XXX. FRANCIS I. AND THE REFORMATION.
Nearly half a century before the Reformation made any noise in France it had burst out with great force and had established its footing in Germany, Switzerland, and England. John Huss and Jerome of Prague, both born in Bohemia, one in 1373 and the other in 1378, had been condemned as heretics and burned at Constance, one in 1415 and the other in 1416, by decree and in the presence of the council which had been there assembled. But, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, Luther in Germany and Zwingle in Switzerland had taken in hand the work of the Reformation, and before half that century had rolled by they had made the foundations of their new church so strong that their powerful adversaries, with Charles V. at their head, felt obliged to treat with them and recognize their position in the European world, though all the while disputing their right. In England, Henry VIII., under the influence of an unbridled passion, as all his passions were, for Anna Boleyn, had, in 1531, broken with the church of Rome, whose pope, Clement VII., refused very properly to pronounce him divorced from his wife Catherine of Aragon, and the king had proclaimed himself the spiritual head of the English church without meeting either amongst his clergy or in his kingdom with any effectual opposition. Thus in these three important states of Western Europe the Reformers had succeeded, and the religious revolution was in process of accomplishment.
In France it was quite otherwise. Not that, there too, there were not amongst Christians profound dissensions and ardent desires for religious reform. We will dwell directly upon its explosion, its vicissitudes, and its characteristics. But France did not contain, as Germany did, several distinct states, independent and pretty strong, though by no means equally so, which could offer to the different creeds a secure asylum, and could form one with another coalitions capable of resisting the head of that incohesive coalition which was called the empire of Germany. In the sixteenth century, on the contrary, the unity of the French monarchy was established, and it was all, throughout its whole extent, subject to the same laws and the same master, as regarded the religious bodies as well as the body politic. In this monarchy, however, there did not happen to be, at the date of the sixteenth century, a sovereign audacious enough and powerful enough to gratify his personal passions at the cost of embroiling himself, like Henry VIII., with the spiritual head of Christendom, and, from the mere desire for a change of wife, to change the regimen of the church in his dominions. Francis I., on the contrary, had scarcely ascended the throne when, by abolishing the Pragmatic Sanction and signing the Concordat of 1516, he attached himself more closely to the papacy. The nascent Reformation, then, did not meet in France with either of the two important circumstances, politically considered, which in Germany and in England rendered its first steps more easy and more secure. It was in the cause of religious creeds alone, and by means of moral force alone, that she had to maintain the struggles in which she engaged.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, there lived, at a small castle near Gap in Dauphiny, in the bosom of a noble and unostentatiously pious family, a young man of ardent imagination, fiery temperament, and energetic character, who shared his relatives' creeds and joined in their devotions, but grew weary of the monotony of his thoughts and of his life. William Farel heard talk of another young man, his contemporary and neighbor, Peter du Terrail, even now almost famous under the name of Bayard. "Such sons," was said in his hearing, "are as arrows in the hand of a giant; blessed is he who has his quiver full of them!" Young Farel pressed his father to let him go too and make himself a man in the world. The old gentleman would willingly have permitted his son to take up such a life as Bayard's; but it was towards the University of Paris, "that mother of all the sciences, that pure and shining mirror of the faith," that the young man's aspirations were directed. The father at first opposed, but afterwards yielded to his wishes; and, about 1510, William Farel quitted Gap and arrived at Paris. The questions raised by the councils of Bale and Florence, and by the semi-political, semi-ecclesiastical assembly at Tours, which had been convoked by Louis XII., the instruction at the Parisian University, and the attacks of the Sorbonne on the study of Greek and Hebrew, branded as heresy, were producing a lively agitation in the public mind. A doctor of theology, already advanced in years, of small stature, of mean appearance, and of low origin, Jacques Lefevre by name, born at Etaples in Picardy, had for seventeen years filled with great success a professorship in the university. "Amongst many thousands of men," said Erasmus, "you will not find any of higher integrity and more versed in polite letters." "He is very fond of me," wrote Zwingle about him; "he is perfectly open and good; he argues, he sings, he plays, and be laughs with me at the follies of the world." Some circumstance or other brought the young student and the old scholar together; they liked one another, and soon became friends. Farel was impressed by his master's devotion as well as learning; he saw him on his knees at church praying fervently; and, "Never," said he, "had I seen a chanter of mass who chanted it with deeper reverence." But this old-fashioned piety did not interfere at all with the freedom of the professor's ideas and conversations touching either the abuses or the doctrines of the church. "How shameful it is," he would say, "to see a bishop soliciting people to drink with him, caring for nought but gaming, constantly handling the dice and the dice-box, constantly hunting, hallooing after birds and game, frequenting bad houses! . . . Religion has but one foundation, but one end, but one head, Jesus Christ blessed forever; he alone trod the wine-press. Let us not, then, call ourselves by the name of St. Paul, or Apollos, or St. Peter." These free conversations worked, not all at once, but none the less effectually, upon those who heard them. "The end was," says Farel, "that little by little the papacy slipped from its place in my heart; it did not come down at the first shock." At the same time that he thus talked with his pupils, Lefevre of Etaples published a commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, and then a commentary on the Gospels. "Christians," said he, "are those only who love Jesus Christ and His word. May everything be illumined with His light! Through it may there be a return of times like those of that primitive church which devoted to Jesus Christ so many martyrs! May the Lord of the harvest, foreseeing a new harvest, send new and diligent laborers! . . . My dear William," he added, turning to Farel and taking his hand, "God will renew the world, and you will see it!"
It was not only professors and pupils, scholars grown old in meditation and young folks eager for truth, liberty, action, and renown, who welcomed passionately those boundless and undefined hopes, those yearnings towards a brilliant and at the same time a vague future, at which they looked forward, according to the expression used by Lefevre of Etaples to Farel, to a "renewal of the world." Men holding a social position very different from that of the philosophers, men with minds formed on an acquaintance with facts and in the practice of affairs, took part in this intellectual and religious ferment, and protected and encouraged its fervent adherents. William Briconnet, Bishop of Meaux, a prelate who had been Louis XII.'s ambassador to Pope Julius II., and one amongst the negotiators of Francis I.'s Concordat with Leo X., opened his diocese to the preachers and writers recommended to him by his friend Lefevre of Staples, and supported them in their labors for the translation and propagation, amongst the people, of the Holy Scriptures. They had at court, and near the king's own person, the avowed support of his sister, Princess Marguerite, who was beautiful, sprightly, affable, kind, disposed towards all lofty and humane sentiments as well as all intellectual pleasures, and an object of the sometimes rash attentions of the most eminent and most different men of her time, Charles V., the Constable de Bourbon, Admiral Bonnivet, and Clement Marot. Marguerite, who was married to the Duke d'Alencon, widowed in 1525, and married a second time, in 1527, to Henry d'Albret, King of Navarre, was all her life at Pau and at Nerac, as well as at Paris, a centre, a focus of social, literary, religious, and political movement. "The king her brother loved her dearly," says Brantome, "and always called her his darling. . . Very often, when he had important business, he left it to her, waiting for her definitive and conclusive decision.
The ambassadors who talked with her were enchanted by her, and always went to see her after having paid their first ambassadorial visit. She had so great a regard and affection for the king, that when she heard of his dangerous illness she said, 'Whosoever shall come to my door, and announce to me the recovery of the king my brother, such courier, should he be tired, and worn out, and muddy, and dirty, I will go and kiss and embrace as if he were the sprucest prince and gentleman of France; and, should he be in want of a bed and unable to find one whereon to rid him of his weariness, I would give him mine, and I would rather lie on the hard, for the good news he brought me.' . . . She was suspected of inclining to the religion of Luther, but she never made any profession or sign thereof; and, if she believed it, she kept it in her heart very secret, inasmuch as the king did hate it sorely." . . . "The heresy was seen glimmering here and there," says another contemporary witness [Florimond de Raimond in his Histoire de l'Heresie], "but it appeared and disappeared like a nightly meteor which has but a flickering brightness."—At bottom this reserve was quite in conformity with the mental condition of that class, or as one might he inclined to say, that circle of Reformers at court. Luther and Zwingle had distinctly declared war on the papacy; Henry VIII. had with a flourish separated England from the Romish church; Marguerite de Valois and Bishop Briconnet neither wished nor demanded so much; they aspired no further than to reform the abuses of the Romish church by the authority of that church itself, in concert with its heads and according to its traditional regimen; they had no idea of more than dealing kindly, and even sympathetically, with the liberties and the progress of science and human intelligence. Confined within these limits, the idea was legitimate and honest enough, but it showed want of foresight, and was utterly vain. When, whether in state or church, the vices and defects of government have lasted for ages and become habits not only inveterate but closely connected with powerful personal interests, a day at last comes when the deplorable result is seen in pig-headedness and weakness. Then there is an explosion of deep-seated and violent shocks, from which infinitely more is expected than they can accomplish, and which, even when they are successful, cost the people very dear, for their success is sullied and incomplete. A certain amount of good government and general good sense is a necessary preface and preparation for any good sort of reform. Happy the nations who are spared by their wisdom or their good fortune the cruel trial of only obtaining such reforms as they need when they have been reduced to prosecute them beneath the slings and arrows of outrageous revolution! Christian France in the sixteenth century was not so favorably situated.
During the first years of Francis I.'s reign (from 1515 to 1520) young and ardent Reformers, such as William Farel and his friends, were but isolated individuals, eager after new ideas and studies, very favorable towards all that came to them from Germany, but without any consistency yet as a party, and without having committed any striking act of aggression against the Roman church. Nevertheless they were even then, so far as the heads and the devoted adherents of that church were concerned, objects of serious disquietude and jealous supervision.
