Online Biblical studies Rise of the Hugenots 23

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Meanwhile, to De Russanges other informers were added. One was a weak and unstable man whom persecution had once before—in the famous year of the Placards—driven to the basest of offices. Among others two apprentices, brought forward to testify against the Protestant employers who had dismissed them, were pliant instruments in the hands of the heretic-hunters. By a well-concerted movement a simultaneous descent was made, and entire families were put under arrest.[775] In some places, however, an unexpected resistance was encountered. The guests of one Visconte, with whom travellers from Switzerland and Germany frequently lodged, supposed the house to be attacked by robbers, and defended themselves with such bravery against their assailants, that they effected their retreat in safety. Their host's wife and his aged father alone were taken into custody. A dressed capon and some uncooked meat found in the larder—it was on a Friday that the incursion was made—graced the triumph of the captors.

"Little Geneva," as that portion of the Faubourg St. Germain-des-Prés most frequented by Protestants was familiarly called, became a scene of indiscriminate pillage. The valuables of those who, through fear, had absented themselves, were greedily appropriated by the officials of the Châtelet and other courts, or fell into the hands of an unorganized force of robbers who gleaned what the others had left behind. In a day the rich became poor and the poor became rich. The depredations extended to other parts of the city where the existence of heresy or wealth was suspected. Paris, we are told, resembled a city taken by assault. Everywhere armed men on foot or on horseback were leading to prison[Pg 362] men, women, and children of all ranks. 

The thoroughfares were clogged by wagons laden with furniture and other spoils. The street-corners were filled with plunder offered for sale. Never before, even when the inhabitants had fled panic-stricken from Paris in time of war, had the price of such commodities been so low. Numbers of little children, roaming the streets and ready to die of hunger, formed a pitiful accompaniment to the scene. But the tender mercies of the populace were cruel, and few dared to give a "Lutheran" shelter through fear of incurring extreme danger. The most incredible tales of midnight orgies were studiously circulated among the simple-minded people, and served to inflame yet more the lust of cruelty and gain.[776]

The Protestants appeal to the queen society, bible society, bible society,
She gives them encouragement.

In this emergency the Protestants had recourse to the queen mother. Afraid to trust herself entirely to the Guises, the crafty Italian had, from the very commencement of the reign, sought to leave open a retreat in case a change should become necessary. And, in truth, jealousy of the cardinal and his brother, who seemed disposed to keep all the power in their own hands, while giving Catharine only a semblance of authority, was combined in her mind with hatred of Mary of Scots, their niece,[777] whose influence was as powerful with her son and as adverse to herself as that of Diana of Poitiers had been with her husband. Scarcely had the reformers perceived, by the zeal with which Du Bourg's trial was pressed, that the death of Henry had not bettered their condition, when they implored the Prince of Condé, his mother-in-law, Madame de Roye, and Admiral Coligny, to intercede in their behalf with Catharine. At the suggestion of the latter, they even addressed her a letter, in which they informed her of the great hopes they had in the preceding reign founded upon her kind and gentle[Pg 363] disposition, and the prayers they had offered to God that she might prove a second Esther. 

They entreated her to prevent the new reign from being defiled with innocent blood, and to avert the anger of Heaven, which could only be appeased by putting an end to persecution. The crafty queen, desirous of retaining an influence that might one day be of great service, and solicitous, at any rate, of obtaining their confidence, at first assumed an offended tone. "With what am I menaced?" she said. "For what greater evil could God do me than He has done, removing him whom I loved and prized the most?" But presently becoming more gracious, she promised the noble suppliants to cause the persecution to cease, if the Protestants would intermit their conventicles and live quietly and without scandal.[778] 

A private letter of remonstrance, written by a gentleman formerly in the service of Queen Margaret of Navarre, is said to have had some weight in extorting this pledge. He reminded her that her present evil advisers were the same persons who had, in the first years of her married life, been advocates of her repudiation; that then in her affliction she had recourse to God, whose word she had read, choosing as her favorite psalm the 141st, albeit not of Marot's translating.[779] Her prayers had been answered in the birth of her children. But the cardinal had banished the psalm-book from the palace, and introduced the immodest songs of Horace and other lewd poets; and from that time there had come upon her a succession of misfortunes. Finally, he begged her to drive away the usurpers of the place that rightfully belonged to the princes of royal blood, and to bring up her children after the example of good king Josiah.[780][Pg 364]

A second and more urgent address.

