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Title: A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Author: Thomas M. Lindsay

Release date: September 18, 2012 [eBook #40798]

Language: English

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[Pg iii]

The International Theological Library



Professor of Theological Encyclopædia and Symbolics, Union Theological
Seminary, New York


Principal, and Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament Exegesis,
United Free Church College, Aberdeen


D.D., LL.D.


[Pg v]

International Theological Library





Volume II




[Pg vii]


In this volume I have endeavoured to fulfil the promise made in the former one to describe the Reformed Churches, the Anabaptist and Socinian movements and the Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century.

It has been based on a careful study of contemporary sources of information, and no important fact has been recorded for which there is not contemporary evidence. Full use has been made of work done by predecessors in the same field. The sources and the later books consulted have been named at the beginning of each chapter; but special reference is due to the writings of Professor Pollard on the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., and to those of MM. Lemonnier and Mariéjol for the history of Protestantism in France. The sources consulted are, for the most part, printed in Calendars of State Papers issued by the various Governments of Europe, or in the correspondence of prominent men and women of the sixteenth century, edited and published for Historical and Archæological Societies; but the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, relating to the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, is little more than a brief account of the contents of the documents, and has to be supplemented by reference to the original documents in the Record Office.

The field covered in this volume is so extensive that[Pg viii] the accounts of the rise and progress of the Reformation in the various countries included had to be very much condensed. I have purposely given a larger space to the beginnings of each movement, believing them to be less known and more deserving of study. One omission must be noted. Nothing has been said directly about the Reformed Churches in Bohemia, Hungary, and the neighbouring lands. It would have been easy to devote a few pages to the subject: but such a brief description would have been misleading. The rise, continuance, and decline of these Churches are so inseparably connected with the peculiar social and political conditions of the countries, that no adequate or informing account of them could be given without largely exceeding the limits of space at my disposal.

After the volume had been fully printed, and addition or alteration was impossible, two important documents bearing on subjects discussed came into my hands too late for references in the text.

I have found that the Library of the Technical College in Glasgow contains a copy, probably unique, of the famous Hymn-book of the Brethren published at Ulm in 1538. It is entitled: Ein hubsch neu Gesangbuch darinnen begrieffen die Kirchenordnung und Geseng die zür Lants Kron und Fulneck in Behem, von der Christlichen Bruderschafft den Piccarden, die bishero für Unchristen und Ketzer gehalten, gebraucht und teglich Gutt zum Ehren gesungen werden. Gedruckt zu Ulm bey Hans Varnier. An. MDXXXVIII. I know of a copy of much later date in Nürnberg; but of no perfect copy of this early impression. It is sufficient to say that the book confirms what I have said of the character of the religion of the Brethren.

Then in December 1906, Señor Henriques published at Lisbon the authentic records of the trial of [Pg ix] George Buchanan and two fellow professors in the Coimbra College before the Inquisition. These records show that the prosecution had not been instigated by the Jesuits, as was generally conjectured, but was due to the malice of a former Principal of the College. The statement made on p. 556 has therefore to be corrected.

The kindness of the publishers has provided an historical map, which I trust will be found useful. It gives, I think for the first time, a representation to the eye of the wide extent of the Anabaptist movement. The red bars denote districts where contemporary documents attest the existence of Anabaptist communities. At least four maps, representing successive periods, would be needed to show with exactness the shifting boundaries of the various confessions: one map can only give the general results.

My thanks are again due to my colleague, Dr. Denney, and to another friend, for the care they have taken in revising the proof sheets, and for many valuable suggestions.


January, 1907.

[Pg xi]







§ 1. The limitations of the Peace of Augsburg 1
§ 2. The Reformation outside Germany 5
§ 3. The Reformed type of Doctrine 6
§ 4. The Reformed ideal of Ecclesiastical Government 7
§ 5. The influence of Humanism on the Reformed Churches 9
§ 6. What the Reformed Churches owed to Luther 13
§ 7. National Characteristics as they affected the Reformation 18



The Reformation in Switzerland under Zwingli.

§ 1. The political condition of Switzerland 21
§ 2. Zwingli’s youth and education 24
§ 3. Zwingli at Glarus and at Einsiedeln 27
§ 4. Zwingli in Zurich 29
§ 5. The Public Disputations 33
§ 6. The Reformation outside Zurich 38
  In Basel—Oecolampadius and William Farel  38
  In Bern—The Ten Theses  40
  In Appenzell and other Cantons  46
  The Christian Civic League (Protestant). The Christian Union (Romanist)  48
[Pg xii]§ 7. The Sacramental Controversy 52



The Reformation in Geneva under Calvin.

§ 1. Geneva 61
§ 2. The Reformation in Western Switzerland 66
  Farel and his band of evangelists  71
§ 3. Farel in Geneva 74
  Bern, Freiburg, and Geneva  77
  The Public Disputation and the Thèses Évangéliques  85
§ 4. Calvin: Youth and education 92
  Christianæ Religionis Institutio 99
§ 5. Calvin with Farel in Geneva 102
  Articuli de regimine ecclesiæ—Discipline in the Church  105
  The theologians of Eastern Switzerland and excommunication 110
  Calvin and Farel banished from Geneva  120
  Calvin recalled to Geneva—Les ordonnances ecclésiastiques de l’Église de Genève  128
  What Calvin did for Geneva  131



The Reformation in France.

§ 1. Marguerite d’Angoulême and the “group of Meaux”  136
§ 2. Attempts to repress the movement for Reform  144
§ 3. Change in the character of the movement for Reform  151
§ 4. Calvin and his influence in France  153
§ 5. Persecution under Henry II.  161
§ 6. The organisation of the French Protestant Church  164
§ 7. Reaction against persecution  169
§ 8. The higher aristocracy won for the Reformation in France  171
§ 9. France ruled by the Guises  173
§ 10. Catherine de’ Medici becomes Regent 178
§ 11.  The Conference at Poissy 186
§ 12. The massacre at Vassy 189
§ 13. The beginning of the Wars of Religion 191
§ 14. The massacre of St. Bartholomew 198
§ 15. The Huguenot resistance after the massacre 200
§ 16. The beginnings of the League 205
§ 17. The League becomes disloyal 207
§ 18. The day of Barricades 211
[Pg xiii]§ 19.  The King takes refuge with the Huguenots 214
§ 20.  The Declaration of Henry IV. 217
§ 21. Henry IV. becomes a Roman Catholic 219
§ 22.  The Edict of Nantes 221



The Reformation in the Netherlands.

§ 1. The political situation 224
§ 2. The beginnings of the Reformation 228
§ 3. The Anabaptists in the Netherlands 234
§ 4. Philip of Spain and the Netherlands 240
§ 5. William of Orange 254



The Reformation in Scotland.

Preparation for the Reformation 274
Lollardy in Scotland 276
Lutheran writings in Scotland 279
The Beginnings of the Reformation 282
George Wishart 284
John Knox, early work in Scotland 285
Knox in England, in Switzerland, and at Frankfurt 286
The “Band subscrived by the Lords.” “The Congregation” 289
Knox’s final return to Scotland 293
Knox and Cecil. The English alliance 294
The Scots Confession of Faith 302
The First Book of Discipline, or the Policie and Discipline of the Church. The Book of Common Order 304
Return of Queen Mary to Scotland 309





The Church of Henry viii.

[Pg xiv]Influences in England making for the Reformation. Lollardy, Hatred of the Clergy, Humanism, Luther 315
The marriage of Henry and Catharine of Aragon, and the doubts entertained of its validity 322
The Revolt of England from Roman jurisdiction 325
The Ten Articles and the Injunctions 333
The Bishops’ Book, and its teaching 336
The English Bible 337
Projected alliance with the German Protestants 340
The visitation and dissolution of monasteries 343
The Six Articles and the King’s Book 347



The Reformation under Edward vi.

The Injunctions and the Articles of Inquiry 351
The condition of the English Clergy 353
The First Prayer-Book of King Edward VI. 356
Continental Reformers in England 358
The Second Prayer-Book of King Edward VI. 361
Beginnings of the controversy about Vestments 364



The Reaction under Mary.

The beginnings of Queen Mary’s reign 368
The restoration of England to the papal obedience 371
The Injunctions and the Visitation 374
The revival of heresy laws and the persecutions 375
The martyrdom of Cranmer 378



The Settlement under Elizabeth.

Elizabeth resolves to be a Protestant. The political situation 385
The Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity 390
The Elizabethan Prayer-Book 396
The Act of Uniformity and the Rubric about Ornaments 402
The dealings with recalcitrant clergymen 408
The Thirty-Nine Articles 411
How Discipline was regulated 417
[Pg xv]The character of the Elizabethan settlement 418





Revival of Mediæval Anti-Ecclesiastical Movements.

Mediæval Nonconformists 421
The Anti-Trinitarians 424




The mediæval roots of Anabaptism 430
Anabaptism organisation 434
Varieties of teaching among the Anabaptists 437
Anabaptists object to a State Church 442
The Anabaptists in Switzerland. Their persecution 445
Anabaptist hymnology 449
The Kingdom of God in Münster 451
Bernhard Rothmann and his work in Münster 452
Dutch Anabaptists in Münster 459
Polygamy in Münster 463




Lelio and Fausto Sozzini 470
Socinianism took its rise from a criticism of Doctrines 473
Socinianism and the Scoto-Pelagian theology 474
The doctrines of God, the Work of Christ and the Church 477





The Necessity of a Reformation of some sort universally admitted.

Variety of complaints against the mediæval Church 484
[Pg xvi]Formation of local churches 487



The Spanish Conception of a Reformation.

§ 1. The religious condition of Spain 488
§ 2. The reformation under Ximenes 490
§ 3. The Spaniards and Luther 493
§ 4. Pope Adrian VI. and the Spanish Reformation 496



Italian liberal Roman Catholics and their Conception of a Reformation.

§ 1. The religious condition of Italy 501
§ 2. Italian Roman Catholic Reformers 504
§ 3. Cardinals Contarini and Caraffa 513
§ 4. The Conference at Regensburg 519



Ignatius Loyola and the Company of Jesus.

§ 1. At Manresa 525
§ 2. Ignatius at Paris. The ecclesiastical situation at Paris 533
§ 3. The Spiritual Exercises 538
§ 4. Ignatius in Italy 545
§ 5. The Society of Jesus 549



The Council of Trent.

§ 1. The assembling of the Council 564
§ 2. Procedure at the Council 568
§ 3. Restatement of Doctrines 570
The Doctrine of the Rule of Faith  572
Original Sin and Justification  575
§ 4. The second meeting of the Council 581
§ 5. The third meeting of the Council 587
[Pg xvii] The position of the Pope strengthened  593



The Inquisition and the Index.

§ 1. The Inquisition in Spain 597
§ 2. The Inquisition in Italy 600
§ 3. The Index of prohibited books 602
§ 4. The Society of Jesus and the Counter-Reformation 606

[Pg 1]





§ 1. The Limitations of the Peace of Augsburg.

The Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555) secured the legal recognition of the Reformation within the Holy Roman Empire, and consequently within European polity. Henceforward States, which declared through their responsible rulers that they meant to live after the religion described in the Augsburg Confession, were admitted to the comity of nations, and the Pope was legally and practically debarred from excommunicating them, from placing them under interdict, and from inviting obedient neighbouring potentates to conquer and dispossess their sovereigns. The Bishop of Rome could no longer, according to the recognised custom of the Holy Roman Empire, launch a Bull against a Lutheran prince and expect to have its execution enforced as in earlier days. The Popes were naturally slow to see this, and had to be reminded of the altered state of matters more than once.[1]

[Pg 2]

Of course, the exalted Romanist powers, civil and ecclesiastical, never meant this settlement to be lasting. They intrigued secretly among themselves, and fought openly, against it. The final determined effort to overthrow it was that hideous nightmare which goes by the name of the Thirty Years’ War, mainly caused by the determination of the Jesuits that by the help of God and the devil, for that, as Carlyle has remarked, was the peculiarity of the plan, all Germany must be brought back to the obedience of Holy Stepmother Church, and to submission to the Supreme Headship of the Holy Roman Empire—the Supreme Headship becoming more and more shadowy as the years passed. The settlement lasted, however, and remains in general outline until the present.

But the Religious Peace of Augsburg did not end the revolt against Rome which was simmering in every land in Western Europe. It made no provision for the multitude of believers in the Augsburg Confession, whose princes, for conscience’ sake or for worldly policy, remained steadfast to Rome, save that they were to be permitted to emigrate to territories where the rulers were of the same faith as theirs. These Lutherans were to be found in every part of Germany, and were very abundant in the Duchy of Austria. The statement of Faber, the Bishop of Vienna, that the only good Catholics in that city were himself and the Archduke Ferdinand, was, of course, rhetorical; but it is a proof of the numbers of the followers of Luther.[2]

It chained irrevocably to the Romanist creed, by the clause called the ecclesiastical reservation, not merely the people, but the rulers in the numerous ecclesiastical principalities scattered all over Germany. This provision secured that if an ecclesiastical prince adopted the Lutheran faith, he was to be deprived of his principality.[Pg 3] It is probable that this provision did more than anything else to secure for the Romanists the position they now have in Germany. It was partly due to the alarms excited by the fact that Albert of Brandenburg, Master of the Teutonic Knights, had secularised his land of East Prussia and had become a Lutheran, and by the narrow escape of the province of Köln from following in the same path, under its reforming archbishop, Hermann von Wied.

The Peace of Augsburg made no provision for any Protestants other than those who accepted the Augsburg Confession; and thousands in the Palatinate and all throughout South Germany preferred another type of Protestant faith. It is probable that, had Luther lived for ten or fifteen years longer, the great division between the Reformed or Calvinist and the Evangelical or Lutheran Churches would have been bridged over; but after his death his successors, intent to maintain, as they expressed it, the deposit of truth which Luther had left, actually ostracised Melanchthon for his endeavour to heal the breach. The consequence was that the Lutheran Church within Germany after 1555 lost large districts to the Reformed Church.

Under Elector Frederick III., surnamed the Pious, the territorial Church of the Palatinate separated from the circle of Lutheran Churches, and in 1563 the Heidelberg Catechism was published. This celebrated doctrinal formula at once became, and has remained, the distinctive creed of the various branches of the Reformed Church within Germany; and its influence extended even farther.

Bremen followed the example of the Palatinate in 1568. Its divines published a doctrinal Declaration in 1572, and a more lengthy Consensus Bremenensis in 1595. Anhalt, under its ruler John George (1587-1603), did away with the consistorial system of Church government, and abandoned the use of Luther’s Catechism. Hesse-Cassel joined the circle of German Reformed Churches in 1605. These examples were followed in many smaller principalities, most of which, imitating all the Reformed Churches, published separate and distinctive confessions of[Pg 4] faith, which were nevertheless supposed to contain the sum and substance of the common Reformed creed.[3]

These German principalities, rulers and inhabitants, placed themselves deliberately outside the protection of the Religious Peace of Augsburg. The fundamental principles of their faith were not very different from the Lutheran, but they were important enough to make them forego the protection which the treaty afforded. Setting aside minor differences and sentiments, perhaps more powerful than doctrines, their separation from neighbouring Protestants was based on their objection to the doctrine of Ubiquity, essential to the Lutheran theory of the Sacrament of the Supper, and to the consistorial system of ecclesiastical[Pg 5] government. They repudiated the two portions of the Lutheran system which were derived professedly from the mediæval Church, and insisted on basing their exposition of doctrine and their scheme of ecclesiastical government more directly on the Word of God. They had come in contact with another reformation movement, had recognised its sturdier principles, and had become so enamoured of them that they felt compelled to leave the Lutheran Church for the Reformed.

Still confining ourselves to Germany, it is to be noticed that the Augsburg Confession ostentatiously and over and over again separated those who accepted it from protesters against the mediæval Church, who were called Anabaptists. It repudiated views supposed to be held by them on Baptism, the Holy Scripture, the possibility of a life of sinless perfection, and the relation of Christian men to the magistracy. In some of the truces arranged between the Emperor and the evangelical princes,—truces which anticipated the religious Peace of Augsburg,—attempts were made to induce Lutherans and Romanists to unite in suppressing those sectaries. It is needless to say that they were not included in the settlement in 1555. Yet they had spread all over Germany, endured with constancy bloody persecutions, and from them have come the large and influential Baptist Churches in Europe and America. From beginning to end they were outside the Lutheran Reformation.

§ 2. The Reformation outside Germany.

When we go beyond Germany and survey the other countries of Western Europe, it is abundantly evident that the story of the Lutheran movement from its beginning down to its successful issue in the Religious Peace of Augsburg is only a small part of the history of the Reformation. France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Bohemia, Hungary, even Italy, Spain, and Poland, throbbed with the religious revival of the sixteenth century, and its[Pg 6] manifestations in these lands differed in many respects from that which belonged to Germany. All shared with Germany the common experiences, intellectual and religious, political and economic, of that period of transition which is called the Renaissance in the wider sense of the word—the transition from mediæval to modern life.[4] They had all come to the parting of the ways. They had all emerged from Mediævalism, and all saw the wider outlook which was the heritage of the time. All felt the same longing to shake themselves clear of the incubus of clericalism which weighed heavily on their national life, whether religious or political. Each land went forward, marching by its own path marked out for it by its past history, intellectual, religious, and civil. The movements in these various countries towards a freer and more real religious life cannot be described in the same general terms; but if Italy and Spain be excepted, their attempts at a national reformation had one thing in common which definitely separated them from the Lutheran movement.

§ 3. The Reformed type of Doctrine.

If the type of doctrine professed by the Protestants in those countries be considered (confessedly a partial, one-sided, and imperfect standard), it may be said that they all refused to accept some of the distinctive Lutheran dogmatic conclusions, and that they all departed more widely from some of the conceptions of the Mediæval Church. Their national confessions in their final forms borrowed more from Zurich and Geneva than from Wittenberg, and they all belong to the Reformed as distinguished from the Lutheran or Evangelical circle of creeds.[5] It was perhaps natural[Pg 7] that differences in the ritual and theory of the Holy Supper, the very apex and crown of Christian Public Worship, should be to the general eye the visible cleavage between rival forms of Christianity. In the earlier stages of the Reformation movement, the great popular distinction between the Romanists and Protestants was that the one refused and the other admitted the laity to partake of the Cup of Communion; and later, within an orthodox Protestantism, the thought of ubiquity was the dividing line. The Lutherans asserted and the Reformed denied or ignored the doctrine; and those confessions took the Reformed view.

§ 4. The Reformed ideal of Ecclesiastical Government.

This similarity of published creed was the one positive bond which united all those Churches; but it may also be said that all of them, with the doubtful exception of the Church of England,[6] would have nothing to do with the consistorial system of the Lutheran Churches, and that most of them accepted in theory at least Calvin’s conception of ecclesiastical government. They strove to get away from the mediæval ideas of ecclesiastical rule, and to return to the principles which they believed to be laid down for them in the New Testament, illustrated by the conduct of the Church of the early centuries. The Church,[Pg 8] according to Calvin, was a theocratic democracy, and the ultimate source of authority lay in the membership of the Christian community, inspired by the Presence of Christ promised to all His people. But in the sixteenth century this conception was confronted and largely qualified in practice, by the dread that it might lead to a return to the clerical tutelage of the mediæval Church from which they had just escaped. Presbyter might become priest writ large; and the leaders of the Reformation in many lands could see, as Zwingli did in Zurich and Cranmer in England, that the civil authorities might well represent the Christian democracy. Even Calvin in Geneva had to content himself with ecclesiastical ordinances which left the Church completely under the control of les très honnorès seigneurs syndicques et conseil de Genève; and the Scottish Church in 1572 had to recognise that the King was the “Supreme Governor of this realm as well in things temporal as in the conservation and purgation of religion.” The nations and principalities in Western Europe which had adopted and supported the Reformation believed that manifold abuses had arisen in the past, directly and indirectly, through the exemption of the Church and its possessions from secular control, and they were determined not to permit the possibility of a return to such a state of things. The scholarship of the Renaissance had discovered the true text of the old Roman Civil Code, and one of the features of that time of transition—perhaps its most important and far-reaching feature, for law enters into every relation of human life—was the substitution of civil law based on the Codes of Justinian and Theodosius, for canon law based on the Decretum of Gratian. These old Roman codes taught the lawyers and statesmen of the sixteenth century to look upon the Church as a department of the State; and the thought that the Christian community had an independent life of its own, and that its guidance and discipline ought to be in the hands of office-bearers chosen by its membership, was everywhere confronted, modified, largely overthrown by the imperious[Pg 9] claim of the civilian lawyers. Ecclesiastical leaders within the Reformed Churches might strive as they liked to draw the line between the possessions of the Church, which they willingly placed under the control of civil law, and its discipline in matters of faith and morals, which they declared to be the inalienable possession of the Church; but, as a rule, the State refused to perceive the distinction, and insisted in maintaining full control over the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Hence it came about that in every land where the secular authorities were favourable to the Reformation, the Church became more or less subject to the State; and this resulted in a large variety of ecclesiastical organisations in communities all belonging to the Reformed Church. While it may be said with perfect truth that the churchly ideal in the minds of the leaders in most of the Reformed Churches was to restore the theocratic democracy of the early centuries, and that this was a strong point of contrast between them and Luther, who insisted that the jus episcopale belonged to the civil magistrate, in practice the secular authorities in Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Palatinate, etc., kept almost as tight a hold on the Reformed national Churches as did the Lutheran princes and municipalities. In one land only, France, the ecclesiastical ideal of Calvin had full liberty to embody itself in a constitution, and that only because the French Reformed Church struggled into existence under the civil rule of a Romanist State, and, like the Christian Church of the early centuries, maintained itself in spite of the opposition of the secular authorities which persecuted it.

§ 5. The Influence of Humanism on the Reformed Churches.

The portion of the Reformation which lay outside the Peace of Augsburg had another characteristic which distinguished it from the Lutheran Reformation included within the treaty—it owed much more to Humanism. Erasmus and what he represented had a greater share in its birth and early progress, and his influence appeared[Pg 10] amidst the most dissimilar surroundings. Henry VIII. and Zwingli seem to stand at opposite poles; yet the English autocrat and the Swiss democrat were alike in this, that they owed much to Erasmus, and that the reformations which they respectively led were largely prompted by the impulse of Humanism. One has only to compare the Bishops’ Book and the King’s Book of the Henrican period in England with the many statements Erasmus has made about the kind of reformation he desired to see, to recognise that they were meant to serve for a reformation in life and morals which would leave untouched the fundamental doctrinal system of the mediæval Church and its organisation in accordance with the principles laid down by the great Humanist. The Bible, the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, with the doctrinal decisions of the first four Œcumenical Councils, were recognised as the standards of orthodoxy in the Ten Articles; and the Scholastic Theology, so derided by Erasmus, was contemptuously ignored. The accompanying Injunctions set little store by pilgrimages, relics, and indulgences, and the other superstitions of the popular religious life which the great Humanist had treated sarcastically. The two books alluded to above are full of instructions for leading a wholesome life. The whole programme of reformation is laid down on lines borrowed from Erasmus.

Zwingli was under the influence of Humanism from his boyhood. His young intellect was fed on the masterpieces of classical antiquity—Cicero, Homer, and Pindar. His favourite teacher was Thomas Wyttenbach, who was half a Reformer and half a pure follower of Erasmus. No man influenced him more than the learned Dutchman. It was his guidance and not the example of Luther which made him study the Scriptures and the theologians of the early Church, such as Origen, Jerome, and Chrysostom. The influence and example of Erasmus can be seen even in his attempts to create a rational theory of the Holy Supper. His reformation, in its beginning more especially, was much more an intellectual than a religious movement.[Pg 11] It aimed at a clearer understanding of the Holy Scriptures, at the purgation of the popular religious life from idolatry and superstition, and at a clearly reasoned out scheme of intellectual belief. The deeper religious impulse which drove Luther, step by step, in his path of revolt from the mediæval Church was lacking in Zwingli. He owed little to Wittenberg, much to Rotterdam. It was this connection with Erasmus that created the sympathy between Zwingli and such early Dutch Reformers as Christopher Hoen, and made the Swiss Reformer a power in the earlier stages of the Reformation in the Netherlands.

The beginnings of the Reformation movement in France, Italy, and Spain were even more closely allied to Humanism.

If the preparation for reformation to be found in the work and teaching of mediæval evangelical nonconformists like the Picards be set aside, the beginnings of the Reformation in France must be traced to the small group of Christian Humanists who surrounded Marguerite d’Angoulême and Briçonnet the Bishop of Meaux. Marguerite herself and Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples, the real leader of the group of scholars and preachers, found solace for soul troubles in the Christian Platonism to which so many of the Humanists north and south of the Alps had given themselves. The aim of the little circle of enthusiasts was a reformation of the Church and of society on the lines laid down by Erasmus. They looked to reform without “tumult,” to a reformation of the Church by the Church and within the Church, brought about by a study of the Scriptures, and especially of the Epistles of St. Paul, by individual Christians weaning themselves from the world while they remained in society, and by slowly leavening the people with the enlightenment which the New Learning was sure to bring. They cared little for theology, much for intimacy with Christ; little for external changes in institutions, much for personal piety. Their efforts had little visible effect, and their via media between the stubborn defenders of Scholasticism on the[Pg 12] one hand and more thorough Reformers on the other, was found to be an impossible path to persevere in; but it must not be forgotten that they did much to prepare France for the Reformation movement which they really inaugurated; nor that William Farel, the precursor of Calvin himself in Geneva, belonged to the “group of Meaux.”

If Humanism influenced the “group of Meaux,” who were the advance guard of the French Reformation, it manifested itself no less powerfully in the training of Calvin, who in 1536 unconsciously became the leader of the movement. He was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic students of the band of “royal lecturers” appointed by Francis I. to give France the benefits of the New Learning. He had intimate personal relations with Budé and Cop, who were allied to the “group of Meaux,” and were leaders among the Humanists in the University. His earliest book, a Commentary on the De Clementia of Seneca, shows how wide and minute was his knowledge of the Greek and Latin classical authors. Like Erasmus, he does not seem to have been much influenced by the mystical combination of Platonism and Christianity which entranced the Christian Humanists of Italy and filled the minds of the “group of Meaux”; and like him he broke through the narrow circle of elegant trifling within which most of the Italian scholars were confined, and used the New Learning for modern purposes. Humanism taught him to think imperially in the best fashion of ancient Rome, to see that great moral ideas ought to rule in the government of men. It filled him with a generous indignation at the evils which flowed from an abuse of absolute and arbitrary power. The young scholar (he was only three-and-twenty) attacked the governmental abuses of the times with a boldness which revived the best traditions of Roman statesmanship. He denounced venal judges who made “justice a public merchandise.” He declared that princes who slew their people or subjected them to wholesale persecution were not legitimate rulers,[Pg 13] but brigands, and that brigands were the enemies of the whole human race. At a time when persecution was prevalent everywhere, the Commentary of the young Humanist pleaded for tolerance in language as lofty as Milton employed in his Areopagitica. He was not blind to the defects of the stoical morality displayed in the book he commented upon. He contrasted the stoical indifference with Christian sympathy, and stoical individualism with the thought of Christian society; but he seized upon and made his own the loftier moral ideas in Stoicism, and applied them to public life. Luther was great, none greater, in holding up the liberty of the Christian man; but there he halted, or advanced beyond it with very faltering step. Humanism taught Calvin the claims and the duties of the Christian society; he proclaimed them aloud, and his thoughts spread throughout that portion of the Reformation which followed his leadership and accepted his principles. The Holy Scriptures, St. Augustine, and the imperial ethics of the old Roman Stoicism coming through Humanism, were a trinity of influence on all the Reformed Churches.

The Reformation in Spain and Italy was only a brief episode; but in its short-lived existence in these lands, Humanism was one of the greatest forces supporting it and giving it strength. In both countries the young life was quenched in the blood of martyrs. So quickly did it pass, that it seems surprising to learn that Erasmus confidently expected that Spain would be the land to accomplish the Reformation without “tumult” which he so long looked forward to and expected; that the Scriptures were read throughout the Spanish peninsula, and that women vied with men in knowledge of their contents, during the earlier part of the sixteenth century.

§ 6. What the Reformed Churches owed to Luther.

There was, then, a Reformation movement which in its earliest beginnings and in its final outcome was quite[Pg 14] distinct from that under the leadership of Luther; but it would be erroneous to say that it was altogether outside Luther’s influence, and that it owed little or nothing to the great German Reformer. It is vain to speculate on what might have been, or to ask whether the undoubted movements making for reformation in lands outside Germany would have come to fruition had not Luther’s trumpet-call sounded over Europe. It is enough to state what did actually occur. If it cannot be said that the beginnings of the Reformation in every land came from Luther, it can scarcely be denied that he gave to his contemporaries the inspiration of courage and of assured conviction. He delivered men from the fear of priestcraft; he taught men, in a way that no other did, that redemption was not a secret science practised by the priests within an institution called the Church; that all believers had the privilege of direct access to the very presence of God; and that the very thought of a priesthood who alone could mediate between God and man was both superfluous and irreconcilable with the truest instincts of the Christian religion. His teaching had a sounding board of dramatic environment which compelled men to listen, to attend, to be impressed, to understand, and to follow.

He had been and was a deeply pious man, with the piety of the type most esteemed by his contemporaries, and therefore easily understood and sympathised with by the common man. His piety had driven him into the convent, as then seemed both natural and necessary. Inside the monastery he had lived the life of a “young saint”—so his fellow monks believed, when, in the fashion of the day and of their class, they boasted that they had among them one destined to revive again the best type of mediæval saintship. No coarse, vulgar sins of the flesh, common enough at the time and easily condoned, smirched his young life. When he attained to peace in believing, he had no doubt of his vocation; no sudden wrench tore him away from the approved religious life of his time; no[Pg 15] intellectual doubt separated him from the beliefs of his Church. His very imperviousness to the intellectual liberalising tendencies of Humanism made him all the more fit to be a trusted religious leader. He went forward step by step with such a slow, sure foot-tread that the common man could see and follow. When he did come forward as a Reformer he did not run amuck at things in general. He felt compelled to attack the one portion of the popular religious life of the times which all men who gave the slightest thought to religion felt to be a gross abuse. The way he dealt with it revealed that he was the great religious genius of his age—an age which was imperatively if confusedly calling for reform within the sphere of religion.

If to be original means simply to be the first to see and make known a single truth or a fresh aspect of a truth, it is possible to contest the claim of Luther to be an original thinker. It would not be difficult to point out anticipations of almost every separate truth which he taught to his generation. To take two only—Wessel had denounced indulgences in language so similar to Luther’s, that, when the Reformer read it long after the publication of the Theses, he could say that people might well imagine that he had simply borrowed from the old Dutch theologian; and Lefèvre d’Étaples had taught the doctrine of justification by faith before it had flashed on Luther’s soul with all the force of a revelation. But if originality be the gift to seize, to combine into one organic whole, separate isolated truths, to see their bearing upon the practical religious life of all men, educated and ignorant, to use the new light to strip the common religious life of all paralysing excrescences, to simplify it and to make it clear that the sum and essence of Christianity is “unwavering trust of the heart in Him who has given Himself to us in Christ Jesus as our Father, personal assurance of faith because Christ with His work undertakes our cause,” and to do all this with the tenderest sympathy for every true dumb religious[Pg 16] instinct which had made men wander away from the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus, then Luther stands alone in his day and generation, unapproachable by any other.

Hence it was that to the common people in every land in Europe up till about 1540, when Calvin’s individuality began to make itself felt, Luther represented the Reformation; and all who accepted the new teaching were known as Lutherans, whether in England, the Low Countries, France, or French speaking Switzerland.[7]

Ecclesiastical historians of the Reformed Church from the sixteenth century downward have often been inclined to share Luther’s supremacy with Zwingli. The Swiss Reformer was gifted with many qualities which Luther lacked. He stood in freer relation to the doctrines and practices of the mediæval Church, and his scheme of theology was perhaps wider and truer than Luther’s. He had a keener intellectual insight, and was quicker to discern the true doctrinal tendencies of their common religious verities. But the way in which he regarded indulgences, and his manner of protesting against them, showed his great inferiority to Luther as a religious guide.

“Oh the folly of it!” said Zwingli with his master Erasmus,—“the crass, unmitigated stupidity of it all!” and they scorned it, and laughed at it, and attacked it with the light keen shafts of raillery and derisive wit. “Oh the pity of it!” said Luther; and he turned men travelling by the wrong road on their quest for pardon (a real quest for them) into the right path. Zwingli never seemed to see that under the purchase of indulgences, the tramping on pilgrimages from shrine to shrine, the kissing, reverencing, and adoring of relics, there was a real[Pg 17] inarticulate cry for pardon of sins felt if not vividly repented of. Luther knew it, and sympathised with it. He was a man of the people, not merely because he was a peasant’s son and had studied at a burgher University, but because he had shared the religion of the common people. He had felt with them that the repeated visits of the plague, the new mysterious diseases, the dread of the Turks, were punishments sent by God because of the sins of the generation. He had gone through it all; plunged more deeply in the terror, writhed more hopelessly under the wrath of God, wandered farther on the wrong path in his quest for pardon, and at last had seen the “Beatific Vision.” The deepest and truest sympathy with fellow-men and the vision of God are needed to make a Reformer of the first rank, and Luther had both as no other man had, during the first quarter of the sixteenth century.