The Sorbonne, in particular, pronounced vehemently against them. Luther and his progress were beginning to make a great noise in France. After his discussion with Dr. Eck at Leipzig in 1519 he had consented to take for judges the Universities of Erfurt and Paris; on the 20th of January, 1520, the quoestor of the nation of France bought twenty copies of Luther's conference with Dr. Eck to distribute amongst the members of his committee; the University gave more than a year to its examination. "All Europe," says Crevier, "was waiting for the decision of the University of Paris." Whenever an incident occurred or a question arose, "We shall see," said they of the Sorbonne, "what sort of folks hold to Luther. Why, that fellow is worse than Luther!" In April, 1521, the University solemnly condemned Luther's writings, ordering that they should be publicly burned, and that the author should be compelled to retract. The Syndic of the Sorbonne, Noel Bedier, who, to give his name a classical twang, was called Beda, had been the principal and the most eager actor in this procedure; he was a theologian full of subtlety, obstinacy, harshness, and hatred. "In a single Beda there are three thousand monks," Erasmus used to say of him. The syndic had at court two powerful patrons, the king's mother, Louise of Savoy, and the chancellor, Duprat, both decided enemies of the Reformers. Louise of Savoy, in consequence of her licentious morals and her thirst for riches; Duprat, by reason of the same thirst, and of his ambition to become an equally great lord in the church as in the state; and he succeeded, for in 1525 he was appointed Archbishop of Sens. They were, moreover, both of them, opposed to any liberal reform, and devoted, in any case, to absolute power. Beaucaire de Peguilhem, a contemporary and most Catholic historian,—for he accompanied the Cardinal of Lorraine to the Council of Trent,—calls Duprat "the most vicious of bipeds." Such patrons did not lack hot-headed executants of their policy; friendly relations had not ceased between the Reformers and their adversaries; a Jacobin monk, De Roma by name, was conversing one day at Meaux with Farel and his friends; the Reformers expressed the hopes they had in the propagation of the gospel; De Roma all at once stood up, shouting, "Then I and all the rest of the brotherhood will preach a crusade we will stir up the people; and if the king permits the preaching of your gospel, we will have him expelled by his own subjects from his own kingdom." Fanatical passions were already at work, though the parties were too unequal as yet to come to actual force.
Against such passions the Reformers found Francis I. a very indecisive and very inefficient protector. "I wish," said he, "to give men of letters special marks of my favor." When deputies from the Sorbonne came and requested him to put down the publication of learned works taxed with heresy, "I do not wish," he replied, "to have those folks meddled with; to persecute those who instruct us would be to keep men of ability from coming to our country." But in spite of his language, orders were given to the bishops to furnish the necessary funds for the prosecution of heretics, and, when the charge of heresy became frequent, Francis I. no longer repudiated it. "Those people," he said, "do nothing but bring trouble into the state." Troubles, indeed, in otherwise tranquil provinces, where the Catholic faith was in great force, often accompanied the expression of those wishes for reform to which the local clergy themselves considered it necessary to make important concessions. A serious fire took place at Troyes in 1524. "It was put down," says M. Boutiot, a learned and careful historian of that town, "to the account of the new religious notions, as well as to that of the Emperor Charles V.'s friends and the Constable de Bourbon's partisans. As early as 1520 there had begun to be felt at Troyes the first symptoms of repressive measures directed against the Reformation; in 1523, 1527, and 1528, provincial councils were held at Meaux, Lyons, Rouen, Bourges, and Paris, to oppose the Lutherans. These councils drew up regulations tending to reformation of morals and of religious ceremonies; they decided that the administration of the sacraments should take place without any demand for money, and that preachers, in their sermons, should confine themselves to the sacred books, and not quote poets or profane authors; they closed the churches to profane assemblies and burlesques (fetes des fous); they ordered the parish priests, in their addresses (au prone), to explain the gospel of the day; they ruled that a stop should be put to the abuses of excommunication; they interdicted the publication of any book on religious subjects without the permission of the bishop of the diocese. . . . Troyes at that time contained some enlightened men; William Bude (Budaeus) was in uninterrupted communication with it; the Pithou family, represented by their head, Peter Pithou, a barrister at Troyes and a man highly thought of, were in correspondence with the Reformers, especially with Lefevre of Etaples." [Histoire de la Ville de Troyes et de la Champagne meridionale, by T. Boutiot, 1873, t. iii. p. 379.] And thus was going on throughout almost the whole of France, partly in the path of liberty, partly in that of concessions, partly in that of hardships, the work of the Reformation, too weak as yet and too disconnected to engage to any purpose in a struggle, but even now sufficiently wide-spread and strong to render abortive any attempt to strangle it.
The defeat at Pavia and the captivity of Francis I. at Madrid placed the governing power for thirteen months in the hands of the most powerful foes of the Reformation, the regent Louise of Savoy and the chancellor Duprat. They used it unsparingly, with the harsh indifference of politicians who will have, at any price, peace within their dominions and submission to authority. It was under their regimen that there took place the first martyrdom decreed and executed in France upon a partisan of the Reformation for an act of aggression and offence against the Catholic church. John Leclerc, a wool-carder at Meaux, seeing a bull of indulgences affixed to the door of Meaux cathedral, had torn it down, and substituted for it a placard in which the pope was described as Antichrist. Having been arrested on the spot, he was, by decree of the Parliament of Paris, whipped publicly, three days consecutively, and branded on the forehead by the hangman in the presence of his mother, who cried, "Jesus Christ forever!" He was banished, and retired in July, 1525, to Metz; and there he was working at his trade when he heard that a solemn procession was to take place, next day, in the environs of the town. In his blind zeal he went and broke down the images at the feet of which the Catholics were to have burned incense. Being arrested on his return to the town, he, far from disavowing the deed, acknowledged it and gloried in it. He was sentenced to a horrible punishment; his right hand was cut off, his nose was torn out, pincers were applied to his arms, his nipples were plucked out, his head was confined in two circlets of red-hot iron, and, whilst he was still chanting, in a loud voice, this versicle from the cxvth Psalm,—
his bleeding and mutilated body was thrown upon the blazing fagots. He had a younger brother, Peter Leclerc, a simple wool-carder like himself, who remained at Meaux, devoted to the same faith and the same cause. "Great clerc," says a contemporary chronicler, playing upon his name, "who knew no language but that which he had learned from his nurse, but who, being thoroughly grounded in the holy writings, besides the integrity of his life, was chosen by the weavers and became the first minister of the gospel seen in France." An old man of Meaux, named Stephen Mangin, offered his house, situated near the market-place, for holding regular meetings. Forty or fifty of the faithful formed the nucleus of the little church which grew up. Peter Leclerc preached and administered the sacraments in Stephen Mangin's house so regularly that, twenty years after his brother John's martyrdom, the meetings, composed partly of believers who flocked in from the neighboring villages, were from three to four hundred in number. One day when they had celebrated the Lord's Supper, the 8th of September, 1546, the house was surrounded, and nearly sixty persons, men, women, and children, who allowed themselves to be arrested without making any resistance, were taken. They were all sent before the Parliament of Paris; fourteen of the men were sentenced to be burned alive in the great marketplace at Meaux, on the spot nearest to the house in which the crime of heresy had been committed; and their wives, together with their nearest relatives, were sentenced to be present at the execution, "the men bare-headed and the women ranged beside them individually, in such sort that they might be distinguished amongst the rest." The decree was strictly carried out.
It costs a pang to recur to these hideous exhibitions, but it must be done; for history not only has a right, but is bound to do justice upon the errors and crimes of the past, especially when the past had no idea of guilt in the commission of them. A wit of the last century, Champfort, used to say, "There is nothing more dangerous than an honest man engaged in a rascally calling." There is nothing more dangerous than errors and crimes of which the perpetrators do not see the absurd and odious character. The contemporary historian, Sleidan, says, expressly, "The common people in France hold that there are no people more wicked and criminal that heretics; generally, as long as they are a prey to the blazing fagots, the people around them are excited to frenzy and curse them in the midst of their torments." The sixteenth century is that period of French history at which this intellectual and moral blindness cost France "Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men's hands,"— most dear; it supplied the bad passions of men with a means, of which they amply availed themselves, of gratifying then without scruple and without remorse. If, in the early part of this century, the Reformation was as yet without great leaders, it was not, nevertheless, amongst only the laborers, the humble and the poor, that it found confessors and martyrs. The provincial nobility, the burgesses of the towns, the magistracy, the bar, the industrial classes as well as the learned, even then furnished their quota of devoted and faithful friends. A nobleman, a Picard by birth, born about 1490 at Passy, near Paris, where he generally lived, Louis de Berquin by name, was one of the most distinguished of them by his social position, his elevated ideas, his learning, the purity of his morals, and the dignity of his life. Possessed of a patrimonial estate, near Abbeville, which brought him in a modest income of six hundred crowns a year, and a bachelor, he devoted himself to study and to religious matters with independence of mind and with a pious heart. "Most faithfully observant," says Erasmus, "of the ordinances and rites of the church, to wit, prescribed fasts, holy days, forbidden meats, masses, sermons, and, in a word, all, that tends to piety, he strongly reprobated the doctrines of Luther." He was none the less, in 1523, denounced to the Parliament of Paris as being on the side of the Reformers. He had books, it was said; he even composed them himself on questions of faith, and he had been engaged in some sort of dispute with the theologian William de Coutance, head of Harcourt College.
The attorney-general of the Parliament ordered one of his officers to go and make an examination of Berquin's books as well as papers, and to seize what appeared to him to savor of heresy. The officer brought away divers works of Luther, Melancthon, and Carlostadt, and some original treatises of Berquin himself, which were deposited in the keeping of the court. The theological faculty claimed to examine them as being within their competence. On being summoned by the attorney-general, Berquin demanded to be present when an inventory was made of his books or manuscripts, and to give such explanations as he should deem necessary; and his request was granted without question. On the 26th of June, 1523, the commissioners of the Sorbonne made their report. On the 8th of July, Peter Lizet, king's advocate, read it out to the court. The matter came on again for hearing on the 1st of August. Berquin was summoned and interrogated, and, as the result of this interrogatory, was arrested and carried off to imprisonment at the Conciergerie in the square tower. On the 5th of August sentence was pronounced, and Louis de Berquin was remanded to appear before the Bishop of Paris, as being charged with heresy, "in which case," says the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, "he would have been in great danger of being put to death according to law, as he had well deserved." The public were as ready as the accusers to believe in the crime and to impatiently await its punishment.
