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Meantime Louis de Berquin had retired to his own estates, in the expectation of pursuing his plans with less danger of interference than in the capital. Even there, however, he was not safe. The propitious moment for striking a decisive blow seemed to his enemies to have come when, the king being a captive, his mother, the regent, had permitted Pope and parliament to erect a tribunal for the summary trial and execution of heretics. The Bishop of Amiens, in whose diocese De Berquin's lands were situated, having applied to parliament, easily obtained the authority to seize him, disregarding even the ordinary rights of asylum.[272] After his arrest he was again transferred from the episcopal palace to the conciergerie at Paris, and his trial entrusted to the new inquisitorial commission. A series of propositions extracted from his writings, and censured by the Sorbonne, insured his condemnation as a relapsed heretic, and De Berquin was handed over to the secular arm for condign punishment. But again, at[Pg 132] the very instant when his ruin was imminent, he met with unexpected deliverance. The sympathy of the king's sister was enlisted, and she used her influence with her mother to obtain an order adjourning all proceedings against De Berquin until the monarch should be released. Meanwhile she wrote urgent letters in his behalf to Francis and to his favorite, the grand master of the palace and future constable of France, Anne de Montmorency. The reply came in an order from the king, at Madrid, directing his parliament to cease from giving disturbance to Berquin and such men of learning.[273]

Dilatory measures of parliament.

It is suggestive of the delays attending even the execution of the will of so arbitrary a prince as Francis, that, although De Berquin was thus delivered from the immediate prospect of death, months passed before he regained his liberty. Successive royal orders were required to secure any alleviation of his hard confinement. Thus, when his health suffered from want of exercise and pure air, parliament grudgingly permitted him to leave his solitary cell for an hour morning and evening, at such time as the court might be clear of other prisoners whom he could contaminate. And when De Berquin complained that his books and writing materials had been denied him, the extent of the parliament's generosity was to grant him "the epistles of St. Jerome and some other Catholic books." At length, the king's patience becoming exhausted by the court's procrastination and technical objections, he sent (November 21, 1526) the Provost of Paris forcibly to remove De Berquin from the conciergerie to the Louvre, where he was soon restored his freedom.[274][Pg 133]

Hopes of Margaret of Angoulême.

The return of Francis from Madrid, and the rescue of Berquin, Lefèvre, Roussel, and others, from the dangers to which they had been exposed, encouraged the more sanguine reformers to hope that now at length the king would declare himself openly in favor, if not of the evangelical doctrines, at least of some form of religions toleration. Margaret of Angoulême had certainly labored piously and assiduously to open her brother's eyes to the true character of his fanatical advisers. In a letter still preserved and apparently written even before Francis had been removed from Italy to Spain, she begged him to regard his misfortune as only a mark of the Divine love, and intended to give him time for reflection and consecration. This end being accomplished, Heaven would gloriously deliver him and make him a blessing to all Christendom—nay, even to infidel nations to be converted by his means.[275]

However fanciful these brilliant anticipations may now appear, they did not seem unreasonable at the time. It was not improbable that the example of the illustrious German princes, his allies, who had embraced the Reformation, might incline Francis decidedly to the same side. Margaret had conceived great expectations, based upon a projected visit to the French court by Count Von Hohenlohe, Dean of the Cathedral of Strasbourg—a nobleman, who, having become a Protestant, was anxious to turn to the advantage of his new convictions the influence secured to him by high social rank. The correspondence of Francis's sister with the zealous German noble opens a suggestive page of history. At first, Margaret, while applauding the count's design and building great hopes upon it, advises him to defer his visit until the king's return from Spain. Two months later, she is even more anxious to see Hohenlohe in Paris, but feels constrained to tell him that his friends have, for a certain reason, concluded that the proper time has not yet[Pg 134] arrived. A third letter, dated after the restoration of Francis to his throne, informs us what that certain reason was. "I cannot tell you all the grief I feel," Margaret writes, "for I clearly see that the state of things is such that your coming cannot be productive of the comfort you would desire. The king would not be glad to see you. The reason that your visit is deemed inadvisable is the deliverance of the king's children, which the king esteems as important as the deliverance of his own person."[276]

Francis I. violates his pledges to Charles V.