But the promises of Catharine were given only to be broken. Finding the atrocious persecution still in operation, and seeing themselves hunted in their houses, the Protestants again approached her. They denounced the anger of God who would not leave Du Bourg unavenged. They warned her of the danger that over-much oppression would breed revolt—not on the part of those who had embraced the reformed doctrines as taught in the Gospel, from whom she might expect all obedience—but from others, a hundred-fold more numerous, whose eyes were open to the abuses of the papacy, but who, not having submitted themselves to the discipline of the church, would not brook persecution. The embankment, it was to be feared, might give way to the violence of the pressure, and the pent-up waters pour themselves abroad, carrying devastation and ruin to all the neighboring lands.[781] The implied menace aroused the affected indignation of Catharine; but, loth to lose her hold upon the Protestants, she again professed her pity for a sect whose adherents went to the most cruel torments as cheerfully as to a wedding feast, and she expressed a desire to have an interview with one of their ministers. The Protestants did their part, but Catharine failed to keep the appointment; and all that the minister could effect was to convey to her a copy of the yet unpublished Confession of Faith of the French Churches, which, it is more than likely, she never read.[782]

Pretended orgies in "la petite Genève."

The insincerity of the queen mother's professions was by this time sufficiently apparent; yet the Protestants may be excused for applying, in their distress, to any one in power who made even a show of compassionate feelings. The outrages visited upon the inhabitants of "la petite Genève" were brought to her notice, and she deigned to inquire into their[Pg 365] occasion. But Charles of Lorraine had a ready mode of quieting her curiosity. Some verses found among the effects of the Protestants made mention of the death of Henry as an instance of the divine retribution. Other lines condemned Catharine for her excessive complaisance to the cardinal. These were first placed in her hands. Then the two apprentices, after having been well drilled in their lesson, were brought into her presence. It was a fearful tale they told, and much did it shock the ears of the virtuous Catharine. They pretended to describe orgies at which they had been present. In particular they remembered a conventicle of Protestants in the house of one Trouillas,[783] an advocate, held on Thursday of Holy Week. A great number of men and women, married and unmarried, had been present. The hour was about midnight. The sectaries had first listened to their preaching. Then a pig had been eaten in lieu of the paschal lamb. Finally the lamp had been extinguished, and indiscriminate lewdness followed.

The device succeeds.

The testimony of the boys—for such they were in years, if not in proficiency in vice—was enforced and embellished in the queen mother's hearing by the Cardinal of Lorraine. The trick had the desired effect. Believing, or feigning to believe, the improbable story, Catharine consented that the persecution of the "Christaudins" should proceed; while to some of her maids of honor, strongly suspected of leaning to the doctrines of the Reformation, she declared that she gave such full credit to this information, that, were she certain that they were Protestants, she would not hesitate, whatever favor or friendship she had hitherto borne them, to have them put to death. Fortunately, however, for the calumniated sect, there were among its adherents those who prized honor above life. 

Trouillas and his family, although among the number of those who had made good their escape, voluntarily returned and gave themselves into the hands of the civil authorities. When the latter would have put them on trial for their alleged heresy, they declined to answer to the charges on this point until the slanderous accusations affecting their personal morals had been[Pg 366] investigated. The examination not only completely vindicated their character and revealed the grossness of the imposture of which they were the innocent victims, but exhibited the unpleasant fact that an attempt had been made to corrupt witnesses by representing to them that, against such execrable wretches as the accursed "Lutherans," it was a meritorious act to allege even what was false.[784] It is perhaps superfluous to add that Trouillas, in spite of his manly and successful defence, was unable to secure the punishment of his accusers. In fact, while the latter remained at large, both he and his family were kept in prison, until liberated, without satisfaction for the insult received, upon the publication of the edict of amnesty of March, 1560.[785]

Cruelty of the populace.