It was not without surprise or without displeasure that, on the 8th of August, just as they had "made over to the Bishop of Paris, present and accepting" the prisoner confined in the Conciergerie, the members of the council-chamber observed the arrival of Captain Frederic, belonging to the archers of the king's guard, and bringing a letter from the king, who changed the venue in Berquin's case so as to decide it himself at his grand council; in consequence of which the prisoner would have to be handed over, not to the bishop, but to the king. The chamber remonstrated; Berquin was no longer their prisoner; the matter had been decided; it was the bishop to whom application must be made. But these remonstrances had been foreseen; the captain had verbal instructions to carry off Louis de Berquin by force in case of a refusal to give him up. The chamber decided upon handing over the bishop's prisoner to the king, contenting themselves with causing the seized books and manuscripts to be burned that very day in the space in front of Notre Dame. It was whilst repairing to the scene of war in Italy, and when he was just entering Melun, where he merely passed through, that the king had given this unexpected order, on the very day, August 5, on which the Parliament pronounced the decree which sent Berquin to appear before the Bishop of Paris. There is no clear trace of the vigilant protect, or who had so closely watched the proceedings against Berquin, and so opportunely appealed for the king's interference. In any incident of this sort there is a temptation to presume that the influence was that of Princess Marguerite; but it is not certain that she was at this time anywhere near the king; perhaps John du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, acted for her. Francis I. was, moreover, disposed to extend protection, of his own accord, to gentlemen and scholars against furious theologians, when the latter were not too formidable for him. However that may be, Berquin, on becoming the king's prisoner, was summoned before the chancellor, Duprat, who, politely reproaching him with having disquieted the church, confined himself to requesting that he would testify some regret for it. Berquin submitted with a good grace, and, being immediately set at liberty, left Paris and repaired to his estate in Picardy.
Whilst he there resumed his life of peaceful study, the Parliament continued to maintain in principle and openly proclaim its right of repression against heretics. On the 12th of August, 1523, it caused notice to be given, by sound of trumpet, throughout the whole of Paris, that clergy and laymen were to deposit in the keeping of the Palace all Luther's books that they possessed. Laymen who did not comply with this order would have their property confiscated; clergymen would be deprived of their temporalities and banished. Toleration, in a case of suspected heresy, was an act of the king's which itself required toleration; proceedings against heresy remained the law of the land, constantly hanging over every head.
Eighteen months later, in May, 1525, there seemed to be no further thought about Berquin; but the battle of Pavia was lost; Francis I. was a prisoner at Madrid; Louise of Savoy and the chancellor, Duprat, wielded the power. The question of heretics again came to the front. "The queen must be told," said Peter Lizet, king's advocate, "as St. Gregory told Brunehaut, Queen of the Franks, that the best way of driving away the enemies of the kingdom is to drive away from it the enemies of God and His spouse, the Church." On the 10th of April, 1525, on occasion of giving the regent some counsel as to her government, the Parliament strongly recommended her to take proceedings against the heretics. "The court," they said to her, "has before now passed several provisional decrees against the guilty, which have not been executed because of the evil disposition of the times and the hinderances effected by the delinquents, who have found means of suspending and delaying the judgments given against them, as well by transference of the venue to the grand council as by seizure and removal of certain of them, prisoners at the time, whom they have had withdrawn from their prisons by exercise of sovereign and absolute power, which has given the rest occasion and boldness to follow the evil doctrine." It was impossible to reproach the king more broadly with having set Berquin at liberty. The Parliament further advised the regent to ask the pope to send over to France pontifical delegates invested with his own powers to watch and to try in his name "even archbishops, bishops, and abbots, who by their deeds, writings, or discourses, should render themselves suspected of a leaning towards heresy." Louise of Savoy, without any appearance of being hurt by the attack made by the Parliament on the acts of the king her son, eagerly followed the advice given her; and on the 20th of May, 1525, Clement VII., in his turn, eagerly appointed four delegates commissioned to try all those suspected of heresy, who, in case of condemnation, were to be left to the secular arm. On the very day on which the pope appointed his delegates, the faculty of theology at Paris passed censure upon divers writings of Erasmus, translated and spread abroad in France by Berquin; and on the 8th of January, 1526, the Bishop of Amiens demanded of the Parliament authority "to order the body to be seized of Louis de Berquin, who resided in his diocese and was scandalizing it by his behavior." The Parliament authorized his arrest; and, on the 24th of January, Berquin was once more a prisoner in the Conciergerie, at the same time that orders were given to seize all his books and papers, whether at his own house or at that of his friend the Lord of Rambure at Abbeville. The great trial of Berquin for heresy was recommenced, and in it the great name of Erasmus was compromised.
When the question was thus solemnly reopened, Berquin's defenders were much excited. Defenders, we have said; but, in truth, history names but one, the Princess Marguerite, who alone showed any activity, and alone did anything to the purpose. She wrote at once to the king, who was still at Madrid "My desire to obey your commands was sufficiently strong without having it redoubled by the charity you have been pleased to show to poor Berquin according to your promise; I feel sure that He for whom I believe him to have suffered will approve of the mercy which, for His honor, you have had upon His servant and yours." Francis I. had, in fact, written to suspend until his return the proceedings against Berquin, as well as those against Lefevre, Roussel, and all the other doctors suspected of heresy. The regent transmitted the king's orders to the pope's delegates, who presented themselves on the 20th of February before the Parliament to ask its advice. "The king is as badly advised as he himself is good," said the dean of the faculty of theology. The Parliament answered that "for a simple letter missive" it could not adjourn; it must have a letter patent; and it went on with the trial. Berquin presented several demands for delay, evidently in order to wait for the king's return and personal intervention. The court refused them; and, on the 5th of March, 1526, the judgment was read to him in his prison at the Conciergerie. It was to the effect that his books should be again burned before his eyes, that he should declare his approval of so just a sentence, and that he should earn the compassion of the church by not refusing her any satisfaction she might demand; else he should himself go to the stake.
Whilst Berquin's trial was thus coming to an end, Francis I. was entering France once more in freedom, crying, "So I am king again!" During the latter days of March, amongst the numerous personages who came to congratulate him was John de Selve, premier president of the Parliament of Paris. The king gave him a very cold reception. "My lords," wrote the premier president to his court, "I heard, through M. de Selve, my nephew, about some displeasure that was felt as regards our body, and I also perceived it myself. I have already begun to speak of it to Madame [the king's mother]. I will do, as I am bound to, my duty towards the court, with God's help." On the 1st of April the king, who intended to return by none but slow stages to Paris, wrote from Mont-de-Marsan, to the judges holding his court of Parliament at Paris:—
"We have presently been notified how that, notwithstanding that, through our dear and much-loved lady and mother, regent in France during our absence, it was written unto you and ordered that you would be pleased not to proceed in any way whatever with the matter of Sieur Berquin, lately detained a prisoner, until we should have been enabled to return to this our kingdom, you have, nevertheless, at the request and pursuance of his ill-wishers, so far proceeded with his business that you have come to a definitive judgment on it. Whereat we cannot be too much astounded. . . . For this cause we do will and command and enjoin upon you . . that you are not to proceed to execution of the said judgment, which, as the report is, you have pronounced against the said Berquin, but shall put him, himself and the depositions and the proceedings in his said trial, in such safe keeping that you may be able to answer to us for them. . . . And take care that you make no default therein, for we do warn you that, if default there be, we shall look to such of you as shall seem good to us to answer to us for it."
Here was not only a letter patent, but a letter minatory. As to the execution of their judgment, the Parliament obeyed the king's injunction, maintaining, however, the principle as well as the legality of Berquin's sentence, and declaring that they awaited the king's orders to execute it. "According to the teaching of the two Testaments," they said, "God ever rageth, in His just wrath, against the nations who fail to enforce respect for the laws prescribed by Himself. It is important, moreover, to hasten the event in order as soon as possible to satisfy, independently of God, the people who murmur and whose impatience is becoming verily troublesome." Francis I. did not reply. He would not have dared, even in thought, to attack the question of principle as to the chastisement of heresy, and he was afraid of weakening his own Authority too much if he humiliated his Parliament too much; it was sufficient for him that he might consider Berquin's life to be safe. Kings are protectors who are easily satisfied when their protection, to be worth anything, might entail upon them the necessity of an energetic struggle and of self-compromise. "Trust not in princes nor their children," said Lord Strafford, after the Psalmist [Nolite confidere principibus et filiis eorum, quia non est sales in illis, Ps. cxlvi.], when, in the seventeenth century, he found that Charles I. was abandoning him to the English Parliament and the executioner. Louis de Berquin might have felt similar distrust as to Francis I., but his nature was confident and hopeful; when he knew of the king's letter to the Parliament, he considered himself safe, and he testified as much to Erasmus in a long letter, in which he told him the story of his trial, and alluded to "the fresh outbreak of anger on the part of those hornets who accuse me of heresy," said he, "simply because I have translated into the vulgar tongue some of your little works, wherein they pretend that they have discovered the most monstrous pieces of impiety." He transmitted to Erasmus a list of the paragraphs which the pope's delegates had condemned, pressing him to reply, "as you well know how. The king esteems you much, and will esteem you still more when you have heaped confusion on this brood of benighted theologians whose ineptitude is no excuse for their violence." By a strange coincidence, Berquin's most determined foe, Noel Beda, provost of the Sorbonne, sent at the same time to Erasmus a copy of more than two hundred propositions which had been extracted from his works, and against which he, Beda, also came forward as accuser. Erasmus was a prudent man, and did not seek strife; but when he was personally and offensively attacked by enemies against whom he was conscious of his strength, he exhibited it proudly and ably; and he replied to Beda by denouncing him, on the 6th of June, to the Parliament of Paris itself, as an impudent and ignorant calumniator. His letter, read at the session of Parliament on the 5th of July, 1526, was there listened to with profound deference, and produced a sensation which did not remain without effect; in vain did Beda persist in accusing Erasmus of heresy and in maintaining that he was of the brotherhood of Luther; Parliament considered him in the wrong, provisionally prohibited the booksellers from vending his libels against Erasmus, and required previous authorization to be obtained for all books destined for the press by the rectors of the Sorbonne.