So men listened to him all over Europe wherever there had been a stirring of the heart for reformation, and it would be hard to say where there had been none. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles in the east; Spaniards, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutch, and Scots in the west; Swedes in the north, and Italians in the south—all welcomed, and read, and were moved by what Luther wrote. First the Theses, then sermons and tracts, then the trumpet call To the Nobility of the German Nation and the Præludium to the Babylonian Captivity of the Church of Christ, and, above all, his booklet On the Liberty of a Christian Man. As men read, what had been only a hopeful but troubled dream of the night became a vision in the light of day. They heard proclaimed aloud in clear unfaltering speech what they had scarcely dared to whisper to themselves. Fond and devout imaginations became religious certainties. They risked all to get possession of the sayings of this “man of God.” Cautious, dour Scotch burghers ventured ship and cargo for the sake of the little quarto tracts hid in the bales of cloth which came to the ports of Dundee and Leith. Oxford and Cambridge students passed them[Pg 18] from hand to hand in spite of Wolsey’s proclamations and Warham’s precautions. Luther’s writings were eagerly studied in Paris by town and University as early as May 1519.[8] Spanish merchants bought Luther’s books at the Frankfurt Fair, spent some of their hard won profits in getting them translated and printed in Spanish, and carried them over the Pyrenees on their pack mules. Under the influence of these writings the Reformation took shape, was something more than the devout imagination of a few pious thinkers, and became an endeavour to give expression to common religious certainties in change of creed, institutions, and worship. Thus Luther helped the Reformation in every land. The actual beginnings in England, France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere had come into existence years before Luther had become known; it is possible that the movements might have come to fruition apart from his efforts; but the influence of his writings was like that of the sun when it quickens and makes the seed sprout that has been “happed” in a tilled and sown field.

§ 7. National Characteristics.

It was not that the Reformation in any of these countries was to become Lutheran in the end, or had a Lutheran stage of development. The number of genuine Lutherans outside Germany and Scandinavia was very small. Here and there a stray one was to be found, like Dr. Barnes in England or Louis Berquin in France. One of the deepest principles of the great Reformer’s teaching itself checked the idea of a purely Lutheran Reformation[Pg 19] which would embrace the whole Reformation Church. He taught that the practical exercise of faith ought to manifest itself within the great institutions of human life which have their origin in God—in marriage, the family, the calling, and the State, in the ordinary life we lead with its environment. Nations have their character and characteristics as well as individual men, and they mould in natural ways the expression in creed and institution of the religious certainties shared by all. The Reformation in England was based on the same spiritual facts and forces which were at work in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, but each land had its own ways of embodying them. It is interesting to note how national habits, memories, and even prejudices compelled the external embodiment to take very varying shapes, and force the historian to describe the Reformation in each country as something by itself.

The new spiritual life in England took a shape distinctly marked out for it by the almost forgotten reformatory movement under Wiclif which had been native to the soil. Scotland might have been expected to follow the lead of England, and bring her ecclesiastical reconstruction into harmony with that of her new and powerful ally. The English alliance was the great political fact of the Scottish Reformation, and leading statesmen in both countries desired the still nearer approach which conformity in the organisation of the Churches could not fail to foster. But the memory of the old French alliance was too strong for Cecil and Lethington, and Scotland took her methods of Church government from France (not from Geneva), and drifted farther and farther away from the model of the English settlement. The fifteenth century War of the Public Weal repeated itself in the Wars of Religion in France; and in the Edict of Nantes the Reformed Church was offered and accepted guarantees for her independence such as a feudal prince might have demanded. The old political local independence which had characterised the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages[Pg 20] reasserted itself in the ecclesiastical arrangements of the Netherlands. The civic republics of Switzerland demanded and received an ecclesiastical form of government which suited the needs of their social and political life.

Yet amidst all this diversity there was the prevailing sense of an underlying unity, and the knowledge that each national Church was part of the Catholic Church Reformed was keener than among the Lutheran Churches. Protestant England in the time of Edward VI. welcomed and supported refugees banished by the Augsburg Interim from Strassburg. Frankfurt received and provided for families who fled from the Marian persecutions in England. Geneva became a city of refuge for oppressed Protestants from every land, and these strangers frequently added quite a third to her population. The feeling of fraternity was maintained, as in the days of the early Church, by constant interchange of letters and messengers, and correspondence gave a sense of unity which it was impossible to embody in external political organisation. The sense of a common danger was also a wonderful bond of kinship; and the feeling that Philip of Spain was always plotting their destruction, softened inter-ecclesiastical jealousies. The same sort of events occurred in all the Churches at almost the same times. The Colloquy of Westminster (1559) was separated from the Colloquy of Poissy (1561) by an interval of two years only, and the same questions were discussed at both. Queen Elizabeth openly declared herself a Protestant by partaking of the communion in both “kinds” at Easter, 1559; and on the same day Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, made the same profession in the same way at Pau in the south of France. Mary of Guise resolved that the same festival should see the Scots united under the old faith, and thus started the overt rebellion which ended in Scotland becoming a Protestant nation.

The course of the Reformation in each country must be described separately, and yet it is the one story with differences due to the accidents of national temperaments, memories, and political institutions.

[Pg 21]



§ 1. The political Condition of Switzerland.[9]

Switzerland in the sixteenth century was like no other country in Europe. It was as divided as Germany or Italy, and yet it had a unity which they could not boast. It was a confederation or little republic of communes and towns of the primitive Teutonic type, in which the executive power was vested in the community. The various cantons were all independent, but they were banded together in a common league, and they had a federal flag—a white cross on a red ground, which bore the motto, “Each for all, and all for each.”

The separate members of the Federation had come into existence in a great variety of ways, and all retained the distinctive marks of their earlier history. The beginnings go back to the thirteenth century, when the three Forest cantons, Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden, having freed themselves from the dominion of their feudal lords, formed themselves into a Perpetual League (1291), in which they pledged themselves to help each other to maintain the liberty they had won. After the battle of Morgarten they renewed the League at Brunnen (1315), promising again to aid each other against all usurping lords. Hapsburg, the cradle of the Imperial House of Austria, lies on the south-east[Pg 22] bank of the river Aare, and the dread of this great feudal family strengthened the bonds of the League; while the victories of the independent peasants over the House of Austria, and later over the Duke of Burgundy, increased its reputation. The three cantons grew to be thirteen—Schwyz, Uri, Unterwalden, Luzern, Zurich, Bern, Glarus, Zug, Freiburg, Basel, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, and Appenzell. Other districts, without becoming members of the League, sought its protection, such as the Valais and the town and country under the Abbey of St. Gallen. Other leagues were formed on its model among the peasantry of the Rhætian Alps—in 1396 the League of the House of God (Lia da Ca’ Dè)—at the head of which was the Church at Chur; in 1424 the Graubünden (Lia Grischa or Gray League); in 1436 the League of the Ten Jurisdictions (Lia della desch Dretturas). These three united in 1471 to make the Three Perpetual Leagues of Rhætia. They were in close alliance with the Swiss cantons from the fifteenth century, but did not become actual members of the Swiss Confederacy until 1803. The Confederacy also made some conquests, and the districts conquered were generally governed on forms of mutual agreement between several cantons—a complicated system which led to many bickerings, and intensified the quarrels which religion gave rise to in the sixteenth century.

Each of these thirteen cantons preserved its own independence and its own mode of government. Their political organisation was very varied, and dependent to a large extent on their past history. The Forest cantons were communes of peasant proprietors, dwelling in inaccessible valleys, and their Diet was an assembly of all the male heads of families. Zurich was a manufacturing and commercial town which had grown up under the protection of an old ecclesiastical settlement whose foundation went back to an age beyond that of Charles the Great. Bern was originally a hamlet, nestling under the fortified keep of an old feudal family. In Zurich the nobles made one of the “guilds” of the town, and the constitution was thoroughly[Pg 23] democratic. Bern, on the other hand, was an aristocratic republic. But in all, the power in the last resort belonged to the people, who were all freemen with full rights of citizenship.

The Swiss had little experience of episcopal government. Their relations with the Papacy had been entirely political or commercial, the main article of commerce being soldiers to form the Pope’s bodyguard, and infantry for his Italian wars, and the business had been transacted through Legates. Most of the territory of Switzerland was ecclesiastically divided between the archiepiscopal provinces of Mainz and Besançon, and the river Aare was the boundary between them. The division went back to the beginning of Christianity in the land. The part of Switzerland which lay towards France had been Christianised by Roman or Gallic missionaries; while the rest, which sloped towards Germany, had been won to Christianity by Irish preachers! Basel and Lausanne figure as bishoprics under Besançon; while Constance, a bishopric under Mainz, asserted episcopal rights over Zurich and the neighbourhood. The rugged, mountainous part of the country was vaguely claimed for the province of Mainz without being definitely assigned to any diocese. This contributed to make the Swiss people singularly independent in all ecclesiastical matters, and taught them to manage their Church affairs for themselves.

Even in Zurich, which acknowledged the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Constance, the Council insisted on its right of supervising Church properties, and convents were under State inspection.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, intercourse with their neighbours was changing the old simple manners of the Swiss. Their repeated victories over Charles the Bold of Burgundy had led to the belief that the Swiss infantry was the best in Europe, and nations at war with each other were eager to hire Swiss troops. The custom had gradually grown up among the Swiss cantons of hiring out soldiers to those who paid best for them. These mercenaries, demoralised by making merchandise of their[Pg 24] lives in quarrels not their own, and by spending their pay in riotous living when they returned to their native valleys, were corrupting the population of the Confederacy. The system was demoralising in another way. The two great Powers that trafficked in Swiss infantry were France and the Papacy; and the French king on the one hand, and the Pope on the other, not merely kept permanent agents in the various Swiss cantons, but gave pensions to leading citizens to induce them to persuade the canton to which they belonged to hire soldiers to the one side or the other. Zwingli, in his earlier days, believed that the Papacy was the only Power with which the Swiss ought to ally themselves, and received a papal pension for many years.

§ 2. Zwingli’s Youth and Education.[10]

Huldreich (Ulrich) Zwingli, the Reformer of Switzerland, was born on January 1st, 1484 (fifty-two days after Luther), in the hamlet of Wildhaus (or Wildenhaus), lying in the upper part of the Toggenburg valley, raised so high above sea-level (3600 feet) that fruits refuse to ripen. It lies so exactly on the central watershed of[Pg 25] Europe, that the rain which falls on the one side of the ridge of the red-tiled church roof goes into a streamlet which feeds the Danube, and that which falls on the other finds its way to the Rhine. He came third in a large family of eight sons and two daughters. His father, also called Huldreich, was the headman of the commune, and his uncle, Bartholomew Zwingli, was the parish priest. His education was superintended by Bartholomew, who became Dean of Wesen in 1487, and took the small Huldreich with him to his new sphere of work. The boy was sent to the school in Wesen, where he made rapid progress. Bartholomew Zwingli was somewhat of a scholar himself. When he discovered that his nephew was a precocious boy, he determined to give him as good an education as was possible, and sent him to Basel (Klein-Basel, on the east bank of the Rhine) to a famous school taught, by the gentle scholar, Gregory Buenzli (1494-98).

In four years the lad had outgrown the teacher’s powers of instruction, and young Zwingli was sent to Bern to a school taught by the Humanist Heinrich Wölfflin (Lupulus), who was half a follower of Erasmus and half a Reformer. He was passionately fond of music, and lodged in one of the Dominican convents in the town which was famed for the care bestowed on musical education. Zwingli was so carried away by his zeal for the study, that he had some thoughts of becoming a monk merely to gratify his musical tastes. His family, who had no desire to see him enter a monastery, removed him from Bern and sent him to the University of Vienna, where he spent two years (1500-1502). There he had for friends and fellow-students, Joachim von Watt[11] (Vadianus), Heinrich Loriti[12][Pg 26] of Glarus (Glareanus), Johann Heigerlin[13] of Leutkirch (Faber), and Johann Maier of Eck, the most notable of all Luther’s opponents. In 1502 he returned to Switzerland and matriculated in the University of Basel. He became B.A. in 1504 and M.A. in 1506, and in the same year became parish priest of Glarus.

The childhood and youth of Zwingli form a striking contrast to Luther’s early years. He enjoyed the rude plenty of a well-to-do Swiss farmhouse, and led a joyous young life. He has told us how the family gathered in the stube in the long winter evenings, and how his grandmother kept the children entranced with her tales from the Bible and her wonderful stories of the saints. The family were all musical, and they sang patriotic folk-songs, recording in rude verse the glories of Morgarten, Sempach, and the victories over the tyrant of Burgundy. “When I was a child,” says Zwingli, “if anyone said a word against our Fatherland, it put my back up at once.” He was trained to be a patriot. “From boyhood I have shown so great, eager, and sincere a love for our honourable Confederacy that I trained myself diligently in every act and discipline to this end.” His uncle Bartholomew was an admirer of the New Learning, and the boy was nurtured in everything that went to make a Humanist, with all its virtues and failings. He was educated, one might almost say, in the art of enjoying the present without discriminating much between what was good and evil in surrounding society. He was trained to take life as it came. No[Pg 27] great sense of sin troubled his youthful years. He never shuddered at the wrathful face of Jesus, the Judge, gazing at him from blazoned church window. If he was once tempted for a moment to become a monk, it was in order to enjoy musical society, not to quench the sin that was burning him within, and to win the pardon of an angry God. He took his ecclesiastical calling in a careless, professional way. He belonged to a family connected on both sides with the clergy, and he followed the family arrangement. Until far on in life the question of personal piety did not seem to trouble him much, and he never belonged, like Luther and Calvin, to the type of men who are the leaders in a revival of personal religion. He became a Reformer because he was a Humanist, with a liking for Augustinian theology; and his was such a frank, honest nature that he could not see cheats and shams done in the name of religion without denouncing them. To the end of his days he was led more by his intellect than by the promptings of the heart, and in his earlier years he was able to combine a deep sense of responsibility about most things with a careless laxity of moral life.

§ 3. At Glarus and Einsiedeln.

At Glarus he was able to follow his Humanist studies, guided by the influences which had surrounded him during his last year at Basel. Among these his friendship with Thomas Wyttenbach was the most lasting. Wyttenbach taught him, he tells us, to see the evils and abuses of indulgences, the supreme authority of the Bible, that the death of Christ was the sole price of the remission of sins, and that faith is the key which unlocks to the soul the treasury of remission. All these thoughts he had grasped intellectually, and made much of them in his sermons. He prized preaching highly, and resolved to cultivate the gift by training himself on the models of antiquity. He studied the Scriptures, joyfully welcomed the new Greek Testament of Erasmus, published by Froben[Pg 28] of Basel in 1516, when he was at Einsiedeln, and copied out from it the whole of the Pauline Epistles. On the wide margins of his MS. he wrote annotations from Erasmus, Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Jerome. It was his constant companion.

At Glarus he was personally introduced to the system of mercenary war and of pensions in which Switzerland had engaged. He went to Italy twice as regimental chaplain with the Glarus contingent, and was present at the fight at Novara (1513), and on the fatal day at Marignano (1515).

His experiences in these campaigns convinced him of the harm in this system of hiring out the Swiss to fight in others’ quarrels; and when he became convinced of the evils attending it, he denounced the practice. His outspoken language displeased many of his most influential parishioners, especially those who were partisans of the French, and Zwingli resolved to seek some other sphere of work.

The post of people’s priest at Einsiedeln, the famous monastery and pilgrimage resort, was offered to him and accepted (April 14th, 1516). He retained his official connection with Glarus, and employed a curate to do his parish work. His fame as a preacher grew. His friends desired to see him in a larger sphere, and through their exertions he was appointed to be people’s priest in the Minster at Zurich. An objection had been made to his selection on the ground that he had disgracefully wronged the daughter of a citizen of Einsiedeln; and his letter of vindication, while it exonerates him from the particular charge brought against him, shows that he was by no means clear of the laxity in private morals which characterised the Swiss clergy of the time. The stipend attached to his office in the Great Minster was very small, and on this ground Zwingli felt himself justified, unwarrantably, in retaining his papal pension.[14]

[Pg 29]

§ 4. Zwingli in Zurich.

Zurich, when Zwingli went to it, was an imperial city. It had grown up around the Great Minster and the Minster of Our Lady (the Little Minster), and had developed into a trading and manufacturing centre. Its citizens, probably owing to the ecclesiastical origin of the town, had long engaged in quarrels with the clergy, and had generally been successful. They took advantage of the rivalries between the heads of the two Minsters and the Emperor’s bailiff to assert their independence, and had passed laws subordinating the ecclesiastical authorities to the secular rule. The taxes were levied on ecclesiastical as well as on secular property; all the convents were under civic control, and liable to State inspection. The popes, anxious to keep on good terms with the Swiss who furnished soldiers for their wars, had expressly permitted in Zurich what they would not have allowed elsewhere.

The town was ruled by a Council or Senate composed of the Masters of the thirteen “gilds” (twelve trades’ gilds and one gild representing the patriciate). The Burgomaster, with large powers, presided. A great Council of 212 members was called together on special occasions.

The city of Zurich, with its thoroughly democratic constitution, was a very fitting sphere for a man like Zwingli. He had made a name for himself by this time. He had become a powerful preacher, able to stir and move the people by his eloquence; he was in intimate relations with the more distinguished German Humanists, introduced to them by his friend Heinrich Loriti of Glarus (known as Glareanus). He had already become the centre of an admiring circle of young men of liberal views. His place as people’s preacher gave to a man of his popular gifts a commanding position in the most democratic town in Switzerland, where civic and European politics were eagerly discussed. He went there in December 1519.

His work as a Reformer began almost at once. Bernhard Samson or Sanson, a seller of indulgences for[Pg 30] Switzerland, came to Zurich to push his trade. Zwingli had already encountered him at Einsiedeln, and, prompted by the Bishop of Constance and his vicar-general, John Faber, both of whom disliked the indulgences, had preached against him. He now persuaded the Council of Zurich to forbid Samson’s stay in the town.

The papal treatment of the Swiss Reformer was very different from what had been meted out to Luther. Samson received orders from Rome to give no trouble to the Zurichers, and to leave the city rather than quarrel with them. The difference, no doubt, arose from the desire of the Curia to do nothing to hinder the supply of Swiss soldiers for the papal wars; but it was also justified by the contrast in the treatment of the subject by the two Reformers. Luther struck at a great moral abuse, and his strokes cut deeply into the whole round of mediæval religious life, with its doctrine of a special priesthood; he made men see the profanity of any claim made by men to pardon sin, or to interfere between their fellow-men and God. Zwingli took the whole matter more lightly. His position was that of Erasmus and the Humanists. He could laugh at and ridicule the whole proceeding, and thought most of the way in which men allowed themselves to be gulled and duped by clever knaves. He never touched the deep practical religious question which Luther raised, and which made his challenge to the Papacy reverberate over Western Europe.

From the outset Zwingli became a prominent figure in Zurich. He announced to the astonished Chapter of the Great Minster, to whom he owed his appointment, that he meant to give a series of continuous expositions of the Gospel of St. Matthew; that he would not follow the scholastic interpretation of passages in the Gospel, but would endeavour to make Scripture its own interpreter. The populace crowded to hear sermons of this new kind. In order to reach the country people, Zwingli preached in the market-place on the Fridays, and his fame spread throughout the villages. The Franciscans, Dominicans,[Pg 31] and Augustinian Eremites tried to arouse opposition, but unsuccessfully. In his sermons he denounced sins suggested in the passages expounded, and found occasion to deny the doctrines of Purgatory and the Intercession of Saints.

His strongest attack on the existing ecclesiastical system was made in a sermon on tithes, which, to the distress of the Provost of the Minster, he declared to be merely voluntary offerings. (He had been reading Hus’ book On the Church.) He must have carried most of the Chapter with him in his schemes for improvement, for in June 1520 the Breviary used in the Minster was revised by Zwingli and stripped of some blemishes. In the following year (March 1521), some of the Zurichers who were known to be among Zwingli’s warmest admirers, the printer Froschauer among them, asserted their convictions by eating flesh meat publicly in Lent. The affair made a great sensation, and the Reformers were brought before the Council of the city. They justified themselves by declaring that they had only followed the teaching of Zwingli, who had shown them that nothing was binding on the consciences of Christians which was not commanded in the Scriptures. Zwingli at once undertook their defence, and published his sermon, Selection or Liberty concerning Foods; an offence and scandal; whether there is any Authority for forbidding Meat at certain times (April 16th, 1522). He declared that in such matters the responsibility rests with the individual, who may use his freedom provided he avoids a public scandal.

The matter was felt to be serious, and the Council, after full debate, passed an ordinance which was meant to be a compromise. It was to the effect that although the New Testament makes no rule on the subject, fasting in Lent is a very ancient custom, and must not be set aside until dealt with by authority, and that the priests of the three parishes of Zurich were to dissuade the people from all violation of the ordinance.

The Bishop of Constance thereupon interfered, and sent[Pg 32] a Commission, consisting of his suffragan and two others, to investigate and report. They met the Small Council, and in a long address insisted that the Church had authority in such matters, and that the usages it commanded must be obeyed. Zwingli appeared before the Great Council, and, in spite of the efforts of the Commission to keep him silent, argued in defence of liberty of conscience. In the end the Council resolved to abide by its compromise, but asked the Bishop of Constance to hold a Synod of his clergy and come to a resolution upon the matter which would be in accordance with the law of Christ. This resolution of the Council really set aside the episcopal authority, and was a revolt against the Roman Church.

Political affairs favoured the rebellion. At the Swiss Diet held at Luzern (May 1521), the cantons, in spite of the vehement remonstrances of Zurich, made a treaty with France, and allowed the French king to recruit a force of 16,000 Swiss mercenaries. Zurich, true to its protest, refused to allow recruiting within its lands. Its citizens chafed at the loss of money and the separation from the other cantons, and Zwingli became very unpopular. He had now made up his mind that the whole system of pensions and mercenary service was wrong, and had resigned his own papal pension. Just then the Pope asked Zurich, which supplied him with half of his bodyguard, for a force of soldiers to be used in defence of his States, promising that they would not be used to fight the French, among whose troops were many Swiss mercenaries from other cantons. The Council refused. Nevertheless, six thousand Zurichers set out to join the papal army. The Council recalled them, and after some adventures, in one of which they narrowly escaped fighting with the Swiss mercenaries in the service of France, they returned home. This expedition, which brought neither money nor honour to the Zurichers, turned the tide of popular feeling, and the Council forbade all foreign service. When the long connection between Zurich and the Papacy is considered, this decree was virtually a breach between the city and the[Pg 33] Pope. It made the path of the Reformation much easier (Jan. 1522), and Zwingli’s open break with the Papacy was only a matter of time.

It came with the publication of the Archeteles (August 1522), a book hastily written, like all Zwingli’s works, which contained a defence of all that he had done, and a programme, ecclesiastical and political, for the future. The book increased the zeal of Zwingli’s opponents. His sermons were often interrupted by monks and others instigated by them. The burgomaster was compelled to interfere in order to maintain the peace of the town. He issued an order on his own authority, without any appeal to the Bishop of Constance, that the pure Word of God was to be preached. At an assembly of the country clergy of the canton, the same decision was reached; and town and clergy were ready to move along the path of reformation. Shortly before this (July 2nd), Zwingli and ten other priests petitioned the bishop to permit his clergy to contract legal marriages. The document had no practical effect, save to show the gradual advance of ideas. It disclosed the condition of things that sacerdotal celibacy had produced in Switzerland.

§ 5. The Public Disputations.

In these circumstances, the Great Council, now definitely on Zwingli’s side, resolved to hold a Public Disputation to settle the controversies in religion; and Zwingli drafted sixty-seven theses to be discussed. These articles contain a summary of his doctrinal teaching. They insist that the Word of God, the only rule of faith, is to be received upon its own authority and not on that of the Church. They are very full of Christ, the only Saviour, the true Son of God, who has redeemed us from eternal death and reconciled us to God. They attack the Primacy of the Pope, the Mass, the Invocation of the Saints, the thought that men can acquire merit by their good works, Fasts, Pilgrimages, and Purgatory. Of sacerdotal celibacy he[Pg 34] says, “I know of no greater nor graver scandal than that which forbids lawful marriage to priests, and yet permits them on payment of money to have concubines and harlots. Fie for shame![15] The theses consist of single short sentences.

The Disputation, the first of the four which marked the stages of the legal Reformation in Zurich, was held in the Town Hall of the city on January 29th, 1523. More than six hundred representative men gathered to hear it. All the clergy of the canton were present; Faber watched the proceedings on behalf of the Bishop of Constance; many distinguished divines from other parts of Switzerland were present. Faber seems to have contented himself with asking that the Disputation should be delayed until a General Council should meet, and Zwingli replied that competent scholars who were good Christians were as able as a Council to decide what was the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. The result of the Disputation was that the burgomaster declared that Zwingli had justified his teaching, and that he was no heretic. The canton of Zurich practically adopted Zwingli’s views, and the Reformer was encouraged to proceed further.

His course of conduct was eminently prudent. He invariably took pains to educate the people up to further changes by explaining them carefully in sermons, and by publishing and circulating these discourses. He considered that it was his duty to teach, but that it belonged to the civic authorities to make the changes; and he himself made none until they were authorised. He had very strong views against the use of images in churches, and had preached vigorously against their presence. Some of his more ardent hearers began to deface the statues and pictures. The Great Council accordingly took the whole question into consideration, and decided that a[Pg 35] second Public Disputation should be held, at which the matter might be publicly discussed. This discussion (October 1523) lasted for two days. More than eight hundred persons were present, of whom three hundred and fifty were clergy. On the first day, Zwingli set forth his views on the presence of images in churches, and wished their use forbidden. The Council decided that the statues and pictures should be removed from the churches, but without disturbance; the rioters were to be pardoned, but their leader was to be banished from the city for two years. The second day’s subject of conference was the Mass. Zwingli pled that the Mass was not a sacrifice, but a memorial of the death of our Lord, and urged that the abuses surrounding the simple Christian rite should be swept away. The presence of Anabaptists at this conference, and their expressions in debate, warned the magistrates that they must proceed cautiously, and they contented themselves with appointing a commission of eight—two from the Council and six clergymen—to inquire and report. Meanwhile the clergy were to be informed how to act, and the letter of instruction was to be written by Zwingli. The authorities also deputed preachers to go to the outlying parts of the canton and explain the whole matter carefully to the people.

The letter which Zwingli addressed to the clergy of Zurich canton is a brief statement of Reformation principles. It is sometimes called the Instruction. Zwingli entitles it, A brief Christian Introduction which the Honourable Council of the city of Zurich has sent to the pastors and preachers living in its cities, lands, and wherever its authority extends, so that they may henceforth in unison announce and preach the gospel.[16] It describes sin, the law, God’s way of salvation, and then goes on to speak of images. Zwingli’s argument is that the presence of statues and pictures in churches has led to idolatry, and that they ought to be removed. The concluding section discusses the Mass.[Pg 36] Here the author states very briefly what he elaborated afterwards, that the main thought in the Eucharist is not the repetition of the sacrifice of Christ, but its faithful remembrance, and that the Romish doctrine and ceremony of the Mass has been so corrupted to superstitious uses that it ought to be thoroughly reformed.

This letter had a marked effect. The village priests everywhere refused to say Mass according to the old ritual. But there was a section of the people, including members of the chapter of the Minster, who shrunk from changes in this central part of Christian worship. In deference to their feelings, the Council resolved that the Holy Supper should be meanwhile dispensed according to both the Reformed and the mediæval rite; in the one celebration the cup was given to the laity, and in the other it was withheld. No change was made in the liturgy. Then came a third conference, and a fourth; and at last the Mass was abolished. On April 13th, 1525, the first Evangelical communion service took place in the Great Minster, and the mediæval worship was at an end. Other changes had been made. The monasteries had been secularised, and the monks who did not wish to leave their calling were all gathered together in the Franciscan convent. An amicable arrangement was come to about other ecclesiastical foundations, and the money thus secured was mainly devoted to education.

From 1522, Zwingli had been living in “clerical” marriage with Anna Reinhard, the widow of a wealthy Zurich burgher. She was called his wife by his friends, although no legal marriage ceremony had been performed. It is perhaps difficult for us to judge the man and the times. The so-called “clerical” marriages were universal in Switzerland. Man and woman took each other for husband and wife, and were faithful. There was no public ceremony. All questions of marriage, divorce, succession, and so forth, were then adjudicated in the ecclesiastical and not in the civil courts; and as the Canon Law had insisted that no clergyman could marry, all[Pg 37] such “clerical” marriages were simple concubinage in the eye of the law, and the children were illegitimate. The offence against the vow of chastity was condoned by a fine paid to the bishop. As early as 1523, William Röubli, a Zurich priest, went through a public form of marriage, and his example was followed by others; but it may be questioned whether these marriages were recognised to be legal until Zurich passed its own laws about matrimonial cases in 1525.

Luther in his pure-hearted and solemnly sympathetic way had referred to these clerical marriages in his Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1520).

“We see,” he says, “how the priesthood is fallen, and how many a poor priest is encumbered with a woman and children, and burdened in his conscience, and no man does anything to help him, though he might very well be helped.... I will not conceal my honest counsel, nor withhold comfort from that unhappy crowd, who now live in trouble with wife and children, and remain in shame, with a heavy conscience, hearing their wife called a priest’s harlot and the children bastards.... I say that these two (who are minded in their hearts to live together always in conjugal fidelity) are surely married before God.”

He had never succumbed to the temptations of the flesh, and had kept his body and soul pure; and for that very reason he could sympathise with and help by his sympathy those who had fallen. Zwingli, on the other hand, had deliberately contracted this illicit alliance after he had committed himself to the work of a Reformer. The action remains a permanent blot on his character, and places him on a different level from Luther and from Calvin. It has been already noted that Zwingli had always an intellectual rather than a spiritual appreciation of the need of reformation,—that he was much more of a Humanist than either Luther or Calvin,—but what is remarkable is that we have distinct evidence that the need of personal piety had impressed itself on him during these years, and that he passed through a religious crisis, slight compared with that[Pg 38] of Luther, but real so far as it went. He fell ill of the plague (Sept.-Nov. 1519), and the vision of death and recovery drew from him some hymns of resignation and thanksgiving.[17] The death of his brother Andrew (Nov. 1520) seems to have been the real turning-point in his inward spiritual experience, and his letters and writings are evidence of its reality and permanence. Perhaps the judgment which a contemporary and friend, Martin Bucer, passed ought to content us:

“When I read your letter to Capito, that you had made public announcement of your marriage, I was almost beside myself in my satisfaction. For it was the one thing I desired for you.... I never believed you were unmarried after the time when you indicated to the Bishop of Constance in that tract that you desired this gift. But as I considered the fact that you were thought to be a fornicator by some, and by others held to have little faith in Christ, I could not understand why you concealed it so long, and that the fact was not declared openly, and with candour and diligence. I could not doubt that you were led into this course by considerations which could not be put aside by a conscientious man. However that may be, I triumph in the fact that now you have come up in all things to the apostolic definition.”[18]

The Reformation was spreading beyond Zurich. Evangelical preachers had arisen in many of the other cantons, and were gaining adherents.

§ 6. The Reformation outside Zurich.

Basel, the seat of a famous university and a centre of German Humanism, contained many scholars who had come under the influence of Thomas Wyttenbach, Zwingli’s teacher. Wolfgang Fabricius Capito, a disciple of Erasmus, a learned student of the Scriptures, had begun as early as[Pg 39] 1512 to show how the ceremonies and many of the usages of the Church had no authority from the Bible. He worked in Basel from 1512 to 1520. Johannes Oecolampadius (Hussgen or Heusgen), who had been one of Luther’s supporters in 1521, came to Basel in 1522 as Lecturer on the Holy Scriptures in the University. His lectures and his sermons to the townspeople caused such a movement that the bishop forbade their delivery. The citizens asked for a Public Disputation. Two held in the month of December 1524—the one conducted by a priest of the name of Stör against clerical celibacy, and the other led by William Farel[19]—raised the courage of the[Pg 40] Evangelical party. In February 1525 the Council of the town installed Oecolampadius as the preacher in St. Martin’s Church, and authorised him to make such changes as the Word of God demanded. This was the beginning. Oecolampadius became a firm friend of Zwingli’s, and they worked together.

In Bern also the Reformation made progress. Berthold Haller[20] and Sebastian Meyer[21] preached the Gospel with courage for several years, and were upheld by the painter Nicolaus Manuel, who had great influence with the citizens. The Council decided to permit freedom in preaching, if in accordance with the Word of God; but they refused to permit innovations in worship or ceremonies; and they forbade the introduction of heretical books into the town. The numbers of the Evangelical party increased rapidly, and in the beginning of 1527 they had a majority in both the great and the small Councils. It was then decided to have a Public Disputation.

The occasion was one of the most momentous in the history of the Reformation in Switzerland. Hitherto Zurich had stood alone; if Bern joined, the two most[Pg 41] powerful cantons in Switzerland would be able to hold their own. There was need for union. The Forest cantons had been uttering threats, and Zwingli’s life was not secure. Bern was fully alive to the importance of the proposed discussion, and was resolved to make it as imposing as possible, and that the disputants on both sides should receive fair play and feel themselves in perfect freedom and safety. They sent special invitations to the four bishops whose dioceses entered their territories—the Bishops of Constance, Basel, Valais, and Lausanne; and they did their best to assemble a sufficient number of learned Romanist theologians.[22] They promised not only safe-conducts, but the escort of a herald to and from the canton.[23] It soon became evident, however, that the Romanist partisans had no great desire to come to the Disputation. None of the bishops invited appears to have even thought of being present save the Bishop of Lausanne, and he found reasons for declining.[24] The Disputation was viewed with anxiety by the Romanist partisans, and in a letter sent from Speyer (December 28th) the Emperor Charles V. strongly remonstrated with the magistrates of Bern.[25] The Bernese were not to be intimidated. They issued their invitations, and made every arrangement to give éclat to the great Disputation.[26] Berthold Haller, with the help of Zwingli, had drafted[Pg 42] ten Theses, which were to be defended by himself and his colleague, Francis Kolb; Zwingli had translated them into Latin and Farel into French for the benefit of strangers; and they were sent out with the invitations. They were—(1) The Holy Catholic Church, of which Christ is the only Head, is born of the Word of God, abides therein, and does not hear the voice of a stranger.[27] (2) The Church of Christ makes no law nor statute apart from the Word of God, and consequently those human ordinances which are called the commandments of the Church do not bind our consciences unless they are founded on the Word of God and agreeable thereto. (3) Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and price for the sins of the whole world; and all who think they can win salvation in any other way, or have other satisfaction for their sins, renounce Christ. (4) It is impossible to prove from Scripture that the Body and Blood of Christ are corporeally present in the bread of the Holy Supper. (5) The Mass, in which Christ is offered to God the Father for the sins of the living and the dead, is contrary to the Holy Scripture, is a gross affront to the Passion and Death of Christ, and is therefore an abomination before God. (6) Since Christ alone died for us, and since He is the only mediator and intercessor between God and believers, He only ought to be invoked; and all other mediators and advocates ought to be rejected, since they have no warrant in the Holy Scripture of the Bible. (7) There is no trace of Purgatory after death in the Bible; and therefore all services for the dead, such as vigils, Masses, and the like, are vain things. (8) To make pictures and adore them is contrary to the Old and New Testament, and they ought to be destroyed where there is the chance that they may be adored. (9) Marriage is not forbidden to any estate by the Holy Scripture, but wantonness and fornication are forbidden to everyone in whatever estate he may be. (10) The[Pg 43] fornicator is truly excommunicated by the Holy Scripture, and therefore wantonness and fornication are much more scandalous among the clergy than in the other estate.