It would be a task neither easy nor altogether agreeable to chronicle the executions of Protestants in various cities of the realm. "Never," wrote Hubert Languet, "have the papists raged so; never before was there a more cruel persecution. The prisons are full of wretched men. The woods and solitary places can scarce contain the fugitives."[786] The Parliaments of Toulouse and Aix, as usual, vied in ferocity with that of Paris, where the Guises had not long since restored the "chambre ardente."[787] But the populace of Paris surpassed the judges in envenomed hatred. Not content with applauding the slow roasting of those whom the courts had condemned to this torture, they sought to aggravate the barbarity of other sentences. In August, 1559, a young carpenter was taken from prison to suffer death for his heretical views. He was to have been strangled and then burned. The mob, however, resented the leniency, or were indignant that a pleas[Pg 367]ant show should lose one-half of its attraction. They therefore resolved to defraud the hangman of his share in the work, and suspended the youth, yet living, above the roaring flames.[788]

Traps for heretics.

An ingenious method was devised for the detection of the reformers. At almost every street-corner a picture or image of the Virgin Mary, or of some one of the saints, was set up, crowned with chaplets of flowers, and with waxen tapers burning in its honor. Around this object of devotion were collected at all hours a crowd of porters, water-carriers, and the very dregs of the populace, boisterously singing the praises of the saint. Woe to the unlucky wight who, purposely or through negligence, failed to doff his hat or drop a coin into the box placed in convenient proximity! He was an impious man, a heretic, and fortunate was it for him if he escaped with his life. To refuse to swell the collection of the monk or nun that came to a man's own door to solicit funds for the trial of the Protestants, was equally perilous. In short, it was no unfrequent device for a debtor to get rid of the importunity of his creditor by raising the cry, "Au Christaudin, an Luthérien!" It went hard with the former if he did not both free himself from debt and spoil his creditor.[789]

It is time, however, that we should turn to chronicle the fortunes of a more illustrious victim—the most illustrious victim, in fact, of the first period of French Protestantism.[Pg 368]

Trial of President Anne du Bourg.
His successive appeals.

Among the five counsellors of parliament arrested by Henry's orders at the "Mercuriale," as related in a previous chapter, Anne du Bourg had incurred his special displeasure by his fearless harangue, and with Du Bourg the trials began. A special commission was appointed for the purpose, consisting of President St. André, a maître de requêtes and two counsellors of parliament, Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, and Demochares, Inquisitor of the Faith. Brought before it, Du Bourg refused to plead, asserting his prerogative to be judged only by the united chambers of parliament. Letters-patent were therefore obtained from Henry, ordering the prisoner to acknowledge the authority of the commission, under pain of being declared guilty of heresy and of treason. Upon the results of the interrogatories, the Bishop of Paris declared Du Bourg a heretic, ordering him to be degraded from those holy orders which he had assumed, and then delivered over to the secular arm. From this sentence Du Bourg appealed to parliament, on the ground that it was an abuse of ecclesiastical power.[790] The judges—among whom his most determined enemies, the Cardinal of Lorraine and Cardinal Bertrand (the latter as Keeper of the Seals) were not ashamed to take their seats—rejected his appeal, and declared that there had been no abuse.

From the sentence given by the Bishop of Paris, Du Bourg next appealed to the Archbishop of Sens, his superior; and when the latter had confirmed his suffragan's decision, Du Bourg again had recourse to parliament. He pleaded that it was a violation of the very spirit of the law that the same person, acting (as did Bertrand) as Archbishop of Sens, should adjudicate upon a case which he had already acted upon in the capacity of Keeper of the Seals and Chief Justice of France.

His officious advocate.