The success of Erasmus was also a success for Berquin; but he was still in prison, ill and maltreated. The king wrote on the 11th of July to Parliament to demand that he should enjoy at least all the liberties that the prison would admit of, that he should no longer be detained in an unhealthy cell, and that he should be placed in that building of the Conciergerie where the court-yard was. "That," was the answer, "would be a bad precedent; they never put in the court-yard convicts who had incurred the penalty of death." An offer was made to Berquin of the chamber reserved for the greatest personages, for princes of the blood, and of permission to walk in the court-yard for two hours a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening, in the absence of the other prisoners. Neither the king nor Berquin was inclined to be content with these concessions. The king in his irritation sent from Beaugency, on the 5th of October, two archers of his guard with a letter to this effect: "It is marvellously strange that what we ordered has not yet been done. We do command and most expressly enjoin upon you, this once for all, that you are incontinently to put and deliver the said Berquin into the hands of the said Texier and Charles do Broc, whom we have ordered to conduct him to our castle of the Louvre." The court still objected; a prisoner favored by so high a personage, it was said, would soon be out of such a prison. The objection resulted in a formal refusal to obey. The provost of Paris, John de la Barre, the king's premier gentleman, was requested to repair to the palace and pay Berquin a visit, to ascertain from himself what could be done for him. Berquin, for all that appears, asked for nothing but liberty to read and write. "It is not possible," was the reply; "such liberty is never granted to those who are condemned to death." As a great favor, Berquin was offered a copy of the Letters of St. Jerome and some volumes of history; and the provost had orders not to omit that fact in his report: "The king must be fully assured that the court do all they can to please him."
But it was to no purpose. On the 19th of November, 1526, the provost of Paris returned to the palace with a letter from the king, formally commanding him to remove Berquin and transfer him to the Louvre. The court again protested that they would not deliver over the said Berquin to the said provost; but, they said, "seeing what the times are, the said provost will be able to find free access to the Conciergerie, for to do there what he hath a mind to." The same day, about six in the evening, John de la Barre repaired to the Conciergerie, and removed from it Louis de Berquin, whom he handed over to the captain of the guard and four archers, who took him away to the Louvre. Two months afterwards, in January, 1527, Princess Marguerite married Henry d'Albret, King of Navarre, and about the same time, though it is difficult to discover the exact day, Louis de Berquin issued forth a free man from the Louvre, and the new queen, on taking him at once into her service, wrote to the Constable Anne de Montmorency, whom the king had charged with the duty of getting Berquin set at liberty, "I thank you for the pleasure you have done me in the matter of poor Berquin, whom I esteem as much as if he were myself; and so you may say that you have delivered me from prison, since I consider in that light the pleasure done to me."
Marguerite's sympathetic joy was as natural as touching; she must have thought Berquin safe; he was free and in the service of one who was fundamentally a sovereign-prince, though living in France and in dependence upon the King of France, whose sister he had just married. In France, Berquin was under the stigma of having been condemned to death as a heretic, and was confronted by determined enemies. In so perilous a position his safety depended upon his courting oblivion. But instead of that, and consulting only the dictates of his generous and blind confidence in the goodness of his cause, he resolved to assume the offensive and to cry for justice against his enemies. "Beneath the cloak of religion," he wrote to Erasmus, "the priests conceal the vilest passions, the most corrupt morals, and the most scandalous infidelity. It is necessary to rend the veil which covers them, and boldly bring an accusation of impiety against the Sorbonne, Rome, and all their flunkies." Erasmus, justly alarmed, used all his influence to deter him: but "the more confidence he showed," says he, "the more I feared for him. I wrote to him frequently, begging him to get quit of the case by some expedient, or even to withdraw himself on the pretext of a royal ambassadorship obtained by the influence of his friends. I told him that the theologians would probably, as time went on, let his affair drop, but that they would never admit themselves to be guilty of impiety. I told him to always bear in mind what a hydra was that Beda, and at how many mouths he belched forth venom. I told him to reflect well that he was about to commit himself with a foe that was immortal, for a faculty never dies, and to rest assured that after having brought three monks to bay, he would have to defend himself against numerous legions, not only opulent and powerful, but, besides, very dishonest and very experienced in the practice of every kind of cheatery, who would never rest until they had effected his ruin, were his cause as just as Christ's. I told him not to trust too much to the king's protection, the favor of princes being unstable and their affections easily alienated by the artifices of informers. . . . And if all this could not move him, I told him not to involve me in his business, for, with his permission, I was not at all inclined to get into any tangle with legions of monks and a whole faculty of theology. But I did not succeed in convincing him; whilst I argued in so many ways to deter him from his design, I did nothing but excite his courage."
Not only did Berquin turn a deaf ear to the wise counsels of Erasmus, but his protectress, Marguerite, being moved by his courage, and herself also as imprudent as she was generous, persuaded herself that he was in the right, and supported him in his undertaking. She wrote to the king her brother, "Poor Berquin, who, through your goodness, holds that God has twice preserved his life, throws himself upon you, having no longer any one to whom he can have recourse, for to give you to understand his innocence; and whereas, Monseigneur, I know the esteem in which you hold him and the desire he hath always had to do you service, I do not fear to entreat you, by letter instead of speech, to be pleased to have pity on him. And if it please you to show signs of taking his matter to heart, I hope that the truth, which he will make to appear, will convict the forgers of heretics of being slanderers and disobedient towards you rather than zealots for the faith."
In his complaisance and indifference Francis I. attended to his sister's wishes, and appeared to support Berquin in his appeal for a fresh and definite investigation of his case. On the other hand, Parliament, to whom the matter was referred, showed a disposition to take into account the king's good will towards Berquin, lately convicted, but now become in his turn plaintiff and accuser. "We have no wish to dispute your power," said the president, Charles de Guillard, to the king at a bed of justice held on the 24th of July, 1527: "it would be a species of sacrilege, and we know well that you are above the laws, and that neither laws nor ordinances can constrain you. Your most humble and most obedient court is comforted and rejoiced at your presence and advent, just as the apostles were when they saw their God after the resurrection. We are assured that your will is to be the peculiar protector and defender of religion, and not to permit or suffer in your kingdom any errors, heresies, or false doctrines."
The matter thus reopened pursued its course slowly; twelve judges were appointed to give a definite decision; and the king himself nominated six, amongst whom he placed Berquin's friend, William Bude. Various incidents unconnected with religious disputes supervened. The Queen of Navarre was brought to bed at Pau, on the 7th of January, 1528, of a daughter, Jeanne d'Albret, the future mother of Henry IV. The marriage of Princess Renee of France, daughter of Louis XII., with Duke Hercules of Ferrara, was concluded, and the preparations for its celebration were going on at Fontainebleau, when, on Monday, June 1, 1528, the day after the Feast of Pentecost, "some heretics came by night," says the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, "to an image of Notre-Dame de Pierre, which is at a corner of the street behind the church of Petit St. Antoine; to the which image they gave several blows with their weapons, and cut off her head and that of her little child, Our Lord. But it was never known who the image-breakers were.
The king, being then at Paris, and being advertised thereof, was so wroth and upset that, it is said, he wept right sore. And, incontinently, during the two days following, he caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet throughout the cross-roads of the city that if any persons knew who had done it they should make their report and statement to justice and to him, and he would give them a thousand crowns of gold. Nevertheless nothing could be known about it, although the king showed great diligence in the matter, and had officers commissioned to go from house to house to make inquiry. . . . On Tuesday and other days following there were special processions from the parish churches and other churches of the city, which nearly all of them went to the said place. . . . And on the day of the Fete-Dieu, which was the 11th day of the said month of June, the king went in procession, most devoutly, with the parish of St. Paul and all the clergy, to the spot where was the said image. He himself carried a lighted waxen taper, bareheaded, with very great reverence, having with him the band and hautbois with several clarions and trumpets, which made a glorious show, so melodiously did they play. And with him were the Cardinal of Lorraine, and several prelates and great lords, and all the gentlemen, having each a taper of white wax in their hands, and all his archers had each a waxen taper alight, and thus they went to the spot where was the said image, with very great honor and reverence, which was a beautiful sight to see, and with devotion." [Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, pp. 347-351.]