These Theses represent in succinct fashion the preaching in the Reformed Church in Switzerland, and the fourth states in its earliest form what grew to be the Zwinglian doctrine of the Holy Supper.[28]

The Council of Bern had sent invitations to be present to the leading preachers in the Evangelical cities of Germany and Switzerland. Bucer and Capito came from Strassburg, Jacob Augsburger from Mühlhausen, Ambrose Blaarer from Constance, Sebastian Wagner,[29] surnamed Hofmeister (Œconomus), from Schaffhausen, Oecolampadius from Basel, and many others.[30] Zwingli’s arrival was eagerly expected. The Zurichers were resolved not to trust their leader away from the city without a strong guard, and sent him to Bern with an escort of three hundred men-at-arms. A great crowd of citizens and strangers filled the arcades which line both sides of the main street, and every window in the many-storied houses had its sightseers to watch the Zurichers tramping up from gate to cathedral with their pastor safe in the centre of the troop.

Romanist theologians did not muster in anything like the same strength. The men of the four Forest cantons stood sullenly aloof; the authorities in French-speaking Switzerland had no liking for the Disputation, and the strongly Romanist canton of Freiburg did its best to prevent the theologians of Neuchâtel, Morat, and Grandson from appearing at Bern; but in spite of the hindrances[Pg 44] placed in their way no less than three hundred and fifty ecclesiastics gathered to the Disputation. The conference was opened on January 15th (le dimenche après la feste de la circuncision),[31] and was continued in German till the 24th; on the 25th a second discussion, lasting two days, was begun, for the benefit of strangers, in Latin. “When la Dispute des Welches (strangers) was opened, a stranger doctor (of Paris) came forward along with some priests speaking the same language as himself. He attacked the Ten Theses, and William Farel, preacher at Aigle, answered him.”[32] The more distinguished Romanist theologians who were present seem to have refrained from taking part in the discussion. The Bishop of Lausanne defended their silence on the grounds that they objected to discuss such weighty matters in the vulgar tongue; that no opportunity was given to them to speak in Latin; and that when the Emperor had interdicted the Disputation they were told by the authorities of Bern that they might leave the city if it so pleased them.[33]

The result of the Disputation was that the authorities and citizens of Bern were confirmed in their resolve to adopt the Reformation. The Disputation ended on the 26th of January (1528), and on the 7th of February the Mass was declared to be abolished, and a sermon took its place; images were removed from the churches; the monasteries were secularised, and the funds were used partly for education and partly to make up for the French and papal pensions, which were now definitely renounced, and declared to be illegal.

The two sermons which Zwingli preached in the cathedral during the Disputation made a powerful impression on the people of Bern. It was after one of them that M. de Watteville, the Advoyer or President of the Republic, declared himself to be convinced of the truth of the Evangelical faith, and with his whole family accepted the Reformation. His eldest son, a clergyman whose[Pg 45] family interest had procured for him no less than thirteen benefices, and who, it was commonly supposed, would be the next Bishop of Lausanne, renounced them all to live the life of a simple country gentleman.[34]

The republic of Bern for long regarded the Ten Theses as the charter of its religious faith. Not content with declaring the Reformation legally established within the city, the authorities of Bern sent despatches or delegates to all the cities and lands under their control, informing them of what they had done, and inviting them to follow their example. They insisted that preachers of the Gospel must be at liberty to deliver their message without interruption throughout all their territories. They promised that they would maintain the liberty of both cults until means had been taken to find out which the majority of the inhabitants preferred, and that the decision would be taken by vote in presence of commissioners sent down from Bern.[35] When the majority of[Pg 46] the parishioners accepted the Reformation, the new doctrinal standard was the Ten Theses, and the Council of Bern sent directions for the method of dispensing the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and for the solemnisation of marriages. The whole of the German-speaking portion of the canton proper and its dependences seem to have accepted the Reformation at once. Bern had, besides, some French-speaking districts under its own exclusive control, and others over which it ruled along with Freiburg. The progress of the new doctrines was slower in these district, but it may be said that they had all embraced the Reformation before the end of 1530. The history of the Reformation in French-speaking Switzerland belongs, however, to the next chapter, and the efforts of Bern to evangelise its subjects in these districts will be described there.

Not content with this, the Council of Bern constituted itself the patron and protector of persecuted Protestants outside their own lands, and the evangelisation of western Switzerland owed almost everything to its fostering care.[36]

Thus Bern in the west and Zurich in the east stood forth side by side pledged to the Reformation.

The cantonal authorities of Appenzell had declared, as early as 1524, that Gospel preaching was to have free course within their territories. Thomas Wyttenbach had been people’s priest in Biel from 1507, and had leavened the town with his Evangelical preaching. In 1524 he courageously married. The ecclesiastical authorities were strong enough to get him deposed; but a year or two later the citizens compelled the cantonal Council to permit the free preaching of the Gospel. Sebastian Hofmeister preached in Schaffhausen, and induced its people to declare[Pg 47] for the Reformation. St. Gallen was evangelised by the Humanist Joachim von Watt (Vadianus), and by John Kessler, who had studied at Wittenberg. In German Switzerland only Luzern and the Forest cantons remained completely and immovably attached to the Roman Church, and refused to tolerate any Evangelical preaching within their borders. The Swiss Confederacy was divided ecclesiastically into two opposite camps.

The strong religious differences could not but affect the political cohesion of the Swiss Confederacy, linked together as it was by ties comparatively slight. The wonder is that they did not altogether destroy it.

As early as 1522, the Bishop of Constance had asked the Swiss Federal Diet at their meeting at Baden to prohibit the preaching of the Reformation doctrines within the Federation; and the next year the Diet, which met again at Baden (Sept. 1523), issued a declaration that all who practised religious innovations were worthy of punishment. The deputies from Luzern were especially active in inducing the Diet to pass this resolution. The attempt to use the Federation for the purpose of religious persecution, therefore, first came from the Romanist side. Nor did they content themselves with declarations in the Diet. The Romanist canton of Unterwalden, being informed that some of the peasants in the Bernese Oberland had complained that the Reformation had been forced upon them, crossed the Bernese frontier and committed an act of war. Bern smarted under the insult.

These endeavours on the part of his opponents led Zwingli to meditate on plans for leaguing together for the purposes of mutual defence all who had accepted the Reformation. His plans from the first went beyond the Swiss Confederacy.

The imperial city of Constance, the seat of the diocese which claimed ecclesiastical authority over Zurich, had been mightily moved by the preaching of Ambrose Blaarer, and had come over to the Protestant faith. The bishop retired to Meersburg and his chapter to Ueberlingen.[Pg 48] The city feared the attack of Austria, and craved protection from the Swiss Protestants. Its alliance was valuable to them, for, along with Lindau, it commanded the whole Lake of Constance. Zurich thereupon asked that Constance be admitted within the Swiss Federation. This was refused by the Federal Diet (Nov. 1527). Zurich then entered into a Christian Civic League (das christliche Bürgerrecht) with Constance,—a league based on their common religious beliefs,—promising to defend each other if attacked. The example once set was soon followed, and the two following years saw the League increasing rapidly. Bern joined in June 1528, St. Gallen in Nov. 1528, Biel in January, Mühlhausen in February, Basel in March, and Schaffhausen in October, 1529. Strassburg was admitted in January 1530. Even Hesse and Würtemburg washed to join. Bern and Zurich came to an agreement that Evangelical preaching must be allowed in the Common Lands, and that no one was to be punished for his religious opinions.

The combination looked so threatening and contained such possibilities that Ferdinand of Austria proposed a counter-league among the Romanist cantons; and a Christian Union, in which Luzern, Zug, Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden allied themselves with the Duchy of Austria, was founded in 1529, having for its professed objects the preservation of the mediæval religion, with some reforms carried out under the guidance of the ecclesiastical authorities. The Confederates pledged themselves to secure for each other the right to punish heretics. This League had also its possibilities of extension. It was thought that Bavaria and Salzburg might join. The canton of the Valais had already leagued itself with Savoy against Geneva, and brought its ally within the Christian Union. The very formation of the Leagues threatened war, and occasions of hostilities were not lacking. Austria was eager to attack Constance, and Bern longed to punish Unterwalden for its unprovoked invasion of Bernese territory. The condition and protection of the Evangelical population in the Common Lands and in the Free Bailiwicks demanded[Pg 49] settlement, more especially as the Romanist cantons had promised to support each other in asserting their right to punish heretics. War seemed to be inevitable. Schaffhausen, Appenzell, and the Graubünden endeavoured to mediate; but as neither Zurich nor Bern would listen to any proposals which did not include the right of free preaching, their efforts were in vain. The situation, difficult enough, was made worse by the action of the canton of Schwyz, which, having caught a Zurich pastor named Kaiser on its territory, had him condemned and burnt as a heretic. This was the signal for war. It was agreed that the Zurichers should attack the Romanist cantons, while Bern defended the Common Lands, and, if need be, the territory of her sister canton. The plan of campaign was drafted by Zwingli himself, who also laid down the conditions of peace. His proposals were, that the Forest cantons must allow the free preaching of the Gospel within their lands; that they were to forswear pensions from any external Power, and that all who received them should be punished both corporeally and by fine; that the alliance with Austria should be given up; and that a war indemnity should be paid to Zurich and to Bern. While the armies were facing each other the Zurichers received a strong appeal from Hans Oebli, the Landamann of Glarus, to listen to the proposals of the enemy. The common soldiers disliked the internecine strife. They looked upon each other as brothers, and the outposts of both armies were fraternising. In these circumstances the Zurich army (for it was the Swiss custom that the armies on the field concluded treaties) accepted the terms of peace offered by their opponents. The treaty is known as the First Peace of Kappel (June 1529). It provided that the alliance between Austria and the Romanist cantons should be dissolved, and the treaties “pierced and slit” (the parchments were actually cut in pieces by the dagger in sight of all); that in the Common Lands no one was to be persecuted for his religious opinions; that the majority should decide whether the old faith was to be[Pg 50] retained or not, and that bailiffs of moderate opinions should be sent to rule them; that neither party should attack the other because of religion; that a war indemnity should be paid by the Romanist cantons to Zurich and Bern (the amount was fixed at 2500 Sonnenkronen); and that the abolition of foreign pensions and mercenary service should be recommended to Luzern and the Forest cantons. The treaty contained the seeds of future war; for the Zurichers believed that they had secured the right of free preaching within the Romanist cantons, while these cantons believed that they had been left to regulate their own internal economy as they pleased. Zwingli would have preferred a settlement after war, and the future justified his apprehensions.

Three months after the First Peace of Kappel, Zwingli was summoned to the Marburg Colloquy, and the Reformation in Switzerland became inevitably connected with the wider sphere of German ecclesiastical politics. It may be well, however, to reserve this until later, and finish the internal history of the Swiss movement.

The First Peace of Kappel was only a truce, and left both parties irritated with each other. The friction was increased when the Protestants discovered that the Romanist cantons would not admit free preaching within their territories. They also shrewdly suspected that, despite the tearing and burning of the documents, the understanding with Austria was still maintained. An event occurred which seemed to justify their suspicions. An Italian condottiere, Giovanni Giacomo de’ Medici, had seized and held (1525-31) the strong position called the Rocco di Musso on the Lake of Como, and from this stronghold he dominated the whole lake. This ruffian had murdered Martin Paul and his son, envoys from the Graubünden to Milan, and had crossed the lake and harried the fertile valley of the Adda, known as the Val Tellina, which was then within the territories of the Graubünden (Grisons). The Swiss Confederacy were bound to defend their neighbours; but when appeal[Pg 51] was made, the Romanist cantons refused, and the hand of Austria was seen behind the refusal. Besides, at the Federal Diets the Romanist cantons had refused to listen to any complaints of persecutions for religion within their lands. At a meeting between Zurich and her allies, it was resolved that the Romanist cantons should be compelled to abolish the system of foreign pensions, and permit free preaching within their territories. Zurich was for open war, but the advice of Bern prevailed. It was resolved that if the Romanist cantons would not agree to these proposals, Zurich and her allies should prevent wine, wheat, salt, and iron from passing through their territories to the Forest cantons. The result was that the Forest cantons declared war, invaded Zurich while that canton was unprepared, fought and won the battle of Kappel, at which Zwingli was slain. He had accompanied the little army of Zurich as its chaplain. The victory of the Romanists produced a Second Peace of Kappel which reversed the conditions of the first. War indemnities were exacted from most of the Protestant cantons. It was settled that each canton was to be left free to manage its own religious affairs; that the Christian Civic League was to be dissolved; and a number of particular provisions were made which practically secured the rights of Romanist without corresponding advantages to Protestant minorities. The territories of Zurich were left untouched, but the city was compelled by the charter of Kappel to grant rights to her rural districts. She bound herself to consult them in all important matters, and particularly not to make war or peace without their consent.

As a result of this ruinous defeat, and of the death of Zwingli which accompanied it, Zurich lost her place as the leading Protestant canton, and the guidance of the Reformation movement fell more and more into the hands of Geneva, which was an ally but not a member of the Confederation. Another and more important permanent result of this Second Peace of Kappel was that it was[Pg 52] seen in Switzerland as in Germany that while the Reformation could not be destroyed, it could not win for itself the whole country, and that Roman Catholics and Protestants must divide the cantons and endeavour to live peaceably side by side.

The history of the Reformation in Switzerland after the death of Zwingli is so linked with the wider history of the movement in Germany and in Geneva, that it can scarcely be spoken about separately. It is also intimately related to the differences which separated Zwingli from Luther in the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

§ 7. The Sacramental Controversy.[37]

In the Bern Disputation of 1528, the fourth thesis said “it cannot be proved from the Scripture that the Body and Blood of Christ are substantially and corporeally received in the Eucharist,”[38] and the statement became a distinctive watchword of the early Swiss Reformation. This thesis, a negative one, was perhaps the earliest official statement of a bold attempt to get rid of the priestly miracle in the Mass, which was the strongest theoretical and practical obstacle to the acceptance of the fundamental Protestant thought of the spiritual priesthood of all believers. The question had been seriously exercising the attention of all the leading theologians of the Reformation, and this very trenchant way of dismissing it had suggested itself simultaneously to theologians in the Low Countries, in the district of the Upper Rhine,[Pg 53] and in many of the imperial cities. It had been proclaimed in all its naked simplicity by Andrew Bodenstein of Carlstadt, the theologian of the German democracy; but it was Zwingli who worked at the subject carefully, and who had produced a reasonable if somewhat defective theory based on a rather shallow exegesis, in which the words of our Lord, “This is My Body,” were declared to mean nothing but “This signifies My Body.” Luther, always disposed to think harshly of anything that came from Carlstadt, inclined to exaggerate his influence with the German Protestant democracy, believing with his whole heart that in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper the elements Bread and Wine were more than the bare signs of the Body and Blood of the Lord, was vehemently moved to find such views concerning a central doctrine of Christianity spreading through his beloved Germany. He never paused to ask whether the opinions he saw adopted with eagerness in most of the imperial cities were really different from those of Carlstadt (for that is one of the sad facts in this deplorable controversy). He simply denounced them, and stormed against Zwingli, whose name was spread abroad as their author and propagator. Nürnberg was almost the only great city that remained faithful to him. It was the only city also which was governed by the ancient patriciate, and in which the democracy had little or no power. When van Hoen and Karl Stadt in the Netherlands, Hedio at Mainz, Conrad Sam at Ulm, when the preachers of Augsburg, Strassburg, Frankfurt, Reutlingen, and other cities accepted and taught Zwingli’s doctrine of the Eucharist, Luther and his immediate circle saw a great deal more than a simple division in doctrine. It was something more than the meaning of the Holy Supper or the exegesis of a difficult text which rent Protestantism in two, and made Luther and Zwingli appear as the leaders of opposing parties in a movement where union was a supreme necessity after the decision at Speyer in 1529. The theological question was complicated by[Pg 54] social and political ideas, which, if not acknowledged openly, were at least in the minds of the leaders who took sides in the dispute. On the one side were men whom Luther held to be in part responsible for the Peasants’ War, who were the acknowledged leaders of that democracy which he had learnt to distrust if not to fear, who still wished to link the Reformation to vast political schemes, all of which tended to weaken the imperial power by means of French and other alliances, and who only added to their other iniquities a theological theory which, he honestly believed, would take away from believers their comforting assurance of union with their Lord in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper.

The real theological difference after all did not amount to so much as is generally said. Zwingli’s doctrine of the Holy Supper was not the crude theory of Carlstadt; and Luther might have seen this if he had only fairly examined it. The opposed views were, in fact, complementary, and the pronounced ideas of each were implicitly, though not expressly, held by the other. Luther and Zwingli approached the subject from two different points of view, and in debate they neither understood nor were exactly facing each other.

The whole Christian Church, during all the centuries, has found three great ideas embodied in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper, and all three have express reference to the death of the Saviour on the Cross for His people. The thoughts are Proclamation, Commemoration, and Participation or Communion. In the Supper, believers proclaim the death and what it means; they commemorate the Sacrifice; and they partake in or have communion with the crucified Christ, who is also the Risen Saviour. The mediæval Church had insisted that this sacramental union with Christ was in the hands of the priesthood to give or to withhold. Duly ordained priests, and they alone, could bring the worshippers into such a relation with Christ as would make the Sacramental participation a possible thing: and out of this claim had grown the[Pg 55] mediæval theory of Transubstantiation. It had also divided the Sacrament of the Supper into two distinct rites (the phrase is not too strong)—the Mass and the Eucharist—the one connecting itself instinctively with the commemoration and the other with the participation.

Protestants united in denying the special priestly miracle needed to bring Christ and His people together in the Sacrament; but it is easy to see that they might approach the subject by the two separate paths of Mass or Eucharist. Zwingli took the one road and Luther happened on the other.

Zwingli believed that the mediæval Church had displaced the scriptural thought of commemoration, and put the non-scriptural idea of repetition in its place. For the mediæval priest claimed that in virtue of the miraculous power given in ordination, he could really change the bread and wine into the actual physical Body of Jesus, and, when this was done, that he could reproduce over again the agony of the Cross by crushing it with his teeth. This idea seemed to Zwingli to be utterly profane; it dishonoured the One great Sacrifice; it was unscriptural; it depended on a priestly gift of working a miracle which did not exist. Then he believed that the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel forbade all thought that spiritual benefits could come from a mere partaking with the mouth. It was the atonement worked out by Christ’s death that was appropriated and commemorated in the Holy Supper; and the atonement is always received by faith. Thus the two principal thoughts in the theory of Zwingli are, that the mediæval doctrine must be purified by changing the idea of repetition of the death of Christ for commemoration of that death, and the thought of manducating with the teeth for that of faith which is the faculty by which spiritual benefits are received. But Zwingli believed that a living faith always brought with it the presence of Christ, for there can be no true faith without actual spiritual contact with the Saviour. Therefore Zwingli held that there was a Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Supper; but a[Pg 56] spiritual presence brought by the faith of the believing communicant and not by the elements of Bread and Wine, which were only the signs representing a Body which was corporeally absent. The defect of this theory is that it does not make the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament in any way depend on the ordinance; there is no sacramental presence other than what there is in any act of faith. It was not until Zwingli had elaborated his theory that he sought for and found an explanation of the words of our Lord, and taught that This is My Body, must mean This signifies My Body. His theory was entirely different from that of Carlstadt, with which Luther always identified it.

Luther approached the whole subject by a different path. What repelled him in the mediæval doctrine of the Holy Supper was the way in which he believed it to trample on the spiritual priesthood of all believers. He protested against Transubstantiation and private Masses, because they were the most flagrant instances of that contempt. When he first preached on the subject (1519) it was to demand the “cup” for the laity, and he makes use of an expression in his sermon which reveals how his thoughts were tending. He says that in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper “the communicant is so united to Christ and His saints, that Christ’s life and sufferings and the lives and sufferings of the saints become his.” No one held more strongly than Luther that the Atonement was made by our Lord, and by Him alone. Therefore he cannot be thinking of the Atonement when he speaks of union with the lives and the sufferings of the saints. He believes that the main thing in the Sacrament is that it gives such a companionship with Jesus as His disciples and saints have had. There was, of course, a reference to the death of Christ and to the Atonement, for apart from that death no companionship is possible; but the reference is indirect, and through the thought of the fellowship. In the Sacrament we touch Christ as His disciples might have touched Him when He lived on earth, and as His glorified saints touch Him now. This reference, therefore, clearly shows[Pg 57] that Luther saw in the Sacrament of the Supper the presence of the glorified Body of our Lord, and that the primary use of the Sacrament was to bring the communicant into contact with that glorified Body. This required a presence (and Luther thought a presence extended in space) of the glorified Body of Christ in the Sacrament in order that the communicant might be in actual contact with it. But communion with the Living Christ implies the appropriation of the death of Christ, and of the Atonement won by His death. Thus the reference to the Crucified Christ which Zwingli reaches directly, Luther attains indirectly; and the reference to the Living Risen Christ which Zwingli reaches indirectly, Luther attains directly. Luther avoided the need of a priestly miracle to bring the Body extended in space into immediate connection with the elements Bread and Wine, by introducing a scholastic theory of what is meant by presence in Space. A body may be present in Space, said the Schoolmen, in two ways: it may be present in such a way that it excludes from the space it occupies any other body, or it may be present occupying the same space with another body. The Glorified Body of Christ can be present in the latter manner. It was so when our Lord after His Resurrection appeared suddenly among His disciples in a room when the doors were shut; for then at some moment of time it must have occupied the same space as a portion of the walls or of the door. Christ’s glorified Body can therefore be naturally in the elements without any special miracle, for it is ubiquitous. It is in the table at which I write, said Luther; in the stone which I hurl through the air. It is in the elements in the Holy Supper in a perfectly natural way, and needs no priestly miracle to bring it there. This natural presence of the Body of Christ in the elements in the Supper is changed into a Sacramental Presence by the promise of God, which is attached to the reverent and believing partaking of the Holy Supper.

These were the two theories which ostensibly divided[Pg 58] the Protestants in 1529 into two parties, the one of which was led by Zwingli and the other by Luther. They were not so antagonistic that they could not be reconciled. Each theologian held implicitly what the other declared explicitly. Zwingli placed the relation to the Death of Christ in the foreground, but implicitly admitted the relation to the Risen Christ—going back to the view held in the Early Church. Luther put fellowship with the Risen Christ in the foreground, but admitted the reference to the Crucified Christ—accepting the mediæval way of looking at the matter. The one had recourse to a very shallow exegesis to help him, and the other to a scholastic theory of space; and naturally, but unfortunately, when controversy arose, the disputant attacked the weakest part of his opponent’s theory—Luther, Zwingli’s exegesis; and Zwingli, Luther’s scholastic theory of spatial presence.

The attempt to bring about an understanding between Luther and Zwingli, made by Philip of Hesse, the confidant of Zwingli, and in sympathy with the Swiss Reformer’s schemes of political combination, has already been mentioned, and its failure related.[39] It need not be discussed again. But for the history of the Reformation in Switzerland it is necessary to say something about the further progress of this Sacramental controversy. Calvin gradually won over the Swiss Protestants to his views; and his theory, which at one time seemed about to unite the divided Protestants, must be alluded to.

Calvin began his study of the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Holy Supper independently of both Luther and Zwingli. His position as the theologian of Switzerland, and his friendship with his colleague William Farel, who was a Zwinglian, made him adapt his theory to Zwinglian language; but he borrowed nothing from the Reformer of Zurich. He was quite willing to accept Zwingli’s exegesis so far as the words went; but he gave another and altogether different meaning to Zwingli’s phrase, This signifies My Body. He was willing to call[Pg 59] the “elements” signs of the Body and Blood of the Lord; but while Zwingli called them signs which represent (signa representativa) what was absent, Calvin insisted on calling them signs which exhibit (signa exhibitiva) what was present—a distinction which is continually forgotten in describing his relation to the theories of Zwingli, and one which enabled him to convince Luther that he held that there was a Real Presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper. To describe minutely Calvin’s doctrine of the Holy Supper would require more space than can be given here, and a brief statement of the central thoughts is alone possible. His aim in common with all the Reformers was to construct a doctrine of the Sacrament of the Supper which would be at once scriptural, free from superstition and from the crass materialist associations which had gathered round the theory of transubstantiation, and which would clearly conserve the great Reformation proclamation of the spiritual priesthood of all believers. He went back to the mediæval idea of transubstantiation, and asked whether it gave a true conception of what was meant by substance. He decided that it did not, and believed that the root thought in substance was not dimensions in space, but power. The substance of a body consists in its power, active and passive, and the presence of the substance of anything consists in the immediate application of that power.[40] When Luther and Zwingli had spoken of the substance of the Body of Christ, they had always in their mind the thought of something extended in space; and the one affirmed while the other denied that this Body of Christ, something extended in space, could be and was present in the Sacrament of the Supper. Calvin’s conception of substance enabled him to say that wherever anything acts there it is. He denied the crude “substantial” presence which Luther insisted on; and in this he sided with Zwingli. But he affirmed a real because active presence, and in this he sided with Luther.

Calvin’s view had been accepted definitely by[Pg 60] Melanchthon, and somewhat indefinitely by Luther. The imperial cities, led by Strassburg, which was under the influence of Bucer, who had thought out for himself a doctrine not unlike that of Calvin, had been included in the Wittenberg Concord (May 1536); but Luther would have nothing to do with the Swiss. As it was vain to hope that Switzerland would be included in any Lutheran alliance, Calvin set himself to produce dogmatic harmony in Switzerland. In conjunction with Bullinger, Zwingli’s son-in-law and successor in Zurich, he drafted the Consensus of Zurich (Consensus Tigurinus) in 1549.[41] The document is Calvinist in theology and largely Zwinglian in language. It was accepted with some difficulty in Basel and in Bern, and heartily in Biel, Schaffhausen, Mühlhausen, and St. Gallen. It ended dogmatic disputes in Protestant Switzerland, which was thus united under the one creed.

This does not mean any increase of Protestantism within Switzerland. The Romanist cantons drew more closely together. Cardinal Carlo Borromeo of Milan took a deep interest in the Counter-Reformation in Switzerland. He introduced the Jesuits into Luzern and the Forest cantons, and after his death these cantons formed a league which included Luzern, Uri, Schwyz, Zug, Unterwalden, Freiburg, and Solothurn (1586). This League (the Borromean League) pledged its members to maintain the Roman Catholic faith. The lines of demarcation between Protestant and Romanist cantons in Switzerland practically survive to the present day.

[Pg 61]



§ 1. Geneva.

Geneva, which was to be the citadel of the Reformed faith in Europe, had a history which prepared it for the part it was destined to play.

The ancient constitution of the town, solemnly promulgated in 1387, recognised three different authorities within its walls: the Bishop, who was the sovereign or “Prince” of the city; the Count, who had possession of the citadel; and the Free Burghers. The first act of the[Pg 62] Bishop on his nomination was to go to the Church of St. Peter and swear on the Missal that he would maintain the civic rights. The House of Savoy had succeeded to the countship of Geneva, and they were represented within the town by a viceroy, who was called the Count or Vidomne. He was the supreme justiciary. The citizens were democratically organised. They met once a year in a recognised civic assembly to elect four Syndics to be their rulers and representatives. It was the Syndics who in their official capacity heard the oaths of the Bishop and of the Vidomne to uphold the rights and privileges of the town. They kept order within the walls from sunrise to sunset.

These three separate authorities were frequently in conflict, and in the triangular duel the citizens and the Bishop were generally in alliance against the House of Savoy and its viceroy. The consequence was that few mediæval cities under ecclesiastical rule were more loyal than Geneva was to its Bishop, so long as he respected the people’s rights and stood by them against their feudal lords when they attempted oppression.

In the years succeeding 1444 the hereditary loyalty to their bishops had to stand severe tests. Count Amadeus VIII. of Savoy, one of the most remarkable men of the fifteenth century,—he ascended the papal throne and resigned the Pontificate to become a hermit,—used his pontifical power to possess himself of the bishopric. From that date onwards the Bishop of Geneva was almost always a member of the House of Savoy, and the rights of the citizens were for the most part disregarded. The bishopric became an appanage of Savoy, and boys (one of ten years of age, another of seventeen) and bastards ruled from the episcopal chair.

After long endurance a party formed itself among the townspeople vowed to restore the old rights of the city. They called themselves, or were named by others, the Eidguenots (Eidgenossen); while the partisans of the Bishop and of the House of Savoy were termed Mamelukes, because, it was said, they had forsaken Christianity.

[Pg 63]

In their difficulties the Genevans turned to the Swiss cantons nearest them and asked to be allied with Freiburg and Bern. Freiburg consented, and an alliance was made in 1519; but Bern, an aristocratic republic, was unwilling to meddle in the struggle of a democracy in a town outside the Swiss Confederacy. The citizens of Bern, more sympathetic than their rulers, compelled them to make alliance with Geneva in 1526,—very half-heartedly on the part of the Bernese Council.

The Swiss cantons, Bern especially, could not in their own interest see the patriotic party in Geneva wholly crushed, and the “gate of Western Switzerland” left completely in possession of the House of Savoy. Therefore, when the Bishop assembled an army for the purpose of effectually crushing all opposition within the town, Bern and Freiburg collected their forces and routed the troops of Savoy. But the allies, instead of using to the full the advantage they had gained, were content with a compromise by which the Bishop remained the lord of Geneva, while the rights of the Vidomne were greatly curtailed, and the privileges of the townsmen were to be respected (Oct. 19th, 1530).

From this date onwards Geneva was governed by what was called le Petit Conseil, and was generally spoken of as the Council; then a Council of Two Hundred, framed on the model of those of Freiburg and Bern; lastly, by the Conseil General, or assembly of the citizens. All important transactions were first submitted to and deliberated on by the Petit Conseil, which handed them on with their opinion of what ought to be done to the Council of the Two Hundred. No change of situation—for example, the adoption of the Reformation—was finally adopted until submitted to the General Council of all the burghers.

It is possible that had there seemed to be any immediate prospects that Geneva would join the Reformation, Bern would have aided the patriots more effectually. Bern was the great Protestant Power in Western Switzerland. Its uniform policy, since 1528, had been to[Pg 64] constitute itself the protector of towns and districts where a majority of the inhabitants were anxious to take the side of the Reformation and were hindered by their overlords. It made alliances with the towns in the territories of the Bishop of Basel, and enabled them to assert their independence. In May (23rd) 1532 it warned the Duke of Savoy that if he thought of persecuting the inhabitants of Payerne because of their religion, it would make their cause its own, and declared that its alliance with the town was much more ancient than any existing between Bern and the Duke.[43] But the case of Geneva was different. Signs, indeed, were not lacking that many of the people were inclined to the Reformation.[44] It is more than probable that some of the members of the Councils were longing for a religious reform. But however much in earnest the reformers might be, they were in a minority, and it was no part of the policy of Bern to interfere without due call in the internal administration of the city; still less to see the rise of a strong and independent Roman Catholic city-republic on its own western border.

Suddenly, in the middle of 1532, Geneva was thrown into a state of violent religious commotion. Pope Clement VII. had published an Indulgence within the city on the usual conditions. On the morning of June 9th, the citizens found posted up on all the doors of the churches great printed placards, announcing that “plenary pardon would be granted to every one for all their sins on the one condition of repentance, and a living faith in the[Pg 65] promises of Jesus Christ.” The city was moved to its depths. Priests rushed to tear the placards down. “Lutherans” interfered. Tumults ensued; and one of the canons of the cathedral, Pierre Werly, was wounded in the arm.[45]

The Romanists, both inside and outside the town, were inclined to believe that the affair meant more than it really did. Freiburg had been very suspicious of the influence of the great Protestant canton of Bern, perhaps not without reason. In March (7th) 1532, the deputies of Geneva had been blamed by the inhabitants of Freiburg for being inclined to Lutheranism, and it is more than likely that the Evangelicals of Geneva had some private dealings with the Council of Bern, and had been told that the times were not ripe for any open action on the part of the Protestant canton. The affair of the placards, witnessing as it did the increased strength of the Evangelical party, reawakened suspicions and intensified alarms. A deputy from Freiburg appeared before the Council of Geneva, complaining of the placards,[46] and of the distribution of heretical literature in the city of Geneva (June 24th). The Papal Nuncio wrote from Chambéry (July 8th), asking if it were true, as was publicly reported, that the Lutheran heresy was openly professed and taught in the houses, churches, and even in the schools of Geneva.[47] The letter of the Nuncio was dismissed with a careless answer; but Freiburg had to be contented.[Pg 66] Two extracts from the Register of the Council quoted by Herminjard show their anxiety to satisfy Freiburg and yet bear evidence of a very moderate zeal for the Romanist religion. They decided (June 29th) that no schoolmaster was to be allowed to preach in the town unless specially licensed by the vicar or the Syndics; and (June 30th) they resolved to request the vicar to see that the Gospel and the Epistle of the day were read “truthfully without being mixed up with fables and other inventions of men”; they added that they meant to live as their fathers, without any innovations.[48]

The excitement had not died down when Farel arrived in the city in the autumn of 1532. He preached quietly in houses; but his coming was known, and led to some tumults. He and his companions, Saunier and Olivétan, were seized and sent out of the city. The Reformation had begun, and, in spite of many hindrances, was destined to be successful.