The counsel whom Chancellor Olivier, newly reinstated in his office by Francis the Second, assigned to Du Bourg, at his earnest request, put forth strenuous exertions to induce his client to recant. Failing in this, he extorted a promise not to interrupt him in the defence he was about to make. Thereupon the[Pg 369] officious advocate, after pleading, it is true, the injustice of the preceding trial, confessed his client's grievous spiritual errors, and desired, in his name, reconciliation with the church. The judges, glad to seize the opportunity of ridding themselves of a disagreeable case, promptly remanded the prisoner, and were about to depute two of their number to solicit the king's pardon in his behalf. At this moment a communication arrived, signed by Du Bourg, disavowing his counsel's admissions, persisting in his appeal and in the confession of his faith, which he was now ready to seal with his blood, and humbly begging the forgiveness of God for the cowardice of which he accused himself. It is needless to say that his appeal was rejected.

Du Bourg's message to the Protestants of Paris.

Again Du Bourg appealed from the Archbishop of Sens to the Archbishop of Lyons, "Primate of all the Gauls," and from his unfavorable decision to the parliament. Meanwhile he wrote to the Protestants of Paris, who watched his course with the deepest interest, recognizing the important influence which his firmness or his apostasy must exert on the interests of truth, and begged them not to be scandalized by a course that might appear to proceed from craven fear of death. If he thus had recourse to the judgments of the Pope's tools, he said, it was not through undue solicitude for life, nor because he in any wise approved their doctrine; but that he might have the better opportunity to make known his faith in as many places as possible, and prove that he had not precipitated his own destruction, by failing to make use of all legitimate means of acquittal. As for himself, he felt that he had been so strengthened by God's grace, that the day of his death was an object of desire, which he very joyfully awaited.[791][Pg 370]

Du Bourg in the Bastile.

At length the last appeal was rejected, and Du Bourg, under sentence of death, was remanded to the Bastile, to await the pleasure of the king. Many months had elapsed since his arrest, but his courage had risen with the trials he was called to face. To prevent any attempt to rescue him he had at one time been shut up in an iron cage, and the very passers-by had been forbidden to tarry and look up at the grim walls of the prison. But the captive was less solicitous to escape than his captors were to detain him. He resolutely declined to avail himself of a bull obtained for him from Rome by friends, through liberal payment of money, and opening the way for an appeal from the Primate of France to the Pope himself. The prison walls, it is said, resounded with the joyful psalms and hymns which he sang, to the accompaniment of the lute.[792]

Intercession of the Elector Palatine.
His pathetic speech.

A few days before Christmas the order was given for his execution. Two events determined the Cardinal of Lorraine: the assassination of President Minard, one of Du Bourg's judges, whose death was caused, doubtless, by the hand of one of the many whom he had wronged, although by some ascribed to the Protestants;[793] and the intercession of the Elector Palatine,[794] who by a special embassy had ex[Pg 371]pressed the desire to make Du Bourg a professor of law in his university at Heidelberg. Unwilling to expose himself to further importunities from abroad which he was resolved to discourage, the prelate gave the signal for the closing of the tragic scene. The sentence was announced to Du Bourg in his cell by the deputed judges. It was that he should forthwith be taken to the place of execution and suspended above the flames until life should be extinct. 

But the courage of Du Bourg did not fail him. When the counsellors had fulfilled their commission and were about to retire, the fettered prisoner detained them, and uttered a speech of exquisite pathos. It was the bewitching spirit of delusion, he said, the messenger of hell, the capital enemy of truth, that had accused him before them, because he had abandoned her. To that evil spirit had they too readily listened and condemned him and others like him, the children of the God of infinite mercy. It was in no sense disobedience to their prince that they refused to offer sacrifice to Baal. Was it disloyalty to be willing to give up to their sovereign everything, even to the last garment they possessed; to pray for the prosperity and peace of his realm, and that all superstition and idolatry might be banished from its borders; to entreat the Almighty to fill him and those under him in authority with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing? Was it not rather disobedience to dishonor and anger God by impiety and blasphemy, and by transferring His glory to another?