Here was the secret! Unfortunately for the Reformation, policy was supposed to make it an imperative duty to conciliate the favor of the Pope, no less after the release of Francis than while he was yet a prisoner. There were the young princes sent by the regent as hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty with Charles of Spain, for whose liberation measures were to be devised. And there was the oath—to the shame of Francis, it must be added—from the binding force of which the king hoped to be relieved by authority of the Roman bishop; for scarcely had Francis set foot on his own dominions, when he unblushingly retracted all his treaty stipulations. He announced to the emperor that the cession of Burgundy, the Viscounty of Auxonne, and other territories, which had been made by his imperial captor the indispensable condition of his release, was entirely out of the question; and that his promises, extorted while he was in duress, were of no validity! Nevertheless, he offered, in lieu thereof, the payment of a larger ransom than had ever been proffered by a king of France. Indignant at a perfidy somewhat flagrant, even for an age tolerably well accustomed to breaches of faith, the emperor refused the substitute. The arms recently laid aside were resumed. Clement the Seventh and Venice became the allies of Francis, who for the present figured as the champion of the papacy; while his rival, by suffering the traitor Constable de Bourbon with an army of German soldiers to besiege the pontiff in his capital, became responsible in the eyes of the world[Pg 135] for all the atrocities of the famous sack of the city of Rome. When, at length, after three years of hard fighting, peace was concluded by the treaty of Cambray (July, 1529), the terms agreed upon at Madrid were virtually carried into effect; but the emperor consented to receive the sum of two millions of Crowns—êcus-au-soleil—in place of Burgundy, and on payment to restore to the French the dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, the future Henry the Second, so long detained as hostages in Spain.

The king's necessities.
A despotic course suggested.

Meantime the revenues of the royal domain, having during the late wars been subjected to a long and unremitting drain, had proved utterly inadequate to meet the extraordinary demand of treasure for the resumption of the hostilities following close upon Francis's release. Recourse must be had to the purses of the king's subjects. The right to levy taxes resided in the States General alone, and Francis was reluctant, at so critical a juncture, to trample on a time-hallowed principle. He did not, indeed, hesitate to admit that he had been gravely counselled by some of his advisers to resort to a more despotic course; for they maintained that, in so praiseworthy an undertaking as the effort to recover the young princes, the king was warranted by all laws, divine and human, in laying under contribution every one of his subjects, of whatever rank or condition.[277] But, as the same ends might be attained by methods more agreeable to law and precedent, Francis preferred to have recourse to them.

An assembly of notables.

On the sixteenth of December, 1527, one of those anomalous political bodies was convened in the palace of the Parisian parliament to which the name of an assembly of notables is given. All the orders of the state were repre[Pg 136]sented; but the form of a meeting of the States General (as we have seen, most distasteful to the despotic monarch) was studiously avoided.[278] In reply to a very full exposition of the present condition of the kingdom and of the incidents of his capture, made by Francis in person to the assembled clergymen, nobles, jurists, and burgesses of Paris, each order in turn gave its opinion. All united in approving the refusal of the king to surrender Burgundy to the emperor, and in expressing their unwillingness to allow his Majesty to return to Spain and thus redeem the promise he had given in case the treaty failed to be carried into effect. All likewise professed their readiness to contribute, according to their ability, to the necessities of the crown.

The first president, M. de Selve, in the name of parliament, delivered a discourse which the clerk of the assembly, no doubt aptly, describes as "crammed with Latin and with quotations from Scripture, to prove that the treaty of Madrid was null and void."[279] His grounds were that the king could neither dispose of his own person, which belonged to the state, nor alienate Burgundy, which, being a fief of the first rank and a bulwark of the kingdom, was inseparable from France. But probably the whole prodigious mass of classic lore, and of scriptural quotation, even more unfamiliar to most of his hearers, which the pedantic president forced upon the digestion of the unfortunate notables, was required to prove to their satisfaction that Francis had in this affair played the part of the "gentilhomme" he boasted of being.

Speech of the Cardinal of Bourbon.

The speech of the Cardinal of Bourbon was especially important. He announced the willingness of the representatives of the French clergy cheerfully to supply the 1,300,000 livres asked of their order, although at the same time he suggested the propriety of first convoking provincial councils, in which the church might be more fully consulted.[Pg 137] With this gracious concession, however, the cardinal coupled three requests, of which the first and third concerned the liberation of the Pope from his imprisonment and the conservation of the liberties of the Gallican church; but the second had a pointed reference to the Reformation: he prayed "that the king might be pleased to uproot and extirpate the damnable and insufferable Lutheran sect which had, not long since, secretly entered the realm, with all the other heresies that were multiplying therein." By thus acting, he assured him, Francis "would perform the duty of a good prince bearing the name of Very Christian King."

Francis promises to prove himself "Very Christian."

The gratified monarch, delighted with the complaisance of his clerical subjects, did not hesitate to accede to all the petitions the Cardinal offered, and declared that, "so far as concerned heresies, he was determined not to endure them, but would cause them to be wholly extirpated and driven from his kingdom," inflicting on any found tainted therewith such exemplary punishment as to demonstrate his right to the honorable title he bore.[280]

It was a rash promise that Francis had made. Like many other absolute monarchs, he expected without trouble to bring the religious convictions of his subjects into conformity with the standard he was pleased to set up.[281] He had yet to learn[Pg 138] that there are beliefs which, when they take root in the hearts of humble and illiterate peasants or artisans, are too firmly fixed to be eradicated by the most excruciating tortures man's ingenuity has been able to contrive. Through fire and sword, the victim now of persecution, again of open war, the faith denominated heresy was yet to survive, not only the last lineal descendant of the king then sitting on the throne of France, but the rule of the dynasty which was destined to succeed to the power, and reproduce not a few of the mistakes, of the Valois race.