§ 2. The Reformation in Western Switzerland.

The conversion of Geneva to the Reformed faith was the crown of a work which had been promoted by the canton of Bern ever since its Council had decided, in 1528, to adopt the Reformation. Bern itself belonged to German-speaking Switzerland, but it had extensive possessions in the French-speaking districts. It was the only State strong enough to confront the Dukes of Savoy, and was looked upon as a natural protector against that House and other feudal principalities. Its position may be seen in its relations to the Pays de Vaud. The Pays de Vaud consisted of a confederacy of towns and small feudal estates owning fealty to the House of Savoy. The nobles, the towns, and in some instances the clergy, sent deputies to a Diet which met at Moudon under the presidency of the “governor and bailli de Vaud,” who represented the Duke of Savoy. A large portion of the country had[Pg 67] broken away from Savoy at different periods during the fifteenth century. Lausanne and eight other smaller towns and districts formed the patrimony of the Prince-Bishop of Lausanne. The cantons of Freiburg and Bern ruled jointly over Orbe, Grandson, and Morat. Bern had become the sole ruler over what were called the four commanderies of Aigle, Ormonts, Ollon, and Bex. These four commanderies were outlying portions of Bern, and were entirely under the rule of its Council. When Bern had accepted the Reformation, it naturally wished its dependencies to follow its example; and its policy was always directed to induce other portions of the Pays de Vaud to become Protestant also. Farel, the Apostle of French-speaking Switzerland, might almost be called an agent of the Council of Bern.

Its method of work may be best seen by taking the examples of Aigle and Lausanne, the one its own possession and the other belonging to the Prince-Bishop, who was its political ruler.

William Farel, once a member of the “group of Meaux,” whom we have already seen active at the Disputation in Bern in the beginning of 1528, had settled at Aigle in 1526, probably by the middle of November.[49] He did so, he says in his memoir to the Council of Bern—

“With the intention of opening a school to instruct the youth in virtue and learning, and in order to procure for myself the necessities of life. Received at once with brotherly good-will by some of the burghers of the place, I was asked by them to preach the Word of God before the Governor, who was then at Bern, had returned. I acceded to their request. But as soon as the Governor returned I asked his permission to keep the school, and by acquaintances also asked him to permit me to preach. The Governor acceded to their request, but on condition that I preached nothing but the pure simple clear Word of God according to the Old and New Testament, without any addition contrary to the Word, and without attacking the Holy Sacraments.... I promised to conform myself to the[Pg 68] will of the Governor, and declared myself ready to submit to any punishment he pleased to inflict upon me if I disobeyed his orders or acted in any way recognised to be contrary to the Word of God.”[50]

This was the beginning of a work which gradually spread over French-speaking Switzerland.

The Bishop of Sion, within whose diocese Aigle was situated, published an order forbidding all wandering preachers who had not his episcopal licence from preaching within the confines of his diocese; and this appears to have been used against Farel. Some representation must have been made to the Council of Bern, who indignantly declared that no one was permitted to publish citations, excommunications, interdicts, ne autres fanfares within their territories; but at the same time ordered Farel to cease preaching, because he had never been ordained a priest (February 22nd, 1527).[51] The interdict did not last very long; for a minute of Council (March 8th) says, “Farel is permitted to preach at Aigle until the Coadjutor sends another capable priest.”[52] Troubles arose from priests and monks, but upon the whole the Council of Bern supported him; and Haller and others wrote from Bern privately, beseeching him to persevere.[53] He remained, and the number of those who accepted the Evangelical faith under his ministry increased gradually until they appear to have been the majority of the people.[54] He confessed himself that what hindered him most was his denunciation of the prevailing immoralities. At the Disputation in Bern, Farel was recognised to be one of the ablest theologians present, and to have contributed in no small degree to the success of the conference. The Council[Pg 69] of Bern saw in him the instrument best fitted for the evangelisation of their French-speaking population. He returned to Aigle under the protection of the Council, who sent a herald with him to ensure that he should be treated with all respect, and gave him besides an “open letter,” ordering their officials to render him all assistance everywhere within their four commanderies.[55] He was recognised to be the evangelist of the Council of Bern. This did not prevent occasional disturbances, riots promoted by priests and monks, who set the bells a-ringing to drown the preacher’s voice, and sometimes procured men to beat drums at the doors of the churches in which he was preaching. His success, however, was so great, that when the commissioners of Bern visited their four commanderies they found that three of them were ready by a majority of votes to adopt the Reformation (March 2nd, 1528). The adoption of the Reformation was signified by the removal of altars and images, and by the abolition of the Mass.

In the parishes where a majority of the people declared for the Reformation, the Council of Bern issued instructions about the order of public worship and other ecclesiastical rites. Thus we find them intimating to their Governor at Aigle that they expected the people to observe the same form of Baptism, of the Table of the Lord, and of the celebration of marriage, as was in use at Bern (April 25th, 1528).[56] The Bern Liturgy, obligatory in all the German-speaking districts of the canton, was not imposed on the Romance Churches until 1552. Then, in July (1528), the Governor is informed that—

“My Lords have resolved to allow to the preachers Farel and Simon ‘pour leur prébende’ two hundred florins of Savoy annually, and a house with a court, and a kitchen garden. But if they prefer to have the old revenues of the parish cures ... my Lords are willing. If, on the contrary, they take the two hundred florins, you are to [Pg 70]sell the ecclesiastical goods, and you are to collect the hundredths and the tithes, and out of all you are to pay the two hundred florins annually.”[57]

The pastors preferred to take the place of the Romanist incumbents, and there is accordingly another minute sent to the Castellan, syndic, and parishioners of Aigle, ordering Farel to be placed in possession of the ecclesiastical possessions of the parish, “seeing that it is reasonable that the pastor should have his portion of the fruits of the sheep.”[58]

The history of Aigle was repeated over and over again in other parts of western Switzerland. In the bailiwicks which Bern and Freiburg ruled jointly, Bern insisted on freedom of preaching, and on the right of the people to choose whether they would remain Romanists or become Protestants. Commissioners from the two cantons presided when the votes were given.

Farel was too valuable to be left as pastor of a small district like Aigle. We find him making wide preaching tours, always protected by Bern when protection was possible. It was the rooted belief of the Protestants that a public Disputation on matters of religion in presence of the people, the speakers using the language understood by the crowd, always resulted in spreading the Reformation; and Bern continually tried to get such conferences in towns where the authorities were Romanist. Their first interference in the ecclesiastical affairs of Lausanne was of this kind. It seems that some of the priests of Lausanne had accused Farel of being a heretic; whereupon the Council of Bern demanded that Farel should be heard before the Bishop of Lausanne’s tribunal, in order to prove that he was no heretic. The claim led to a long correspondence. The Bishop continually refused; while the Council and citizens seemed inclined to grant the request. Farel could not get a hearing before the episcopal tribunal, but he visited the town, and on the second occasion was permitted by the Council to preach to the people. This occurred again and again; and the result was that the[Pg 71] town became Protestant and disowned the authority of the Bishop. Bern assisted the inhabitants to drive the Bishop away, and to become a free municipality and Protestant.

Gradually Farel had become the leader of an organised band of missioners, who devoted themselves to the evangelisation of western or French-speaking Switzerland.[59] They had been carefully selected—young men for the most part well educated, of unbounded courage, willing to face all the risks of their dangerous work, daunted by no threat or peril, taking their lives in their hand. They were the forerunners of the young preachers, teachers, and colporteurs whom Calvin trained later in Geneva and sent forth by the hundred to evangelise France and the Low Countries. They were all picked men. No one was admitted to the little band without being well warned of the hazardous work before him, and some who were ready to take all the risks were rejected because the leader was not sure that they had the necessary powers of endurance.[60] These preachers were under the protection of the canton of Bern, whose authorities were resolute to maintain the freedom to preach the Word of God; but they continually went where the Bernese had no power to assist them; nor could the protection of that powerful canton aid them in sudden emergencies when bitter Romanist partisans, infuriated by the invectives with which the preachers lashed the abuses of the Roman religion, or wrathful at their very presence, stirred up the mob against them. When their correspondence and that of their opponents—a correspondence collected and carefully edited by M. Herminjard—is read, it can be seen that they could always count on a certain amount of sympathy from the people of the towns and villages where they preached, but that the[Pg 72] authorities were for the most part hostile. If Bern insisted on their protection, Freiburg was as active in opposing them, and lost no opportunity of urging the local authorities to harass them in every way, to silence their preaching, and if possible to expel them from their territories.

Such men had the defects of their qualities. Their zeal often outran their discretion. When Farel and Froment, the most daring and devoted of his band, were preaching at a village in the vale of Villingen, a priest began to chant the Mass beside them. As the priest elevated the Host, Froment seized it and, turning towards the people, said, “This is not the God to adore; He is in the Heaven in the glory of the Father, not in the hands of the priests as you believe, and as they teach.” There was a riot, of course, but the preachers escaped. Next day, however, as they were passing a solitary place, they were assailed by a crowd of men and women, stoned and beaten with clubs, then hurried away to a neighbouring castle whose chatelaine had instigated the attack. There they were thrust violently into the chapel, and the crowd tried to make Farel prostrate himself before an image of the Blessed Virgin. He resisted, admonishing them to adore the one God in spirit and in truth, not dumb images without sense or power. The crowd beat him to the effusion of blood, and the two preachers were dragged to a vault, where they were imprisoned until rescued by the authorities of Neuchâtel.[61]

These preachers were all Frenchmen or French-Swiss. They had the hot Celtic blood in their veins, and their hearers were their kith and kin—prompt to act, impetuous when their passions were stirred. Scenes occurred at their preaching which we seldom hear of among slower Germans, who generally waited until their authorities led. In western Switzerland the audiences were eager to get rid of the idolatries denounced. At Grandson, the people rushed to the church of the Cordeliers, and tore down the altars and images, while the crosses, altars, and images[Pg 73] of the parish church were also destroyed.[62] Similar tumults took place at Orbe; and the authorities at Bern, who desired to see liberty for both Protestants and Romanists, had occasion to rebuke the zealous preachers.

But the dangers which the missioners ran were not always of their own provoking. Sometimes a crowd of women invaded the churches in which they preached, interrupted the services with shoutings, hustled and beat the preachers; sometimes when they addressed the people in the market-place the preachers and their audience were assailed with showers of stones; sometimes Farel and his companions were laid wait for and maltreated.[63] M. de Watteville, sent down by the authorities of Bern to report on disturbances, wrote to the Council of Bern that the faces of the preachers were so torn that it looked as if they had been fighting with cats, and that on one occasion the alarm-bell had been sounded against them, as was the custom for a wolf-hunt.[64]

No dangers daunted the missioners, and soon the whole of the outlying districts of Bern, Neuchâtel, Soleure, and other French-speaking portions of Switzerland declared for the Reformation. The cantonal authorities frequently sent down commissioners to ascertain the wishes of the people; and when the majority of the inhabitants voted for the Evangelical religion, the church, parsonage, and stipend were given to a Protestant pastor. Many of Farel’s missioners were temporarily settled in these village churches; but they were for the most part better fitted for pioneer work than for a settled pastorate. In January (9-14th) 1532, a synod of these Protestant pastors was held at Bern to deliberate on some uniform ways of exercising their ministry to prevent disorders arising from individual caprice. Two hundred and thirty ministers were present, and Bucer was brought from Strassburg to give them guidance. His advice was greatly appreciated and[Pg 74] followed by the delegates of the churches and the Council of Bern. The Synod in the end issued an elaborate ordinance, which included a lengthy exposition of doctrine.[65]

§ 3. Farel in Geneva.

It was after this consolidation of the Reformation in Bern and its outlying provinces that Farel found himself free to turn his attention to Geneva. He had evidently been thinking for months about the possibility of evangelising the town. He had little fear of the people themselves, and he wrote to Zwingli (Oct. 1st, 1531) that were it not for the dread of Freiburg, he believed that the Genevese would welcome the Gospel.[66] The affair of the “placards” seems to have decided him to begin his mission in the city. When he was driven out he was far from abandoning the enterprise. He turned to Froment, his most trusted assistant, and sent him into Geneva.

Antoine Froment, who has the honour along with Farel of being the Reformer of Geneva, was born at Tries, near Grenoble, about 1510. He was therefore, like Farel, a native of Dauphiné. Like him, also, he had gone to Paris for his education, and had become acquainted with Lefèvre, who seems to have introduced him to Marguerite d’Angoulême, the Queen of Navarre,[67] as he received from her a prebend in a canonry on one of her estates. How[Pg 75] he came to Switzerland is unknown. Once there and introduced to Farel, he became his most daring and enthusiastic disciple, and Farel prized him above all the others. They were Paul and Timothy. It was natural that Farel should entrust him with the difficult and dangerous task of preaching the Gospel in Geneva.

Farel’s seizure and expulsion made it necessary to proceed with caution. Froment entered Geneva (Nov. 3rd, 1532), and began his work by intimating by public advertisement (placard) that he was ready to teach any one who wished to learn to read and write the French language, and that he would charge no fees if his pupils were not able to profit by his instructions. Scholars came.[68] He managed to mingle Evangelical instruction with his lessons,—“every day one or two sermons from the Holy Scripture,” he says,—and soon made many converts, especially among the wives of influential citizens. Towards the end of 1532, the monks of one of the convents in Geneva had brought to the city a Dominican, Christopher Bocquet, to be their Advent preacher. His sermons seem to have been largely Evangelical, and had the effect of inducing many of the citizens to attend Froment’s discourses in the hall where he kept his school.[69] This provoked threats on the part of the Romanists, and strongly worded sermons from the priests and Romanist orators. One citizen, convicted of having spoken disrespectfully of the Mass, was banished, and forbidden to return on pain of death. On this the Evangelicals of the town appealed to Bern. Their letter was promptly answered by a demand on the part of the Council of that canton that the Evangelicals must be left in peace, and if attacked publicly must be allowed to answer in as public a fashion.[70] When their letter was read in the Council of Geneva, it provoked[Pg 76] some protests from the more ardently Romanist members, and the priests stirred up part of the population to riotous proceedings, in which the lives of the Evangelicals were threatened. The Syndics and Council had difficulty in preventing conflicts in the streets. They published a decree (March 30th, 1533), in which they practically proclaimed liberty of conscience, but forbade all insulting expressions, all attacks on the Sacraments or on the ecclesiastical fasts and ceremonies, and again ordered preachers to say nothing which could not be proved from Holy Scripture.[71]

The numbers of the Evangelicals increased daily; they became bolder, and on the 10th of April they met in a garden, under the presidency of Guérin Muète, a hosier, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. This became known to the Romanists, and there was a renewal of the threats against the Evangelicals, which came to a head in the riot of the 5th of May—a riot which had important consequences.[72] It seems that while several citizens, known to belong to the Evangelical party, were walking in the square before the Cathedral of St. Peter, they were attacked by a band of armed priests, and three of them were severely wounded. The leader of the band, a turbulent priest named Pierre Werly, who belonged to an old family of Freiburg, and was a canon in the cathedral, followed by five or six others, rushed down to the broad street Molard, with loud shouts. Werly was armed with one of the huge Swiss swords. He and his companions attacked the Evangelicals; there was a sharp, short fight; several persons were wounded severely, and Werly, “the captain of the priests,” was slain.[73] The affair made a great noise. The Romanists at once proclaimed Werly a martyr, and honoured him with a pompous funeral. Freiburg insisted that all the Evangelicals who[Pg 77] happened to be in the Molard should be arrested; and it was said that preparations were being made for a massacre of all the followers of the Reformation. In their extremity they again appealed to Bern, whose authorities again interfered for their protection.

During these troublesome times the position of the Council of Geneva was one of great difficulty. The Prince-Bishop of Geneva, Pierre de la Baume, was still nominally sovereign, secular as well as ecclesiastical ruler. His secular powers had been greatly curtailed, how much it is difficult to say, but certainly to the extent that the criminal administration of the city and the territory subject to it was in the hands of the Council and Syndics. Freiburg, one of the two protecting cantons, insisted that all the ecclesiastical authority was still in the hands of the Bishop, to be administered in his absence by his vicar.[74] The Councils, although they had passed decrees (June 30th, 1532, and March 30th, 1533) which had distinctly to do with ecclesiastical matters, acknowledged for the most part that the ecclesiastical jurisdiction did not belong to them. But the whole of the inhabitants were not contented with this diminution of the episcopal authority. Turbulent priests and the yet more violent canons,[75] the great body of monks and nuns, wished, and intrigued for the restoration of the rule of the Bishop and of the House of Savoy. The beginnings of a movement for Reformation had increased the difficulties of the Council; it brought a third party into the town. The Evangelicals were all strongly opposed to the rule of the Bishop and Savoy, and they were fast growing in strength; a powerful minority of Roman Catholics[Pg 78] were no less strongly in favour of a return to the old condition. The majority of the Roman Catholic citizens, opposed to the Bishop as a secular ruler, had no desire for the triumph of the Reformation. As time went on, it was seen that these moderate Romanists had to choose between a return of the old disorderly rule of the Bishop, or to acquiesce in the ecclesiastical as well as the secular superiority of the Council, pressed by the Protestant canton of Bern. The Savoyard party evidently believed that their hatred of the Reformation would be stronger than their dislike to the Savoyard and episcopal rule—a mistaken belief, as events were to show.

The policy of Bern, wherever its influence prevailed in western Switzerland, was exerted to secure toleration for all Evangelicals, and to procure, if possible, a public discussion on matters of religion between the Romanists and leading Reformers. They pressed this over and over again on their allies of Geneva. As early as April 1533, they had insisted that a monk who had offered to refute Farel should be kept to his word, and that the Council of Geneva should arrange for a Public Disputation.[76] Towards the close of the year an event occurred which gave them a pretext for decisive interference.

Guy Furbiti, a renowned Roman Catholic preacher, a learned theologian, a doctor of the Sorbonne, had been brought to Geneva to be Advent preacher. He used the occasion to denounce vigorously the doctrines of the Evangelicals, supporting his statements, as he afterwards confessed, not from Scripture, but from the Decretals and from the writings of Thomas Aquinas. He ended his sermon (Dec. 2nd) with the words: “Where are those fine preachers of the fireside, who say the opposite? If they showed themselves here one could speak to them. Ha! ha! they are well to hide themselves in corners to deceive poor women and others who know nothing.”

After the sermon, either in church or in the square before the cathedral, Froment cried to the crowd, “Hear[Pg 79] me! I am ready to give my life, and my body to be burned, to maintain that what that man has said is nothing but falsehood and the words of Antichrist.” There was a great commotion. Some shouted, “To the fire with him! to the fire!” and tried to seize him. The chronicler nun, Jeanne de Jussie, proud of her sex, relates that “les femmes comme enragées sortirent après, de grande furie, luy jettant force pierres.”[77] He escaped from them. But Alexandre Canus was banished, and forbidden to return under pain of death; and Froment was hunted from house to house, until he found a hiding-place in a hay-loft. Furbiti had permitted himself to attack with strong invectives the authorities of Bern, and the Evangelicals of Geneva in their appeal for protection sent extracts from the sermons.[78] Bern had at last the opportunity for which its Council had long waited.

They wrote a dignified letter (Dec. 17th, 1533) to the Council of Geneva, in which they complained that the Genevese, their allies, had hitherto paid little attention to their requests for a favourable treatment of the Evangelicals; that they had expelled from the town “nostre serviteur maistre Guillaume Farel”; not content with that, they had recently misused their “servants” Froment and Alexandre for protesting against the sermons of a Jacobin monk (Furbiti) who “preached only lies, errors, and blasphemies against God, the faith, and ourselves, wounding our honour, calling us Jews, Turks, and dogs”; that the banishment of Alexandre and the hunting of Froment touched them (the Council of Bern), and that they would not suffer it.[Pg 80] They demanded the immediate arrest of the “caffard[79] (Furbiti); and they said they were about to send an embassy to Geneva to vindicate publicly the honour of God and their own.[80]

As the Council of Bern meant to enforce a Public Disputation, they sent Farel to Geneva. He reached the city on the evening of December 20th.

The letter was read to the Council of Geneva upon Dec. 21st, and they at once gave orders to the vicar to prevent Furbiti leaving the town. But the vicar, who had resolved to try his strength against Bern, refused, and actually published two mandates (Dec. 31st, 1533, and Jan. 1st, 1534) denouncing the Genevese Syndics, forbidding any of the citizens to read the Holy Scriptures, and ordering all copies of translations of the Bible, whether in German or in French, to be seized and burnt.[81] The dispute between Syndics and vicar was signalised by riots promoted by the extreme Romanist party. The Council, anxious not to proceed to extremities, contented themselves with placing a guard to watch Furbiti; and the monk was attended continually, even when he went to and from the church, by a guard of three halberdiers.

The Bernese embassy arrived on the 4th of January, and had prolonged audience of the Council of Geneva on the 5th and 7th. They insisted on a fair treatment for the Evangelical party, which meant freedom of conscience and the right of public worship, and they demanded that Furbiti should be compelled to justify his charges against the Evangelicals in the presence of learned men who could speak for the Council of Bern. The Genevan authorities had no wish to break irrevocably with their Bishop, nor to coerce the ecclesiastical authorities; they pleaded that Furbiti was not under their jurisdiction, and they referred[Pg 81] the Bernese deputies to the Bishop or his vicar. “We have been ordered to apply to you,” said the deputies from Bern. “Your answer makes us see that you seek delay, and that you are not treating us fairly; that you think little of the honour of the Council of Bern. Here is the treaty of alliance (they produced the document), and we are about to tear off the seals.” This was the formal way among the Swiss of cancelling a treaty. The Councillors of Geneva then proposed that they should compel the monk to appear before them and the deputies of Bern, when explanations might be demanded from him. The deputies accepted the offer, but on condition that there should be a conference between the monk (Furbiti) and theologians sent from Bern (Farel and Viret). Next day Furbiti was taken from the episcopal palace and placed in the town’s prison (Jan. 8th), and on the morrow (Jan. 9th) he was brought before the Council. There he refused to plead before secular judges. The Council of Geneva tried in vain to induce the vicar to nominate an ecclesiastical delegate who was to sit in the Council and be present at the conference. Their negotiations with the vicar, carried on for some days, were in vain. Then they attempted to induce the Bernese to depart from their conditions. The Council of Bern was immovable. It insisted on the immediate payment by the Genevese of the debt due to Bern for the war of deliverance and for the punishment of Furbiti (Jan. 25th, 1534). Driven to the wall, the Council of Geneva resolved to override the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop and his vicar. Furbiti was compelled to appear before the Council and the deputies of Bern, and to answer to Farel and Viret on Jan. 27th and Feb. 3rd (1534). On the afternoon of the latter day the partisans of the Bishop got up another riot, in which one of them poniarded an Evangelical, Nicolas Bergier. This riot seems to have exhausted the patience of the peaceable citizens of Geneva, whether Romanists or Evangelicals. A band of about five hundred assembled armed before the Town Hall, informed the Council that they would no longer tolerate riots caused[Pg 82] by turbulent priests, and that they were ready to support civic authority and put down lawlessness with a strong hand. The Council thereupon acted energetically. That night the murderer, Claude Pennet, who had hid himself in the belfry of the cathedral, was dragged from his place of concealment, tried next day, and hanged on the day following (Feb. 5th). The houses of the principal rioters were searched, and letters discovered proving a plot to seize the town and deliver it into the hands of the Bishop. Pierre de la Baume had gone the length of nominating a member of the Council of Freiburg, M. Pavillard, to act as his deputy in secular affairs, and ordering him to massacre the Evangelicals within the city.

When the excitement had somewhat died down, the deputies of Bern pressed for a renewal of the proceedings against Furbiti. The monk was again brought before the Council, and confronted by Farel and Viret. He was forced to confess that he could not prove his assertions from the Holy Scriptures, but had based them on the Decretals and the writings of Thomas Aquinas, admitting that he had transgressed the regulations of the Council of Geneva. He promised that, if allowed to preach on the following Sunday (Feb. 15th), he would make public reparation to the Council of Bern. When Sunday came he refused to keep his promise, and was sent back to prison.[82]

Meanwhile the Evangelical community in Geneva was growing, and taking organised form. One of the most prominent of the Genevan Evangelicals, Jean Baudichon de la Maisonneuve, prepared a hall by removing a partition between two rooms in his magnificent house, situated in that part of the city which was the cradle of the Reformation[Pg 83] in Geneva. There Farel, Viret, and Froment preached to three or four hundred persons; and there the first baptism according to the Reformed rite was celebrated in Geneva (Feb. 22nd, 1533). The audiences soon increased beyond the capacity of the hall, and the Evangelicals, protected by the presence of the Bernese deputies, took possession of the large audience hall or church of the Convent of the Cordeliers in the same street (March 1st). The deputies from Bern frequently asked the Council of Geneva to grant the use of one of the churches of the town for the Evangelicals, but were continually answered that the Council had not the power, but that they would not object if the Evangelicals found a suitable place. This indirect authorisation enabled them to meet in the convent church, which held between four and five thousand people, and which was frequently filled. Thus the little band increased. Farel preached for the first time in St. Peter’s on the 8th of August 1535. Services were held in other houses also.[83]

The Bishop of Geneva, foiled in his attempt to regain possession of the town by well-planned riots, united himself with the Duke of Savoy to conquer the city by force of arms. Their combined forces advanced against Geneva; they overran the country, seized and pillaged the country houses of the citizens, and subjected the town itself to a[Pg 84] close investment. The war was a grievous matter for the city, but it furthered the Reformation. The Bishop had leagued himself with the old enemy of Geneva; the priests, the monks, the nuns were eager for his success; he compelled patriotic Roman Catholics to choose between their religion and their country. It was also a means of displaying the heroism of the Protestant pastors. Farel and Froment were high-spirited Frenchmen, who scoffed at any danger lying in the path of duty. They had braved a thousand perils in their missionary work. Viret was not less courageous. The three worked on the fortifications with the citizens; they shared the watches of the defenders; they encouraged the citizens by word and deed. The Genevese were prepared for any sacrifices to preserve their liberties. Four faubourgs, which formed a second town almost as large as the first, were ordered to be demolished to strengthen the defence. The city was reduced to great straits, and the citizens of Bern seemed to be deaf to their cries for help.

Bern was doing its best by embassies to assist them; but it dared not attack the Pays de Vaud when Freiburg, angry at the process of the Reformation, threatened a counter attack. After the siege was raised, the strongholds in the surrounding country remained in the possession of the enemy, and the people belonging to Geneva were liable to be pillaged and maltreated.

Within the city the number of Evangelicals increased week by week. Then came a sensational event which brought about the ruin of the Roman Catholic party. A woman, Antonia Vax, cook in the house of Claude Bernard, with whom the three pastors dwelt, attempted to poison Viret, Farel, and Froment.[84] The confession of the prisoner,[Pg 85] combined with other circumstances, created the impression among the members of Council and the people of Geneva that the priests of the town had instigated the attempt, and a strong feeling in favour of the Protestant pastors swept over the city. The Council at once provided lodging for Viret and Farel in the Convent of the Cordeliers. When the guardian of that convent asked leave to hold public discussions on religious questions in the great church belonging to the convent, it was at once granted.

The Council itself made arrangements for the public Disputation. Five Thèses évangéliques were drafted by the Protestant pastors, and the Council invited discussion upon them from all and sundry.[85] Invitations were sent to the canons of the cathedral, and to all the priests and monks of Geneva; safe-conducts were promised to all foreign theologians who desired to take part;[86] a special attempt was made to induce a renowned Paris Roman Catholic champion, Pierre Cornu, a theologian trained at the Sorbonne, who happened to be at Grenoble, to defend the Romanist position by attacking the Theses. The Theses themselves were posted up in Geneva as early as the 1st of May (1535), and copies were sent to all the priests and convents within the territories of the Genevans.[87]

The Disputation was fixed to open on the 30th of May. The Council nominated eight commissioners, half of whom were Roman Catholics, to maintain order, and four secretaries to keep minutes of the proceedings.[88] Efforts were made to induce Roman Catholic theologians of repute for their learning to attend and attack the Theses. But the Bishop of Geneva had forbidden the Disputation, and the[Pg 86] Council were unable to prevail on any stranger to appear. When the opening day arrived, and the Council, commissioners, and secretaries were solemnly seated in their places in the great hall of the convent, no Romanist defender of the faith appeared to impugn the Evangelical Theses. Farel and Viret nevertheless expounded and defended. The Disputation continued at intervals during four weeks, till the 24th of June, Romanist champions accepted the Reformers’ challenge—Jean Chapuis, prior of the Dominican convent at Plainpalais, near Geneva, and Jean Cachi, confessor to the Sisters of St. Clara in the city. But they were no match for men like Farel. Chapuis himself apologised for the absence of the Genevan priests and monks, by saying that even in his convent there was a lack of learned men. The weakness of the Romanist defence made a great impression on the people of Geneva. They went about saying to each other, “If all Christian princes permitted a free discussion like our MM. of Geneva, the affair would soon be settled without burnings, or slaughter, or murders; but the Pope and his followers, the cardinals and the bishops and the priests, know well that if free discussion is permitted all is lost for them. So all these powers forbid any discussion or conversation save by fire and by sword.” They knew that all throughout Romance Switzerland the Reformers, whether in a minority or in a majority, were eager for a public discussion.

When the Disputation was ended, Farel urged the Council to declare themselves on the side of the Reformation; but they hesitated until popular tumults forced their hand. On July 23rd, Farel preached in the Church of the Madeleine. The Council made mild remonstrances. Then he preached in the Church of St. Gervais. Lastly, on the 8th of August, the people forced him to preach in the Cathedral, St. Peter’s (Aug. 8th). In the afternoon the priests were at vespers as usual. As they chanted the Psalm—

“Their idols are silver and gold,
[Pg 87] The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not:
Eyes have they, but they see not;
They have ears, but they hear not;
Noses have they, but they smell not;
They have hands, but they handle not;
Feet have they, but they walk not;
Neither speak they through their throat,”

someone in the throng shouted, “You curse, as you chant, all who make graven images and trust in them. Why do you let them remain here?” It was the signal for a tumult. The crowd rushed to throw to the ground and break in pieces the statues of the saints; and the children pushing among the crowd picked up the fragments, and rushing to the doors, said, “We have the gods of the priests, would you like some?”[89] Next day the riots were renewed in the parish and convent churches, and the images of the saints were defaced or destroyed.

The Council met on the 9th, and summoned Farel before them. The minutes state that he made an oratio magna, ending with the declaration that he and his fellow-preachers were willing to submit to death if it could be shown that they taught anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures. Then, falling on his knees, he poured forth one of those wonderful prayers which more than anything else exhibited the exalted enthusiasm of the great missionary. The religious question was discussed next day in the Council of the Two Hundred, when it was resolved to abolish the Mass provisionally, to summon the monks before the Council, and to ask them to give their reasons for maintaining the Mass and the worship of the saints. The two Councils resolved to inform the people of Bern about what they had done.[90]

It is evident that the two Councils had been hurried by the iconoclastic zeal of the people along a path they[Pg 88] had meant to tread in a much more leisurely fashion. The political position was full of uncertainties. Their enemies were still in the field against them. Bern seemed to be unable to assist them. They were ready to welcome the intervention of France. It was the fear of increasing their external troubles rather than any zeal for the Roman Catholic faith that had prevented the Council from espousing the Reformation immediately after the public Disputation. “If we abolish the Mass, image worship, and everything popish, for one enemy we have now we are sure to have an hundred,” was their thought.[91]

The official representatives of the Roman Catholic religion did not appear to advantage at this crisis of their fate. They were in no haste to defend their worship before the Council. When they at last appeared (Nov. 29th, 1535), the monks in the forenoon and the secular clergy in the afternoon, there was a careless indifference in their answers. The Council seem to have referred them to Farel’s summary of the matters discussed in the public Disputation which began on the 30th of May, and to have asked them what they had to say against its conclusions and in favour of the Mass and of the adoration of the saints.[92] The monks one after another (twelve of them appeared before the Council) answered monotonously that they were unlearned people, who lived as they had been taught by their fathers, and did not inquire further. The secular clergy, by their spokesman Roletus de Pane, said that they had nothing to do with the Disputation and what had been said there; that they had no desire to listen to more addresses from Farel; and that they meant to live as their predecessors.[93] This was the end. The two deputations[Pg 89] of monks and seculars were informed by the Council that they must cease saying Mass until further orders were given. The Reformation was legally established in Geneva, and the city stood forth with Bern as altogether Protestant.[94]

The dark clouds on the political horizon were rising. France seemed about to interfere in favour of Geneva, and the fear of France in possession of the “gate of western Switzerland” was stronger than reluctance to permit Geneva to become a Protestant city. The Council of Freiburg promised to allow the Bernese army to march through their territory. Bern renounced its alliance with Savoy on November 29th, 1535. War was declared on January 16th. The army of Bern left its territories, gathering reinforcements as it went; for towns like Neuville, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, Payerne—oppressed Protestant communities in Romance Switzerland—felt that the hour of their liberation was at hand, and their armed burghers were eager to strike one good stroke at their oppressors under the leadership of the proud republic. There was little fighting. The greater part of the Pays de Vaud was conquered without striking a blow, and the army of the Duke of Savoy and the Bishop of Geneva was dispersed without a battle. A few sieges were needed to complete the victory. The great republic, after its fashion, had waited till the opportune moment, and then struck once and for all. Its decisive victory brought deliverance not only to Geneva, but to Lausanne and many other Protestant municipalities in Romance Switzerland (Aug. 7th, 1536). The democracy of Geneva was served heir to the seignorial rights of the Bishop, and to the sovereign rights of the Duke of Savoy over city and lands. Geneva became an independent republic under the protectorate of Bern, and to some extent dependent on that canton.