He depicts the constancy of the victims.

The judges themselves were moved to tears as the prisoner pictured the fearful tortures which were daily inflicted upon the innocent Protestants at the bidding of that "red Phalaris," the Cardinal of Lorraine.[795] "Sufferings do not intimidate them," he said, "insults do not weaken[Pg 372] them, satisfying their honor by death. So that the proverb suits you well, gentlemen: the conqueror dies, and the vanquished laments.... No, no, none shall be able to separate us from Christ, whatever snares are laid for us, whatever ills our bodies may endure. We know that we have long been like lambs led to the slaughter. Let them, therefore, slay us, let them break us in pieces; for all that, the Lord's dead will not cease to live, and we shall rise in a common resurrection. I am a Christian, yes, I am a Christian. I will cry yet louder, when I die, for the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ! And since it is so, why do I tarry? Lay hands upon me, executioner, and lead me to the gallows." Then resuming his address to his judges, he protested at great length that he died at their hands only for his unwillingness to recognize other justification, grace, merit, intercession, satisfaction, or salvation than in Jesus Christ. "Put an end, put an end," he cried, "to your burnings, and return to the Lord with amendment of life, that your sins may be wiped away. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him. Live, then, and meditate upon this, O senators; and I go to die!"[796]

His death.

He was led under a strong guard to the Place de Grève. A vast concourse of people had assembled to witness the death of the illustrious victim. "My friends," he cried, as with assured countenance he prepared for the execution, "I am here not as a thief or a robber, but for the Gospel." The people listened with breathless interest to the harangue he made them from the scaffold. Then, before he died, he exclaimed again and again: "My God, forsake me not, that I may not forsake Thee!" The judges did him the favor of permitting him to be strangled before he was burned. Perhaps this was done that the story might be circulated that he had at the last moment recanted; but his refusal to kiss the crucifix which was offered him was a visible proof to the contrary.[797][Pg 373] Thus he died, displaying, according to a friendly historian,[798] "the most admirable constancy shown by any that have suffered for this cause."

His death a disastrous blow to the established church.
Account of an eye-witness.

Du Bourg's martyrdom was the most terrible blow the established church had ever received in France. Never had a more disastrous blunder been committed by the Guises, than when they stirred Henry to imprison and try, and Francis to execute, the most virtuous member of the Parisian senate. Such strength of principle in the midst of affliction, such fortitude upon the brink of death, had never been seen before. The witnesses of the execution never forgot the scene. Thousands who had never before wavered in their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church, resolved that day to investigate the truth of the faith which had given him so signal a victory over death. "I remember," writes the most envenomed enemy of the Protestants that ever undertook to write their history, "when Anne Du Bourg, counsellor in the Parliament of Paris, was burned, that all Paris was astonished at the constancy of the man. As we returned to our colleges from the execution, we were melted in tears; and we pleaded his cause, after his death, anathematizing those unjust judges who had justly condemned him. His sermon at the gallows and upon the funeral pile did more harm than a hundred ministers could have done."[799]

He deplores the result.

But the martyrdom of Du Bourg was not a solitary case. The same consequences flowed from the public execution of[Pg 374] others, whose dying words and actions shook to its very foundations the fabric of superstition reared in many a spectator's heart. Florimond de Ræmond, himself an advocate of persecution in the abstract, noticed and deplored the inevitable result. "Meanwhile funeral piles were kindled in all directions. But as, on the one hand, the severity of justice and of the laws restrained the people in their duty, so the incredible obstinacy of those who were led to execution, and who suffered their lives to be taken from them rather than their opinions, amazed many. For who can abstain from wonder when simple women willingly undergo tortures in order to give a proof of their faith, and, while led to death, call upon 

