.)

FRANCIS was not at Paris when the storm broke out against his sister. In the summer of 1533, says the chronicle, 'the king visited his states and lordships of Languedoc, and made his triumphal entry into the city of Toulouse.'[426] It was by letter, therefore, that he heard of what was taking place. All were asking what he would do. On the one hand, he had a great affection for the queen; but, on the other, he did not like his tranquillity to be disturbed; he protected learning, but he detested the Gospel. His better self gained the upper hand; his hatred of the absurdities of the monks was aroused; his great susceptibility made him take the affronts offered to his sister as if they had been offered to himself; and one after another he gave Margaret's enemies a forcible lesson.

The first whom he taught his place was Montmorency. When the latter endeavoured to instil his perfidious insinuations into the king's mind, Francis silenced him: 'Not a word more about it,' he said: 'she is too fond of me to take up with any religion that {237} will injure my kingdom.[427] Margaret was informed subsequently of the attempt of the grand-master, 'whom she never liked more,' adds Brantôme.


The second to feel the king's hand was the prior of the Franciscans who had proposed to sew Margaret in a sack and throw her into the Seine. 'Let him suffer the punishment he desired to inflict upon the queen,' he exclaimed. On hearing of this sentence the monks became irritated, and the populace, according to one historian, got up a riot. But the queen interceded for the wretch, and his life was spared; he was simply deprived of his ecclesiastical dignities and sent to the galleys for two years.[428]

The play represented against the queen, as well as the priests who had composed it and superintended the representation, next engaged the king's attention; he resolved not to spare them, and at the least to put them in a terrible fright. He issued his orders, and immediately the lieutenant of police marched out and appeared at the head of a hundred archers before the college of Navarre.[429] 'Surround the building,' he said, 'so that no one can escape.'[430] The archers did as they were ordered. For this narrative we are again indebted to Calvin, who continued to take the deepest interest in the whole affair. The orders of the lieutenant were not executed without noise, and some of the professors and pupils, attracted to the windows, had watched the movements of the municipal officers. The author of the drama, who had {238} expected nothing like this, and who was very vain and continually boasting of his pious exploit, happened to be in the room of a friend, joking about the queen and the famous comedy, when suddenly he heard an unusual noise.[431] He looked out, and, seeing the college surrounded by soldiers, became alarmed and confused. 'Hide me somewhere,' he exclaimed. He was put in a place where it was supposed nobody could find him: there are always good hiding-places in colleges. 'Stay there,' said his friends, 'until we find an opportunity for your escape.'[432] And then the door was carefully shut.


Meanwhile the lieutenant of police had entered with a few of his archers, and demanded the surrender of the author of the satire against the Queen of Navarre. The head of the college, a man of distinction, profound learning, and great influence, whom Calvin styles 'the great Master Lauret,' and Sturm 'the king of the wise,' did not deserve his name. He refused everything. Upon this, the sergeants began to search the building for the culprit; and professors and students were in great anxiety. But every nook and corner was explored in vain; they found nothing.[433] The lieutenant thereupon ordered his archers to lay hands upon the actors in default of the author, and he himself arrested one of the persons who had taken a part in the play. This was the signal for a great tumult. Master Lauret, knowing himself to be more guilty than those youths, rushed upon the lieutenant {239} and endeavoured to rescue the scholar;[434] the students, finding themselves supported by their chief, fell upon the archers, and kicked and beat them, some even pelting them with stones.[435] There was a regular battle in the college of Navarre. But the law prevailed at last, and all the beardless actors fell into the hands of the police.

The lieutenant was bent on knowing the nature of their offence. 'Now,' said he to the juvenile players, 'you will repeat before me what you said on the stage.'[436] The unlucky youths were forced to obey; in great confusion and hanging their heads, they repeated all their impertinence. 'I have not done,' resumed the lieutenant, turning to the head of the college; 'since the author of the crime is concealed from me, I must look to those who should have prevented such insolence. Master Lauret, you will go with me as well as these young scamps. As for you, Master Morin (he was the second officer of the college), you will keep your room.' He then departed with his archers; Lauret was taken to the house of a commissary, and the students were sent to prison.

The most important affair still remained—the decision come to by the Sorbonne against Margaret's poem. The king, wishing to employ gentle means, simply ordered the rector to ask the faculty if they had really placed the Mirror in the list of condemned books,[437] and in that case to be good enough to point out what they saw to blame in it. To the rector, {240} therefore, was confided the management of the affair. A new rector had been elected a few days before (10th of October); and whether the university perceived in what direction the wind was blowing, or wished to show its hostility to the enemies of the light, or desired to court the king's favour by promoting the son of one of his favourites, the chief physician to the court, they had elected, in spite of the faculty of theology, Nicholas Cop, a particular friend of Calvin's. 'Wonderful!' said the friends of the Gospel: 'the king and his sister, the rector of the university, and even, as some say, the Bishop of Paris, lean to the side of the Word of God; how can France fail to be reformed?'

The new rector took the affair vigorously in hand. Won over to the Gospel by Calvin, he had learnt, in conversation with his friend, that sin is the great disease, the loss of eternal life the great death, and Jesus Christ the great physician. He was impatient to meet the enemies of the Reform, and the king gave him the desired opportunity.... He had several conversations with Calvin on the subject, and convened the four faculties on the 24th of October, 1532. The Bishop of Senlis, the king's confessor, read his Majesty's letter to them; after which the youthful rector, the organ of the new times, began to speak, and, full of the ardour which a recent conversion gives, he delivered (Calvin tells us) a long and severe speech,[438] a christian philippic, confounding the conspirators who were plotting against the Word of God. 'Licence is always criminal,' he said; 'but what is it when those who violate the laws are those whose duty it is to teach {241} others to observe them?... Now what have they done? They have attacked an excellent woman, who is alike the patroness of sound learning and mother of every virtue.[439] They penetrate into the sanctuary of the family of our kings, and encroach upon the sovereign majesty... What presumptuous temerity, what imprudent audacity!... The laws of propriety, the laws of the realm, the laws of God even, have all been violated by these impudent men... They are seditious and rebellious subjects.' Then turning to the faculty of theology, the rector continued: 'Put an end, Sirs, to these foolish and arrogant manners; or else, if you have not committed the offence, do not bear the responsibility. Do you desire to encourage the malice of those who, ever ready to perpetrate the most criminal acts, wipe their mouths afterwards and say: "It is not I who did it! it is the university!" while the university knows nothing about it?[440] Do not mix yourselves up in a matter so full of danger, or ... beware of the terrible anger of the king.'[441]


This speech, the terror inspired by the king's name, and the recollection of Beda's imprisonment, disturbed the assembly. The theologians, who were all guilty, basely abandoned their colleague, who had only carried out a general resolution, and exclaimed unanimously: 'We must disavow the rash deed.'[442] The four faculties declared they had not authorised the act of which the king complained, and the whole responsibility fell on {242} Le Clerq, curé of St. André, who had taken the most active part in the matter. He was the Jonah to be thrown into the sea.

Le Clerq was very indignant. He had gone up and down the city in the sight of everybody, he had ransacked the booksellers' shops to lay hold of the heretical Mirror; the booksellers, if necessary, could depose against him; but when he found himself abandoned by those who had urged him on, he was filled with anger and contempt. Still, he endeavoured to escape the danger that threatened him, and seeing among the audience several officers of the court, he said in French, so that all might understand him: 'In what words, Sirs, can I sufficiently extol the king's justice?[443] Who can describe with what unshaken fidelity this great prince has on all occasions shown himself the valiant defender of the faith?[444] I know that misguided men[445] are endeavouring to pervert the king's mind, and conspiring the ruin of this holy faculty; but I have a firm conviction that their manœuvres will fail against his majesty's heroic firmness. I am proud of the resistance I make them. And yet I have done nothing of myself; I was delegated by an order of the university for the duty I have fulfilled.[446] And do you imagine that in discharging it, I had any desire to get up a plot against an august princess whose morals are so holy, whose religion is so pure,[447] as she proved not long ago {243} by the respect with which she paid the last honours to her illustrious mother? I consider such obscene productions as Pantagruel ought to be prohibited; but I place the Mirror simply among the suspected books, because it was published without the approbation of the faculty. If that is a crime, we are all guilty—you, gentlemen,' he said, turning towards his colleagues, 'you as well as myself, although you disavow me.'[448]


This speech, so embarrassing to the doctors of the faculty, secured the triumph of the queen. 'Sirs,' said the king's confessor, 'I have read the inculpated volume, and there is really nothing to blot out of it, unless I have forgotten all my theology.[449] I call, therefore, for a decree that shall fully satisfy her majesty.' The rector now rose again and said: 'The university neither recognises nor approves of the censure passed upon this book. We will write to the king, and pray him to accept the apology of the university.' Thereupon the meeting broke up.

Thus did Margaret, the friend of the reformers, come out victorious from this attack of the monks. 'This matter,' says Beza, 'somewhat cowed the fury of our masters (magistri), and greatly strengthened the small number of believers.'[450] The clear and striking account which Calvin has left us, has enabled us to watch the quarrel in all its phases. As we read it, we cannot help regretting that the reformer did not sometimes employ his noble talents in writing history.[451]


An astonishing change was taking place in France. Calvin and Francis appeared to be almost walking together. Calvin watched with an observing eye the movements of men's minds, and his lofty understanding delighted in tracing out the approaching consequences. What did he see in the year 1533? The different classes of society are in motion; men of the world begin to speak more freely;[452] students, with the impetuosity of youth, are rushing towards the light; many young professors perceive that Scripture is above the pope; one of his most intimate friends is at the head of the university; the fanatical doctors are in exile; and the most influential men both in Church and State are favourable to the Reform. The Bishop of Senlis, confessor to the king; John du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, who possesses the king's entire confidence; his brother William, one of the greatest men in France, seem all to be placing themselves at the service of evangelical truth. William du Bellay, in particular, excited the greatest hopes among the reformers at this time; they entertained, indeed, exaggerated ideas about him. As Berquin was no more, and Calvin had hardly appeared, it was Du Bellay, in their opinion, who would reform France. 'O that the Lord would raise up many heroes like him!' said the pious Bucer; 'then should we see Christ's kingdom appearing with the splendour of the sun.[453] The Sire de Langey (William du Bellay) is ready to suffer everything for Jesus Christ.'[454]



The most earnest men believed in the salutary influences which the Reformation would exert. In fact, by awakening the conscience and reviving faith, it was to be a principle of order and liberty; and the religious activity which it called into existence could not but be favourable to education and morality, and even to agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. If Francis I. had turned to the Gospel, the noblest minds would have followed him, and France would have enjoyed days of peace and marvellous prosperity.

Among the enlightened men of whom we are speaking, we must include Philip de Chabot, seignior of Brion, admiral of France, a favourite with the king, and inclined to the cause of the Reform;[455] Maure Musée, groom of the chamber, also won over to the Gospel; and the pious Dame de Cany, who influenced her sister, the Duchess of Etampes, in favour of the reformed.[456] That frivolous woman was far from being converted; but if the Reform was reproached with the protection she afforded it, the evangelicals called to mind that Marcia, mistress to the Emperor Commodus, as the duchess was to the king, had protected the early christians, and primitive Christianity was none the less respected for it.

Calvin did not place his hope in the powers of the world: 'Our wall of brass,' he said, 'is to have God propitious to us. If God be for us—that is our only support. There is no power under heaven or above which can withstand his arm, and having him for our defender we need fear no evil.'[457] And yet the {246} blows which Francis I. had warded from the head of the queen were to fall upon Cop and Calvin himself. But before we come to these persecutions, we must follow the king, who, quitting Toulouse and Montpellier, proceeded to Marseilles to meet the pope.

[426]   Chronique du Roi François I. p. 98.

[427]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 88.

[428]   Castaigne, Notice sur Marguerite. Freer, Life of Marguerite.

[429]   'Prætor stipatus centum apparitoribus gymnasium adit.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[430]   'Suis jussis domum circumcidere, ne quis elaberetur.'—Ibid.

[431]   'Sed cum forte in amici cubiculo esset, tumultum prius exaudisse.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[432]   'E quibus per occasionem fugeret.'—Ibid.

[433]   'Autor sceleris deprehendi non poterat.'—Ibid.

[434]   'Dum vult obsistere gymnasiarcha.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[435]   'Lapides a nonnullis pueris conjecti sunt.'—Ibid.

[436]   'Quod pro scena recitassent jussit repetere.'—Ibid.

[437]   'Improbatæ religionis.'—Ibid.

[438]   'Longa et acerba oratione.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[439]   'In reginam virtutum omnium et bonarum literarum matrem arma sumere.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[440]   'Ut dicant Academiam fecisse.'—Ibid.

[441]   'Ne se immiscerent tanto discrimini, ne regis iram experiri vellent.'—Ibid.

[442]   'Omnium sententia fuit factum abjurandum.'—Ibid.

[443]   'Magnificis verbis regis integritatem.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[444]   'Fidei animosum protectorem.'—Ibid.

[445]   'Aliquos sinistros homines.'—Ibid.

[446]   'Se quidem fuisse delegatum Academiæ decreto.'—Ibid.

[447]   'Fœminam tam sanctis moribus, tam pura religione præditam.'—Ibid.

[448]   'Omnes esse culpæ affines, si qua esset, quantumvis abnegarent.'—Calvini Epp. p. 1.

[449]   'Nisi oblitus esset suæ theologiæ.'—Ibid.

[450]   Théodore de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. p. 9.

[451]   This letter is the first in the collection published by Theodore Beza, and will be the tenth in that to be published by Dr. Bonnet.

[452]   'Omnes cœperunt loqui liberius.'—Bucer to Blaarer. Strasburg MSS.

[453]   'Dominus excitet multos isti heroï similes.'—Bucer to Chelius, quoted by Schmidt.

[454]   'Quidvis pati pro Christo.'—Sturm to Bucer. Ibid.

[455]   'Admiralius adest, qui unice nobis favet.'—Sturm to Bucer, quoted by Schmidt.

[456]   Lettres de Jean Calvin, i. p. 335, edit. J. Bonnet.

[457]   Calvini Opp. passim.


(October 1533.)

THIS interview of the pope with the king might be more injurious to the Gospel than all the attacks of the Sorbonne. If Clement united sincerely with Francis against Charles; if Catherine de Medici became the pledge of union between Rome and France; would not the Reformation soon be buried by the mournful glare of the pale torches of this fatal marriage? Yet men still hoped that the projected interview would not take place. In fact, Henry VIII. and the emperor did all they could to prevent Francis from meeting the pope.[458]


But Clement VII., more charmed than ever with a matrimonial union between the family of the Florentine merchants and that of St. Louis, cared naught for the emperor or the king of England; and about the end of April 1533, he convoked a sacred college at Rome, to whom he communicated his plans. They already knew something about them: the Roman cardinals smiled and congratulated his Holiness, but the Spanish cardinals looked very much out of humour. The pope tried to persuade them that he only desired {248} this marriage for the glory of God and of the Church. 'It is for holy opportunities,' he told them. No one dared oppose it openly; but, on leaving the meeting, the emperor's cardinals hurried to his ministers and informed them of the pontifical communication. The latter lost no time; they called upon all their friends, managed them with great ability, and, by dint of energy and stratagem, succeeded in holding a congregation at the beginning of June, at which none of the French cardinals were present. Not daring to oppose the marriage itself, Charles's prelates displayed extreme sensibility for the honour and welfare of the pope. They appeared to be suddenly seized with a violent affection for Clement. 'What! the pope in France!' they exclaimed. 'Truly it must be something more than the marriage of a niece to move a pope from his seat.' Then, as if Clement's health was very precious to them, and the Roman air excellent, the crafty Spaniards brought forward sanitary reasons. 'Such a journey would be dangerous, considering the extreme heat of Provence.'—'Never mind that,' cunningly answered the pope; 'I shall not start until after the first rains.'


Charles then sought other means to prevent the conference. He will contrive that the pope shall delay his departure from week to week, until the winter sets in, and then it is not to be thought of. A very natural occasion for these delays presented itself. The marriage of Henry VIII. with Anne Boleyn having been made public, the emperor haughtily demanded that justice should be done to the queen, his aunt. Here, certainly, was matter enough to occupy the court of Rome for months; but Clement, who had let the English business {249} drag along for years, being eager to finish the other marriage, hastily assembled a consistory, and pronounced against Henry VIII. all the censures which Charles V. demanded. Then, in his zeal forgetting his usual cunning, he made Catherine's marriage the peroration of his speech, and having done with England and its king, he ended by saying: 'Gentlemen, if any of you desire to make the voyage with me, you must hold yourselves in readiness for departure.'[459]

Immediate preparations were made for fitting up the galleys of Rhodes in which the pope was to sail. All was bustle in the harbour. Those long low barks were supplied with everything necessary for subsistence, for sailing, and even for attack and defence. The oars were fixed in their places; the yards and sails were set; the flags were hoisted.... Then the imperialists, trying to outwit the pope, had recourse to a new stratagem; they were smitten with a sudden fondness for Coron.—'Coron, that city in the south of Greece,' they said to the pope, 'a city of such great importance to christendom, is attacked by the Turks; we require the galleys of Rhodes to defend it; we must deliver the Greeks our brothers from slavery, and restore the empire of the East.'... The pope understood; it was difficult to beat him in cunning. 'Well, well,' said he, 'make haste; fly to the help of christendom.... I will lend you the said galleys, and will add my own ... and ... I will make the passage on board the galleys of France.'[460]

Then the emperor turned to the Swiss; the Dukes of Savoy and Milan, also, fearing that at the projected interview {250} something would be brewed to their detriment, united with him. These three princes attempted to induce the catholic cantons to enter the Italian league. If these terrible Helvetic bands pass the Alps, all idea of travelling will be abandoned by the pope. How could he expose himself to pikes and arquebuses? Clement VII. had not the warlike disposition of Julius II. 'The King of France favours the protestants,' said Charles's deputies to the catholic cantons; 'he desires to put the evangelical cantons in a condition to avenge the defeat at Cappel; but if you join us, you have nothing to fear.' At these words the catholics became eager[461] to enter the league against the king and the pope; but Francis sent them money to keep quiet, and they did not move.[462]

Were all his manœuvres to fail? Never had a marriage been heard of against which so many obstacles had been raised; but it was written in the book of fate, said many; the arms forged against it could not succeed; and the haughty Charles vainly agitated all Europe—Swiss, Germans, Greeks, and Turks. His ministers now had recourse to another stratagem. Everybody knew that the pope was not brave. They revived their tender affection for his person; and as Switzerland was not to be tempted, they turned to Africa. 'Let your Holiness beware,' they said; 'if you undertake this voyage, you will certainly fall into the hands of the Moors.[463] ... A fleet of pirates, lurking behind the islands of Hyères, will suddenly appear, {251} fall on the ship in which you are sailing, and carry you off.'[464] This time the pope was staggered. The terror inspired by the barbarian ships was at that time very great. To be carried away by the Moors! A pope captive in Algiers or Tunis! What a dreadful thought!

Will he go or will he not? was the question Europe set itself. But the matter was violently canvassed at Rome, where Guelphs and Ghibelines almost came to blows. Arguments for the marriage, and consequently for the voyage, were not wanting. 'The time has come,' said the papists, 'for a bold stroke to prevent France from being lost like Germany and England.' There were loud discussions in the convents and churches, and even in the public places. A Franciscan of the Low Countries, Herbom by name, a monk of fiery fanaticism, stirred up the pontifical city. 'Luther, Zwingle, and Œcolampadius,' he said, 'are soldiers of Pilate; they have crucified Jesus Christ.... But, alas! alas! this crime is repeated in our days ... at Paris. Yes, even at Paris, by certain disciples of Erasmus.' It was clearly necessary for the pope and his little niece to hasten to France, in order to prevent what these blaspheming monks dared to call the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.


At last Clement made up his mind. He would brave the fury of the waves, and risk the attacks of the corsairs, in order to conquer the soldiers of Pilate and give a royal husband to his niece. The galleys of France, commanded by the Duke of Albany, left {252} Marseilles in September to fetch the pope, who had gone to Pisa, making a boast, wherever he went, of the most noble disinterestedness. 'I am going to this interview,' he said, 'in order to procure the peace of Europe, to prepare an expedition against the infidels, to lead back the King of England to the right path, and, in a word, solely for the interests of christendom.' Then, after thus disguising himself, like the wolf in the fable, under a borrowed dress, he showed the tip of his ear, and begged the Duke of Albany to escort their common relative to Nice, where she would wait for further orders. The honour done to his family was so great that doubts were continually arising in his mind about the trustworthiness of the French king's promises. He would not take his niece with him to Marseilles, for fear he should have to bring her back. He will see Francis alone first; he will speak to him and sound him. Clement believed that his piercing eye would read the king's heart to the very bottom. When all his fears are removed, Catherine shall come to France; but until then, she shall only go part of the way.[465]

The young lady departed for Nice, and people said, pointing to her as they saw her going on board ship: 'There is the real cause of the strange journey of a pope to France! If it were a matter touching the safety of the Church, Clement would not do so much; but it is to place a Medici beside a throne, and perhaps set her upon it.'... The French fleet put to sea: the ship, on whose mainmast the standard of France had been hoisted, exhibited a sight at once gay {253} and sad. Beneath the flags and banners, at the side of the Duke of Albany, and in the midst of a brilliant retinue, might be seen a kind of little fairy, who was then making her first appearance in the world. She was a young creature, of middle stature, with sparkling eyes and bell-like voice, who appeared to possess some supernatural power, and singularly fascinated every one that came near her. Her enchantments and her philtres were the subtle poison on which the papacy relied for destroying heresy. This child, between thirteen and fourteen years of age, skipped with joy about the stately ship. 'I am going to be the daughter-in-law of the glorious King of France,' she said to herself. Death, with whom this strange creature seemed to have made a secret and terrible treaty, was in truth erelong to raise her to the summit of power. The galleys of Albany, after having conveyed the girl to Nice (it is Guicciardini's word), returned to Leghorn, the port of Pisa, and on the 4th of October the pope, with the cardinals and all his household, put to sea.


The papal fleet, all fluttering with banners, had a smooth passage.[466] Clement could without interruption meditate on a thousand different projects. Marry Catherine to the son of the King of France; free himself, thanks to the support of this prince, from the patronage of the emperor whom he detested; put off indefinitely the council which Charles had been so bold as to promise to the protestants; and finally crush the Reformation, both in France and elsewhere.... Such were Clement's projects during the voyage. {254} Before leaving Rome, he had drawn up (1st of September) a bull against the heretics; he had it on board the ship, and he purposed demanding its immediate execution from Francis, as a wedding present. The winds blew softly in the direction of Marseilles; all congratulated themselves on the beauty of the passage; but this fleet, in appearance so inoffensive, which glided so smoothly over the waters of the Mediterranean, carried, like the bark of Ulysses, stores of future tempests.

Opinions were much divided in France about the pope's voyage. If Clement satisfied Francis, the Reform was ruined; if he thwarted the king, France would follow the example of England. Everybody admitted the hypothesis that pleased him best. 'Francis and Clement,' said the reformed, 'follow such opposite courses, that it is impossible for them to coincide.'—'The king and the pope,' said the ultramontanists, 'are about to be united by indissoluble bonds, and popery will be restored in France in all its exclusive supremacy.'[467] There were however some of the school of Erasmus who remained in doubt. 'As for me,' wrote Professor Sturm to Bucer, 'I desire much that popery should be overthrown, but ... I fear greatly that it will be restored.'[468] Sturm did not compromise himself. To which side will Marseilles make Francis I. incline? Historians have decided that he was won over to Rome; but after hearing the historians, we must listen to history. {255}


At the beginning of October 1533, the ancient city of the Phocæans was in a state of great excitement; the King of France and the pope were coming; what an honour! It is well known that the inhabitants of that city are quick, enthusiastic, and fond of show and parade. Watchmen had been placed on the highest points to telegraph the approaching fleet. At length, on the 4th of October, the castles of If and Notre Dame de la Garde suddenly gave the looked-for signals. One cry only was heard in the streets of Marseilles: 'The flotilla with the pope on board has come in sight.'[469] A feverish agitation pervaded the city; the sound of trumpets, clarions, and hautboys filled the air; the people hurried to the harbour. Nobles and prelates went on board the ships that had been kept ready; their sails were unfurled, and in a short time this extemporised fleet saluted that of the pope with deafening acclamations. Many devout catholics trembled with joy and admiration; they could hardly believe their eyes. 'Behold the real representative of Christ,' they said, 'the father of all christians, the only man who can at will give new laws to the Church;[470] the man who has never been mistaken and never will be; whose name is alone in the world, vice-God upon earth.'[471] Clement smiled: in Italy he had never heard such exclamations or witnessed such enthusiasm. O France! truly art thou the eldest daughter of the Church! He did not know that vanity, curiosity, love of pomp, and a fondness for {256} noise had much to do with this rapture, and that France, like her king Clovis, worships what it has cast down, and casts down what it has worshipped. The pope had no leisure to indulge in such reflections. At the moment his galley entered the harbour, three hundred pieces of artillery fired a salute. Notre Dame de la Garde, the tower of St. John, the abbey of St. Victor, the harbour and its vicinity were all on fire.[472]

Francis was not to be seen among the vast and brilliant crowd which filled Marseilles. There were princes of the blood, prelates, diplomatists, magistrates, courtiers, and warriors; but the king, although at the gates of the city, kept himself in the background and apart. However, when the night came, and everybody had retired to their quarters to rest after so fatiguing a day, a man, wrapped up in a cloak, entered the city, glided mysteriously along the dark streets, and stopped at the gate of the palace where the pope was lodging. This man was immediately introduced into the apartments where Clement was preparing to take his repose: it was the King of France.[473] ... What was the object of this nocturnal visit? Was it because the king wished to sound the pontiff in secret, before receiving him officially? Was it the etiquette of the time? However that may be, Francis, after a secret and confidential conversation, returned with the same mystery, wearing a very satisfied look. The pope had promised everything, all the rights, all the possessions,—in a word, whatever he had made up his mind not to give.

The next day the pope, dressed in his pontifical {257} robes, and seated in a magnificent chair borne on men's shoulders, made his solemn entry, attended by his cardinals, also in all the brilliancy of their costume, and by a great number of lords and ladies of France and Italy.[474]


Early in the morning, and while the streets were echoing with cries of joy, the president of the parliament, living in one of the handsomest houses of Marseilles, was pacing his room with anxious brow, gesticulating and carefully repeating some Latin phrases. That magistrate had been commissioned, as a great orator, to deliver an address to the pope; but as unfortunately Latin was not familiar to him, he had had his speech written out beforehand, and by dint of labour he had so far committed it to memory, as to be able to repeat it off-hand—provided there was no change made in it.

At the same moment, a messenger from the pope appeared at the king's levée with a paper, and requested, on behalf of the pontiff, who had a great fear of the terrible Charles V., that the said oration should be delivered as it was written on the paper he brought with him, so as to give the emperor no offence. Francis despatched Clement's draft to the president. What a disappointment! The new address was precisely the contrary of what he had been learning by heart. The famous orator became confused: he did not know what to do.... Alas! he had but a few minutes to spare, and the sonorous words which would have offended the great emperor, and which he had counted on reciting in his loudest voice, kept recurring to his {258} mind. He fancied himself in the presence of that magnificent assembly of proud Roman prelates who knew Latin so well.... There could be no doubt about it ... he would become embarrassed, he would stammer, he would not remember what he had to say, and would break down. He was quite in a fever. The president, no longer master of himself, hurried off to the king, and begged him to give the office to some one else. 'Very well, then,' said Francis to Bishop du Bellay, 'you must undertake it.' At that moment the procession started. It reached its destination; the Bishop of Paris, although taken unawares, put a bold face upon the matter; and being a good Latin scholar and able orator, he executed his commission wonderfully well.[475]

The official conferences began shortly after, and neither king nor pope spared protestations, stratagems, or falsehoods: the pope particularly excelled in the latter article. 'He used so much artifice in the business,' says Guicciardini,[476] 'that the king confided marvellously in him.' What Francis required to compensate him for the misalliance was not much: he asked for the duchies of Urbino and Milan, Pisa, Leghorn, Reggio, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, and Genoa. But if the king was inexhaustible in his demands, the pope was equally so in his promises, being the more liberal as he intended to give nothing. Clement, touched by the good-nature of Francis, who appeared to believe all that was told him, sent at last to Nice for the youthful Catherine.


It was not decorous for the pope to appear to have {259} come so far only to give away a young lady. He proposed, therefore, in order to conceal his intrigues, to issue the bull against the heretics which he had brought with him. It was his wedding present, and nothing could better inaugurate Catherine's entry into France. But the diplomatist, William du Bellay, did all in his power to prevent this truly Roman transaction. He had several very animated conversations on this subject with the cardinals and with the pope himself. He represented to him the necessity of satisfying the protestants of Germany: 'A free council and mutual concessions,' he said; but Clement was deaf. Du Bellay would not give way; he struggled manfully with the pontiff, and conjured him not to attempt to put down the Reformation with violence.[477] He used similar language to Francis, and laid before him some letters which he had recently received from Germany; but the king replied that he was taking the matter too seriously. The bull of excommunication was simply a manner, a papal form ... and nothing more. The bull was published, and there was a great noise about it. Francis and Clement, each believing in the other's good faith, were deceiving one another. The only truth in all this Marseilles business was the gift the pope made to France of Catherine de Medici. That was quite enough certainly.

As soon as the pope's niece arrived, preparations were made for the marriage. The ministers of the king and of the pope took the contract in hand, and the latter having spoken of an annuity of one hundred thousand crowns: 'It is very little for so noble an {260} alliance,' said the treasurers of Francis I.—'True,' replied Strozzi, one of Clement's most able servants; 'but observe that her grace the Duchess of Urbino brings moreover three rings of inestimable value ... Genoa, Milan, and Naples.'[478] These diamonds, whose brilliancy was to dazzle the king and France, never shone on Catherine's fingers or on the crown of Henry II.


The ceremony was conducted with great magnificence. The bride advanced, young, brilliant, radiant with joy, with smiling lips and sparkling eyes, her head adorned with gold, pearls, and flowers; and in her train ... Death.... Death, who was always her faithful follower, who served her even when she would have averted his dart; who, by striking the dauphin, was to make her the wife of the heir to the crown; by striking her father-in-law, to make her queen; and by striking down successively her husband and all her sons, to render her supreme controller of the destinies of France. In gratitude, therefore, towards her mysterious and sinister ally, the Florentine woman was forty years later, and in a night of August, to give him a magnificent entertainment in the streets of Paris, to fill a lake with blood that he might bathe therein, and organise the most terrible festival that had ever been held in honour of Death. Catherine approached the altar, trembling a little, though not agitated. The pope officiated, desirous of personally completing the grandeur of his house, and tapers without number were lighted. The King and Queen of France, with a crowd of courtiers dressed in the richest costumes, {261} surrounded the altar. Catherine de Medici placed her cold hand in the faithless hand of Henry of Valois, which was to deprive the Reform of all liberty, and France herself, in the Unhappy Peace, of her glory and her conquests. Clement gave his pontifical blessing to this tragic pair. The marriage was concluded; the girl, as Guicciardini calls her, was a wife; her eyes glanced as with fire. Was it a beam of happiness and pride? Probably. We might ask also if it was not the joy of the hyena scenting from afar the graves where it could feast on the bodies of the dead; or of the tiger espying from its lair in the African desert the groups of travellers upon whom it might spring and quench its raging thirst for blood. But although the appetites which manifested themselves in the St. Bartholomew massacre already existed in the germ in this young wife, there is no evidence (it must be acknowledged) that she allowed herself to be governed at Marseilles by these cruel promptings.

There are creatures accursed of God, who, under a dazzling veil and fair outward show, impart to a nation an active power of contagion, the venom of corruption, an invisible principle of death which, circulating through the veins, infects with its morbid properties all parts of the body, and strikes the physical powers with general prostration. It was thus at the commencement of the history of the human race that a fallen being deceived man; by him sin entered into the world, and death by sin. This first scene, which stands alone, has been repeated, however, from time to time in the world, though on a smaller scale. It happened to France when the daughter of the Medici crept into the family of its kings. No {262} doubt the disease was already among the people, but Catherine's arrival was one of those events which bring the corruption to a head. This woman, so false and dissolute, so vile as to crawl at the feet of her husband's mistress and pick up secrets for her; this woman, who gave birth to none but enervated, idiotic, distempered, and vicious children, not only corrupted her own sons, but infected an entire brilliant society that might have been noble and just (as Coligny showed), and instilled her deadly venom into its veins. The niece of the pope poisoned France.

'Clement's joy was incredible,' says Guicciardini.[479] He had even a feeling of gratitude, and resolved to give the king four hats for four French bishops. Did he intend that these hats should supply the place of Urbino, Genoa, Milan, and Naples? Nobody knows. One of the new cardinals was Odet de Chatillon, then eleven years old, brother of the immortal Coligny, and subsequently one of the supporters of protestantism in France. The king, wishing to appear grateful for so many favours, wrote to the Bishop of Paris, that 'as the crime of heresy increased and multiplied, he should proceed to act against the heretics.'—'Do not fail,' he added.[480] But the Bishop of Paris, brother of the diplomatist Du Bellay, was the least inclined of all the prelates in France to persecution. Francis knew this well, and for that very reason, perhaps, gave him the order.


The pope, delighted at having made so good a bargain in the city of merchants, embarked on the 20th of November to return to Rome. Excess of joy was {263} hurtful to him, as it had been to his cousin Leo X. The threats of the emperor, who demanded a council; the pressure of Francis I., who claimed Catherine's three rings;[481] the quarrels of his two nephews, who were fighting at Florence,—all filled poor Clement with uneasiness and sorrow. He told his attendants that his end was near; and immediately after his return, he had the ring and the garments prepared which are used at the burial of the popes.[482] His only consolation, the approaching destruction of the protestants, seemed to fail him in his last days. Even during his interview with the pope, Francis was secretly intriguing to unite with the most formidable of the enemies of Rome. After embracing the old papacy with apparent emotion, the chivalrous king gallantly held out his hand to the young Reformation. In the space of two months he had two interviews as opposite as possibly could be. These two contradictory conferences point out one of the traits that best characterise the versatile and ambitious Francis. This modern Janus had a head with two faces. We have just seen that which looked backwards into the past; we shall soon see that which looked forwards into the future. But before we follow the King of France in his oscillation towards Germany and the protestants, we must return to Calvin. In October 1533, Francis and Clement had met at Marseilles; and on the 1st of November, while those princes were still diplomatising, a great evangelical demonstration took place at Paris.

[458]   Henry VIII. to Norfolk, Aug. 8, 1533. State Papers, vii. p. 493.

[459]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 195.

[460]   Ibid. p. 185.

[461]   'En grand branle.'

[462]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 195.

[463]   'Non licere ejus Sanctitati sine Maurorum periculo illuc accedere.'—Vanner to Cromwell. State Papers, vii. p. 508.

[464]   'Ob insulas de Yeres, ubi piratarum classis posset ad intercipiendum pontificem in insidiis latitare.'—Vanner to Cromwell, State Papers, vii. p. 508.

[465]   Guicciardini, Wars of Italy, ii. bk. xx.

[466]   Guicciardini, Wars of Italy, ii. bk. xx. p. 901.

[467]   'Papam aut subversum, aut restitutum iri in suam et inveteratam tyrannidem.'—Sturm to Bucer. Strasburg MSS.

[468]   'Alterum ego expecto magno cum desiderio, alterum non mediocriter extimesco.'—Ibid.

[469]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 204.

[470]   'Quod illi soli licet pro temporis necessitate novas leges condere.'—Dict. Gregorii.

[471]   'Veri Dei vicem gerit in terris.'—De Translatione Episc.

[472]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 205. State Papers, vii. p. 515.

[473]   Guicciardini, Wars of Italy, ii. bk. xx. p. 901.

[474]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 205.

[475]   Du Bellay, Mém. p. 206.

[476]   Wars of Italy, ii. bk. xx. p. 901.

[477]   'Legatum vehementer contendisse cum romano pontifice Massiliæ, ne violenter agat.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 721.

[478]   Guicciardini, Hist. des Guerres d'Italie, ii. liv. xx. p. 901.

[479]   Guerres d'Italie, ii. liv. xx. p. 901.

[480]   Lettre close à l'évêque de Paris, p. 21.

[481]   'S. M. Christᵐᵃ dimando che da sua Santᵃ li fussino osservate le promesse.'—Soriano, Ranke, Päpste, i. p. 127.

[482]   Guicciardini, Guerres d'Italie, i. liv. xx. p. 902.


(November 1533.)

CALVIN had not quitted Paris. He was at one moment on the boulevards with the merchant De la Forge, at another in the university quarter with Cop; in the dwellings of the poor, and the mansions of the nobles, 'increasing greatly the work of the Lord,' says Beza, 'not only by teaching truth, but also by opposing the heretics.'[483] He then retired to his chamber and meditated. He turned his piercing glance upon the future, and fancied he could see, in a time more or less remote and through certain clouds, the triumph of the Gospel. He knew that the cause of God in general advances painfully; that there are rocks in the way; that interest, ignorance, and servility check it at every moment; that it stumbles and falls, and men may think it ruined. But Calvin believed that He who is its Head would help it to overcome all its enemies. 'Only,' he said, 'those who bear its standard must mount to the assault with unflinching courage.' Calvin, thinking that the time for the assault had come, desired that in the university itself, from that pulpit which all Europe {265} respected, the voice of truth should be heard after centuries of silence. A very natural opportunity occurred.


During the month of October Cop was much occupied with a task that had fallen to him. It was the custom of the university for the rector to deliver an inaugural address in Latin on All Saints' Day in one of the churches of Paris. Calvin thought that it was his duty to take advantage of this opportunity to proclaim the Gospel boldly in the face of France. The rector replied that he was a physician, and that it was difficult for him to speak like a divine: 'If, however, you will write the address,' he said, 'I will promise to deliver it.' The two young men were soon agreed; they understood the risk they ran, but were ready to incur it, without presumption however, and with prudence. They agreed to explain the essence of the Gospel before the university, giving it the academic name of Christian Philosophy. 'Christ,' says Calvin, 'desires us to be like serpents, careful to avoid all that may hurt us; and yet like doves, who fly without fear and without care, and who offer themselves innocently to the fowlers who are laying snares for them.'[484]

All Saints' Day, 1533, having arrived, the university assembled with great pomp in the Mathurins' church; many were impatient to hear Cop, whose conduct in the case of the Queen of Navarre had made him an object of suspicion to the Sorbonne. A great number of monks, and especially of Franciscans, took their places and opened their ears. There {266} were however scattered about the church many steadfast friends of the Gospel, who had come to be present at the assault and perhaps witness the triumph of their faith. Among them, and on a bench apart, sat a young man of humble appearance, calm, modest, and attentive to all that was said. Nobody suspected that it was he (Calvin) who was about to set the university, and indeed all France, in commotion. The hour having come, all the dignitaries, professors, and students fixed their eager eyes upon Cop as he rose to speak. He pronounced the opening address 'in a very different fashion,' says Theodore Beza, 'from what was usual.' There was a simplicity and life in his delivery which contrasted strongly with the dryness and exaggeration of the old doctors. The discourse is of importance in the history of the Reformation; we shall give it, therefore, in part, all the more because it has lain unknown until this hour among the manuscripts of the library of Geneva, and is now first presented to the christian public.[485]


'Christian philosophy is a great thing,' said the rector; 'a thing too excellent for any tongue to express and even for any mind to conceive its value. The gift of God to man by Jesus Christ himself, it teaches us to know that true happiness which deceives nobody, making us believe and comprehend that we are truly the sons of God.... The brightness of the splendour of this wisdom of God eclipses all the glimmerings of the wisdom of the world. It places its {267} possessors as far above the common order of men, as that order is itself above the brutes.[486] The mind of man, opened and enlarged by the divine hand, then understands things infinitely more sublime than all those which are learnt from our feeble humanity. How admirable, how holy must this divine philosophy be, since, in order to bring it to men, God was willing to become man, and, to teach it to us, the Immortal put on mortality! Could God better manifest his love to us than by the gift of his eternal Word? What stronger and tenderer bond could God establish between himself and us than by becoming a man such as we are? Sirs, let us praise the other sciences, I approve of it; let us admire logic, natural philosophy, and ethics, in consideration of their utility; but who would dare compare them with that other philosophy, which explains what philosophers have long been seeking after and never found ... the will of God? And what is the hidden will that is revealed to us here? It is this: The grace of God alone remits sins.[487] ... The Holy Ghost, which sanctifies all hearts and gives eternal life, is promised to all christians.[488] If there is any one among you who does not praise this science above all other sciences, I would ask him, what will he praise? Would you delight the mind of man, give him repose of heart, teach him to live holy and happily? Christian philosophy abundantly supplies him with these admirable blessings; and, at the {268} same time, it subdues, as with a wholesome rein, the impetuous movements of the soul.[489] Sirs, since the dignity and glory of this Gospel are so great, how I rejoice that the office with which I am invested calls upon me to lay it before you to-day!'

This appeared a strange exordium to a great number of hearers: What! not a word about the saints whom all catholics glorify on this day?... Let us wait, however, and see.

The rector then announced that according to custom he would explain the Gospel of the day, that is, the beatitudes pronounced by Jesus on the mountain. 'But first of all,' he said, 'unite with me in earnest prayer to Christ, who is the true and only intercessor with the Father, in order that by his fertilising Spirit he may enlighten our understandings, and that our discourse may praise him, savour of him, be full of him, and reflect his image, so that this divine Saviour, penetrating our souls, may water them with the dew of his heavenly grace!'[490]

Then the rector explained the happiness of those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst after righteousness.