In the month of December 1535, the Syndics and Council of Geneva had adopted the legend on the coat of arms of the town, Post tenebras lux—a device which became[Pg 90] very famous, and appeared on its coinage. The resolution of the Council of the Two Hundred to abolish the Mass and saint worship was officially confirmed by the citizens assembled, “as was the custom, by sound of bell and of trumpet” (May 21st, 1536).

Geneva had gained much. It had won political independence, for which it had been fighting for thirty years, modified by its relations to Bern,[95] but greater than it had ever before enjoyed. The Reformed religion had been established, although the fact remained that the Romanist partisans had still a good deal of hidden strength. But much was still to be done to make the town the citadel of the Reformation which it was to become. Its past history had demoralised its people. The rule of dissolute bishops and the example of a turbulent and immoral clergy had poisoned the morals of the city.[96] The liberty won might easily degenerate into licence, and ominous signs were not lacking that this was about to take place. “It is impossible to deny,” says Kampschulte, the Roman Catholic biographer of Calvin, “that disorder and demoralisation had become threatening in Geneva; it would have been almost a miracle had it not been so.” Farel did what he could. He founded schools. He organised the hospitals. He strove to kindle moral life in the people of his adopted city. But his talents and his character fitted him much more for pioneer work than for the task which now lay before him.

[Pg 91]

Farel was a chivalrous Frenchman, born among the mountains of Dauphiné, whose courage, amounting to reckless daring, won for him the passionate admiration of soldiers like Wildermuth,[97] and made him volunteer to lead any forlorn hope however desperate. He was sympathetic to soft-heartedness, yet utterly unable to restrain his tongue; in danger of his life one week because of his violent language, and the next almost adored, by those who would have slain him, for the reckless way in which he nursed the sick and dying during a visitation of the plague. He was the brilliant partisan leader, seeing only what lay before his eyes; incapable of self-restraint; a learned theologian, yet careless in his expression of doctrine, and continually liable to misapprehension. No one was better fitted to attack the enemy’s strongholds, few less able to hold them when once possessed. He saw, without the faintest trace of jealousy—the man was too noble—others building on the foundations he had laid. It is almost pathetic to see that none of the Romance Swiss churches whose Apostle he had been, cared to retain him as their permanent leader. In the closing years of his life he went back to his beloved France, and ended as he had begun, a pioneer evangelist in Lyons, Metz, and elsewhere,—a leader of forlorn hopes, carrying within him a perpetual spring and the effervescing recklessness of youth. He had early seen that the pioneer life which he led was best lived without wife or children, and he remained unmarried until his sixty-ninth year. Then he met with a poor widow who had lost husband and property for religion’s sake in Rouen, and had barely escaped with life. He married her because in no other way could he find for her a home and protection.

Geneva needed a man of altogether different mould of character to do the work that was now necessary. When Farel’s anxieties and vexations were at their height, he[Pg 92] learned almost by accident that a distinguished young French scholar, journeying from Ferrara to Basel, driven out of his direct course by war, had arrived in Geneva, and was staying for a night in the town. This was Calvin.

§ 4. Calvin: Youth and Education.

Jean Cauvin (latinised into Calvinus) was born at Noyon in Picardy on the 10th of July 1509. He was the second son in a family of four sons and two daughters. His father, Gerard Cauvin, was a highly esteemed lawyer, the confidential legal adviser of the nobility and higher clergy of the district. His mother, Jeanne La France, a very beautiful woman, was noted for her devout piety and her motherly affection. Calvin, who says little about his childhood, relates how he was once taken by his mother on the festival of St. Anna to see a relic of the saint preserved in the Abbey of Ourscamp, near Noyon, and that he remembers kissing “part of the body of St. Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary.”[98]

The Cauvins belonged to what we should call the upper middle class in social standing, and the young Jean entered the house of the noble family of de Montmor to share the education of the children, his father paying for all his expenses. The young de Montmors were sent to College in Paris, and Jean Cauvin, then fourteen years of age, went with them. This early social training never left Calvin, who was always the reserved, polished French gentleman—a striking contrast to his great predecessor Luther.

Calvin was a Picard, and the characteristics of the province were seen in its greatest son. The Picards were always independent, frequently strongly anti-clerical, combining in a singular way fervent enthusiasm and a cold tenacity of purpose. No province in France had produced so many sympathisers with Wiclif and Hus, and “Picards” was a term met with as frequently on the books of Inquisitors as “Wiclifites,” “Hussites,” or “Waldenses”—all[Pg 93] the names denoting dissenters from the mediæval Church who accepted all the articles of the Apostles’ Creed but were strongly anti-clerical. These “brethren” lingered in all the countries of Western Europe until the sixteenth century, and their influence made itself felt in the beginnings of the stirrings for reform.

Gerard Cauvin had early seen that his second son, Jean, was de bon esprit, d’une prompte naturelle à concevoir, et inventif en l’estude des lettres humaines,[99] and this induced him to give the boy as good an education as he could, and to destine him for the study of theology. His legal connection with the higher clergy of Noyon enabled him, in the fashion of the day, to procure for his son more than one benefice. The boy was tonsured, a portion of the revenue was used to pay for a curate who did the work, and the rest went to provide for the lad’s education.

Young Calvin went with the three sons of the de Montmor family to the College de la Marche in Paris. It was not a famous one, but when Calvin studied there in the lowest class he had as his professor Mathurin Cordier, the ablest teacher of his generation.[100] His aim was to give his pupils a thorough knowledge of the French and Latin languages—a foundation on which they might afterwards build for themselves. He had a singularly sweet disposition, and a very open mind. He was brought to know the Gospel by Robert Estienne, and in 1536 his name was inscribed, along with those of Courat and Clement Marot, on the list of the principal heretics in Paris. Calvin was not permitted to remain long under this esteemed teacher. The atmosphere was probably judged to be too liberal for one who was destined to study theology. He was transferred to the more celebrated College de Montaigu. Calvin was again fortunate in his principal teachers. He became[Pg 94] the pupil of Noël Béda and of Pierre Tempête, who taught him the art of formal disputation.

Calvin had come to Paris in his fourteenth year, and left it when he was nineteen—the years when a lad becomes a man, and his character is definitely formed. If we are to judge by his own future references, no one had more formative influence over him than Mathurin Cordier—short as had been the period of their familiar intercourse. Calvin had shown a singularly acute mind, and proved himself to be a scholar who invariably surpassed his fellow students. He was always surrounded by attached friends—the three brothers de Montmor, the younger members of the famous family of Cop, and many others. These student friends were devoted to him all his life. Many of them settled with him at Geneva.

Calvin left the College de Montaigu in 1528. Sometime during the same year another celebrated pupil entered it. This was Ignatius Loyola. Whether the two great leaders attended College together, whether they ever met, it is impossible to say—the dates are not precise enough.

“Perhaps they crossed each other in some street of Mount Sainte-Geneviève: the young Frenchman of eighteen on horseback as usual, and the Spaniard of six and thirty on foot, his purse furnished with some pieces of gold he owed to charity, shoving before him an ass burdened with his books, and carrying in his pocket a manuscript, entitled Exercitia Spiritualia.”[101]

Calvin left Paris because his father had now resolved that his son should be a lawyer and not a theologian. Gerard Cauvin had quarrelled with the ecclesiastics of Noyon, and had even been excommunicated. He refused to render his accounts in two executry cases, and had remained obstinate. Why he was so, it is impossible to say. His children had no difficulty in arranging matters after his death. The quarrel ended the hopes of the father to provide well for his son in the Church, and he ordered[Pg 95] him to quit Paris for the great law school at Orleans. It is by no means improbable that the father’s decision was very welcome to the son. Bèze tells us that Calvin had already got some idea of the true religion, had begun to study the Holy Scriptures, and to separate himself from the ceremonies of the Church;[102]—perhaps his friendship with Pierre Robert Olivétan, a relation, a native of Noyon, and the translator of the Bible into French, had brought this about. The young man went to Orleans in the early part of 1528 and remained there for a year, then went on to Bourges, in order to attend the lectures of the famous publicist, André Alciat, who was destined to be as great a reformer of the study of law as Calvin was of the study of theology. In Orleans with its Humanism, and in Bourges with its incipient Protestantism, Calvin was placed in a position favourable for the growth of ideas which had already taken root in his mind. At Bourges he studied Greek under Wolmar, a Lutheran in all but the name, and dedicated to him long afterwards his Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. He seems to have lived in the house of Wolmar; another inmate was Théodore de Bèze, the future leader of the Protestants of France, then a boy of twelve.

The death of his father (May 26th, 1531) left Calvin his own master. He had obeyed the paternal wishes when he studied for the Church in Paris; he had obediently transferred himself to the study of law; he now resolved to follow the bent of his own mind, and, dedicating himself to study, to become a man of letters. He returned to Paris and entered the College Fortet, meaning to attend the lectures of the Humanist professors whom Francis I., under the guidance of Budé and Cop, was attracting to his capital. These “royal lecturers” and their courses of instruction were looked on with great suspicion by the Sorbonne, and Calvin’s conduct in placing himself under their instruction showed that he had already emancipated himself from that strict devotion to the “superstitions of[Pg 96] the Papacy” to which he tells us that he was obstinately attached in his boyhood. He soon became more than the pupil of Budé, Cop, and other Humanists. He was a friend, admitted within the family circle. He studied Greek with Pierre Danès and Hebrew under Vatable. In due time (April 1532), when barely twenty-three years of age, he published at his own expense his first book, a learned commentary on the two books of Seneca’s De Clementia.

The book is usually referred to as an example of precocious erudition. The author shows that he knew as minutely as extensively the whole round of classical literature accessible to his times. He quotes, and that aptly, from fifty-five separate Latin authors—from thirty-three separate works of Cicero, from all the works of Horace and Ovid, from five comedies of Terence, and from all the works of Virgil. He quotes from twenty-two separate Greek authors—from five or six of the principal writings of Aristotle, and from four of the writings of Plato and of Plutarch. Calvin does not quote Plautus, but his use of the phrase remoram facere makes it likely that he was well acquainted with that writer also.[103] The future theologian was also acquainted with many of the Fathers—with Augustine, Lactantius, Jerome, Synesius, and Cyprian. Erasmus had published an edition of Seneca, and had advised scholars to write commentaries, and young Calvin followed the advice of the Prince of Humanists. Did he imitate him in more? Did Calvin also disdain to use the New Learning merely to display scholarship, did he mean to put it to modern uses? Francis I. was busy with one of his sporadic persecutions of the Huguenots when the book was published, and learned conjectures have been made whether the two facts had any designed connection—An exhortation addressed to an emperor to exercise clemency, and a king engaging in persecuting his subjects. Two things seem to show that[Pg 97] Calvin meant his book to be a protest against the persecution of the French Protestants. His preface is a daring attack on the abuses which were connected with the administration of justice in the public courts, and he says distinctly that he hopes the Commentary will be of service to the public.[104]

It seems evident from Calvin’s correspondence that he had joined the small band of Protestants in Paris, and that he was intimate with Gerard Roussel, the Evangelical preacher,[105] the friend of Marguerite of Navarre, of Lefèvre, of Farel, and a member of the “group of Meaux.” The question occurs, When did his conversion take place? This has been keenly debated;[106] but the arguments concern words more than facts, and arise from the various meanings attached to the word “conversion” rather than from the difficulty of determining the time. Calvin, who very rarely reveals the secrets of his own soul, tells in his preface to his Commentary on the Psalms, that God drew him from his obstinate attachment to the superstitions of the Papacy by a “sudden conversion,” and that this took place after he had devoted himself to the study of law in obedience to the wishes of his father. It does not appear to have been such a sudden and complete vision of divine graciousness as Luther received in the convent at Erfurt. But it[Pg 98] was a beginning. He received then some taste of true piety (aliquo veræ pietatis gusto). He was abashed to find, he goes on to relate, that barely a year afterwards, those who had a desire to learn what pure doctrine was gradually ranged themselves around him to learn from him who knew so little (me novitium adhuc et tironem). This was perhaps at Orleans, but it may have been at Bourges. When he returned to Paris to betake himself to Humanist studies, he was a Protestant, convinced intellectually as well as drawn by the pleadings of the heart. He joined the little band who had gathered round Estienne de la Forge, who met secretly in the house of that pious merchant, and listened to the addresses of Gerard Roussel. He was frequently called upon to expound the Scriptures in the little society; and a tradition, which there is no reason to doubt, declares that he invariably concluded his discourse with the words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

He was suddenly compelled to flee from Paris. The theologians of the Sorbonne were vehemently opposed to the “royal lecturers” who represented the Humanism favoured by Margaret, the sister of Francis, and Queen of Navarre. In their wrath they had dared to attack Margaret’s famous book, Miroir de l’âme pécheresse, and had in consequence displeased the Court. Nicolas Cop, the friend of Calvin, professor in the College of Sainte Barbe, was Rector of the University (1533). He assembled the four faculties, and the faculty of medicine disowned the proceedings of the theologians. It was the custom for the Rector to deliver an address before the University yearly during his term of office, and Cop asked his friend Calvin to compose the oration.[107] Calvin made use of the occasion to write on “Christian Philosophy,” taking for his motto, “Blessed are[Pg 99] the poor in spirit” (Matt. v. 3). The discourse was an eloquent defence of Evangelical truth, in which the author borrowed from Erasmus and from Luther, besides adding characteristic ideas of his own. The wrath of the Sorbonne may be imagined. Two monks were employed to accuse the author of heresy before Parlement, which responded willingly. It called the attention of the King to papal Bulls against the Lutheran heresy. Meanwhile people discovered that Calvin was the real author, and he had to flee from Paris. After wanderings throughout France he found refuge in Basel (1535).

It was there that he finished his Christianæ Religionis Institutio, which had for its preface the celebrated letter addressed to Francis I. King of France. The book was the strongest weapon Protestantism had yet forged against the Papacy, and the letter “a bold proclamation, solemnly made by a young man of six-and-twenty, who, more or less unconsciously, assumed the command of Protestantism against its enemies, calumniators, and persecutors.” News had reached Basel that Francis, who was seeking the alliance of the German Lutheran Princes, and was posing as protector of the German Protestants, had resolved to purge his kingdom of the so-called heresy, and was persecuting his Protestant subjects. This double-dealing gave vigour to Calvin’s pen. He says in his preface that he wrote the book with two distinct purposes. He meant it to prepare and qualify students of theology for reading the divine Word, that they may have an easy introduction to it, and be able to proceed in it without obstruction. He also meant it to be a vindication of the teaching of the Reformers against the calumnies of their enemies, who had urged the King of France to persecute them and drive them from France. His dedication was: To His Most Gracious Majesty, Francis, King of France and his sovereign, John Calvin wisheth peace and salvation in Christ. Among other things he said:

“I exhibit my confession to you that you may know the nature of that doctrine which is the object of such[Pg 100] unbounded rage to those madmen who are now disturbing your kingdom with fire and sword. For I shall not be afraid to acknowledge that this treatise contains a summary of that very doctrine which, according to their clamours, deserves to be punished with imprisonment, banishment, proscription, and flames, and to be exterminated from the face of the earth.”

He meant to state in calm precise fashion what Protestants believed; and he made the statement in such a way as to challenge comparison between those beliefs and the teaching of the mediæval Church. He took the Apostles’ Creed, the venerable symbol of Western Christendom, and proceeded to show that when tested by this standard the Protestants were truer Catholics than the Romanists. He took this Apostles’ Creed, which had been recited or sung in the public worship of the Church of the West from the earliest times, which differed from other creeds in this, that it owed its authority to no Council, but sprang directly from the heart of the Church, and he made it the basis of his Institutio. For the Institutio is an expansion and exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, and of the four sentences which it explains. Its basis is: I believe in God the Father; and in His Son Jesus Christ; and in the Holy Ghost; and in the Holy Catholic Church. The Institutio is divided into four parts, each part expounding one of these fundamental sentences. The first part describes God, the Creator, or, as the Creed says: “God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”; the second, God the Son, the Redeemer and His Redemption; the third, God the Holy Ghost and His Means of Grace; the fourth, the Holy Catholic Church, its nature and marks.

This division and arrangement, based on the Apostles’ Creed, means that Calvin did not think he was expounding a new theology or had joined a new Church. The theology of the Reformation was the old teaching of the Church of Christ, and the doctrinal beliefs of the Reformers were those views of truth which were founded[Pg 101] on the Word of God, and which had been known, or at least felt, by pious people all down the generations from the earliest centuries. He and his fellow Reformers believed and taught the old theology of the earliest creeds, made plain and freed from the superstitions which mediæval theologians had borrowed from pagan philosophy and practices.

The first edition of the Institutio was published in March 1536, in Latin. It was shorter and in many ways inferior to the carefully revised editions of 1539 and 1559. In the later editions the arrangement of topics was somewhat altered; but the fundamental doctrine remains unchanged; the author was not a man to publish a treatise on theology without carefully weighing all that had to be said. In 1541, Calvin printed a French edition, which he had translated himself “for the benefit of his countrymen.”

After finishing his Institutio (the MS. was completed in August 1535, and the printing in March 1536), Calvin, under the assumed name of Charles d’Espeville, set forth on a short visit to Italy with a companion, Louis du Tillet, who called himself Louis de Haulmont. He intended to visit Renée, Duchess of Ferrara, daughter of Louis XII. of France, known for her piety and her inclination to the Reformed faith. He also wished to see something of Italy. After a short sojourn he was returning to Strassburg, with the intention of settling there and devoting himself to a life of quiet study, when he was accidentally compelled to visit Geneva, and his whole plan of life was changed. The story can best be told in his own words. He says in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms:

“As the most direct route to Strassburg, to which I then intended to retire, was blocked by the wars, I had resolved to pass quickly by Geneva, without staying longer than a single night in that city.... A person (Louis du Tillet) who has now returned to the Papists discovered me and made me known to others. Upon this Farel, who burned with an extraordinary zeal to advance the Gospel, immediately[Pg 102] strained every nerve to detain me. After having learnt that my heart was set upon devoting myself to private studies, for which I wished to keep myself free from other pursuits, and finding that he gained nothing by entreaties, he proceeded to utter an imprecation, that God would curse my retirement and the tranquillity of the studies which I sought, if I should withdraw and refuse assistance when the necessity was so urgent. By this imprecation I was so stricken with terror that I desisted from the journey which I had undertaken.”

§ 5. Calvin with Farel in Geneva.

Calvin was twenty-seven years of age and Farel twenty years older when they began to work together in Geneva; and, notwithstanding the disparity in age and utter dissimilarity of character, the two men became strongly attached to each other. “We had one heart and one soul,” Calvin says. Farel introduced him to the leading citizens, who were not much impressed by the reserved, frail young foreigner whose services their pastor was so anxious to secure. They did not even ask his name. The minute of the Council (Sept. 5th, 1536), giving him employment and promising him support, runs: “Master William Farel stated the need for the lecture begun by this Frenchman in St. Peter’s.”[108] Calvin had declined the pastorate; but he had agreed to act as “professor in sacred learning to the Church in Geneva (Sacrarum literarum in ecclesia Genevensi professor).” His power was of that quiet kind that is scarcely felt till it has gripped and holds.

He began his work by giving lectures daily in St. Peter’s on the Epistles of St. Paul. They were soon felt to be both powerful and attractive. Calvin soon made a strong impression on the people of the city. An occasion[Pg 103] arose which revealed him in a way that his friends had never before known. Bern had conquered the greater part of the Pays de Vaud in the late war. Its Council was determined to instruct the people of its newly acquired territory in Evangelical principles by means of a public Disputation, to be held at Lausanne during the first week of October.[109] The three hundred and thirty-seven priests of the newly conquered lands, the inmates of the thirteen abbeys and convents, of the twenty-five priories, of the two chapters of canons, were invited to come to Lausanne to refute if they could the ten Evangelical Theses arranged by Farel and Viret.[110] The Council of Bern pledged itself that there would be the utmost freedom of debate, not only for its own subjects, but “for all comers, to whatever land they belonged.” Farel insisted on this freedom in his own trenchant way: “You may speak here as boldly as you please; our arguments are neither faggot, fire, nor sword, prison nor torture; public executioners are not our doctors of divinity.... Truth is strong enough to outweigh falsehood; if you have it, bring it forward.” The Romanists were by no means eager to accept the challenge. Out of the three hundred and thirty-seven priests invited, only one hundred and seventy-four appeared, and of these only four attempted to take part. Two who had promised to discuss did not show themselves. Only ten of the forty religious houses sent representatives, and only one of them ventured to meet the Evangelicals in argument.[111] As at Bern in 1528, as at Geneva in May 1535, so here at Lausanne in October 1536, the Romanists showed themselves unable to meet their opponents, and the policy of[Pg 104] Bern in insisting on public Disputations was abundantly justified.

Farel and Viret were the Protestant champions. Farel preached the opening sermon in the cathedral on Oct. 1st, and closed the conference by another sermon on Oct. 8th. The discussion began on the Monday, when the huge cathedral was thronged by the inhabitants of the city and of the surrounding villages. In the middle of the church a space was reserved for the disputants. There sat the four secretaries, the two presidents, and five commissioners representing les Princes Chretiens Messieurs de Berne, distinguished by their black doublets and shoulder-knots faced with red, and by their broad-brimmed hats ornamented with great bunches of feathers,—hats kept stiffly on heads as befitting the representatives of such potent lords.

Calvin had not meant to speak; Farel and Viret were the orators; he was only there in attendance. But on the Thursday, when the question of the Real Presence was discussed, one of the Romanists read a carefully prepared paper, in the course of which he said that the Protestants despised and neglected the ancient Fathers, fearing their authority, which was against their views. Then Calvin rose. He began with the sarcastic remark that the people who reverenced the Fathers might spend some little time in turning over their pages before they spoke about them. He quoted from one Father after another,—“Cyprian, discussing the subject now under review in the third epistle of his second book of Epistles, says ... Tertullian, refuting the error of Marcion, says ... The author of some imperfect commentaries on St. Matthew, which some have attributed to St. John Chrysostom, in the 11th homily about the middle, says ... St. Augustine, in his 23rd Epistle, near the end, says ... Augustine, in one of his homilies on St. John’s Gospel, the 8th or the 9th, I am not sure at this moment which, says ...”;[112] and so on. He knew the ancient Fathers as no one else in the century. He had not taken their opinions second-hand from Peter[Pg 105] of Lombardy’s Sententiæ as did most of the Schoolmen and contemporary Romanist theologians. It was the first time that he displayed, almost accidentally, his marvellous patristic knowledge,—a knowledge for which Melanchthon could never sufficiently admire him.

But in Geneva the need of the hour was organisation and familiar instruction, and Calvin set himself to work at once. He has told us how he felt. “When I came first to this church,” he said, “there was almost nothing. Sermons were preached;[113] the idols had been sought out and burned, but there was no other reformation; everything was in disorder.”[114] In the second week of January he had prepared a draft of the reforms he wished introduced. It was presented to the Small Council by Farel; the members had considered it, and were able to transmit it with their opinion to the Council of the Two Hundred on January 15th, 1537. It forms the basis of all Calvin’s ecclesiastical work in Geneva, and deserves study.

The memorandum treats of four things, and four only—the Holy Supper of our Lord (la Saincte Cène de Nostre Seigneur), singing in public worship, the religious instruction of children, and marriage.

In every rightly ordered church, it is said, the Holy Supper ought to be celebrated frequently, and well attended. It ought to be dispensed every Lord’s Day at least;[115] such was the practice in the Apostolic Church, and ought to be ours; the celebration is a great comfort to all believers, for in it they are made partakers of the Body and Blood of Jesus, of His death, of His life, of His[Pg 106] Spirit, and of all His benefits. But the present weakness of the people makes it undesirable to introduce so sweeping a change, and therefore it is proposed that the Holy Supper be celebrated once each month “in one of the three places where sermons are now delivered—in the churches of St. Peter, St. Gervais, and de Rive.” The celebration, however, ought to be for the whole Church of Geneva, and not simply for those living in the quarters of the town where these churches are. Thus every one will have the opportunity of monthly communion. But if unworthy partakers approach the Table of the Lord, the Holy Supper will be soiled and contaminated. To prevent this, the Lord has placed the discipline de l’excommunication within His Church in order to maintain its purity, and this ought to be used. Perhaps the best way of exercising it is to appoint men of known worth, dwelling in different quarters of the town, who ought to be trusted to watch and report to the ministers all in their neighbourhood who despise Christ Jesus by living in open sin. The ministers ought to warn all such persons not to come to the Holy Supper, and the discipline of excommunication only begins when such warnings are unheeded.

Congregational singing of Psalms ought to be part of the public worship of the Church of Christ; for Psalms sung in this way are really public prayers, and when they are sung hearts are moved and worshippers are incited to form similar prayers for themselves, and to render to God the like praises with the same loving loyalty. But as all this is unusual, and the people need to be trained, it may be well to select children, to teach them to sing in a clear and distinct fashion in the congregation, and if the people listen with all attention and follow “with the heart what is sung by the mouth,” they will, “little by little, become accustomed to sing together” as a congregation.[116]

[Pg 107]

It is most important for the due preservation of purity of doctrine that children from their youth should be instructed how to give a reason for their faith, and therefore some simple catechism or confession of faith ought to be prepared and taught to the children. At “certain seasons of the year” the children ought to be brought before the pastors, who should examine them and expound the teachings of the catechism.

The ordinance of marriage has been disfigured by the evil and unscriptural laws of the Papacy, and it were well that the whole matter be carefully thought over and some simple rules laid down agreeable to the Word of God.

This memorandum, for it is scarcely more, was dignified with the name of the Articles (Articuli de regimine ecclesiæ). It was generally approved by the Small Council and the Council of Two Hundred, who made, besides, the definite regulations that the Holy Supper should be celebrated four times in the year, and that announcements of marriages should be made for three successive Sundays before celebration. But it is very doubtful whether the Council went beyond this general approval, or that they gave definite and deliberate consent to Calvin’s proposals about “the discipline of excommunication.”

These Articles were superseded by the famous Ordonnances ecclésiastiques de l’Église de Genève, adopted on Nov. 20th, 1541; but as they are the first instance in which Calvin publicly presented his special ideas about ecclesiastical government, it may be well to describe what these were. To understand them aright, to see the new thing which Calvin tried to introduce into the Church life of the sixteenth century, it is necessary to distinguish between two things which it must be confessed were[Pg 108] practically entangled with each other in these days—the attempt to regulate the private life by laws municipal or national, and the endeavour to preserve the solemnity and purity of the celebration of the Holy Supper.

When historians, ecclesiastical or other, charge Calvin with attempting the former, they forget that there was no need for him to do so. Geneva, like every other mediæval town, had its laws which interfered with private life at every turn, and that in a way which to our modern minds seems the grossest tyranny, but which was then a commonplace of city life. Every mediæval town had its laws against extravagance in dress, in eating and in drinking, against cursing and swearing, against gaming, dances, and masquerades. They prescribed the number of guests to be invited to weddings, and dinners, and dances; when the pipers were to play, when they were to leave off, and what they were to be paid. It must be confessed that when one turns over the pages of town chronicles, or reads such a book as Baader’s Nürnberger Polizeiordnung, the thought cannot help arising that the Civic Fathers, like some modern law-makers, were content to place stringent regulations on the statute-book, and then, exhausted by their moral endeavour, had no energy left to put them into practice. But every now and then a righteous fit seized them, and maid-servants were summoned before the Council for wearing silk aprons, or fathers for giving too luxurious wedding feasts, or citizens for working on a Church festival, or a mother, for adorning her daughter too gaily for her marriage. The citizens of every mediæval town lived under a municipal discipline which we would pronounce to be vexatious and despotic. Every instance quoted by modern historians to prove, as they think, Calvin’s despotic interference with the details of private life, can be paralleled by references to the police-books of mediæval towns in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. To make them ground of accusation against Calvin is simply to plead ignorance of the whole municipal police of the later Middle Ages. To[Pg 109] say that Calvin acquiesced in or approved of such legislation is simply to show that he belonged to the sixteenth century. When towns adopted the Reformation, the spirit of civic legislation did not change, but some old regulations were allowed to lapse, and fresh ones suggested by the new ideas took their place. There was nothing novel in the law which Bern made for the Pays de Vaud in 1536 (Dec. 24th), prohibiting dancing with the exception of “trois danses honêtes” at weddings; but it was a new regulation which prescribed that parents must bring their daughters to the marriage altar “le chiefz couvert.” It was not a new thing when Basel in 1530 appointed three honourable men (one from the Council and two from the commonalty) to watch over the morals of the inhabitants of each parish, and report to the Council. It was new, but quite in the line of mediæval civic legislation, when Bern forbade scandalous persons from approaching the Lord’s Table (1532).

Calvin’s thought moved on another plane. He was distinguished among the Reformers for his zeal to restore again the conditions which had ruled in the Church of the first three centuries. This had been a favourite idea with Lefèvre,[117] who had taught it to Farel, Gerard Roussel, and the other members of the “group of Meaux.” Calvin may have received it from Roussel; but there is no need to suppose that it did not come to him quite independently. He had studied the Fathers of the first three[Pg 110] centuries more diligently than any of his contemporaries. He recognised as none of them did that the Holy Supper of the Lord was the centre of the religious life of the Church, and the apex and crown of her worship. He saw how careful the Church of the first three centuries had been to protect the sacredness of the simple yet profound rite; and that it had done so by preventing the approach of all unworthy communicants. Discipline was the nerve of the early Church, and excommunication was the nerve of discipline; and Calvin wished to introduce both. Moreover, he knew that in the early Church it belonged to the membership and to the ministry to exercise discipline and to pronounce excommunication. He desired to reintroduce all these distinctive features of the Church of the first three centuries—weekly communion, discipline and excommunication exercised by the pastorate and the members. He recognised that when the people had been accustomed to come to the Lord’s Table only once or twice in the year, it was impossible to introduce weekly communion all at once. But he insisted that the warnings of St. Paul about unworthy communicants were so weighty that notorious sinners ought to be prevented from approaching the Holy Supper, and that the obstinately impenitent should be excommunicated. This and this alone was the distinctive thing about Calvin’s proposals; this was the new conception which he introduced.

Calvin’s mistake was that, while he believed that the membership and the pastorate should exercise discipline and excommunication, he also insisted that the secular power should enforce the censures of the Church. His ideas worked well in the French Church, a Church “under the cross,” and in the same position as the Church of the early centuries. But the conception that the secular power ought to support with civil pains and penalties the disciplinary decisions of ecclesiastical Courts, must have produced a tyranny not unlike what had existed in the mediæval Church. Calvin’s ideas, however, were never accepted save nominally in any of the Swiss Churches—not even[Pg 111] in Geneva. The very thought of excommunication in the hands of the Church was eminently distasteful to the Protestants of the sixteenth century; they had suffered too much from it as exercised by the Roman Catholic Church. Nor did it agree with the conceptions which the magistrates of the Swiss republics had of their own dignity, that they should be the servants of the ministry to carry out their sentences.[118] The leading Reformers in German Switzerland almost universally held that excommunication, if it ever ought to be practised, should be in the hands of the civil authorities.

Zwingli did not think that the Church should exercise the right of excommunication. He declared that the example of the first three centuries was not to be followed, because in these days the “Church could have no assistance from the Emperors, who were pagans”; whereas in Zurich there was a Christian magistracy, who could relieve the Church of what must be in any case a disagreeable duty. His successor, Bullinger, the principal adviser of the divines of the English Reformation, went further. Writing to Leo Jud (1532), he declares that excommunication ought not to belong to the Church, and that he doubts whether it should be exercised even by the secular authorities; and in a letter to a Romance pastor (Nov. 24th, 1543) he expounds his views about excommunication, and states how he differs from his optimos fratres Gallos (Viret, Farel, and Calvin).[119] The German Swiss Reformers took the one side, and the French Swiss Reformers took the other; and the latter were all men who had learned to reverence the usages of the Church of the first three centuries, and desired to see its methods of ecclesiastical discipline restored.