The provincial council of Sens.

In accordance with the suggestion of the Cardinal of Bourbon, three provincial councils were held early in the ensuing year (1528). The most important was the council of the ecclesiastical province of Sens, which met, however, in the Augustinian monastery at Paris. It was scarcely to be expected that a synod presided over by Antoine Duprat, who, to the dignity of cardinal and the office of Chancellor of France, added the Bishopric of Albi and the Archbishopric of Sens, with the claim to be Primate of the Gauls and of Germany, should discuss with severity the morals of the clergy, or issue stringent canons against the abuse of the plurality of benefices. As an offset, however, the Council of Sens had much to say respecting the new reformation. The good fathers saw in the discordant views of Luther and Carlstadt, of Melanchthon and Zwingle, proof positive that the new doctrines the reformers advanced were devoid of any basis of truth. They ridiculed the claim of the Protestants to the presence of the Spirit of God. But they reserved their severest censures for the practice of holding secret conventicles, and, with an irony best appreciated by those who understand the penalties inflicted by the law on the discovered heretics, they gently reminded the men and women to whom the celebration of a single religious service according to the dictates of their conscience would have insured instantaneous condemnation and a death at the stake, that God hates the deeds of darkness, and that Christ himself said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light."[282][Pg 139]

The punishment of heretics.

More practical were the prescriptions of the council's decrees respecting the punishment of offenders against the unity of the faith. Heretics who, after conviction, refused to be "united to the church," were to be consigned to prison for life, priests to be degraded, the relapsed to be given over to the secular arm without a hearing. Heretical books, including translations of the Bible, were to be surrendered to the bishop. Indeed, it was stipulated that every book treating of the faith, and printed within the past twenty years, should be submitted to him for examination. Nor was the council satisfied to leave the discovery of heresy to accident. It was particularly enjoined upon every bishop that he, or some competent person appointed by him, should visit any portion of his diocese in which the taint of unsound doctrine was reported to exist, and compel three or more persons of good standing, or even the entire body of the inhabitants of a neighborhood, to denounce under oath those who entertained heretical views, the frequenters of secret conventicles, and even those who merely held aloof from the conversation of the faithful. Lest this stimulus to informers should prove insufficient to extract the desired knowledge, the threat was added that persons refusing to testify would be treated as suspected, and themselves proceeded against.[283]

The councils of Bourges and Lyons.

Not less severe toward the "Lutheran" doctrines did the other two provincial councils show themselves. At the Council of Bourges, the Cardinal of Tournon presided as archbishop—a prelate who was to attain unenviable notoriety as the prime instigator of the massacre of Mérindol and Cabrières, of which an account will be given in a subsequent chapter. Besides the usual regulations for the censure of heretical books and the denunciation of "Lutherans," the decrees contain the significant direction that the professors in the University of Bourges shall employ in their instructions no authors[Pg 140] calculated to divert the students from the ceremonies of the church—a caution deriving its importance from the circumstance that the university, under the patronage of Margaret of Angoulême, now Duchess of Berry as well as Queen of Navarre, had become a centre of reformatory activity.

The letter in which the king had called upon the Archbishop of Lyons to convene the clergy of his province, declared that Francis had ever held the accursed sect of the "Lutherans" in hatred, horror, and abomination, and that its extirpation was an object very near his heart, for the accomplishment of which he would employ all possible means;[284] and the Council of Lyons responded by cordial approval and by the enactment of fresh regulations to suppress conventicles, to prevent the farther dissemination of Luther's writings, and, indeed, to forbid all discussion of matters of faith by the laity. At the same time the council unconsciously revealed the necessity imposed on the private Christian to investigate for himself the nature and grounds of his belief, by strongly reprobating the disastrous custom of admitting into sacred orders a host of illiterate, uncultivated persons of low antecedents—beardless youths—and by confessing that this wretched practice had justly excited the contempt of the world.[285]

Financial help bought by persecution.

Everywhere the clergy conceded the subsidy required by the exigencies of the kingdom. But they left Francis in no doubt respecting the price of their complaisance. This was nothing less than the extermination of the new sect that had made its appearance in France. And the king comprehended and fell in with the terms upon which the church agreed to loosen its purse-strings. No doubtful policy must now prevail! No more Berquins can be permitted to make their boast that they have been able, protected by the king's panoply, to beard the lion in his den![Pg 141]

Insult to an image.