Jesus Christ their Saviour, and sing psalms; when maidens hasten to the most excruciating torments with greater alacrity than to their nuptials; when men leap for joy at the terrible sight of the preparations for execution, and, half-burned, from the funeral pile mock the authors of their sufferings; when, with indomitable strength of courage and joyful countenance, they endure the lacerating of their bodies by means of heated pincers; when, in short, like an immovable rock, they receive and break all the billows of the most bitter sufferings at the hands of the executioner, and, like those who have eaten the Sardinian herb, die laughing? The lamentable sight of such incredible constancy as this created no little doubt in the minds not only of the simple, but of men of authority. For they could not believe that cause to be bad for which death was so willingly undergone. Others pitied the miserable, and burned with indignation against their persecutors. Whenever they beheld the blackened stakes with the chains attached—memorials of executions—they could not restrain their tears. The desire consequently seized many to read their books, and to become acquainted with the foundations of the faith from which it seemed impossible to tear them by the most refined tortures.... Why need I say more? The greater the number of those who were consigned to the flames, the greater the number of those who seemed to spring from their ashes."[800][Pg 375]

Fate of the remaining judges.

Of the five counsellors of parliament arrested by the late king's orders, Du Bourg was the only martyr. By the others greater weakness was shown, or the judges were less willing to fulfil the cardinal's bloody injunctions.[801] La Porte was reprimanded for finding fault with the rigorous sentences of the "grand' chambre," and liberated on declaring those sentences good and praiseworthy. De Foix was condemned to make a public declaration of his belief in the sole validity of the sacrament as administered in the Romish Church, and to be suspended from his office for a year; Du Faur to beg pardon of God, the king, and his fellow-judges, for having maintained the propriety of holding a holy and free universal council before extirpating the heretics, to pay a considerable fine, and to suffer a five years' suspension. Fumée, more fortunate than his associates, was acquitted in spite of the most strenuous exertions of the Cardinal of Lorraine.[802]

Public indignation against the Guises.
Must the faithful submit passively to usurpation?

The savage persecution of the Protestants tended powerfully to strengthen the current of popular sentiment that was setting in against the government of the Guises. The sight of so many cruel executions for more than thirty years had not accustomed either the dissidents or the more reflecting among those of the opposite creed to the barbarous work. "Is it not time," they asked, "to put a stop to the ravages of the flames and of the sword of the executioner, when such signal failure has attended their application? Will the[Pg 376] terror of the estrapade quench the burning courage of a sect which has spread over the whole of France, if it could not stifle the fire when first kindled at Meaux and at Paris? Has not the policy of extermination thus far persisted in only accelerating the growth of the new doctrines? Shall the sword rage forever, and must princes of the blood and the noblest and purest in lower ranks of society incur a common fate? Must the persecuted submit with as good grace to the arbitrary decrees of the usurpers who, through their connection with a minor king, have made themselves supreme, as to the legitimate authority of the monarch, advised by his council of state? The Gospel, doubtless, enjoins upon all Christians the most patient submission to legally constituted authority. Its success is to be won by the display of faith and obedience. But concession may degenerate into cowardice, and submission into craven subserviency. Obedience to a tyrant is rebellion against the king whom he defrauds of his authority, his revenues, and his reputation; and treason against God, whose name is suffered to be blasphemed, and whose children are unjustly distressed."

Oppression becomes intolerable.
The convocation of the States General.

The religious grievances thus ran parallel with the political, and could scarcely be distinguished in the great aggregate of the intolerable oppression to which France was subjected. The legislation of which such grave complaint was made, it must be admitted, was sometimes sufficiently whimsical. The resources of the royal treasury, for instance, being inadequate to meet the demands of creditors, it was necessary to silence their importunity. An inhuman decree was accordingly published, enjoining upon all petitioners who had come to Fontainebleau, where the king was sojourning, to solicit the payment of debts or pensions, to leave the court within twenty-four hours, on pain of the halter! A gallows newly erected in front of the castle was a significant warning as to the serious character of the threat.[803] 