The people invariably sided with the German-speaking[Pg 112] Reformers.[120] Calvin managed, with great difficulty, to introduce excommunication into Geneva after his return from exile, but not in a way conformable to his ideas. Farel could not get it introduced into Neuchâtel. He believed, founding on the New Testament,[121] that the membership of each parish had the right to exclude from the Holy Supper sinners who had resisted all admonitions. But the Council and community of Neuchâtel would not tolerate the “practice and usage of Excommunication,” and did not allow it to appear in their ecclesiastical ordinances of 1542 or of 1553. Oecolampadius induced the Council of Basel to permit excommunication, and to inscribe the names of the excommunicate on placards fixed on the doors of the churches. Zwingli remonstrated vigorously, and the practice was abandoned. Bern was willing to warn open sinners from approaching the Lord’s Table, but would not hear of excommunication, and declared roundly that “ministers, who were sinners themselves, being of flesh and blood, should not attempt to penetrate into the individual consciences, whose secrets were known to God alone.” Viret tried to introduce a discipline ecclésiastique into the Pays de Vaud, but was unable to induce magistrates or people to accept it. The young Protestant Churches of Switzerland, with the very doubtful exception of Geneva after 1541, refused to allow the introduction of the disciplinary usages of the primitive Church. They had no objection to discipline, however searching and vexatious, provided it was simply an application of the old municipal legislation, to which they had for generations been accustomed, to the higher moral requirements of religion.[122] It was universally[Pg 113] recognised that the standard of moral living all over French Switzerland was very low, and that stringent measures were required to improve it. No exception was taken to the severe reprimand which the Council of Bern addressed to the subject Council of Lausanne for their failure to correct the evil habits of the people of that old episcopal town;[123] but such discipline had to be exercised in the old mediæval way through the magistrates, and not in any new-fangled fashion borrowed from the primitive Church. So far as Switzerland was concerned, Calvin’s entreaties to model their ecclesiastical life on what he believed with Lefèvre to be the golden period of the Church’s history, fell on heedless ears. One must go to the French Church, and in a lesser degree to the Church of Knox in Scotland, to see Calvin’s ideas put in practice; it is vain to look for this in Switzerland.

The Catechism for children was published in 1537, and was meant, according to the author, to give expression to a simple piety, rather than to exhibit a profound knowledge of[Pg 114] religious truth. But, as Calvin himself felt later, it was too theological for children, and was superseded by a second Catechism, published immediately after his return to Geneva in 1541. The first Catechism was entitled Instruction and Confession of Faith for the use of the Church of Geneva. It expounded successively the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments. The duties of the pastorate and of the magistracy were stated in appendices.[124]

The Confession of Faith had for its full title, Confession de la Foy laquelle tous bourgois et habitans de Genève et subjectz du pays doyvent jurer de garder et tenir extraicte de l’Instruction dont on use en l’Église de la dicte ville.[125] It reproduced the contents of the Instruction, and was, like it, a condensed summary of the Institutio.

This Confession has often been attributed to Farel, but there can be little doubt that it came from the pen of Calvin.[126] It was submitted to the Council and approved by them, and they agreed that the people should be asked to swear to maintain it, the various divisions of the districts of the town appearing for the purpose before the secretary of the Council. The proposal was then sent down to the Council of the Two Hundred, where it was assented to, but not without opposition. The minutes show that some members remained faithful to the Romanist faith. They said that they ought not to be compelled to take an oath which was against their conscience. Others who professed themselves Protestants asserted that to swear to a Confession took from them their liberty.[Pg 115] “We do not wish to be constrained,” they said, “but to live in our liberty.” But in the end it was resolved to do as the Council had recommended. So day by day the dizenniers, or captains of the divisions of the town, brought their people to the cathedral, where the secretary stood in the pulpit to receive the oath. The magistrates set the example, and the people were sworn in batches, raising their hands and taking the oath. But there were malcontents who stayed away, and there were beginnings of trouble which was to increase. Deputies from Bern, unmindful of the fact that their city had sworn in the same way to their creed, encouraged the dissentients by saying that no one could take such an oath without perjuring himself; and this opinion strengthened the opposition. But the Council of Bern disowned its deputies,[127] and refused any countenance to the malcontents, and the trouble passed. All Geneva was sworn to maintain the Confession.

Meanwhile the ministers of Geneva had been urging decision about the question of discipline and excommunication; and the murmurs against them grew stronger. The Council was believed to be too responsive to the pleadings of the pastors, and a stormy meeting of the General Council (Nov. 25th) revealed the smouldering discontent. On the 4th of January (1538) the Councils of Geneva rejected entirely the proposals to institute a discipline which would protect the profanation of the Lord’s Table, by resolving that the Holy Supper was to be refused to no person seeking to partake. On the 3rd of February, at the annual election of magistrates, four Syndics were chosen who were known to be the most resolute opponents of Calvin and of Farel. The new Council did not at first show itself hostile to the preachers: their earliest minutes are rather deferential. But a large part of the citizens were violently opposed to the preachers; the[Pg 116] Syndics were their enemies: collision was bound to come sooner or later.

It was at this stage that a proposal from Bern brought matters to a crisis.

The city contained many inhabitants who had been somewhat unwillingly dragged along the path of Reformation. Those who clung to the old faith were reinforced by others who had supported the Reformation simply as a means of freeing the city from the rule of the Prince Bishop, and who had no sympathy with the religious movement. The city had long been divided into two parties, and the old differences reappeared as soon as the city declared itself Protestant. The malcontents took advantage of everything that could assist them to stay the tide of Reformation and hamper the work of the ministers. They patronised the Anabaptists when they appeared in Geneva; they supported the accusation brought against Farel and Calvin by Pierre Caroli, that they were Arians because they refused to use the Athanasian Creed; above all, they declared that they stood for liberty, and called themselves Libertines. When Bern interfered, they hastened to support its ecclesiastical suggestions.

Bern had never been contented with the position in which it stood to Geneva after its conquest of the Pays de Vaud. When the war was ended, or rather before it was finished, and while the Bernese army of deliverance was occupying the town, the accompanying deputies of Bern had claimed for their city the rights over Geneva previously exercised by the Prince Bishop and the Vidomne or representative of the Duke of Savoy, whom their army had conquered. They claimed to be the overlords of Geneva, as they succeeded in making themselves masters of Lausanne and the Pays de Vaud. The people of Geneva resisted the demand. They declared, Froment tells us, that they had not struggled and fought for more than thirty years to assert their liberties, in order to make themselves the vassals of their allies or of anyone in the wide world.[128][Pg 117] Bern threatened to renounce alliance; but Geneva stood firm; there was always France to appeal to for aid. In the end Bern had to be content with much less than it had demanded.

Geneva became an independent republic, served heir to all the signorial rights of the Prince Bishop and to all his revenues, successor also to all the justiciary rights of the Vidomne or representative of the House of Savoy. It gained complete sovereignty within the city; it also retained the same sovereignty over the districts (mandements) of Penney, Jussy, and Thyez which had belonged to the Prince Bishop. On the other side, Bern received the district of Gaillard; Geneva bound itself to make no alliance nor conclude any treaty without the consent of Bern; and to admit the Bernese at all times into their city. The lordship over one or two outlying districts was divided—Geneva being recognised as sovereign, and having the revenues, and Bern keeping the right to judge appeals, etc.

It seemed to be the policy of Bern to create a strong State by bringing under its strict control the greater portion of Romance Switzerland. Her subject territories, Lausanne, a large part of the Pays de Vaud, Gex, Chablais, Orbe, etc., surrounded Geneva on almost every side. If only Geneva were reduced to the condition of the other Prince Bishopric, Lausanne, Bern’s dream of rule would be realised. The Reformed Church was a means of solidifying these conquests. Over all Romance territories subject to Bern the Bernese ecclesiastical arrangements were to rule. Her Council was invariably the last court of appeal. Her consistory was reproduced in all these French-speaking local Churches. Her religious usages and ceremonies spread all over this Romance Switzerland. The Church in Geneva was independent. Might it not be brought into nearer conformity, and might not conformity in ecclesiastical matters lead to the political incorporation which Bern so ardently desired? The evangelist of almost all these Romance Protestant[Pg 118] Churches had been Farel. Their ecclesiastical usages had grown up under his guidance. It would conduce to harmony in the attempt to introduce uniformity with Bern if the Church of Geneva joined. Such was the external political situation to be kept in view in considering the causes which led to the banishment of Calvin from Geneva.

In pursuance of its scheme of ecclesiastical conformity, the Council of Bern summoned a Synod, representing most of the Evangelical Churches in western Switzerland, and laid its proposals before them. No detailed account of the proceedings has been preserved. There were probably some dissentients, of whom Farel was most likely one, who pled that the Romance Churches might be left to preserve their own usages. But the general result was that Bern resolved to summon another Synod, representing the Romance Churches, to meet at Lausanne (March 30th, 1538). They asked (March 5th) the Council of Geneva to permit the attendance of Farel and Calvin.[129] The letter reached Geneva on March 11th, and on that day the Genevan magistrates, unsolicited by Bern and without consulting their ministers, resolved to introduce the Bernese ceremonies into the Genevan Church. Next day they sent the letter of Bern to Farel and Calvin, and at the same time warned the preachers that they would not be allowed to criticise the proceedings of the Council in the pulpit. Neither Farel nor Calvin made any remonstrance. They declared that they were willing to go to Lausanne, asked the Council if they had any orders to give, and said that they were ready to obey them; and this although a second letter (March 20th) had come from Bern saying that if the Genevan preachers would not accept the Bern proposals they would not be permitted to attend the Synod.

Farel and Calvin accordingly went to the Synod at Lausanne, and were parties to the decision arrived at, which[Pg 119] was to accept the usages of Bern—that all baptisms should be celebrated at stone fonts placed at the entrance of the churches; that unleavened bread should be used at the Holy Supper; and that four religious festivals should be observed annually, Christmas, New Year’s Day, the Annunciation, and the Day of Ascension—with the stipulation that Bern should warn its officials not to be too hard on poor persons for working on these festival days.[130]

When the Council of Bern had got its ecclesiastical proposals duly adopted by the representatives of the various Churches interested, its Council wrote (April 15th) to the Council and to the ministers of Geneva asking them to confer together and arrange that the Church of Geneva should adopt these usages—the magistrates of Bern having evidently no knowledge of the hasty resolution of the Genevan Council already mentioned. The letter was discussed at a meeting of Council (April 19th, 1538), and several minutes, all relating to ecclesiastical matters, were passed. It was needless to come to any resolution about the Bern usages; they had been adopted already. The letter from Bern was to be shown to Farel and Calvin, and the preachers were to be asked and were to answer, yea or nay, would they at once introduce the Bern ceremonies? The preachers said that the usages could not be introduced at once. The third Genevan preacher, Elie Coraut, had spoken disrespectfully of the Council in the city, and was forbidden to preach, upon threat of imprisonment, until he had been examined about his words.[131] Lastly, it was resolved that the Holy Supper should be celebrated at once according to the Bern rites; and that if Farel and Calvin refused, the Council was to engage other preachers who would obey their orders.[132]

[Pg 120]

Coraut, the blind preacher, preached as usual (April 20th). He was at once arrested and imprisoned. In the afternoon, Farel and Calvin, accompanied by several of the most eminent citizens of Geneva, appeared before the Council to protest against Coraut’s imprisonment, and to demand his release—Farel speaking with his usual daring vehemence, and reminding the magistrates that but for his work in the city they would not be in the position they occupied. The request was refused, and the Council took advantage of the presence of the preachers to ask them whether they would at once introduce the Bern usages. They replied that they had no objection to the ceremonies, and would be glad to use them in worship provided they were properly adopted,[133] but not on a simple order from the Council. Farel and Calvin were then forbidden to preach. Next day the two pastors preached as usual—Calvin in St. Peter’s and Farel in St. Gervaise. The Council met to consider this act of disobedience. Some were for sending the preachers to prison at once; but it was resolved to summon the Council of the Two Hundred on the morrow (April 22nd) and the General Council on the 24th. The letters of Bern (March 5th, March 20th, April 15th) were read, and the Two Hundred resolved that they would “live according to the ceremonies of Bern.” What then was to be done with Calvin and Farel? Were they to be sent to the town’s prison? No! Better to wait till the Council secured other preachers (it had been trying to do so and had failed), and then dismiss them. The General Council then met;[134] resolved to “live according to the ceremonies of Bern,” and to banish the three preachers from the town, giving them three days to collect their effects.[135][Pg 121] Calvin and Farel were sent into exile, and the magistrates made haste to seize the furniture which had been given them when they were settled as preachers.

Calvin long remembered the threats and dangers of these April days and nights. He was insulted in the streets. Bullies threatened to “throw him into the Rhone.” Crowds of the baser sort gathered round his house. They sang ribald and obscene songs under his windows. They fired shots at night, more than fifty one night, before his door—“more than enough to astonish a poor scholar, timid as I am, and as I confess I have always been.”[136] It was the memory of these days that made him loathe the very thought of returning to Geneva.

The two Reformers, Calvin and Farel, left the town at once, determined to lay their case before the Council of Bern, and also before the Synod of Swiss Churches which was about to meet at Zurich (April 28th, 1538). The Councillors of Bern were both shocked and scandalised at the treatment the preachers had received from the Council of Geneva, and felt it all the more that their proposal of conformity had served as the occasion. They wrote at once to Geneva (April 27th), begging the Council to undo what they had done; to remember that their proposal for uniformity had never been meant to serve as occasion for compulsion in matters which were after all indifferent.[137] Bern might be masterful, but it was almost always courteous. The secular authority might be the motive force in all ecclesiastical matters, but it was to be exercised through the[Pg 122] machinery of the Church. The authorities of Bern had been careful to establish an ecclesiastical Court, the Consistory, of two pastors and three Councillors, who dealt with all ecclesiastical details. It encouraged the meeting of Synods all over its territories. Its proposals for uniformity had been addressed to both the pastors and the Council of Geneva, and had spoken of mutual consultation. They had no desire to seem even remotely responsible for the bludgeoning of the Genevan ministers. The Council of Geneva answered with a mixture of servility and veiled insolence[138] (April 30th). Nothing could be made of them.

From Bern, Farel and Calvin went to Zurich, and there addressed a memorandum to a Synod, which included representatives from Zurich, Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Mühlhausen, Biel (Bienne), and the two banished ministers from Geneva. It was one of those General Assemblies which in Calvin’s eyes represented the Church Catholic, to which all particular Churches owed deference, if not simple obedience. The Genevan pastors presented their statement with a proud humility. They were willing to accept the ceremonies of Bern, matters in themselves indifferent, but which might be useful in the sense of showing the harmony prevailing among the Reformed Churches; but they must be received by the Church of Geneva, and not imposed upon it by the mere fiat of the secular authority. They were quite willing to expound them to the people of Geneva and recommend them. But if they were to return to Geneva, they must be allowed to defend themselves against their calumniators; and their programme for the organisation of the Church of Geneva, which had already been accepted but had not been put in practice (January 16th, 1537),[139] must be introduced. It consisted of the following:—the establishment of an ecclesiastical discipline, that the Holy[Pg 123] Supper might not be profaned; the division of the city into parishes, that each minister might be acquainted with his own flock; an increase in the number of ministers for the town; regular ordination of pastors by the laying on of hands; more frequent celebration of the Holy Supper, according to the practice of the primitive Church.[140] They confessed that perhaps they had been too severe; on this personal matter they were willing to be guided.[141] They listened with humility to the exhortations of some of the members of the Synod, who prayed them to use more gentleness in dealing with an undisciplined people. But on the question of principle and on the rights of the Church set over against the State, they were firm. It was probably the first time that the Erastians of eastern Switzerland had listened to such High Church doctrine; but they accepted it and made it their own for the time being at least. The Synod decided to write to the Council of Geneva and ask them to have patience with their preachers and receive them back again; and they asked the deputies from Bern to charge themselves with the affair, and do their best to see Farel and Calvin reinstated in Geneva.

The deputies of Bern accepted the commission, and the Geneva pastors went back to Bern to await the arrival of the Bern deputies from Zurich. They waited, full of anxiety, for nearly fourteen days. Then the Bern Council were ready to fulfil the request of the Synod.[142] Deputies were appointed, and, accompanied by Farel and Calvin, set out[Pg 124] for Geneva. The two pastors waited on the frontier at Noyon or at Genthod while the deputies of Bern went on to Geneva. They had an audience of the Council (May 23rd), were told that the Council could not revoke what all three Councils had voted. The Council of the Two Hundred refused to recall the pastors. The Council General (May 26th) by a unanimous vote repeated the sentence of exile, and forbade the three pastors (Farel, Calvin, and Coraut) to set foot on Genevan territory.

Driven from Geneva, Calvin would fain have betaken himself to a quiet student life; but he was too well known and too much valued to be left in the obscurity he longed for. Strassburg claimed him to minister to the French refugees who had settled within its protecting walls. He was invited to attend the Protestant conference at Frankfurt; he was present at the union conferences at Hagenau, at Worms, and at Regensburg. There he met the more celebrated German Protestant divines, who welcomed him as they had done no one else from Switzerland. Calvin put himself right with them theologically by signing at once and without solicitation the Augsburg Confession, and aided thereby the feeling of union among all Protestants. He kindled in the breast of Melanchthon one of those romantic friendships which the frail Frenchman, with the pallid face, black hair, and piercing eyes, seemed to evoke so easily. Luther himself appreciated his theology even on his jealously guarded theory of the Sacrament of the Holy Supper.

Meanwhile things were not going well in Geneva. Outwardly, there was not much difference. Pastors ministered in the churches of the town, and the ordinary and ecclesiastical life went on as usual. The magistrates enforced the Articles; they condemned the Anabaptists, the Papists, all infringements of the sumptuary and disciplinary laws of the town. They compelled every householder to go to church. Still the old life seemed to be gone. The Council and the Syndics treated the new pastors as their servants, compelled them to render strict obedience to all their decisions[Pg 125] in ecclesiastical matters, and considered religion as a political affair. It is undoubted that the morals of the town became worse,—so bad that the pastors of Bern wrote a letter of expostulation to the pastors in Geneva,[143]—and the Lord’s Supper seems to have been neglected. The contests between parties within the city became almost scandalous, and the independent existence of Geneva was threatened.[144]

At the elections the Syndics failed to secure their re-election. Men of more moderate views were chosen, and from this date (Feb. 1539) the idea began to be mooted that Geneva must ask Calvin to return. Private overtures were made to him, but he refused. Then came letters from the Council, begging him to come back and state his terms. He kept silence. Lausanne and Neuchâtel joined their entreaties to those of Geneva. Calvin was not to be persuaded. His private letters reveal his whole mind. He shuddered at returning to the turbulent city. He was not sure that he was fit to take charge of the Church in Geneva. He was in peace at Strassburg, minister to a congregation of his own countrymen; and the pastoral tie once formed was not to be lightly broken; yet there was an undercurrent drawing him to the place where he first began the ministry of the Word. At length he wrote to the Council of Geneva, putting all his difficulties and his longings before them—neither accepting nor refusing. His immediate duty called him to the conference at Worms.

The people of Geneva were not discouraged. On the 19th October, the Council of the Two Hundred placed on their register a declaration that every means must be taken to secure the services of “Maystre Johan Calvinus,” and on the 22nd a worthy burgher and member of the Council of the Two Hundred, Louis Dufour, was despatched to Strassburg with a letter from both the civic Councils, begging Calvin to return to his “old place” (prestine plache), “seeing[Pg 126] our people desire you greatly,” and promising that they would do what they could to content him.[145] Dufour got to Strassburg only to find that Calvin had gone to Worms. He presented his letters to the Council of the town, who sent them on by an express (eques celeri cursu)[146] to Calvin (Nov. 6th, 1540). Far from being uplifted at the genuine desire to receive him back again to Geneva, Calvin was terribly distressed. He took counsel with his friends at Worms, and could scarcely place the case before them for his sobs.[147] The intolerable pain he had at the thought of going back to Geneva on the one hand, and the idea that Bucer might after all be right when he declared that Calvin’s duty to the Church Universal clearly pointed to his return,[148] overmastered him completely. His friends, respecting his sufferings, advised him to postpone all decision until again in Strassburg. Others who were not near him kept urging him. Farel thundered at him (consterné par tes foudres).[149] The pastors of Zurich wrote (April 5th 1541):

“You know that Geneva lies on the confines of France, of Italy, and of Germany, and that there is great hope that the Gospel may spread from it to the neighbouring cities, and thus enlarge the ramparts (les boulevards) of the kingdom of Christ.—You know that the Apostle selected metropolitan cities for his preaching centres, that the Gospel might be spread throughout the surrounding towns.”[150]

Calvin was overcome. He consented to return to Geneva, and entered the city still suffering from his repugnance to undertake work he was not at all sure that he was fitted to do. Historians speak of a triumphal entry. There may have been, though nothing could have been more distasteful to Calvin at any time, and eminently so[Pg 127] on this occasion, with the feelings he had. Contemporary documents are silent. There is only the minute of the Council, as formal as minutes usually are, relating that “Maystre Johan Calvin, ministre evangelique,” is again in charge of the Church in Geneva (Sept. 13th, 1541).[151]

Calvin was in Geneva for the second time, dragged there both times unwillingly, his dream of a quiet scholar’s life completely shattered. The work that lay before him proved to be almost as hard as he had foreseen it would be. The common idea that from this second entry Calvin was master within the city, is quite erroneous. Fourteen years were spent in a hard struggle (1541-55); and if the remaining nine years of his life can be called his period of triumph over opponents (1555-64), it must be remembered that he was never able to see his ideas of an ecclesiastical organisation wholly carried out in the city of his adoption. One must go to the Protestant Church of France to see Calvin’s idea completely realised.[152]

On the day of his entry into Geneva (Sept. 13th, 1541) the Council resolved that a Constitution should be given to the Church of the city, and a committee was formed, consisting of Calvin, his colleagues in the ministry, and six members of the Council, to prepare the draft. The work was completed in twenty days, and ready for presentation. On September 16th, however, it had been resolved that the draft when prepared should be submitted for revision to the Smaller Council, to the Council of Sixty, and finally to the Council of Two Hundred. The old opposition at once manifested itself within these Councils. There seem to have been alterations, and at the last moment Calvin thought that the Constitution would be made worthless for the purpose of discipline and orderly ecclesiastical rule. In the end, however, the drafted ordinances were adopted unanimously by the Council of Two Hundred without serious alteration.[Pg 128] The result was the famous Ecclesiastical Ordinances of Geneva in their first form. They did not assume their final form until 1561.[153]

When these Ordinances of 1541 are compared with the principles of ecclesiastical government laid down in the Institutio, with the Articles of 1537, and with the Ordinances of 1561, it can be seen that Calvin must have sacrificed a great deal in order to content the magistrates of Geneva.

He had contended for the self-government of the Church, especially in matters of discipline; the principle runs all through the chapters of the fourth book of the Institutio. The Ordinances give a certain show of autonomy, and yet the whole authority really rests with the Councils. The discipline was exercised by the Consistory or session of Elders (Anciens); but this Consistory was chosen by the Smaller Council on the advice of the ministers, and was to include two members of the Smaller Council, four from the Council of Sixty, and six from the Council of Two Hundred, and when they had been chosen they were to be presented to the Council of Two Hundred for approval. When the Consistory met, one of the four Syndics sat as president, holding his baton, the insignia of his magisterial office, in his hand, which, as the revised Ordinances of 1561 very truly said, “had more the appearance of civil authority than of spiritual rule.” The revised Ordinances forbade the president to carry his baton when he presided in The Consistory, in order to render obedience to the distinction which is “clearly shown in Holy Scripture to exist between the magistrate’s sword and authority and the superintendence which ought to be in the Church”; but the obedience to Holy Scripture does not seem to have gone further than laying aside the baton for the time. It appears also that the rule of consulting the ministers in the appointments made to the Consistory was not unfrequently omitted, and that it was[Pg 129] to all intents and purposes simply a committee of the Councils, and anything but submissive to the pastors.[154] The Consistory had no power to inflict civil punishments on delinquents. It could only admonish and warn. When it deemed that chastisements were necessary, it had to report to the Council, who sentenced. This was also done in order to maintain the separation between the civil and ecclesiastical power; but, in fact, it was a committee of the Council that reported to the Council, and the distinction was really illusory. This state of matters was quite repugnant to Calvin’s cherished idea, not only as laid down in the Institution, but as seen at work in the Constitution of the French Protestant Church, which was mainly his authorship. “The magnificent, noble, and honourable Lords” of the Council (such was their title) of this small town of 13,000 inhabitants deferred in words to the teachings of Calvin about the distinction between the civil and the spiritual powers, but in fact they retained the whole power of rule or discipline in their own hands; and we ought to see in the disciplinary powers and punishments of the Consistory of Geneva, not an exhibition of the working of a Church organised on the principles of Calvin, but the ordinary procedure of the Town Council of a mediæval city. Their petty punishments and their minute interference with private life are only special instances of what was common to all municipal rule in the sixteenth century.

Through that century we find a protest against the mediæval intrusion of the ecclesiastical power into the realm of civil authority, with the inevitable reaction which made the ecclesiastical a mere department of national or civic administration. Zurich under Zwingli, although it is usually taken as the extreme type of this Erastian policy, as it came to be called later, went no further than Bern, Strassburg, or other places. The Council of Geneva had legal precedent when they insisted that the supreme ecclesiastical power belonged to them. The city had been an ecclesiastical principality,[Pg 130] ruled in civil as well as in ecclesiastical things by its Bishop, and the Council were legally the inheritors of the Bishop’s authority. This meant, among other things, that the old laws against heresy, unless specially repealed, remained on the Statute Book, and errors in doctrine were reckoned to be of the nature of treasonable things; and this made heresies, or variations in religious opinion from what the Statute Book had declared to be the official view of truth, liable to civil pains and penalties.

“Castellio’s doubts as to the canonicity of the Song of Songs and as to the received interpretation of Christ’s descent into Hades, Bolsec’s criticism of predestination, Gryet’s suspected scepticism and possession of infidel books, Servetus’ rationalism and anti-Trinitarian creed, were all opinions judged to be criminal.... The heretic may be a man of irreproachable character; but if heresy be treason against the State,”[155]

he was a criminal, and had to be punished for the crime on the Statute Book. To say that Calvin burnt Servetus, as is continually done, is to make one man responsible for a state of things which had lasted in western Europe ever since the Emperor Theodosius declared that all men were out of law who did not accept the Nicene Creed in the form issued by Damasus of Rome. On the other hand, to release Calvin from his share in that tragedy and crime by denying that he sat among the judges of the heretic, or to allege that Servetus was slain because he conspired against the liberties of the city, is equally unreasonable. Calvin certainly believed that the execution of the anti-Trinitarian was right. The Protestants of France and of Switzerland in 1903 (Nov. 1st) erected what they called a monument expiatoire to the victim of sixteenth century religious persecution, and placed on it an inscription in which they acknowledged their debt to the great Reformer, and at the same time[Pg 131] condemned his error,—surely the right attitude to assume.[156]

Calvin did three things for Geneva, all of which went far beyond its walls. He gave its Church a trained and tested ministry, its homes an educated people who could give a reason for their faith, and to the whole city an heroic soul which enabled the little town to stand forth as the Citadel and City of Refuge for the oppressed Protestants of Europe.

The earlier preachers of the Reformed faith had been stray scholars, converted priests and monks, pious artisans, and such like. They were for the most part heroic men who did their work nobly. But some of them had no real vocation for the position into which they had thrust themselves. They had been prompted by such ignoble motives as discontent with their condition, the desire to marry or to make legitimate irregular connections,[157] or dislike to all authority and wholesome restraints. They had brought neither change of heart nor of conduct into their new surroundings, and had become a source of danger and scandal to the small Protestant communities.

The first part of the Ordinances was meant to put an end to such a condition of things, and aimed at giving the Reformed Church a ministry more efficient than the old priesthood, without claiming any specially priestly character.[Pg 132] The ministers were to be men who believed that they were called by the voice of God speaking to the individual soul, and this belief in a divine vocation was to be tested and tried in a threefold way—by a searching examination, by a call from their fellow-men in the Church, and by a solemn institution to office.

The examination, which is expressly stated to be the most important, was conducted by those who were already in the office of the ministry. It concerned, first, the knowledge which the candidate had of Holy Scripture, and of his ability to make use of it for the edification of the people; and, second, his walk and conversation in so far as they witnessed to his power to be an example as well as a teacher. The candidate was then presented to the Smaller Council. He was next required to preach before the people, who were invited to say whether his ministrations were likely to be for edification. These three tests passed, he was then to be solemnly set apart by the laying on of the hands of ministers, according to the usage of the ancient Church. His examination and testing did not end with his ordination. All the ministers of the city were commanded to meet once a week for the discussion of the Scriptures, and at these meetings it was the duty of every one, even the least important, to bring forward any cause of complaint he believed to exist against any of his brethren, whether of doctrine, or of morals, or of inefficient discharge of the duties entrusted to his care. The pastors who worked in the villages were ordered to attend as often as they could, and none of them were permitted to be absent beyond one month. If the meeting of ministers failed to agree on any matter brought before them, they were enjoined to call in the Elders to assist them; and a final appeal was always allowed to the Signory, or civil authority. The same rigid supervision was extended to the whole people, and in the visitations for this purpose Elders were always associated with ministers.[158] Every member of the[Pg 133] little republic, surrounded by so many and powerful enemies, was meant to be a soldier trained for spiritual as for temporal warfare. Calvin added a spiritual side to the military training which preserved the independence of the little mediæval city republics.

He was unwearied in his exertions to make Geneva an enlightened town. His educational policy adopted by the Councils was stated in a series of famous regulations for the management of the schools and College of the city.[159] He sought out and presented to the Council the most noted scholars he could attract to Geneva. Mathurin Cordier, the ablest preceptor that France had produced in his generation; Beza, its most illustrious Humanist; Castellio and Saunier, were all teachers in the city. The fame of its schools attracted almost as many as persecution drove to take refuge within its walls. The religious instruction of the young was carefully attended to. Calvin’s earlier Catechism was revised, and made more suitable for the young; and the children were so well grounded that it became a common saying that a boy of Geneva could give an answer for his faith as ably as a “doctor of the Sorbonne.” But what Geneva excelled in was its training for the ministry and other learned professions. Men with the passion of learning in their blood came from all lands—from Italy, Spain, England, Scotland, even from Russia, and, above all, from France. Pastors educated in Geneva, taught by the most distinguished scholars of the day, who had gained the art of ruling others in having learned how to command themselves, went forth from its schools to become the ministers of the struggling Protestants in the Netherlands, in England, in Scotland, in the Rhine Provinces, and, above all, in France. They were wise, indefatigable, fearless, ready to give their lives for their work, extorting praise from unwilling mouths, as modest, saintly, “with the name of Jesus ever on their lips” and His Spirit in their hearts. What they did for France and other countries must be told elsewhere.

[Pg 134]

The once disorderly city, a prey to its own internal factions, became the citadel of the Reformation, defying the threats of Romanist France and Savoy, and opening its gates to the persecuted of all lands. It continued to be so for generations, and the victims of the dragonnades of Louis XIV. received the welcome and protection accorded to the sufferers under the Valois in the sixteenth century. What it did for them may be best told in the words of a refugee:

“On the next day, a Sunday, we reached a small village on a hill about a league from Geneva, from which we could see that city with a joy which could only be compared to the gladness with which the Israelites beheld the Land of Canaan. It was midday when we reached the village, and so great was our eagerness to be as soon as possible within the city which we looked on as our Jerusalem, that we did not wish to stay even for food. But our conductor informed us that on the Sunday the gates of Geneva were never opened until after divine service, that is, until after four o’clock. We had therefore to remain in the village until about that hour, when we mounted our horses again. When we drew near to the town we saw a large number of people coming out. Our guide was surprised, and the more so when, arriving at the Plain-Palais, a quarter of a league from the town, we saw coming to meet us, three carriages escorted by halberdiers and followed by an immense crowd of people of both sexes and of every age. As soon as we were seen, a servant of the Magistracy approached us and prayed us to dismount to salute respectfully ‘Their Excellencies of Geneva,’ who had come to meet us and to bid us welcome. We obeyed. The three carriages having drawn near, there alighted from each a magistrate and a minister, who embraced us with tears of joy and with praises of our constancy and endurance far greater than we merited.... Their Excellencies then permitted the people to approach, and there followed a spectacle more touching than imagination could picture. Several of the inhabitants of Geneva had relatives suffering in the French galleys (from which we had been delivered), and these good people did not know whether any of them might be among our company. So one heard a confused noise, ‘My son so and so, my husband, my brother, are you there?’ One can[Pg 135] imagine what embracings welcomed any of our troop who could answer. All this crowd of people threw itself on our necks with inexpressible transports of joy, praising and magnifying the Lord for the manifestation of His grace in our favour; and when Their Excellencies asked us to get on horseback again to enter the city, we were scarcely able to obey, so impossible did it seem to detach ourselves from the arms of these pious and zealous brethren, who seemed afraid to lose sight of us. At last we remounted and followed Their Excellencies, who conducted us into the city as in triumph. A magnificent building had been erected in Geneva to lodge citizens who had fallen into poverty. It had just been finished and furnished, and no one had yet lived in it. Their Excellencies thought it could have no better dedication than to serve as our habitation. They conducted us there, and we were soon on foot in a spacious court. The crowd of people rushed in after us. Those who had found relatives in our company begged Their Excellencies to permit them to take them to their houses—a request willingly granted. M. Bosquet, one of us, had a mother and two sisters in Geneva, and they had come to claim him. As he was my intimate friend, he begged Their Excellencies to permit him to take me along with him, and they willingly granted his request. Fired by this example, all the burghers, men and women, asked Their Excellencies to allow them the same favour of lodging these dear brethren in their own houses. Their Excellencies having permitted some to do this, a holy jealousy took possession of the others, who lamented and bewailed themselves, saying that they could not be looked on as good and loyal citizens if they were refused the same favour; so Their Excellencies had to give way, and not one of us was left in the Maison Française, for so they had called the magnificent building.”[160]

The narrative is that of a Protestant condemned to the galleys under Louis XIV.; but it may serve as a picture of how Geneva acted in the sixteenth century when the small city of 13,000 souls received and protected nearly 6000 refugees driven from many different lands for their religion.

[Pg 136]



§ 1. Marguerite d’Angoulême and the “group of Meaux.”