The university had never heard the like. An admirable proportion was observed throughout the address; it was academical and yet evangelical—a thing not often seen. Calvin had discovered that tongue of the wise which useth knowledge aright. But the enemies of the Gospel were not deceived. {269} Through the thin veil with which he had covered the grandeur of divine love, they discovered those heights and depths of grace which are a source of joy to the true christian, but an object of abhorrence to the adversary. There was an indescribable uneasiness among the auditory. Certain of the hearers exchanged glances, in this way indicating to one another the passages which seemed to them the most reprehensible. University professors, priests, monks, and students—all listened with astonishment to such unusual language. Here and there in the congregation signs of approbation might be observed, but far more numerous signs of anger. Two Franciscans, in particular, were so excited that they could scarcely keep their seats; and when the assembly broke up they were heard expressing their indignation in loud terms: 'Grace ... God's pardon ... the Holy Ghost ... there is abundance of all that in the rector's discourse; but of penance, indulgences, and meritorious works ... not a word!' It was pointed out to them that the rector, according to custom, had ended his exordium with the salutation which the angel had addressed to Mary; but that, in the opinion of the monks, was a mere form. The words being in Scripture, how could the rector refuse to pronounce them? Had he not besides begun by saying that Christ is the only true intercessor, verus et unus apud Patrem intercessor?... What is left then to Mary, except that she is the mother of the Saviour? The Sorbonne was filled with anger and alarm.... To select the day of the festival of All Saints, in order to proclaim that there is only one intercessor! Such a crime must not remain unpunished. If Cop wished to produce a sensation, the {270} monks will produce one also! The two Franciscans having consulted with their friends, their opinion was that the university was not to be trusted. Consequently they hastened to the parliament and laid the rector's heretical propositions before it.

Cop and Calvin had each retired separately, and been visited in their respective apartments by many of their friends. Some of them did not approve of these great manifestations; they would have wished the evangelicals to be content with a few small conventicles here and there in retired places. Calvin did not agree with them. In his opinion there was one single universal christian Church, which had existed since the time of the apostles, and would exist always. The errors and abuses abounding in christendom, profane priests, hypocrites, scandalous sinners, do not prevent the Church from existing. True, it is often reduced to little more than a small humble flock; but the flock exists, and it must, whenever it has the opportunity, manifest itself in opposition to a fallen catholicism. The reformers themselves, though it is frequently forgotten, maintained the doctrine of a universal Church; but while Rome counts among the number of signs which characterise it 'a certain pomp and temporal possessions,'[491] the evangelical doctors, on the contrary, reckon persecution and the cross as a mark of the true Church. Cop and Calvin were to make the experiment in their own persons.


The rector was not inclined to give way to the monks: he resolved to join battle on a question of form, which would dispose his colleagues in his favour, {271} and perhaps in favour of truth. It was a maxim received in the university, that all its members, and a fortiori its head, must be tried first by the corporation, and that it was not permissible to pass over any degree of jurisdiction.[492] Accordingly, on the 19th of November, the rector convoked the four faculties, and, having undertaken the defence of his address, complained bitterly that certain persons had dared to carry the matter before a foreign body. The privileges of the university had thus been attacked. 'It has been insulted by this denunciation of its chief to the parliament,' said Cop; 'and these impudent informers must give satisfaction for the insult.'

These words excited a great commotion in the assembly. The theologians, who had hung down their heads in the case of the Queen of Navarre,

... N'osant approfondir
De ces hautes puissances
Les moins pardonnables offenses,

resolved to compensate themselves by falling with their whole strength upon a plain doctor, who was besides by birth a Swiss. Every one of them raised a cry against him. The university was divided into two distinct parties, and the meeting reechoed with the most contradictory appeals. The theologians shouted loudest: 'Time presses,' they said; 'the crisis has arrived. If we yield, the Romish doctrine, vanquished and expelled from the university, will give place to the new errors. Heresy is at our gates; we must crush it by a single blow!'—'The Gospel, philosophy, and liberty!' said one party.—'Popery, tradition, and submission!' {272} said the other. The noise and disturbance became such that nothing could be heard. At last the question was put to the vote: two faculties, those of letters and medicine, were for Cop's proposition; and two, namely, law and divinity, were against it. The rector, to show his moderation, refused to vote, being unwilling to give the victory to himself.[493] The meeting broke up in the greatest confusion.

The rector's address, and the discussions to which it gave rise, made a great noise at court as well as in the city; but no one took more interest in it than the Queen of Navarre. The question of her poetry had been the first act; Calvin's address was the second. Margaret knew that he was the real author of the discourse. She always granted her special patronage to the students trained in any of her schools. She watched the young scholars with the most affectionate interest, and rejoiced in their successes. There was not one of them that could be compared with Calvin, who had studied at Bourges, Margaret's university. The purity of his doctrine, the boldness of his profession, the majesty of his language, astonished everybody, and had particularly struck the queen. Calvin was one of her students for whom she anticipated the highest destinies. That princess was not indeed formed for resistance; the mildness of her character inclined her to yield; and of this she was well aware. About this time, being commissioned by the king to transact certain business with one of her relations, a very headstrong woman, she wrote to Montmorency, 'Employ a head better steeled than mine, or you will not {273} succeed. She is a Norman woman, and smells of the sea; I am an Anjoumoise, sprinkled with the soft waters of the Charente.'[494] But, mild as she was, she took this matter of Cop and Calvin seriously to heart. When the friends of the Gospel placed the candle boldly on the candlestick to give light to all France, should a violent wind come and extinguish it?


The Queen of Navarre summoned Calvin to the court, Beza informs us.[495] ... The news circulated immediately among the evangelical christians, who entertained great hopes from it. 'The Queen of Navarre,' they said, 'the king's only sister, is favourable to true religion. Perhaps the Lord, by the intervention of that admirable woman, will disperse the impending storm.'[496] Calvin accordingly went to court. The ladies-in-waiting having introduced him into the queen's apartment, she rose to meet him, and made him sit down by her side, 'receiving him with great honour,' says Beza, 'and hearing him with much pleasure.'[497] The two finest geniuses which France then possessed were thus brought face to face—the man of the people and the queen, so different in outward appearance and even as to the point of view from which they regarded the Reform, but yet both animated with an ardent desire to see the triumph of the Gospel. They communicated their thoughts to each other. Calvin, notwithstanding the persecution, was full of courage. He knew that the Church of Christ {274} is exposed to changes and error, like all human things, and the state of christendom, in his opinion, showed this full clearly; but he believed that it possessed an incorruptible power of life, and that, at the very moment when it seemed entirely fallen and ruined, it had by the Holy Spirit the ability to rise again and be renewed. The hour of this renewal had arrived, and it was as impossible for men to retard it as to prevent the spring-time from budding and covering the earth with leaves, blossoms, and fruit. Yet Calvin was under no delusion as to the dangers which threatened evangelical christianity. 'When the peril is imminent,' he said, 'it is not the time to indulge ourselves like silly, careless people; the fear of danger, serving as an incentive, should lead us to ask for God's help, and to put on our armour without trembling.' The queen promised to use all her influence to calm the storm. Calvin was conducted out of the palace with the same attentions that had been paid him when he entered it. He afterwards spoke about this interview to Theodore Beza, who has handed it down to us.[498]

Still the sky became more threatening. The parliament, paying no respect to the privileges of the university, had entertained the complaint of the monks; the rector, therefore, received a message from this sovereign court summoning him to appear before it. Calvin knew quite well that a similar process would soon reach him; but he never shrank back either from before the despotism of an unjust power, or from the popular fury. 'We are not in the school of a Plato,' he said, 'where, sitting in the shade, we can {275} indulge in idle discussions. Christ nobly maintained his doctrines before Pilate, and can we be so cowardly as to forsake him?'[499] Cop, strengthened by his friend, determined to appear to the summons of the parliament. That body had great power, no doubt; but the rector said to himself that the university possessed incontestable privileges, and that all learned Europe had been for many centuries almost at its feet. He resolved to support its rights, to accuse his accusers, and to reprimand the parliament for stepping out of the lawful course. Cop, therefore, got himself ready to appear, as became the head of the first university of the christian world. He put on his academical robes, and preceded by the beadles and apparitors, with their maces and gold-headed staves,[500] set out with great ceremony for the Palace of Justice.


He was going to his death. The parliament, as well as Calvin, had understood the position, but had arrived at very different conclusions. It saw that the hour was come to strike the blow that would crush the Reformation, and had resolved to arrest the rector even in the court. The absence of the king was an opportunity of which they must hasten to take advantage. A signal vengeance, inflicted in full parliament, was to expiate a crime not less signal, committed in the presence of the whole university. A member of the court, converted to the Gospel, determined to save the unfortunate Cop, and sent a trusty man to warn him of the impending danger. As he quitted the great hall, the messenger caught {276} sight of the archers who had been sent for to arrest the rector: might it not be too late to save him? Cop was already on the road and approaching the palace, accompanied by a crowd of students, citizens, and common people, some full of good wishes, others curious to learn the issue of this singular duel between the parliament and the university. The man sent to forewarn the rector arrived just as the university procession was passing through a narrow street. Taking advantage of a momentary confusion occasioned by the crowd, he approached Cop, and whispered in his ear: 'Beware of the enemy;[501] they intend shutting you up in the Conciergerie; Berquin's fate awaits you; I have seen the officers authorised to seize you; if you go farther, you are a dead man.' ... What was to be done?... If it had been Calvin instead of Cop, he would perhaps have gone on. I cannot tell; for the peril was imminent, and it appeared doubtful if anything would be gained by braving it. However that may be, Cop was only Calvin's double; it was his friend's faith that urged him forward more perhaps than his own. To stand firm in the day of tempest, man must cling to the rock without human help; Cop, overtaken by this news of death at the very moment he fancied he was marching to victory, lost his presence of mind, stopped the procession, was suddenly surrounded by several friends, and, the disorder being thus augmented, he escaped and hastily returned home.[502]


Where shall he go now? There could be no doubt that the parliament would seize him wherever he {277} could be found; his friends therefore insisted that he should quit France. He was strongly inclined to do so: Basle, the asylum of his master Erasmus, was his native place, and he was sure of finding a shelter there. Cop flung off the academical dress, the cap and gown, which would have betrayed him;[503] caught up hurriedly what was necessary for his journey, and by mistake, some say, carried away the university seal with him.[504] I rather believe he did so designedly; compelled to yield to force, he desired, even when far from Paris, to retain the insignia of that illustrious body. His friends hurried him; at any moment the house might be surrounded; he quitted it stealthily, escaped out of Paris, and fled along the road which leads to Basle, using every precaution to conceal himself from the pursuit of his enemies. When the archers went to his house, they searched it in vain: the rector had disappeared.

The parliament, exasperated at this escape, promised a reward of three hundred crowns to any one who should bring back the fugitive rector, dead or alive.[505] But Cop in his disguise eluded every eye; he succeeded through innumerable dangers in getting safely out of the kingdom, and arrived in Switzerland. He was saved; but the Reformation was threatened with a still more terrible blow.

The Roman party consoled themselves a little for this escape by saying that Cop was only a puppet, {278} and that the man who had pulled the strings was still in their power. 'It is Calvin,' they said, 'whom we must seize. He is a daring adventurer, a rash determined man, resolved to make the world talk of him like that incendiary of the temple of Diana, of whom history speaks. He will keep all Europe in disquietude, and will build up a new world. If he is permitted to live, he will be the Luther ... the firebrand of France.'[506]

The lieutenant-criminal, Jean Morin, had kept his eye for some time upon the young doctor. He had discovered his activity in increasing the heretical sect, and also his secret conferences with Cop. His agents were on his track whenever Calvin went by night to teach from house to house.[507] ... Cop was the shadow, said the monks; if the shadow escapes us, let us strike the substance. The parliament ordered the lieutenant-criminal to seize the reformer and shut him up in the Conciergerie.


Calvin, trusting to his obscurity and, under God, to the protection of the Queen of Navarre, was sitting quietly in his room in the college of Fortret.[508] He was not however free from emotion; he was thinking of what had happened to Cop, but did not believe that the persecution would reach him. His friends, however, did not share in this rash security. Those who had helped Cop to escape, seeing the rector out of his enemies' reach, said to themselves that the same danger threatened Calvin.[509] They entered his chamber {279} at a time when they were least expected. 'Fly!' they said to him, 'or you are lost.' He still hesitated. Meanwhile the lieutenant-criminal arrived before the college with his sergeants. Several students immediately hurried to their comrade, told him what was going on, and entreated him to flee. But scarcely have they spoken, when heavy steps are heard: it is no longer time.... The officers are there! It was the noise made by them at Calvin's door (says an historian) which made him comprehend the danger that threatened him. Perhaps the college gate is meant, rather than the door of the reformer's own room.[510] In either case, the moment was critical; but if they could manage to gain only a few minutes, the young evangelist might escape. His noble, frank, and sympathetic soul conciliated the hearts of all who knew him. He always possessed devoted friends, and they did not fail him now. The window of his room opened into the street of the Bernardins. They lost not a moment: some of those who came to warn him engaged the attention of Morin and his officers for a few minutes; others remaining with Calvin twisted the bed-clothes into a rope, and fastened them to the window. Calvin, leaving his manuscripts scattered about, caught hold of the sheets and lowered himself down to the ground.[511] He was not the first of Christ's servants who had taken that road to escape death. When the Jews of Damascus conspired against Paul, 'the disciples took him by night and let him down by the wall in a basket.'—'Thus early,' says {280} Calvin, 'Paul went through his apprenticeship of carrying the cross in after years.'[512]

He had hardly disappeared when the lieutenant-criminal, notorious for his excessive cruelty,[513] entered the room, and was astonished to find no one there. The youthful doctor had escaped like a bird from the net of the fowler. Morin ordered some of his sergeants to pursue the fugitive, and then proceeded to examine carefully all the heretic's papers, hoping to find something that might compromise other Lutherans. He did lay his hand on certain letters and documents which afterwards exposed Calvin's friends to great danger, and even to death.[514] Morin docketed them, tied them up carefully in a bundle, and withdrew. The cruel hatred which animated him against the evangelical christians had been still further increased by his failure.

Calvin, having landed in the street of the Bernardins, entered that of St. Victor, and then proceeded towards the suburb of that name. At the extremity of this suburb, not far from the open country (a catholic historian informs us), dwelt a vine-dresser, a member of the little church of Paris. Calvin went to this honest protestant's and told him what had just happened. The vine-dresser, who probably had heard him explain the Scriptures at their secret meetings, moved with a fatherly affection for the young man, proposed to change clothes with him. Forthwith, says {281} the canon to whom we are indebted for the account, Calvin took off his own garments and put on the peasant's old-fashioned coat. With a hoe on one shoulder, and a wallet on the other, in which the vine-dresser had placed some provisions, he started again. If Morin had sent his officers after him, they might have passed by the fugitive reformer under this rustic disguise.


He was not far beyond the suburbs of Paris, however, when he saw a canon whom he knew coming towards him. The latter with astonishment fixed a curious look on the vine-dresser, and fancying him to be very unlike a stout peasant, he drew near, stopped, and recognised him. He knew what was the matter, for all Paris was full of it. The canon immediately remonstrated with him: 'Change your manner of life,' he said; 'look to your salvation, and I will promise to procure you a good appointment.' But Calvin, 'who was hot-headed,' replied: 'I shall go through with it to the last.'[515] The canon afterwards related this incident to the Abbot de Genlis, who told it to Desmay.[516]

Is this a story invented in the idle talk of a cloister? I think not. Some of the details, particularly the language of the canon, render it probable. It was also by the promise of a 'good appointment' that Francis de Sales endeavoured to win over Theodore Beza. Simony is a sin so innocent that three priests, a canon, an abbot, and a doctor of the Sorbonne, combine to relate this peccadillo. If the language of the canon is in conformity with his character, Calvin's {282} answer, 'I will go through with it to the last,' is also in his manner. Although we may have some trouble to picture the young reformer disguised as a peasant, with his wallet and hoe, we thought it our duty to relate an incident transmitted to us by his enemies. The circumstance is really not singular. Calvin was then beginning an exodus which has gone on unceasingly for nearly three centuries. The disciples of the Gospel in France, summoned to abjure Christ, have fled from their executioners by thousands, and under various disguises. And if the gravity of history permitted the author to revert to the stories that charmed his childhood, he could tell how many a time, seated at the feet of his grandmother and listening with attentive ear, he has heard her describe how her mother, a little girl at the time of the Revocation in 1685, escaped from France, concealed in a basket which her father, a pious huguenot, disguised as a peasant, carried carefully on his back.

Calvin, having escaped his enemies, hurried away from the capital, from his cherished studies and his brethren, and wandered up and down, avoiding the places where he might be recognised. He thought over all that had happened, and his meditative mind drew wholesome lessons from it. He learnt from his own experience by what token to recognise the true Church of Christ. 'We should lose our labour,' he said in later days, thinking perhaps of this circumstance, 'if we wished to separate Christ from his cross; it is a natural thing for the world to hate Christ, even in his members. There will always be wicked men to prick us like thorns. If they do not draw the sword, they spit out their venom, and either gnash their teeth {283} or excite some great disturbance.' The sword was already 'drawn' against him: acting, therefore, with prudence, he followed the least frequented roads, sleeping in the cottages or the mansions of his friends. It is asserted that being known by the Sieur de Hasseville, whose château was situated beyond Versailles, he remained there some time in hiding.[517]

The king's first movement, when he heard of Cop's business and the flight of Calvin, was one of anger and persecution. Duprat, formerly first president of parliament, was much exasperated at the affront offered to that body. Francis commanded every measure to be taken to discover the person who had warned Cop of his danger; he would have had him punished severely as a favourer of heresy.[518] At the same time, he ordered the prosecution of those persons whom the papers seized in Calvin's room pointed out as partisans of the new doctrine.


There was a general alarm among the evangelicals, and many left Paris. A Dominican friar, brother of De la Croix, feeling a growing thirst for knowledge, deliberated in his convent whether he ought not to remove to a country where the Gospel was preached freely.[519] He was one of those compromised by Calvin's papers. He therefore made his escape, reached Neufchatel, and thence proceeded to Geneva, where we shall meet him again.

The greater part of the friends of the Gospel, however, remained in France: Margaret exerted all her influence with her brother to ward off the impending {284} blow, and succeeded in appeasing the storm.[520] Francis was always between two contrary currents, one coming from Duprat, the other from his sister; and once more he followed the better.

The Queen of Navarre, exhausted by all these shocks, disgusted with the dissipations of the court, distressed by the hatred of which the Gospel was the object among all around her, turned her face towards the Pyrenees. Paris, St. Germain, Fontainebleau, had no more charms for her; besides, her health was not strong, and she desired to pass the winter at Pau. But, above all, she sighed for solitude, liberty, and meditation; she had need of Christ. She therefore bade farewell to the brilliant court of France, and departed for the quiet Béarn.

Adieu! pomps, pleasures, now adieu!
No longer will I sort with you!
Other pleasure seek I none
Than in my Bridegroom alone!
For my honour and my having
Is in Jesus: him receiving,
I'll not leave him for the fleeting!...
Adieu, adieu![521]

Margaret arrived in the Pyrenees.

[483]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 9.

[484]   Calvini Opera.

[485]   The document is in the library of Geneva (MS. 145). It has on the margin: 'Hæc Johannes Calvinus propria manu descripsit, et est auctor.' Dr. Bonnet came upon it in the course of his researches for his edition of Calvin's Letters, and gave the author a copy.

[486]   'Hac qui excellunt, tantum prope reliquæ hominum multitudini præstare mihi videntur, quantum homines belluis antecedunt.'—Geneva MSS. 145.

[487]   'Sola Dei gratia peccata remittit.'—Ibid.

[488]   'Spiritum sanctum, qui corda sanctificat et vitam æternam adfert, omnibus christianis pollicetur.'—Ibid.

[489]   'Motus animi turbulentos, quasi habenis quibusdam.'—Geneva MS.

[490]   'Ut tota nostra oratio illum laudet, illum sapiat, illum spiret, illum referat. Rogabimus ut in mentes nostras illabatur, nosque gratiæ cœlestis succo irrigare dignetur.'—Ibid.

[491]   Bellarmine, De Controversiis.

[492]   Crévier, Hist. de l'Université, v. p. 275.

[493]   Crévier, Hist. de l'Université, v. p. 276.

[494]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 287.

[495]   'In aulam.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[496]   'Hanc tempestatem Dominus, reginæ Navariensis, piis tunc admodum faventis, intercessione, dissipavit.'—Ibid.

[497]   'Ibique perhonorifice ab ea accepto et audito Calvino.'—Ibid.

[498]   Théod. de Bèze, Vie de Calvin, p. 14. Calvini Opera, passim.

[499]   Calvini Opera, i. pars iii. pp. 1002, 1003.

[500]   'Citatus rector sese quidem in viam cum suis apparitoribus dedit.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[501]   'Ut sibi ab adversariis caveret.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[502]   'Domum reversus.'—Ibid.

[503]   Maimbourg, Hist. du Calvinisme, p. 58.

[504]   'Ablato secum, forte per imprudentiam, signo universitatis.'—Bucer to Blaarer, Jan. 18, 1534.

[505]   'CCC coronatos ei qui fugitivum rectorem, vivum vel mortuum adducat.'—Ibid.

[506]   Flor. Rémond, Hist. de l'Hérésie, liv. vii. ch. viii.

[507]   Maimbourg, Hist. du Calvinisme, p. 58.

[508]   Gaillard, Hist. de François I. iv. p. 274.

[509]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. des Egl. Réf. i. p. 9.

[510]   Varillas, Hist. des Revolutions Religieuses, ii. p. 467. This writer is not always correct.

[511]   Drelincourt, Défense de Calvin, pp. 35, 169.

[512]   Acts ix. 25.

[513]   'Morinus, cujus adhuc nomen ab insigni sævitia celebratur.'—Bezæ Vita Calvini.

[514]   'Deprehensis, inter schedas, multis amicorum litteris, ut plurimi in maximum vitæ discrimen incurrerent.'—Ibid.

[515]   'Je poursuivrai tout outre.'

[516]   Desmay, Jean Calvin Hérésiarque, p. 45. Drelincourt, Défense de Calvin, p. 175.

[517]   Casan, Statistique de Mantes. France Protestante, i. p. 113.

[518]   Registres du Parlement.

[519]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[520]   Gaillard, Hist. de François I. iv. p. 275.

[521]   Les Marguerites de la Marguerite, i. p. 518.


(Winter 1533-34.)


ALMOST about the same time, Francis bent his steps towards the Rhine. The establishment of the Reform throughout Europe depended, as many thought, on the union of France with protestant Germany. This union would emancipate France from the papal supremacy, and all christendom would then be seen turning to the Gospel. The king was preparing to hold a conference with the most decided of the protestant princes of Germany. Rarely has an interview between two sovereigns been of so much importance.

Francis I. had hardly quitted Marseilles and arrived at Avignon, when he assembled his council (25th of November, 1533), and communicated to it the desire for an alliance which the German protestants had expressed to him. A certain shame had prevented him from moving in the matter, amid the caresses which papacy and royalty were lavishing upon each other at Marseilles. But now that Clement was on board his galleys, nothing prevented the King of France, who had given his right hand to the pontiff, from giving his left to the heretics.[522] There were many reasons {286} why he should do so. The clergy were not allies for whose support he was eager: the best orthodoxy, in his eyes, was the iron arm of the lansquenets. Besides, the opportunity was unprecedented: in fact, he could at one stroke gain the protestants to his cause, and inflict an immense injury on Austria—that is to say, on Charles V.

It will no doubt be remembered that the young Prince of Wurtemberg, whom the emperor was leading in his train across the Alps, having escaped with his governor, had loudly demanded back the states of which Austria had robbed his father. Francis was chiefly occupied about him at Avignon. 'At this place,' says the historian Martin du Bellay, 'the king assembled his council, and deliberated on a request made to him not only by young Duke Christopher of Wurtemberg and his father, but by his uncles, Duke William and Duke Louis of Bavaria. Christopher himself had written to Francis I.: "Sire," he said, "during the great and long calamity of my father and myself, what first made hope spring up in our hearts was the thought that you would interpose your influence to put an end to our misery.... Your compassion for the afflicted is well known. I doubt not that, by your assistance, we shall soon be restored to our rights."'[523]

Francis, always on the watch to injure his rival, was delighted at this proceeding, and did not conceal his joy from the privy council. 'I desire much,' he said, 'to see the dukes of Wurtemberg restored to their {287} states, and should like to help them, as much to weaken the emperor's power as to acquire new friendships in Germany. But,' he added, 'I would do it under so colourable a pretext, that I may affirm that I have infringed no treaty.'[524] To humble the emperor and to exalt the protestants, without appearing to have anything to do with it, was what Francis desired.


William du Bellay urged the king to return the duke a favourable answer. A friend of independence and sound liberty, he was at that time the representative of the old French spirit, as Catherine de Medici was to become the representative of the new—that is to say, of the Romish influence under which France has unhappily suffered for nearly three centuries. It has been sometimes said that the cause of France is the cause of Rome; but the noblest aspirations of the French people and its most generous representatives condemn this error. Popery is the cause of the pope alone; it is not even the cause of Italy; and if the contrary opinion still exists in France, it is a remnant of the influence of the Medici.

The transition from Marseilles to Avignon was, however, a little abrupt. To ally the eldest son of the Church with the protestants at the very moment he left the pope's arms, in a city which belonged to the holy see, and in the ancient palace of the pontiffs, seemed strange to the French, whose eyes were still fascinated by the pomp of Rome. This was noticed by Du Bellay, who, wishing to facilitate the transition, explained to the council 'that a diet was about to be held at Augsburg, where the reparation of a great {288} injustice would be discussed; that an innocent person implored the king's assistance; that it was the practice of France to succour the oppressed everywhere; that precious advantages might result from it ... besides, there could be no doubt of success, and as the cause of Duke Christopher would be conducted in the diet according to the rights, usages, immunities, and privileges of the German nation, the emperor could not prevent justice being done.... Let us send an ambassador,' added Du Bellay, 'to support the claims of the dukes of Wurtemberg, and Austria must either restore these princes to their states, or arouse the hostility of all Germany against it.'[525] Francis was already gained. He hoped not only to take Wurtemberg from Austria, but also to get up a general war in Germany between the protestants and the empire, of which he could take advantage to seize upon the states which he claimed in Italy. When his detested rival had fallen beneath their combined blows, the religious question should be settled. The king, who had meditated all this in the intervals of his conferences with Clement VII., ordered Du Bellay to proceed to Augsburg forthwith, and charged him 'to do everything in his power, with a sufficiently colourable pretext, towards the re-establishment of the dukes of Wurtemberg.'[526] Du Bellay was satisfied. He wished for more than the king did; he desired to emancipate France from the papal supremacy, and with that object to draw Francis and protestantism closer together. That was difficult; but this Wurtemberg affair, which presented itself simply as {289} a political question, would supply him with the means of overcoming every difficulty. This was where he would have to set the wedge in order to split the tree. He thought that he could make use of it to counteract the effects of the conference which the king had just held with the pope by contriving another between the two most anti-papistical princes in Europe. Du Bellay departed, taking the road through Switzerland.


He had his reasons for adopting this route. The emperor and his brother consented, indeed, that their rights should be discussed in the diet, but it was only that they might not appear to refuse to do justice: everybody knew that Ferdinand had no intention of restoring Wurtemberg. The balance was at that time pretty even in Germany between Rome and the Gospel, and the restitution of Wurtemberg would make it incline to the side of the Reformation. If Austria would not give way, she would have to be constrained by force of arms. Du Bellay desired, therefore, to induce the protestant cantons of Switzerland, bordering on Wurtemberg, to unite their efforts with those of protestant Germany in wresting that duchy from the Austrian rule. Francis, who knew how to manage such matters, had conceived the design of placing in the hands of the Helvetians, probably through Du Bellay, a certain sum of money to cover the expenses of the campaign. But it seems that the protestant cantons did not agree to the arrangement.[527]

When Du Bellay arrived at Augsburg, he met the young Duke Christopher. He entered into conversation {290} with him, and they were henceforth inseparable: this prince, so amiable, but at the same time so firm, was his man. He is to be the lever which the counsellor of Francis I. will use to stir men's minds, and to unite Germany and France.... The first thing to be done was to restore him to his throne. The French ambassador paid a visit to the delegates from Austria. 'The king my master,' he said, 'is delighted that this innocent young man has at last found a harbour in the midst of the tempest. His father and he have suffered enough by being driven from their home.... It is time to restore the son to the father, the father to the son, and to both of them the states of their ancestors. If entreaties are not sufficient,' added Du Bellay firmly, 'the king my master will employ all his power.'[528] Thus did France take up her position as the protector of the distressed; but there was something else underneath: the chief object of the king was to strike a blow at the emperor; that of Du Bellay, to strike the pope.

Christopher, who received encouragement from every quarter, appeared before the diet on the 10th of December, 1533. He was no longer the captive prince whom Charles had led in his train. The poor young man, who not long ago had been compelled to flee, leaving his companion behind him, hidden among the reeds of a marsh in the Norican Alps, stood now before the German diet, surrounded by a brilliant throng of nobles, the representatives of the princes who supported his claims, and having as assistants (that is, as espousing his quarrel) the delegates of Saxony, Prussia, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Luneburg, {291} Hesse, Cleves, Munster, and Juliers. The King of Hungary pleaded his cause in person: 'Most noble seigniors,' he began, 'when we see the young Duke Christopher of Wurtemberg deprived of his duchy without having done anything to deserve such punishment, disappointed by the Austrians in all the hopes they had given him, unworthily treated at the imperial court,[529] compelled to make his escape by flight, imploring at this moment by earnest supplications your compassion and your help—we are profoundly agitated. What! because his father has done wrong, shall this young man be reduced to a hard and humiliating life? Has not the voice of God himself declared that the son shall not bear the iniquities of the father?'


The Austrian commissioners, finding their position rather embarrassing, began to temporise, and proposed that Christopher should accept as compensation some town of small importance. He refused, saying: 'I will never cease to claim simply and firmly the country of my fathers.'[530] But Austria, fearing the preponderance of protestantism in Germany, closed her ears to his just request. At this point France intervened strongly in favour of the two protestant princes. Du Bellay, after reminding the diet that Ulrich had confessed his faults, and that he was much altered by age, long exile, and great trials, continued thus: 'Must the duke see his only son, a young and innocent prince, who ought to be the support of his declining {292} years, for ever bearing the weight of his misfortunes? Will you take into consideration neither the calamitous old age of the one, nor the unhappy youth of the other? Will you avenge the sins of the father upon the child who was then in the cradle? The dukes of Wurtemberg are of high descent. Their punishment has been permitted, but not their destruction. Help this innocent youth (Christopher), receive this penitent (Ulrich), and reestablish them both in their former dignity.'[531]

The Austrians, who were annoyed at seeing the ambassador of the King of France intermeddling in their affairs, held firm. The deputies of Saxony, Hesse, Prussia, Mecklenburg, and the other states, now made up their minds to oppose Austria; they told the young duke that they were ready to cast their swords in the balance, and Christopher himself requested Du Bellay 'to change his congratulatory oration into a comminatory one.'[532]


When the French envoy was admitted again before the diet, he assumed a higher tone: 'My lords,' he said, 'will you lend your hands to the ruin of an innocent person?... If you do so ... I tell you that you will bring a stain upon your reputation that all the water in the sea will not be able to wash out. This prince, in heart so proud, in origin so illustrious, will not endure to live miserably in the country whose sovereign he is by birth; he will go into a foreign land. And in what part soever of the world he may be, what will he carry with him?... The shame of the {293} emperor, the shame of King Ferdinand, the shame of all of you. Every man, pointing to him, will say: That is he who formerly.... That is he who now.... That is he who through no fault of his own.... That is he who, being compelled to leave Germany.... You understand, my lords, what is omitted in these sentences; I willingly excuse myself from completing them ... you will do it yourselves. No! you will not be insensible to such great misery.... I see your hearts are touched already.... I see by your gestures and your looks that you feel the truth of my words.'

Then, making a direct attack upon the emperor and his brother, he said: 'There are people who, very erroneously in my opinion, consult only their wicked ambition and unbridled covetousness, and who think that, by oppressing now one and now another, they will subdue all Germany.'

Turning next to the young Prince of Wurtemberg, the representative of Francis I. continued: 'Duke Christopher, rely upon it the Most Christian King will do all that he can in your behalf, without injury to his faith, his honour, and the duties of blood. The court of France has always been the most liberal of all—ever open to receive exiled and suffering princes. With greater reason, then, it will not be closed against you who are its ally ... you who, by the justice of your cause and by your innocence, appear even to your enemies worthy of pity and compassion.'[533]

The members of the diet had listened attentively to {294} this speech, and their countenances showed that they were convinced.[534] The cause was won: the Swabian league, the creature of Austria and the enemy of the Reformation, was not to be renewed. Du Bellay left Augsburg, continued his journey through Germany, and endeavoured to form a new confederation there[535] against Austria, which Francis I. and Henry VIII. could join. 'If any one should think of invading England,' the latter was told, 'we would send you soldiers by the Baltic sea.'[536] It is to be feared that this succour by way of the Baltic would have arrived rather late in the waters of the Thames. But the main thing in Du Bellay's eyes was action, not diplomatic negotiations. His idea was to unite Francis I. and the protestants of Germany in a common movement which would lead France to throw off the ultramontane yoke; but there were only two men of sufficient energy to undertake it. The first was the king his master, to whom we now return.

Francis, after leaving Avignon, had gone into Dauphiny, thence to Lyons and other cities in the east of France. In January 1534, he reached Bar-le-Duc, thus gradually drawing nearer to the German frontier. The winter this year was exceedingly severe, but for that the king did not care: he thought only of uniting France and the protestants by means of Wurtemberg, as the marriage of Catherine had just united France and the pope.



The second of the princes from whom an energetic course might be expected was the Landgrave of Hesse. Of all the protestant leaders of Germany he was the one whose heart had been least changed by the Gospel. Without equalling Francis I. in sensuality, he was yet far from being a pattern of chastity. But, on the other hand, none of the princes attached to the Reformation equalled him in talent, strength, and activity. By his character he was the most important man of the evangelical league, and more than once he exercised a decisive influence on the progress of the protestant work. Philip, cousin of the Duke of Wurtemberg, often had him at his court; Ulrich had even taken part in the famous conference of Marburg. Moved by the misfortunes of this prince, delighted at the trick Christopher had played the emperor, touched by the loyalty of the Wurtembergers, who claimed their dukes and their nationality, impatient to win this part of Germany to the evangelical faith, he desired to take it away from Austria. To find the men to do it was easy, if only he had the money ... but money he had none.

Du Bellay saw that there lay the knot of the affair, and he made haste to cut it. The clergy of France had just given the king a considerable sum: could a better use be made of it than this? The French envoy let Philip know that he might obtain from his master the subsidies he needed. But more must be done: he must take advantage of the opportunity to bring together the two most enterprising princes of the epoch. If they saw and heard one another, they would like each other and bind themselves in such a manner that the union of France and protestant Germany would {296} be effected at last. Philip of Hesse received all these overtures with delight.


But fresh obstacles now intervened. The theologians of the Reformation detested these foreign alliances and wars, which, in their opinion, defiled the holiest of causes. Luther and Melanchthon waited upon the elector, conjuring him to oppose the landgrave's rash enterprise; and Du Bellay found the two reformers employing as much zeal to prevent the union of Francis and Philip as he to accomplish it. 'Go,' said the elector to Luther and Melanchthon, 'and prevail upon the landgrave to change his mind.'

The two doctors, on their way from Wittemberg to Weimar, where they would meet Philip, conversed about their mission and the landgrave: 'He is an intelligent prince,' said Luther, 'all animation and impulse, and of a joyous heart. He has been able to maintain order in his country, so that Hesse, which is full of forests and mountains where robbers might find shelter, sees its inhabitants travelling and roaming about, buying and selling without fear.... If one of them is attacked and robbed, forthwith the landgrave falls upon the bandits and punishes them. He is a true man of war—an Arminius. His star never deceives him, and he is much dreaded by all his adversaries.'[537] 'And I too,' said Melanchthon, 'love the Macedonian' (for so he called Philip of Hesse, because, in his opinion, that prince had all the shrewdness and courage of his namesake of Macedon); 'for that reason,' he added, 'I am unwilling that, being so high, {297} he should risk so great a fall.'[538] The two theologians had no doubt that a war undertaken against the powerful house of Austria would end in a frightful catastrophe to the protestants.

When they reached Weimar the two reformers saw the landgrave, and employed 'their best rhetoric,' says Luther, to dissuade him.[539] The doctor held very decided opinions on this subject. An alliance with the King of France, what a disgrace! A war against the emperor, what madness! 'The devil,' he said, 'desires to govern the nation by making everybody draw the sword. With what eloquence he strives to convince us that it is lawful and even necessary! Somebody is injuring these people, he says; let us make haste to strike and save them! Madman! God sleeps not, and is no fool; he knows very well how to govern the world.[540] We have to contend with an enemy against whom no human strength or wisdom can prevail. If we arm ourselves with iron and steel, with swords and guns, he has only to breathe upon them, and nothing remains but dust and ashes.... But if we take upon us the armour of God, the helmet, the shield, and the sword of the Spirit, then God, if necessary, will hurl the emperor from his throne,[541] and will keep for us all he has given us—his Gospel, his kingdom.' Luther and Melanchthon persevered in their representations to the landgrave, in order to {298} thwart Du Bellay's plans. 'This war,' they said, 'will ruin the cause of the Gospel, and fix on it an indelible stain. Pray do not disturb the peace.' At these words the prince's face grew red; he did not like opposition, and gave the two divines an angry answer.[542] 'They are people who do not understand the affairs of this world,' he said; and, returning to Hesse, he pursued his plans with vigour.

He had not long to wait for success. The King of France invited the landgrave to cross into Lorraine to come to an understanding with him: he added, 'without forgetting to bring Melanchthon.'[543] Then Philip held back no longer: a conference with the mighty King of France seemed to him of the utmost importance. He started on his journey, reached Deux-Ponts on the 18th of January, 1534; and shortly afterwards that daring prince, who, by quitting Augsburg in 1530, had thrown the diet into confusion, and alarmed the cabinet of the emperor,—the most warlike chief of the evangelical party, the most brilliant enemy of popery, Philip of Hesse, arrived at Bar-le-Duc, where Francis received him with the smile which had not left his lips since his meeting with Clement.[544]


The two princes first began to scrutinise each other. The landgrave was thirty years old, and Francis forty. Philip was short, his eyes large and bold, and his whole countenance indicated resolution of character. Politics {299} and religion immediately occupied their attention. The king expressed himself strongly in favour of the ancient liberties of the Germanic empire, which Austria threatened, and pronounced distinctly for the restoration of the dukes of Wurtemberg. Coming then to the grand question, he said, 'Pray explain to me the state of religious affairs in Germany; I do not quite understand them.'[545] The landgrave explained to the king, as well as he could, the causes and true nature of the Reformation, and the struggles to which it gave rise. Francis I. consented to hear from the mouth of a prince a statement of those evangelical principles to which he closed his ears when explained to him by Zwingle or by Calvin. It is true that Philip presented them rather in a political light. Francis showed himself favourable to the protestant princes. 'I refused my consent to a council in Italy,' he said; 'I desire a neutral city, and instead of an assembly in which the pope can do what he pleases, I demand a free council.' 'These are the king's very words,' wrote the landgrave to the elector.[546] Philip of Hesse was delighted. Assuredly, if Germany, France, England, and other states should combine against the emperor and the pope, all Europe would be transformed. 'That is not all,' added the landgrave; 'the king told me certain things ... which I am sure will please your highness.'[547]

The secret conference being ended: 'Now,' said {300} Francis to the landgrave, 'pray present Melanchthon to me.' He had begged the German prince, as we have seen, to bring this celebrated doctor with him; the King of France wished for something more than a diplomatic conference, he desired a religious one. But the landgrave had not forgotten the interview at Weimar; and far from inviting Melanchthon, he had carefully concealed from the Elector of Saxony the resolution he had formed, notwithstanding his representations, to unite with the King of France in hostilities against Austria. Philip having answered that Melanchthon was not with him: 'Impossible!' exclaimed the king, and all the French nobles echoed the word. 'Impossible! you will not make us believe that Melanchthon is not with you!'—'Everybody wished to convince us that we had Philip with us,' said the landgrave.—'Show him to us,' they exclaimed, 'almost using violence towards us.'[548]

It was indeed a great disappointment. Melanchthon was the most esteemed representative of the Reformation. Some of those who accompanied the king had reckoned upon him for a detailed explanation of the evangelical principles; there were some even who desired to consult him on the best means of insuring their success in France. In their eyes Melanchthon was as necessary as Philip. 'As he is not here,' said they, 'you must send for him.'—'Really,' said the landgrave, smiling, 'these Frenchmen desire so much to see Melanchthon, that, if we could show him to them, they would give us as much money as Tetzel and all {301} the indulgence vendors ever gained with their sanctimonious paper rubbish.'[549]


They consoled themselves for this disappointment by holding a new conference on the mode of delivering Wurtemberg. The king said that he could not furnish troops, as that would be contrary to the treaty of Cambray. 'I do not require soldiers,' answered the landgrave, 'but I want a subsidy.' But to supply funds for a war against Charles V. was equally opposed to the treaty. An expedient was sought and soon found. Duke Ulrich shall sell Montbéliard to France for 125,000 crowns; but it shall be stipulated, in a secret article, that if the duke repays this sum within three years (as he did) Francis will give back Montbéliard. It would appear that England also had something to do with the subsidy.[550] The treaty was signed on the 27th of January, 1534. It is worthy of notice that the French historians, even those free from ultramontane prejudices, do not speak of this conference.