In order to provide against uprisings such as the violent course taken was well[Pg 377] calculated to occasion, the people must be disarmed. Accordingly, an edict was published, within a fortnight after the accession of Francis, strictly forbidding all persons from carrying pistols and other firearms, and the prohibition was more than once repeated during this brief reign.[804] While thus seeking to repress the display of the popular displeasure in acts of violence and sedition, the Guises resolved to prevent the overthrow of their usurped authority by legitimate means. The convocation of the States General was the safety-valve through which, in accordance with a wise provision, the overheated passions of the people were wont to find vent. But the assembling of the representatives of the three orders would be equivalent to signing the death-warrant of the Guises; while to Catharine, the queen mother, it would betoken an equally dreaded termination of long-cherished hopes. Both Catharine and the Guises, therefore, gave out that whoever talked of convening the States was a mortal enemy of the king, and made himself liable to the pains of treason.[805] Every precaution had been taken to make the boiler tight, and to render impossible the escape of the scalding waters and the steam; it only remained to be seen whether the structure was proof against an explosion.

Calvin and Beza consulted.
They dissuade armed resistance.
Calvin foresees civil war.
More favorable replies.

Such a catastrophe, indeed, seemed now to be imminent.[806] Among the more restless, especially, there was a manifest preparation for some new enterprise. The correspondence of the reformers reveals the fact that, as early as in the commencement of September, a knotty ques[Pg 378]tion had been propounded to the Genevese theologians:[807] "Is it lawful to make an insurrection against those enemies not only of religion, but of the very state, particularly when, according to law, the king himself possesses no authority on which they can rest their usurpation?" This was an interrogatory often put by those who would gladly have followed the example of a Scævola, and sacrificed their own lives to purchase freedom for France. "Hitherto," notes Beza, "we have answered that the storm must be overcome by prayer and by patience, and that He will not desert us who lately showed by so wonderful an example (the death of Henry) not only what He can, but what He will do for His church. Until now this advice has been followed."[808] 

As the plan for a forcible overthrow of the Guises began to develop under the increasing oppression, and as malcontents from France came to the free city on Lake Leman in greater numbers, Calvin expressed his convictions with more and more distinctness, and endeavored to dissuade the refugees from embarking in so hazardous an undertaking. Its advocates in vain urged that they had received from a prince of the blood (entitled, by the immemorial custom of the realm, to the first place in the council, in the absence of his brother, the King of Navarre) the promise to present their confession of faith to the young monarch of France, and that thousands would espouse his defence if he were assailed. The reformer saw more clearly than they the rising of the clouds of civil war portending ruin to his native land. "Let but a single drop of blood be shed," said Calvin, "and streams will flow that must inundate France."[809] But his prudent advice was unheeded.[Pg 379] Other theologians and jurists of France and Germany had been questioned. They replied more favorably, "It is lawful," they said, "to take up arms to repel the violence of the Guises, under the authority of a prince of the blood, and at the solicitation of the estates of France, or the soundest part of them. Having seized the persons of the obnoxious ministers, it will next be proper to assemble the States General, and put them on trial for their flagrant offences."[810]

Godefroy de la Renaudie.
His grounds for revenge.

An active and energetic man was needed to organize the movement and control it until the proper moment should come for Condé—the "mute" head, whose name was for the time to be kept secret—to declare himself. Such a leader was found in Godefroy de Barry, Seigneur de la Renaudie, a gentleman of ancient family in Périgord. The result justified the wisdom of the choice. Besides the discontent animating him in common with the better part of the kingdom, La Renaudie had private wrongs of his own to avenge. Less than a year before the accession of Francis, his brother-in-law, Gaspard de Heu, had been arrested as a pretended agent for bringing about an alliance between the King of Navarre and the Protestant princes of Germany.[811] In the gloomy castle of the Bois de Vincennes a private trial had been held, in which none of the accustomed forms of law were observed. De Heu had been barbarously tortured and secretly despatched.[812] That it was a judicial murder was proved by the[Pg 380] extraordinary precautions taken to conceal the procedure from the knowledge of the public, and by the selection of the most lonely place about the castle for the grave into which his official assassins hastily thrust the body.[813] La Renaudie held the Cardinal of Lorraine to be the author of the cowardly deed.[814]

He assembles the malcontents at Nantes, Feb. 1, 1560.
Well-devised plans.