Perhaps no one so thoroughly represents the sentiments which inspired the beginnings of the movement for Reformation in France as Marguerite d’Angoulême,[162] the sister of[Pg 137] King Francis I. A study of her letters and of her writings—the latter being for the most part in verse—is almost essential for a true knowledge of the aspirations of the noblest minds of her generation. Not that she possessed creative energy or was herself a thinker of any originality, but her soul, like some clear sensitive mirror, received and reflected the most tremulous throb of the intellectual and religious movements around her. She had, like many ladies of that age, devoted herself to the New Learning. She had mastered Latin, Italian, and Spanish in her girlhood, and later she acquired Greek and even Hebrew, in order to study the Scriptures in their original tongues. In her the French Renaissance of the end of the fifteenth was prolonged throughout the first half of the sixteenth century. She was all sentiment and affection, full of that gentle courage which soft feminine enthusiasm gives, and to her brother and more masculine mother (Louise of Savoy)[163] she was a being to be protected against the consequences of her own tender daring. Contemporary writers of all parties, save the more bitter defenders of the prevalent Scholastic Theology, have something good to say about the pure, bright, ecstatic Queen of Navarre. One calls her the “violet in the royal garden,” and says that she unconsciously gathered around her all the better spirits in France, as the wild thyme attracts the bees.

Marsiglio Ficino had taught her to drink from the well of Christian Platonism;[164] and this mysticism, which had little to do with dogma, which allied itself naturally with the poetical sides of philosophy and morals which suggested great if indefinite thoughts about God,—le Tout, le Seul Nécessaire, la Seule Bonté,—the human soul and the[Pg 138] intimate union between the two, was perhaps the abiding part of her ever-enlarging religious experience. Nicholas of Cusa, who tried to combine the old Scholastic with the new thoughts of the Renaissance, taught her much which she never unlearnt. She studied the Holy Scriptures carefully for herself, and was never weary of discussing with others the meaning of passages which seemed to be difficult. She listened eagerly to the preaching of Lefèvre and Roussel, and carried on a long private correspondence with Briçonnet, being passionately desirous, she said, to learn “the way of salvation.”[165] Both Luther and Calvin made a strong impression upon her, but their schemes of theology never attracted nor subjugated her intelligence. Her sympathies were drawn forth by their disdain of Scholastic Theology, by their denial of the supernatural powers of the priesthood, by their proclamation of the power and of the love of God, and by their conception that faith unites man with God—by all in their teaching which would assimilate with the Christian mysticism to which she had given herself with all her soul. When her religious poems are studied, it will be found that she dwells on the infinite power of God, the mystical absorption of the human life within the divine, and praises passionately self-sacrifice and disdain of all earthly pleasures. She extols the Lord as the one and only Saviour and Intercessor. She contrasts, as Luther was accustomed to do, the Law which searches, tries, and punishes, with the Gospel which pardons the sinner for the sake of Christ and of the work which He finished on the Cross. She looks forward with eager hope to a world redeemed and regenerated through the Evangel of Jesus Christ. She insists on justification by faith, on the impossibility of salvation by works, on predestination in the sense of absolute dependence on God in the last resort. Works are good, but no one is saved by works; salvation comes by grace, and “is the gift of the Most High God.” She calls the Virgin the most blessed among women, because[Pg 139] she had been chosen to be the mother of the “Sovereign Saviour,” but refused her any higher place; and in her devotions she introduced an invocation of Our Lord instead of the Salve Regina. This way of thinking about the Blessed Virgin, combined with her indifference to the Saints and to the Mass, and her undisguised contempt for the more superstitious ecclesiastical ceremonies, were the chief reasons for the strong attacks made on Marguerite by the Faculty of Theology (the Sorbonne) of Paris. She cannot be called a Protestant, but she had broken completely with mediæval modes of religious life and thought.

Marguerite’s letters contain such graphic glimpses, that it is possible to see her daily life, whether at Bourges, where she held her Court as the Duchess of Alençon, or at Nérac, where she dwelt as the Queen of Navarre. Every hour was occupied, and was lived in the midst of company. Her Contes and her poetry were for the most part written in her litter when she was travelling from one place to another. Her “Household” was large even for the times. No less than one hundred and two persons—ladies, secretaries, almoners, physicians, etc.—made her Court; and frequently many visitors also were present. The whole “Household,” with the visitors, met together every forenoon in one of the halls of the Palace, a room “well-paved and hung with tapestry,” and there the Princess commonly proposed some text of Scripture for discussion. It was generally a passage which seemed obscure to Marguerite; for example, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” All were invited to make suggestions about its meaning. The hostess was learned, and no one scrupled to quote the Scriptures in their original languages, or to adduce the opinions of such earlier Fathers as Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, or the Gregories. If it surprises us to find one or other of the twenty valets de chambre, who were not menials and were privileged to be present, familiar with theology, and able to quote Greek and even Hebrew, it must not be forgotten that Marguerite’s valets de chambre[Pg 140] included distinguished Humanists and Reformers, to whom she extended the protective privilege of being enrolled in her “Household.” When the weather permitted, the whole company went for a stroll in the park after the discussion, and then seated themselves near a “pleasant fountain” on the turf, “so soft and delicate that they needed neither carpet nor cushions.”[166] There one of the ladies-in-waiting (thirty dames or demoiselles belonged to the “Household”) read aloud a tale from the Heptameron, not forgetting the improving conversation which concludes each story. This gave rise to an animated talk, after which they returned to the Palace. In the evening the “Household” assembled again in a hall, fitted as a simple theatre, to witness one of the Comedies or Pastorals which the Queen delighted to write, and in which, through a medium as strange as the Contes, she inculcated her mystical Christianity, and gave expression to her longings for a reformation in the Church and society. Her Court was the precursor of the salons which in a later age exercised such a powerful influence on French political, literary, and social life.

Marguerite is chiefly remembered as the author of the Heptameron, which modern sentiment cannot help regarding as a collection of scandalous, not to say licentious, tales. The incongruity, as it appears to us, of making such tales the vehicle of moral and even of evangelical instruction, causes us frequently to forget the conversations which follow the stories—conversations which generally inculcate moral truths, and sometimes wander round the evangelical thought that man’s salvation and all the fruits of holy living rest on the finished work of Christ, the only Saviour. “Voilà, Mesdames, comme la foy du bon Comte ne fut vaincue par signes ne par miracles extérieurs, sachant très bien que nous n’avons qu’un Sauveur, lequel en disant Consummatum est, a monstré qu’il ne laissoit point à un autre successeur pour faire notre salut.[167] So different was the sentiment of the sixteenth from that of the twentieth[Pg 141] century, that Jeanne d’Albret, puritan as she undoubtedly was, took pains that a scrupulously exact edition of her mother’s Contes should be printed and published, for all to read and profit by.

The Reformers with whom Marguerite was chiefly associated were called the “group of Meaux.” Guillaume Briçonnet,[168] Bishop of Meaux, who earnestly desired reform but dreaded revolution, had gathered round him a band of scholars whose idea was a reformation of the Church by the Church, in the Church, and with the Church. They were the heirs of the aspirations of the great conciliar leaders of the fifteenth century, such as Gerson, deeply religious men, who longed for a genuine revival of faith and love. They hoped to reconcile the great truths of Christian dogma with the New Learning, and at once to enlarge the sphere of Christian intelligence, and to impregnate Humanism with Christian morality.

The man who inspired the movement and defined its aims—“to preach Christ from the sources”—was Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (Stapulensis).[169] He had been a distinguished Humanist, and in 1507 had resolved to consecrate his learning to a study of the Holy Scriptures. The first fruit of this resolve was a new Latin translation of the Epistles of St. Paul (1512), in which a revised version of the Vulgate was published along with the traditional text. In his notes he anticipated two of Luther’s ideas—that works have no merit apart from the grace of God, and that while there is a Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Supper, there is no transubstantiation. The Reformers of Meaux believed that the Holy Scriptures[Pg 142] should be in the hands of the Christian people, and Lefèvre took Jean de Rély’s version of the Bible,—itself a revision of an old thirteenth century French translation,—revised it, published the Gospels in June 1523, and the whole of the New Testament before the end of the year. The Old Testament followed in 1525. The book was eagerly welcomed by Marguerite, and became widely known and read throughout France. The Princess was able to write to Briçonnet that her brother and mother were interested in the spread of the Holy Scriptures, and in the hope of a reform of the Church.[170]

Neither Lefèvre nor Briçonnet was the man to lead a Reformation. The Bishop was timid, and feared the “tumult”; and Lefèvre, like Marguerite, was a Christian mystic,[171] with all the mystic’s dislike to change in outward and fixed institutions. More radical ideas were entering France from without. The name of Luther was known as early as 1518, and by 1520, contemporary letters tell us that his books were selling by the hundred, and that all thinking men were studying his opinions.[172] The ideas of Zwingli were also known, and appeared more acceptable to the advanced thinkers in France. Some members of the group of Meaux began to reconsider their position. The Pope’s Bull excommunicating Luther in 1520, the result of the Diet of Worms in 1521, and the declaration of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris (the Sorbonne) against the opinions of Luther, and their vindication of the authority of Aristotle and Scholastic Theology made it apparent that even modest reforms would not be tolerated by the Church as it then existed. The Parlement[Pg 143] of Paris (August 1521) ordered Luther’s books to be given up.[173]

Lefèvre did not falter. He remained what he had been—a man on the threshold of a new era who refused to enter it. One of his fellow-preachers retracted his opinions, and began to write against his leader. The young and fiery Guillaume Farel boldly adopted the views of the Swiss Reformers. Briçonnet temporised. He forbade the preaching of Lutheran doctrine within his diocese, and the circulation of the Reformer’s writings; but he continued to protect Lefèvre, and remained true to his teaching.[174]

The energetic action of the Sorbonne and of the Parlement of Paris showed the obstacles which lay in the path of a peaceful Reformation. The library of Louis de Berquin was seized and condemned (June 16th, 1523), and several of his books burnt in front of Notre Dame by the order of Parlement (August 8th). Berquin himself was saved by the interposition of the King.[175] In March 1525, Jean Leclerc, a wool-carder, was whipt and branded in Paris; and six months later was burnt at Metz for alleged outrages on objects of reverence. The Government had to come to some decision about the religious question.

Marguerite could write that her mother and her brother were “more than ever well disposed towards the reformation of the Church”;[176] but neither of them had her strong religious sentiment, and policy rather than conviction invariably swayed their action. The Reformation promoted by Lefèvre and believed in by Marguerite was at once too moderate and too exacting for Francis I. It could never be a basis for an alliance with the growing Protestantism of Germany, and it demanded a purity of individual life ill-suited either with the personal habits of[Pg 144] the King or with the manners of the French Court. It is therefore not to be wondered that the policy of the Government of Francis I. wavered between a negligent protection and a stern repression of the French Reformers.

§ 2. Attempts to repress the Movement for Reform.

The years 1523-26 were full of troubles for France. The Italian war had been unsuccessful. Provence had been invaded. Francis I. had been totally defeated and taken prisoner at Pavia. Dangers of various kinds within France had also confronted the Government. Bands of marauders—les aventuriers[177]—had pillaged numerous districts; and so many conflagrations had taken place that people believed they were caused by emissaries of the public enemies of France. Louise of Savoy, the Queen-Mother, and Regent during her son’s captivity in Madrid, had found it necessary to conciliate the formidable powers of the Parlement of Paris and of the Sorbonne. Measures were taken to suppress the printing of Lutheran and heretical books, and the Parlement appointed a commission to discover, try, and punish heretics. The result was a somewhat ineffective persecution.[178] The preachers of Meaux had to take refuge in Strassburg, and Lefèvre’s translation of the Scriptures was publicly burnt.

When the King returned from his imprisonment at Madrid (March 1525), he seemed to take the side of the Reformers. The Meaux preachers came back to France, and Lefèvre himself was made the tutor to the King’s youngest son. In 1528-29 the great French Council of Sens met to consider the state of the Church. It reaffirmed most of the mediæval positions, and, in opposition to the teachings of Protestants, declared the unity, infallibility, and visibility of the Church, the authority of Councils,[Pg 145] the right of the Church to make canonical regulations, fasts, the celibacy of priests, the seven sacraments, the Mass, purgatory, the veneration of saints, the worship of images, and the Scholastic doctrines of free will and faith and works. It called on civil rulers to execute the censures of the Church on heretics and schismatics. It also published a series of reforms necessary—most of which were already contained in the canon law.

While the Council was sitting, the Romanists of France were startled with the news that a statue of the Blessed Virgin had been beheaded and otherwise mutilated. It was the first manifestation of the revolutionary spirit of the Reformation in France. The King was furious. He caused a new statue to be made in silver, and gave his sanction to the renewal of the persecutions (May 31st, 1528). Four years later his policy altered. He desired alliances with the English and German Protestants; one of the Reformers of Meaux preached in the Louvre during Lent (1533), and some doctors of the Sorbonne, who accused the King and Queen of Navarre of heresy, were banished from Paris. In spite of the ferment caused by the Evangelical address of Nicolas Cop, and the flight of Cop and of Calvin, the real author of the address, the King still seemed to favour reform. Evangelical sermons were again preached in the Louvre, and the King spoke of a conference on the state of religion within France.

The affair of the Placards caused another storm. On the morning of Oct. 18th, 1534, the citizens of Paris found that broadsides or placards, attacking in very strong language the ceremony of the Mass, had been affixed to the walls of the principal streets. These placards affirmed that the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross was perfect and unique, and therefore could never be repeated; that it was sheer idolatry to say that the corporeal presence of Christ was enclosed within the wafer, “a man of twenty or thirty years in a morsel of paste”; that transubstantiation was a gross error; that the Mass had been perverted from its true meaning, which is to be a memorial of the sacrifice[Pg 146] and death of our Lord; and that the solemn ceremony had become a time “of bell-ringings, shoutings, singing, waving of lamps and swinging of incense pots, after the fashion of sorcerers.” The violence of language was extreme. “The Pope and all his vermin of cardinals, of bishops, of priests, of monks and other hypocrites, sayers of the Mass, and all those who consent thereto,” were liars and blasphemers. The author of this broadside was a certain Antoine Marcourt, who had fled from France and taken refuge in Neuchâtel. The audacity of the men who had posted the placards in Paris and in other towns,—Orléans, Blois, Amboise,—and had even fixed one on the door of the King’s bedchamber, helped to rouse the Romanists to frenzy. The Parlement and the University demanded loudly that extreme measures should be taken to crush the heretics;[179] and everywhere expiatory processions were formed to protest against the sacrilege. The King himself and the great nobles of the Court took part in one in January,[180] and during that month more than thirty-five Lutherans were arrested, tried, and burnt. Several well-known Frenchmen (seventy-three at least), among them Clement Marot and Mathurin Cordier, fled the country, and their possessions were confiscated.

After this outburst of persecution the King’s policy again changed. He was once more anxious for an alliance with the Protestants of Germany. An amnesty was proclaimed for all save the “Sacramentarians,” i.e. the followers of Zwingli. A few of the exiled Frenchmen returned, among them Clement Marot. The Chancellor of France, Antoine du Bourg, went the length of inviting the German theologians to come to France for the purpose of sharing in a religious conference, and adhered to his proposal in spite[Pg 147] of the protests of the Sorbonne. But nothing came of it. The German Protestant theologians refused to risk themselves on French soil; and the exiled Frenchmen mistrusted the King and his Chancellor. The amnesty, however, deserves remark, because it called forth the letter of Calvin to Francis I. which forms the “dedication” or preface to his Christian Institution.

The work of repression was resumed with increased severity. Royal edicts and mandates urging the extirpation of heresy followed each other in rapid succession—Edict to the Parlement of Toulouse (Dec. 16th, 1538), to the Parlements of Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Rouen (June 24th, 1539); a general edict issued from Fontainebleau (June 1st, 1540); an edict to the Parlement of Toulouse (Aug. 29th, 1542); mandats to the Parlements of Paris, Bordeaux, Dijon, Grenoble, and Rouen (Aug. 30th, 1542). The general Edict of Fontainebleau was one of exceptional severity. It was intended to introduce a more summary procedure in heresy trials, and enjoined officials to proceed against all persons tainted with heresy, even against ecclesiastics or those who had the “benefit of clergy”; the right of appeal was denied to those suspected; negligent judges were threatened with the King’s displeasure; and the ecclesiastical courts were urged to show greater zeal, and to take advantage of the powers given to the civil courts. “Every loyal subject,” the edict said, “must denounce heretics, and employ all means to root them out, just as all men are bound to run to help to extinguish a public conflagration.” This edict, slightly modified by the Parlement of Paris (July 1543) by enlarging the powers of the ecclesiastical courts, remained in force in France for the nine following years. Yet in spite of its thoroughness, succeeding edicts and mandats declare that heresy was making rapid progress in France.

The Sorbonne and the Parlements (especially those of Paris and Aix) urged on the persecution of the “Lutherans.” The former drafted a series of twenty-five articles (a refutation of the 1541 edition of Calvin’s Institution), which were[Pg 148] meant to assert concisely the dogma of the Church, and to deny whatever the Reformers taught prejudicial to the doctrines and practices of the mediæval Church. These articles were approved by the King and his Privy Council, who ordered them to be published throughout the whole kingdom, and gave instructions to deal with all who preached or taught anything contrary or repugnant to them. This ordinance was at once registered by the Parlement of Paris. Thus all the powers of the realm committed themselves to a struggle to extirpate the Reformed teaching, and were armed with a test which was at once clear and comprehensive. Not content with this, the Sorbonne began a list of prohibited books (1542-43)—a list containing the works of Calvin, Luther, Melanchthon, Clement Marot, and the translations of scripture edited by Robert Estienne, and the Parlement issued a severe ordinance against all Protestant propaganda by means of printing or the selling of books (July 1542).

These various ordinances for the extirpation of heresy were applied promptly and rigorously, and the fires of persecution were soon kindled all over France. The place Maubert was the scene of the martyrdoms in Paris. There were no great auto-da-fés, but continual mention is made of burning two or three martyrs at once. Two acts of persecution cast a dark stain on the last years of Francis I.—the slaughter of the Waldenses of the Durance in 1545, and the martyrdom of the “fourteen of Meaux.”

A portion of Provence, skirting the Durance where that river is about to flow into the Rhone, had been almost depopulated in the fourteenth century, and the landowners had invited peasants from the Alps to settle within their territories. The incomers were Waldenses; their religion was guaranteed protection, and their industry and thrift soon covered the desolate region with fertile farms. When the Reformation movement had established itself in Germany and Switzerland, these villagers were greatly interested. They drew up a brief statement of what they believed, and sent it to the leading Reformers, accompanied[Pg 149] by a number of questions on matters of religion. They received long answers from Bucer and from Oecolampadius, and, having met in conference (Sept. 1532) at Angrogne in Piedmont, they drafted a simple confession of faith based on the replies of the Reformers to their questions. It was natural that they should view the progress of the Reformation within France with interest, and that they should contribute 500 crowns to defray the expense of printing a new translation of the Scriptures into French by Robert Olivétan. Freedom to practise their religion had been granted for two centuries to the inhabitants of the thirty Waldensian villages, and they conceived that in exhibiting their sympathy with French Protestantism they were acting within their ancient rights. Jean de Roma, Inquisitor for Provence, thought otherwise. In 1532 he began to exhort the villagers to abjure their opinions; and, finding his entreaties without effect, he set on foot a severe persecution. The Waldenses appealed to the King, who sent a commission to inquire into the matter, with the result that Jean de Roma was compelled to flee the country.

The persecution was renewed in 1535 by the Archbishop and Parlement of Aix, who cited seventeen of the people of Merindol, one of the villages, before them on a charge of heresy. When they failed to appear, the Parlement published (Nov. 18th, 1540) the celebrated Arrêt de Merindol, which sentenced the seventeen to be burnt at the stake. The Waldenses again appealed to the King, who pardoned the seventeen on the condition that they should abjure their heresy within three months (Feb. 8th, 1541). There was a second appeal to the King, who again protected the Waldenses; but during the later months of 1541 the Parlement of Aix sent to His Majesty the false information that the people of Merindol were in open insurrection, and were threatening to sack the town of Marseilles. Upon this, Francis, urged thereto by Cardinal de Tournon, recalled his protection, and ordered all the Waldenses to be exterminated (Jan. 1st, 1545). An army was stealthily organised, and during seven weeks of slaughter, amid all[Pg 150] the accompaniments of treachery and brutality, twenty-two of the thirty Waldensian villages were utterly destroyed, between three and four thousand men and women were slain, and seven hundred men sent to the galleys. Those who escaped took refuge in Switzerland.[181]

The persecution at Meaux (1546) was more limited in extent, but was accompanied by such tortures that it formed a fitting introduction to the severities of the reign of Henri II.

The Reformed at Meaux had organised themselves into a congregation modelled on that of the French refugees in Strassburg. They had chosen Pierre Leclerc to be their pastor, and one of their number, Étienne Mangin, gave his house for the meetings of the congregation. The authorities heard of the meetings, and on Sept 8th, 1546, a sudden visit was made to the house, and sixty-one persons were arrested and brought before the Parlement of Paris. Their special crime was that they had engaged in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The sentence of the Court declared that the Bishop of Meaux had shown culpable negligence in permitting such meetings; that the evidence indicated that there were numbers of “Lutherans” and heretics in Meaux besides those brought before it, and that all such were to be sought out; that all books in the town which concerned the Christian religion were to be deposited in the record-office within eight days; that special sermons were to be delivered and expiatory processions organised; and that the house of Étienne Mangin was to be razed to the ground, and a chapel in honour of the Holy Sacrament erected on the site. It condemned fourteen of the accused to be burnt alive, after having suffered the severest tortures which the law permitted; five to be hung up by the armpits to witness the execution, and then to be scourged and imprisoned; others to witness the execution with cords round their necks and with their heads bare, to ask pardon for their crime, to take part in an expiatory procession, and to listen[Pg 151] to a sermon on the adoration due to the Body of Christ present in the Holy Sacrament. A few, mostly women, were acquitted.[182]

Francis I. died in March 1547. The persistent persecution which had marked the later years of his reign had done little or nothing to quench the growing Protestantism of France. It had only succeeded in driving it beneath the surface.

Henry II. never indulged in the vacillating policy of his father. From the beginning of his reign he set himself resolutely to combat the Reformation. His favourite councillors—his all-powerful mistress, Diane of Poitiers; his chief Minister, the Constable Montmorency, in high repute for his skill in the arts of war and of government; the Guises, a great family, originally belonging to Lorraine, who had risen to power in France—were all strong supporters of the Roman Catholic religion, and resolute to destroy the growing Protestantism of France. The declared policy of the King was to slay the Reformation by attacking it through every form of legal suppression that could be devised.

§ 3. Change in the Character of the Movement for Reform.

The task was harder than it had been during the reign of Francis. In spite of the persecutions, the adherents of the new faith had gone on increasing in a wonderful way. Many of the priests and monks had been converted to Evangelical doctrines. They taught them secretly and openly; and they could expose in a telling way the corruptions of the Church, having known them from the inside. Schoolmasters, if one may judge from the arréts of the Parlements, were continually blamed for dissuading their pupils from going to Mass, and for corrupting the youth by instructing them in the “false and pernicious doctrines of Geneva.” Many Colleges were named as seed-beds of the Reformation—Angers, Bourges, Fontenay, La Rochelle, Loudun, Niort, Nimes, and Poitiers. The theatre itself became an agent[Pg 152] for reform when the corruptions of the Church and the morals of the clergy were attacked in popular plays. The refugees in Strassburg, Geneva, and Lausanne spared no pains to send the Evangelical doctrines to their countrymen. Ardent young Frenchmen, trained abroad, took their lives in their hand, and crept quietly through the length and breadth of France. They met converts and inquirers in solitary suburbs, in cellars of houses, on highways, and by the rivers. The records of the ecclesiastical police enable us to trace the spread of the Reformation along the great roads and waterways of France. The missioners changed their names frequently to elude observation. Some, with a daring beyond their fellows, did not hesitate to visit the towns and preach almost openly to the people. The propaganda carried on by colporteurs was scarcely less successful. These were usually young men trained at Geneva or Strassburg. They carried their books in a pack on their backs, and hawked them in village and town, describing their contents, and making little sermons for the listeners. Among the notices of seizures we find such titles as the following:—Les Colloques of Erasmus, La Fontaine de Vie (a selection of scriptural passages translated into French), the Livre de vraye et parfaicte oraison (a translation of extracts from Luther’s writings), the Cinquante-deux psaumes, the Catéchisme de Genève, Prières ecclésiastiques avec la manière d’administrer les sacrements, an Alphabet chrétien and an Instruction chrétienne pour les petits enfants. No edicts against printing books which had not been submitted to the ecclesiastical authorities were able to put an end to this secret colportage.

In these several ways the Evangelical faith was spread abroad, and before the death of Francis there was not a district in France with the single exception of Brittany which had not its secret Protestants, while many parts of the country swarmed with them.

[Pg 153]

§ 4. Calvin and his Influence in France.

The Reformation in France had been rapidly changing its character since 1536, the year in which Lefèvre died, and in which Calvin’s Christian Institution was published. It was no longer a Christian mysticism supplemented by a careful study of the Scriptures; it had advanced beyond the stage of individual followers of Luther or Zwingli; it had become united, presenting a solid phalanx to its foes; it had rallied round a manifesto which was at once a completed scheme of doctrine, a prescribed mode of worship, and a code of morals; it had found a leader who was both a master and a commander-in-chief. The publication of the Christian Institution had effected this. The young man whom the Town Council of Geneva could speak of as “a certain Frenchman” (Gallus quidam) soon took a foremost place among the leaders of the whole Reformation movement, and moulded in his plastic hands the Reformation in France.

Calvin’s early life and his work in Geneva have already been described; but his special influence on France must not pass unnoticed.[183] He had an extraordinary power over his co-religionists in his native land.[184] He was a Frenchman—one of themselves; no foreigner speaking an unfamiliar tongue; no enemy of the Fatherland to follow whom might seem to be unpatriotic. It is true that his fixed abode lay beyond the confines of France; but distance, which gave him freedom of action, made him[Pg 154] the more esteemed. He was the apostle who wrote “to all that be in France, beloved of God, called to be saints.”

While still a student, Calvin had shown that he possessed, besides a marvellous memory, an acute and penetrating intellect, with a great faculty for assimilating ideas and modes of thought; but he lacked what may be called artistic imagination,[185] and neither poetry nor art seemed to strike any responsive chord in his soul. His conduct was always straightforward, irreproachable, and dignified; he was by education and breeding, if not by descent, the polished French gentleman, and was most at home with men and women of noble birth. His character was serious, with little playfulness, little vivacity, but with a wonderful power of sympathy. He was reserved, somewhat shy, slow to make intimate friends, but once made the friendships lasted for life. At all periods of age, boy, student, man of letters, leader of a great party, he seems to have been a centre of attraction and of deferential trust. The effect of this mysterious charm was felt by others besides those of his own age. His professor, Mathurin Cordier, became his devoted disciple. Melanchthon wished that he might die with his head on Calvin’s breast. Luther, in spite of his suspicion of everything that came from Switzerland, was won to love and trust him. And Knox, the most rugged and independent of men, acknowledged Calvin as his master, consulted him in every doubt and difficulty, and on all occasions save one meekly followed his counsels. He loved children, and had them at his house for Christmas trees; but (and this is characteristically French) always addressed them with ceremonious[Pg 155] politeness, as if they were grown men and women deserving as much consideration as himself. It was this trait that captivated de Bèze when he was a boy of twelve.

Calvin was a democrat intellectually and by silent principle. This appears almost everywhere in his private writings, and was noted by such a keen observer as Tavannes. It was never more unconsciously displayed than in the preface or dedication of the Christian Institution.

“This preface, instead of pleading with the King on behalf of the Reformation, places the movement right before him, and makes him see it. Its tone throughout firm and dignified, calm and stately when Calvin addresses Francis I. directly, more bitter and sarcastic when he is speaking of theologians, la pensée et la forme du style toutes vibrantes du ton biblique, the very simplicity and perfect frankness of the address, give the impression of one who is speaking on equal terms with his peer. All suggest the Christian democrat without a trace of the revolutionary.”[186]

The source of his power—logic impregnated by the passion of conviction—is so peculiarly French that perhaps only his countrymen can fully understand and appreciate it, and they have not been slow to do so.

All these characteristic traits appealed to them. His passion for equality, as strong as the Apostle Paul’s, compelled him to take his followers into his confidence, to make them apprehend what he knew to the innermost thoughts of his heart. It forced him to exhibit the reasons for his faith to all who cared to know them, to arrange them in a logical order which would appeal to their understanding, and his passion of conviction assured him and them that what he taught was the very truth of God. Then he was a very great writer,[187] one of the founders[Pg 156] of modern French prose, the most exquisite literary medium that exists, a man made to arrest the attention of the people. He wrote all his important works in French for his countrymen, as well as in Latin for the learned world. His language and style were fresh, clear, and simple; without affected elegance or pedantic display of erudition; full of vigour and verve; here, caustic wit which attracted; there, eloquence which spoke to the hearts of his readers because it throbbed with burning passion and strong emotion.

It is unlikely that all his disciples in France appreciated his doctrinal system in its details. The Christian Institution appealed to them as the strongest protest yet made against the abuses and scandals of the Roman Church, as containing a code of duties owed to God and man, as exhibiting an ideal of life pure and lofty, as promising everlasting blessedness for the called and chosen and faithful. “It satisfied at one and the same time the intellects which demanded logical proof and the souls which had need of enthusiasm.”

It has been remarked that Calvin’s theology was less original and effective than his legislation or policy.[188] The statement seems to overlook the peculiar service which was rendered to the Reformation movement by the Institution. The Reformation was a rebellion against the external authority of the mediæval Church; but every revolt, even that against the most flagrant abuses and the most corrupt rule, carries in it seeds of evil which must be slain if any real progress is to be made. For it instinctively tends to sweep away all restraints—those that are good and necessary as well as those that are bad and harmful. The leaders of every movement for reform have a harder[Pg 157] battle to fight against the revolutionaries in their following than against their avowed opponents. At the root of the Reformation of the sixteenth century lay an appeal from man to God—from the priest, granting or withholding absolution in the confessional, to God making the sinner, who turns from his sins and has faith in the person and work of Christ, know in his heart that he is pardoned; from the decision of Popes and Councils to the decrees of God revealed in His Holy Word. This appeal was in the nature of the case from the seen to the unseen, and therein lay the difficulty; for unless this unseen could be made visible to the eye of the intelligence to such a degree that the restraining authority which it possessed could impress itself on the will, there was risk of its proving to be no restraining authority whatsoever, and of men fancying that they had been left to be a law unto themselves. What the Christian Institution did for the sixteenth century was to make the unseen government and authority of God, to which all must bow, as visible to the intellectual eye of faith as the mechanism of the mediæval Church had been to the eye of sense. It proclaimed that the basis of all Christian faith was the Word of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures; it taught the absolute dependence of all things on God Himself immediately and directly; it declared that the sin of man was such that, apart from the working of the free grace of God, there could be neither pardon nor amendment, nor salvation; and it wove all these thoughts into a logical unity which revealed to the intellectual eye of its generation the “House of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Men as they gazed saw that they were in the immediate presence of the authority of God Himself, directly responsible to Him; that they could test “the Pope’s House” by this divine archetype; that it was their duty to reform all human institutions, ecclesiastical or political, in order to bring them into harmony with the divine vision. It made men know that to separate themselves from the visible mediæval Church was neither to step outside the sphere of the purpose of[Pg 158] God making for their redemption, nor to free themselves from the duties which God requires of man.

The work which Calvin did for his co-religionists in France was immense. He carried on a constant correspondence with them; he sustained their courage; he gave their faith a sublime exaltation. When he heard of a French Romanist who had begun to hesitate, he wrote to him combining persuasion with instruction. He pleaded the cause of the Reformation with its nominal supporters. He encouraged the weak. He sent letters to the persecuted. He forwarded short theological treatises to assist those who had got into controversies concerning their faith. He advised the organisation of congregations. He recommended energetic pastors. He warned slothful ministers.

“We must not think,” he says, “that our work is confined within such narrow limits that our task is ended when we have preached sermons ... it is our part to maintain a vigilant oversight of those committed to our care, and take the greatest pains to guard from evil those whose blood will one day be demanded from us if they are lost through our negligence.”[189]

He answered question after question about the difficulty of reconciling the demands of the Christian life with what was required by the world around—a matter which pressed hard on the consciences of men and women who belonged to a religious minority in a great Roman Catholic kingdom. He was no casuist. He wrote to Madame de Cany, the sister of the Duchess d’Étampes, that “no one, great or small, ought to believe themselves exempt from suffering for the sake of our sovereign King.” He was listened to with reverence; for he was not a counsellor who advised others to do what he was not prepared to do himself. He could say, “Be ye followers of me, as I am of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Frenchmen and Frenchwomen knew that the master whom they obeyed, the director they consulted, to whom they whispered the secrets of their souls,[Pg 159] lived the hardest and most ascetic life of any man in Europe,—scarcely eating, drinking, or sleeping; that his frail body was kept alive by the energy of his indomitable soul.

Frenchmen of varying schools of thought have not been slow to recognise the secret of the power of their great countryman. Jules Michelet says:

“Among the martyrs, with whom Calvin constantly conversed in spirit, he became a martyr himself; he lived and felt like a man before whom the whole earth disappears, and who tunes his last Psalm his whole eye fixed upon the eye of God, because he knows that on the following morning he may have to ascend the pyre.”

Ernest Renan is no less emphatic:

“It is surprising that a man who appears to us in his life and writings so unsympathetic should have been the centre of an immense movement in his generation, and that this harsh and severe tone should have exercised so great an influence on the minds of his contemporaries. How was it, for example, that one of the most distinguished women of her time, Renée of France, in her Court at Ferrara, surrounded by the flower of European wits, was captivated by that stern master, and by him drawn into a course that must have been so thickly strewn with thorns? This kind of austere seduction is exercised only by those who work with real conviction. Lacking that vivid, deep, sympathetic ardour which was one of the secrets of Luther’s success, lacking the charm, the perilous, languishing tenderness of Francis de Sales, Calvin succeeded, in an age and in a country which called for a reaction towards Christianity, simply because he was the most Christian man of his generation.”