Several other interviews took place. The landgrave was not the best type of the true Reformation, but he had with him some good evangelicals, who, in their pious zeal, could show the King of France, as Luther would have done, the way of salvation. Solemn opportunities are thus given men of leaving the low grounds in which they live, and rising to the heights where they will see God. Francis I. closed his eyes. That prince possessed certain excellent gifts, but his religion 'was nothing but vanity and empty show.' At Bar-le-Duc he took the mailed {302} hand of the landgrave, but had no desire for the hand of Jesus Christ.

The landgrave went back into Germany, and the King of France to the interior of his states. Returning from the two interviews, he congratulated himself on having embraced the pope at Marseilles and the protestants at Bar-le-Duc. In proportion as the conference with Clement had been public, that with Philip had been secret; but, on the other hand, it had been more confidential and more real. These two meetings, these two facts in appearance so different, had been produced by the action of the same law. That law, which Francis wore in his heart, was hatred and ruin to Charles V. Were not the pope and the landgrave two of the princes of Europe who detested the emperor most? It was therefore quite logical and in harmony with the science of Machiavelli for the king to give one hand to Clement and the other to Philip. Internal contradictions could not fail to show themselves erelong. In fact, the Landgrave of Hesse, supported by France, was about to attack Austria, and establish protestantism in Wurtemberg in the place of popery.... What would Clement say? But before we follow the landgrave upon this perilous enterprise, let us return into France with the king.

[522]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 206.

[523]   Martin du Bellay gives Duke Christopher's letter. Mémoires, pp. 207, 208.

[524]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 208.

[525]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 209.

[526]   Ibid. p. 210.

[527]   'Regem Franciæ deposuisse certam pecuniæ summam in bellum pro restitutione junioris ducis Wurtembergensis apud Helvetios.'—State Papers, vii. p. 539.

[528]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 211.

[529]   'Coactus qui fuerit ex ea curia in qua tam indigne tractabatur, sese subducere.'—Johannes rex Hungariæ, manu propria, State Papers, vii. p. 538.

[530]   Ranke, after Gabelkofer and Pfister, iii. p. 453.

[531]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 213-219. He gives his brother's speech at full length.

[532]   'Changer son oraison gratulatoire en oraison comminatoire.'

[533]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, pp. 220-232.

[534]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, p. 232.

[535]   'Eum (Du Bellay) laborare inter certos Germaniæ principes, ut fœdus novum inter se creent.'—Mont to Henry VIII., State Papers, vii. p. 539.

[536]   'Ipsi vero militem per mare Balticum nobis mitterent, si quis Majestatem Vestram invadere vellet.'—Ibid.

[537]   'Der Landgraf ist ein Kriegsmann, ein Arminius.'—Lutheri Opp. xxii. p. 1842.

[538]   'Ego certe τὸν Μακεδόνα non possum non amare et nolim cadere.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 727.

[539]   'Und brauchten dazu unsere beste Rhetorica.'—Lutheri Opp. xxii. p. 1843.

[540]   'Gott schläfet nicht, ist auch kein Narr: Er weiss sehr wohl wie man regieren soll.'—Ibid. x. p. 254.

[541]   'Den Kayser von seinem Stuhl stürzen.'—Ibid. xi. p. 434.

[542]   'Da ward S. F. G. gar roth und erzumte sich drüber.'

[543]   'Der König von Frankreich an uns beghert hat, das wir zu Ihm kommen wolten.'—The Landgrave to the Elector, Rommel's Urkundenbuch, p. 53.

[544]   Sleidan, i. liv. ix. p. 358.

[545]   'Wie doch die Saclien und Zwiespalten der Religion standen.'—The Landgrave to the Elector, Rommel's Urkundenbuch, p. 53.

[546]   'Und sind das eben die Worte des Konigs.'—Ibid.

[547]   'Es haben sich zwischen dem Könige und uns Reden zugetragen ... daran E. L. gut gefallen haben werden.'—Ibid.

[548]   'Der König und die grossen Herrn und jedermann wolten uns mit Gewald uberreden, wir hätten Philippum bey uns.'—The Landgrave to the Elector, Rommel's Urkundenbuch, p. 53.

[549]   Rommel's Urkundenbuch, p. 53.

[550]   State Papers, vii. p. 568.


(Winter 1533-34.)


THE consequences of the meeting at Marseilles were to be felt at Paris. After Calvin's flight, the Queen of Navarre, as we have seen, had succeeded in calming the storm; and yet the evangelical cause had never been nearer a violent persecution. The prisons were soon to be filled; the fires of martyrdom were soon to be kindled. During the year 1533 Lutheran discourses had greatly multiplied in the churches. 'Many notable persons,' says the chronicler, 'were at that time preaching in the city of Paris.'[551] The simplicity, wisdom, and animation of their language had moved all who heard them. The churches were filled, not with formal auditors, but with men who received the glad-tidings with great joy. 'Drunkards had become sober; libertines had become chaste; the fruits which proceeded from the preaching of the Gospel had astonished the enemies of light and truth.'

The doctors of the Sorbonne did not wait for the king's orders to attack the evangelicals; his interview with the pope, and the news of the bull brought from Rome, had filled the catholic camp with joy. 'What!' {304} they exclaimed, 'the king is uniting with the pope at Marseilles, and in Paris the churches are opened to heresy! ... let us make haste and close them.'

In the meanwhile Du Bellay, the Bishop of Paris, who had made such a fine Latin speech to Clement VII., and who went at heart half-way with his brother, arrived in the capital. The leaders of the Roman party immediately surrounded him, urged him, and demanded the realisation of all the hopes which they had entertained from the interview at Marseilles. The bishop was embarrassed, for he knew that his brother and the king were just then occupied with a very different matter. Yet it was the desire of Francis that, for the moment, they should act in conformity with his apparent and not with his real action. The bishop gave way. The pious Roussel, the energetic Courault, the temporising Berthaud, and others besides, were forbidden to preach, and one morning the worshippers found the church doors shut.[552]


Great was their sorrow and agitation. Many went to Roussel and Courault, and loudly expressed their regret and their wishes. The ministers took courage, and 'turned their preaching into private lectures.' Little meetings were formed in various houses in the city. At first none but members of the family were present; but it seemed that Christ, according to his promise, was in the midst of them, and erelong friends and neighbours were admitted. The ministers set forth the promises of Holy Scripture, and the worshippers exclaimed: 'We receive more blessings now than before.'


There were others besides Parisian faces which Courault, Roussel, and their friends saw on the humble benches around their little table: there were persons from many provinces of France, and even from the neighbouring countries. Among them was Master Pointet, a native of Menton, near Annecy, in Savoy, 'who practised the art of surgery in the city of Paris.' He had been brought to a knowledge of the Gospel in a singular way. 'Monks and priests,' says the chronicler, 'used to come to him to be cured of the diseases peculiar to those who substitute an impure celibacy for the holy institution of marriage.'[553] Pointet, observing that godliness was not to be found among the priests, sought for it in the Scriptures; and, having discovered it there, began to remonstrate seriously with those unhappy men. 'These punishments,' he told them, 'proceed from your accursed celibacy: they are your wages, and you would do much better to take a wife.' Pointet, while reading these severe lessons, loved to go and learn in the lowly assemblies held by the humble ministers of the Word of God, and no one listened with more attention to the preaching of Roussel and Courault.

The Sorbonnists, having heard of these conventicles, declared 'that they disliked these lectures still more than the sermons.' In fact, if the preaching in the churches had been a loud appeal, the Divine Word in these small meetings spoke nearer to men's hearts, enlightening them and making them fast in Jesus Christ; and accordingly the conversions increased in number. The lieutenant-criminal once more took the {306} field: he posted his agents at the corners of the more suspected streets, with orders to watch the Lutherans and ferret them out. These spies discovered that on certain days and hours many suspicious-looking persons, most of them poor, were in the habit of frequenting certain houses. Morin and his officers set to work immediately: they made the round of these conventicles, seizing the pastors and dispersing the flocks. 'We are deprived of everything,' said the worshippers; 'we remain without teaching and exhortation. Alas! poor sheep without shepherds, shall we not go astray and be lost?' Then with a sudden impulse they exclaimed: 'Since our guides are taken away from us here, let us seek them elsewhere!' Many French evangelicals fled into foreign countries.

While the poor reformed[554] who remained in Paris were thus forsaken and sorrowful, the Sorbonne loudly demanded the return of Beda and the other exiles. The theologians canvassed the most influential members of the parliament, and besieged Cardinal Duprat. The king and the pope had just met solemnly at Marseilles; one of the Medici had just entered the family of the Valois; a royal letter, despatched from Lyons, ordered proceedings to be taken against the heretics: could they leave the champions of the papacy in disgrace? The demand was granted, and the impetuous Beda returned in triumph to the capital with his friends. That wicked little fairy Catherine had, unconsciously, and by her mere presence, restored him to liberty.



The wrath and fanaticism of Beda, excited by exile, knew no bounds. The repression of obscure preachers did not satisfy him; he determined to renew the attack he had formerly made upon the learned. 'I accuse the king's readers in the university of Paris,' he said to the parliament. These were the celebrated professors Danès, Paul Paradis, Guidacieri, and Vatable, learned philologists, esteemed by Francis and honoured over all literary Europe. 'Their interpretations of the text of Scripture,' continued Beda, 'throw discredit on the Vulgate, and propagate the errors of Luther. I demand that they be forbidden to comment on the Holy Scriptures.'[555]

Beda did not stand alone. Le Picard had returned from exile with his master, and the Sorbonne, wishing to give him a striking mark of their esteem, had conferred on him the degree of doctor of divinity. Beda and Le Picard took counsel together with some other priests. War was resolved upon, the legions were mustered, the plan of the campaign drawn up, and the various battle-fields allotted among the combatants. They took possession of the pulpits from which the preachers of the Reform had been expelled, and loud voices were heard everywhere giving utterance to violent harangues against 'the Lutherans.' Beda, Le Picard, and their followers denounced the heretics as enemies of the altar and the throne. In the Gospel, the germ of every liberty, they saw the cause of every disorder. 'It is not enough to put the Lutheran evangelists in prison,' said these forerunners of the preachers {308} of the League; 'we must go a step further, and burn them.'[556]

The arrests were begun immediately; but early in the year 1534 the burning pile was declared to be the best answer to heresy. The parliament of Paris published an edict, according to which whoever was convicted of Lutheranism on the testimony of two witnesses, should be burnt forthwith.[557] That was the surest way: the dead never return. Beda immediately demanded that the decree should be applied to the four evangelists: Courault, Berthaud, Roussel, and one of their friends. Notwithstanding his moderation and his concessions, Roussel particularly excited the syndic's anger. Was he not Margaret's chaplain? The terror began to spread. Whilst Francis at Bar-le-Duc was endeavouring to please the most decided of the protestants, the evangelicals of Paris, alarmed by the inquiries of the police, shut themselves up in their humble dwellings. 'Really,' they said, 'this is not much unlike the Spanish inquisition.'[558] The Sorbonne dared not, however, burn Roussel and his friends without the consent of the king.


In the meanwhile the ultramontane party formed the design of catching all the Lutherans in Paris in one cast of the net. Morin set to work: he urged on his hounds; his sergeants entered the houses, went down into the cellars and up into the garrets, taking {309} away, here the husband from the wife; there, the father from the children; and in another place, the son from the mother. Some of these poor creatures hid themselves, others escaped by the roofs; but the chase was successful upon the whole. The alguazils of the Sorbonne lodged about three hundred prisoners in the Conciergerie.[559] When this news spread, with its concomitants of terror and distress, the flight recommenced on a larger scale: some were stopped on the road, but many succeeded in crossing the frontier. Among their number was a christian courtier, Maurus Musæus, a gentleman of the king's chamber, who took refuge at Basle, whence he wrote describing his numerous perplexities to Bucer.[560]

All this was done by the Sorbonne and parliament, as the king had not yet spoken out. At last he returned to the capital, and everybody thought he would be eager to fulfil the promises he had made the pope; but, on the contrary, he hesitated and affected to be scrupulous. The evil spirit that he had received from Clement VII. under the form of a Medici, was too young to have any influence over him. Besides, he was thinking much more just then of his alliance with the protestants of Germany than of his union with the pope, and the attacks made against his professors in the university annoyed him.

Beda was not discouraged: he got some persons, who had access to the king, to beg that Roussel and his friends might be burnt. But how could that prince send the Lutherans of France to the stake at the very {310} time he was seeking an alliance with the Lutherans of Germany? 'Nobody is condemned in France,' he said, 'without being tried. Beda wishes to have Roussel and his friends burnt; very well! let him first go to the Conciergerie and reduce them to silence.'[561] This was not what Beda wanted: he knew that it was easier to burn the chaplain than to refute him. But the king compelled him to go to the prison; and there the impetuous Beda and the meek Roussel stood face to face. The disputation began in the presence of witnesses. The prisoner brought forward, with much simplicity, the Scriptures of God; the syndic of the Sorbonne replied with scholastic quibbles and ridiculous trifling.[562] His own friends were embarrassed; everybody saw his ignorance; Beda left the prison overwhelmed with shame, and Roussel was not burnt.[563]


While Beda and Roussel were disputing in the Conciergerie, a different scene was passing at the Louvre. A friend of letters, belonging to the royal household, knowing the king's susceptibility, placed a little book elegantly bound on a table near which the king was accustomed to sit. Francis approached, took up the book heedlessly, and looked at it. He was greatly surprised on reading the title: Remonstrance addressed to the King of France by the three doctors of Paris, banished and relegated, praying to be recalled from their exile. It was a work published by Beda before his return to Paris, and had been carefully concealed from the {311} monarch. 'Ho! ho!' said he, 'this book is addressed to me!' He opened and read, and great was his anger on seeing how he was insulted and slandered.... 'Francis I. regards neither pope nor Medici: in his eyes, the chief infallibility is always his own.' 'Send those wretches to prison,' he exclaimed; and immediately Beda, Le Picard, and Le Clerq were shut up in the bishop's prison on a charge of high treason.[564]

And now the chiefs of both causes were in confinement: Gerard Roussel, Courault, and Berthaud on one side; Beda, Le Picard, and Le Clerq on the other. Would any one dare affirm that the King of France did not hold the balance even between the two schools? Who shall be released? who shall remain a prisoner? was now the question. It would have been better to set them all at large; but neither Francis nor his age had attained to religious liberty. Contrary winds agitated that prince, and drove him by turns towards Rome and towards Wittemberg. One or other of them, however, must prevail. Margaret, believing the time to be critical, displayed indefatigable activity. She pleaded the cause of her friends to the king and to his ministers. Still mistaken, or seeming to be mistaken, as regards Montmorency, she begged this treacherous friend to save the very persons whose destruction he had sworn. 'Dear nephew,' she wrote to him, 'they are just now completing the proceedings against Master Gerard, and I hope the king will find him worthy of something better than the stake, and that he has never held any opinion deserving such punishment, or savouring of heresy. I have known him these five {312} years, and, believe me, if I had seen anything doubtful in him, I should not so long have put up with such a pagan.'[565] The king could not resist his sister's earnest solicitations and the desire of making friends among the protestants of Germany. In the month of March 1534 he published an ordinance vindicating the evangelical preachers from the calumnies of the theologians, and setting them at liberty.[566]

Surprising thing! Roussel, Courault, and Berthaud at liberty; Beda, Le Picard, and Le Clerq in prison! The champions of heresy triumph, and the champions of the Church are in chains! And this, too, after the king's return from Marseilles (the interview at Bar-le-Duc was not known at Paris), and four months after the marriage of Henry of France with the pope's niece!... Where are the promises made to Clement VII.? Both the city and the Sorbonne were deeply excited by this measure.[567] The greater the hopes aroused by the union with the papacy, the greater the fears caused by the king's conduct towards its most intrepid defenders. Would Francis I. become a Henry VIII.? Would Roman catholicism be ruined in France? The priests were afraid—many of them even despaired.

The evangelicals, on the contrary, were delighted. The Word of God was about to triumph, they thought, not only in Paris, but also throughout France. Surprising news indeed came from Lyons, where an {313} invisible preacher kept the whole population in suspense.


The friar De la Croix, whom we have already mentioned, having abandoned Paris, his convent, his cowl, and his monkish title, had reached Geneva under the name of Alexander. Cordially welcomed by Farel and Froment, he had been instructed by their care in the knowledge of the truth. His transformation had been complete. Christ had become to him 'the sun of righteousness; he had a burning zeal to know him, and great boldness in confessing him. Incontinent, he showed himself resolute, and resisted all gainsayers.' Accordingly the Genevan magistracy, which was under the influence of the priests, had condemned him to death as a heretic; the sentence had, however, been commuted, 'for fear of the King of France,' who would not suffer a Frenchman, even if heretical, to be maltreated, and Alexander was simply turned out of the city. When on the high-road beyond the gates, and near the Mint, he stopped and preached to the people who had followed him. Such was the power of his language that it inspired respect in all around him. 'Nobody could stop him,' says Froment, 'so strongly did his zeal impel him to win people to the Lord.'[568]

Alexander first went to Berne with Froment, and then, retracing his steps, seriously reflected whether he ought not to return into France. He did not deceive himself: persecution, imprisonment, death, awaited him there. Then ought he not rather, like so many others, to preach the Gospel in Switzerland? But France had so much need of the light and grace of God.... {314} should he abandon her? To preach Christ to his countrymen, Alexander was ready to bear all manner of evil, and even death. One single passion swallowed up all others. 'O my Saviour! thou hast given thy life for me; I desire to give mine for thee!' He crossed the frontier; and, learning that Bresse and Maconnais (Saône-et-Loire), where Michael d'Aranda had preached Christ in 1524, were without evangelists, he began to proclaim the forgiveness of the Gospel to the simple and warm-hearted people of that district, among whom fanaticism had so many adherents. He did not mind this: wandering along the banks of the Bienne, the Ain, the Seille, and the Saône, he entered the cottages of the poor peasants, and courageously scattered the seed of the Gospel.[569] A rumour of his doings reached Lyons, where certain pious goldsmiths, always ready to make sacrifices for their faith, invited Alexander to come and preach in their city.


It was a wider field than the plains of Bresse. Alexander departed, arrived at Lyons, and entered the goldsmiths' shops. He conversed with them, and made the acquaintance of several poor men of Lyons, who were rich in faith; they edified one another, but this did not satisfy him. The living faith by which he was animated gave him an indefatigable activity. He was prompt in his decisions, full of spirit in his addresses, ingenious in his plans. He began to preach from house to house; next 'he got a number of people together here and there, and preached before them, to the great advancement of the Word.' Opposition soon began to show itself, and Alexander exclaimed: 'Oh {315} that Lyons were a free city like Geneva!'[570] Those who desired to hear the Word grew more thirsty every day; they went to Alexander, and conversed with him; they dragged him to their houses, but the evangelist could not supply all their wants. He wrote to Farel, asking for help from Geneva, but none came; the persecution was believed to be so fierce at Lyons, that nobody dared expose himself to it. Alexander continued, therefore, to preach alone, sometimes in by-streets, and sometimes in an upper chamber. The priests and their creatures, always on the watch, endeavoured to seize him, but the evangelist had hardly finished his sermon when the faithful, who loved him devotedly, surrounded him, carried him away, and conducted him to some hiding-place. But Alexander did not remain there long: wistfully putting out his head, and looking round the house, to see that there was no one on the watch, he came forth to go and preach at the other extremity of the city. He had hardly finished when he was carried away again, and the believers took him to some new retreat, 'hiding him from one house to another,' says the chronicler, 'so that he could not be found.'[571] The evangelist was everywhere and nowhere. When the priests were looking after him in some suburb in the south, he was preaching in the north, on the heights which overlook the city. He put himself boldly in the van, he proclaimed the Gospel loudly, and yet he was invisible.

Alexander did more than this: he even visited the prisons. He heard one day that two men, well known in Geneva, who had come to Lyons on business, had been thrown into the bishop's dungeons on the information {316} of the Genevan priests: they were the energetic Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve, and his friend Cologny.[572] The gates opened for Alexander: he entered, and that mysterious evangelist, who baffled the police of Lyons, was inside the episcopal prison. If one of the agents who are in search of him should recognise him, the gates will never open again for him. But Alexander felt no uneasiness; he spoke to the two Genevans, and exhorted them; he even went and consoled other brethren imprisoned for the Gospel, and then left the dungeons, no man laying a hand on him. The priests and their agents, bursting with vexation at seeing the futility of all their efforts, met and lamented with one another. 'There is a Lutheran,' they said, 'who preaches and disturbs the people, collecting assemblies here and there in the city, whom we must catch, for he will spoil all the world, as everybody is running after him; and yet we cannot find him, or know who he is.'[573] They increased their exertions, but all was useless. Never had preacher in so extraordinary a manner escaped so many snares. At last they began to say that the unknown preacher must be possessed of satanic powers, by means of which he passed invisible through the police, and no one suspected his presence.


Thus the Gospel was proclaimed in the first and in the second city of France. The Sorbonne and the catholic party had been intimidated by the king, and the Easter festival of 1534, which was approaching, might give the evangelicals of Paris a striking opportunity of proclaiming their faith. This was what the Queen of Navarre desired. She had passed some {317} time at Alençon, and also at Argentan, not far from Caen, with her sister-in-law, Catherine d'Albret, abbess of the convent of the Holy Trinity; at length she had returned to Paris. The priests dared not name her, but they made certain allusions to her in their sermons which their hearers very well understood. These things were reported to Margaret, who cared neither to pacify nor to punish her accusers, and answered them only by endeavouring still more to advance the cause of piety in France. The little conventicles only half pleased her: she wanted the evangelical doctrine to enter the kingdom by the churches, and not by the 'upper chambers.' She would have desired for France a reformation similar to that of England, which, while giving it the Word of God, preserved its archbishops and bishops, its cathedrals, its liturgy, and its grandeur. Queen of France, she would have been its Elizabeth; but doubtless with more grace. Her ambition was to install the Gospel at Notre Dame. She paid a visit to the king; she spoke to the bishop ... Roussel shall preach there. He was not a Farel in boldness, but Margaret encouraged him; besides, the idea of preaching the Gospel to the people of Paris in that old cathedral was pleasing to him. He determined, therefore, to comply with the queen's wishes.

The report of Margaret's intentions had hardly become known, when the canons were in commotion. How scandalous! What! shall these evangelicals, of whom they wished to purge France, assemble in the cathedral?... A disciple of Luther ... in the temple ennobled by so many holy bishops!... Finding themselves betrayed by the king, the priests {318} resolved to turn to the people. These fanatics did not scruple to become mob-leaders; they traversed the city and the suburbs, entered the shops, distributed little handbills, and stuck up placards: under the excitement of this mission the oldest Sorbonnists regained all the activity of youth. 'We must resist these scandalous meetings at any cost,' they said. 'Let the people crowd before the gates of Notre Dame, and hinder the evangelicals from entering; or, if they do not succeed, let them fill the cathedral, and prevent Roussel from ascending the pulpit, and drown his heretical voice by the shouts of the believers.' When the day came, a great movement took place among the citizens of Paris. An immense crowd hastened from all the neighbouring quarters, who surrounded Notre Dame and filled the interior of the church. The Lutherans could not get in, and Roussel was forced to give up his sermon.[574]

A favourable wind seemed generally to be breathing over the Reformation: its enemies were still in prison and its friends at liberty; Francis appeared to be more than ever in harmony with his sister and with the protestants of Germany; and an evangelical orator was authorised to preach at Notre Dame: a violent hurricane, however, suddenly burst upon the metropolis. A pious and active christian was there to lose his life, and Paris was to witness at the same time—a triumph and a martyrdom.


One day, a few weeks after Easter, a man loaded with chains entered the capital: he was escorted by archers, all of whom showed him much respect. They took him to the Conciergerie. It was Alexander {319} Canus, known among the Dominicans by the name of Father Laurent de la Croix. At Lyons, as at Paris, Easter had been the time appointed by the evangelicals for boldly raising their banner. The goldsmiths, who were to Alexander what the Queen of Navarre was to Roussel, were no longer satisfied with preachings in secret. Every preparation was made for a great assembly; the locality was settled; pious christians went through the streets from house to house and gave notice of the time and place. Many were attracted by the desire of hearing a doctrine that was so much talked about, and on Easter-day the ex-dominican preached before a large audience.[575] Was it in a church, in some hall, or in the open air? The chronicler does not say. Alexander moved his hearers deeply, and it might have been said that Christ rose again that Easter morn in Lyons, where he had so long lain in the sepulchre. All were not, however, equally friendly; some cast sinister glances. Alexander was no longer invisible: the spies in the assembly saw him, heard him, studied his physiognomy, took note of his blasphemies, and hurried off to report them to their superiors.[576]

While the police were listening to the reports and taking their measures, there were voices of joy and deliverance in many a humble dwelling. A divine call had been heard, and many were resolved to obey it. Alexander, who had belonged to the order of Preachers, combined the gift of eloquence with the sincerest piety. Accordingly, his hearers requested him to preach again the second day of Easter. The {320} meeting took place on Monday, and was more numerous than the day before. All eyes were fixed on the evangelist, all ears were attentive, all faces were beaming with joy; here and there, however, a few countenances of evil omen might be seen: they were the agents charged to seize the mysterious preacher. The assembly heard a most touching discourse; but just when Alexander's friends desired, as usual, to surround him and get him away, the officers of justice, more expeditious this time, came forward, laid their hands upon him, and took him to prison. He was brought before the tribunal and condemned to death. This cruel sentence distressed all the evangelicals, who urged him to appeal; he did appeal, which had the effect of causing him to be transferred to Paris. 'That was not done without great mystery,' says Froment, 'and without the great providence of God.'[577] People said to one another that Paul, having appealed to the emperor, won over a great nation at Rome; and they asked whether Alexander might not do the same at Paris. The evangelist departed under the escort of a captain and his company.

The captain was a worthy man: he rode beside Alexander, and they soon entered into conversation. The officer questioned him, and the ex-dominican explained to him the cause of his arrest. The soldier listened with astonishment; he took an interest in the story, and by degrees the words of the pious prisoner entered into his heart. He heard God's call and awoke; he experienced a few moments of struggle and doubt, but erelong the assurance of faith prevailed. 'The {321} captain was converted,' says Froment, 'while taking him to Paris.' Alexander did not stop at this; he spoke to each of the guards, and some of them also were won over to the Gospel. The first evening they halted at an inn, and the prisoner found means to address a few good words to the servants and the heads of the household. This was repeated every day. People came to see the strange captive, they entered into conversation with him, and he answered every question. He employed in the service of the Gospel all the skill that he possessed in discussion. 'He was learned in the doctrine of the sophists,' says a contemporary, 'having profited well and studied long at Paris with his companions (the Dominicans).' Now and then the people went and fetched the priest or orator of the village to dispute with him; but they were easily reduced to silence. Many of the hearers were enlightened and touched, and some were converted. They said, as they left the inn: 'Really we have never seen a man answer and confound his adversaries better by Holy Scripture.'[578] The crowd increased from town to town. At last Alexander arrived in Paris: 'Wonderful thing!' remarks the chronicler, 'he was more useful at the inns and on the road than he had ever been before.'[579]


This remarkable prisoner was soon talked of in many quarters of Paris. The case was a very serious one. 'A friar, a Dominican, an inquisitor,' said the people, 'has gone over to the Lutherans, and is striving to make heretics everywhere.' The monks of his own convent made the most noise. The king, who {322} detained Beda in prison, desired to preserve the balance by giving some satisfaction to the catholics. He was not uneasy about the German protestants; he had observed closely the landgrave's ardour, and had no fear that the fiery Philip would break off the alliance for a Dominican monk. Francis, therefore, allowed matters to take their course, and Alexander appeared before a court of parliament. 'Name your accomplices,' said the judges; and as he refused to name the accomplices, who did not exist, the president added: 'Give him the boot.' The executioners brought forward the boards and the wedges, with which they tightly compressed the legs of the evangelist. His sufferings soon became so severe that, hoping they had converted him, they stopped the torture, and the president once more called upon him to name all who, like himself, had separated from the Church of Rome; but he was not to be shaken, and the punishment began again. 'He was severely tortured several times,' say the Actes, 'to great extremity of cruelty.' The executioners drove the wedges so tightly between the boards in which his limbs were confined, that his left leg was crushed. Alexander groaned aloud: 'O God!' he exclaimed, 'there is neither pity nor mercy in these men! ... oh that I may find both in thee!'—'Keep on,' said the head executioner. The unhappy man, who had observed Budæus among the assessors, turned on him a mild look of supplication, and said: 'Is there no Gamaliel here to moderate the cruelty they are practising on me?'[580] The illustrious scholar, an honest and just man, although irresolute in {323} his proceedings, kept his eyes fixed on the martyr, astonished at his patience. 'It is enough,' he said: 'he has been tortured too much; you ought to be satisfied.' Budæus was a person of great authority; his words took effect, and the extraordinary gehenna ceased. 'The executioners lifted up the martyr, and carried him to his dungeon a cripple.'[581]


It was the custom to deliver sentence in the absence of the accused, and to inform him of it in the Conciergerie through a clerk of the criminal office. The idea occurred of pronouncing it in Alexander's presence; perhaps in his terror he might ask for some alleviation, and by this means they might extort a confession. But all was useless. The court made a great display, and a crowd of spectators increased the solemnity, to no purpose: Alexander Canus, of Evreux, in Normandy, was condemned to be burnt alive. A flash of joy suddenly lit up his face. 'Truly,' said the spectators, 'is he more joyful than he was before!'[582]

The priests now came forward to perform the sacerdotal degradation. 'If you utter a word,' they told him, 'you will have your tongue cut out.'—'The practice of cutting off the tongue,' adds the historian, 'began that year.' The priests took off his sacerdotal dress, shaved his head, and went through all the usual mysteries. During this ceremony Alexander uttered not a word; only at one of the absurdities of the priests he let a smile escape him. They dressed him in the robe de fol—a garment of coarse cloth, such as was worn by the poorer peasantry. When the pious martyr caught sight of it, he exclaimed, 'O God, is {324} there any greater honour than to receive this day the livery which thy Son received in the house of Herod?'[583]

A cart, generally used to carry mud or dust, was brought to the front of the building. Some Dominicans, his former brethren, got into it along with the humble christian, and all proceeded towards the Place Maubert. As the cart moved but slowly, Alexander, standing up, leant over towards the people, and 'scattered the seed of the Gospel with both hands.' Many persons, moved even to tears, exclaimed that they were putting him to death wrongfully; but the Dominicans pulled him by his gown, and annoyed him in every way. At first he paid no attention to this; but when one of the monks said to him coarsely: 'Either recant, or hold your tongue,' Alexander turned round and said to him with firmness: 'I will not renounce Jesus Christ.... Depart from me, ye deceivers of the people!'

At last they reached the front of the scaffold. While the executioners were making the final preparations, Alexander, observing some lords and ladies in the crowd, with common people, monks, and several of his friends, asked permission to address a few words to them. An ecclesiastical dignitary, a chanter of the Sainte Chapelle, carrying a long staff, presided over the clerical part of the ceremony, and he gave his consent. Then, seized with a holy enthusiasm, Alexander confessed, 'with great vehemence and vivacity of mind,'[584] the Saviour whom he loved so much, and for whom he was condemned to die. 'Yes,' he exclaimed, 'Jesus, our only Redeemer, suffered death to {325} ransom us to God his Father. I have said it, and I say it again, O ye christians who stand around me, pray to God that, as his son Jesus Christ died for me, he will give me grace to die now for him.'


Having thus spoken, he said to the executioner: 'Proceed.' The officers of justice approached, they bound him to the pile and set it on fire. The wood crackled, the flames rose, and Alexander, his eyes upraised to heaven, exclaimed: 'O Jesus Christ, have pity on me! O Saviour, receive my soul!' He saw the glory of God; by faith he discerned Jesus in heaven, who received him into his kingdom. 'My Redeemer!' he repeated, 'O my Redeemer!' At last his voice was silent. The people wept; the executioners said to one another: 'What a strange criminal!' and even the monks asked: 'If this man is not saved, who will be?' Many beat their breasts, and said: 'A great wrong has been done to that man!' And as the spectators separated, they went away thinking: 'It is wonderful how these people suffer themselves to be burnt in defence of their faith.'[585]

The Romish party having obtained this satisfaction, the political party thought only of overthrowing popery in one of the states of Germany, and of paving the way for its decline in the kingdom of St. Louis.

[551]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 111.

[552]   Théod. de Bèze, Hist. Eccl. i. p. 9.

[553]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 107 verso.

[554]   The words reform and reformed apply especially to the religious movement in France.

[555]   Crévier, Hist. de l'Université de Paris v. p. 278.

[556]   'Hos Beda vellet incendio tradere.'—Myconius to Bullinger, Ep. Helvet. Ref. p. 121, 8vo.

[557]   'Edictum, omnem qui duobus testibus convinceretur lutheranus, statim exurendum esse.'—Bucer to Blaarer, Strasburg MSS.

[558]   'Res erit non absimilis inquisitioni Hispaniæ.'—Ibid.

[559]   'Nunc circa trecentos Parisiis jam captos.'—Bucer to Blaarer, Strasburg MSS.

[560]   His letters are preserved in the Seminary at Strasburg.

[561]   'Tum coegit Bedam ut privatim cum eis congredi oporteret.'—Letter of Oswald Myconius, Ep. Helvet. Ref. p. 121.

[562]   'Pessime enim nugas suas ad scripturas Dei adhibuit.'—Ibid.

[563]   'Inscitiam suam ostendere, quod et ei cessit in magnam ignominiam.'—Ibid.

[564]   'Beda conjectus est in carcerem, accusatus criminis læsæ majestatis.'—Cop to Bucer, Strasb. MSS. See also H. de Coste, p. 77. Schmidt, p. 106.

[565]   Lettres de la Reine de Navarre, i. p. 299.

[566]   'Prorsus liberatus est theologorum calumniis, ac decreto regis absolutus.'—Cop to Bucer, Strasburg MSS.

[567]   'Quo multi commoti sunt et perturbati.'—Cop to Bucer, Strasburg MSS.

[568]   Froment, Actes et Gestes de Genève, p. 76.—The Mint was near the present railway station.

[569]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[570]   Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 74.

[571]   Ibid.

[572]   Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 75.

[573]   Ibid. p. 74.

[574]   Coste, Hist. de Le Picard, p. 46; Schmidt, Mémoires de Roussel, p. 107.

[575]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 106.

[576]   Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 75.

[577]   Actes et Gestes, p. 75.

[578]   Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 75.

[579]   Ibid.

[580]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 107.

[581]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 107.

[582]   Ibid.

[583]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 107. Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 76.

[584]   Ibid.

[585]   Crespin, Martyrologue, fol. 107 verso. Froment, Actes et Gestes, p. 78.


(Spring 1534.)

THE idea of correcting the errors of the Church without changing its government was not new in France. By the Pragmatic Sanction in 1269, St. Louis had founded the liberties of the Gallican Church; and the great idea of reform had been widely spread since the time of the council of Constance (1414), of Clemengis, and of Gerson. The two Du Bellays, with many priests, scholars, and noblemen, thought it was the only means of calming down the agitations of christendom, and Margaret of Valois had made it the great business of her life.


William du Bellay, on his way back from Augsburg, where he had delivered such noble speeches in favour of the protestant dukes of Wurtemberg, had stopped at Strasburg, and had several meetings with the pacific Bucer. His success in Germany, his conversations with the evangelical princes and doctors, who took him for as sound a protestant as themselves, had filled him with hope. In no place could those who desired to take a middle course meet with more sympathy than at Strasburg; there was quite a system of compromises there with the Swiss and with Luther; why not with Rome also? 'Since Luther {327} will not give way in anything,' Bucer had said, 'I will accommodate myself to his terminology; only I will avoid every expression that may indicate a too local and too gross presence of the body of Christ in the bread.'[586] Accordingly Bucer, with his pious and moderate friends Capito, Hedio, and Zell, received the diplomatic mediator with great pleasure. They retired to the reformer's library, where Du Bellay explained his great project with all the seriousness of a man convinced. 'It is a greater work,' he said to Bucer, 'than this union of Zwinglians and Lutherans which has hitherto been your sole and constant occupation. We wish to effect a fusion between catholicism and the Reformation. We shall maintain the unity of the former; we shall uphold the truth of the latter.' Du Bellay's plan was at bottom, we see, the same as Leibnitz endeavoured to get Bossuet and Louis XIV. to accept. Bucer was in ecstasies: it was what he had sought so long; the diplomatist appeared to him as if surrounded with a halo of glory. And hence he often said: 'If the Lord would raise up many men like this hero, the kingdom of Christ would soon come out of the pit.'[587] According to Bucer, Du Bellay was meditating a very perilous but still a great enterprise: it was a labour worthy of Hercules.... The counsellor of the King of France was satisfied to find the great pacificator agreeing with him, and hastened to Paris, flattering himself that he would gain a victory more striking than that of Francis I. at Marignan, or of Charles V. at Pavia.

Everything seemed favourable: Francis, delighted {328} at his conference with the landgrave, had never been better disposed for conciliation. Du Bellay endeavoured to convince him that Germany was quite ready for the great fusion. Melanchthon, whom all Germany venerated, was (in his opinion) the man of the hour, by whose agency the two contrary currents would mingle their waters and form but one stream bearing life to every part. Was it not he who said: 'Preserve all the old ceremonies that you can: every innovation is injurious to the people?' Had he not declared at Augsburg that no doctrine separated him from the Roman Church; that he respected the universal authority of the pope, and desired to remain faithful to Christ and the Church of Rome? Margaret of Navarre also spoke to her brother of this great and good man: 'Melanchthon's mildness,' she said, 'contrasts with the violent temper of Zwingle and Luther.' Other persons observed to the king that what distinguished France from all catholic nations was its attachment to those liberties of the Church, which were on that account denominated Gallican. 'It would thus be a thoroughly French enterprise,' they said, 'to strip the pope of his usurped privileges.'

Francis listened. To be king both in Church and State, to imitate his dear brother of England, who at heart was more catholic than himself,—this was his desire. Du Bellay, noticing this disposition, laboured vehemently (to use his own expression)[588] to introduce the Melanchthonian ideas into France. He spoke of them at court and in the city, sometimes even to the clergy, and met everywhere with almost universal {329} approbation.[589] 'Only make a forward movement,' he was told. The king resumed the reading of the Bible, which he had laid aside after the first days of the Reformation. It was not that he relished the Word of God, but the Bible was a weapon that would help him to gain the victory over the emperor. When conversing with the persons around him, he would quote some phrase of Scripture. He particularly liked the passages where St. Paul speaks of breastplates, shields, helmets, and swords. He found the apostle, indeed, a little too spiritual and mystical; and in his heart he preferred the helmet of a soldier to the helmet of salvation; but he appeared every day better disposed towards the Holy Scriptures.[590] Margaret was transported with joy. 'I agree with the German protestants,' said the king to Du Bellay. 'Yes, I agree with them in all points ... except one!' Du Bellay wrote immediately to Bucer, and added: 'You know what that means.'[591] Francis desired to remain in union with Rome for form's sake, if it were only by a thread. But Rome is not contented with a thread.


An approaching event seemed destined to decide whether or not a semi-reformation would be established in France. The king and his minister kept their eyes fixed on Germany, and waited impatiently to learn if the enterprise decided upon at Bar-le-Duc for the restoration of the protestant princes to the throne of Wurtemberg would be crowned with success. {330} In their eyes Wurtemberg was the field of battle where the cause of the papacy would triumph or be crushed. Francis hoped that, if the protestants were victorious, they would enter upon a war that would become general. If the empire and the papacy fell beneath the blows of their enemies, new times would begin. Europe would be emancipated from both pope and emperor, and Francis would profit largely, both for himself and France, by this glorious emancipation.

The landgrave prepared everything for the great blow he was about to strike. At once prudent and active, he did not write a word that could compromise him, but sent his confidential counsellors in every direction. He went in person to the Elector of Trèves and the elector-palatine, and promised them that if Wurtemberg was restored to its lawful princes, Charles's brother should be compensated by being recognised King of the Romans. These measures succeeded with Philip, who immediately made known this happy commencement to Francis I.

On Easter Monday (1534) the Louvre displayed all its magnificence; many officers of the court were on foot, for Francis was to give audience to the agent of the Waywode (hospodar) of Wallachia, who had been dispossessed by Austria, like the Duke of Wurtemberg. The king's eyes sparkled with delight: 'The Swabian league is dissolved,' he told the envoy. 'I am sending money into Germany.... I have many friends there.... My allies are already in arms.... We are on the point of carrying our plan into execution.'[592] Francis was so happy that he could not keep his secret.



All was not, however, so near as he imagined. An old obstacle came up again, and seemed as if it would check the landgrave. The other evangelical princes and doctors did all they could to thwart an enterprise which would, in Philip's opinion, secure their triumph. 'The restoration of the Duke of Wurtemberg,' said the wise Melanchthon, 'will engender great troubles. Even the Church will be endangered by them. You know my forebodings.[593] All the kings of Europe will be mixed up in this war. It is a matter full of peril, not only to ourselves, but to the whole world.'[594] Astrology interfered in the matter, and spread terror among the people. Lichtenberg, a famous astrologer, published some predictions, to which he added certain 'monstrous pictures,'[595] and said: 'The Frenchman (Francis) will again fall into the emperor's hands;[596] and all who unite with him in making war will be destroyed. The lion will want help, and will be deceived by the lily.'[597] In such terms the German prophecy declared that France (the lily) would deceive Hesse (whose device is a lion): this shows how little confidence Germany had in the French monarch.