An incident occurring in Paris, before the adjournment of the Council of Sens, gave Francis a specious excuse for inaugurating the more cruel system of persecution now demanded of him, and tended somewhat to conceal from the king himself, as well as from others, the mercenary motive of the change. Just after the solemnities of Whitsunday, an unheard of act of impiety startled the inhabitants of the capital, and fully persuaded them that no object of their devotions was safe from iconoclastic violence. One of those numerous statues of the Virgin Mary, with the infant Jesus in her arms, that graced the streets of Paris, was found to have been shockingly mutilated. The body had been pierced, and the head-dress trampled under foot. The heads of the mother and child had been broken off and ignominiously thrown in the rubbish.[286] A more flagrant act of contempt for the religious sentiment of the country had perhaps never been committed. The indignation it awakened must not be judged by the standard of a calmer age.[287] In the desire to ascertain the perpetrators of the outrage, the king offered a reward of a thousand crowns. But no ingenuity could ferret them out. A vague rumor, indeed, prevailed, that a similar excess had been witnessed in a village four or five leagues distant, and that the culprits when detected had confessed that they had been prompted to its commission by the promise of a paltry recompense of one hundred sous for every image destroyed. But, since no one seems ever to have been punished, it is probable that this report was a fabrication; and the question whether the mutilation of the Virgin of the Rue des Rosiers was the deliberate act of a religious enthusiast, or a freak of drunken revellers, or, as some imagined, a cunning device of good Catholics to inflame the popular passions against[Pg 142] the "Lutherans," must, for the present, at least, remain a subject of profound doubt.

Expiatory processions.

But, whoever may have been the author, pains were taken to expiate the sacrilege. Successive processions visited the spot. In one of these, five hundred students of the university, chosen from different colleges and belonging to the first families, bore lighted tapers, which they placed on the temporary altar erected in front of the image. The clergy, both secular and regular, came repeatedly with all that was most precious in attire and relics. To add still more to the pomp of the propitiatory pilgrimages, Francis himself took part in a magnificent display, made on the Fête-Dieu, or Corpus Christi (the eleventh of June). He was preceded by heralds and by the Dukes of Cleves and Ferrara and other noblemen of high rank, while behind him walked the King of Navarre, the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Ambassadors of England, Venice, Florence, and other foreign states, the officers of parliament, and a crowd of gentlemen of the king's house, archers and persons of all conditions bringing up the rear. On reaching the spot where the mutilated statue still occupied its niche, Francis, after appropriate religious exercises, ascended the richly carpeted steps, and reverently substituted an effigy in solid silver, of similar size, in place of the image which had been the object of insult.[288][Pg 143]

Other icoconoclastic excesses.

From this time forward, iconoclastic demonstrations became more common. Paintings, also, when exposed to the public view, shared the perils to which unprotected statues were subjected. The Virgin, and such reputable saints as St. Roch and St. Fiacre, depicted on the walls of the Rue St. Martin, were wantonly disfigured, some two years later; so that at last, the Parliament of Paris, in despair of preventing the repetition of the act, or of discovering its authors, adopted the prudent course of forbidding that any sacred representation should be placed on the exterior walls of a house within ten feet of the ground![289]

Berquin's third arrest.
He disregards the cautions of Erasmus.

The repeated assurances whereby Francis had conciliated the clergy, and secured their contributions to the exchequer, embarrassed him in the exercise of leniency toward Louis de Berquin, now for the third time arraigned for heresy. Moreover, the audacity and violence of the iconoclasts, characteristics assumed by him to be indicative of a disposition to overturn all government, probably took away any inclination he would otherwise have had to interfere in the intrepid nobleman's behalf. De Berquin had no sooner been released from his former imprisonment than he set himself to prepare for new conflicts with his bigoted antagonists. He even resolved to assume the offensive. In vain did Erasmus entreat him to be prudent, suggest the propriety of his temporarily going abroad, and propose that he should apply for some diplomatic commission as a plausible excuse for absenting himself. Beda, he told him, was a monster with many heads, each breathing out poison, while in the "Faculty" he had to do with an immortal antagonist. The monks would secure his ruin were his cause more righteous than that of Jesus Christ. Finally, the tremulous scholar begged him, if no consideration of personal safety moved him, at least not to involve so ardent a lover of peace as Erasmus in a conflict for which he had no taste. But his reasoning had no weight with a man of high resolve and inflexible principle, who could see no honorable course but openly meeting and overthrowing error. "Do[Pg 144] you ask," wrote Erasmus to a correspondent interested in learning De Berquin's fate, "what I accomplished? By every means I employed to deter him I only added to his courage."[290] If we may believe Erasmus's strong expressions—for his own writings have very nearly disappeared—De Berquin assailed the monks with a freedom almost equal to that employed by the Old Comedy in holding up to merited derision the foibles of Athenian generals and statesmen. He even extracted twelve blasphemous propositions from Beda's utterances, and obtained a letter from the king enjoining the Sorbonne either to pass sentence of condemnation on their syndic's assertions, or to prove their truth from the Holy Scriptures.[291] The Dutch philosopher, aghast at his friend's incredible temerity, besought him instantly to seek safety in flight; and, when this last appeal proved as ineffectual as all his frequent efforts in the past, he confessed that he almost regretted that a friendship had ever arisen which had occasioned him so much trouble and disquiet.[292]