In the sixteenth century men were far from understanding that respect is due to every religious creed sincerely professed and practised; the innovators, who broke the images of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, did not consider that by thus brutally attacking that which they regarded as a superstition, they were committing a revolting outrage upon Christian consciences. Such an incident was too favorable for Berquin's enemies not to be eagerly turned to profit by them. Although his prosecution had been resumed, he had hitherto remained at large, and been treated respectfully; he repaired without any guard over him from the Louvre to the Palace of Justice. But now he was arrested, and once more confined in the tower of the Conciergerie. Some books of his, seized hap-hazard and sent to the syndic Beda, were found covered with notes, which were immediately pronounced to be heretical. On the 16th of April, 1529, he was brought before the court. "Louis Berquin," said the president to him, "you are convicted of having belonged to the sect of Luther, and of having made wicked books against the majesty of God and of His glorious Mother. In consequence, we do sentence you to make honorable amends, bareheaded and with a waxen taper alight in your hand, in the great court of the palace, crying for mercy to God, the king, and the law, for the offence by you committed. After that, you will be conducted bareheaded and on foot to the Place de Greve, where your books will be burned before your eyes. Then you will be taken in front of the church of Notre-Dame, where you will make honorable amends to God and to the glorious Virgin His Mother. After which a hole will be pierced in your tongue, that member wherewith you have sinned. Lastly, you will be placed in the prison of Monsieur de Paris (the bishop), and will be there confined between two stone walls for the whole of your life. And we forbid that there be ever given you book to read or pen and ink to write." This sentence, which Erasmus called atrocious, appeared to take Berquin by surprise; for a moment he remained speechless, and then he said, "I appeal to the king:" whereupon he was taken back to prison. The sentence was to be carried out the same day about three P. M. A great crowd of more than twenty thousand persons, says a contemporary chronicler, rushed to the bridges, the streets, the squares, where this solemn expiation was to take place. The commissioner of police, the officer of the Chatelet, the archers, crossbowmen, and arquebusiers of the city had repaired to the palace to form the escort; but when they presented themselves at the prison to take Berquin, he told them that he had appealed to the king, and that he would not go with them. The escort and the crowd retired disappointed. The president convoked the tribunal the same evening, and repairing to the prison, he made Berquin sign the form of his appeal. William Bude hurried to the scene, and vehemently urged the prisoner to give it up. "A second sentence," said he, "is ready, and it pronounces death. If you acquiesce in the first, we shall be able to save you later on. All that is demanded of you is to ask pardon: and have we not all need of pardon?" It appears that for a moment Berquin hesitated, and was on the point of consenting; but Bude remained anxious. "I know him," said he; "his ingenuousness and his confidence in the goodness of his cause will ruin him." The king was at Blois, and his sister Marguerite at St. Germain; on the news of this urgent peril she wrote to her brother, "I for the last time, make you a very humble request; it is, that you will be pleased to have pity upon poor Berquin, whom I know to be suffering for nothing but loving the word of God and obeying yours. You will be pleased, Monseigneur, so to act that it be not said that separation has made you forget your most humble and most obedient subject and sister, Marguerite." We can discover no trace of any reply whatever from Francis I. According to most of the documentary evidence, uncertainty lasted for three days. Berquin persisted in his resolution. "No," he to his friend Bude, who again came to the prison, "I would rather endure death than give my approval, even by silence only to condemnation of the truth." The president of the court went once more to pay him a visit, and asked him if he held to his appeal. Berquin said, "Yes." court revised its original sentence, and for the penalty of perpetual imprisonment substituted that of the stake. On the 22d of April, 1529, according to most of the documents, but on the 17th, according to the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, which the details of the last days render highly improbable, the officers of Parliament entered Berquin's gloomy chamber. He rose quietly and went with them; the procession set out, and at about three arrived at the Place de Greve; where the stake was ready. "Berquin had a gown of velvet, garments of satin and damask, and hosen of gold thread," says the Bourgeois de Paris. "'Alas!' said some as they saw him pass, 'he is of noble lineage, a mighty great scholar, expert in science and subtile withal, and nevertheless he hath gone out of his senses.'" We borrow the account of his actual death from a letter of Erasmus, written on the evidence of an eye-witness: "Not a symptom of agitation appeared either in his face or the attitude of his body: he had the bearing of a man who is meditating in his cabinet on the subject of his studies, or in a temple on the affairs of heaven. Even when the executioner, in a rough voice, proclaimed his crime and its penalty, the constant serenity of his features was not at all altered. When the order was given him to dismount from the tumbrel, he obeyed cheerfully without hesitating; nevertheless he had not about him any of that audacity, that arrogance, which in the case of malefactors is sometimes bred of their natural savagery; everything about him bore evidence to the tranquillity of a good conscience. Before he died he made a speech to the people; but none could hear him, so great was the noise which the soldiers made, according, it is said, to the orders they had received. When the cord which bound him to the post suffocated his voice, not a soul in the crowd ejaculated the name of Jesus, whom it is customary to invoke even in favor of parricides and the sacrilegious, to such extent was the multitude excited against him by those folks who are to be found everywhere, and who can do anything with the feelings of the simple and ignorant." Theodore de Beze adds that the grand penitentiary of Paris, Merlin, who was present at the execution, said, as he withdrew from the still smoking stake, "I never saw any one die more Christianly." The impressions and expressions of the crowd, as they dispersed, were very diverse; but the majority cried, "He was a heretic." Others said, "God is the only just Judge, and happy is the man whom He absolves." Some said below their breath, "It is only through the cross that Christ will triumph in the kingdom of the Gauls." A man went up to the Franciscan monk who had placed himself at Berquin's side in the procession, and had entreated him without getting from him anything but silence, and asked him, "Did Berquin say that he had erred?" "Yes, certainly," answered the monk, "and I doubt not but that his soul hath departed in peace." This expression was reported to Erasmus; but "I don't believe it," said he; "it is the story that these fellows are obliged to invent after their victim's death, to appease the wrath of the people."
We have dwelt in detail upon these two martyrs, Leclerc and Berquin, the wool-carder and the scholarly gentleman, because they are faithful and vivid representatives of the two classes amongst which, in the sixteenth century, the Reformation took root in France. It had a double origin, morally and socially, one amongst the people and the other amongst the aristocratic and the learned; it was not national, nor was it embraced by the government of the country. Persecution was its first and its only destiny in the reign of Francis I., and it went through the ordeal with admirable courage and patience; it resisted only in the form of martyrdom. We will give no more of such painful and hideous pictures; in connection with this subject, and as regards the latter portion of this reign, we will dwell upon only those general facts which bear the impress of public morals and the conduct of the government rather than of the fortunes and the feelings of individuals. It was after Francis I.'s time that the Reformation, instead of confining itself to submitting with dignity to persecution, made a spirited effort to escape from it by becoming a political party, and taking up, in France, the task of the opposition—a liberal and an energetic opposition, which claims its rights and its securities. It then took its place in French history as a great public power, organized and commanded by great leaders, and no longer as a multitude of scattered victims falling one after another, without a struggle, beneath the blows of their persecutors.
The martyrdom of Berquin put a stop to the attempt at quasi-tolerance in favor of aristocratic and learned Reformers which Francis I. had essayed to practise; after having twice saved Berquin from a heretic's doom, he failed to save him ultimately; and, except the horrible details of barbarity in the execution, the scholarly gentleman received the same measure as the wool-carder, after having been, like him, true to his faith and to his dignity as a man and a Christian. Persecution thenceforward followed its course without the king putting himself to the trouble of applying the drag for anybody; his sister Marguerite alone continued to protect, timidly and dejectedly, those of her friends amongst the reformers whom she could help or to whom she could offer an asylum in Bearn without embroiling herself with the king, her brother, and with the Parliaments. We will not attempt to enumerate the martyrdoms which had to be undergone by the persevering Reformers in France between 1529 and 1547, from the death of Louis de Berquin to that of Francis I.; the task would be too long and intermingled with too many petty questions of dates or proper names; we will confine ourselves to quoting some local computations and to conning over the great historic facts which show to what extent the persecution was general and unrelenting, though it was ineffectual, in the end, to stifle the Reformation and to prevent the bursting out of those religious wars which, from the death of Francis I. to the accession of Henry IV., smothered France in disaster, blood, and crime.
In the reign of Francis I., from 1524 to 1547, eighty-one death-sentences for heresy were executed. At Paris only, from the 10th of November to the 2d of May, a space of some six months, one hundred and two sentences to death by fire for heresy were pronounced; twenty-seven were executed; two did not take place, because those who ought to have undergone them denounced other Reformers to save themselves; and seventy-three succeeded in escaping by flight. The Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris (pp. 444- 450) does not mention sentences to lesser penalties. In a provincial town, whose history one of its most distinguished inhabitants, M. Boutiot, has lately written from authentic documents and local traditions, at Troyes in fact, in 1542 and 1546, two burgesses, one a clerk and the other a publisher, were sentenced to the stake and executed for the crime of heresy: "on an appeal being made by the publisher, Mace Moreau, the Parliament of Paris confirmed the sentence pronounced by the bailiff's court," and he underwent his punishment on the Place St. Pierre with the greatest courage. The decree of the Parliament contains the most rigorous enactments against books in the French language treating of religious matters; and it enjoins upon all citizens the duty of denouncing those who, publicly or not, make profession of the new doctrine. "The Lutheran propaganda," say the documents, "is in great force throughout the diocese; it exercises influence not only on the class of artisans, but also amongst the burgesses. Doubt has made its way into many honest souls. The Reformation has reached so far even where the schism is not complete. Catholic priests profess some of the new doctrines, at the same time that they remain attached to their offices. Many bishops declare themselves partisans of the reformist doctrines. The Protestant worship, however, is not yet openly conducted. The mass of the clergy do not like to abandon the past; they cling to their old traditions, and, if they have renounced certain abuses, they yield only on a few points of little importance. The new ideas are spreading, even in the country. . . . Statues representing the Virgin and the saints are often broken, and these deeds are imputed to those who have adopted the doctrines of Luther and of Calvin. A Notre-Dame de Pitie, situated at the Hotel-Dieule-Comte, was found with its head broken. This event excites to madness the Catholic population. The persecutions continue." Many people emigrated for fear of the stake. "From August, 1552, to the 6th of January, 1555," says the chronicler, "Troyes loses in consequence of exile, probably voluntary, a certain number of its best inhabitants," and he names thirteen families with the style and title of "nobleman." He adds, "There is scarcely a month in the year when there are not burned two or three heretics at Paris, Meaux, and Troyes, and sometimes more than a dozen." Troyes contained, at that time, says M. Boutiot, eighteen thousand two hundred and eighty-five inhabitants, counting five persons to a household. [Histoire de la Ville de Troyes, t. iii. pp. 381, 387, 398, 415, 431.] Many other provincial towns offered the same spectacle.
During the long truce which succeeded the peace of Cambrai, from 1532 to 1536, it might have been thought for a while that the persecution in France was going to be somewhat abated. Policy obliged Francis I. to seek the support of the Protestants of Germany against Charles V.; he was incessantly fluctuating between that policy and a strictly Catholic and papal policy; by marrying his son Henry, on the 28th of October, 1533, to Catherine de' Medici, niece of Pope Clement VII., he seemed to have decided upon the latter course; but he had afterwards made a movement in the contrary direction; Clement VII. had died on the 26th of September, 1524; Paul III. had succeeded him; and Francis I. again turned towards the Protestants of Germany; he entered into relations with the most moderate amongst their theologians, with Melancthon, Bucer, and Sturm; there was some talk of conciliation, of a re-establishment of peace and harmony in the church; nor did the king confine himself to speaking by the mouth of diplomatists; he himself wrote to Melancthon, on the 23d of June, 1535, "It is some time now since I heard from William du Bellay, my chamberlain and councillor, of the zeal with which you are exerting yourself to appease the altercations to which Christian doctrine has given rise. I now hear that you are very much disposed to come to us for to confer with some of our most distinguished doctors as to the means of re-establishing in the church that sublime harmony which is the chief of all my desires. Come, then, either in an official capacity or in your own private character; you will be most welcome to me, and you shall in either case have proof of the interest I feel in the glory of your own Germany and in the peace of the world." Melancthon had, indeed, shown an inclination to repair to Paris; he had written, on the 9th of May, 1535, to his friend Sturm, "I will not let myself be stopped by domestic ties or by fear of danger. There is no human greatness before which I do not prefer Christ's glory. One thought alone gives me pause: I doubt my ability to do any good; I fear it is impossible to obtain from the king that which I regard as necessary for the Lord's glory and for the peace of France. You know that kingdom. Pronounce your judgment. If you think that I shall do well to undertake the journey, I am off."