Ferdinand of Austria distrusted the prophecy, and thought the landgrave's attack close at hand. Sensible of his own weakness, he turned to the pope and said to him through his envoy Sanchez: 'The landgrave's {332} expedition is a danger which threatens the Church and Italy ... the spirituality and the temporality.' The pope promised everything, but (as was his custom) with the determination to do nothing. A war that might weaken Charles was gratifying to him, even though protestantism should profit by it. Clement, however, convoked the consistory; described to them in very expressive language the danger of the empire and the Church; but of helping them, not a word.... Ferdinand, still more alarmed, became more importunate, and the matter was brought before a congregation: 'Alas!' said Clement to the cardinals, 'it is impossible to conceal from you the dangers that threaten King Ferdinand and the Austrian power. They are attacked by so severe a disease that a simple medicine would be insufficient to effect a cure.... It requires an energetic remedy ... but where can it be found?' The cardinals agreed with their chief; they thought that, as the danger threatened Austria alone, it was for Austria to get out of it as she could. The recollection of the sack of Rome by the imperialists in 1527 was not yet effaced from the hearts of these Roman priests, and they were not sorry to see the emperor punished by an heretical scourge. They resolved that as Rome could not give a subsidy sufficiently large, they would give none at all. 'This expedition,' said Clement VII. to Ferdinand's envoy, with a certain frankness, 'is only a private matter.... But if the landgrave touches the Church, you may reckon then upon my help.' Sanchez, seeing the pontiff's lukewarmness, and moved by sorrow and indignation,[598] forcibly replied: 'Be not deceived, {333} holy father.... This matter is not so small as you suppose.... It will cost the Church of Rome dear ... and not the Church only, but the city and all Italy.'


Sanchez thought, like Francis and the politicians, that the protestants, victorious in Wurtemberg, would not stop in so glorious a career; that they would raise a large army; and that, aided by France, they would cross the Alps and go to Rome to dethrone the successor of St. Peter, and put an end to what they regarded as the power of antichrist. This suggestion exasperated Clement: he felt the tiara shaking on his head, and angrily exclaimed: 'And where is the emperor? What is he doing? Why does he not watch over his brother's states and the peace of Germany?' Charles V., quite unconcerned about a project which might, however, insure his rival's triumph, was calmly enjoying his repose beneath the smiling sky of Spain, reclining on the banks of its beautiful rivers, under the shade of its orange and citron trees and of its gigantic laurels. The pope took courage from his example to do the same. If he did nothing to stop the protestant army, the papacy might suffer; but if he did anything, he might turn aside from the house of Austria the terrible blow about to fall on it, and save from a reverse that imperial power which he detested. The pontiff sank back into his apostolic chair, and prepared for a luxurious slumber, thinking it would be time enough to wake up ... when danger was at his own door. 'Alas!' said sincere catholics, 'why are the successors of St. Peter, the fisherman and apostle, clothed in soft raiment, which is for those who are in kings' houses? {334} Why do they covet these courtly pomps and effeminacies? Why do they imitate the princes of the Gentiles who exercise dominion over them? Christ bore the cross.' The political passions of Clement VII. extinguished his ecclesiastical zeal. The temporal power of the popes has never been other than a clog upon their spiritual power, preventing it from working freely. The judgments of God were about to be executed.

At the beginning of May everything was astir in Hesse, Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Westphalia, and on the banks of the Rhine; the landgrave was preparing to march against Austria. Omens threatened, indeed, to detain him. At Cassel, the chief town of Hesse, a monster was seen walking mysteriously and silently upon the water during the night.[599] 'It is a sure warning,' said the old crones and a few citizens, 'that the prince ought to stop.' But Philip replied coldly: 'These visions are not worthy of belief.' Without heeding the monster, Philip, mounted on horseback and carrying a lance in his hand, reviewed his army on Wednesday, the 6th of May, after midnight, and then gave the order to march. Almost all the officers and a great many of the soldiers belonged to the evangelical confession. It was, alas! the first politico-religious army of the sixteenth century, and this campaign was the first Germanico-European opposition to the house of Austria.[600] History shrouds herself beneath a veil of mourning as she points to this epoch; for the employment of human force in {335} the interests of religion, the armed struggle between the new and the old times, began then.


The Austrian government, deserted by the pope, saw that it must help itself, and had made great exertions on its part. All the convents, chapters, and towns of Wurtemberg had been forced to contribute large sums of money, and the most experienced generals of the Italian wars had been placed at the head of the imperial army. The soldiers of Austria marched to Laufen on the Neckar, and there waited for the enemy. The landgrave's army, full of hope and courage, uttered loud shouts of joy when they heard of it.

It was not so at Wittemberg. Melanchthon was more grieved than ever, and many persons sympathised with him. On the one hand, the theologians of the Reformation detested war; but on the other, they said to themselves at certain moments: 'Still ... if Philip takes up arms it is to restore legitimate princes to the throne of their fathers, and secure a free course to the Word of God!'—'Oh, what cruelties in the Roman Church,' added Melanchthon, 'what idolatries, and what obstinacy in defending them! Who knows but God desires to punish their defenders, if not utterly to destroy such notorious evils for ever?[601] Oh that the issue of this war may be beneficial to the Church of Christ!' Some time after, when Melanchthon was told of the advance of the army of Philip of Hesse, that peaceful christian gave way once more to his anguish: 'These movements are quite against our advice,' he said, and then shutting himself up in his {336} closet, he exclaimed: 'In the midst of the dangers and sorrows to which God exposes us, we have nothing else to do but to call upon Christ and to feel his presence.'[602] He then fell upon his knees before God; and God, who saw him in secret, rewarded him openly. But while the christians were weeping and praying, the politicians were rejoicing and acting. Du Bellay, in particular, did not doubt that an early victory would cement the union of France with German protestantism; and perceiving the consequences that would follow from the enfranchisement of his country, he gave utterance to his joy.

The impetuous landgrave, taking a spring, cleared, as at one bound, the country which separated him from the Neckar, arrived unexpectedly on the banks of that river near Laufen, where the imperial army was posted, and attacked it with spirit. At first the Austrians courageously sustained the fight; but the count palatine, their commander, having been wounded by a cannon-shot, they retired precipitately. Early the next morning, the landgrave, putting himself at the head of his cavalry and artillery, fell upon them as they were beginning to retreat, and drove part of them into the Neckar.[603]

Wurtemberg was gained, and Duke Ulrich, accompanied by Prince Christopher, reappeared in the country of his fathers. The people, excited at the thought of seeing their national princes once more after so many years, assembled in the open country near Stuttgard, and received them with immense {337} acclamation. The landgrave, not allowing himself to be retarded by the warm reception of the people whom he had restored to independence, followed up his plan, and on the 18th of June reached the Austrian frontier. Everybody thought that he would march on Vienna, and overthrow that insolent dynasty which desired to be the master of the world.


Great was the consternation in all the catholic world, but particularly in the Vatican. On the 10th of June, 1534, Clement, who was sick, went sorrowful, downcast, and tottering, to the college of cardinals, and laid before them the pitiful letters he had received from King Ferdinand.[604] The cardinals, as they read them, were struck with terror. Would Vienna, that had resisted the Turks, fall under the assault of the protestants? Would a victorious army, crossing the Alps, come and perpetrate a second sack of Rome which, as the work of heretics, might not be more compassionate than that of the catholic Charles V.? The cardinals saw no other remedy than that to which Rome had recourse when her ducats and arquebuses were gone. 'A general council,' they exclaimed, 'is the only remedy that can save us from heresy and all the calamities by which christendom is distressed.'

While there was mourning at Rome, there were great rejoicings at the Louvre. It was a long time since the emperor had received such a check. About the end of June a courier from Germany brought Francis the despatches announcing the arrival of Philip of Hesse on the Austrian frontier. He could not repress the outburst of his joy. He spoke to himself, to his {338} councillors, to his courtiers.... 'My friends,' he exclaimed, 'my friends have conquered Wurtemberg.' Then, as if the landgrave and his victorious army were before him, he exclaimed in a tone of command: 'Forward! forward!' His dream was about to be realised; the war would become general; he already saw the landgrave at Vienna; and, what was better still, he saw himself at Genoa, Urbino, Montferrat, and Milan. All his life through he forgot France for Italy, which he never possessed. But he was mistaken as to the landgrave's intentions. Much as Francis desired to see the war become general, Philip of Hesse laboured to keep it local. Satisfied with having restored Wurtemberg to its princes, he meant to respect the empire. The kings of France and England were seriously vexed: 'The Duke of Wurtemberg, restored by my help and yours,' said Henry VIII. to Francis I., 'is only seeking how to make peace with the emperor.'[605] It would appear by the evidence derived from the State Papers, that the gold of England as well as of France had contributed to despoil Austria of Wurtemberg. Henry, more perhaps than Francis I., had hoped that the blow struck upon the banks of the Neckar would be, to emperor as well as to pope, the commencement of sorrows; but they were both mistaken. The temptation, no doubt, was great for a prince of thirty, full of decision and energy, who believed that nothing would make the triumph of protestantism so secure as the humiliation of Austria; but Philip's loyalty resisted the temptation.


On the 27th of June the peace of Cadan put an end {339} to all differences, and restored Wurtemberg to its national princes, with a voice in the council of the empire. If there had never been a war more energetically conducted, there had never been a peace so promptly concluded. The landgrave had displayed a spirit and talents which, men thought, might in future prove troublesome to the puissant Charles.[606]

The emperor having received his lesson, the pope's turn came next. As the state of Wurtemberg had been wrested from the hands of Austria, the Church was to be saved from the clutches of the papacy. At the diet of Augsburg, in 1530, Duke Christopher had seen the landgrave, his relation and friend, come forward as the most intrepid champion of the Reformation. His generous heart had been won to a cause which included such a noble defender, and his desire was to see it triumph in Wurtemberg. On the other hand, King Ferdinand, when renouncing his authority over the duchy, desired at least to maintain that of the pope; and he therefore proposed to insert in the treaty of peace an article forbidding any change in religious matters. But the dukes, the landgrave, and the Elector of Saxony unanimously declared that the Gospel ought to have free course in the duchy, and the electoral chancellor wrote this word on the margin, by the side of the article proposed by the King of the Romans: Rejected.[607] 'You are in no respect bound as to the faith,' said the evangelical princes to Ulrich; while the papal nuncio Vergerio entreated King Ferdinand not to give way to the Lutherans. All the {340} efforts of the Romish party were useless. The important victory of the landgrave (and of Francis I.) was about to open the gates of Wurtemberg to the Reformation, and consequently those of other Roman-catholic countries.

Ulrich and Christopher, being quite as desirous of bringing souls to the knowledge of the Word of God as of replacing their subjects under the sceptre of the ancient house of Emeric,[608] set to work immediately. They invited to their states Ambrose Blaarer, the friend of Zwingle and Bucer, and Ehrard Schnepf, the friend of Luther, converted by his means at Heidelberg at the beginning of the Reformation.[609] Their labours and those of other servants of God spread the evangelical light over the country.[610] Nor was that all: if the defeat at Cappel had restored many cities to the Romish creed,[611] the victory of Laufen allowed many to come to the evangelical faith. Baden, Hanau, Augsburg, Pomerania, Mecklenburg, and other places began, advanced, or completed their reformation about this time. French money had never before returned such good interest.


France was now about to undertake a still greater task. We have seen that there were at that time two systems of reform: Margaret's system and Calvin's. It was in the order of things that the one which remained nearest to catholicism should be tried first. If {341} the most eminent persons of the age, who sought in this middle course the last and supreme resource of christendom, did not see their efforts crowned with success, it would be necessary to undertake, or rather to continue spiritedly, a more simple, more scriptural, more practical, and more radical reform. When Margaret failed, there remained Calvin. The realisation of this specious but illusory system, recommended in after years to Louis XIV. by a great protestant philosopher of Germany, was about to be tried by Francis I. The narrative of this experiment ought to occupy a remarkable place in the religious history of the sixteenth century.

[586]   Rœhrich, Reform in Elsass, ii. p. 274.

[587]   'Dominus excitet multos isti heroï similes.'—Bucer to Chelius.

[588]   'Adhuc vehementer laboratur.'—Du Bellay to Bucer.

[589]   'Omnes enim bene sperare jubent.'—Du Bellay to Bucer.

[590]   'Etiam rex ipse, cujus animus erga meliores litteras magis ac magis augetur.'—Ibid.

[591]   'Una tamen in re vehementer a Germanis abhorret.'—Ibid.

[592]   Béthune MSS. 8493. Ranke, iii. p. 456.

[593]   'Restitutio ducis Wurtembergensis brevi magnos motus pariet. Divinationes meas nosti.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 706.

[594]   'Magna et periculosa res universo orbi terrarum ac præcipue nobis.'—Ibid. p. 728.

[595]   'Mit monstrosen Figuren.'—Seckendorf, p. 833.

[596]   'Gallum iterum venturum in potestatem imperatoris Caroli.'—Ibid.

[597]   'Leo carebit auxilio et decipietur a lolio.'—Ibid. The correct reading is evidently lilium (lily) and not lolium (tares). The preposition a indicates that the word is taken in a symbolical sense.

[598]   'Dolore et indignatione accensus replicui.'—Sanchez' report to Ferdinand: Bucholz. Ranke.

[599]   'Cassellæ nescio quid memorant noctu, super aquis monstri visum esse.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 729.

[600]   Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte, iii. p. 459.

[601]   'Quid si Deus illa publica vitia tum punire, tum aliqua ex parte tollere decrevit?'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 729.

[602]   'Ut Christum invocare et præsentiam ejus experiri discamus.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 730.

[603]   Sleidan, i. liv. ix p. 365. Ranke, iii. p. 461. Rommel, ii. p. 319.

[604]   'In senatum pontifex venit, lectæque ibi sunt litteræ fratris Caroli.'—Pallavicini, Conc. Trid. i. p. 294.

[605]   'The Duke of Wyttemberg lately restored by his and his good brother's meanes.'—State Papers, vii. p. 568.

[606]   Sleidan, i. pp. 366-368. Ranke, iii. pp. 465-468.

[607]   'Soll aussen bleiben.'—Sattler, iii. p. 129. Sleidan, iii. p. 369. Ranke, iii. p. 481.

[608]   The house of Wurtemberg boasts its descent from Emeric, mayor of the palace under Clovis.

[609]   Hist. of the Ref. of the Sixteenth Century, vol. i. bk. iii. ch. ii.

[610]   'Snepfius Stuttgardiæ pastor ecclesias in illo ducatu reformavit.'—Melch. Adami Vitæ Germanorum Theologorum, p. 322.

[611]   Hist. of the Ref. of the Sixteenth Century, vol. iv. bk. xvi. ch. x.



THE Wurtemberg affair being ended, Du Bellay thought of nothing but his great plan; that is, a Reformation according to the ideas of the Queen of Navarre—the combination of catholicism and truth by the union of France and Germany. They were not the only persons who entertained such thoughts: Roussel, Bucer, and many other evangelical christians asked themselves whether the great success obtained in Germany would not decide the reformation of France. Intercourse was much increased between the two countries. Frenchmen and Germans were continually crossing and recrossing the Rhine.


In the month of July 1534, the Queen of Navarre was in one of the chambers of her palace: before her stood a bashful timid young man, and she had a letter in her hand which she appeared to be reading with the liveliest interest. The young man was a native of Nîmes, Claude Baduel by name. He had just come from Wittemberg, where he had found, at the feet of Melanchthon and Luther, the knowledge of the Saviour. He was not an ordinary student. Of reserved manners,[612] {343} generous heart, rare disinterestedness, and great firmness in the faith, he had at the same time a highly cultivated mind. He spoke Latin not only with purity, but with great elegance, and his discourses were as full of matter as of harmony.[613]

Like many other young scholars, Baduel was very poor, not having the means of studying and scarcely of living. Often during his residence at Wittemberg, he found himself in his little room reduced to the last extremity. He had uttered many a groan, and had prayed to that heavenly Father who feedeth the birds of the air. As the moment of his departure approached, his distress had increased. How could he perform the journey? What would become of him in France? He had asked himself with sorrow whether he ought not to abandon letters and devote himself to some manual labour. On a sudden, he conceived the idea of applying to the Queen of Navarre; and going to Melanchthon, he said to him: 'Ill fortune compels me to forsake the liberal arts for vulgar occupations, which my nature and my will abhor with equal energy.[614] In vain have I zealously devoted myself to the study of Holy Scripture and of eloquence; in vain have I ardently desired to make further progress; a cruel enemy—poverty—lays its barbarous hands upon me, and compels me to renounce a vocation which transported me with joy.[615] {344} Yet I am determined to make a last and supreme attempt. The Queen of Navarre is a sort of providence, almost a divinity for the friends of letters and of the arts.[616] ... Pray, dear master, give me a letter to her.'

Melanchthon, grieved at the destitute condition of a young man whose fine understanding he appreciated, did not hesitate to accede to his request. In those days there was less etiquette and formality and more familiarity between princes and the friends of letters than there has been since. On the 13th of June, 1534, a month after the battle of Laufen, the master of Germany wrote to the sister of Francis, to introduce the scholar to her. It was this letter which Baduel had delivered to the queen, and which she, delighted at entering into direct communication with Melanchthon, was reading with the greatest interest.

'It is certainly a great boldness,' wrote the illustrious reformer, 'for a man like me, of low condition and unknown to your highness,[617] to dare recommend a friend to you; but the reputation of your eminent piety, spread through all the world,[618] does not permit me to refuse an upright and learned man the service he begs of me. The liberal arts can never be supported except by the generosity of princes.' Melanchthon ended by saying: 'Never will alms more royal or more useful have been bestowed. The Church, scattered over the world, has long counted your highness among the number of those queens whom the prophet Isaiah calls the nursing mothers of the people {345} of God, and will take care to hand down the remembrance of your kindnesses to the most distant generations.'[619] But the student, that living message of the reformers, interested Margaret no less than the letter itself. Baduel had seen and heard them, in their homes, in the street, and in the pulpit. 'Talk to me,' she said with that amiable grace which distinguished her, 'talk to me about Melanchthon and Luther; tell me how they teach and how they live, what are their relations with their pupils, and what they think of France.' Margaret desired to know everything. She questioned him on several points, a knowledge of which might be useful for the projects she had conceived in conjunction with Du Bellay.


The queen did not forget the young man himself: observing the beauty of his mind, the liveliness of his faith, and the elevation of his soul, she thought that to protect Baduel was to prepare a chosen instrument to propagate evangelical principles in France. Thanks to her care, the young man, recommended by Melanchthon, became erelong a professor at Paris. Subsequently, when a college of arts was founded at Nîmes, the youthful doctor resolved to sacrifice the advantageous post he held in the capital to devote his services to the city of his birth. The queen recommended him to the consuls of that city for rector of their new institution. 'I provided for his studies,' she told them. But persecution did not allow Baduel to serve France unto the end; he was obliged to take refuge at Geneva, where he became professor in the academy founded by Calvin.[620] {346}


The communications of the young man of Nîmes strengthened Margaret, the king, and Du Bellay in their plans, and Francis resolved to send across the Rhine a confidential person, empowered to ask the doctors of the Reformation for a sketch of the means best suited to found an evangelical catholicism in Europe. It was not Baduel whom Du Bellay selected for this mission: he was too young. The diplomatist cast his eyes on Ulric Chelius, a doctor of medicine and native of Augsburg, at that time living at Strasburg, a great friend of Sturm and Bucer, and more than once employed by the King of France in various negotiations. Intelligent, active, and animated like Bucer with the double desire of reforming and at the same time of uniting christendom, Chelius was well suited for such a work. Although a German, and consequently knowing Germany thoroughly, he had all the promptitude of a Frenchman; and the circumstance that he was not of exalted rank rendered him fitter still for entering into negotiations that were to be carried on secretly. He left Strasburg and arrived at Wittemberg in July 1534.

Melanchthon was at that time greatly agitated. The divisions which separated catholicism from reform, and the quarrels between the Zwinglians and the Lutherans, filled him with anguish. He often stole away from that crowd of every age, condition, and country which continually filled his house, eager to see him.[621] His wife's anxious heart was wrung when she saw {347} her husband's sadness, and even the children could scarcely cheer him by their innocent smiles. The future alarmed him.... 'What sad times are hanging over us,' he exclaimed, 'unless there be somebody to remedy the existing disorders!... We are moving to our destruction.... They will have recourse to arms ... and State and Church will perish!'[622]

As soon as Chelius reached Wittemberg, he called upon Melanchthon. 'King Francis,' he said, 'desires truth and unity. In almost every particular he is in accord with you, and approves of your book of Common-places.[623] I am authorised to ask you for a plan to put an end to the religious dissensions which disturb christendom; and I can assure you that the King of France is doing, and will do, all he can with the pope to procure harmony and peace.'[624] Nothing was better adapted to captivate Melanchthon. At this period the moderates had not yet renounced the idea of preserving external unity; they desired to maintain catholicity: even Melanchthon saw no other safety for divided and agitated christendom. Accordingly, never had message arrived at a more suitable time. Chelius was to him like an angel come from heaven; a beam of joy lighted up the great doctor's clouded brow. He went to see Luther, and conversed with him and other friends about the proposals of the King of France. 'If a few good and learned men,' said he, 'brought together by certain sovereigns, were {348} to confer freely and amicably together, it would be easy, believe me, to come to an understanding with each other.[625] Ignorant men know nothing about the matter, and make the evil greater than it is.'[626]


Melanchthon thought that he could unite catholics and protestants. We must not be surprised at it, for in our days very estimable, though not very clear-sighted men, entertain the same idea. Truth was dear to the doctor of Germany, but concord, unity, and catholicity were not less so. The Church, according to Melanchthon and his friends, ought to be universal; for redemption is appointed for all men, and all have need of it. The Church ought therefore to strive to unite all the children of Adam in communion with God, on the foundation of Christ, the only Redeemer. It possesses a power which can embrace all humankind and keep all differences in subjection. Such were the thoughts by which Melanchthon was inspired: if there were any sacrifices to be made to preserve the catholicity of the Church, he would gladly make them; he would recognise the bishops, and even the head of the bishops, rather than destroy unity. 'There is no question of abolishing the government of the Church,' he said; 'the chief men among us ardently desire that the received forms should be preserved as much as possible.'[627] Luther's friend took the matter so much to heart that he began to address Du Bellay personally: 'I entreat you,' he {349} said, 'to prevail upon the great monarchs to establish a concord which shall be consistent with piety.[628] The dangers which threaten us are such that so great a man as you ought not to be wanting in the cause of the State and of the Church.... But what am I doing?... What need to urge you to walk who are running already?'[629] Catholicity and truth: such was the device graven on the arms borne by the champions who, under the auspices of the King of France, were to appear between the two camps of Rome and the Reformation.

Melanchthon busied himself with sketching the plan of the new Church, which, with God's help and the support of the great monarchs (Francis I., Henry VIII., and probably Charles V.), was to become the Church of modern times. It might be eventually one of the most important labours ever undertaken by man. Not only the politicians, but all pious, loving, and perhaps feeble hearts, who feared controversy more than anything, ardently hoped for the success of this heroic attempt. The chief men, said Melanchthon, shared his opinion and encouraged his projects. Yet there were simple, earnest, christian men, with minds determined to set truth above everything, who saw with uneasiness these theologico-diplomatic negotiations. Neither Farel, nor Calvin, nor probably Luther, was among those who rallied round the standard raised by Du Bellay and grasped by Melanchthon.

That pious man, however, was far from wishing to sacrifice the truth. 'I am quite of your opinion,' {350} said he to Bucer, 'that there can be no agreement between us and the Bishop of Rome.[630] But, to satisfy the worthy men who are endeavouring to bring this great matter to a happy issue, I shall lay down what ought to be the essential points of agreement.' Melanchthon then believed, and many evangelical christians in France, and particularly in Germany, believed also, that if a reform, though incomplete, were once established, the power of truth would soon bring about a complete reform. He therefore finished his sketch and gave it to Chelius.


The latter, imagining that he held the salvation of the Church in his hands, hastened to Strasburg to communicate Melanchthon's project to his friends. On arriving at Bucer's house (17th of August), he found him writing his answer to the Catholic Axiom of the Bishop of Avranches, a great enemy of protestantism. Bucer put aside his own papers and took those of the Wittemberg doctor, which he was impatient to see. He read them eagerly over and over again. 'Really there is nothing here to offend anybody,' he said, 'if people have the least idea of what the reign of Christ means. But, my dear Chelius,' he added, 'a union is possible only among those who truly believe in Christ. That there should be a superior authority, well and good! but it must be a holy authority in order that every man may obey it with a good conscience.[631] If we are to unite, all additions must be cut away, and we must return {351} simply to the doctrine of Scripture and of the Fathers.'

Chelius desired Bucer to give him his opinion in writing. The reformer hastily drew up a memoir, which, being approved by his colleagues, he handed to his friend on the 27th of August.[632] Francis's agent had fixed that day for his departure; but at the last moment he changed his mind, and remained twenty-four hours longer in Strasburg. There was another doctor in that city, a meek, pious, and firm man, an old friend of Zwingle's:[633] it was Hedio, and Chelius asked him for his opinion also. Then, taking with him the memoirs of the three doctors, he started without delay for Paris, convinced that catholicity and truth were about to be saved.

On reaching the capital Chelius gave the papers to William du Bellay, who immediately laid them before the king. The latter ordered that the Bishop of Paris and certain of the nobles, men of letters, and ecclesiastics, who desired to see a united but reformed Church, should have these documents communicated to them. The arrival of this ultimatum of the Reformation was an event of great importance; and accordingly the memoirs of the three doctors were anxiously perused at the Louvre, in the bishop's palace, and in other houses of the capital. Perhaps history has made a mistake in taking so little note of this. Three of the reformers, with England, Francis I., and some of the most eminent men of the epoch, demanded one only catholic but reformed Church. {352} A great evangelical unity seemed on the point of being realised. Shall we not set forth in some detail a proposal of such high interest? There are individuals, we are aware, who are always looking for facts and sensations, never troubling themselves about principles and doctrines; but the wise, on the contrary, know that the world is moved by ideas, and, whatever may be the objections of curious minds, history must perform her task, and give to opinions the place that belongs to them.

At this time several meetings of an extraordinary kind were held at the Louvre, and upon them, as some thought, the future of christendom depended. The opinions of Melanchthon, Bucer, and Hedio, demanded by the king, brought by Chelius, and laid before the monarch by Du Bellay, were in his majesty's closet. The walls of the Louvre, which had witnessed such levity of morals, and which hereafter were to witness so many crimes, heard those holy truths explained in which everlasting life is to be found. Around the table on which these documents lay, there were politicians no doubt who in this investigation looked only to temporal advantages, and Francis was at their head; but there were also serious men who desired for the new Church both unity and reform. We will let the reformers speak. They were not present in person, it will be understood, before the King of France; it is their written advice which he had asked for, and which was probably read by one of the Du Bellays. But, for brevity's sake, we shall designate these memoirs by the names of their authors, since it is the authors themselves who speak, and not the historian.



Francis I., eager both to emancipate France from its subordination to the papacy, and to form in Europe a great united party capable of vanquishing and thwarting Austria, listened with goodwill to Melanchthon and his friends; yet he found the language of the reformers a little more severe and heretical than he had imagined. Some of the persons around him were pleased; some were astonished, and others were scandalised, and not without reason. To place the moderate Melanchthon by the side of the pacific Bishop of Paris, well and good! but to hope to unite the unyielding Luther and the fiery Beda, the pious elector and the worldly Francis ... what a strange undertaking! Let us listen, however; for these personages have taken their seats, and the inquiry is about to begin.[634]


'There can be no concord in the Church except between those who are really of the Church.[635] There is nothing in common between Christ and Belial. We cannot unite God and the world.... Now, what are the majority of bishops and priests?... I grieve to say.'

This introduction appeared to the king rather high-flown; but he said to himself that Bucer doubtless wished to make protestation of his loyalty at the very outset. Perhaps his colleagues will be more conciliating.



'The catholic doctrine, say some, has a few trifling blemishes here and there; while we and our friends have been making a great noise without any cause.... That is a mistake. Let not the pontiff and the great monarchs of christendom shut their eyes to the diseases of the Church.[636] They ought, on the contrary, to acknowledge that these pretended trifling blemishes destroy the essential doctrines of the faith, and lead men into idolatry and manifest sin.'


'If you wish to establish christian concord, apply to those who truly believe in Christ.[637] Those who do not listen to the Word cannot explain the Word.... What errors have been introduced by wicked priests! Shall we apply to other priests to correct them, who perhaps surpass the former in wickedness?'

Really the pacific Bucer and Melanchthon speak as boldly as Luther and Farel. The king and his councillors were beginning to be alarmed, but more conciliatory words revived their hopes.


'All that can be conceded, while maintaining the faith and the love of God, we will concede. Every salutary custom, observed by the ancients, we will restore. We have no desire to upset everything that is standing, and we know very well that the Church here below cannot be without blemish.'[638]



The satisfaction of the king and his councillors increased when they came to Church government. There must be order in the Church, said the protestants. There must be a ministry of the Word; an inspection of the pastors and of the flocks, in order to secure discipline and peace. The service, the time appointed for worshipping in common, the place where the Church should assemble, the holy offices, the temporal aid necessary for the support of the ministry, the care of the poor: all these things require an attentive and faithful administration. These principles were set forth by the reformers, the Strasburg doctor insisting most on this point.


'The kingdom of Christ ought not to be without a government. In no place ought order to be stricter, obedience more complete, and power more respected.'

Francis I. and his councillors heard these declarations with pleasure. They had been told that the pretended Church of the protestants was composed of atoms that had no cohesion with each other. Others affirmed that the only superior power recognised in it was that of certain theocratic prophets, like Thomas Munzer and others. Francis, therefore, was satisfied to learn that while they acknowledged a universal priesthood, by virtue of which every believer approached God in prayer, protestantism maintained a special evangelical ministry. But what was this ministry, this government? This the king and his advisers desired to know. Here, in our opinion, the mediating divines went wrong: the king's wishes were to be almost satisfied.



'As a bishop presides over several Churches, no one can think it wrong for a pontiff to preside at Rome over several bishops. The Church must have leaders to examine those who are called to the ministry, to judge in ecclesiastical causes, and watch over the teaching of the ministers.... If there were no such bishops, they ought to be created.[639] One sole pontiff may even serve to maintain harmony of faith between the different nations of christendom.'

Francis was delighted; but the more decided evangelicals looked upon this idea of an evangelical pope as a dream to be consigned to the Utopia described by Sir Thomas More. An accessory declaration of another kind was to please the king even more.


'As for the Roman pontiff's claim to transfer kingdoms from one prince to another, that concerns neither the Gospel nor the Church; and it is the business of kings to combat that unjust pretension.'

Now that these concessions were granted, the reformers were about to make the loud voice of the Reformation heard.



'The first of doctrines is the justification of sinners.'


'Remission of sins ought to be accompanied by a {357} change of life; but this remission is not given us because of this new life; it comes to us only through mercy, and is given to us solely because of Christ.'


'Thus, then, we have done with the merits ascribed to the observances and prayers of the monks and priests: we have done with all vain confidence in our own works. Let the grace of God be obscured no longer, and the righteousness of Christ be no more diminished! It is on account of the blood of his only Son that God forgives us our sins.'

Francis and his advisers thought that orthodox enough. Even the schoolmen (they said) have used this language in some of their books. They raised no opposition to the opinion of the reformers upon justification by faith.[640] But one point made them uneasy.... What will they say of the mass? This important subject was not forgotten.


'What! to be present every day at mass without repentance, without piety, even without thinking of the mysteries connected with it, will suffice to obtain all kinds of grace from God!... No! when we celebrate the sacrament of our Lord's body and blood, there must be a living communion between Christ and the living members of Christ.'[641]




'The mass is the only knot we cannot untie;[642] for it contains such horrible abuses ... invented for the profit of the monks. All impious rites must be interdicted, and others established in conformity with the truth.'

'The mass must be preserved,' said Francis; 'but the stupid, absurd, and foolish legends abolished.'[643]

The Frenchmen were anxious to learn the doctrine of the reformers on the sacraments: it was, in fact, the embarrassing point, in consequence of the different opinions of different doctors. The enemies of the Reformation spread the rumour through France that the sacraments were to protestants mere ceremonies only, by which christians show that they belong to the Church. 'No,' said the doctors, 'these outward forms are means by which grace works inwardly in our souls. Only this working does not proceed from the disposition of the priest administering the sacrament, but from the faith of him who receives it.' And here came the great question: 'Is Christ present or not in the communion?' Bucer and his friends cleverly extricated themselves from this difficulty.


'The body of Christ is received in the hands of the communicants, and eaten with their mouths, say some. {359} The body of Christ is discerned by the soul of the believer and eaten by faith, say others. There is a way of putting an end to this dispute by simply acknowledging that, whatever be the manner of eating, there is a real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper.'[644]

By degrees the reformers became more animated.


'We must teach the people that the saints are not more merciful than Jesus Christ, and that we must not transfer to them the confidence due to Christ alone.

'The monasteries must be converted into schools.

'Celibacy must be abolished, for most of the priests live in open uncleanness.'[645]


'The Church must have a constitution in which everything will be decided by Scripture; and a conference of learned and pious men is wanted to draw it up.'


'That assembly must not be composed of divines only, but of laymen also; and, above all things, no forward step should be taken so long as the pope and the bishops persist in their errors, and even defend them by force.'[646]

When the reformers drew up these articles, they had gradually begun to feel some hope. It is possible, perhaps probable, that unity will be restored.... {360} Moved at the thought, they lifted their eyes towards the mighty arm from which they expected help.


'O that the Lord Jesus Christ would look down from heaven and restore the Church for which he suffered to a pious and perpetual union, which may cause his glory to shine afar!'[647]

Francis and his councillors were satisfied upon the whole;[648] but the doctors of Rome looked with an uneasy eye upon these (to them) detestable negotiations. There was agitation at the Sorbonne and even at the Louvre. All the leaders of the Roman party who had a voice at court made respectful representations. Cardinal de Tournon added remonstrances. Du Bellay held firm; but it was not so with Francis. He hesitated and staggered. An event occurred to give him a fresh impulse, and to legitimatise in his eyes the reforms demanded by his minister.

[612]   'Mores modestissimi.'—Melanchthon to the Queen of Navarre, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 733.

[613]   'Non solum mundities et elegantia singularis, sed etiam quædam non insuavis copia.'—Ibid.

[614]   'Ad quasdam alias operas, a quibus et natura et voluntate abhorret.'—Ibid. p. 735.

[615]   'Paupertas, quasi manus injecit.'—Ibid. p. 752.

[616]   'Velut in quodam numine.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 752.

[617]   'Homo infimæ sortis et ignotus Celsitudini tuæ.'—Ibid.

[618]   'Fama tuæ eximiæ pietatis quæ totum terrarum orbem pervagata est.'—Ibid.

[619]   'Et recensebit ad posteros universa ecclesia.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 733.

[620]   He died there in 1561. See Senebier, Hist. Litt. de Genève. Ch. le Fort, Livre du Recteur, p. 371. Haag, France Protestante, which contains a list of Baduel's numerous writings.

[621]   'Videres in ædibus illis perpetuo accedentes et discedentes atque exeuntes aliquos.'—Camerarius, Vita Melanchthonis, p. 40.

[622]   'Quanta dissipatio reipublicæ et ecclesiæ.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 740.

[623]   'In plerisque dicebat regem esse non alienum a libro Philippi quo locos ille tractat communes.'—Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. iv. p. 114.

[624]   'Regem Gallorum apud pontificem de pace et mitigatione tantarum rerum acturum esse.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 976.

[625]   'Si monarchæ aliqui efficerent ut aliqui boni et docti viri amanter et libere inter se colloquerentur.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 740.

[626]   'Et interdum præter rem tumultuantur.'—Ibid.

[627]   'Usitatam ecclesiæ formam conservare, quantum possibile est.—Ibid.

[628]   'Ut Celsitudo tua, propter Christi gloriam, hortetur summos monarchas.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 740.

[629]   'Sed nihil opus est, te currentem, ut dici solet, adhortari.'—Ibid.

[630]   'Assentior tibi, mi Bucere, desperandam esse concordiam cum pontifice romano.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 275.

[631]   'Dass die obere Gewalt eine heilige sey.'—Schmidt, Zeitschrift für Hist. Theol.

[632]   'Consentientibus symmistis meis.'—Consilium Buceri, Strasburg MSS.

[633]   Hist. of the Ref. of the Sixteenth Century, vol. ii. bk. viii. ch. viii.

[634]   Melanchthon's memoir will be found in the Corpus Reformatorum, published by Dr. Bretschneider, ii. pp. 743-766. I am indebted to Professor Schmidt for a copy of Bucer's memoir, which is in the Strasburg library. The volume containing Hedio's memoir has disappeared from the archives; we have, however, found a few extracts.

[635]   'Concordia esse non potest nisi inter eos qui sunt de ecclesia.'—Consilium Buceri MS.

[636]   'Pontifex et summi reges agnoscant ecclesiæ morbos.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 743.

[637]   'Nisi inter eos qui Christo vere credunt.'—Consilium Buceri.

[638]   'Nec etiam ut nulla omnino labes tolleretur.'—Ibid.

[639]   'Creari tales oporteret.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 746.

[640]   'Locum de justificatione, ut a nostris tractatur, probare regem.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 1017.

[641]   'Viva vivorum membrorum Christi communione.'—Buceri Consilium MS.

[642]   'Hic unus nodus de missa videtur inexplicabilis esse.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 781.

[643]   'Orationes et legendas multas ineptas et impias abrogandas aut saltem emendandas.'—Ibid. p. 1015.

[644]   'Veram Christi in cœna præsentiam exprimi.'—Buceri Cons.

[645]   'Plurimi in manifesta turpitudine vivunt.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 764.

[646]   Schmidt, Zeitschrift für Hist. Theolog. 1850, p. 35.

[647]   'Ut Christus ecclesiam suam ... redigat in concordiam piam et perpetuam.'—Corp. Ref.

[648]   'Hos articulos Francisco regi non displicuisse multa sunt quæ suadent.'—Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. iv. p. 124.


(Summer 1534.)


CALVIN, as it will be remembered, had studied and evangelised at Orleans, and his teaching had left deep traces, particularly among the students and with certain ladies of quality. The wife of the city provost seems to have been one of the souls converted by the ministry of the young reformer. The narrative he has devoted to her, the full details into which he enters, show the interest he took in her conversion.[649] This woman, who occupied a distinguished rank in the city, had found peace for her soul in faith in Christ; she had believed in the promises of the Word which Calvin had explained; she had felt keenly the nothingness of Roman pomps and superstitions; the grace of God was sufficient for her; and caring little for outward adorning, she strove after that which is not corruptible, the ornament of the women who trusted in God. 'She is a Lutheran,' said some; 'she belongs to those who have listened to the teaching of Luther's disciples.' Her husband the provost, a person of influence, a great landowner, an esteemed magistrate, a {362} man of upright, prompt, and energetic character, was touched by the purity of his wife's conduct, and, without being converted to the Gospel, had become disgusted with the Roman superstitions, and despised the monks.

The provostess (to adopt the language of the manuscripts) fell ill, sent for a lawyer, and dictated her will to him. Lying on a bed of sickness, which she was never to leave again, full of a living faith in Christ, she felt certain of going to her Saviour, and experienced an insurmountable repugnance to the performance over her grave of any of the superstitious ceremonies for which devout women have ordinarily such a strong liking. Accordingly, while the notary, pen in hand, was waiting the dictation of her last will, she said: 'I forbid all bell-ringing and chanting at my funeral, and no monks or priests shall be present with their tapers. I desire to be buried without pomp and without torches.' The lawyer was rather surprised, but he wrote down the words; and her husband, who remained near her and knew her faith, promised that her wishes should be kept sacred. When she died, the mortal remains of this pious woman were laid in the tomb of her father and grandfather, with no other accompaniment than the tears of all who had known her, and the prayers of the children of God who formed the little evangelical flock of Orleans.


When the ceremony was over, the provost proceeded to the convent of the Franciscans, in whose cemetery the burial had taken place. He was a liberal man, and, though despising the monks, did not wish to do them wrong, even in appearance. The friars, {363} already much irritated, did not understand what the magistrate wanted with them, and received him very coldly. 'As you were not called upon to do duty,' he told them, 'here are six gold crowns by way of compensation.' The monks, who had reckoned on the death of this lady as a great windfall, were by no means satisfied with the six gold pieces; and, even while taking them, looked sulkily at the widower, and swore to be revenged.