A third time Louis de Berquin was arrested, on application of the officer known as the Promoteur de la foi. His trial was committed to twelve judges selected by parliament, among whom figured not only the first president and the vicar-general of the Bishop of Paris, but, strange to say, even so well-disposed and liberal a jurist as Guillaume Budé, the foremost French scholar of the age for broad and accurate learning.[293] The case advanced too slowly to meet De Berquin's impatience. In the assurance of ultimate success, he is even accused by a contemporary chronicler of having offered the court two hundred crowns to expedite the trial.[294] It soon became evident,[Pg 145] however, from, the withdrawal of the liberties at first accorded, that Be Berquin would scarcely escape unless the king again interposed—a contingency less likely to occur in view of the incessant appeals with which Francis was plied, addressed at once to his interest, his conscience, and his pride. But the more desperate the cause of Berquin, and the more uncertain the king's disposition, the more urgent the intercessions of Margaret of Angoulême, whose character is nowhere seen to better advantage than in her repeated letters to her brother about this time.[295]

Berquin sentenced to public penance, branding, and imprisonment.

The sentence was rendered on the sixteenth of April, 1529. De Berquin, being found guilty of heresy, was condemned to do public penance in front of Notre Dame, with lighted taper in hand, and crying for mercy to God and the blessed Virgin. Next, on the Place de Grève, he was to be ignominiously exhibited upon a scaffold, while his books were burned before his eyes. Taken thence in a cart to the pillory, and again exposed to popular derision on a revolving stage, he was to have his tongue pierced and his forehead branded with the ineffaceable fleur-de-lis. His public disgrace over, De Berquin was to be imprisoned for life in the episcopal jail.[296]

He appeals, is sentenced to death, and is executed.

More than twenty thousand persons—so intense a hatred had been stirred up against the reformers—assembled to witness the execution of a sentence malignantly cruel.[297] But, for that day, their expectation was disappointed. Louis de Berquin gave notice that he appealed to the absent king and to the Pope himself. It was no part of the programme, however, that the thrice-convicted heresiarch should gain a fresh respite and enlist powerful friends in effecting his[Pg 146] release. No sooner were the judges satisfied that he persisted in his appeal, in spite of the secret and urgent advice of Budé and others, than they rendered a new and more severe sentence (on the seventeenth of April): he must pay the forfeit of his obstinacy with his life, and that, too, within a few hours.[298]

The cause of this intemperate haste is clearly set forth by a contemporary—doubtless an eye-witness of the execution—all whose sympathies were on the side of the prosecution. It was "lest recourse be had to the king, or to the regent then at Blois;"[299] for the delay of even a few days might have brought from the banks of the Loire another order removing De Berquin's case from the commission to the royal council.

The historian must leave to the professed martyrologist the details of the constant death of Louis de Berquin, as of the deaths of many other less distinguished victims of the intolerant zeal of the Sorbonne. Suffice it to say that although, when he undertook to address the people, his voice was purposely drowned by the din of the attendants, though the very children filled the air with shouts that De Berquin was a heretic, though not a person was found in the vast concourse to encourage him by the name of "Jesus"—an accustomed cry even at the execution of parricides—the brave nobleman of Artois met his fate with such composure as to be likened by a by-stander to a student immersed in his favorite occupations, or a worshipper whose devout mind was engrossed by the contemplation of heavenly things.[300] There were indeed blind rumors, as usual in such cases; to the effect that De Berquin recanted at the last moment; and Merlin, the Penitentiary of Notre Dame, who attended him, is reported to have exclaimed that "perhaps no one for a hundred years had died a better Christian."[301] But the "Lutherans"[Pg 147] of Paris had good reason to deny the truth of the former statement, and to interpret the latter to the advantage of De Berquin's consistent faith—so great was the rejoicing over the final success attained in crushing the most distinguished, in silencing the boldest and most outspoken advocate of the reformation of the church. For, in the eyes of the theological faculty and of the clergy of France, Louis de Berquin merited to be styled, by way of pre-eminence, a heresiarch.[302]

Francis treats with the Germans.