Melancthon had good reason to doubt whether success, such as he deemed necessary, were possible. Whilst Francis I. was making all these advances to the Protestants of Germany, he was continuing to proceed against their brother Christians in France more bitterly and more flagrantly than ever. Two recent events had very much envenomed party feeling between the French Catholics and Reformers, and the king had been very much compromised in this fresh crisis of the struggle. In 1534 the lawless insurrection of Anabaptists and peasants, which had so violently agitated Germany in 1525, began again; the insurgents seized the town of Munster, in Westphalia, and there renewed their attempt to found the kingdom of Israel, with community of property and polygamy. As in 1525, they were promptly crushed by the German princes, Catholic and Protestant, of the neighborhood; but their rising had created some reverberation in France, and the Reformers had been suspected of an inclination to take part in it. "It is said," wrote the Chancellor de Granvelle, in January, 1535, to the ambassador of France at the court of Charles V., "that the number of the strayed from the faith in France, and the danger of utter confusion, are very great; the enterprise of the said strayed, about which you write to me, to set fire to the churches and pillage the Louvre, proves that they were in great force. Please God the king may be able to apply a remedy!" [Papiers d'Etat du Cardinal de Granvelle, t. ii. p. 283.] The accusation was devoid of all foundation; but nothing is absurd in the eyes of party hatred and suspicion, and an incident, almost contemporaneous with the fresh insurrection of the Anabaptists, occurred to increase the king's wrath, as well as the people's, against the Reformers, and to rekindle the flames of persecution. On the 24th of October, 1534, placards against the mass, transubstantiation, and the regimen as well as the faith of the Catholic church, were posted up during the night in the thoroughfares of Paris, and at Blois on the very chamberdoor of Francis I., whose first glance, when he got up in the morning, they caught. They had been printed at Neufchatel, in Switzerland, where the influence of the refugee William Farel was strong, and their coarse violence of expression could not fail to excite the indignation of even the most indifferent Catholics. In their fanatical blindness factions say only what satisfies their own passions, without considering moral propriety or the effect which will be produced by their words upon the feelings of their adversaries, who also have creeds and passions. Francis I., equally shocked and irritated, determined to give the Catholic faith striking satisfaction, and Protestant audacity a bloody lesson. On the 21st of January, 1535, a solemn procession issued from the church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois. John du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, held in his hands the holy sacrament, surrounded by the three sons of France and the Duke de Vendome, who were the dais-bearers; and the king walked behind, with a taper in his hand, between the Cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. At each halting-place he handed his taper to the Cardinal of Lorraine, folded his hands, and humbly prostrating himself, implored divine mercy for his people. After the procession was over, the king, who had remained to dine with John du Bellay, assembled in the great hall of the palace the heads of all the companies, and taking his place on a sort of throne which had been prepared for him, said, "Whatever progress may have already been made by the pest, the remedy is still easy if each of you, devoured by the same zeal as I, will forget the claims of flesh and blood to remember only that he is a Christian, and will denounce without pity all those whom he knows to be partisans or favorers of heresy. As for me, if my arm were gangrened, I would have it cut off though it were my right arm, and if my sons who hear me were such wretches as to fall into such execrable and accursed opinions, I would be willing to give them up to make a sacrifice of them to God." On the 29th of January there was published an edict which sentenced concealers of heretics, "Lutheran or other," to the same penalties as the said heretics, unless they denounced their guests to justice; and a quarter of the property to be confiscated was secured to the denouncers. Fifteen days previously Francis I. had signed a decree still stranger for a king who was a protector of letters; he ordered the abolition of printing, that means of propagating heresies, and "forbade the printing of any book on pain of the halter." Six weeks later, however, on the 26th of February, he became ashamed of such an act, and suspended its execution indefinitely. Punishments in abundance preceded and accompanied the edicts; from the 10th of November, 1534, to the 3d of May, 1535, twenty-four heretics were burned alive in Paris, without counting many who were sentenced to less cruel penalties. The procedure had been made more rapid; the police commissioner of the Chatelet dealt with cases summarily, and the Parliament confirmed. The victims had at first been strangled before they were burned; they were now burned alive, after the fashion of the Spanish Inquisition. The convicts were suspended by iron chains to beams which alternately "hoisted" and "lowered" them over the flames until the executioner cut the cord to let the sufferer fall. The evidence was burned together with the convicts; it was undesirable that the Reformers should be able to make a certified collection of their martyrs' acts and deeds.
After a detailed and almost complacent enumeration of all these executions, we find in the Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris this paragraph: "The rumor was, in June, 1535, that Pope Paul III., being advertised of the execrable and horrible justice which the king was doing upon the Lutherans in his kingdom, did send word to the King of France that he was advertised of it, and that he was quite willing to suppose that he did it in good part, as he still made use of the beautiful title he had to be called the Most Christian king; nevertheless, God the Creator, when he was in this world, made more use of mercy than of rigorous justice, which should never be used rigorously; and that it was a cruel death to burn a man alive because he might have to some extent renounced the faith and the law. Wherefore the pope did pray and request the king, by his letters, to be pleased to mitigate the fury and rigor of his justice by granting grace and pardon. The king, wishing to follow the pope's wishes, according as he had sent him word by his letters patent, sent word to the court of Parliament not to proceed any more with such rigor as they had shown heretofore. For this cause were there no more rigorous proceedings on the part of justice." [Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 456.]
Search has been made to discover whether the assertion of the Bourgeois de Paris has any foundation, whether Pope Paul III. really did write in June, 1535, the letter attributed to him, and whether its effect was, that the king wrote to Parliament not to proceed against the Reformers "with such rigor." No proof has, however, been obtained as to the authenticity of the pope's letter, and in any case it was not very effectual, for the same Bourgeois de Paris reports, that in September, 1535, three months after that, according to him, it was written: Two fellows, makers of silk ribbons and tissues, were burned all alive, one in the Place Maubert and the other in St. John's cemetery, as Lutherans, which they were. They had handed over to their host at Paris some Lutheran books to take care of, saying, 'Keep this book for us while we go into the city, and show it to nobody.' When they were gone, this host was not able to refrain from showing this book to a certain priest, the which, after having looked at it, said incontinently, 'This is a very wicked book, and proscribed.' Then the said host went to the commissioner of police to reveal that he had such and such a book of such an one, the which sent forth with to the house of the said host to take and carry off the said two fellows to the Chatelet. Being questioned, they confessed the state of the case. Whereupon, by sentence of the said commissioner, confirmed by decree, "they made honorable amends in front of the church of Notre-Dame de Paris, had their tongues cut out, and were burned all alive and with unshaken obstinacy." Proceedings and executions, then, did not cease, even in the case of the most humble class of Reformers, and at the very moment when Francis I. was exerting himself to win over the Protestants of Germany with the cry of conciliation and re-establishment of harmony in the church. Melancthon, Bucer, and Luther himself had allowed themselves to be tempted by the prospect; but the German politicians, princes, and counsellors were more clear-sighted. "We at Augsburg," wrote Sailer, deputy from that city, "know the King of France well; he cares very little for religion, or even for morality. He plays the hypocrite with the pope, and gives the Germans the smooth side of his tongue, thinking of nothing but how to cheat them of the hopes he gives them. His only aim is to crush the emperor." The attempt of Francis I. thus failed, first in Germany, and then at Paris also, where the Sorbonne was not disposed, any more than the German politicians were, to listen to any talk about a specious conciliation; and the persecution resumed its course in France, paving the way for civil war.