Not long after this, the provost having determined upon cutting down a wood he possessed near Orleans, was giving directions to his workmen, when two monks, following the narrow lanes running through the forest, arrived at the spot where the owner and the woodmen were at work, boldly addressed the former, and demanded in the name of the convent permission to send their waggon once a day during the felling to lay up their store. 'What!' answered the provost, whom the avarice of the monks had always disgusted, 'a waggon a day! Send thirty, my reverend fathers, but (of course) with ready money. All that I want, I assure you, is good speed and good money.'[650]

The two cordeliers returned abashed and vexed, and carried the answer to their superiors. This was too much: two affronts one after the other! The monks consulted together; they desired to be revenged by any means; such heresies, if they were tolerated, would be the ruin of the convents. They deliberated on the best manner of giving a striking lesson to the provost and to all who might be tempted to follow the example of his wife. 'These gentlemen, to be {364} revenged, proceeded to devise a fraud,' says Calvin. Two monks particularly distinguished themselves among the speakers: brother Coliman, provincial and exorcist of great reputation among the grey friars, and brother Stephen of Arras, 'esteemed a great preacher.' These two doctors, wishing to teach the city that monks are not to be offended with impunity, invented a 'tragedy,' which, they thought, would everywhere excite a horror of Lutheranism.

Brother Stephen undertook to begin the drama: he shut himself up in his cell and composed, in a style of the most vulgar eloquence, a sermon which he fancied would terrify everybody. The news of a homily from the great preacher circulated through the city, and when the day arrived, he went up into the pulpit and delivered before a large congregation (for the church was crammed) a 'very touching' discourse, in which he pathetically described the sufferings of the souls in purgatory.... 'You know it,' he exclaimed, 'you know it. The unhappy spirits, tormented by the fire, escape; they return after death, sometimes with great tumult, and pray that some consolation may be given them. Luther, indeed, asserts that there is no purgatory.... What horror! what abominable impiety!' 'The friar forgot nothing,' says Beza, 'to convince his audience that spirits return from purgatory.' The congregation dispersed in great excitement; and after that the least noise at night frightened the devout. The way being thus prepared, the impudent monks arranged among themselves the horrible drama which was to avenge them on the provost and his wife.


On the following night the monks rose at the usual {365} hour and entered the church, carrying their antiphonaires or anthem-books in their hands. They began to chant; their hoarse voices were intoning matins ... when suddenly a frightful tumult was heard, coming from heaven as it seemed, or at least from the ceiling of the church. On hearing this 'great uproar,' the chanting ceased, the monks appeared horrified, and Coliman, the bravest, moved forward, armed with all the weapons of an exorcist, and conjured the evil spirit; but the spirit said not a word. 'What wantest thou?' asked Coliman. There was no answer. 'If thou art dumb,' resumed the exorcist, 'show it us by some sign.' Upon this the spirit made another uproar. The hearers, not in the secret, were terror-stricken. 'All is going on well,' said Coliman, Stephen, and their accomplices; 'now let us circulate the news through Orleans.' The next day the friars visited some of the most considerable personages of the city who were among the number of their devotees. 'A misfortune has happened to us,' they said, without mentioning what it was; 'will you come to our help and be present at our matins?'

These worthy citizens, anxious to know what was the matter, did not go to bed, and went to the convent at midnight. The monks had already assembled in the church to chant their collects, anthems, and litanies; they provided good places for the devout laymen, and with trembling voices began to intone:

Domine! labia...

The words had hardly been uttered, when a frightful noise interrupted the chanting. 'The ghost! the ghost!' exclaimed the terrified monks. Then {366} Coliman, who had 'the usual equipment when he wished to speak to the devil,' came forward, and, playing his part admirably, said, 'Who art thou?'—Silence.—'What dost thou want?'—Silence.—'Art thou dumb?'—Silence.—'If thou art not permitted to speak,' said Coliman, 'answer my questions by signs.... For Yes, give two knocks; and three for No. Now, tell me ... art thou not the ghost of a person buried here?' The ghost began to knock Yes. Then resumed Coliman: 'Art thou the ghost of such a one, or such a one?' naming in succession many of those who were buried in the church; but to each question the ghost answered No. After a long circuit, the exorcist came at last to the point he desired: 'Art thou the ghost of the provostess?' The spirit replied with a loud Yes. The mystery seemed about to be cleared up: a new act of the comedy began. 'Spirit, for what sin hast thou been condemned?' asked the exorcist: 'Is it for pride?'—No! 'Is it for unchastity?'—No! Coliman, after running through all the sins enumerated in Scripture, bethought himself at last, and said: 'Art thou condemned for having been a Lutheran?' Two knocks answered Yes, and all the monks crossed themselves in alarm. 'Now tell us,' continued the exorcist, 'why thou makest such an uproar in the middle of the night? Is it for thy body to be exhumed?'—Yes! There could no longer be any doubt about it: the provostess was suffering for her Lutheranism. The report had been prepared beforehand, but a few witnesses refused to sign it, suspecting some trick. The provincial concealed his vexation, and wishing to excite their imaginations still more strongly, he exclaimed: 'The {367} place is profaned; let us leave it ... as the papal canons command.' Forthwith one of the monks caught up the pyx containing the corpus Domini; another seized the chalice; others took the relics of the saints and 'the rest of their tools;'[651] and all fled into the chapter-room, where divine service was thenceforward celebrated.


The news of this affair soon reached the ears of the bishop's official, and there was much talk about it at the palace. The Franciscans were pretty well known there. 'There is some monkish trick at the bottom,' said the official, an estimable and upright clergyman. He could not conceal his disgust at this cheat of the friars. He thought that these impetuous cordeliers would compromise, and perhaps ruin the cause of religion, instead of advancing it, by their pretended miracles. It was to be one of the peculiarities of protestantism to unveil the cunning, avarice, and hypocrisy of the priests, the workers of miracles. Extraordinary acts of the divine power were manifested at the time of the creation of the Church, as at the time when the heavens and the earth were first made by the Word of God. Is not all creation a miracle? But the Reformation turned away with disgust from the tricks and cheats of the Roman mountebanks, who presumed to ape the power of God. There were even in the Catholic Church men of good sense who shared this opinion. Of this number was the official of Orleans, the man who filled the place which some had destined for Calvin.


He took with him a few honest people, and went to the grey friars' church to inquire more particularly into the fact. He called the monks together: brother Coliman gravely told the whole story, and the official, after hearing their tales, said: 'Well, my brethren, I now order these conjurations to be performed in my presence.—You, gentlemen,' he said to some of his party, 'will mount to the roof and see if any ghost appears.'—'Do nothing of the kind,' exclaimed friar Stephen of Arras, in great alarm; 'you will disturb the spirit!' The official insisted that the conjuration should be performed; but it was not possible; the exorcist and the ghost both remained dumb. The episcopal judge withdrew, confirmed in his views. 'Here's a ghost that appears only to the monks,' he said to his companions; 'it is frightened at the official.' This affair, which made some tremble and others smile, soon became known throughout the city; the news reached the dark and winding streets where the students lived: one told it to another, and all hurried off to the university. Everything was in commotion there: some were for the monks, the majority against them. 'Let us go and see,' exclaimed this young France. Off they started, and arriving in a large body, says Calvin, soon filled the church. They raised their heads, they fixed their eyes on the roof that had become so celebrated; but they waited in vain, it uttered no sound. 'Pshaw!' said they, 'it is a plot the friars have wickedly contrived to be revenged of the provost and his wife. We will find out all about it.' These curious and rather frolicsome youths rushed to the roof in search of the ghost; they looked for it in every corner, they called it, but {369} the phantom was determined to be neither seen nor heard, and the students returned to the university, joking as they went.


There was one person, however, in Orleans who did not joke: it was the provost. Irritated at the insult offered to his wife, he had recourse to the law: a written summons was left at the convent, but the monks refused to put in an answer, pleading the immunities they enjoyed in their ecclesiastical quality. The provost, true to his character, was not willing to lose this opportunity of giving the friars a severe lesson. 'What!' he exclaimed, 'shall these wretches make her, who rests at peace in the grave, the talk of the whole city? If she had been accused in her lifetime, I would have defended her, much more will I do so after her death!' He determined to lay the matter before the king, and set out for Paris.

The story of the ghost who appeared with a great noise in a convent at Orleans, had already reached the capital, and been repeated at court. The monks, in general, were not in high favour there. The courtiers called to mind the words of the king's mother, who thanked God for having taught her son and herself to know 'those hypocrites, white, grey, black, and of all colours.' Du Bellay especially and his friends gladly welcomed a story which set in bold relief the vices of the old system and the necessity of a reform. As soon as the provost reached the capital, he had an audience of the king. Francis, who was not famed for his conjugal affections, could not understand the emotion of the widower; but despising the monks at least as much as his mother and sister did, and delighted to put in practice the new reforming ideas {370} which were growing in his mind, he resolved to seize the opportunity of humbling the insolence of the convents. He granted all the provost asked; he nominated councillors of parliament to investigate the matter; and as the cordeliers pleaded their immunities, Duprat, in his quality of legate, gave, by papal authority, power to the commissioners to proceed.

The day when the royal agents arrived at Orleans was a day of sorrow to one part of the inhabitants of that city, but of joy to the greater number. People looked with astonishment on these gentlemen from Paris, who would be stronger than the monks, and would punish them for their long tyranny. A crowd followed them to the convent, and when they had entered, waited until they came out again. Oh! how every one of them would have liked to see what was going on within those gloomy walls! The officers of the parliament spoke to the monks with authority, exhibited their powers, and arrested the principal culprits, to the great consternation of all the other monks. Some wretched carts stood at the gate of the monastery; the archers brought out the insolent friars; and the crowd, to its unutterable amazement, saw them mount like vulgar criminals into these poor vehicles, which the maréchaussée was preparing to escort. What inexpressible disgrace for the disciples of St. Francis!


The news of the arrest had spread to all the sacristies, parsonages, and convents of the city, and a cry of persecution arose everywhere. At the moment of departure, a bigoted and excited crowd collected round the carts in which sat the reverend fathers, quite out of countenance at their misfortune. These {371} people, some of whom no doubt were fanatics, but amongst whom were many who felt a sincere affection for the monks, wept bitterly; they uttered loud lamentations, and put money into the friars' hands, 'as much to make good cheer with,' says Calvin, 'as to help in their defence.'[652] But in the midst of this dejected crowd might be observed some citizens and jeering students, who exclaimed: 'Fine champions, indeed, to oppose the Gospel!' Certain sayings of Luther had crossed the Rhine, and were circulating among the youths of the schools: 'Who made the monks?' asked one. 'The devil,' answered another. 'God having created the priests, the devil (as is always the case) wished to imitate him, but in his bungling he made the crown of the head too large, and instead of a priest he turned out a monk.'[653] Such was the exodus of the reverend fathers: they arrived in Paris, and there they were separated and confined in different places, in order that they might not confer with one another.

The deception was manifest, but it was impossible to obtain a confession. The monks had sworn to keep profound silence, in order to preserve the honour of their order and of religion, and also to save themselves. They called to mind what had happened in the Dominican convent at Berne in 1500: how a soul had appeared there in order to be delivered from purgatory; how the five wounds of St. Francis had been marked on a poor novice; and how, at the request of the papal legate, four of the guilty monks had been burnt {372} alive.[654] Might not the same punishment be inflicted on a monk of Orleans? They trembled at the very thought. In vain, therefore, did the councillors of parliament begin their inquiry; in vain did they go from one house to another, and enter the rooms where these reverend fathers were confined: the monks were sullen, unfathomable, and more silent than the ghost itself.

The judges determined to try what they could with the novice who had acted the part of the ghost; but if the monks were silent, sullen, and immovable, the novice was agitated and frightened out of his senses. The friars had uttered the most terrible threats; and hence, when he was interrogated, 'he held firm,' says the Geneva manuscript, 'fearing, if he spoke, that the cordeliers would kill him.' The judges then reminded him of the power of the parliament and the protection of the king. 'You shall never return into the hands of the monks,' they told him. At these words the poor young fellow began to breathe; he recovered from his great fright; his tongue was loosened, and he 'explained the whole affair to the judges,' says Beza. 'I made a hole in the roof,' he said, 'to which I applied my ear, to hear what the provincial said to me from below. Then I struck a plank which I held in my hand, and I hit it hard enough for the noise to be heard by the reverend fathers underneath. That was all the fun,' he added.


The friars were then confronted with the novice, who stoutly maintained the cheat got up by them. They were both indignant and alarmed at seeing this {373} pitiful varlet turning against their reverences; but as it was now impossible to deny the fact, they began to protest against their judges, and to plead their privileges once more. They were condemned; the indignation was general, the king especially being greatly irritated. All his life long he looked upon the monks, black or white, as his personal enemies. Besides, the hatred he felt against that lazy and ignorant herd was, he thought, one of his attributes as the Father of Letters. His anger broke out in the midst of his court: 'I will pull down their convent!' he exclaimed, 'and build in its place a palace for the duke!' (that is, for the Duke of Orleans, Catherine's husband). All the councillors of parliament, both lay and clerical, were assembled. The haughty Coliman, the eloquent brother Stephen, and their accomplices were forced to stand at the bar, and sentence was solemnly delivered. They were to be taken to the Chatelet prison at Orleans; there they would be stripped of their frocks, be led into the cathedral, and then, set on a platform with tapers in their hands, they were to confess 'that, with certain fraud and deliberate malice, they had plotted such wickedness.' Thence they were to be taken to their convent, and afterwards to the place of public execution, where they would again confess their crime.

This promised the idlers of Orleans a still more extraordinary spectacle than that given them when the friars got into their carts. Every day they expected to see the sentence carried out; but the government feared to appear too favourable to the Lutherans. The matter was protracted; some of the monks died in prison; the others were suffered to {374} escape; and thus ended an affair which characterises the epoch, and shows the weapons that a good many priests used against the Reformation. If the sentence was never executed, the moral influence of the story was immense, and we shall presently see some of its effects.

[649]   Calvin's manuscript narrative, recently discovered in the Geneva library by Dr. J. Bonnet, has been printed in the Bulletin de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, iii. p. 33.

[650]   This affair is mentioned by Sleidan and Theodore Beza, both of whom appear to have seen Calvin's narrative.

[651]   Calvin, Hist. de l'Esprit des Cordeliers d'Orléans. Geneva MS. (Bulletin de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, iii.) Beza, Hist. Eccles. p. 11. Sleidan, i. p. 361.

[652]   Calvin's MS. Bulletin de l'Hist. du Prot. Fran. iii. p. 36.

[653]   Lutheri Opp. xxii. p. 1463.

[654]   History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, vol. ii. bk. viii. ch. ii.


(Autumn 1534.)


THE disgust inspired by the imposture of the cordeliers of Orleans, and the jests lavished upon the monks in the Louvre and throughout Paris, were further encouragements to the king to prosecute his alliances with protestantism. He had, however, little need of a fresh incentive; the reform proposed by Melanchthon was in his view acceptable and advantageous, because it diminished the power of the pope, and corrected abuses incompatible with the new light, at the same time that it left untouched that catholicism from which the king had no desire to secede. In his private conversations with Du Bellay, Francis, laying aside all reserve, acknowledged frankly that the Romish Church was upon the wrong track, and said in a confidential tone, that 'Luther was not so far wrong as people said.' He did not fear to add that it was himself rather who had been mistaken. The King of France, and the country along with him, thus appeared to be in a good way for reform.

Francis determined to acquaint the protestant princes with his sentiments on Melanchthon's memoir. 'My envoy, on his return to Paris,' he wrote, 'having laid before me the opinions of your doctors on the {376} course to be pursued, I entertain a hope of seeing the affairs of religion enter upon a fair way at last.'[655] Du Bellay, well satisfied on his part with the impression made on his master by the opinions of the evangelical divines, informed the magistrates of Augsburg, Ulm, Nuremberg, Meiningen, and other imperial cities, that the King of France approved of the Lutheran doctrines, and would protect the protestants. The Melanchthonian reformation was therefore in progress, and already men were preparing the stones for the edifice of the reformed Catholic Church. The French government did not confine itself to writing letters; but, strange to say! the sovereign, the absolute monarch, did not fear to make an acknowledgment of his errors, and to express his regret: he sent a thorough palinode into Germany. He who was putting the Lutherans to death was not far from declaring himself a Lutheran. In October and November 1534, an agent from Francis I. visited the cities of the Germanic empire, announcing everywhere that 'the king now saw his mistake in religious matters,'[656] and that the Germans who followed Luther thought correctly as regards the faith that is in Christ.[657] The worthy burgomasters and councillors of Germany were amazed at such language, and looked at one another with an incredulous air; but the French envoy assured them repeatedly that the King of France desired a reform even in his own {377} country.... 'The emperor,' he added, 'wishes to constrain the protestants by force of arms to keep to the old doctrine; but the King of France will not permit it. He has sent me into Germany to form an alliance with you to that intent.' Such was the strange news circulated beyond the Rhine. It reached the ears of the Archbishop of Lunden, who immediately forwarded it to Charles V.

When Francis I. annulled the pragmatic sanction at the beginning of his reign, he had reserved the right of appointing bishops, and had thus made the Church subordinate to the State. The time seemed to have arrived for taking a second step. It was necessary to put an end to the popish superstitions and abuses, condemned by the friends of letters, whose patron he claimed to be, and thus satisfy the protestants; and, by a wise reform, maintain in Europe the catholicity of the Church, which the popes were about to destroy by their incredible obstinacy. The king would thus appear to be a better guardian of European catholicism than even the pope, and secure for himself that European preponderance which Charles V. had hitherto possessed.


He must set his hand to the work and begin with the clergy. The king, seeing that it would be unwise to communicate to them unreservedly the opinions of the reformers, as they had been read at the Louvre, resolved to have a new edition of them prepared, which should contain the essential ideas. It would appear that he confided this task to a numerous commission.[658] {378} William du Bellay and his brother the Bishop of Paris were doubtless the two chief members. The commissioners set to work, correcting, suppressing, adding, hitting certain popular superstitions a little harder even than the reformers, and at length they prepared a memoir which may be considered as a statement of what the French government meant by the proposed reformation.[659] The changes made by the French excited much discontent among the German protestants, and Melanchthon himself complained of them bitterly.[660]

The king, who carried into every pursuit the courage and fire of which he had given so many proofs on the field of battle, appeared at first to attack the papacy with the same resolution that he would have employed in attacking one of Charles's armies. It must be clearly remembered that, in his idea, the reform which he was preparing carried with it the cessation of schism, and that his plan would restore the catholicity torn to pieces by Roman insolence and imprudence. This remark, if duly weighed, justifies the king's boldness. He sent the project to Rome, we are assured, asking the pope to support or to amend it.[661] We may imagine the alarm of the Vatican on reading this heretical memoir. Then Du Bellay, taking the Sorbonne in hand, had a conference with the deputies of that illustrious body, whose whole influence was ever employed {379} in maintaining the factitious unity that characterises the papacy. 'Gentlemen,' he said to them, 'by the king's commands I have endeavoured to prevail upon the German churches to moderate the doctrines on which they separated from the Roman Church, wishing thus to lead them back to union. By order, therefore, of my master, I hand you the present articles, to receive instruction from you as to what I shall have to say to the German doctors.'[662] The deputies having received the paper from Du Bellay, forwarded it to the sacred faculty. The latter delegated to examine it 'eminent men, doctors of experience in such matters,'[663] who immediately set to work.


The secretary of the Sorbonne began to read the articles: the doctors listened and soon began to look at each other and ask if they had heard correctly. The venerable committee was agitated like the surface of the sea by a sudden squall. They knew Francis; they knew he did not think there existed in his kingdom any society daring enough to set limits to his power. He expected that a word from his mouth would be considered as a decree from God. The doctors came to the conclusion, therefore, that if the king desired such a reform, nothing in the world could prevent him from establishing it. They saw the Church laid waste, and Rome in ruins.... It was the beginning of the end. Their terror and alarm increased every minute. All the sacred faculty, all the Church must rise and exclaim: 'Stop, Sire, or we perish!'

The French autocrat, however, took his precautions, {380} and even while meditating how he could strip the pope of his power, he put on a pleasant face, and ascribed to others the blows aimed by his orders against Rome. 'They are Melanchthonian articles,' said his ministers.[664] True, but behind Melanchthon was Du Bellay, and behind him was the king. The tactics employed at this moment by Francis I. are of all times; and if the multitude is sometimes deceived, intelligent minds have always recognised the thoughts of the supreme mover under the pen of the humble secretary. The movement of Francis towards independence is in no respect surprising: the outburst is quite French if it is not christian. There has always existed in France a spirit of liberty so far as concerns the Church; and the most pious kings, even St. Louis, have defended the rights of their people against the holy see. The Gallican liberties, although they are nothing more than a dilapidated machine, are still a memorial of something; and what is dilapidated to-day may be restored to-morrow. It was therefore a truly French feeling,—it was that hidden chord which vibrates at the bottom of every generous heart, from the Channel to the Mediterranean Sea, whose harmonious sound was heard at this important period of the reign of Francis I.

The venerable company had some difficulty to recover from their alarm. What! really, not in a dream, not figuratively, heresy is at the gates of the Church of France, introduced by the king ... who courteously offers her his hand!... The terrified Sorbonne raised a cry of horror, and mustered all their forces to prevent the heretic from entering. They turned over the {381} volumes of the doctors; they opposed the Summa of St. Thomas to the Epistles of St. Paul; they sought by every means in their power to defend stoutly the scholastic doctrine in the presence of Francis. A fireship had been launched by the guilty hand of the king: did that prince imagine he would see the glorious vessel, which had so long been mistress of the seas, in a hurry to lower her flag? The crew were valiant, determined upon a deadly resistance, and ready to blow themselves into the air with the ship, rather than capitulate. The struggle between the king and the corporation was about to begin. Alas! Beda was no longer there to support them, and recourse must be had to others. 'Master Balue was elected to go to court, carrying the registers, and Master Jacques Petit was given him as his associate.'[665] The Sorbonne was poor in resources: the strong men were in the camp of Luther, Calvin, and Melanchthon.


What was said at court between Master Balue, Master Petit, and the King of France, has not been recorded; but we have the memoir sent by the king to the Sorbonne, and the answer returned by that body to the king. These documents may enlighten us as to what passed at the conference, and we shall allow them to speak for themselves, arranging the former under the name of the king's ministers. William du Bellay, his brother the Bishop of Paris, and others probably were the persons empowered by the king to confer with Master Balue and Master Jacques Petit. They were champions of very different causes—the men who then met, probably at the Louvre, in the {382} presence of Francis I., and whom we are about to hear.

The King's Ministers.

'To establish a real concord in the Church of God, we must all of us first look at Christ; we must subject ourselves to him, and seek his glory, not our own.'[666]


'We have heard his Majesty's good and holy words, for which we all thank God, praying him to give the king grace to persevere.'[667]

This was doubtless a mere compliment.



'Above all things, let us remember that the doctors of the Word of God ought not to fight like gladiators, and defend all their opinions mordicus (tooth and nail);[668] but rather, imitating St. Augustin in his Retractations, they should be willing to give way a little to one another ... without prejudice to truth.'


'Open your eyes, Sire; the Germans desire, in opposition to your catholic intention, that we should give way to them by retrenching certain ceremonies and ordinances which the Church has hitherto observed. {383} They wish to draw us to them, rather than be converted to us.'[669]


'You are mistaken: important concessions have been obtained. The Germans are of opinion that bishops must hold the chief place among the ministers of the Churches, and that a pontiff at Rome should hold the first place among the bishops. But, on the other hand, the pontifical power must have respect for consciences, consult their wants, and be ready to concede to them some relaxation.'[670]


'It must not be forgotten that the ecclesiastical hierarchy is of divine institution, and will last until the end of time; that man can neither establish nor destroy it, and that every christian must submit to it.'[671]


'Having established the catholicity of the Church, let us consider what reforms must be effected in order to preserve it. First, there are indifferent matters, such as food, festivals, ecclesiastical vestments, and other ceremonials, on which we shall easily come to an understanding. Let us beware of constraining men to fast by commandments which nobody observes ... and least of all those who make them.'[672]



'None resist them but men corrupted by depraved passions.'[673]



'Certain doctors of the Church, making use of a holy prosopopœia, have introduced into their discourses the saints whom they were eulogising, and have prayed for their intercession as if they were present before them;[674] but they only desired by this means to excite admiration for these godly persons, rather than to obtain anything by their intercession.... Let the people, then, be exhorted not to transfer to the saints the confidence which is due to Jesus Christ alone. It is Christ's will to be invoked and to answer prayer.'[675]

Here the French mind indulged in a sly hit which would not have occurred to the German mind; and the king's councillors, determining to strike hard, continued:

'What abuses and disorders have sprung out of this worship of man! Observe the words, the songs, the actions of the people on the saints' days, near their graves or near their images! Mark the eagerness with which the idle crowd hurries off to banquets, games, dances, and quarrels. Watch the practices of all those paltry, ignorant, greedy priests, who think of nothing but putting money in their purses; and then ... tell us whether we do not in all these things {385} resemble pagans, and revive their shameful superstitions?'[676]

Not a word of this popular description of saints' days will be found in Melanchthon's memoir: it is entirely the work of Francis and his councillors.


'Let us beware how we forsake ancient customs. Let us address our prayers directly to the saints who are our patrons and intercessors under Jesus Christ. To assert that they have not the prerogative of healing diseases, is in opposition to your Majesty's personal experience and the gift you have received from God of curing the king's evil.... Let us also pay our devotions to statues and images, since the seventh general council commands them to be adored.'[677]

When the Sorbonne, in order to defend the prerogatives of the saints, cited the miraculous powers of the king, they employed an argument to which it was dangerous to reply; and, accordingly, we find nothing on this point in the answers of the opponents of the faculty. The discussion, getting off this shoal, turned to the act which is the essence of the Romish doctrine, and priests were once more lashed by the royal hand, which was even more skilful at this work than in curing the evil.


'There ought to be in the Church a living communion {386} of the members of Christ.[678] But, alas! what do we find there? A crowd of ignorant and filthy priests, the plague of society, a burden to the earth, a slothful race who can do nothing but say mass, and who, while saying it, do not even utter those five intelligible words, preferable, as St. Paul thinks, to ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.... We must get rid of these mercenaries, these mass-mongers, who have brought that holy ceremony into contempt, and we must supply their place with holy, learned, and experienced men.[679] Then perhaps the Lord's Supper will recover the esteem it has lost. Then, instead of an unmeaning babble, we shall have psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. Then we shall sing to the Saviour, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.... What false confidence, what wretched delusion is that which leads so many souls to believe that by attending mass every day, even when piety is neglected, they are performing an act useful to themselves and their friends, both for this life and for that which is to come!'[680]


The Sorbonne contended for the external mechanism of the sacramental act, to which their opponents desired to impart a spiritual and living character, and defended without shame or scruple the material advantages the clergy derived from it. {387}


'The mass is a real sacrifice, of great benefit to the living and the dead, and its excellence is founded on the passion of Jesus Christ. It is right, therefore, to bestow temporal gifts on those who celebrate it, be they good or bad; and the priests who receive them ought not to be called mass-mongers, even though they are paid.'[681]

The king's ministers now came to the much disputed doctrine of the presence of Christ in the communion.


'Let us put aside the disputes that have divided us so long.[682] Let us all confess that in the eucharist the Lord truly gives believers his body to eat and his blood to drink to feed our souls in life everlasting; and that in this manner Christ remains in us and we in Christ. Whether this sacrament be called the Lord's Supper, the Lord's bread and wine, mass, eucharist, love-feast, or sacrifice, is of little moment. Christians ought not to dispute about names, if they possess the things; and, as the proverb says, "When we have the bear before us, let us not look after his track."[683] Communion with Christ is obtained by faith, and cannot be demonstrated by human arguments. When we treat of theology, let us not fall into matæology.'[684]


The Sorbonne could not overlook this side-blow aimed at the scholastic style.


'It is very useful, and often very necessary for the extirpation of heresy, to employ words not to be found in Scripture, such as transubstantiation, &c.[685] Yes, the bread and the wine are truly changed in substance, preserving only the accidents, and becoming the body and blood of Christ. It is not true that the panitas or corporitas of the bread combines with the corporitas of Christ. The transubstantiation is effected in instanti and not successivè; and it is certain that neither laymen nor women can accomplish this miraculous act, but priests only.'

The controversy next turned on confession, justification, faith, works, and free-will; after which they came to practical questions.


'Good men do not ask that the monasteries should be destroyed, but be turned into schools;[686] so that thus the liberality of our brethren may serve to maintain, not idle people, but men who will instruct youth in sound learning and morality.'


'What! the pope should permit the friars to leave their monasteries whenever they wish! This clearly {389} shows us that the Germans are aiming at the overthrow, the ruin of all religion.'[687]


'And what prevents our restoring liberty of marriage to the ministers of the Church? Did not Bishop Paphnucius acknowledge at the Nicene council that those who forbid it encourage licentiousness? In that great crowd of priests and monks it is impossible for purity of life to be restored otherwise than by the divine institution which dates from Eden.'[688]


'An article quite as dangerous as the secularisation of monks.'



'In this age, when everything is in a ferment,[689] and when so many sects are raising their heads in various places, the interest of the christian Church requires that there should be an assembly composed not only of priests and theologians, but also of laymen and upright, sensible, courageous magistrates, who have at heart the glory of the Lord, public morality, and general usefulness.... Ah! it would be easy to agree if we thought of Christ's glory rather than of our own!'[690]


The doctors of the Sorbonne had no great liking for deliberative assemblies where they would sit with laymen and even with heretics.


'Beware! ... it is to be feared that, under the pretext of uniting with us, the heretics are conspiring to lead the people astray.... Have we not seen such assemblies in Germany, called together on a pretence of concord, produce nothing but divisions, discord, and infinite ruin of souls?'[691]

But the Sorbonne warned the king in vain. Francis at this time, through policy no doubt, was opposed to the doctrines maintained by the priests. He desired to be freed at home from that papal supremacy which presumed to direct the policy and religion of his kingdom; and abroad he knew that a league with England and Germany could alone destroy the overwhelming preponderance of Charles V. And hence the meetings of the Sorbonne grew more and more agitated; the doctors repeated to one another all the alarming reports they had heard; there was sorrow and anger; never, they thought, had Roman-catholicism in France been threatened with such terrible danger. It was no longer a few obscure sects; no longer a Brueys, a Henry of Lausanne, a Valdo, Albigenses, or Waldenses, who attacked the Church: no! powerful states, Germany and England, were separating from the papacy, and the absolute monarch of France was endeavouring to introduce revolutionary principles into his kingdom. The Church, as its {391} Head had once been, was deserted by its friends. The grandees who were subsequently to form a league around the Guises, were silent now; the rough and powerful Montmorency himself seemed dumb; and, accordingly, agitation and alarm prevailed in the corporation. Certain ultramontane fanatics proposed petitioning the king to put down heresy by force, and to uphold the Roman dogmas by fire and sword. More moderate catholics, observing with sorrow the catholicity so dear to them rent by schism, sought for more rational means of restoring the unity destroyed by the Reformation. Everybody saw clearly that the enemy was at the gate, and that no time must be lost in closing it.


Alas! they had to deal with others besides heretics. All reflecting minds in Europe, and especially in France, were struck with the example set by the King of England, and the members of the Roman party thought that Francis was about to adopt the same course in his kingdom. There was indeed a difference between the systems of these two princes. Henry desired the doctrine of Rome, but not its bishop; Francis accepted the bishop, but rejected the doctrine. Nevertheless, as each of these reforms was a heavy blow aimed at the system of the middle ages, they were looked upon as identical. The success which Henry's plan had met with in England was an indication of what Francis's plan would meet with in France. The two monarchs who reigned on each side of the Channel were equally absolute.

The Roman doctors, finding that their controversy had not succeeded, resolved to go to work in a more cunning way, and, without seeming to reject a union {392} with Germany, to oppose the heretics by putting them out of court. 'Sire,' they said to Francis, 'your very humble servants and most obedient subjects of the Faculty of Theology pray you to ask the Germans whether they confess that the Church militant, whose head (under Jesus) is Peter and his successors, is infallible in faith and morals? whether they agree to obey him as his subjects, and are willing to admit all the books contained in the Bible,[692] as well as the decisions of the councils, popes, and doctors?'[693] Obedience to the pope and to tradition, without discussing doctrines, was their summary of the controversy. It did not succeed.


The doctors of the faculty, finding that the king would not aid them, applied to the papal nuncio. They found him also a prey to fear. They began to consult together on the best means of keeping France in communion with the holy see. As Francis was deaf to theological arguments, the Sorbonne and the nuncio agreed that some other means must be used. The prelate went to the Louvre, carrying with him a suggestion which the Sorbonne had prompted. 'Sire,' he said, 'be not deceived. The protestants will upset all civil as well as religious order.... The throne is in as much danger as the altar.... The introduction of a new religion must necessarily introduce a new government.'[694]

That was indeed the best way of treating the affair; the nuncio had found the joint in the armour, and the {393} king was for a moment staggered; but the pope's conduct restored his confidence. Rome began to proceed against Henry VIII. as she had formerly done against kings in the middle ages. This proceeding, so offensive to the royal dignity, drew Francis towards the Reformation. If there is danger towards royal power, it exists on both sides, he thought. He believed even that the danger was greater on the side of Rome than of Germany, since the protestants of that country showed their princes the most loyal submission, and the most religious and profound respect. He had observed, that while the pope desired to deprive the King of England of his states and release his subjects from their obedience, the reformation which that prince had carried out had not prejudiced one of his rights; that there was a talk, indeed, of insurrections against Henry VIII., but they were got up by Rome and her agents. Enlightened men suggested to Francis, that while popery kept the people in slavery, and caused insurrection and rebellion against the throne, the Reformation would secure order and obedience to kings, and liberty to the people. He seems to have been convinced ... for the moment at least. 'England and I,' he said, 'are accustomed to keep together and to manage our affairs in harmony with each other, and we shall continue to do so.'[695]

This new movement on the part of Francis emboldened the evangelicals. They hoped that he would go on to the end, and would not leave the pope even the {394} little place which he intended to reserve for him. If a prince like Louis IX. maintained the rights of the Gallican Church in the thirteenth century; if a king like Charles VII. restored ecclesiastical liberty in the fifteenth; shall we not see in this universal revival of the sixteenth century a monarch like Francis I. emancipating France from the Roman yoke? At a great sacrifice he has just done much for Wurtemberg, and will he do nothing for his own kingdom? The friends of the Reformation encouraged one another to entertain the brightest hopes. 'What a noble position!' they said.[696] Whenever they met, whether in the university, in the country, or in the town, they exchanged congratulations.[697] In their opinion, old things had passed away.


But there were other evangelicals—men more decided and more scriptural—who looked with a distrustful eye upon these mysterious conferences between Francis and the protestants of Germany. Those fine speeches of Du Bellay, and that remarkable conference at Bar-le-Duc, were in their eyes policy and diplomacy, but not religion. They felt uneasy and alarmed; and when they met to pray in their obscure conventicles, these humble christians said to one another with terror: 'Satan is casting his net to catch those who are not on the watch. Let us examine the colours in which he is disguised.' Astonished and even distressed, they asked if it was not strange to assert, as Melanchthon had done, 'that no good man would protest against the monarchy of the Roman bishop,[698] and that, in consideration {395} of certain reforms, we should hasten to recognise him!' No, the Roman episcopate will never be reformed, they said. Remodel it as you like, it will always betray its domineering spirit, revive its ancient tricks, and regain its ascendency, even by fire. We must be on our guard.... Between Rome and the Reformation it is a matter of mere yes or no: the pope or Jesus Christ! Unable to conquer the new Church in fair fight, they hope to strangle it in their embraces. Delilah will lull to sleep in her lap the prophet whom the strong men have been unable to bind with green withes and new ropes. Under the pretence of screening the Reform from evil influences, they desire to set it, like a flower of the field, in some place without light and air, where, fading and pining away ... it will perish. Thanks to the protection of the Queen of Navarre, the gallant and high-spirited charger that loved to sport in the meadows is about to be taken to the king's stable, where it will be adorned with a magnificent harness ... but its mouth will be deformed by the bit, its flanks torn by the spur, and even the plaits of its mane will bear witness to its degradation.

This future was not reserved for the Reform. While the mild and prudent voices of Melanchthon and Bucer were soothing it to sleep, innocently enough no doubt, bolder and freer voices, those of a Farel and a Calvin, were preparing to arouse it. While the papers of the conciliating theologians were lying on the velvet cover of the royal table, another paper, whose lines of fire seemed penned by the thunderbolt, was about to circulate through the kingdom, and be posted even at the door of the king's chamber by a too daring hand, {396} which was to arouse in that prince one of the most terrible bursts of passion ever recorded in history. A loud peal of thunder would be heard, and the heavy atmosphere which stifled men's minds would be followed by a pure and reviving air. There would be furious tempests; but the christians of the scriptural, practical, and radical Reformation rejoiced at witnessing the failure of this specious but impossible project, which aimed at reforming the Church even while preserving Roman-catholicism. The system of the Queen of Navarre will have to be abandoned; that of Calvin will prevail. To uphold truth, the evangelicals were about to sacrifice unity. No doubt furious persecutions would be the consequence, but they said to each other that it was better to live in the midst of hurricanes that awaken, than in mephitic vapours which lull men into the sleep of death.

We shall describe hereafter the event which had so notable an influence on the destinies of the Reformation in France. They were Frenchmen who caused it; it was a Frenchman who was the principal author; but it was from Switzerland, as we shall see, that this formidable blow was to come, and to that country we must now return.

[655]   'Dadurch Ich in gute Hoffnung kommen die Sachen sollten auf gute Wege gerichtet werden.' This German translation of the king's letter is given in the Corp. Ref. ii. pp. 828-835.

[656]   'Rex suus cognoscit nunc errorem suum in religione.'—Lanz, Correspondance de l'Empereur Charles-Quint, ii. p. 144.

[657]   'Quod isti Germani Lutherum sequentes de Christo et de fide illius recte sentiant.'—Ibid.

[658]   'Fuerunt illi (Melanchthonis articuli) a quamplurimis in Gallia excerpti, sed non integri verum mutilati.'—Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. iv. p. 124.

[659]   This memoir is printed in the Corpus Reformatorum, ii. pp. 765-775; and while Melanchthon's is entitled Consilium Gallis Scriptum, this is headed Idem Scriptum a Gallis editum.

[660]   'Qua de re Melanchthon ipse conqueritur.'—Gerdesius, iv. p. 124.

[661]   'Eosdem articulos Romam misisse dicitur, quo pontificis ipsius quoque impetraret vel emendationem vel consensum.'—Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. iv. p. 124.

[662]   D'Argentré, De novis Erroribus, i. p. 3553. Gerdesius, iv. App. xiii.

[663]   Letter from the Faculty of Theology to Francis I. D'Argentré, i. p. 3953. Gerdesius, iv. App. xiii.

[664]   D'Argentré, i. p. 3953. Gerdesius, iv. App. xiii.

[665]   Gerdesius, i. App. xiii. p. 75.

[666]   'Necessarium ut in Christum omnes spectemus.'—Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 765.

[667]   Facultatis Theologiæ Parisiensis Responsum ad Regem Franciscum, D'Argentré, i. p. 3953.—Gerdesius, iv. App. p. 75.

[668]   'Nec geramus alterutri gladiatorios animos nostra mordicus defendendi.'—Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 765.

[669]   Facultatis Theol. Paris. Resp. ad Regem. Gerdesius, iv. App. p. 75.

[670]   'Ut consulat conscientiis, aliquando concedere relaxationem.'-Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 766.

[671]   'Jure divino institutam, quæ usque ad consummationem sæculi perduratura est.'—Gerdesius, iv. App. p. 78.

[672]   'Quæ tamen nemo observat, atque hi minime omnium qui præcipiunt.'—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 767.

[673]   D'Argentré, i. p. 397. Gerdesius, iv. App. p. 79.

[674]   'Pia mortuorum facta prosopopœia ... quasi præsentes a præsentibus orasse.'—Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 768.

[675]   'Qui et velit invocari et velit exaudire.'—Ibid.

[676]   'Videbimus nos minime abesse a superstitione Ethnicorum.'—Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corp. Ref. ii. p. 768.

[677]   'Statuas et imagines sanctorum quas adorandas sept. œcum. synodus decernit.'—Facultatis Theol. Paris. Resp.

[678]   'Viva membrorum Christi communione.'—Scriptum a Gallis ed. Corp. Ref. ii. p. 769.

[679]   'Semotis his missarum conducticiis nundinatoribus.'—Ibid.

[680]   'Præpostera ejus operis fiducia quæ plerosque sic seduxit.'—Ibid.

[681]   'Vocari non debent nundinatores.'—Facult. Theol. Paris Resp.

[682]   'Sublatis quæ inter nos diu viguerunt altercationibus.'—Script. a Gallis ed., Corp. Ref. ii. p. 770.

[683]   'Præsente urso, quod dicitur, vestigia non quæramus.'—Ibid.

[684]   'Theologiam sic tractemus ut non incidamus in matæologiam.'—Ibid.

[685]   'Utile et necessarium certa verborum forma uti, in sacra scriptura non expressa.'—Facult. Theol. Paris. Resp. p. 82.

[686]   'Non petunt boni ut monasteria deleantur, sed ut sint scholæ.'—Script. a Gallis ed., Corp. Ref. ii. p. 773.

[687]   Facultatis Theologiæ Parisiensis Responsum. Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. p. 76.

[688]   'In tanta sacerdotum et monachorum turba restitui aliter vitæ puritas non poterit.'—Scriptum a Gallis editum, Corpus Reformatorum, ii. p. 774.

[689]   'Hoc fermentato sæculo.'—Ibid.

[690]   'Perfacile autem coalescere possumus.'—Ibid.

[691]   Facultatis Theologiæ Parisiensis Responsum. Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. p. 77.

[692]   Including the apocryphal books.

[693]   Facultatis Theologiæ Parisiensis Responsum. Gerdesius, Hist. Evang. renov. iv. App. p. 77.