Three years had not elapsed since the blow struck at the "Lutheran" doctrines in France, in the execution of their most promising and intrepid representative, before the hopes of the friends of the Reformation again revived from a consideration of the king's political relations. Disappointed at the contemptuous reception of their confession of faith by the Emperor at Augsburg, the Protestant princes of Germany had formed a defensive league. Francis, having basely abandoned his former allies, was left alone to combat the gigantic power of a rival between two portions of whose dominions his own kingdom lay exposed. Every consideration of prudence dictated the policy of lending to the German Protestants, in their endeavor to humble the pride of their common antagonist, the most efficient support of his arms. Under these circumstances religious differences were impotent to prevent the union. Accordingly, in May, 1532, through his ambassador, the sagacious Du Bellay, Francis promised the discontented Elector of Saxony and his associates the contribution of a large sum to enable them to make a sturdy resistance. But the peace shortly concluded with Charles rendered the proffered aid for a time unnecessary.[303][Pg 148]

and with Henry VIII. of England.

Equally unproductive of advantage to the professors of the reformed faith was the alliance for mutual defence between Francis and Henry the Eighth of England. Both monarchs were inspired with the same hatred of the emperor, and each had equal reason to complain of the insatiable rapacity of the Roman court. But neither at the pompous interview of the two kings at Boulogne, nor afterward, could Henry prevail upon Francis to take any decided measures against the Pope such as the former, weary of the obstacles thrown in the way of his divorce from Catharine of Aragon, was ready to venture. In his intercourse with the English king, Francis is said to have adopted for his guiding principle the motto, "Ami jusqu'à l'autel,"[304] and declined to sacrifice his orthodoxy to his interests. But the truth was that, in the view of Francis, his interests and his orthodoxy were coincident; and the difficulty experienced by the two kings in coming to a common understanding lay in the fact that, as has been well remarked, while in the enmity of Francis it was not the Pope but the emperor that occupied the foremost place, it was just the reverse with Henry.[305]

Meeting of Francis I. and Clement, at Marseilles.
Marriage of Henry of Orleans to Catharine de' Medici.

Francis had no thought of throwing away so valuable an auxiliary in his Italian projects, or of permanently attaching to Charles so dangerous an opponent as the papal power. And thus it happened that, a year from the time of his consultation with Henry, Francis proceeded to Marseilles to extend a still more cordial welcome to Clement himself. The wily pontiff had so dazzled the eyes of the king, that the latter had consented to, if he had not actually proposed, a marriage between Henry, Duke of Orleans, his second son, and Catharine de' Medici, the Pope's niece.[306] The match was not flattering to Francis's pride; but there were great prospective advantages, and the bride was less objectionable because the bridegroom, as a younger son, was not likely to ascend the throne. But here again the king was destined to be disappointed. Clement's death, soon after, destroyed all hope of Medicean support in Italy; and the[Pg 149] death of Francis, the dauphin, made Henry of Orleans heir apparent to the throne. It was not long before the French people, with the soundness of judgment generally characterizing the deliberate conclusions reached by the masses, came to the opinion, expressed by one of the Venetian ambassadors two years after the wedding: "Monseigneur of Orleans is married to Madam Catharine de' Medici, to the dissatisfaction of all France; for it seems to everybody that the most Christian king was cheated by Pope Clement."[307] Such were the evil auspices under which the Italian girl, only fourteen years of age,[308] entered a country over whose destinies she was to exert a pernicious influence.

Francis refuses to join in a crusade against heresy.

There was another part of the Pope's designs in the execution of which he was less successful. He could not persuade Francis to join in a general scheme for the extermination of heresy. In the very first interview, Clement had sounded his host's disposition respecting the propriety of a new crusade. He had bluntly submitted for consideration the question, "Ought not Francis and the pious princes of Germany, with the emperor at their head, to gather up their forces, enlist troops, and make all needful preparations, to overwhelm the followers of Zwingle and Luther; in order that, affrighted by the terrible retribution visited upon their fellows, the remaining heretics should hasten to make their submission to the Roman Church?" At the same time he threw out hints of his ability to assist in the good work if only the French monarch would not refuse his co-operation. But Francis was not ready for so sanguinary an undertaking. Unmoved by the Pope's repeated solicitations, he replied that it seemed to him that "neither piety nor concord would be promoted by substituting an appeal to arms for the appeal to the Holy Scriptures, to whose ultimate decision both Zwinglians and Lutherans professed themselves at all times anxious to submit their doctrines and practice." He added the unpalatable advice that[Pg 150] the matters in dispute be considered by a free and impartial council, and declared that, when the council had rendered its verdict, he would spare no pains to sustain it. All the usual pontifical artifices proved abortive. Francis, while valuing highly the friendship of Rome, was not willing to forego the advantages of alliance with the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse.[309]

While the fickle monarch was thus drawn in opposite directions by conflicting political considerations—at one time strengthening the hands of the Protestant princes of Germany, at another, making common cause with the Pope—the same diversity characterized the internal condition of France.