The last and most atrocious act of persecution in the reign of Francis I. was directed not against isolated individuals, but against a whole population, harried, despoiled, and banished or exterminated on account of heresy. About the year 1525 small churches of Reformers began to assume organization between the Alps and the Jura. Something was there said about Christians who belonged to the Reformation without having ever been reformed. It was said that, in certain valleys of the Piedmontese Alps and Dauphiny and in certain quarters of Provence, there were to be found believers who for several centuries had recognized no authority save that of the Holy Scriptures. Some called them Vaudians (Waldensians), others poor of Lyons, others Lutherans. The rumor of the Reformation was heard in their valleys, and created a lively emotion amongst them. One of them determined to go and see what this reformation was; and he returned to his valleys with good news and with pious books. Regular relations were from that time established between the Reformers of Switzerland, France, and Germany, and the Christian shepherds of these mountains. Visits were exchanged Farel and Saunier went amongst the Vaudians and conversed with them about their common faith, common in spite of certain differences. Rustic conferences, composed of the principal landholders, barbas or pastors, and simple members of the faithful, met more than once in the open air under the pines of their mountains. The Vaudians of Provence had been settled there since the end of the thirteenth century; and in the course of the fourteenth other Vaudians from Dauphiny, and even from Calabria, had come thither to join them. "Their barbas," says a contemporary monk [Histoire des Guerres excitees dans le Comtat venaissin par les Calvinistes du seizieme siecle, par le pere Justin, capucin], "used to preside at their exercises of religion, which were performed in secret. As they were observed to be quiet and circumspect, as they faithfully paid taxes, tithe, and seigniorial dues, and as they were besides very laborious, they were not troubled on the score of their habits and doctrines." Their new friends from Switzerland and Germany reproached them with concealment of their faith and worship. As soon as they had overtly separated from the Roman church, persecution began; Francis I. checked its first excesses, but it soon began again; the episcopal prisons were filled with Vaudians, who bristled at the summons to abjure; and on the 29th of March, 1535, thirteen of them were sentenced to be burned alive. Pope Paul III. complained to Francis I. of their obstinacy; the king wrote about it to the Parliament of Aix; the Parliament ordered the lords of the lands occupied by the Vaudians to force their vassals to abjure or leave the country. When cited to appear before the court of Aix to explain the grounds of their refusal, several declined. The court sentenced them, in default, to be burned alive. Their friends took up arms and went to deliver the prisoners. Merindol was understood to be the principal retreat of the sectaries; by decree of November 18, 1540, the Parliament ordered that "the houses should be demolished and razed to the ground, the cellars filled up, the woods cut down, the trees of the gardens torn up, and that the lands of those who had lived in Merindol should not be able to be farmed out to anybody whatever of their family or name." In the region of Parliament itself complaints were raised against such hardships; the premier president, Barthelemy Chassaneuz, was touched, and adjourned the execution of the decree. The king commissioned William du Bellay to examine into the facts; the report of Du Bellay was favorable to the Vaudians, as honest, laborious, and charitable farmers, discharging all the duties of civil life; but, at the same time, he acknowledged that they did not conform to the laws of the church, that they did not recognize the pope or the bishops, that they prayed in the vulgar tongue, and that they were in the habit of choosing certain persons from amongst themselves to be their pastors. On this report, Francis I., by a declaration of February 18, 1541, pardoned the Vaudians for all that had been irregular in their conduct, on condition that within the space of three months they should abjure their errors; and he ordered the Parliament to send to Aix deputies from their towns, burghs, and villages, to make abjuration in the name of all, at the same time authorizing the Parliament to punish, according to the ordinances, those who should refuse to obey, and to make use, if need were, of the services of the soldiery. Thus persecuted and condemned for their mere faith, undemonstrative as it was, the Vaudians confined themselves to asking that it might be examined and its errors pointed out. Those of Merindol and those of Cabriere in the countship of Venasque drew up their profession of faith and sent it to the king and to two bishops of the province, Cardinal Sadolet, Bishop of Carpentras, and John Durandi, Bishop of Cavaillon, whose equity and moderation inspired them with some confidence. Cardinal Sadolet did not belie their expectation; he received them with kindness, discussed with them their profession of faith, pointed out to them divers articles which might be remodelled without disavowing the basis of their creed, and assured them that it would always be against his sentiments to have them treated as enemies. "I am astonished," he wrote to the pope, "that these folks should be persecuted when the Jews are spared." The Bishop of Cavaillon testified towards them a favor less unalloyed: "I was quite sure," said he, "that there was not so much mischief amongst you as was supposed; however, to calm men's minds, it is necessary that you should submit to a certain appearance of abjuration." "But what would you have us abjure, if we are already within the truth?" "It is but a simple formality that I demand of you; I do not require in your case notary or signature; if you are unwilling to assent to this abjuration, none can argue you into it." "We are plain men, monseigneur; we are unwilling to do anything to which we cannot assent;" and they persisted in their refusal to abjure. Cardinal Sadolet was summoned to Rome, and the premier president Chassaneuz died suddenly. His successor, John de Maynier, Baron of Oppede, was a violent man, passionately bigoted, and moreover, it is said, a personal enemy of the Vaudians of Cabrieres, on which his estates bordered; he recommenced against them a persecution which was at first covert; they had found protectors in Switzerland and in Germany; at the instance of Calvin, the Swiss Protestant cantons and the German princes assembled at Smalkalden wrote to Francis I. in their favor; it was to his interest to humor the Protestants of Germany, and that fact turned out to the advantage of the Vaudians of Provence; on the 14th of June, 1544, he issued an edict which, suspending the proceedings commenced against them, restored to them their privileges, and ordered such of them as were prisoners to be set at large; "and as the attorney-general of Provence," it goes on to say, "is related to the Archbishop of Aix, their sworn enemy, there will be sent in his place a counsellor of the court for to inform me of their innocence." But some months later the peace of Crespy was made; and Francis I. felt no longer the same solicitude about humoring the Protestants of Switzerland and Germany. Baron d'Oppede zealously resumed his work against the Vaudians; he accused them of intriguing; with foreign Reformers, and of designing to raise fifteen thousand men to surprise Marseilles and form Provence into a republic. On the 1st of January, 1545, Francis I. signed, without reading it they say, the revocation of his edict of 1544, and ordered execution of the decree issued by the Parliament of Aix, dated November 18, 1540, on the subject of the Vaudians, "notwithstanding all letters of grace posterior to that epoch, and ordered the governor of the province to give, for that purpose, the assistance of the strong hand to justice." The duty of assisting justice was assigned to Baron d'Oppede; and from the 7th to the 25th of April, 1545, two columns of troops, under the orders, respectively, of Oppede himself and Baron de la Garde, ravaged with fire and sword the three districts of Merindol, Cabrieres, and La Coste, which were peopled chiefly by Vaudians.
We shrink from describing in detail all the horrors committed against a population without any means of self-defence by troops giving free rein to their brutal passions and gratifying the hateful passions of their leaders. In the end three small towns and twenty-two villages were completely sacked; seven hundred and sixty-three houses, eighty-nine cattle-sheds, and thirty-one barns burned; three thousand persons massacred; two hundred and fifty-five executed subsequently to the massacre, after a mockery of trial; six or seven hundred sent to the galleys; many children sold for slaves; and the victors, on retiring, left behind them a double ordinance, from the Parliament of Aix and the vice-legate of Avignon, dated the 24th of April, 1545, forbidding "that any one, on pain of death, should dare to give asylum, aid, or succor, or furnish money or victuals, to any Vaudian or heretic."
It is said that Francis I., when near his end, repented of this odious extermination of a small population, which, with his usual fickleness and carelessness, he had at one time protected, and at another abandoned to its enemies. Amongst his last words to his son Henry II. was an exhortation to cause an inquiry to be made into the iniquities committed by the Parliament of Aix in this instance. It will be seen, at the opening of Henry II.'s reign, what was the result of this exhortation of his father's.
Calvin was lately mentioned as having pleaded the cause of the Vaudians, in 1544, amongst the Protestants of Switzerland and Germany. It was from Geneva, where he had lived and been the dominant spirit for many years, that the French Reformer had exercised such influence over the chiefs of the German Reformation in favor of that small population whose creed and morals had anticipated by several centuries the Reformation in the sixteenth century. He was born, in 1509 at Noyon in Picardy, was brought up in the bosom of the Catholic church, and held a cure in 1527 at Pont-l'Eveque, where he preached several times, "joyous and almost proud," as he said himself, "that a single dissertation had brought me a cure." In 1534, study, meditation on the Gospels, discussion of the religious and moral questions raised on every side, and the free atmosphere of the new spirit that was abroad, changed his convictions and his resolves; he abandoned the career of the law as well as that of the established church, resigned his cure at Pont-l'Eveque, and devoted himself entirely to the work of the nascent and much opposed Reformation. Having a mind that was judicious and free from illusion in the very heat of passion, he soon saw to what an extent the success of the Reformation in France was difficult and problematical; in 1535, impressed by the obstacles it met with even more than by the dangers it evoked, he resolved to leave his country and go else whither in search of security, liberty, and the possibility of defending a cause which became the dearer to him in proportion as it was the more persecuted. He had too much sagacity not to perceive that he was rapidly exhausting his various places of asylum: Queen Marguerite of Navarre was unwilling to try too far the temper of the king her brother; Canon Louis du Tillet was a little fearful lest his splendid library should be somewhat endangered through the use made of it by his guest, who went about, arguing or preaching, in the vicinity of Angouleme; the queen's almoner, Gerard Roussel, considered that Calvin was going too far, and grew apprehensive lest, if the Reformation should completely succeed, it might suppress the bishopric of Oleron which he desired, and which, indeed, he at a later period obtained. Lefevre of Etaples, who was the most of all in sympathy with Calvin, was seventy-nine years old, and had made up his mind to pass his last days in peace. Calvin quitted Angouleme and Nerac, and went to pass some time at Poitiers, where the friends of the Reformation, assembling round him and hanging upon his words, for the first time celebrated the Lord's Supper in a grotto close to the town, which still goes by the name of Calvin's Grotto. Being soon obliged to leave Poitiers, Calvin went to Orleans, then secretly to Paris, then to Noyon to see his family once more, and set out at last for Strasbourg, already one of the strongholds of the Reformation, where he had friends, amongst others the learned Bucer, with whom he had kept up a constant correspondence. He arrived there at the beginning of the year 1535; but it was not at Strasbourg that he took up his quarters; he preferred Bale, where also there was a reunion of men of letters, scholars, and celebrated printers, Erasmus, Simon Grynee (Grymeus), and the Frobens, and where Calvin calculated upon finding the leisure and aid he required for executing the great work he had been for some time contemplating—his Institution de la Religion chretienne (Christian Institutes). This would not be the place, and we have no intention, to sum up the religious doctrines of that book; we might challenge many of them as contrary to the true meaning and moral tendency of Christianity; but we desire to set in a clear light their distinctive and original characteristics, which are those of Calvin himself in the midst of his age. These characteristics are revealed in the preface and even in the dedication of the book. It is to Francis I., the persecutor of the French Reformers, during one of the most cruel stages of the persecution, and at the very moment when he had just left his own country in order that he may live in security and speak with freedom, that Calvin dedicates his work. "Do not imagine," he says to the king, "that I am attempting here my own special defence in order to obtain permission to return to the country of my birth, from which, although I feel for it such human affection as is my bounden duty, yet, as things are now, I do not suffer any great anguish at being cut off. But I am taking up the cause of all the faithful, and even that of Christ, which is in these days so mangled and down-trodden in your kingdom that it seems to be in a desperate plight. And this has no doubt come to pass rather through the tyranny of certain Pharisees than of your own will." Calvin was at the same time the boldest and the least revolutionary amongst the innovators of the sixteenth century; bold as a Christian thinker, but full of deference and consideration towards authority, even when he was flagrantly withdrawing himself from it. The idea of his book was at first exclusively religious, and intended for the bulk of the French Reformers; but at the moment when Calvin is about to publish it, prudence and policy recur to his mind, and it is to the King of France that he addresses himself; it is the authority of the royal persecutor that he invokes; it is the reason of Francis I. that he attempts to convince. He acts like a respectful and faithful subject, as well as an independent and innovating Christian.