La Renaudie displayed incredible diligence.[815] In a few days he had travelled over a great part of France, visiting all the most prominent opponents of the Guises, urging the reluctant, assuring the timid, inciting all to a determined effort. On the first of February he assembled in the city of Nantes a large number of noblemen and of persons belonging to the "tiers état," who claimed to be as complete a representation of the estates of France as the circumstances of the country would admit. It was a hazardous undertaking; but so prudently did the deputies deport themselves, that, although the Parliament of Brittany was then sitting at Nantes, they were not detected in the crowd of pleaders before the court. After solemnly protesting that the enterprise was directed neither against the majesty of the king and of the[Pg 381] princes of the blood, nor against the legitimate estate of the kingdom, the assembly was intrusted with the secret of the name of the prince by whose authority the arrest of the Guises was to be attempted. The tenth of March[816] was fixed upon for the execution of the design. At that date, it was supposed, Francis and his court would be sojourning on the banks of the Loire.[817] Five hundred gentlemen were selected, and placed under the command of ten captains. All were to obey the directions of the "mute" chief, and his delegate, La Renaudie. Others of the confederates were pledged to prevent the provincial towns from sending assistance to the Guises. The force thus raised was to be disbanded only when a legitimate government had been re-established, and the usurpers brought to punishment.[818]

Confidence of the Guises.

The plan was well devised, and its execution was entrusted to capable hands. The omens, indeed, were favorable. The[Pg 382] Cardinal of Lorraine and his brother, intoxicated by the uniform success hitherto attending their ambitious projects, despised such vague rumors of opposition as reached their ears. The party adverse to their tyranny, composed not only of Protestants and others who sought the best interests of their country, but recruited from the ranks of the restless and of those who had private wrongs to redress, was sure, on the first tidings of its uprising, to secure the active co-operation of many of the most powerful nobles, and possibly might enlist the majority of the population. Rarely has an important secret been so long and so successfully kept. It was deemed little short of a miracle that, in a time of peace, and in a country where the regal authority was so implicitly obeyed, a deliberative assembly of no mean size had been convened from all the provinces of France, and the Guises had obtained intimations of the conspiracy of their enemies by letters from Germany, Spain, and Italy, before any tidings of it reached the ears of their spies carefully posted in every part of the kingdom. So close a reticence augured ill for the permanence of the present usurpation.[819]

The plot betrayed.

But the timidity or treachery of a single person disconcerted all the steps so cautiously taken. The curiosity of Des Avenelles, a lawyer at Paris, in whose house La Renaudie lodged, was excited by the number of the visitors whom his guest attracted. As his host was a Protestant, La Renaudie believed that he risked nothing in making of him a confidant. But the secret was too valuable, or too dangerous, to be kept, and Des Avenelles secured his safety, as well as a liberal reward, by disclosing it to two dependants of the Guises, by whom it was faithfully reported to their masters.[820] The as[Pg 383]tounding information was at first received with incredulity, but soon a second witness was obtained. It could no longer be doubted that the blow of the approach of which letters from abroad, and especially from Cardinal Granvelle, in Flanders,[821] had warned them, was about to descend upon their heads.

The "Tumult of Amboise."

When fuller revelations of the extent of the plot were made, the court in consternation shut itself up in the defences of Amboise. Catharine de' Medici, recalling the warning of the Church of Paris, declared that now she saw that the Protestants were men of their word.[822] 7th day adventist theology,7th day adventist theology,7th day adventist theology, university seventh day adventist church, adventist website, online bible study degree, biblical studies online, online biblical studies, biblical studies, bible studies online, onlinebible, bible videos, the bible online, the end is near, 7th day adventist theology, university seventh day adventist church, adventist website, online bible study degree, biblical studies online, online biblical studies, biblical studies, bible studies online, onlinebible, bible videos, the bible online, the end is near,    

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