Execution of Jean de Caturce at Toulouse.

At Toulouse, the seat of one of most noted parliaments, Jean de Caturce, a lawyer of ability, was put to death by slow fire in the summer of 1532. His unpardonable offence was that he had once made a "Lutheran" exhortation, and that, in the merry-making on the Fête des Rois—Epiphany—he had recommended that the prayer, "May Christ reign in our hearts!" be substituted for the senseless cry, "The king drinks!" No more ample ground of accusation was needed in a city where the luckless wight who failed to take off his cap before an image, or fall on his knees when the bell rang out at "Ave Maria," was sure to be set upon as a heretic.[310][Pg 151]

Le Coq's evangelical sermon.

In striking contrast with the tragedy enacted in the chief city of the south was the favor openly showed to the reformers by the Queen of Navarre, not only in her own city of Bourges, but in Paris itself. The intercessions she had addressed to her brother for the victims of priestly persecution had long since betrayed her secret leaning; and the translation of her "Hours" into French by the Bishop of Senlis, who, by her direction, suppressed all that most directly countenanced superstitious beliefs, was naturally taken as strong confirmation of the prevalent suspicion. But, when she introduced Berthault, Courault, and her own almoner, Roussel, to the pulpits of the capital, and protected them in their evangelical labors, the case ceased to admit of doubt.[311] She even persuaded the king to listen to a sermon in which Le Coq, curate of St. Eustache, argued with force against the bodily presence of Christ in the eucharist, and maintained that the very words, "Sursum corda" in the church service, pointed Him out as to be found at the right hand of God in heaven. Indeed, the eloquent preacher had nearly convinced his royal listener, when the Cardinals of Tournon and Lorraine, by a skilful stratagem, succeeded in destroying the impression he had received, and, it is said, in inducing Le Coq to make a retraction.[312] But the opposition to the public proclamation of the reformed doctrines was too formidable for their advocates to stem. Beda and his colleagues in the Sorbonne left no device untried to silence the preachers; and, although the restless syndic was in the end forced to expiate his seditious words and writings by an amende honorable in front of the church of Notre Dame, and died in prison,[313] Roussel and his fellow-preachers had long before been compelled to exchange their public discourses for private exhortations, and finally to discontinue even these and retreat from Paris.[314][Pg 152]

Margaret attacked in the College of Navarre.

Even so, however, the theologians could not contain their indignation at the insult they had received. In the excess of their zeal they went so far as to hold up the king's sister to condemnation and derision, in one of those plays which the students of the Collége de Navarre were accustomed annually to perform, as a scholastic exercise in public oratory (on the first of October, 1533). A gentle queen was here represented as throwing aside needle and distaff, at the crafty suggestion of a tempting fury, and as receiving in lieu of those feminine implements a copy of the Gospels—when, lo! she was suddenly transformed into a cruel tyrant. It was perhaps hard to detect the exact connection between the acceptance of the holy book and so disastrous a change of character—neither the students of the Collége de Navarre nor their teachers thought it worth while to trouble themselves about such trifles—but there was no difficulty in recognizing Margaret in the principal actor of the play, or in deciphering the name of Master Gérard Roussel—Magister Gerardus—in Megæra, the fury with the flaming torch, that seduced her. On complaint of his sister, Francis, in some indignation, ordered the arrest of the author of the insipid drama, as well as of the youthful performers. The former could not be found, and the latter, thanks to the queen's clemency, escaped with a less rigorous punishment than the insult deserved.[315]

Her Miroir de l'âme pécheresse.

An equally audacious act was the insertion of a work published by Margaret, under the title of Le miroir de l'âme pécheresse, in a list of prohibited books. When the university, to whom the censorship of the press was entrusted, was called to account by the king, all the faculties promptly repudiated any intention to cast doubt upon the orthodoxy of his sister, and even the originator of the offensive prohibition was forced to plead ignorance of the authorship of the volume in question. The rector of the university termi[Pg 153]nated the long series of disclaimers by rendering thanks to Francis for his fatherly patience.[316]

Rector Cop's address to the university.

Just a month after the unlucky dramatic representation of the Collége de Navarre, the city was furnished with fresh food for scandal. On All Saints' day (the first of November, 1533), the university assembled according to custom in the church of the Mathurins, to listen to an address delivered by the rector. But Nicholas Cop's discourse was not of the usual type. Under guise of a disquisition on "Christian Philosophy," the orator preached an evangelical sermon, with the First Beatitude for his text, and propounded the view that the forgiveness of sin and eternal life are simple gifts of God's grace that cannot be earned by man's good works.[317]

Its extraordinary character.