After having wandered for some time longer in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, Calvin in 1536 arrived at Geneva. It was at this time a small independent republic, which had bravely emancipated itself from the domination of the Dukes of Savoy, and in which the Reformation had acquired strength, but it had not yet got rid of that lawless and precarious condition which is the first phase presented by revolutionary innovations after victory; neither the political nor the religious community at Geneva had yet received any organization which could be called regular or regarded as definitive; the two communities had not yet understood and regulated their reciprocal positions and the terms on which they were to live together. All was ferment and haze in this little nascent state, as regarded the mental as well as the actual condition, when Calvin arrived there; his name was already almost famous there; he had given proofs of devotion to the cause of the Reformation; his book on the Institution de la Religion chretienne had just appeared; a great instinct for organization was strikingly evinced in it, at the same time that the dedication to Francis I. testified to a serious regard for the principle of authority and for its rights, as well as the part it ought to perform in human communities. Calvin had many friends in Switzerland, and they urged him to settle at once at Geneva, and to labor at establishing there Christian order in the Reformed church simultaneously with its independence and its religious liberties in its relations with the civil estate. At first Calvin hesitated and resisted; he was one of those who take strict account, beforehand, of the difficulties to be encountered and the trials to be undergone in any enterprise for the success of which they are most desirous, and who inwardly shudder at the prospect of such a burden. But the Christian's duty, the Reformer's zeal, the lively apprehension of the perils which were being incurred by the cause of the Reformation, and the nobly ambitious hope of delivering it,—these sentiments united prevailed over the first misgivings of that great and mighty soul, and Calvin devoted himself in Geneva to a work which, from 1536 to 1564, in a course of violent struggles and painful vicissitudes, was to absorb and rapidly consume his whole life.
From that time forth a principle, we should rather say a passion, held sway in Calvin's heart, and was his guiding star in the permanent organization of the church which he founded, as well as in his personal conduct during his life. That principle is the profound distinction between the religious and the civil community. Distinction we say, and by no means separation; Calvin, on the contrary, desired alliance between the two communities and the two powers, but each to be independent in its own domain, combining their action, showing mutual respect and lending mutual support. To this alliance he looked for the reformation and moral discipline of the members of the church placed under the authority of its own special religious officers and upheld by the indirect influence of the civil power.
In this principle and this fundamental labor of Calvin's there were two new and bold reforms attempted in the very heart of the great Reformation in Europe, and over and above the work of its first promoters. Henry VIII., on removing the church of England from the domination of the papacy, had proclaimed himself its head, and the church of England had accepted this royal supremacy. Zwingle, when he provoked in German Switzerland the rupture with the church of Rome, had approved of the arrangement that the sovereign authority in matters of religion should pass into the hands of the civil powers. Luther himself, at the same time that he reserved to the new German church a certain measure of spontaneity and liberty, had placed it under the protection and preponderance of laic sovereigns. In this great question as to the relations between church and state Calvin desired and did more than his predecessors; even before he played any considerable part in the European Reformation, as soon as he heard of Henry VIII.'s religious supremacy in England, he had strongly declared against such a regimen; with an equitable spirit rare in his day, and in spite of his contest with the church of Rome, he was struck with the strength and dignity conferred upon that church by its having an existence distinct from the civil community, and by the independence of its head. When he himself became a great Reformer, he did not wish the Reformed church to lose this grand characteristic; whilst proclaiming it evangelical, he demanded for it in matters of faith and discipline the independence and special authority which had been possessed by the primitive church; and in spite of the resistance often shown to him by the civil magistrates, in spite of the concessions he was sometimes obliged to make to them, he firmly maintained this principle, and he secured to the Reformed church of Geneva, in purely religious questions and affairs, the right of self-government, according to the faith and the law as they stand written in the Holy Books.
He at the same time put in force in this church a second principle of no less importance. In the course of ages, and by a series of successive modifications, some natural and others factitious and illegitimate, the Christian church had become, so to speak, cut in two, into the ecclesiastical community and the religious community, the clergy and the worshippers. In the Catholic church the power was entirely in the hands of the clergy; the ecclesiastical body completely governed the religious body; and, whilst the latter was advancing more and more in laic ideas and sentiments, the former remained even more and more distinct and sovereign. The German and English Reformations had already modified this state of things, and given to the lay community a certain portion of influence in religious questions and affairs. Calvin provided for the matter in a still more direct and effectual fashion, not only as regarded affairs in general, but even the choice of pastors; he gave admission to laymen, in larger number too than that of the ecclesiastics, into the consistories and synods, the governing authorities in the Reformed church. He thus did away with the separation between the clergy and the worshippers; he called upon them to deliberate and act together; and he secured to the religious community, in its entirety, their share of authority in the affairs and fortunes of the church.
Thus began at Geneva, under the inspiration and through the influence of Calvin, that ecclesiastical organization which, developing, completing, and modifying itself according to the requirements of places and times, became, under the name of Presbyterian regimen, the regimen of the Reformed churches in France, French Switzerland, Holland, Scotland, and amongst a considerable portion of the Protestant population in England and in the United States of America—a regimen evangelical in origin and character, republican in some of its maxims and institutions, but no stranger to the principle of authority, one which admitted of discipline and was calculated for duration, and which has kept for three centuries, amongst the most civilized people, a large measure of Christian faith, ecclesiastical order, and civil liberty. It was a French refugee who instituted, in a foreign city, this regimen, and left it as a legacy to the French Reformation and to the numerous Christian communities who were eager to adopt it. It is on this ground that Calvin takes a place in the history of France, and has a fair right to be counted amongst the eminent men who have carried to a distance the influence, the language, and the fame of the country in the bosom of which it was not permitted them to live and labor. In 1547, when the death of Francis I. was at hand, that ecclesiastical organization of Protestantism which Calvin had instituted at Geneva was not even begun in France. The French Protestants were as yet but isolated and scattered individuals, without any bond of generally accepted and practised faith or discipline, and without any eminent and recognized heads. The Reformation pursued its course; but a Reformed church did not exist. And this confused mass of Reformers and Reformed had to face an old, a powerful, and a strongly constituted church, which looked upon the innovators as rebels over whom it had every right as much as against them it had every arm. In each of the two camps prevailed errors of enormous magnitude, and fruitful of fatal consequences; Catholics and Protestants both believed themselves to be in exclusive possession of the truth, of all religious truth, and to have the right of imposing it by force upon their adversaries the moment they had the power. Both were strangers to any respect for human conscience, human thought, and human liberty. Those who had clamored for this on their own account when they were weak had no regard for it in respect of others when they felt themselves to be strong. On the side of the Protestants the ferment was at full heat, but as yet vague and unsettled; on the part of the Catholics the persecution was unscrupulous and unlimited. Such was the position and such the state of feeling in which Francis I., at his death on the 31st of March, 1547, left the two parties that had already been at grips during his reign. He had not succeeded either in reconciling them or in securing the triumph of that which had his favor and the defeat of that which he would have liked to vanquish. That was, in nearly all that he undertook, his fate; he lacked the spirit of sequence and steady persistence, and his merits as well as his defects almost equally urged him on to rashly attempt that which he only incompletely executed. He was neither prudent nor persevering, and he may be almost said to have laid himself out to please everybody rather than to succeed in one and the same great purpose. A short time before his death a Venetian ambassador who had resided a long while at his court, Marino Cavalli, drew up and forwarded to the Senate of Venice a portrait of him so observantly sketched and so full of truth that it must be placed here side by side with the more exacting and more severe judgment already pronounced here touching this brilliant but by no means far-sighted or effective king.
"The king is now fifty years of age; his aspect is in every respect kingly, insomuch that, without ever having seen his face or his portrait, any one, on merely looking at him, would say at once: 'That is the king.' All his movements are so noble and majestic that no prince could equal them. His constitution is robust, in spite of the excessive fatigue he has constantly undergone and still undergoes in so many expeditions and travels. He eats and drinks a great deal, sleeps still better, and, what is more, dreams of nothing but leading a jolly life. He is rather fond of being an exquisite in his dress, which is slashed and laced, and rich with jewelry and precious stones; even his doublets are daintily worked and of golden tissue; his shirt is very fine, and it shows through an opening in the doublet, according to the fashion of France. This delicate and dainty way of living contributes to his health. In proportion as the king bears bodily fatigue well, and endures it without bending beneath the burden, in the same proportion do mental cares weigh heavily upon him, and he shifts them almost entirely on to Cardinal de Tournon and Admiral Annebault. He takes no resolve, he makes no reply, without having had their advice; and if ever, which is very rare, an answer happens to be given or a concession made without having received the approval of these two advisers, he revokes it or modifies it. But in what concerns the great affairs of state, peace or war, his Majesty, docile as he is in everything else, will have the rest obedient to his wishes. In that case there is nobody at court, whatever authority he may possess, who dare gainsay his Majesty. This prince has a very sound judgment and a great deal of information; there is no sort of thing, or study or art, about which he cannot converse very much to the point. It is true that, when people see how, in spite of his knowledge and his fine talk, all his warlike enterprises have turned out ill, they say that all his wisdom lies on his lips, and not in his mind. But I think that the calamities of this king come from lack of men capable of properly carrying out his designs. As for him, he will never have anything to do with the execution, or even with the superintendence of it in any way; it seems to him quite enough to know his own part, which is to command and to supply plans. Accordingly, that which might be wished for in him is a little more care and patience, not by any means more experience and knowledge. His Majesty readily pardons offences; and he becomes heartily reconciled with those whom he has offended." [Relations des Ambassadeurs venitiens sur les Affaires de France au seizieme siecle, in the Documents inedits sur l'Histoire de France, translated by M. Tommaseo, t. i. pp. 279-283.]
It is said that at the close of his reign Francis I., in spite of all the resources of his mind and all his easy-going qualities, was much depressed, and that he died in sadness and disquietude as to the future. One may be inclined to think that, in his egotism, he was more sad on his own account than disquieted on that of his successors and of France. However that may be, he was assuredly far from foreseeing the terrible civil war which began after him, and the crimes, as well as disasters, which it caused. None of his more intimate circle was any longer in a position to excite his solicitude: his mother, Louise of Savoy, had died sixteen years before him (September 22, 1531); his most able and most wicked adviser, Chancellor Duprat, twelve years (July 29, 1535). His sister Marguerite survived him two years (she died December 21, 1549,) "disgusted with everything," say the historians, and "weary of life," said she herself:—
And yet Marguerite was loath to leave life. She had always been troubled at the idea of death; when she was spoken to about eternal life, she would shake her head sometimes, saying, "All that is true; but we remain a mighty long while dead underground before arriving there." When she was told that her end was near, she "considered that a very bitter word," saying that "she was not so old but that she might still live some years." She had been the most generous, the most affectionate, and the most lovable person in a family and a court which were both corrupt, and of which she only too often acquiesced in the weaknesses and even vices, though she always fought against their injustice and their cruelty. She had the honor of being the grandmother of Henry IV.