[694]   Du Bellay, Mémoires, ed. Petitot, Introd. p. 123. Schmidt, Hist. Theol. p. 36 (ed. 1850).

[695]   'England und Ich pflegen zusammen zu halten und sämmtlich unsere Sachen vornehmen.'—Rex Galliæ ad principes protest. Corp. Ref. ii. p. 830.

[696]   'Quam pulchre staremus.'—Sturm to Melanchthon, MS.

[697]   Ibid.

[698]   'Neque bonus ullus erit, qui reclamet in pontificis monarchiam.—Corp. Ref. ii. p. 762.




THE Reformation was necessary to christian society. The Renaissance, daughter alike of ancient and of modern Rome, was a movement of revival, and yet it carried with it a principle of death, so that wherever it was not transformed by heavenly forces, it fell away and became corrupted. The influence of the humanists—of such men as Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, and afterwards of Montaigne—was a balmy gale that shed its odours on the upper classes, but exerted no power over the lower ranks of the people. In the elegant compositions of the men of letters, there was nothing for the conscience, that divinely appointed force of the human race. The work of the Renaissance, had it stood alone, must of necessity, therefore, have ended in failure and death. There are persons in these days who think otherwise: they believe that a new state of {398} society would have arisen without the Reformation, and that political liberty would have renewed the world better than the Gospel. This is assuredly a great error. At that time liberty had scarcely any existence in Europe, and even had it existed, and the dominion of conscience not reappeared along with it, it is certain that, though powerful enough, perhaps, to destroy the old elements of order prevailing in society, it would have been unable to substitute any better elements in their place. If, even in the nineteenth century, we tremble sometimes when we hear the distant explosions of liberty, what must have been the feeling in the sixteenth? The men who were about to appear on the theatre of the world were still immersed in disorder and barbarism. Everything betokened great virtues in the new generation, but also tumultuous passions; a divine heroism, but also gigantic crimes; a mighty energy, but at its side a languishing insensibility. A renewed society could not be constituted out of such elements. It wanted the divine breath to inspire high thoughts, and the hand of God to establish everywhere the providential order.

At the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, society was in a state of excitement. The world was in suspense, as when the statuary is about to create a work that shall be the object of universal admiration. The metal is melted, the mass flows from the furnace like glowing brass; but the approaching lava alarms, and not without reason, the anxious spectators. At this period we witness struggles, insurrections, and reaction. The perfumed spirit of the Renaissance was unable to check the evil and to establish order and liberty. Society had appeared to {399} grow young again under the breath of antiquity; but wherever a knowledge of the Gospel was not combined with the cultivation of letters, that purity, boldness, and elevation of youth, which at first had charmed contemporaries, disappeared. The melting was checked, the metal grew cold, and instead of the masterpiece that had been expected, there appeared the repulsive forms of servility, immorality, and superstition.


Was there any means of preventing so fatal a future? How, in the midst of the old society, which was crumbling to pieces, could a new one be formed, with any certain prospect of vitality? In religion only the coming age was to find its living force. If the conscience of man was awakened and sanctified by christianity, then and then only the world would stand.

Was it possible to look for this regenerating element in the society which was expiring? That would be to search among the dead for the principle of life. It was necessary to have recourse to the primitive sources of faith. The Gospel, more human than literature, more divine than philosophy, exerts an influence over man that these two things cannot possess. It goes down into the depths—that is, into the people—which the Renaissance had not done; it rises towards the high places—that is, towards heaven—which philosophy cannot do. When the Gospel lifted up its voice in the days of the Reformation, the people listened. It spoke to them of God, sin, condemnation, pardon, everlasting life—in a word, of Christ. The human soul discovered that this was what it wanted; and was touched, captivated, and finally {400} renewed. The movement was all the more powerful because the doctrine preached to the people had nothing to do with animosities, traditions, interests of race, dynasties, or courts. True, it got mixed up with these things afterwards; but in the beginning it was simply the voice of God upon earth. It circulated a purifying fire through corrupted society, and the new world was formed.

The old society, whose place was about to be occupied, did all in its power to resist the light. A terrible voice issued from the Vatican; a hand of iron executed its behests in many a country, and strangled the new life in its cradle. Spain, Italy, Austria, and France were the chief theatres of the deplorable tragedies, whose heroes were Philip II. and the Guises. But there were souls, we may even say nations, protected by the hand of God, who have been ever since like trees whose leaves never wither.[699] Intelligent men, struck by their greatness, have been alarmed for the nations that are not watered by the same rivers. Against such a danger there is, however, a sure remedy; it is that all people should come and drink at those fountains of life which have given protestant nations 'all the attributes of civilisation and power.'[700] Or do they perchance imagine that by shutting their windows against the sun, the light will spread more widely?... A new era is beginning, and all lingering nations are now invited to the great renovation of which the Gospel is the divine and mighty organ.


In 1526 Geneva was in a position which permitted it to receive the new seed of the new society. The {401} alliance with the cantons, by drawing that city nearer to Switzerland, facilitated the arrival of the intrepid husbandmen who brought with them the seeds of life. At Wittemberg, at Zurich, and even in the upper extremities of Lake Leman, in those beautiful valleys of the Rhone and the Alps which Farel had evangelised, the divine sun had poured down his first rays. When the Genevans made their alliance with the Swiss, they had only thought of finding a support to their national existence; but they had effected more: they had opened the gates of day, and were about to receive a light which, while securing their liberties, would guide their souls along the path of eternal life. The city was thus to acquire an influence of which none of its children had ever dreamt, and by the instrumentality of Calvin, one of the noblest spirits that ever lived, 'she was about to become the rival of Rome,' as an historian says (perhaps with a little exaggeration), 'and wrest from her the dominion of half the christian world.'[701]

If the alliance with the cantons opened Geneva on the side of Switzerland, it raised a wall of separation between that city and Savoy—which was not less necessary for the part she was called upon to play in the sixteenth century. The valley of the Leman was at that time dotted with châteaux, whose ruins may still be seen here and there. As invasion, pillage, and murder formed part of social life in the middle ages, the nobles surrounded their houses with walls, and some even built their dwelling-places on the mountains. From Geneva might be descried the castle of {402} Monnetier standing on immense perpendicular rocks on Mont Salève....

J'aimais tes murs croulants, vieux moutier ruiné!
Naître, souffrir, mourir! devise triste et forte . . .
Quel châtelain pensif te grava sur la porte?[702]

Further on, and near Thonon, on an isolated hill, shaded by luxuriant chestnut trees, stood the vast castle of Allinges, which is still a noble ruin. The lords of these places, energetic, rude, freebooting, and often cruel men, growing weary of their isolation and their idleness, would collect their followers, lower their drawbridges, rush into the high roads in search of adventures, and indulge in a life of raids and plunder, violence and murder.

The towns, with their traders and travellers, were especially the abhorrence of these gentlemen robbers. From the tenth century the Genevan travellers and foreign merchants, passing through Geneva with their goods, often fell a prey to the plundering vagabondage of the neighbouring lords. This was not without important consequences for civilisation and liberty. Seeing the nobles perpetually in insurrection against social order, the burghers learnt to revolt against despotism, murder, and robbery. Geneva received one of these lessons, and profited by it better than others.[703]


In all the castles of Genevois, Chablais, and the Pays de Vaud, it was said, in 1526, that the alliance of Geneva with the free Swiss cantons menaced the {403} rights of Savoy, the temporal (and even the spiritual) power of the bishop, and Roman-catholicism. And hence the irritated nobles ruminated in their strongholds upon the means of destroying the union, or at least of neutralising its effects. François de Ternier, seigneur of Pontverre, whose domains were situated between Mont Salève and the Rhone, about a league from Geneva, thought of nothing else night or day. A noble, upright, but violent man; a fanatical enemy of the burgher class, of liberty, and of the Reformation; and a representative of the middle ages, he swore to combat the Swiss alliance unto death, and he kept his oath. Owing to the energy of his character and the nobility of his house, François possessed great influence among his neighbours. One day, after long meditation over his plans, he left his residence, attended by a few horsemen, and visited the neighbouring castles. While seated at table with the knights, he made his apprehensions known to them, and conjured them to oppose the accursed alliance. He asked them whether it was for nothing that the privilege of bearing arms had been given to the nobles. 'Let us make haste,' he said, 'and crush a new and daring power that threatens to destroy our castles and our churches.' He sounded the alarm everywhere; he reminded the nobles that they had a right to make war whenever they pleased;[704] and forthwith many lords responded to his energetic appeals. They armed themselves, and, issuing from their strongholds, covered the district around Geneva like a cloud of locusts. Caring little for the political or religious ideas with which Pontverre {404} was animated, they sought amusement, plunder, and the gratification of their hatred against the citizens. They were observed at a distance, with their mounted followers, on the high roads, and they were not idle. They allowed nobody to enter the city, and carried off property, provisions, and cattle. The peasants and the Genevan merchants, so disgracefully plundered, asked each other if the tottering episcopal throne was to be upheld by banditti.... 'If you return,' said these noble highwaymen, 'we will hang you up by the neck.' Nor was that all: several nobles, whose castles were near the water, resorted to piracy on the lake: they pillaged the country-houses near the shore, imprisoned the men, insulted the women, and cut off all communication with Switzerland.


One difficulty, however, occurred to these noble robbers: they chanced to maltreat, without their knowing it, some of their own party, who were coming from German Switzerland. Having been much reproached for this, they took counsel on the road: 'What must we do,' they asked, 'to distinguish the Genevans?' They hit upon a curious shibboleth. As soon as they caught sight of any travellers in the distance, they spurred their horses, galloped up, and put some ordinary question to the strangers, 'examining in this way all who passed to and fro.' If the travellers replied in French, the language of Geneva, the knightly highwaymen declared they were huguenots, and immediately carried them off, goods and all. If the victims complained, they were not listened to; and even when they came from the banks of the Loire and the Seine, they were taken and shut up in the nearest castle. Many messengers from {405} France to the Swiss cantons, who spoke like the Genevans, were arrested in this way.

France, Berne, and Geneva complained bitterly; but the lords (for the most part Savoyards) took no notice of it. By chastising these burghers, they believed they were gaining heaven. They laughed among themselves at the universal complaints, and added sarcasm to cruelty. One day a Genevan deputy having appeared before Pontverre, to protest against such brigandage, the haughty noble replied coldly: 'Tell those who sent you, that in a fortnight I will come and set fire to the four corners of your city.' Another day, De la Fontaine, a retired syndic and mameluke, as he was riding along the high road, met a huguenot, and said to him: 'Go and tell your friends that we are coming to Geneva shortly, and will throw all the citizens into the Rhone.' As the Genevan walked away, the mameluke called him back: 'Wait a moment,' he said, and then continued maliciously: 'No, I think it will be better to cut off their heads, in order to multiply the relics.' This was an allusion to Berthelier's head, which had been solemnly buried. In the noisy banquets which these nobles gave each other in their châteaux, they related their feats of arms: anecdotes akin to those just quoted followed each other amid roars of laughter: the subject was inexhaustible. The politicians, although more moderate in appearance, were not less decided. They meditated over the matter in cold blood. 'I will enter Geneva sword in hand,' said the Count of Genevois, the duke's brother, 'and will take away six score of the most rebellious patriots.'[705]


Thus the middle ages seemed to be rising in defence of their rights. The temporal and spiritual authority of the bishop-prince was protected by bands of highwaymen. But while these powers, which pretended to be legitimate, employed robbery, violence, and murder, the friends of liberty prepared to defend themselves lawfully and to fight honourably, like regular troops. Besançon Hugues, reelected captain-general three days after the alliance with the Swiss, gave the signal. Instantly the citizens began to practise the use of arms in the city; and in the country, where they were placed as outposts, they kept strict watch over all the movements of the gentlemen robbers. Fearing that the latter, to crown their brigandage, would march against Geneva, the syndics had iron gratings put to all the windows in the city walls, built up three of the gates, placed a guard at the others, and stretched chains across every street. At the same time they brought into the harbour all the boats that had escaped the piratical incursions of the nobles, placed a sentry on the belfry of St. Pierre, and ordered that the city should be lighted all the night long. This little people rose like one man, and all were ready to give their lives to protect their goods and trade, their wives and children, and to save their old liberties and their new aspirations.[706]


While thus resolute against their enemies in arms, the citizens showed moderation towards their disarmed foes. Some of those who were most exasperated, wishing to take their revenge, asked permission to forage, that is, to seize the property of the disloyal {407} and fugitive mamelukes. 'It is perfectly fair,' they said, 'for their treason and brigandage have reduced Geneva to extreme misery: we shall only get back what they have taken from us.' But Hugues, the friend of order as well as of liberty, made answer: 'Let us commence proceedings against the accused; let us condemn them in penalties more or less severe; but let us refrain from violence, even though we have the appearance of right in our favour.'—'The ducal faction,' replied these hot-headed men, 'not only plundered us, but conspired against the city, and took part in the tortures and murders inflicted upon the citizens.' The syndics were not convinced, and the property of the offenders was respected; but after a rigorous investigation, they were deprived of the rights of citizenship.[707]

The Swiss cantons, discontented because the Genevans, who were in great straits, had not repaid the expenses incurred on their behalf, asked more for the mamelukes than the council granted: they demanded that they should all be allowed to return to the city. But to receive those who were making war against them, seemed impossible to the Genevans. They sent two good huguenots to Berne, François Favre and Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve, to make representations in this matter. The deputies were admitted to the great council on the 5th of June, 1526. De Lullins, the Savoyard governor, was also received on the same day, and in the duke's name he made great complaints against Geneva. Favre, a quick, impatient, passionate {408} man, replied in coarse terms. The Bernese firmly adhered to their resolution, and reprimanded the Genevan deputy, who candidly acknowledged his fault: 'Yes,' he said, 'I am too warm; but I answered rather as a private individual than as an ambassador.' On returning to his inn, he thought that the payment of the sum claimed by the Bernese would settle everything, and the same day he wrote to the council of Geneva: 'Your humble servant begs to inform you that you must send the money promised to my lords of Berne. Otherwise, let him fly from the city who can! Do you think you can promise and not be bound to keep your word? Find the money, or you are lost. I pray you warn my wife, that she may come to Lausanne. I am serving at my own expense, and yet I must pay for others also. Do not ruin a noble cause for such a trifle. If Berne is satisfied, we shall be all right with the mamelukes.'[708]


Robber nobles were not the only supporters of the middle ages. That epoch has had its great men, but at the time of its fall it had but sorry representatives. The knights of the highway had their companions in the intriguers of the city. Among the latter we may include Cartelier, who had played his part in the plots got up to deliver Geneva to Savoy.[709] This man, who hated independence and the Reformation even more than Pontverre did, was, through the anger of the citizens and the avarice of the bishop, to suffer for the crimes of which his party was guilty. Being utterly devoid of shame, he went up and down the city as if he had {409} nothing to fear, and when he chanced to meet the indignant glance of a huguenot, he braved the anger with which he was threatened by assuming an air of contempt and defiance. Rich, clever, but of low character, he had contrived to be made a citizen in order to indulge in the most perfidious intrigues. One day he was apprehended, notwithstanding his insolent airs, and put into prison. A thrill ran through all the city, as if the hand of God had been seen striking that great criminal. Amblarde, Berthelier's widow, and his two children; John, Lévrier's brother; and a hundred citizens who had all just cause of complaint against the wretch, appeared before the council, and called for justice with cries and tears: 'He has spilt the blood of our fathers, our brothers, and our husbands,' said the excited crowd. 'He wished to destroy our independence and subject us to the duke.' Convicted of conspiring against the State, the wretch was condemned to death. The executioner, putting a rope round his neck, led him through the city, followed by an immense crowd. The indignant people were delighted when they saw the rich and powerful stranger reduced to such humiliation. Proud and pitiless, he had plotted to ruin the city, and now he was expiating his crimes. Things did not stop here: while moderate men desired to remain in the paths of justice, the more hot-headed of the party of independence derided him, says a chronicler, and some mischievous boys pelted him with mud. The unhappy man, whose fall had been so great, thus arrived at the place of execution, and the hangman prepared to perform his duty.

Cartelier had but a few minutes more to live, when the bishop's steward was seen hurrying forward with {410} letters of grace, commuting the capital punishment into a fine of six thousand golden crowns payable to the prelate and to the city. To spare the life of the wretched man might have been an act of mercy and equity, especially as his crimes were political; but the angry youths who surrounded the criminal ascribed the bishop's clemency to his covetousness and to the hatred he bore the cause of independence. They desired the execution of the condemned man. Twice the hangman removed the rope, and twice these exasperated young men replaced it round Cartelier's neck. They yielded at last, however, and were satisfied with having made the conspirator feel all the anguish of death. Cartelier was set at liberty. When the bishop was informed of what had happened, he became afraid, imagining his authority compromised and his power endangered. 'It was for good reasons,' he wrote to the syndics, 'that I pardoned Cartelier; however, write and tell me if the people are inclined to revolt on account of this pardon.'[710] The people did not revolt, and the rich culprit, having paid the fine, retired quietly to Bourg in Bresse, whence he had come.


The bishop, who had first sentenced, then pardoned, and then repented of his pardon, was continually hesitating, and did not know what party to side with. He was not devoted body and soul to the duke, like his predecessor. Placed between the Savoyards and the huguenots, he was at heart, equally afraid of both, and by turns flung himself into the arms of opposite parties. He was like a stag between two packs of hounds, {411} always afraid and panting. 'I write angrily,' he says in his letters: he was, indeed, always angry with one party or the other. Even the canons, his natural friends, and the members of his council aroused his fears, and not without cause; for these reverend persons had no confidence either in the bishop's character or in the brigandage of the gentry of the neighbourhood. Messieurs De Lutry, De Montrotier, De Lucinge, De St. Martin, and other canons said that the temporal authority of the prelate was too weak to maintain order; that the sword of a secular prince was wanted, and at the bottom of their hearts they called for the duke. 'Ah!' said La Baume to Hugues, 'the chapter is a poisoned body;' he called the canons thieves and robbers: Ille fur et latro est, he said of one of them. The episcopal office appeared a heavy burden to him; but it put him in a position to give good dinners to his friends, and that was one of the most important duties of his life. 'I have wine for the winter,' he wrote in a postscript to the letter in which he made these complaints, 'and plenty to entertain you with.'[711] Such were his episcopal consolations.

[699]   Psalm i.

[700]   M. Michel Chevalier, on the Prosperity of Protestant Nations.

[701]   Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, ii. p. xxviii.

[702]   Galloix, Salève. The author remembers reading, since the time of his boyhood, these three words on the ruins that have been since restored, Nasci, pati, mori.

[703]   Spon, Hist. de Genève. Gautier MS. Guizot, Civilisation en France et en Europe. Froment.

[704]   Ordonnance de Louis Hutin. Guizot, Civilisation en France, v. p. 138.

[705]   Registres du Conseil du 3 décembre. Lettres de Messieurs de Berne. Galiffe fils, Besançon Hugues, Pièces Justificatives, p. 487.

[706]   Registres du Conseil des 15, 16, 23, 24, 28 mars.

[707]   Roset, Chron. MS. liv. ii. ch. ii. Registres du Conseil du 7 septembre 1526. Spon, Histoire de Genève, ii. p. 396. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. pp. 446, 447. Gautier MS.

[708]   This letter will be found in Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, ii. p. 489.

[709]   See above, vol. i. p. 228.

[710]   Archives de Genève. Lettre de Pierre de la Baume aux syndics, du 24 janvier 1527.

[711]   Registres du Conseil de décembre 1526, de janvier et avril 1527. Roset MS. bk. ii. ch. v. Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, ii. pp. 264, 437, 439, 440. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. pp. 452-454. Mém. d'Archéologie, ii. p. 11. La Sœur de Jussie, Le Levain du Calvinisme.


(January to June 1527.)

THE bishop was about to have enemies more formidable than the duke and the League. The Reformation was approaching. There is a characteristic trait in the history of Geneva; the several surrounding countries were by turns to scatter the seeds of life in that city; in it was to be heard a concert of voices from France, Italy, and German Switzerland. It was the last of these that began.


At the time when treason was expelled from the city in the person of Cartelier, the Gospel entered it in that of an honest Helvetian, one of the Bernese and Friburg deputies who went there in 1527 about the affairs of the alliance concluded in 1526. Friburg would not have permitted a heretic preacher to accompany the deputation; even Berne would not have desired it just yet; but one of the Bernese ambassadors, a pious layman, who was coming to give a valuable support to national independence, was to call the Genevese to spiritual liberty. The lay members of the Church occupied in the time of the apostles, as is well known, a marked station in the religious community;[712] but by degrees the dominion of the clergy {413} had been substituted for evangelical liberty. One of the principal causes of this revolution was the inferiority of the laity; for many centuries ecclesiastics were the only educated men. But if this state of things should change, if the laity should attain to more knowledge and more energy than the clergy, a new revolution would be effected in an opposite direction. And this is really what happened in the sixteenth century. The christian layman who then arrived at Geneva was Thomas ab Hofen, a friend of Zwingle, whom we have already mentioned.[713] In the year 1524 he had declared at Berne in favour of the Reformation. The Zurich doctor, hearing of his departure for the shores of Lake Leman, was rejoiced, for the piercing eye of his faith had fancied it could perceive a ray of evangelical light breaking over those distant hills. He desired that the Genevans, now united to Switzerland, should find in her not only liberty but truth. 'Undoubtedly,' wrote Zwingle to the excellent Bernese, 'undoubtedly this mission may be of extraordinary advantage to the citizens of Geneva, who have been so recently received into alliance with the cantons.'[714]

Ab Hofen did not go to Geneva with the intention of reforming it; his mission was diplomatic; but he was one of that 'chosen generation' of whom St. Peter speaks—one of those christians who are always ready to 'show forth the praises of Him who has called them to his marvellous light.'[715] As he entered the city, he {414} said to himself that he would do with earnestness whatever work God might set before him, as his Zurich friend had prayed him. Simple-minded, moderate, and sensitive, Ab Hofen placed the kingdom of heaven above the things of the earth; but he was subject to fits of melancholy, which occasionally made him faint-hearted. When he arrived at Geneva, he visited many citizens, attended the churches and the meetings of the people, and, having reflected upon everything, he thought to himself that there was much patriotism in the city, but unfortunately little christianity, and that religion was the weak side of Genevan emancipation. He was distressed, for he had expected better things. With a heart overflowing with sorrow he returned to his inn (17th of January, 1527), and feeling the necessity of unburdening himself on the bosom of a friend, he sat down and wrote to the great reformer of Zurich: 'The number of those who confess the doctrine of the Gospel must be increased.'[716] There were, therefore, at this time in Geneva christians who confessed salvation by Jesus Christ, and not by the ceremonies of the Church; but their number was not large.


Ab Hofen determined to do his best to remedy this evil. He had a loving heart and practical mind, and with indefatigable zeal took advantage of every moment of leisure spared him by his official duties. As soon, therefore, as a conference with the Genevan magistrates was ended, or a despatch to the Bernese government finished, he laid aside his diplomatic character and {415} began to visit the citizens, conversing with them, and telling them of what was going on at Zurich and preparing at Berne. Being received into the families of some of the principal huguenots, and seated with them round the hearth, at the severest portion of the year (January 1527), he spoke to them of the Word of God, of its authority, superior (he said) to the pope's, and of the salvation which it proclaimed. He taught them that in the Gospel God gives man full remission of his sins. These doctrines, unknown for so many ages, and subversive of the legal and ceremonial religion of Rome, were heard at Geneva with astonishment and pleasure.

At first the priests received the evangelist magistrate rather favourably. The rank which he bore made him honourable in their eyes; and he, far from being rude towards them, like certain huguenots, was amiable and sympathising. Some ecclesiastics, believing him to belong to their coterie, because he spoke of religion, did not conceal their uneasiness from him, and described to him, very innocently, the fine times when presents of bread, wine, oil, game, and tapers were plentiful in their kitchen, and when they used to say, with a gracious tone, to the believers who brought these donations in white napkins: Centuplum accipietis et vitam æternam possidebitis.[717] Then they added, with loud complaints: 'Alas! the faithful bring us no more offerings, and people do not run so ardently after indulgences as they used to do.'[718]


The Bernese envoy, inwardly delighted at these candid avowals, which he did not fail to transmit to Zwingle, apparently avoided all controversy, and continued to announce the simple Gospel. The citizens listened to him; they sought his company, and invited him to take a seat in their family circle, or in some huguenot assembly, and to speak of the noble things that were doing at Zurich. These successes encouraged him: his eyes sparkled, he accosted the citizens freely, and his words flowed copiously from his lips. 'I will not cease proclaiming the Gospel,' he wrote to Zwingle; 'all my strength shall be devoted to it.'[719] Erelong the well-disposed men who had gathered round him were joined by other citizens, exclusively friends of liberty; they listened to him with interest; but when he began to blame certain excesses, and to require certain moral reforms, he met with coldness and even determined opposition from them, and they turned their backs on him. Ab Hofen, although a man of zeal and piety, did not possess the faith which moves mountains; he returned dispirited to his inn, shut himself up in his room, and, heaving deep sighs, wrote all his trouble to Zwingle. The latter, who possessed a sure glance, saw that the opportunity was unique. To establish the Reformation at the two extremities of Switzerland, at Zurich and Geneva, appeared to him a most important work. Would not these two arms, as they drew together, drag all Switzerland with them, especially if the powerful Berne lent its support in the centre? But he knew Ab Hofen, and fearing his {417} dejection, he wrote to him: 'Take care that the work so well begun is not stopped. While transacting the business of the republic, do not neglect the business of Jesus Christ.[720] You will deserve well of the citizens of Geneva if you put in order not only their laws and their rights, but their souls also.[721] Now what can put the soul in order except it be the Word and the teaching of Him who created the soul?'[722]


Zwingle went further than this, and, in order to revive Ab Hofen's fainting heart, made use of an argument to which the politician could not be insensible. The reformer of Zurich was the friend of liberty as well as of the Gospel, and he believed that a people could be governed in only one of two ways: either by the Bible or by the sword, by the fear of God or by the fear of man. In his opinion Geneva could protect her independence against the attacks of Savoy, France, and all foreign powers, only by submitting to the King of heaven. 'O my dear Thomas,' he wrote to his friend, 'there is nothing I desire so much as to see the doctrine of the Gospel flourishing in that republic (Geneva). Wherever that doctrine triumphs, the boldness of tyrants is restrained.'[723] At the same time, not wishing to offend the Bernese deputy, Zwingle added: 'If I write these things, it is not to awaken one who sleeps, but to encourage one {418} who runs.'[724] He ended his letter with a fraternal salutation to the evangelical christians of Geneva: 'Salute them all in my name,' he said.

Ab Hofen was not insensible to this appeal; if he was easily cast down, he was as easily lifted up. He therefore redoubled his zeal, and pressed Geneva to imitate Zurich and Berne; but he perceived that his evangelical exertions were appreciated by a very small number only, and regarded with coldness, and even with displeasure and contempt, by the majority of politicians. Citizens, who had at first given him the warmest welcome, scarcely saluted him when he met them, and if he went to any meeting his presence put a restraint upon the whole assembly. He soon encountered opposition of a more hostile nature; the priests eyed him angrily, and the confidence which some ecclesiastics had placed in him was succeeded by a violent hatred. The clergy proclaimed a general crusade against heresy; the canons put themselves at the head of the opposition; priests and monks filled the streets, going from house to house, and bade the citizens be on their guard against the evangelical addresses of the Bernese envoy. They cried down, abused, and anathematised the doctrines he taught, and made war against the New Testament wherever they found it. They encouraged one another, and frightened the women especially. According to their representations, the city would be ruined if it listened to the heretical diplomatist.


Ab Hofen now fell into a state of discouragement more serious than the former. 'All my efforts are {419} vain,' he wrote to Zwingle; 'there are about seven hundred clergymen in Geneva who do their utmost to prevent the Gospel from flourishing here.[725] What can I do against such numbers? And yet a wide door is opened to the Word of God.... The priests do not preach; and as they are unable to do so, they are satisfied with saying mass in Latin.... Miserable nourishment for the poor people!... If any preachers were to come here, proclaiming Christ with boldness, the doctrine of the pope would, I am sure, be soon overthrown.'[726]

But such preachers did not appear. Convinced of his insufficiency, and continually repeating that true ministers, like Zwingle and Farel, were wanted in that city; finding that many of the Genevans desired to be liberated not only from the vexations of Savoy, the shuffling of the bishop, and the doctrines of the pope, but also from the laws of morality; struck with the evils he saw ready to burst upon Geneva, and which the Gospel alone could avert,—this simple-minded, pious, and sensitive man returned heartbroken to Berne. Had this disappointment any effect upon his health? We cannot say; but he died not long after, in the month of November, 'as a christian ought to die,' it was said. It was found after his departure that his exertions had not been useless, and that some Genevans at least had profited by his teaching: among their number were counted Besançon Hugues and Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve. Some astonishment {420} may be felt at seeing these two names together, for they are those of the chiefs of two opposite parties; but there is nothing improbable about it, for Hugues must have been frequently brought into contact with Ab Hofen, and it is not impossible that he listened to his religious conversation. Hugues was a serious man; he was, moreover, a statesman, and must have desired to know something about the religious opinions which seemed at that time likely to be adopted by the whole confederation; but his policy consisted in maintaining the rights of the bishop-prince on one side, and those of the citizens on the other; as for his religion, he was a catholic, and we do not see that he changed in either of those relations. What he might have been, if he had been living at the time when the Reformation was carried through, no one can say. De la Maison-Neuve, on the contrary, was a decided huguenot, and certainly needed the Gospel to moderate the ardour of his character. William de la Mouille, the bishop's chamberlain and confidant, appears to have been the person who profited most by the teaching of the layman of Berne.


While the Gospel was entering Geneva, desolation was entering Rome. It is a singular circumstance, the meeting of these two cities in history: one so powerful and glorious, the other so small and obscure. That, however, is capable of explanation: the great things of the world have always come from great cities and great nations; but the great things of God have usually small beginnings. Conquerors must have treasures and armies; but evangelical christianity, which undertakes to change man, nations, and the whole human race, has need of the strength of {421} God, and God affects little things. In the first century, he chose Jerusalem; in the middle ages, the Waldensian valleys; in the sixteenth century, Wittemberg and Geneva. 'God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.'[727]

In the month of May (1527) a rumour of startling importance suddenly spread through the world: 'Rome has just been destroyed,' said the people, 'and there is no more pope.' The troops of Charles V. had taken and sacked the pontifical city, and if the pope was still alive, he was in concealment and almost in prison. The servants of the Church, who were terrified at first, soon recovered their breath, and directly their alarm was dissipated, avarice and covetousness took its place. In the presence of the ruins of that ancient city, its friends thought only of dividing its spoils. The Bishop of Geneva, in particular, found himself surrounded by petitioners, who sought to be collated to the benefices hitherto held by clergymen resident in Rome. 'They have all perished,' he was told; 'their benefices are vacant: give them to us.' The bishop granted everything; and he even conferred on himself (Bonivard tells us) the priory of St. Jean-lez-Genève, which belonged to a cardinal. Seldom had so many deaths made so many people happy.[728]

The sack of Rome had more important results for Geneva and the protestant nations. When they saw the ruin of that city, it appeared to them that the papacy had fallen with it. The huguenots never grew {422} tired of listening to the wonderful news and of commenting upon it. Struck with the example set them by Charles V., they thought to themselves that 'if the emperor had set aside the bishop and prince of Rome, they might well abandon the prince and bishop of Geneva.' Their right to do so was far clearer. The pope-king had at least been elected at Rome, and in conformity with ancient custom; while the bishop-prince had not been elected at Geneva and by Genevans, in accordance with the ancient constitutions, but by a foreign and unlawful jurisdiction. The huguenots promised even to be more moderate than his catholic majesty. Finally, the acts which impelled them to turn Pierre de la Baume out of the city, were far more vexatious in their eyes than those which had induced Charles to expel Clement VII. from Rome. 'Are we not much more oppressed by ecclesiastical tyranny,' they said, 'than by secular tyranny? Are we not forced to pay, always to pay, and is it not our money that makes the bishop's pot boil?'[729] Further, the shameful conduct of many of the ecclesiastics seemed to them a sufficient motive for putting an end to their rule.

A scandal which occurred just at this time increased the desire felt by certain huguenots to withdraw themselves from the government of the monks and priests. On the 10th of May, certain inhabitants of St. Leger appeared before the council. For some time past their sleep had been disturbed by noises and shouting, in which the cordeliers, jacobins, and other friars were {423} concerned; and they desired to put an end to it. 'Some disorderly women have settled in our quarter,' they told the council, 'and certain monks frequent their houses.'[730] ... 'If you observe the monks going there at night-time,' replied the council, 'give information to the syndics and the captain-general. The watch will immediately go and take them.' The citizens withdrew half satisfied with the answer, but fully determined to call the watch as soon as the disorder was renewed.


These scandals—an acknowledged thing at Rome—greatly exasperated the citizens of Geneva, and made the better disposed long for a reformation of faith and morals. They said that soldiers use their arms as their officers command them: that the monks and priests (they should have said all christians) ought also to use their lives as their chief orders them; and that if they make a contrary use of them, they enlist under the standard of vice and avow themselves its soldiers. The worthy citizens of Geneva could not make that separation between religion and morality, of which the greater part of the clergy set the example. In proportion as the Reformation made progress in the world, the opposition increased against a piety which consisted only in certain formulas, ceremonies, and practices, but was deprived of its true substance—living faith, sanctification, morality, and christian works. Christianity, by the separation which Rome had made between doctrines and morals, had become like one of those spoilt and useless tools that {424} are thrown aside because they can no longer serve in the operations for which they were made. The reformers, by calling for a living, holy, active faith, were again to make christianity in modern times a powerful engine of light and morality, of liberty and life.

[712]   Acts i. 15; vi. 5; xv.

[713]   See above, vol. i. p. 371.

[714]   'Nunc vero cum te Gebennæ reipublicæ gratia abesse constat ... reficiemur. Utilitatem autem non vulgarem recens factis civibus per te comparari.'—Zwingle to Thomas ab Hofen, 4 Jan. 1527. Epp. ii. p. 9.

[715]   1 Peter ii. 9.

[716]   'Hic Genevæ numerus Evangelii doctrinam confitentium augeri incipiat.'—Ab Hofen to Zwingle, January 17, 1527. Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 15.

[717]   'You shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess everlasting life.'

[718]   'Clerici queruntur homines neque amplius sacra dona præbere velle, neque tam vehementer ad indulgentias currere.'—Ab Hofen to Zwingle. Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 16.

[719]   'Quousque meæ vires valeant, in ea re nequaquam me defecturum esse.'—Ab Hofen to Zwingle. Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 15.

[720]   'In mediis reipublicæ negotiis, Christi negotiorum minime sis negligens.'—Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 9.

[721]   'Optime de Gebennæ civibus merebere, si non tantum leges eorum ac jura, quantum animos componas.'—Ibid. p. 10.

[722]   'Animos autem quid melius componet, quam ejus sermo atque doctrina qui animos ipse formavit?'—Ibid.

[723]   'Hæ enim ubi crescunt, tyrannorum audacia coerceretur.'—Ibid.

[724]   'Non quasi torpentem sim expergefacturus; sed currentem adhortor.'—Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 10.

[725]   'In hac urbe clerici sunt ad 700, qui manibus pedibusque impediunt, quominus Evangelii doctrina efflorescat.'—Zwinglii Epp. ii. p. 10.

[726]   'Si prædicatores haberent, fore puto ut pontificia doctrina labefactetur.'—Ibid.

[727]   1 Cor. i. 27.

[728]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 461.

[729]   'Ne sont-ce pas nos écus qui font bouillir le pot de l'évêque?'

[730]   'Querelaverunt de putanis et certis religiosis qui ibidem affluunt.'—Registres du Conseil du 10 mai 1527.


(Summer 1527.)


THE sack of Rome had made a great sensation in catholic countries. Pierre de la Baume almost believed that the reign of popery had come to an end, and was much alarmed for himself. If a prince so powerful as the pope had succumbed, what would become of the Bishop of Geneva? The alliance with the cantons, and the Gospel which a Swiss magistrate had just been preaching, seemed to him the forerunners of his ruin. He had no lansquenets before him, like those who had compelled Clement VII. to flee, but he had huguenots, who, in his eyes, were more formidable still. Liberty seemed to be coming forth, like the sun, from the night of the middle ages; and the bishop thought the safest course would be to turn towards the rising orb, and to throw himself into the arms of the liberals. He had a strong preference for the Savoyard despotism; but, if his interests required it, he was ready to pay court to liberty. Other instances of this have been seen. The bishop, therefore, sanctioned the sequestration of the property of the mamelukes, and made Besançon Hugues a magnificent present. He conferred on him the perpetual fief of the fishery of the lake, the Rhone, and the Arve, {426} reserving to himself (which showed the value of the gift) the right of redemption for two thousand great ducats of gold.[731] All this was but a step towards the accomplishment of a strange design.

The bishop had taken it into his head that he would form an alliance with the Swiss, feeling convinced that they alone could protect him against the impetuosity of the huguenots and the tyranny of the Duke of Savoy. He therefore sent Robert Vandel to Friburg and Basle, to entreat these states to admit him into their citizenship. This move caused the greatest surprise among the Genevans. 'What!' said they, 'is Monseigneur turning huguenot?' The Swiss rudely rejected the Romish prelate's request. 'We will not have the bishop for our fellow-citizen,' they made answer, 'and that for four reasons: first, he is fickle and changeable; second, he is not beloved in Geneva; third, he is imperialist and Burgundian; and fourth, he is a priest!' The cantons did not mention the strongest reason. Friburg and Berne, allies of the city, could not be at the same time the allies of the bishop, for how could they have supported the rights of the Genevans against him?[732]

The bishop was not discouraged. At one time he felt his throne shaking beneath him, and, fearing that it would fall, he clung to liberty with all his might; at another, he fancied he could see the phantom of heresy approaching with slow but sure step, and erelong taking its seat on his throne ... and the sight increased his fear. He therefore sent Besançon {427} Hugues to Berne—a more influential diplomatist than Vandel—who was received with consideration in the aristocratic circles, but had to bear all kinds of reproach. The proud Bernese were indignant at his becoming the advocate of a person so little esteemed as the bishop. One day, in the presence of these energetic men who had witnessed so many struggles, as Hugues was warmly pleading the prelate's cause, his listener suddenly turned away with horror, and, as if he had been waving aside with his hand some satanic vision, he said: 'The name of the bishop is more hateful among us than that of the devil himself.' This was enough for Hugues, who returned to Geneva greatly disheartened. Pierre de la Baume, a vain and frivolous priest, soon consoled himself for this discomfiture, laughing at the reproaches uttered against him. He amused himself with the objections of the Swiss, and was continually repeating to those about him: 'What would you have?... How could the Helvetians receive me into their alliance? I am a priest and Burgundian!'... Thus, at one time trembling, at another laughing, the Bishop of Geneva was moving towards his ruin.[733]


For some time Charles III., Duke of Savoy, had been watching the prelate, and noting with vexation the interested and (in his opinion) culpable overtures he was making to the Genevans and the confederates. The news that the bishop had sent two envoys in succession to the Swiss put a climax to the prince's anger. It is not sufficient for the citizens to desire to emancipate themselves; even the bishops, whom the {428} dukes have always regarded as their agents, presume to tread in their footsteps. This deserves a terrible punishment. The duke conferred with his advisers on the nature of the lesson to be given the prelate. One of the most decided of Charles's ministers proposed that he should be kidnapped; the motion was supported, and the resolution taken. In order to carry it into execution, it was necessary to gain some of the clergy about him. The canons were sounded, and many of them, already sold to the duke, promised their good offices. 'The bishop is a great devotee of the Virgin,' they said; 'on Saturday, the day dedicated to St. Mary, he generally goes to hear mass at Our Lady of Grace, outside the city. He rides on a mule in company with other members of the cloth. Now, as this church is separated from Savoy only by a bridge, the captain of his highness's archers has simply to lie in ambush near the river to snap up (happer) Monseigneur. The priests and officers about him, being bribed or men of no courage, will run away. Let him be dragged hastily to the other side of the Arve, and, once in the territory of Savoy, he can be put to death as a traitor.' Everything was arranged by good catholics, and the Archbishop of Turin probably had a share in it. The reformers never went to work in so off-hand a manner as regards bishops.


Thus war broke out between the two great enemies of Geneva. The Genevans knew not how to get rid of the prelate, and here was Charles, like another Alexander, cutting the Gordian knot. The bishop once carried off, one of the most formidable obstacles to independence, morality, religion, and civilisation will be removed. So long as he is there, nothing that {429} is good can be done in Geneva; and when he is no longer there, the city will become free. This, however, was not his highness's plan: having 'snapped up' the duke, he expected to 'snap up' the city also. This was his scheme for taking Geneva. 'As soon as the Savoyard archers have kidnapped the bishop, certain of his highness's creatures will go to the belfry of Notre Dame and ring the great bell. All the bells of the adjoining villages will answer the signal; the nobles will rush sword in hand from their castles, the country-people will take up their scythes or other weapons, and all will march to Geneva. The Genevans are hot and hasty: when they learn that the Savoyards have crossed the Arve and violated their territory, they will take up arms and march into the domains of Savoy to avenge the offence; but they will find Pontverre and all his friends there ready to meet them. In the midst of this agitation the duke will have a capital excuse for entering the city and taking possession of it. And when he is established there, he will cut off the heads of Hugues, the syndics, the councillors, M. de Bonmont, and many others. Finally, Geneva shall have a bishop who will occupy himself with refuting the heretics, and his highness will undertake to make the hot-headed republicans bow beneath the sword of the temporal power, and expel for ever from the city both reformers and Reformation.'[734] The duke, charmed with this plan, made immediate preparations for its execution. To prevent Pierre de la Baume from escaping into {430} Burgundy, he posted soldiers in all the passes of the Jura, whilst his best captains were stationed round the city to carry out the ambuscade.