Never had academic harangue contained sentiments savoring so strongly of the tenets of the persecuted reformers. True, the rector had not omitted the ordinary invitation to his hearers to join him in the salutation of the Virgin.[318] But even this mark of orthodox Catholicity could not remove the taint of heresy from an address the whole drift of which was to establish the cardinal doctrine of the theology of Luther and Zwingle. It was a bold step. The doctors of the Sorbonne could not suppress their indignation, and Franciscan monks denounced the rector to the Parliament of Paris. When summoned to appear before the court to answer the charges[Pg 154] brought against him, Cop at first endeavored to arouse in the university the traditional jealousy of this invasion of scholastic privileges, claiming that these were violated by his being cited to parliament before he had been in the first instance tried by his peers. And, indeed, after a tumultuous meeting of the university, called at the Mathurins a fortnight after the delivery of Cop's address (the nineteenth of November), the Faculty of Arts came to the same conclusion.[319] But, although the "Four Nations," and apparently the Faculty of Medicine also, promised their support, the Faculties of Theology and Law refused, and Cop did not venture to press his point. Warned of his danger by a friendly tongue, when already on his way to the Palais de Justice, in full official costume and accompanied by his beadles, he consulted his safety by a precipitate flight from the city and from the kingdom.[320]

Calvin the real author.

The incidents just narrated derive their chief interest from the circumstance that they bring to our notice for the first time a young man, Jean Cauvin, or Calvin, of Noyon, soon to figure among the most important actors in the intellectual and religious history of the modern world; for it was not many days before the authorship of the startling theological doctrines enunciated by the rector was directly traced to his friend and bosom companion, the future reformer of Geneva. In fact, Calvin seems to have supplied Cop with the entire address—a production not altogether unworthy of that clear and[Pg 155] vigorous intellect which, within less than two years, conceived the plan of and matured the most orderly and perfect theological treatise of the Reformation—the "Institution Chrétienne." Between the sketch of Christian Philosophy in the discourse written for the rector, and the Christian Institutes, there is, nevertheless, a contrast too striking to be overlooked. And if the salutation to the Virgin, in the exordium, was actually penned by Calvin, as is not improbable, the change in his religious convictions would appear to have been as marked and rapid as the development of his intellectual faculties. At any rate, the recent discovery of the complete manuscript of Nicholas Cop's oration ranks among the most opportune and welcome of antiquarian successes in our times.[321]

He seeks safety in flight.

Calvin was soon reduced to the necessity of following the rector's example in fleeing from Paris; for the part he had had in preparing the address had become the public talk. The young scholar—he was only in his twenty-fifth year—sought for by the sanguinary lieutenant-criminel, Jean Morin, barely made good his escape. Proceeding to Angoulême, he enjoyed, under the friendly roof of Louis de Tillet, a short period of quiet and an opportunity to pursue his favorite studies.[322]

Francis rejects roughly the intercession of the Bernese.

The incessant representations made to the king respecting the rapid progress of "Lutheran" doctrines in France, and perhaps also the occurrence of such incidents as that just mentioned, seem to have been the cause of the adoption of new measures against the Reformation and its professors. Already, in October, Francis had written a rough answer to the Council of[Pg 156] the Canton of Berne, expressing extreme surprise that they had ventured to intercede for the relatives of Guillaume Farel, accused of heresy, and to beg him to give no credit in this matter either to the royal officers or to the inquisitors of the faith.[323] And he had used these significant words: "Desiring the preservation of the name of very Christian king, acquired for us by our predecessors, we have nothing in the world more at heart than the entire extirpation of heresies, and nothing could induce us to suffer them to take root in our kingdom. Of this you may rest well assured, and leave us to proceed against them, without your giving yourselves any solicitude. For neither your prayers, nor those of any one else whomsoever, could be of any avail in this matter with us."[324]

Royal letter to the Bishop of Paris.

On his return from the marriage of his son Henry to Catharine de' Medici, celebrated only four days before Cop's university harangue, Francis was induced to make new provisions for the detection and punishment of dissent. Alarmed by the progress of "Lutheran" sentiments in his very capital, as reported to him by parliament, he not only urged that body to renewed diligence, but directed the Bishop of Paris, the tolerant Jean du Bellay, who may have been suspected of too much supineness in the matter,[325] to confer upon two counsellors of parliament all the authority necessary to act for him, without prejudice to his jurisdiction in other cases.[326][Pg 157] Both parliament and bishop were at the same time notified of the receipt of two fresh bulls, kindly furnished by Pope Clement, at Francis's request, to help in the good work of extirpating "that accursed Lutheran sect."[327] /history of the church online, church history online, christian video site, history of the church online, church history online, christian video site, history of the church online, church history online, christian video site,history of the church online, church history online, christian video site, history of the church online, church history online, christian video site, history of the church online, church history online, christian video site,  

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