These various measures could not be taken without something creeping out. Geneva had friends in the villages, where an unusual agitation indicated the approaching execution of some act of treachery. On Thursday, the 11th of July, a man, making his way along by-paths, arrived from Savoy, and said to the people of Geneva: 'Be on your guard!' Two days later, Saturday the 13th, which was the day appointed for action, another man, crossing the bridge of Arve, came and told one of the syndics, between eight and nine in the morning, that some horse and foot soldiers had been secretly posted at Lancy, only half a league from the city. The syndics did not trouble themselves much about it; and the bishop, who was naturally a timid man, but whom these warnings had not reached, mounted his mule—it was the day when he went to make adoration to the Virgin—rode out to Our Lady's, took his usual place, and the mass began. Charles's soldiers were already advancing in the direction of the bridge, in order to seize the prelate directly he left the church. Some devout persons had pity on him, and just as the priest had celebrated the mystery, a man, with troubled look, entered the building (whether he came from Geneva or Savoy is unknown), walked noiselessly to the place where the bishop was sitting, and whispered in his ear: 'Monseigneur, the archers of Savoy are preparing to clutch you (gripper).' At these words the startled La Baume turned pale and trembled. He did not wait for the benediction; fear gave him wings; he got up, rushed hastily out {431} of the church, and leaped upon his mule 'without putting his foot in the stirrup, for he was a very nimble person,' says Bonivard; then, using his heels for spurs, he struck the animal's flanks, and galloped off full speed, shouting, at the top of his voice, to the guards as he passed: 'Shut the gates!' The prelate reached the city out of breath and all of a tremble.[735]

The city was soon in commotion. Besançon Hugues, the captain-general, who was sincerely attached to La Baume, and strongly opposed to the usurpations of Savoy, had divined the duke's plot, and, with his usual energy, began to pass through the streets, saying: 'Close your shops, put up the chains, bolt the city gates, beat the drum, sound an alarm, and let every man take his arquebuse.' Then, leaving the streets, Hugues went to St. Pierre's, and, notwithstanding the opposition of the canons, accomplices in the conspiracy, he ordered the great bell to be rung. A rumour had already spread on the other side of the Arve that the plot had failed, and that the bishop had escaped on his mule. The men-at-arms of Savoy were disconcerted; the village bells were not rung, the nobles remained in their castles, the peasants in their fields. 'Our scheme has got wind,' said the Savoyard captains; 'all the city is under arms; and we must wait for a better opportunity.'

The canons, though siding with the duke, had concealed their game, and employed certain creatures of Savoy to carry out the plot. These people were known; they became alarmed, and saw no other means of {432} escaping death than by leaving the city. But all the gates were shut!... What of that: despair gave them courage. At the very moment when the armed men of Savoy were retiring, several persons were seen to run along the streets, jump into the ditches of St. Gervais, scale the palisades, and scamper away as fast as their legs could carry them. They were the traitors who had corresponded with the enemy outside.

As for La Baume, he had lost his presence of mind. Rejected by the Swiss, despised by the Genevans, persecuted by the duke, what should he do? If he could but escape to his benefices in Burgundy, where the people are so quiet and the wine is so good!—but, alas! all the passes of the Jura are occupied by Savoyard soldiers. He was in great distress. Not thinking himself safe in his palace, he had taken refuge in the house of one of his partisans when he returned on his mule from his visit to Our Lady's. He expected that the duke would follow up his plan, would enter Geneva, and seek him throughout the city. Accordingly, he remained quiet in the most secret hiding-place of the house which had sheltered him. It was only when he was told that the Savoyard soldiers had really retired, that all was tranquil outside the city, and that even the huguenots did not think of laying hands on him, that he took courage, came out of his hiding-place, and returned to the palace. Nevertheless, he looked stealthily out of the window to see if the huguenots or the ducal soldiers were not coming to seize him even in his own house. The Genevans smiled at his terror; but everybody, the creatures of Charles excepted, was pleased at the failure of the duke's treachery. Religious men saw {433} the hand of Heaven in this deliverance. 'They gave God thanks,' says Balard.[736]

This attack, abortive as it was, had one important consequence; it delivered the city from the canons, and thus paved the way for the Reformation. These men were in Geneva the representatives and supporters of all kinds of religious and political tyranny. To save catholicism, it would have been necessary for the clergy, and particularly for the canons, who were their leaders, to unite with the laity, and, while maintaining the Roman ceremonial, to demand the suppression of certain episcopal privileges and ecclesiastical abuses. Some of the huguenot chiefs—those who, like Hugues, loved the bishop, and those also who subsequently opposed Calvin's reformation—would probably have entered with joy into this order of things. For the execution of such a plan, however, the priests ought to have been upright and free. But the absolute authority of the Church, which had enfeebled the vigour of the human mind, had specially degraded the priests. The clergy of Geneva had fallen too low to effect a transformation of catholicism. Many of the canons and even of the curés could see nothing but the act of a revolutionist or even of a madman in the bishop's desire to ally himself with the Swiss, and had consequently entered into Charles's scheme, which was so hateful to the Genevans.


The huguenots hastened to take advantage of it. If the ducal plot had not delivered them from the bishop, it must at least free them from the canons. These ecclesiastical dignitaries never quitted Geneva, while {434} the bishop often absented himself to intrigue in Italy or to amuse himself in Burgundy. They were besides more bigoted and fanatical than the worldly prelate, and therefore all the more dangerous. And then, if they desired to get rid of the bishop, was it not the wisest plan to begin with his council? Shortly after the famous alert, some Genevan liberal went to the palace and said to La Baume: 'The canons, my lord, are the duke's spies: so long as they remain in Geneva, Savoy will have one foot in the city.' The poor bishop was too exasperated against the canons not to lend an ear to these words, and after ruining himself with the duke, he took steps to ruin himself with the clergy, and to throw overboard the most devoted friends of the Roman institutions. 'Yes,' said he, 'they intrigue (grabugent) against the Church!... Let them be arrested.... It is they who wished to see me kidnapped.... Let them be put in prison!' The next morning the procurator-fiscal, with his sergeants, knocked at the doors of the most influential of the canons, Messieurs De la Madeleine, De Montrotier, De Salery, De Veigy, and others, arrested them, and, to the indescribable astonishment of the servants and neighbours of these reverend gentlemen, carried them off to prison.[737]

As soon as the gates were shut upon the canons, the bishop began to reflect on the daring act he had just achieved. Still flushed with anger, he did not repent, but he was uneasy, distressed, and amazed at his own courage. If the duke sought to kidnap him but the other day, what will this terrible prince do, now that he, La Baume, has boldly thrown his {435} most devoted partisans into prison?... All Savoy will march against him. He sent for the captain-general, imparted to him all his fears; and Besançon Hugues, his most faithful friend, wishing to dissipate his alarm, placed watchmen on the tower of St. Pierre, on the walls, and at every gate. They had instructions to inform the commander-in-chief if a single horseman appeared on the horizon in the direction of Savoy.


La Baume began to breathe again; yet he was not entirely at his ease. He smiled to himself at the watch of Besançon Hugues. What can these few armed citizens do against the soldiers of the nephew of Francis I. and brother-in-law of Charles V.? The Duke of Savoy was prowling round him like a wild beast eager to devour him; the bishop thought that the bear of Berne alone could defend him. But alas! Berne would have nothing to do with him, because he was a priest and a Burgundian!... He turned all this over in his mind. He, so wary a politician, he whom the emperor employed in his negotiations—shall not he find some outlet, when it is a question of saving himself? On a sudden he hit upon a scheme for becoming an ally of Berne, in spite of Berne. He will get himself made a citizen of Geneva, and, by virtue of the general co-citizenship, he will thus become the ally of the cantons. Delighted at this bright idea, he communicated it to his intimate friends, and, unwilling to lose a day, ordered the council-general to be convened for the morrow.[738]


On the next morning (15th of July) the bells of the cathedral rang out; the burgesses, girding on their swords, left their houses to attend the general council, and the bishop-prince, accompanied by his councillors and officers, appeared in the midst of the people, and sat down on the highest seat. Entirely absorbed by the strange ambition of becoming a plain burgess of the city in which he was prince, he was profuse in salutations; and to the huguenots he was particularly gracious. 'I recall,' he said, 'my protest against the alliance with the Swiss. I know how you cling to it; well! ... I now approve of it; I am willing to give my adhesion to it; and, the more clearly to show my approval, I desire that I may be made a freeman of the city.' Great was the astonishment of the people. A bishop made a citizen of Geneva! Such a thing had never been heard of. All the friends of independence, however, were favourable to the scheme. Some wished to gratify the bishop; others were pleased at anything that could separate him more completely from the duke; all agreed that if the bishop were made a citizen of Geneva, and united with their friends the confederates, great advantage would result to the city. If he begins with turning Swiss, who knows if he will not turn protestant? The general council therefore granted his request.


Wishing to make him pay for his freedom, and not to lose an opportunity of recovering their liberties, the syndics begged him to transfer all civil suits to lay jurisdiction. Laymen judges in an ecclesiastical principality!... It was a great revolution, and three centuries and more were to pass away before a similar victory was gained in other states of {437} that class. The bishop understood the great importance of such a request; he fancied he could already hear the endless appeals of the clergy who found themselves deprived of their honours and their profits; but at this time he was acting the part of a liberal pope, while the canons were playing the incorrigible cardinals. He said Yes. It was an immense gain to the community, for interminable delays and crying abuses characterised the ecclesiastical tribunals at Geneva as well as at Rome.

The syndics, transported with joy, manifested all their gratitude to the prelate. They told him he had nothing to fear, either from the Genevans or even from the duke. Then turning to the people, they said: 'Let every citizen draw his sword to defend Monseigneur. If he should be attacked, we desire that, at the sound of the tocsin, all the burgesses, and even the priests, should fly to arms.'—'Yes, yes!' shouted the citizens; 'we will be always faithful to him!' A transformation seemed to have been effected in their hearts. They knew the great value of the sacrifice the bishop had made, and showed their thankfulness to him. Upon this, the bishop, 'raising his right hand towards heaven, and placing his left on his breast (as was the custom of prelates),' said: 'I promise, on my faith, loyally to perform all that is required of a citizen, to prove myself a good prince, and never to separate myself from you!' The delighted people also raised their hands and exclaimed: 'And we also, my lord, will preserve you from harm as we would our own heads!'[739] The poor {438} prelate would have sacrificed still more to protect himself from Charles's attacks, which filled him with indescribable terror.

It seemed as if this concession, by uniting the bishop and the Genevans more closely, ought to have put off the Reformation; but it was not so. In proportion as the Genevans obtained any concession, they desired more; accordingly, when the citizens had returned home, or when they met at one another's houses, they began to say that it was something to have obtained the civil judicature from the bishop, but that there were other restitutions still to be made. Some men asked by what right he held the temporal authority; and others—those who knew best what was passing at Zurich—desired to throw off the spiritual jurisdiction of the prelate in order to acknowledge only that of Holy Writ.

Opposition to ecclesiastical principalities began, then, three centuries ago at Geneva. 'The bishop grants us the civil jurisdiction,' said Bonivard; 'an act very damaging to himself, and very profitable to us.... But ... this is an opening to deprive him entirely of his authority. Neither La Baume nor the other bishops were lawfully elected, that is to say by the clergy at the postulation of the people. They were thrust into the see by the pope.... They are but tyrants set over us by other tyrants. We can therefore reject them without danger to our souls; and since they came in by the caprice of arbitrary power, it is lawful for us to expel them by the free authority of the city. Geneva has never acknowledged other princes than those whom the people themselves elected.' Some were astonished at Bonivard's language; but the {439} larger number listened to him with enthusiasm. The catholics, growing more and more uneasy, anticipated great disasters. The edifice of popery, continually undermined in Geneva, was tottering; its pillars and buttresses were giving way; and the keystone of the arch, the episcopal power itself, was on the point of crumbling to dust. Alas! catholic Geneva was a dismantled fortress.[740]


When the duke heard of the bishop's concessions, he was seized with one of his fits of anger. And not without cause: by transferring the civil authority to a lay tribunal, La Baume had been guilty of a new offence against the duke; for it was in reality the jurisdiction of the vidame (that is to say, of the duke) which the bishop had thus ceded; and hence it was that he had been induced to do it so readily.

Charles had no need of this new grievance. When they learnt at the court of Turin that the canons had been put in prison by the prelate, there was a violent commotion; the friends and relatives of those reverend gentlemen made a great noise, and the duke resolved to send the most urgent remonstrances to the Genevans, reserving the right to have recourse to more energetic measures if words did not suffice. He commissioned M. de Jacob, his grand equerry, to go and set this little people to rights, and the ducal envoy arrived in Geneva about the middle of July. He carried his head very high, and behaved with great reserve, as if he had been injured: he had come with the intention of making that city, so small and yet so arrogant, feel how great is the power of a mighty {440} prince. On the 20th of July, the Sire de Jacob being introduced before the council, haughtily represented to them, not that the reverend fathers imprisoned as criminals were innocent, but that they belonged to high families and were his highness's subjects, and added that the duke consequently ordered them to be immediately set at liberty. 'Otherwise,' added the ambassador in an insolent tone, 'my lord will see to it, as shall seem good to him.' The tone and look of the ducal envoy explained his words, and every one felt that Charles III. would come and claim the canons at the head of his army. The embarrassed magistrates and prelates answered the envoy by throwing the blame upon one another. The former declared that they had not interfered in the matter, which concerned Monseigneur of Geneva only; and the bishop, in his turn, laid all the blame on the people. 'I was obliged to do so,' he said, 'to save the canons from being killed.' Nevertheless, he showed himself merciful. The avoyer of Friburg, who had been delegated for this purpose by his council, added his entreaties to the ducal summons; and, pressed at once by Switzerland and Savoy, the bishop thought he could not resist. The arrest of the canons was in reality, on his part, an act of passion as much as of justice. 'I release them,' he said; 'I pardon them. I leave vengeance to God.'

The canons quitted the place where they had been confined, bursting with anger and indignation. Having had time to reflect on what was passing in Geneva, on the impetuous current that was hurrying the citizens in a direction contrary to Rome, they had made up their minds to quit a city where they had been so unceremoniously thrown into the receptacle for criminals. {441} De Montrotier, De Veigy, and their colleagues had hardly returned to their houses when they told everybody who would listen to them that they would leave Geneva and the Genevans to their miserable fate. This strange resolution immediately spread through the city, and excited the people greatly; it was important news, and they could hardly believe it. The canons of Geneva were a very exalted body in the opinion of catholicity. In order to be received among them, the candidate must show titles of nobility or be a graduate in some famous university; and since the beginning of the century their number included members of the most illustrious families of Savoy—De Gramont, De la Foret, De Montfalcon, De Menthon, De la Motte, De Chatillon, De Croso, De Sablon, and others as noble as they.[741]


The canons kept their word. As soon as they had made the necessary arrangements for their departure, they mounted their mules or got into their carriages, and set off. The Genevans, standing at the doors of their houses and in groups in the streets, watched these Roman dignitaries thus abandoning their homes, some with downcast heads, others with angry looks, who moved along sad and silent, and went out by the Savoy gate with hearts full of resentment against a city which they denounced as ungrateful and rebellious. Out of thirty-two, only seven or eight remained.[742] The citizens, assembling in various places, were agitated with very different thoughts. The huguenots said to themselves that these high and reverend clerks, true {442} cardinals, who supported the papacy much better than the bishop, would no longer be there to prevent the new generation from throwing off the shackles of the middle ages; that this unexpected exodus marked a great revolution; and that the old times were departing, and the Reformation beginning. On the other hand, the creatures of Rome felt a bitter pang, and flames of vengeance were kindled in their hearts. Lastly, those citizens who were both good Genevans and good catholics, were seized with fear and melancholy. 'No more canons, erelong perhaps no more bishop!... Will Geneva, without its canons and bishops, be Geneva still?' But the great voice, which drowned all the rest, was that of the partisans of progress, of liberty, of independence, and of reform, who desired to see political liberty developed among the community, and the Church directed by the Word of God and not by the bulls of the pope. Among them were Maison-Neuve, Bonivard, Porral, Bernard, Chautemps, and others. These men, the pioneers of modern times, felt little respect and no regret for the canons. They said to one another that these noble and lazy lords were pleased with Geneva so long as they could luxuriously enjoy the pleasures of life there; but that when the hour of combat came, they fled like cowards from the field of battle. The canons did fly in fact; they arrived at Annecy, where they settled. As for Geneva, they were never to enter it again.

[731]   'Pro summa ducatorum auri largorum duorum millia.'—Galiffe fils, Besançon Hugues, p. 454; Pièces Justificatives, No. 4.

[732]   Spon, Hist. de Genève, i. p. 407, note.

[733]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 468. Journal de Balard, p. 112. Gautier MS. Mém. d'Archéologie, iv. p. 161.

[734]   In his journal recently published, Balard, one of the most respected and most catholic magistrates of the time, describes this plot at full length, pp. 117, 118. See also Bonivard, Police de Genève, p. 396.

[735]   Journal de Balard, p. 118. Bonivard, Police de Genève, p. 396.

[736]   'On regratia Dieu.'—Journal de Balard, p. 117. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 467.

[737]   Journal de Balard, p. 119. Registres du Conseil, ad locum.

[738]   Registres du Conseil des 13 et 14 juillet 1527. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 467. Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, ii. pp. 421, 517. Journal de Balard, p. 119.

[739]   Registres du Conseil du 15 juillet 1527. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 471. Journal de Balard, p. 119.

[740]   Registres du Conseil du 15 juillet 1527. Journal de Balard, p. 119. Bonivard, Chroniq. pp. 471, 472.

[741]   Besson, Mémoire du Diocèse de Genève, p. 87.

[742]   Registres du Conseil des 18, 19, 23, 24 juillet 1527. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 468. Journal de Balard, pp. 121-124.


(July and August 1527.)


FROM this time parties in Geneva took new forms and new names. There were not simply, as before, partisans of the foreign domination and Savoy, and those of independence and Switzerland: the latter were divided. Some, having Hugues and Balard as leaders, declared for the bishop; others, with Maison-Neuve and Porral at their head, declared for the people. They desired not only to repel the usurpations of Savoy, but also to see the fall of the temporal power of the bishop in Geneva. 'Now,' said Bonivard, 'that the first division into mamelukes and huguenots has almost come to an end, we have the second—that of bishopers (évêquains) and commoners (communiaires).' These two parties had their men of sense and importance, and also their hotheaded adherents; as, for instance, De la Thoy on the side of the commoners, and Pécolat, the man of whom it would have been least expected, among the bishopers. A singular change had been effected in this former martyr of the bishop: the jester had joined the episcopal band. Was it because he was at heart catholic and even superstitious (he had ascribed, it will be remembered, the healing of his tongue to the {444} intervention of a saint), or because, being a thorough parasite, he preferred the well-covered tables of the bishopers? We know not. These noisy partisans, the vanguard of the two parties, were frequently quarrelling. 'They murmured, jeered, and made faces at each other.'

At the same time this new division marked a step made in advance by this small people. Two great questions were raised, which sooner or later must rise up in every country. The first was political, and may be stated thus: 'Must we accept a traditional dominion which has been established by trampling legitimate rights under foot?' (This was the dominion of the bishop.) The second was religious, and may be expressed thus: 'Which must we choose, popery or the Gospel?' Many of the commoners, seeing the bishop and the duke disputing about Geneva, said that these two people were fighting for what belonged to neither of them, and that Geneva belonged to the Genevans. But there were politicians also among them, lawyers for the most part, who founded their pretensions on a legal basis. The bishops and princes of Geneva ought by right, as we have seen, to be elected at Geneva and not at Rome, by Genevans and not by Romans. The issue of the struggle was not doubtful. How could the bishop make head against magistrates and citizens relying on positive rights, and against the most powerful aspirations of liberty that were awaking in men's hearts? How could the Roman doctrine escape the floods of the Reformation? Certain scandals helped to precipitate the catastrophe.

On the 12th of July some huguenots appeared {445} before the council. 'The priests of the Magdalen,' they said, 'keep an improper house, in which reside several disorderly women.' There were among the Genevans, and particularly among the magistrates, men of good sense, who had the fear of God before their eyes and confidence in him in their hearts. These respectable laymen (and there may have been priests who thought the same) had a deep conviction that one of the great defects of the middle ages was the existence of popes, bishops, priests, and monks, who had separated religion from morality. The council attended to these complaints to a certain extent. They banished from Geneva the persons who made it their business to facilitate illicit intercourse, obliged the lewd women to live in a place assigned them, and severely remonstrated with the priests.[743] The first breath of the Reformation in Geneva attacked immorality. It was not this affair, however, which gave the bishop his death-blow; it was a scandal occasioned by himself, and in his own house. 'Halting justice' was about to overtake the guilty man at last.


One day a report suddenly got abroad which put the whole city in commotion. 'A young girl, of respectable family,' said the crowd, 'has just been carried off by the bishop's people: we saw them dragging her to the palace.' It was an electric spark that set the whole populace on fire. The palace gates had been immediately closed upon the victim, and the bishop's servants threatened to repel with main force the persons who demanded her. 'Does the bishop imagine,' said some of the patriots, 'that we will put up with his beatings as quietly as the folks of St. Claude do?' {446} It would seem that La Baume permitted such practices among the Burgundians, who did not complain of them. The girl's mother, rushing into the street, had followed her as fast as possible, and had only stopped at the closed gates of the episcopal palace. She paced round and round the building, roaring like a lioness deprived of her whelp. The citizens, crowding in front of the palace, exclaimed: 'Ha! you are now throwing off the mask of holiness which you held up to deceive the simple. In your churches you kiss God's feet, and in your life you daringly spit in his face!' Many of them called for the bishop, summoning him to restore the young woman to her mother, and hammering violently at the gate.

The prelate, who was then at dinner, did not like to be disturbed in this important business; being puzzled, moreover, as to the course which he ought to adopt, it appeared that the best thing he could do was to be deaf. He therefore answered his servants, who asked him for orders, 'Do not open the door;' and raising the glass to his lips, he went on with his repast. But his heart was beginning to tremble: the shouts grew louder, and every blow struck against the gate found an echo in the soul of the guilty priest. His servants, who were looking stealthily out of the windows, having informed him that the magistrates had arrived, Pierre de la Baume left his chair, paler than death, and went to the window. There was a profound silence immediately, and the syndics made the prelate an earnest but very respectful speech. The bishop, terrified at the popular fury, replied: 'Certainly, gentlemen, you shall have the young woman.... I only had her carried off for a harper, {447} who asked me for her in return for his services.' Monseigneur had not carried off the girl in the violence of passion, but only to pay the wages of a musician! It was not more guilty, but it was more vile. The palace gates were opened, and the girl was restored to her mother. Michael Roset does not mention the harper, and leads us to believe that the bishop had taken her for himself. This scandalous abduction was the last act done in Geneva by the Roman bishops.[744]

From that moment the deposition of the bishop was signed, as it were, in the hearts of most of the citizens. 'These, then, are the priests' works,' they said, 'debauchery and violence!... Instead of purifying the manners of the people, they labour to corrupt them! Ha! ha! you bishopers, a fine religion is that of your bishop!'

Opposition to a corrupt government soon began to appear a duty to them. The right of resistance was one of the principles of that society in the middle ages, which some writers uphold as a model of servility. In the Great Charter of England, the king authorised his own subjects, in case he should violate any one of their liberties, 'to pursue and molest him to the uttermost of their power, by seizing his castles, estates, possessions, and otherwise.' In certain cases, the vassals could separate themselves entirely from their suzerain. Some vassals, it is true, might carry this principle too far, and claim to throw off the feudal authority whenever it pleased them; but the law made answer: 'No, not unless there is reasonable cause.'[745] {448} When freeing herself from the bishop-princes, who had so often violated the franchises and connived with the enemies of the city, Geneva thought she was acting with very reasonable cause, and not going beyond the bounds of legality. The ruin of the bishops and princes of Geneva, already prepared by their political misdeeds, was completed by their moral disorders.

But if the friends of law and morality desired to break by legal means the bonds which united them to the bishop-prince, other persons, the wits and brawlers, envenomed against his partisans, began to get up quarrels with the bishopers. One day 'the young men of Geneva,' returning from a shooting match, where, says the chronicler, they had 'had many a shot at the pot' (that is, had drunk deeply), determined to give a smart lesson to two of the bishop's friends, Pécolat and Robert Vandel. The latter, at that time attached personally to Pierre de la Baume, afterwards became one of the most zealous patriots. 'They are at St. Victor's,' somebody said; 'let us go and fetch them.' The party, headed by a drummer, went to the priory, where Bonivard told the ringleaders that the two bishopers and others were diverting themselves at Plainpalais. Just as the band arrived, the episcopals were entering the city: one of the 'sons of Geneva,' catching sight of Pécolat and Vandel, exclaimed: 'My lord, you have traitors among you there!' The bishop spurred his mule and rode off; Pécolat drew his sword; his opponent, De la Thoy, did the same, and they began to cut at each other. {449} The fray was so noisy that the guards in alarm shut the gates, when a few reasonable men parted the combatants. A more serious movement was accomplishing in the depths of men's minds. Nothing but secularisation and reformation could put an end to the almost universal discontent.[746]


The Duke of Savoy wished for another solution. His councillors represented to him that the bishop had lost his credit among the nobles and clergy, through his desire to ally himself with the Swiss; that he was ruined with the citizens by his unedifying mode of life; and that the moment had come for giving these restless people a stronger shepherd, who would cure them of their taste for political and religious liberty. In consequence of this, the duke summoned the Genevans, on the 30th of July, to recognise his claims, and his ambassadors added that, if the citizens refused, 'Charles III. would come in person with an army, and then they would have to keep their city ... if they could.' The Genevans made answer: 'We will suffer death rather.' The Bernese, informed of the threats of Savoy, sent ambassadors to Chambéry to admonish (admonester) the duke. 'I have a grudge against the city,' he said, 'and against the bishop also, and I will do my pleasure upon him in defiance of all opposition.'—'Keep a good look-out,' said the Bernese ambassadors to the syndics, on their return, 'for the duke is preparing to carry off the bishop and confiscate the liberties of the city.' The bishop and the citizens were exceedingly agitated. Men, women, and children {450} set to work: they cut down the trees round the walls, pulled down the houses, and levelled the gardens, while four gangs worked at the fortifications. 'We would rather die defending our rights,' said the Genevans, 'than live in continual fear.'[747]

It might have been imagined that the duke, by declaring war at the same time against the bishop and the city, would have brought them nearer each other; but the popular irritation against the bishop and clergy was only increased by it. The citizens said that all the misfortunes of Geneva proceeded from their having a bishop for a prince; and La Baume saw a conspirator in every Genevan. More than one bishop, the oppressor of the liberties of his people, had fallen during the middle ages under the blows of the indignant burgesses. For instance, the wretched Gaudri, bishop of Laon in the twelfth century, having trampled the rights of the citizens under foot, had been compelled to flee from their wrath, and hide himself in a cask in the episcopal cellar. But, being discovered and dragged into the street, he was killed by the blow of an axe, and his body covered with stones and mud.[748] If good catholics had practised such revenge upon their bishop, what would huguenots do?


La Baume had other fears besides. An intriguing woman, his cousin Madame de Besse, generally known as Madame de la Gruyère, being gained over by the duke, alarmed the bishop by insinuating that he was to be kidnapped, and that this time his mule {451} would not save him. That lady had scarcely left the palace when the Bernese entered and said to the frightened bishop: 'Make haste to go! for the duke is coming to take you.' They may have said this with a mischievous intention, desiring to free the city from the bishop. La Baume had not a minute of repose afterwards. His servants, threatened by the huguenots, began to be afraid also, and thus increased their master's alarm. He passed the day in anguish, and awoke in the night uttering cries of terror. At times he listened as if he heard the footsteps of the men coming to carry him off. He did not hesitate: his residence in the episcopal city had become insupportable. He had too much sense not to see that the cause of his temporal principality was lost, and, to add to his misfortune, the only prince who could defend him was turning against him. Whatever the risk, he must depart. 'Whereat the bishop was so vexed,' says Bonivard, 'that he meditated retiring from Geneva into Burgundy.' He flattered himself that he would be quiet in the midst of his good vassals of St. Claude, and happy near his cellars of Arbois![749]

It was, however, no easy thing to do. He would have to get out of Geneva, pass through the district of Gex, and cross the Jura mountains, all filled with armed men. Feeling the want of some one to help him, he determined to apply to Besançon Hugues. He invited him to come to the palace, but in the night, so that no one might see him. When Hugues got there, the wretched and guilty prelate squeezed his hand, and told {452} him all his troubles. 'I can no longer endure the wrong, violence, and tyranny which the duke does me,' he said. 'I know that he is plotting to kidnap me and shut me up in one of his monasteries. On the other hand, I mistrust my own subjects, for they are aiming at my life. I am day and night in mortal torment. You alone can get me out of the city, and I hope you will manage so that it shall not be talked of.' Besançon Hugues was touched when he saw the man whom he recognised as his lord agitated and trembling before him. How could he refuse the alarmed priest the favour he so earnestly demanded?... He left the bishop, telling him that he would go and make preparations for a nocturnal flight.[750]


In the night of the 1st and 2nd of August, 1527, Hugues went secretly to the palace, accompanied by Michael Guillet, a leading mameluke. The prelate received his friends like liberating angels. They all three went down into the vaults, where La Baume ordered a private door to be opened which led into the street now called the Rue de la Fontaine. He had to go along this street to reach the lake; but might not some of those terrible huguenots stop him in his flight? He crept stealthily and in disguise out of the palace, put himself between his two defenders, and, a prey to singular alarm, went forward noiselessly. On arriving at the brink of the water, the fugitive and his two companions descried through the darkness the boatmen whom Hugues had engaged. La Baume and Besançon entered the boat, while Michael {453} Guillet returned to the city. The boatmen took their oars, and crossed the lake at the point where the Rhone flows out of it. La Baume looked all round him; but he could see nothing, could hear nothing but the dull sound of the oars. The danger, however, was far from being passed. The right bank might be occupied by a band of his enemies.... When the boat touched the shore, La Baume caught sight of two or three men with horses. They were friends. Hugues and the bishop got into their saddles without a moment's loss, and galloped off in the direction of the Jura. The bishop had never better appreciated his good luck in being one of the best horsemen of his day; he drove the spurs into his steed, fancying at times that he heard the noise of Savoyard horses behind him. In this way the bishop and his companion rode on, all the night through, along by-roads and in the midst of great dangers, for all the passes were guarded by men-at-arms. At last the day appeared. In proportion as they advanced, La Baume breathed more freely. After four-and-twenty hours of cruel fright, the travellers arrived at St. Claude. Pierre de la Baume was at the summit of happiness.[751]

The day after his departure, the news of the bishop's flight suddenly became known in Geneva, where it caused a great sensation. 'Alas!' said the monks in their cloisters, 'Monseigneur, seeing the approaching tribulation, has got away by stealth across the lake.' The patriots, on the contrary, collecting in groups in the public places, rejoiced to find themselves delivered {454} by one act both from their bishop and their prince. At the same time the Savoyard soldiers, posted round Geneva, were greatly annoyed; they had been on the watch night and day, and yet the bishop had slipped through their fingers. To avenge themselves, they swore to arrest Besançon Hugues on his return. The latter, making no stay at St. Claude, reappeared next morning at daybreak in the district of Gex, when he soon noticed that gentlemen and soldiers were all joining in the chase after him. The bells were rung in the village steeples, the peasants were roused, and every one shouted: 'Hie! hie! the traitor Besançon!' It seemed impossible for him to escape. Having descended the mountain, he followed the by-roads through the plain, when suddenly a number of armed men fell upon him. Hugues had great courage, a stout sword, and a good horse; fording the water-courses, and galloping across the hills, he saved himself, 'as by a miracle,' says his friend Balard.[752]


The Genevans were very uneasy about him, for they all loved him. The drums beat, the companies mustered under their officers, and they were about to march out with their arms to protect him, when suddenly he arrived, panting, exhausted, and wounded. They would have liked to speak to him, and, above all, to hear him; but Hugues, hardly shaking hands with his friends, rode straight to his own house and went to bed; he was completely knocked up. The syndics went to his room to investigate the circumstances of which he had to complain. But erelong the {455} brave man recovered from his fatigue, and the city was full of joy. The bishop's flight still further increased their cheerfulness: it snapped the bonds of which they were weary. 'The hireling,' they said, 'leaveth the sheep, and fleeth, when he seeth the wolf coming.'[753] 'Therefore,' they added, 'he is not the shepherd.'

[743]   Registres du Conseil du 12 juillet 1527.

[744]   Roset MS. Chronol. liv. ii. ch. xv. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 455.

[745]   Beaumanoir, Coutumes de Beauvaisis, p. 61. Guizot, Histoire de la Civilisation en France, iv. p. 72.

[746]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 464.

[747]   Registres du Conseil des 30 juillet et 25 août 1527. Journal de Balard, pp. 125, 126.

[748]   'Quot saxis, quot et pulveribus corpus oppressum.'—G. de Novigento, Opp. p. 507.

[749]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 473. Spon, Hist. de Genève, ii. p. 410. Gautier MS.

[750]   Savyon, Annales, p. 139. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 474. Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, pp. 427, 428, &c.

[751]   Journal de Balard, p. 126. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 474. Mém. d'Archéol. ii. p. 12.

[752]   Journal de Balard, p. 127. Registres du Conseil du 6 août 1527, La Sœur de Jussie, p. 4.

[753]   John x. 12.


(August 1527 to February 1528.)

THE Duke of Savoy was the wolf. When he heard of the bishop's flight, his vexation was greater than can be imagined. He had told the Bernese: 'I shall have Monsieur of Geneva at my will,'[754] and now the wily prelate had escaped him a second time. At first Charles III. lost all self-control. 'I will go,' he said, 'and drag him across the Alps with a rope round his neck!' After which he wrote to him: 'I will make you the poorest priest in Savoy;' and, proceeding to gratify his rage, he seized upon the abbeys of Suza and Pignerol, which belonged to La Baume. Gradually his anger cooled down; the duke's counsellors, knowing the bishop's irresolute and timid character, said to their master: 'He is of such a changeable disposition[755] that it will be easy to bring him over again to the side of Savoy.' The prince yielded to their advice, and sent Ducis, governor of the Château de l'Ile, to try to win him back. It appeared to the {457} ducal counsellors that Pierre de la Baume, having fled from Geneva, could never return thither, and would have no wish to do so; and that the time had come when a negotiation, favourable in other respects to the prelate, might put the duke in possession of a city which he desired by every means to close against heresy and liberty.


The bishop, at that moment very dejected, was touched by the duke's advances; he sent an agent to the prince, and peace seemed on the point of being concluded. But Charles had uttered a word that sounded ill in the prelate's ears. 'The duke wishes me to subscribe myself his subject,' he wrote to Hugues. 'I think I know why.... It is that he may afterwards lay hands on me.' Nevertheless, the duke appeared to restrain himself. 'I will give back all your benefices,' he told the bishop, 'if you contrive to annul the alliance between Geneva and Switzerland.' La Baume consented to everything in order to recover his abbeys, whose confiscation made a large gap in his revenues. He did not care much about living at Geneva, but he wished to be at his ease in Burgundy. At this moment, as the duke and the Genevans left him at peace, he was luxuriously enjoying his repose. Instead of being always in the presence of huguenots and mamelukes, he walked calmly in his garden 'among his pinks and gilly-flowers.'[756] He ordered some beautiful fur robes, lined with black satin, for the winter; he kept a good table, and said: 'I am much better supplied with good wine here than we are at Geneva.'[757]


The bishop having fled from his bishopric like a hireling,—the prince having run away from his principality like a conspirator,—the citizens resolved to take measures for preserving order in the State, and to make the constitution at once stronger and more independent. The general council delegated to the three councils of Twenty-five, Sixty, and Two-Hundred the duty of carrying on the necessary business, except in such important affairs as required the convocation of the people. A secret council was also appointed, composed of the four syndics and of six of the most decided huguenots. A distinguished historian says that the Genevan constitution was then made democratic;[758] another historian affirms, on the contrary, that the power of the people was weakened.[759] We are of a different opinion from both. In proportion as Geneva threw off foreign usurpation, it would strengthen its internal constitution. Undoubtedly, this little nation desired to be free, and the Reformation was to preserve its liberties; there is a democracy in the Reform. Philosophy, which is satisfied with a small number of disciples, has never formed more than an intellectual aristocracy; but evangelical christianity, which appeals to all classes, and particularly to the lowly, develops the understanding, awakens the conscience, and sanctifies the hearts of those who receive it, in this way spreading light, order, and peace all around, and forming a true democracy on earth, very different from that which does without Christ and without God. But Geneva, at that time surrounded by implacable enemies, required, as necessary to its {459} existence, not only liberty, but order, power, and consequently authority.


The bishop had hardly disappeared from Geneva when the insignia of ducal power disappeared also. Eight years before this, Charles III. had caused the white cross of Savoy, carved in marble, to be placed on the Château de l'Ile, 'at which the friends of liberty were much grieved.'—'I have placed my arms in the middle of the city as a mark of sovereignty,' he had said haughtily, 'and have had them carved in hard stone. Let the people efface them if they dare!' On the morning of the 6th of August (five days after the bishop's flight), some people who were passing near the castle perceived to their great astonishment that the ducal arms had disappeared.... A crowd soon gathered to the spot, and a lively discussion arose. Who did it? was the general question. 'Oh!' replied some, 'the stone has accidentally fallen into the river;' but although the water was clear, no one could see it. 'It was you,' said the duke's partisans to the huguenots, 'and you have hidden it somewhere.' Bonivard, who stood thoughtful in the midst of the crowd, said at last: 'I know the culprit.'—'Who is it? who is it?' 'St. Peter,' he replied. 'As patron of Geneva, he is unwilling that a secular prince should have any ensign of authority in his city!' This incident, the authors of which were never known, made a great impression, and the most serious persons exclaimed: 'Truly, it is a visible sign, announcing to us a secret and mysterious decision of the Most High. What the hand of God hath thrown down, let not hand of man set up again!'[760]


The Genevans wanted neither duke nor bishop; they went farther still, and being harassed by the court of Rome, they were going to show that they did not care for the pope. They had hardly done talking of La Baume's flight and of the Savoy escutcheon, when they were told strange news. A report was circulated that an excommunication and interdict had been pronounced against them, at the request of the mamelukes. This greatly excited such citizens as were still attached to the Roman worship. 'What!' said they; 'the priests will be suspended from their functions, the people deprived of the benefit of the sacraments, divine worship, and consecrated burial ... innocent and guilty will be involved in one common misery.'... But the energy of the huguenots, whom long combats had hardened like steel, was not to be weakened by this new attack. The most determined of them resolved to turn against Rome the measure plotted against Geneva. The council, being resolved to prevent the excommunication from being placarded in the streets,[761] ordered 'a strict watch to be kept at the bridge of Arve, about St. Victor and St. Leger, and that the gates should be shut early and opened late.' This was not enough. Five days later (the 29th of December, 1527), the people, lawfully assembled, caused the Golden Bull to be read aloud before them, which ordered that, with the exception of the emperor and the bishop, there should be no authority in Geneva. Then a daring proposition was made to the general council, namely, 'that no metropolitan letters, and further still no apostolical letters (that is to say, {461} no decrees emanating from the pope's courts), should be executed by any priest or any citizen.'—'Agreed, agreed!' shouted everybody. It would seem that the vote was almost unanimous. In this way the bishop on the banks of the Tiber found men prepared to resist him on the obscure banks of the Leman.

This vote alarmed a few timid persons of a traditional tendency. Advocates of the status quo entreated the progressionists to restrain themselves; but the latter had no wish to do so. They answered that the Reformation was triumphing among the Swiss; that Zwingle, Œcolampadius, and Haller were preaching with daily increasing success at Zurich, Basle, and Berne. They added that on the 7th of January, 1528, the famous discussion had begun in the last-named city, and that the Holy Scriptures had gained the victory; that the altars and images had been thrown down 'with the consent of the people;' that a spiritual worship had been substituted in their place, and that all, including children fourteen years old, had sworn to observe 'the Lutheran law.' The huguenots thought that if excommunication came to them from Rome, absolution would come to them from Berne—or rather from heaven.


The more light-hearted among them went further than this. For ages the Roman Church had accustomed its followers to unite masquerades with the most sacred recollections. In some cantons there had been great rejoicings over the abolition of the mass. Such a fire could not be kindled in Switzerland without scattering a few sparks over Geneva. Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve, a great enemy to superstition, an active and even turbulent man, and daring enough to {462} attempt anything, resolved to organise a funeral procession of the papacy. He would attack Rome with the weapons that the Roman carnival supplied him, and would arrange a great procession. Whilst serious men were reading the epistle from heaven (the Gospel), which absolved them from the excommunication of its pretended vicar, the young and thoughtless were in great excitement; they dressed themselves in their houses in the strangest manner; they disguised themselves, some as priests, some as canons, and others as monks; they came out, met together, drew up in line, and soon began to march through the streets of the city. There were white friars, grey friars, and black friars, fat canons, and thin curates. One was begging, another chanting; here was one scourging himself, there another strutting solemnly along; here a man carrying a hair shirt, there a man with a bottle. Some indulged in acts of outrageous buffoonery; others, the more completely to imitate the monks, went so far as to take liberties with the women who were looking on, and when some fat friar thus made any burlesque gesture, there was loud applause, and the crowd exclaimed: 'That is not the worst they do.' In truth the reality was more culpable than the burlesque. When they saw this tumultuous procession and heard the doleful chanting, mingled with noisy roars of laughter, every one said that popery was dying, and singing its De profundis, its burial anthem.

The priests took the jest in very bad part, and the procession was hardly over before they hurried, flushed with anger, to complain to the syndics of 'the enmity raised against them by Baudichon and others.' The {463} syndics referred their complaint to the episcopal council, and the latter severely reprimanded the offenders. But Maison-Neuve and his friends withdrew, fully convinced that the priests were in the wrong, and that the victory would ultimately be on their side.[762]


They were beginning in Geneva to estimate a papal excommunication at its proper value. No one knew more on this subject than Bonivard, and he instructed his best friends on this difficult text. Among the number was François Favre, a man of ardent character, prompt wit, and rather worldly manners, but a good citizen and determined huguenot. Favre was one day, on a famous occasion, to be at the head of Bonivard's liberators. He went sometimes to the priory, where he often met Robert Vandel, a man of less decision than his two friends. Vandel, who still kept on good terms with the bishop, was at heart one of the most independent of men, and Bonivard had made him governor of the domain of St. Victor.

These Genevans and others continued the conversations that Bonivard had formerly had with Berthelier in the same room and at the same table. They spoke of Berne, of Geneva, of Switzerland, of the Reformation, and of excommunication. Bonivard found erelong a special opportunity of enlightening his two friends on the acts of the Romish priesthood.


There was no one in Geneva whom the papal party detested more than him. The ultramontanists could understand why lawyers and citizens opposed the {464} clergy; but a prior!... His enemies, therefore, formed the project of seizing the estates of St. Victor, and of expelling Bonivard from the monastery. The huguenots, on hearing of this, ardently espoused his cause, and the council gave him, for his protection (20th of January, 1528) six arquebuses and four pounds of gunpowder. These were hardly monastic weapons; but the impetuous Favre hastened to offer him his heart and his arm; and, to say the truth, Bonivard in case of need could have made very good use of an arquebuse. He had recourse, however, to other defenders; he resolved to go and plead his cause before the League. But this was not without danger, for the duke's agents might seize him on the road, as he afterwards had the misfortune to know. Favre, ever ready to go where there was any risk to be run, offered to accompany him to Berne. Vandel had to go as governor of St. Victor: they set off. Arriving at a village in the Pays de Vaud, the three huguenots dismounted and took a stroll while their horses were resting. Bonivard, as he was riding along, had noticed some large placards on the doors of the churches, and being curious to know what they were about, he went up to them, and immediately called his friends; 'Come here,' he said; 'here are some curious things—letters of excommunication.' He was beginning to read them, when one of his companions cried out: 'Stop! for as soon as you have read them, you will thereby be excommunicate!' The worthy huguenot imagined that the best plan was to know nothing about such anathemas, and then to act as if the excommunication did not exist—which could not be done if they were read. Bonivard, a man of great good sense, profited by the {465} opportunity to explain to his friends what these earthly excommunications were worth. 'If you have done what is wrong,' he told them, 'God himself excommunicates you; but if you have acted rightly, the excommunication of priests can do you no harm. There is only one tribunal which has power over the conscience, and that is heaven. The pope and the devil hurt only those who are afraid of them. Do therefore what is right, and fear nothing. The bolts which they may hurl at you will be spent in the air.' Then he added with a smile: 'If the pope or the metropolitan of Vienne excommunicate you, pope Berthold of Berne will give you absolution.'[763] Bonivard's words were repeated in Geneva, and the papal excommunications lost credit every day.

This became alarming: the episcopal officers informed the bishop; but the latter, who was enjoying himself in his Burgundian benefices, put aside everything that might disturb his meals and his repose. It was not the same with the duke and his ministers. That prince was not content with coveting the prelate's temporal power; looking upon La Baume as already dispossessed of his rights, he made himself bishop, nay almost pope, in his place. The cabinet of Turin thought that if the principles of civil liberty once combined with those of religious liberty, Geneva would attempt to reform Savoy by means of conversations, letters, books, and missionaries. Charles III. therefore sent a message to the council, which was read in the Two-Hundred on the 7th of February. 'I hear,' said the prince, 'that the Lutheran sect is making way {466} among you.... Make haste to prevent the ravages of that pestilence, and, to that intent, send on the 17th two men empowered by you to hear some very important things concerning my authority in matters of faith.'

What would the Genevans answer? If a bishop is made prince, why should not a prince be made bishop? The confusion of the two provinces is a source of continual disturbance. Christianity cannot tolerate either Cæsars who are popes, or popes who are Cæsars; and yet ambition is always endeavouring to unite these two irreconcilable powers. The duke did not presume to abolish definitively the episcopal power and confer it on himself; but he wished to take advantage of the bishop's flight to acquire an influence which he would be able to retain when the episcopal authority was restored. He spoke, therefore, like a Roman pontiff ... of his authority in matters of faith.

'Really,' said the council, 'we have had enough and too much even of one pope, and we do not care to have two—one at Rome and the other at our very gates.' The citizens were so irritated at Charles's singular claim, that they did not return an answer in the usual form. 'We will not write to the duke,' said the syndics; 'we will delegate no one to him, seeing that we are not his subjects; but we will simply tell the bearer of his letter that we are going on very well, and that the duke, having no authority to correct us, ought to mind his own business.' Such is the minute recorded in the council register for this day. As for La Baume, the poor prelate, who did not trouble himself much either about pope or Lutheranism, wrote the same day to the Genevans, that he permitted them 'to eat milk-food during the coming Lent.' This {467} culinary permission was quite in his way, and it was the most important missive from the bishop at that time.[764]


When the episcopal council heard of the syndics' answer, they were in great commotion. They thought it rude and unbecoming, and trembled lest Charles should confound them with these arrogant burgesses. They therefore sent M. de Veigy, one of the most eminent canons, to the duke, in order to pacify him. The reverend father set off, and while on the road, he feared at one moment Charles's anger, and at another enjoyed in anticipation the courtesies which the ducal court could not fail to show him. But he had scarcely been presented to the duke, and made a profound bow, when Bishop de Belley, standing at the left of his highness, and commissioned to be the interpreter of his sentiments, addressed him abruptly, and, calling him traitor and huguenot, insulted him just as De la Thoy might have done. But this abuse was nothing in comparison with Charles's anger: unable to restrain himself, he burst out, and, giving utterance to the terrible schemes he had formed against Geneva, declared he would reduce that impracticable city to ashes, and ended by saying: 'If you do not come out of it, you will be burnt in it with all the rest.' The poor canon endeavoured to pacify his highness: 'Ah, my lord,' he said, 'I shall not remain there: all the canons now in the city are about to leave it!' And yet De Veigy was fond of Geneva, and thought that to reside in Annecy would be terribly dull. Accordingly, on his return to the city, he forgot his terror {468} and his promises, whereupon he received this short message from Charles III.: 'Ordered, under pain of death, to quit Geneva in six days.'—'He left on the 3rd of March, and with great regret,' adds Balard.[765] Charles wished to put the canons in a place of safety, before he burnt the city.

[754]   'Que qui en volisse contredire' (whatever any one may do to oppose it), he added.—Journal de Balard, p. 124.

[755]   'Il est d'un esprit si changeant.'—Hist. de Genève, MS. of the 17th century. Bibliothèque de Berne, Hist. Helvét. v. p. 12.

[756]   Letter from La Baume to Hugues. Galiffe, Matériaux.

[757]   Galiffe, Matériaux, ii. pp. 424-475. Mém. d'Archéologie, ii. pp. 14, 15.

[758]   Mignet, Réforme à Genève, p. 34.

[759]   James Fazy, Hist. de la République de Genève, p. 158.

[760]   Journal de Balard, p. 127. Roset MS. Chronol. liv. ii. ch. xx. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 448. Gautier MS.

[761]   Registres du Conseil des 24 et 29 décembre 1527. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. pp. 473, 474. Gautier MS. Journal de Balard.

[762]   Registres du Conseil des 15 et 17 janvier 1528. Journal de Balard, p. 146. Gautier MS.

[763]   'Hominum anathemata a Bertholdo papa facile solvenda.'—Spanheim, Geneva Restituta, p. 35.

[764]   Registres du Conseil du 7 février 1528. Journal de Balard, p. 147.

[765]   Registres du Conseil du 7 février et du 3 mars 1528. Journal de Balard, pp. 147-149.


(March 1528.)


THE partisans of absolutism and the papacy rose up on every side against Geneva, as if the Reformation were already established there. It was not so, however. Although Geneva had come out of Romanism, it had not yet entered Reform: it was still in those uncertain and barren places, that land of negations and disputes which lies between the two. A few persons only were beginning to see that, in order to separate really from the pope, it was necessary, as Haller and Zwingle said, to obey Jesus Christ. Bonivard, a keen critic, was indulging in his reflections, in his large arm-chair, at the priory of St. Victor, and carefully studying the singular aspect Geneva at that time presented. 'A strange spectacle,' he said; 'everybody wishes to command, and no one will obey. From tyranny we have fallen into the opposite and worse vice of anarchy.... There are as many tyrants as heads ... which engenders confusion. Everybody wishes to make his own profit or private pleasure out of the common weal; profit tends to avarice; and pleasure consists in taking vengeance on him whom you hate. Men are killed, but they are not the real {470} enemies of Geneva.... If you wound a bear, he will not spring upon the man who wounded him, but will tear the first poles or the first tree in his way.... And this, alas! is what they are doing among us. Having groaned under a tyrannical government, we have the love of licence instead of the love of liberty. We must be apprentices before we can be masters, and break many strings before we can play upon the lute. The huguenots have driven out the tyrant, but have not driven out tyranny. It is not liberty to do whatever we desire, if we do not desire what is right. O pride! thou wilt be the ruin of Geneva! Pride has always envy for its follower; and when pride would mount too high, the old crone catches her by the tail and pulls her back, so that she falls and breaks her neck.... The huguenot leagues are not sufficient; the Gospel must advance, in order that popery may recede.' It is Bonivard himself who has transmitted these wise reflections.[766]

He was not the only person who entertained such thoughts. The affairs of the alliance often attracted Bernese to Geneva; and being convinced that the Reformation alone could save that city, they continued Ab Hofen's work. Being admitted into private families, they spoke against human traditions and extolled the Scriptures. 'God speaks to us of the Redeemer,' they said, 'and not of Lent.' But the Friburgers, thrusting themselves into these evangelical conferences, exclaimed: 'Obey the Church! If you separate from the Church, we will break off the alliance!'[767]



The bishopers were with Friburg, the commoners with Berne. The latter were divided into three classes: there were politicians, to whom religion was only a means of obtaining liberty; serious and peaceful men, who called for true piety (Bonivard mentions Boutelier as one of these); and, lastly, the enemies of the priests, who saw the Reformation from a negative point of view, and regarded it essentially as a war against Roman superstitions. One day these sincere but impatient men said they could wait no longer, and went out to St. Victor to invite the prior to put himself at their head. They rang at the gate of the monastery, and the janitor went and told Bonivard, who ordered them to be admitted: 'We wish to put an end to all this papal ceremony,' they told him; 'we desire to drive out all its ministers, priests, and monks ... all that papistical rabble; and then we mean to invite the ministers of the Gospel, who will introduce a true christian reformation among us.'

The prior smiled as he heard these words: 'Gentlemen,' he said, in a sarcastic tone, 'I think your sentiments very praiseworthy, and confess that all ecclesiastics (of whom I am one) have great need to be reformed. But ought not those who wish to reform others to begin by reforming themselves? If you love the Gospel, as you say you do, you will live according to the Gospel. But if you wish to reform us without reforming yourselves, it is evident that you are not moved by love for the Gospel, but by hatred against us. And why should you hate us? It is not because our manners are contrary to yours, but because they are like them. Aristotle says in his Ethics,' continued {472} the learned prior, 'and experience confirms the statement, that animals which eat off the same food naturally hate each other. Two horses do not agree at the same manger, nor two dogs over the same bone. It is the same with us. We are unchaste, and so are you. We are drunkards, and so are you. We are gamblers and blasphemers, and so are you. Why then should you be so opposed to us?... We do not hinder you from indulging in your little pleasures; pray do the same by us. You desire to expel us, you say, and put Lutheran ministers in our place.... Gentlemen, think well of what you are about: you will not have had them two years before you will be sorry for it. These ministers will permit you to break the commandments of the pope, but they will forbid your breaking those of God. According to their doctrines, you must not gamble or indulge in debauchery, under severe penalty.... Ah! how that would vex you!... Therefore, gentlemen, you must do one of two things: either leave us in our present condition; or, if you wish to reform us according to the Gospel, reform yourselves first.'

These remarks were not quite so reasonable as they appeared to be. It is the sick that have need of a physician, and as these 'sons of Geneva' wished to invite the ministers of the Gospel, in order to introduce a true christian reform, Bonivard should have encouraged instead of opposing them. These worldly men might have had a real desire for the Gospel at the bottom of their hearts. Reprimanded by the prior, they withdrew. Bonivard watched them as they retired. 'They are going off with their tails {473} between their legs.[768] Certainly, I desire a reformation; but I do not like that those who are more qualified to deform than to reform should presume to be its instruments.'


When they got home, these huguenots deliberated whether they would allow themselves to be stopped by Bonivard's irony; they resolved to follow out his precept—to reform themselves first; but, not knowing that reformation consists primarily in reestablishing faith and morality in the heart, they undertook simply to prune away certain superstitions. As the episcopal letter permitted them to take milk in Lent, De la Maison-Neuve and his friends said: 'We are permitted to take milk, why not meat?' Then repeating the lesson which the Bernese had taught them—Do not the Scriptures say, Eat of all that is sold in the shambles?—they resolved to eat meat every day. The council saw this with uneasiness, and forbade the new practice under pain of three days' imprisonment on bread and water and a fine of five sols.[769] But wishing to hold the balance even, they had hardly struck one side before they struck the other, and condemned the forty-four fugitive mamelukes to confiscation and death.

This last sentence aroused the anger of all the adjacent country; the Sire de Pontverre, in particular, thought the time had come for drawing the sword, and immediately messengers were scouring the country between the Alps and the Jura. They climbed painfully up the rocky roads that led to the mountain {474} castles; they crossed the lake, everywhere summoning the gentlemen, the friends of the mamelukes. The knights did not need to be pressed; they put on their armour, mounted their coursers, left their homes, and proceeded towards the appointed rendezvous, the castle of Bursinel, near Rolle, on the fertile slope which, running out from the Jura, borders the lake opposite Mont Blanc. These rough gentlemen arrived from La Vaux, Gex, Chablais, Genevois, and Faucigny: one after another they alighted from their horses, crossed the courtyard, and entered the hall, which echoed with the clash of their arms; then, shaking hands, they sat down at a long table, where they began to feast. The audacity of the Genevans was the principal subject of conversation, 'and heaven knows how they of Geneva were picked to pieces,' says a contemporary.[770]

Of all these nobles, the most hostile to Geneva was the Sire de Pontverre. Of athletic frame, herculean strength, and violent character, bold and energetic, he was, from his marked superiority, recognised as their chief by the gentlemen assembled at the castle of Bursinel. If these men despised the burgesses, the latter returned the compliment. 'They are holding a meeting of bandits and brigands at Bursinel,' said some of the Genevans. We must not, however, take these somewhat harsh words too literally. The depredations of these gentlemen doubtless undermined the social organisation, and it was time to put an end to these practices of the middle ages. Many of them were, however, good sons and husbands, good fathers, and even good landlords; but they had no mercy for {475} Geneva. As they sat at table they said that the princes had succeeded in France and elsewhere in destroying the franchises of the municipal towns, and that this free city, the last that survived, deserved a similar fate much more than the others, since it was beginning to add a new vice to its former vices ... it was listening to Luther. 'A contest must decide,' they added, 'whether the future times shall belong to the knights or to the burgesses, to the Church or to heresy.' If Geneva were overthrown, they thought they would be masters of the future. Pontverre has been compared to the celebrated Roman who feared the Carthaginians, and, like him, never forgot to repeat at every meeting of the nobles: Delenda Carthago.[771]


The dinner was drawing to an end; the servants of the lord of Bursinel had brought the best wines from the castle cellars; the libations were numerous, and the guests drank copiously. 'It chanced,' says Bonivard, 'that some rice (papet) was brought in, with as many spoons as there were persons at table.'[772] Pontverre rose, took up a spoon with the same hand that wielded the sword so vigorously, plunged it into the dish of rice, and, lifting it to his mouth, ate and said: 'Thus will I swallow Geneva and the Genevese.' In an instant all the gentlemen, 'heated with wine and anger,' took up their spoons, and exclaimed as they ate, 'that they would make but one mouthful of all the huguenots.' Pontverre did not stop at this: he took a little chain, hung the spoon {476} round his neck, and said: 'I am a knight of the Spoon, and this is my decoration.'—'We all belong to the same order,' said the others, similarly hanging the spoons on their breasts. They then grasped each other's hands, and swore to be faithful to the last. At length the party broke up; they mounted their horses, and returned to their mansions; and when their neighbours looked with surprise at what hung round their necks, and asked what the spoon meant, they answered: 'We intend to eat the Genevans with it; will you not join us?' And thus the fraternity was formed which had the conquest of Geneva for its object.

The Spoon was taken up everywhere, as in the time of the crusades men took up the Cross: the decoration was characteristic of these loud-spoken free-living cavaliers. Meetings took place every week in the various castles of the neighbourhood. New members joined the order, and hung the spoon round their necks, saying: 'Since the commonalty (the Genevans and Swiss) form alliances, surely the nobles may do so!' They drew up 'statutes and laws for their guidance, which were committed to writing, as in public matters.'[773] Erelong the 'gentlemen of the Spoon,' as they called themselves, proceeded to perform their vow; they issued from their castles, plundered the estates of the Genevans, intercepted their provisions, and blockaded them closer and closer every day. When they came near the city, on the heights of Pregny, Lancy, and Cologny, they added derision to violence; they took their spoons and waved them in the air, as if they {477} wished to use them in swallowing the city which lay smiling at their feet.


The alarm increased every day in Geneva; the citizens called the Swiss to their aid, fortified their city, and kept strict watch. Whenever any friends met together, the story of the famous dinner at Bursinel was repeated. The Genevans went so far, says a chronicle, as to be unwilling to make use of the innocent spoon, such a horror they felt at it. Many of those who read the Scriptures began to pray to God to save Geneva; and on the 23rd of March, the council entered the following words in their register: 'May we be delivered from the evils we endure, may we conquer and have peace!... May the Almighty be pleased to grant it to us!'[774]

Pontverre was not a mere adventurer; he possessed a mind capable of discerning the political defects of his party. Two men in Geneva especially occupied his thoughts at this time: they were the bishop and the prior. In his opinion, they ought to gain the first and punish the other.

He began with Bonivard; no one was more detested by the feudal party than he was. That the head of a monastery should side with the huguenots seemed a terrible scandal. No one besides, at that time, advocated more boldly than the prior the principles opposed to absolute power; and this he showed erelong.

At Cartigny, on the left bank of the Rhone, about two leagues from Geneva, he possessed a fief which depended on the dukes of Savoy: 'It is a mere pleasure-house, and not a fortress,' he said; and yet he was in {478} the habit of keeping a garrison there. The duke had seized it during his vassal's captivity, and to Bonivard's frequent demands for its restoration he replied 'that he dared not give it up for fear of being excommunicated by the pope.' Michaelmas having come, the time at which the rent was collected, the Savoy government forbade the tenants to pay it to the prior; the latter felt indignant, and the principles he then laid down deserve to be called to mind. 'The rights of a prince and his subjects are reciprocal,' he said. 'If the subject owes obedience to his prince, the prince owes justice to his subject. If the prince may constrain his subject, when the latter refuses obedience in a case wherein it is lawfully due, the subject has also the right to refuse obedience to his prince, when the latter denies him justice. Let the subject then be without fear, and rest assured that God is for him. Men, perhaps, will not be on his side; but if he has strength to resist men, I can answer for God.'[775]

Bonivard, who was determined to obtain justice, laid before the council of Geneva the patents which established his rights, and prayed their help in support of his claim. His petition at first met with some little opposition in the general council. 'The city has enough to do already with its own affairs,' said many, 'without undertaking the prior's;' but most of the huguenots were of a contrary opinion. 'If the duke has at St. Victor a lord after his fashion,' they said, 'it might be a serious inconvenience to us. Besides, the energetic prior has always been firm in the service of the city.' This consideration prevailed and the {479} general council decided that they would maintain Bonivard's rights by force of arms if necessary.

The prior now made his preparations. 'Since I cannot have civil justice,' he said, 'I will have recourse to the law of nations, which authorises to repel force by force.' The petty sovereign of St. Victor, who counted ten monks for his subjects, who no longer possessed his uncle's culverins, and whose only warlike resources were a few arquebusiers, hired by a Bernese adventurer, besides four pounds of powder, determined to march against the puissant Duke of Savoy, prince of Piedmont, and even to brave that pope-king who once upon a time had only to frown to make all the world tremble. Perish St. Victor rather than principles!


Bonivard sent for a herald and told him: 'The Duke of Savoy has usurped my sovereignty; you will therefore proceed to Cartigny and make proclamation through all my lordship, in these terms: "No one in this place shall execute either ducal or papal letters under pain of the gallows.'" We see that Bonivard made a large use of his supreme power. The herald, duly escorted, made the terrible proclamation round the castle; and then a captain, a commissioner, and a few soldiers, sent by Bonivard, took possession of the domain in his name, under the nose of the pope and the duke.[776] He was very proud of this exploit. 'The pope and the duke have not dared send men to prevent my captain from taking possession,' he said good-humouredly; for Bonivard, though sparkling with wit, was also a good-tempered man.


The fear ascribed to the duke did not last long. The lands of Cartigny were near those of Pontverre, and the order of the Spoon was hardly organised when an expedition directed against the castle was the prelude to hostilities. A ducal provost, with some men-at-arms, appeared before the place on the 6th of March, 1528. Bonivard had vainly told his captain to defend himself: the place was taken. The indignant prior exclaimed: 'My people allowed themselves to be surprised.' He believed, as the Genevans also did, that the duke had bribed the commandant: 'The captain of Cartigny, after eating the fig, has thrown away the basket,' said the huguenots in their meetings.

The prior of St. Victor, being determined to recover his property from his highness's troops, came to an understanding with an ex-councillor of Berne, named Boschelbach, a man of no very respectable character, who had probably procured him the few soldiers of his former expedition, and who now, making greater exertions, raised for him a corps of twenty men. Bonivard put himself at the head of his forces, made them march regularly, ordered them to keep their matches lighted, and halted in front of the castle. The prior, who was a clever speaker, trusted more to his tongue than to his arms: he desired, therefore, first to explain his rights, and consequently the ex-councillor, attended by his servant Thiebault, went forward and demanded a parley on behalf of the prior. By way of answer the garrison fired, and Thiebault was shot dead.

That night all Geneva was agitated. The excited and exasperated citizens ran armed up and down the streets, and talked of nothing but marching out to Cartigny to avenge Thiebault's death. 'Be calm,' {481} said Boschelbach; 'I will make such a report to my lords of Berne that Monsieur of Savoy, who is the cause of all the mischief, shall suffer for it.'[777] The syndics had not promised to attack Savoy, which would have been a serious affair, but only to defend Bonivard. In order, therefore, to keep their word, they stationed detachments of soldiers in the other estates belonging to St. Victor, with orders to protect them from every attack. Cartigny was quite lost to the prior; but he was prepared to endure even greater sacrifices. He had his faults, no doubt; and, in particular, he was too easy in forming intimacies with men far from estimable, such as Boschelbach; but he had noble aspirations. He knew that by continuing to follow the same line of conduct he would lose his priory, be thrown into prison, and perhaps put to death: 'But what does it matter,' he thought, 'if by such a sacrifice right is maintained and liberty triumphs?'[778]


The lord of Pontverre was occupied with a scheme far more important than Bonivard's destruction. He wished, as we have said, to win back the bishop. Possessing much political wisdom, seeing farther and more clearly than the duke or the prelate, he perceived that if the war against the new ideas was to succeed, it would be necessary for all the old powers to coalesce against them. Nothing, in his opinion, was more deplorable than the difference between Charles III. and Pierre de la Baume: he therefore undertook to reconcile them. He showed them that they had both the same enemies, and that nothing but their union would {482} put it in their power to crush the huguenots. He frightened the bishop by hinting to him that the Reformation would not only destroy Catholicism, but strip him of his dignities and his revenues. He further told him that heresy had crept unobserved into his own household and infected even his chamberlain, William de la Mouille, who at that time enjoyed his entire confidence.[779] La Baume, wishing to profit immediately by Pontverre's information, hastened to write to La Mouille: 'I will permit no opportunity for breeding in my diocese any wicked and accursed sect—such as I am told already prevails there. You have been too slow in informing me of it.... Tell them boldly that I will not put up with them.'[780]

The prelate's great difficulty was to become reconciled with the duke. Having the fullest confidence in his talent for intrigue, he thought that he could return into friendly relations with his highness without breaking altogether with Hugues and the Genevans. 'He is a fine jockey,' said Bonivard; 'he wants to ride one and lead the other by the bridle!' The bishop began his manœuvres. 'I quitted Geneva,' he informed the duke, 'in order that I might not be forced to do anything displeasing to you.' It will be remembered, on the contrary, that he had run away to escape from Charles III., who wanted to 'snap him up;' but that prince, satisfied with seeing La Baume place himself again under his guidance, pretended to believe him, and cancelled the sequestration of his {483} revenues. Being thus reconciled, the bishop and the duke set to work to stifle the Reformation. 'Good,' said Bonivard; 'Pilate and Herod were made friends together, for before they were at enmity between themselves.'


The bishop soon perceived that he could not be both with the duke and Geneva; and, every day drawing nearer to Savoy, he turned against his own subjects and his own flock. And hence one of the most enlightened statesmen Geneva ever possessed said in the seventeenth century, to a peer of Great Britain who had put some questions to him on the history of the republic: 'From that time the bishop became very hateful to the city, which could not but regard him as a declared enemy.'[781] It was the bishop who tore the contract that had subsisted between Geneva and himself.

[766]   Bonivard, Police, &c. pp. 398-400; Chroniq. ii. p. 473. Gautier MS.

[767]   Ibid.

[768]   'La queue entre les jambes.'—Bonivard, Advis des difformes Réformateurs, pp. 149-151.

[769]   Registres du Conseil des 11 et 26 février 1528. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 479.

[770]   'Dieu sait comme ceux de Genève étaient déchiquetés.'

[771]   'Ne taschait, fors à la ruine de Genève.'—Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 482.

[772]   Ibid.

[773]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 483.

[774]   Registres du Conseil des 14, 23, 24 mars. Journal de Balard, p. 156. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. pp. 482, 486, etc.

[775]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 477.

[776]   'A la barbe du pape et du duc.'

[777]   'En portera la pâte au four.'

[778]   Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. pp. 475, 480, 502. Gautier MS.

[779]   See nineteen letters from the bishop to William de la Mouille, his chamberlain, printed in Galiffe, Matériaux pour l'Histoire de Genève, ii. pp. 461-485.

[780]   Galiffe, ii. p. 477.

[781]   Memoir to Lord Townshend on the History of Geneva, by Mr. Secretary Chouet. Berne MSS. vi. 57.


(Spring and Summer 1528.)

THE first measure Charles exacted from his new ally was to revoke the civil rights he had conceded to the citizens. The bishop consented. In order to deprive the secular magistrate of his temporal privileges, he resolved to employ spiritual weapons. Priests, bishops, and popes have always found their use very profitable in political matters; princes of great power have been known to tremble before the documents launched into the world by the high-priest of the Vatican. The bishop, therefore, caused an order to be posted on the church doors, forbidding the magistrates to try civil causes under pain of excommunication and a fine of one hundred pounds of silver. It seems that the bishop had thought it prudent to attack the purses of those who were not to be frightened by his pastorals. 'Remove these letters,' said the syndics to the episcopal secretary, 'and carry them back to the bishop, for they are contrary to our franchises.' At the same time they said to the judges: 'You will continue to administer justice, notwithstanding the excommunication.' This, be it remarked, occurred at Geneva in the beginning of the sixteenth century.



When informed of these bold orders, the bishop-prince roused himself.... One might have fancied that the spirit of Hildebrand and Boniface had suddenly animated the weak La Baume. 'What! under the pretence of maintaining your liberties,' he wrote to the Genevans, 'you wish to usurp our sovereignty!... Beware what you do, for if you persevere, we will with God's help inflict such a punishment that it shall serve for an example to others.... The morsel you desire to swallow is harder to digest than you appear to believe.... We command you to resign the administration of justice; to receive the vidame whom the duke shall be pleased to send you; to permit him to exercise his power, as was done in the time of the most illustrious princes his grace's predecessors; and finally to remit to his highness and us the whole case of the fugitives. If within a fortnight you do not desist from all opposition to our authority, we will declare you our enemies, and will employ all our resources and those of our relations and friends to punish you for the outrage you are committing against us, and we will strive to ruin you totally, whatever may be the place to which you flee.'

Great was the commotion in the city at hearing such words addressed by the pastor of Geneva to his flock; for if the bishop made use of such threats, it was with the intention of establishing the authority of a foreign prince among them. The true huguenots, who wanted neither duke nor bishop, were silent under these circumstances, and allowed the episcopal party, of which Hugues was the chief, to act. Two ambassadors from the bishop having been introduced before the general council on the 14th of June, 1528, the premier syndic {486} said to them: 'If the bishop desires to appoint a vidame to administer justice among us, we will accept him; but the dukes of Savoy have never had other than an unlawful authority in Geneva. We have no prince but the bishop. Has he forgotten the great misfortunes that have befallen the city in consequence of these Savoyard vidames?... Citizens perpetually threatened, many of them imprisoned and tortured, their heads cut off, their bodies quartered.... But God has helped us, and we will no longer live in such misery.... No!' continued the speaker with some emotion, 'we will not renounce the independence which our charters secure to us.... Rather than lose it, we will sacrifice our lives and goods, our wives, and our children.... We will give up everything, to our last breath, to the last drop of our blood.'... Such words, uttered with warmth, always excite the masses; and, accordingly, as soon as the people heard them, they cried as with one voice: 'Yes! yes! that is the answer we will make.'

This declaration was immediately sent into Switzerland; and, strange to say, such patriotic enthusiasm was received with ridicule by some persons in that noble country. Geneva was so small and so weak, that her determination to resist a prince so powerful as the duke seemed mere folly: the Swiss had forgotten that their ancestors, although few in number, had vanquished Austria and Burgundy. 'These Genevans are all mad,' said they. When they heard of this insult, the council of Geneva was content to enter in its registers the following simple and spirited declaration: 'Considering our ambassadors' report of what the Swiss say of us, it is ordered that {487} they be written to and told that we are all in our right minds.'[782]

On hearing of these proceedings, La Baume, who was at the Tour de May in Burgundy, flew into a violent passion. He paced up and down his room, abused his attendants, and uttered a thousand threats against Geneva. He included all the Genevans in the same proscription, and had no more regard for conservatives like Besançon Hugues than for reformers like Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve. He was angry with the citizens who disturbed him with their bold speeches in the midst of his peaceful retreat. 'In his opinion the chief virtue of a prelate was to keep a plentiful and dainty table, with good wines; and,' says a person who often dined with him, 'he had sometimes more than he could carry.[783] He was, moreover, liberal to women of doubtful character, very stately, and fond of great parade.'


One day, as he was leaving the table where he had taken too much wine, he was told that a messenger from Geneva, bearing a letter from the council, desired to speak with him. 'Messieurs de Genève, remembering,' says Balard, 'that dulce verbum frangit iram,[784] wrote to him in friendly terms.' The messenger, Martin de Combes, having been admitted to the bishop, bowed low, and, courteously approaching, handed {488} him the letters of which he was the bearer. But the mere sight of a Genevan made the bishop's blood boil, and, losing all self-control, he said 'in great fury:' 'Where do you come from?'—'From Geneva.'—'It is a lie,' said the bishop; and then, forgetting that he was contradicting himself, he added: 'You have changed the colour of your clothes at Geneva;' wishing apparently to accuse the Genevans of making a revolution or a reformation. 'Come hither,' he continued; 'tell the folks in Geneva that they are all traitors—all of them, men, women, and children, little and big; that I will have justice done shortly, and that it will be something to talk about. Tell them never to write to me again.... Whenever I meet any persons from that city, I will have them put to death.... And as for you, get out of my sight instantly!' The poor messenger, who trembled like a leaf, did not wait to be told twice.

La Baume, who had forgotten Plutarch's treatise, De cohibenda ira, could not recover from his emotion, and kept walking up and down the room with agitated step. Suddenly, remembering certain cutting expressions, uttered in Switzerland by Ami Girard, a distinguished, well-read, and determined huguenot, who was generally envoy from Geneva to Berne and Friburg, he said to his servants: 'Bring that man back.' Poor De Combes was brought back like a criminal whose rope has once broken, and who is about to be hanged again. 'Mind you tell those folks at Geneva all that I have ordered you,' exclaimed the bishop. 'There is one of them (I know him well—it is Ami Girard) who said that I wish to bridle Geneva in order that Monsieur of Savoy may ride her.... I will be {489} revenged on him ... or I will die for it.... Out of my sight instantly. Be off to your huguenots.'


De Combes retired without saying a word, and reported in Geneva the prelate's violent message. He had committed nothing to writing; but the whole scene remained graven in his memory. 'What!' exclaimed the huguenots, 'he said all that?' and then they made him tell his story over again. The murmurs now grew louder: the Genevans said that 'while in the first centuries the ministers of the Church had conciliated general esteem by their doctrine and character, modern priests looked for strength in alliances with the princes of this world; formerly the vocation of a bishop was martyrdom, but now it is eating and drinking, pomp, white horses, and ... bursts of anger.' All this was a deadly blow to the consideration due to the clergy. The council was, however, wiser than the prelate; they ordered that no answer should be returned him. This decision was indeed conformable to custom, as the report had been made to the syndics viva voce, and not by official letter. La Baume, at the time he gave audience to the envoy from Geneva, was too confused to hold a pen or to dictate anything rational to his secretary; but the magistrates of Geneva, on the other hand, were always men of rule and law.[785]

While the bishop was putting himself into a passion like a soldier, the Duke of Savoy was convoking a synod like a bishop. It was not enough for the evangelical doctrine to infect Geneva—it was invading his {490} states. It already numbered partisans in Savoy, and even the Alps had not proved a sufficient barrier against the new invasion. Some seeds of the Gospel, coming from Switzerland, had crossed the St. Bernard, in despite of the opposition of the most zealous prelate in Piedmont—we may even say in all Italy. This was Pierre Gazzini, Bishop of Aosta, who was afterwards to contend, in his own episcopal city, with the disciples of Calvin, and with Calvin himself. Gifted with a lofty intelligence, great energy of character, and ardent catholicism, Gazzini was determined to wage war to the death against the heretics, and it was in accordance with his advice that a synod had been convoked. When the assembly met on the 12th of July, 1528, Gazzini drew a deplorable picture of the position. 'My lords,' he said, 'the news is distressing from every quarter. Switzers and Genevans are circulating the accursed book. Twelve gentlemen of Savoy adhere scrupulously to the doctrines of Luther. All our parishes between Geneva and Chambéry are infected by forbidden books. The people will no longer pay for masses or keep the fasts; men go about everywhere saying that the property of the abbots and prelates ought to be sold to feed the poor and miserable!' Gazzini did not confine himself to pointing out the disease; he sought for the cause. 'Geneva,' he said, 'is the focus,' and he called for the most violent measures in order to destroy it.[786] The duke determined to employ every means to extinguish the fire, 'which (they said) was continually tossing its burning flakes from Geneva into Savoy.'



Charles III. had been ruminating for some time over a new idea. Seeing the difficulties that the annexation of Geneva to Savoy would meet with on the part of the Swiss, he had conceived another combination; that is, to make his second son, a child four years old, count or prince of Geneva. Circumstances were favourable to this scheme. Pierre de la Baume was designated successor to the Archbishop of Besançon; he, doubtless, would not want much pressing to give up his bishopric when he was offered an archbishopric. The duke therefore sent commissioners to the emperor and the pope to arrange the matter with them. Hugues, ever ready to sacrifice himself to save his country, started immediately, with three other citizens, for Berne and Friburg; but he found the confederates much cooled with regard to Geneva. 'You are very proud,' said the avoyer of Berne to the envoys in full council, and, adds Hugues, 'they gave us a good scolding.'[787] The duke had set every engine to work, and, covetous as he was, had distributed profusely his crowns of the sun. 'Ha!' said the Genevan, 'Monsieur of Savoy never before sent so much money here at one time,' and then sarcastically added, with reference to the lords of Berne: 'The sun has blinded them.'[788]

The Genevans found themselves alone; the monarchical powers of Christendom—Piedmont, France, and the Empire—were rising against their dawning liberty; even the Swiss were forsaking them; but not one of them hesitated. Ami Girard and Robert Vandel, at that time ambassadors to Switzerland, quivered {492} with indignation, and, filled with an energy that reminds us of old Rome, they wrote to their fellow-citizens: 'Sooner than do what they ask you, set fire to the city, and begin with our houses.'[789]

The duke now prepared to support his pretensions by more energetic means. His agents traversed the districts round Geneva; they went from door to door, from house to house, and said to the peasants: 'Do not venture to carry provisions to Geneva.' Others went from castle to castle, and told the lords: 'Let every gentleman equip his followers with uniform and arms, and be ready at the sound of the alarm-bell.'


But the duke did not confine his intrigues to the outside of the city; he employed every means inside. Gentlemen of Savoy made visits, gave dinners, and tampered with certain private persons, promising them a great sum of money 'if they would do their duty.' The monks, feeling assured that their knell would ring erelong, redoubled their efforts to secure the triumph of Savoy in Geneva. Three of them, Chappuis, superior of the Dominicans, a man deep in the confidence of his highness, who had lodged in his monastery, with Gringalet and Levrat, simple monks, held frequent conferences in the convent of Plainpalais, in the prior's chamber, round a table on which lay some little silver keys; by their side were lists containing the names of the principal Genevese ecclesiastics and laymen from whom Chappuis believed he might hope for support. The three monks took up the keys, looked at them complacently, and then placed them against certain names. The duke, knowing that intrigue and vanity {493} are the original sins of monks, had sent the prior these keys (the arms of Faucigny, a province hostile to Geneva): 'Procure for us friends in the convents and the city,' he had told them; 'and for that purpose distribute these keys with discretion. Whoever wears them will belong to us.' It was a mysterious decoration, by means of which the duke hoped to gain partisans for the annexation. Chappuis and Levrat began to tamper with the laity of the city, while Gringalet undertook to gain the monks. In spite of all the skill they employed, their manœuvres were not always crowned with success. One day Gringalet went up to two monks, Bernard and Nicholas, and showed them the talisman; but they looked coldly on such toys, manifesting no desire to possess them. The ducal monk, perceiving that the keys had no virtue, said to his colleagues: 'If we do not succeed in our scheme; if Savoy and the papacy do not triumph in Geneva, we will abandon the ungrateful city; we will transfer the property of our convent to some other place, and leave nothing but the bare walls behind!' Bernard and Nicholas, who inclined to the side of light, were alarmed, and, judging it to be a matter of high importance, denounced the plot to the council: 'This, then, is the use of monks,' said the syndics. 'They are traitors, ready to deliver the city to the foreigner. We will put all to rights.' They ordered the two monks to say nothing, and when night came the council proceeded to the Dominican monastery. The beadles knocked at the gate; the porter opened it, and looked with astonishment at the noble company. The syndics ordered all the convent to assemble. The monks were greatly alarmed: Chappuis, Gringalet, and {494} Levrat trembled, having no doubt that they had been betrayed. They made haste to hide the little keys, and then proceeded anxiously to the common hall, where the brethren had already assembled: 'We have heard of your intrigues,' said the premier syndic; 'we know why you are distributing in Geneva the keys of those Turks (Turcanorum), the Faucignerans.... You had better say your prayers and not meddle with politics. You pretend to renounce the world, reverend brethren, and then do nothing else but intrigue for the things of this world. You intend, we hear, to carry away your property, your relics, and your jewels; gently ... we will spare you that trouble; we will take care of them in the grotto of St. Pierre, and put your persons in a place of safety.'... The council ordered an inventory of the goods of the convent to be drawn up, and generously left the monks three chalices for the celebration of mass. They banished Chappuis, Gringalet, and Levrat, and placed the other brethren under the surveillance of two deputies of the council. The monks had their wings clipped, and the Reformation was beginning.[790]

[782]   Registres du Conseil des 23 et 30 avril; 24 mai; 2, 9, 14 juin; 7 août. Journal de Balard, pp. 160-170. La Baume's letters, Archéologie, ii. p. 15. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 493. Gautier MS. Bonivard, Ancienne et nouvelle Police de Genève, p. 384.

[783]   'Il s'en donnait jusqu'à passer trente et un.' This proverbial expression refers, possibly, to the months whose days never exceed thirty-one.

[784]   'A soft answer turneth away wrath.'

[785]   Registres du Conseil du 25 août. Journal de Balard, p. 178. Bonivard, Chroniq. ii. p. 495.