Thus it was that all those in France who felt the need of intimate fellowship with God, all to whom a religion, which was at once inflexible in matters of moral living and which appealed to their reasoning faculties, was a necessity, hailed the Christian Institution as the clearest manifesto of their faith, and grouped themselves round the young author (Calvin was barely twenty-six when he wrote it) as[Pg 160] their leader. Those also who suffered under the pressure of a despotic government, and felt the evils of a society constituted to uphold the privileges of an aristocracy, learnt that in a neighbouring country there was a city which had placed itself under the rule of the Word of God; where everyone joined in a common worship attractive from its severe simplicity; where the morals, public and private, were pure; where the believers selected their pastors and the people their rulers; where there were neither masters nor subjects; where the ministers of religion lived the lives of simple laymen, and were distinguished from them only by the exercise of their sacred service. They indulged in the dream that all France might be fashioned after the model of Geneva.

Many a Frenchman who was dissatisfied with the condition of things in France, but had come to no personal decision to leave the mediæval Church, could not help contrasting what he saw around him with the life and aspiration of those “of the religion,”[190] as the French Protestants began to be called. They saw themselves confronted by a religion full of mysteries inaccessible to reason, expressing itself even in public worship in a language unintelligible to most of the worshippers, full of pomp, of luxury, of ceremonies whose symbolical meaning had been forgotten. They saw a clergy commonplace and ignorant, or aristocratic and indifferent; a nobility greedy and restless; a Court whose luxurious display and scandals were notorious; royal mistresses and faithless husbands and wives. Almost everywhere we find a growing tendency to contrast the purity of Protestantism and the corruption of Roman Catholicism. It found outcome in the famous scene in the Parlement of Paris (1559), when Antoine de Bourg, son of a former Chancellor, advocated the total suspension of the persecution against those “who were called heretics,” and enforced his opinion by contrasting the blasphemies and scandals of the Court[Pg 161] with the morality and the purity of the lives of those who were being sent to the stake,—a speech for which he afterwards lost his life.[191]

It was this growing united Protestantism which Henry II. and his advisers had determined to crush by the action of the legislative authority.

§ 5. Persecution under Henry II.[192]

The repressive legal measures introduced by Francis I. were retained, and a new law against blasphemy (prepared, no doubt, during the last days of Francis) was published five days after the King’s death (April 5th, 1547). But more was believed to be necessary. So a series of edicts, culminating in the Edict of Chateaubriand, were published, which aimed at uniting all[Pg 162] the forces of the kingdom to extirpate the Reformed faith.

On October 8th, 1547, a second criminal court was added to the Parlement of Paris, to deal solely with cases of heresy. This was the famous Chambre Ardente. It was ordered to sit continuously, even during the ordinary Parliamentary vacancies in August and September; and its first session lasted from Dec. 1547 to Jan. 1550, during which time it must have passed more than five hundred judgments. The clergy felt that this special court took from them one of their privileges, the right of trying all cases of heresy. They petitioned against it. A compromise was arranged (Edict of Nov. 19th, 1549), by which all cases of simple heresy (cas communes) were to be sent to the ecclesiastical courts, while cases of heresy accompanied by public scandal (cas privilégiés) were to be judged in the civil courts. In practice it usually happened that all cases of heresy went first before the ecclesiastical courts and, after judgment there, those which were believed to be attended by public scandal (the largest number) were sent on to the civil courts. These measures were not thought sufficient, and the Edict of Chateaubriand (June 27th, 1551) codified and extended all the various legal measures taken for the defence of the Roman Catholic faith.

The edict was lengthy, and began with a long preamble, which declared that in spite of all measures of repression, heresy was increasing; that it was a pestilence “so contagious that it had infected most of the inhabitants, men, women, and even little children, in many of the towns and districts of the kingdom,” and asked every loyal subject to aid the Government in extirpating the plague. It provided that, as before, all cases of simple heresy should be judged in the ecclesiastical courts, and that heresy accompanied with public scandal should be sent to the civil courts of the Parlements. It issued stringent regulations about the publication and sale of books; forbidding the introduction into France of volumes from Protestant countries; forbidding the printing[Pg 163] of books which had not passed the censor of the Faculty of Theology, and all books published anonymously; and ordering an examination of all printing houses and bookshops twice in the year. Private persons who did not inform against heretics were liable to be considered heretics themselves, and punished as such; and when they did denounce them they were to receive one-third of the possessions of the persons condemned. Parents were charged “by the pity, love, and charity which they owed to their children,” not to engage any teachers who might be “suspect”; no one was permitted to teach in school or college who was not certified to be orthodox; and masters were made responsible for their servants. Intercourse with those who had taken refuge in Geneva was prohibited, and the goods of the refugees were confiscated. All Catholics, and more especially persons of rank and in authority, were required to give the earnest example of attending carefully to outward observances of religion, and in particular to kneel in adoration of the Host.

The edict was registered on Sept. 3rd, 1551, and immediately put in force. Six years later, the King had to confess that its stringent provisions had failed to arrest the spread of the Protestant faith. He proposed to establish the Inquisition in France, moved thereto by the Cardinal of Lorraine and Pope Paul IV.; and was prevented only by the strenuous opposition of his Parlement.[193] He had to content himself with issuing the Edict of Compiègne (1557), which, while nominally leaving trials for heresy in the hands of the ecclesiastical courts, practically handed[Pg 164] them over to the civil courts, where the judges were not allowed to inflict any lesser punishment than death. They were permitted to increase the penalty by inflicting torture, or to mitigate it by strangling the victims before burning them.

Armed with this legislation, the work of hunting out the Reformed was strenuously carried on. Certain prisons were specially reserved for the Protestant martyrs—the Conciergerie, which was part of the building of the Palace, and the Grand Châtelet, which faced it on the opposite bank of the Seine. They soon overflowed, and suspects were confined in the Bastille, in the Petit Châtelet, and in episcopal prisons. The cells of the Conciergerie were below the level of the river, and water oozed from the walls; the Grand Châtelet was noted for its terrible dungeons, so small that the prisoner could neither stand upright nor lie at full length on the floor. Diseases decimated the victims; the plague slew sixty who were waiting for trial in the Grand Châtelet in 1547. Few were acquitted; almost all, once arrested, suffered death and torture.[194]

§ 6. The Organisation of the French Protestant Church.

It was during these years of terrible persecution that the Protestant Church of France organised itself—feeling the need for unity the better to sustain the conflict in which it was engaged, and to assist its weaker members. Calvin was unwearied in urging on this work of organisation. With the fire of a prophet and the foresight of a[Pg 165] statesman he insisted on the necessity of unity during the storm and strain of a time of persecution. He had already shown what form the ecclesiastical organisation ought to take.[195] He proposed to revive the simple threefold ministry of the Church of the early centuries—a congregation ruled by a bishop or pastor, a session of elders, and a body of deacons. This was adopted by the French Protestants. A group of believers, a minister, a “consistory” of elders and deacons, regular preaching, and the sacraments duly administered, made a Church properly constituted. The minister was the chief; he preached; he administered the sacraments; he presided at the “consistory.” The “consistory” was composed of elders charged with the spiritual oversight of the community, and of deacons who looked after the poor and the sick. The elders and the deacons were chosen by the members of the congregation; and the minister by the elders and the deacons. An organised Church did not come into existence all at once as a rule, and a distinction was drawn between an église plantée, and an église dressée. The former was in an embryonic state, with a pastor, it might be, but no consistory; or it might be only a group of people who welcomed the occasional services of a wandering missioner, or held simple services without any definite leader.

The year 1555 may be taken as the date when French Protestantism began to organise Churches. It is true that a few had been established earlier—at Meaux in 1546 and at Nimes in 1547, but the congregations had been dispersed by persecution. Before 1555 the Protestants of France had been for the most part solitary Bible students, or little companies meeting together for common worship without any organisation.

Paris set the example. A small company of believers had been accustomed to meet in the lodging of the Sieur de la Ferriere, near the Pré-aux-Clercs. The birth of a child hastened matters. The father explained that he[Pg 166] could not go outside France to seek a pure baptism, and that his conscience would not permit his child to be baptized according to the rites of the Roman Church. After prayer the company resolved to constitute themselves into a Church. Jean le Maçon was called to be the minister or pastor; elders and deacons were chosen; and the organisation was complete.[196] It seemed as if all Protestant France had been waiting for the signal, and organised Churches sprang up everywhere.

Crespin names thirteen Churches, completely organised in the manner of the Church of Paris, founded between 1555 and 1557—Meaux, Poitiers, Angers, les Iles de Saintonge, Agen, Bourges, Issoudun, Aubigny, Blois, Tours, Lyon, Orléans, and Rouen. He adds that there were others. Documentary evidence now available enables us to give thirty-six more, all dressées, or completely organised, with a consistory or kirk-session, before 1560. One hundred and twenty pastors were sent to France from Geneva before 1567. The history of these congregations during the reign of Henry II. was full of tragic and dramatic incidents.[197] They existed in the midst of a population which was for the most part fanatically Romanist, easily excited by priests and monks, who poured forth violent addresses from the pulpits of neighbouring churches. Law-courts, whether in the capital or in the provinces, the public officials, all loyal subjects of the King, were invited, commanded by the Edict of Chateaubriand, to ferret out and hunt down those suspected of Protestant sympathies. To fail to make a reverence when passing a crucifix, to speak unguardedly against an ecclesiastical ceremony, to exhibit the slightest sympathy for a Protestant martyr, to be found in possession of a book printed in Geneva, was sufficient to provoke a[Pg 167] denunciation, an arrest, a trial which must end in torture and death. Protestants were compelled to worship in cellars, to creep stealthily to their united devotions; like the early Christians during the persecutions under Decius or Diocletian, they had to meet at midnight; and these midnight assemblies gave rise to the same infamous reports about their character which the Jews spread abroad regarding the secret meetings of the Christians of the first three centuries.[198] Every now and then they were discovered, as in the incident of the Rue Saint Jacques in Paris, and wholesale arrests and martyrdoms followed.

The organisation of the faithful into Churches had done much for French Protestantism in bestowing upon them the power which association gives; but more was needed to weld them into one. In 1558, doctrinal differences arose in the congregation at Poitiers. The Church in Paris was appealed to, and its minister, Antoine de Chandieu, went to Poitiers to assist at the celebration of the Holy Supper, and to heal the dispute. There, it is said, the idea of a Confession of Faith for the whole Church was suggested. Calvin was consulted, but did not approve. Notwithstanding, on May 25th, 1559, a number of ministers and elders, coming from all parts of France, and representing, according to a contemporary document whose authority is somewhat doubtful, sixty-six Churches,[199] met in Paris for conference. Three days were spent in deliberations, under the presidency of Morel, one of the Parisian ministers. This was the First National Synod of the French Protestant Church. It compiled a Confession of Faith and a Book of Discipline.

[Pg 168]

The Confession of Faith[200] (Confession de Foi faite d’un commun accord par les François, qui desirent vivre selon la pureté de l’évangile de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ) consists of forty articles. It was revised more than once by subsequent Synods, but may still be called the Confession of the French Protestant Church. It was based on a short Confession drafted by Calvin in 1557, and embodied in a letter to the King on behalf of his persecuted subjects. “It seemed useful,” one of the members of the Synod wrote to Calvin, “to add some articles to your Confession, and to modify it slightly on some points.” Probably out of deference to Calvin’s objection to a creed for the whole Church, it was resolved to keep it secret for some time. The resolution was in vain. The Confession was in print, and known before the end of 1559.

The Book of Discipline (Discipline ecclésiastique des églises réformées de France) regulated the organisation and the discipline of the Churches. It was that kind of ecclesiastical polity which has become known as Presbyterian, but which might be better called Conciliar. A council called the Consistory, consisting of the minister or ministers, elders, and deacons, ruled the congregation. Congregations were formed into groups, over which was the Colloquy, composed of representatives from the Consistories; over the Colloquies were the Provincial Synods; and over all the General or National Synod. Rules were laid down about how discipline was to be exercised. It was stated clearly that no Church could claim a primacy over the others. All ministers were required to sign the Confession of Faith, and to acknowledge and submit to the ecclesiastical discipline.[201]

[Pg 169]

It is interesting to see how in a country whose civil rule was becoming gradually more absolutist, this “Church under the Cross” framed for itself a government which reconciled, more thoroughly perhaps than has ever been done since, the two principles of popular rights and supreme central control. Its constitution has spread to Holland, Scotland, and to the great American Churches. Their ecclesiastical polity came much more from Paris than from Geneva.

§ 7. Reaction against Persecution.

An attentive study of the sources of the history of the period shows that the excessive severity of King and Court towards Protestants had excited a fairly widespread reaction in favour of the persecuted, and had also impelled the King to action which was felt by many to be unconstitutional. This sympathy with the persecuted and repugnance to the arbitrary exercise of kingship did much to mould the Huguenot movement which lay in the immediate future.

The protests against the institution of the Chambre Ardente, the refusal of the Parlement of Paris to register the edict establishing the Inquisition in France, and the hesitancy to put in execution extraordinary powers bestowed on French Cardinals for the punishing of heretics by the Bull of Pope Paul IV. (Feb. 26th, 1557), may all be ascribed to the jealousy with which the Courts, ecclesiastical and civil, viewed any interference with their privileged jurisdiction. But the Edict of Chateaubriand (1551), with its articles declaring the unwillingness or negligence shown by public officials in finding out and punishing heretics, making provisions against this, and ordaining that none but persons of well-known orthodoxy were to be appointed magistrates (Arts. 23, 28, 24), confessed that there were many even among those in office who disliked the policy of persecution.[Pg 170] Contemporary official documents confirm this unwillingness. We hear of municipal magistrates intervening to protect their Protestant fellow-citizens from punishment in the ecclesiastical courts; of town’s police conniving at the escape of heretics; of a procurator at law who was suspended from office for a year for such connivance;[202] and of civil courts who could not be persuaded to pass sentences except merely nominal ones.

The growing discontent at the severe treatment of the persecuted Protestants made itself manifest, even within the Parlement of Paris, so long notorious for its persecuting zeal. This became evident when the criminal court of the Parlement (la Tournelle, 1559) commuted a sentence of death passed on three Protestants into one of banishment. The violent Romanists protested against this, and demanded a meeting of the whole Parlement to fix its mode of judicial action. At this meeting some of the members—Antoine Fumée, du Faur, Viole, and Antoine du Bourg (the son of a Chancellor in the days of Francis I.)—spoke strongly on behalf of the Protestants. They pleaded that a space of six months after trial should be given to the accused to reconsider their position, and that, if they resolve to stand fast in the faith, they should be allowed to withdraw from the kingdom. Their boldness encouraged others. The Cardinal Lorraine and the Constable Montmorency dreaded the consequences of prolonged discussion, and communicated their fears to the King. Henry, accompanied by the Cardinals of Lorraine and of Guise, the Constable, and Francis, Duke de Guise, entered the hall where Parlement sat, and ordered the discussion to be continued in his presence. The minority were not intimidated. Du Faur and Viole demanded a total cessation of the persecution pending the summoning of a Council. Du Bourg went further. He contrasted the pure lives and earnest piety of the persecuted with the scandals which disgraced the Roman Church and the Court. “It is no light matter,” he said, “to condemn to the stake[Pg 171] men who invoke the name of Jesus in the midst of the flames.” The King was furious. He ordered the arrest of du Bourg and du Faur on the spot, and shortly afterwards Fumée and La Porte were also sent to the Bastille. This arbitrary seizure of members of the Parlement of Paris may be said to mark the time when the Protestants of France began to assume the form of a political as well as of a religious party. At this anxious juncture Henry II. met his death, on June 30th, by the accidental thrust of a lance at a tournament held in honour of the approaching marriage of his daughter Elizabeth with Philip of Spain. He lingered till July 10th, 1559.

§ 8. The higher Aristocracy won for the Reformation.

When the lists of Protestants who suffered for their faith in France or who were compelled to take refuge in Geneva and other Protestant towns are examined and analysed, as they have been by French archæologists, it is found that the great number of martyrs and refugees were artisans, tradesmen, farmers, and the like.[203] A few names of “notables”—a general, a member of the Parlement of Toulouse, a “gentleman” of Limousin—are found among the martyrs, and a much larger proportion among the fugitives. The names of members of noble houses of France are conspicuous by their absence. This does not necessarily mean that the new teaching had not found acceptance among men and women in the upper classes of French society. The noble of the sixteenth century, so long as he remained within his own territory and in his château, was almost independent. He was not subject to the provincial tribunals. Protestantism had been spreading among such. We hear of several high-born ladies present in the congregation of three or four hundred Protestants who were surrounded in a large house in the Rue St. Jacques (Sept. 4th, 1558), and who were released. Renée,[Pg 172] daughter of Louis XII., Duchess of Ferrara, had declared herself a Protestant, and had been visited by Calvin as early as 1535.[204] Francis d’Andelot, the youngest of the three Chatillons, became a convert during his imprisonment at Melun (1551-56). His more celebrated brother, Gaspard de Coligny, the Admiral of France, became a Protestant during his imprisonment after the fall of St. Quentin (1558).[205] De Bèze (Beza) tells us that as early as 1555, Antoine de Bourbon, titular King of Navarre in right of his wife Jeanne d’Albret, and next in succession to King Henri II. and his sons, had the new faith preached in the chapel at Nérac, and that he asked a minister to be sent to him from Geneva. His brother Louis, Prince of Condé, also declared himself on the Protestant side. The wives of the brothers Bourbon, Jeanne d’Albret and Eléanor de Roye, were more determined and consistent Protestants than their husbands. The two brothers were among those present at the assemblies in the Pré-aux-Clercs, where for five successive evenings (May 13-17) more than five thousand persons met to sing Clement Marot’s Psalms.[206] Calvin wrote energetically to all these great nobles, urging them to declare openly on the side of the Gospel, and[Pg 173] protect their brethren in the faith less able to defend themselves.

§ 9. France ruled by the Guises.[207]

The successor of Henry II. was his son Francis II., who was fifteen years of age, and therefore entitled by French law to rule in his own name. He was a youth feeble in mind and in body, and devotedly attached to his young and accomplished wife, Mary Queen of Scots. She believed naturally that her husband could not do better than entrust the government of the kingdom to her uncles, Charles the Cardinal of Lorraine, and Francis the Duke de Guise. The Cardinal had been Henry II.’s most trusted Minister; and his brother was esteemed to be the best soldier in France. When the Parlement of Paris, according to ancient custom, came to congratulate the King on his succession, and to ask to whom they were to apply in affairs of State, they were told by the King that they were to obey the Cardinal and the Duke “as himself.” The Constable de Montmorency and the favourite, Diane de Poitiers, were sent from the Court, and the Queen-Mother, Catherine de’ Medici, that “shopkeeper’s daughter,” as the young Queen called her, found herself as devoid of influence as she had been during the lifetime of her husband.

The Cardinal of Lorraine had been the chief adviser of that policy of extirpating the Protestants to which the late King had devoted himself, and it was soon apparent that[Pg 174] it would be continued by the new government. The process against Antoine du Bourg and his fellow-members of the Parlement of Paris who had dared to remonstrate against the persecution, was pushed forward with all speed. They were condemned to the stake, and the only mitigation of sentence was that Du Bourg was to be strangled before he was burnt. His fate provoked much sympathy. As he was led to the place of execution the crowd pleaded with him to recant. His resolute, dignified bearing made a great impression; and his dying speech, according to one eye-witness, “did more harm to the Roman Church than a hundred ministers could have done,” and, according to another, “made more converts among the French students than all the books of Calvin.” The persecutions of Protestants of lower rank increased rather than diminished. Police made descents on the houses in the Rue de Marais-Saint-Germain and neighbouring streets.[208] Spies were hired to insinuate themselves into the confidence of the suspected for the purpose of denouncing them. The Parlement of Paris instituted four separate criminal courts for the sole purpose of trying heretics brought before them. The prisons were no sooner filled than they were emptied by sentences which sent the condemned to the galleys or to death. The government incited to persecution by new declarations and edicts. It declared that houses in which conventicles were held were to be razed to the ground (Sept. 4th, 1559); that all who organised unlawful assemblies were to be punished by death (Nov. 9th, 1559); that nobles who had justiciary courts were to act according to law in the matter of heresy, or to be deprived of their justiciary rights (Feb. 1560). In spite of all this stern[Pg 175] repression, the numbers of the Protestants increased, and Calvin could declare that there were at least 300,000 in France.

The character of Protestantism in France had been changing. In the earlier years of the persecution they had submitted meekly without thought of revolt, resigned to their fate, rejoicing to suffer in the cause of Christ. But under this rule of the Guises the question of resistance was discussed. It could be said that revolt did not mean revenge for injuries done to themselves. A foreign family had overawed their King and imposed themselves on France. The Princes of the Blood, Antoine de Bourbon and his brother Louis de Condé, in whose veins ran the blood of Saint Louis, who were the natural leaders of the people, were flouted by the Guises. The inviolability of Parlement had been attacked in the execution of Antoine du Bourg, and the justiciary rights of great nobles were threatened simply in order to extirpate “those of the religion.” They believed that France was full of men who had no good will to the tyranny of the “foreigners.” They consulted their brethren in exile, and Calvin himself, on the lawfulness and expediency of an armed insurrection. The refugees favoured the plan. Calvin denounced it. “If one drop of blood is shed in such a revolt, rivers will flow; it is better that we all perish than cause such a scandal to the cause of Christ and His Evangel.” Some of the Protestants were not to be convinced. They only needed a leader. Their natural head was the King of Navarre; but Antoine de Bourbon was too unstable. Louis de Condé, his brother, was sounded.[209] It is said that he promised to come forward if the enterprise was confined to the seizure of the Guises, and if it was successful in effecting this. A Protestant gentleman, Godefroy de Barry, Seigneur de la Renaudie, became temporary leader.[Pg 176] He had wrongs to avenge. He had been condemned by the Parlement of Dijon (Burgundy), had escaped to Geneva, and had been converted there; his brother-in-law, Gaspard de Heu, of Metz, had been strangled by the Guises in the castle of Vincennes without form of trial. A number of gentlemen and nobles promised their assistance. The conspirators swore to undertake nothing against the King; the enterprise was limited to the arrest of the Guises. News of the project began to leak out. Every information went to show that the Guises were the objects of attack. The Court was moved from Blois to Amboise, which was a fortified city. More precise information filtered to headquarters. The Duke of Guise captured some small bands of conspirators, and de la Renaudie himself was slain in a skirmish. The Guises took summary vengeance. Their prisoners were often slaughtered when caught; or were tied hand and foot and thrown into the Loire. Others were hurried through a form of trial. So many gallows were needed that there was not wood enough, and the prisoners were hung from the doors and battlements of the castle of Amboise. The young King and Queen, with their ladies, walked out after dinner to feast their eyes on the dead bodies.

Even before the Conspiracy of Amboise had run its length, members of the Court had begun to protest against the religious policy of the Guises. Catherine de’ Medici had talked the matter over with the Admiral Coligny, had been told by him that the religious persecutions were at the bottom of the troubles in the kingdom, and had listened to his proposal that all such should be suspended until the meeting of a Council. The result was that government decided to pardon those accused of heresy if they would promise for the future to live as good Catholics. The brutalities of the methods by which the sharers in the foolishly planned and feebly executed Conspiracy of Amboise were punished increased the state of disorder in the kingdom, and the hatred against the Guises found vent in an Epistle sent to the Tiger of France, in which the[Pg 177] Duke is addressed as a “mad tiger, a venomous viper, a sepulchre of abominations.”

Catherine de’ Medici deemed the opportunity favourable for exercising her influence. She contrived to get Michel de l’Hôpital appointed as Chancellor, knowing that he was opposed to the sanguinary policy pursued. He was able to inspire the Edict of Romorantin (May 18th, 1560), which made the Bishops judges of the crime of heresy, imposed penalties on false accusers, and left the punishment to be bestowed on attendance at conventicles in the hands of the presidents of the tribunals. Then, with the help of the Chancellor, Catherine managed to get an Assembly of the Notables summoned to meet at Fontainebleau. There, many of the members advocated a cessation of the religious persecution. One Archbishop, Marillac of Vienne, and the Bishops of Orléans and Valence, asserted boldly that the religious disorders were really caused by the scandals in the Church; spoke against severe repression until a Council, national or general, had been held; and hinted that the services of the Guises were not indispensable. At the beginning of the second session Coligny spoke. He had the courage to make himself the representative of the Huguenots, as the Protestants now began to be nicknamed. He attacked boldly the religious policy of the Guises, charged them with standing between the King and loyal subjects, and declared that the persecuted were Christians who asked for nothing but to be allowed to worship God as the Gospel taught them. He presented a petition to the King from the Protestants asserting their loyalty, begging that the persecution should cease, and asking that “temples” might be assigned for their worship. The petition was unsigned, but Coligny declared that fifty thousand names could be obtained in Normandy alone. The Duke of Guise spoke with great violence, but the more politic Cardinal induced him to agree with the other members to call a meeting of the States General of France, to be held on the 10th of December 1560.

Shortly after the Notables had dispersed, word came[Pg 178] of another conspiracy, in which not only the Bourbon Princes, but also the Constable Montmorency were said to be implicated. Disturbances broke out in Provence and Dauphiné. The Guises went back to their old policy of violence. The King of Navarre and the Prince of Condé were summoned by the King to appear before him to justify themselves. Although well warned of what might happen, they obeyed the summons, and presented themselves unattended by armed men. Condé was seized and imprisoned. He was condemned to death, and his execution was fixed for the 10th of December. The King of Navarre was left at liberty, but was closely watched; and more than one attempt was made to assassinate him. It was vaguely believed that the Cardinal of Lorraine had resolved to get rid of all the leaders of the Huguenots by death or imprisonment.

While these terrifying suggestions were being whispered, the young King fell ill, and died suddenly. This ended the rule of the Guises, and the French Protestants breathed freely again.

“Did you ever read or hear,” said Calvin in a letter to Sturm, “of anything more opportune than the death of the King? The evils had reached an extremity for which there was no remedy, when suddenly God shows Himself from heaven. He who pierced the eye of the father has now stricken the ear of the son.”

§ 10. Catherine de’ Medici becomes Regent.

In the confusion which resulted, Catherine recognised that at last the time had come when she could gratify the one strong passion which possessed her—the passion to govern. Charles IX. was a boy of ten. A Regent was essential. Antoine de Bourbon, as the first Prince of the Blood, might have claimed the position; but Catherine first terrified him with what might be the fate of Condé, and then proposed that the Constable Montmorency and himself should be her principal advisers. The facile Antoine[Pg 179] accepted the situation: the Constable was recalled to the Court; Louis de Condé was released from prison. His imprisonment had made a deep impression all over France. The Protestants believed that he had suffered for their sakes. Hymns of prayer had been sung during his captivity, and songs of thanksgiving greeted his release.[210]

“Le pauvre Chrestien, qui endure
Prison, pour verité;
Le Prince, en captivité dure
Sans l’avoir mérité?
An plus fort de leurs peines entendent
Tes œuvres tons parfaits,
Et gloire et louange te rendent
De tes merveilleux faits.”

This was sung all over France during Condé’s imprisonment; after his release the tone varied:

“Resjonissez vons en Dieu
Fidéles de chacun lieu;
Car Dieu pour nous a mandé (envoyé)
Le bon prince de Condé;
Et vous nobles protestans
Princes, seigneurs attestans;
Car Dieu pour nous a maudé
Le bon prince de Condé.”

Catherine de’ Medici was forty-one years of age when she became the Regent of France.[211] Her life had been hard. Born in 1519, the niece of Pope Clement VII, she was married to Henry of France in 1534. She had been a neglected wife all the days of her married life. For ten years she had been childless,[212] and her sonnets breathe the[Pg 180] prayer of Rachel—Give me children, or else I die. During Henry’s absence with the army in 1552, he had grudgingly appointed her Regent, and she had shown both ability and patience in acquiring a knowledge of all the details of government. After the defeat of Saint-Quentin she for once earned her husband’s gratitude and praise by the way in which she had promptly persuaded the Parliament to grant a subsidy of 300,000 livres. These incidents were her sole apprenticeship in the art of ruling. She had always been a great eater, walker, and rider.[213] Her protruding eyes and her bulging forehead recalled the features of her grand-uncle, Pope Leo X. She had the taste of her family for art and display. Her strongest intellectual force was a robust, hard, and narrow common sense which was responsible both for her success and for her failures. She can scarcely be called immoral; it seemed rather that she was utterly destitute of any moral sense whatsoever.

The difficulties which confronted the Regent were great, both at home and abroad. The question of questions was the treatment to be given to her Protestant subjects. She seems from the first to have been in favour of a measure of toleration; but the fanatically Roman Catholic party was vigorous in France, especially in Paris, and was ably led by the Guises; and Philip of Spain had made the suppression of the Reformation a matter of international policy.

Meanwhile Catherine had to face the States General, summoned by the late King in August 1560. While the Guises were still in power, strict orders had been given to see that none but ardent Romanists should be elected; but the excitement of the times could not be restrained by any management. It was nearly half a century since a King of France had invited a declaration of the opinions of his[Pg 181] subjects; the last meeting of the States General had been in 1484.[214] Catherine watched the elections, and the expression of sentiments which they called forth. She saw that the Protestants were active. Calvinist ministers traversed the West and the South almost unhindered, encouraging the people to assert their liberties. They were even permitted to address some of the assemblies met to elect representatives. A minister, Charles Dalbiac, expounded the Confession of Faith to the meeting of the nobles at Angers, and showed how the Roman Church had enslaved and changed the whole of the Christian faith and practice. In other places it was said that Antoine de Bourbon had no right to allow Catherine to assume the Regency, and that he ought to be forced to take his proper place. The air seemed full of menaces against the Regent and in favour of the Princes of the Blood. Catherine hastened to place the King of Navarre in a position of greater dignity. She shared the Regency nominally with the premier Prince of the Blood, who was Lieutenant-General of France. If Antoine had been a man of resolution, he might have insisted on a large share in the government of the country, but his easy, careless disposition made him plastic in the hands of Catherine, and she could write to her daughter that he was very obedient, and issued no order without her permission.

The Estates met at Orléans on the 13th of December. The opening speech by the Chancellor, Michel de l’Hôpital, showed that the Regent and her councillors were at least inclined to a policy of tolerance. The three orders (Clergy, Nobles, and Third Estate), he said, had been summoned to find remedies for the divisions which existed within the kingdom; and these, he believed, were due to religion. He could not help recognising that religious beliefs, good or bad, tended to excite burning passions. He could not avoid seeing that a common religion was a stricter bond of unity than belonging to the same race or living under the same laws. Might they not all wait for the decision of a General Council? Might they not cease to use the irritating[Pg 182] epithets of Lutherans, Huguenots, Papists, and remember that they were all good Christians. The spokesmen of the three orders were heard at the second sitting. Dr. Quintin, one of the Regents of the University of Paris, voiced the Clergy. He enlarged against the proposals which were to be brought forward by the other two orders to despoil the revenues of the Church, to attempt its reform by the civil power, and to grant toleration and even liberty of worship to heretics. Coligny begged the Regent to note that Quintin had called subjects of the King heretics, and the spokesman of the Clergy apologised. Jacques de Silly, Baron de Rochefort, and Jean Lange, an advocate of Bordeaux, who spoke for the Nobles and for the Third Estate, declaimed against the abuses of ecclesiastical courts, and the avarice and ignorance of the clergy.

At the sitting on Jan. 1st, 1561, each of the three Estates presented a written list of grievances (cahiers). That of the Third Estate was a memorable and important document in three hundred and fifty-four articles, and reveals, as no other paper of the time does, the evils resulting from absolutist and aristocratic government in France. It asked for complete toleration in matters of religion, for a Reformation of the Church in the sense of giving a large extension of power to the laity, for uniformity in judicial procedure, for the abolition or curtailment of powers in signorial courts, for quinquennial meetings of the Estates General, and demanded that the day and place of the next meeting should be fixed before the end of the present sitting. The Nobles were divided on the question of toleration, and presented three separate papers. In the first, which came from central Prance, stern repression of the Protestant faith was demanded; in the second, coming from the nobles of the Western provinces, complete toleration was claimed; in the third it was asked that both parties should be made to keep the peace, and that only preachers and pastors be punished. The list presented by the Clergy, like those of the other two orders, insisted upon the reform of the Church; but it took the line of urging the abolition of the Concordat,[Pg 183] and a return to the provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.

The Government answered these lists of grievances presented by an edict and an ordinance. In the edict (Jan. 28th, 1561) the King ordered that all prosecutions for religion should cease, and that all prisoners should be released, with an admonition “to live in a catholic manner” for the future. The ordinance (dated Jan. 31st, but not completed till the following August), known as the Ordinance of Orléans, was a very elaborate document. It touched upon almost all questions brought forward in the lists of grievances, and enacted various reforms, both civil and ecclesiastic—all of which were for the most part evaded in practice. The Estates were adjourned until the 1st of May.

The Huguenots had gained a suspension of persecution, if not toleration, by the edict of Jan. 28th, and the disposition of the Government made them hope for still further assistance. Refugees came back in great numbers from Switzerland, Germany, England, and even from Italy. The number of Protestant congregations increased, and Geneva provided the pastors. The edict did not give liberty of worship, but the Protestants acted as if it did. This roused the wrath of the more fanatically disposed portion of the Roman Catholic population. Priests and monks fanned the flames of sectarian bitterness. The Government was denounced, and anti-Protestant riots disturbed the country. When the Huguenots of Paris attempted to revive the psalm-singings in the Pré-aux-Clercs, they were mobbed, and beaten with sticks by the populace. This led to reprisals in those parts of the country where the Huguenots were in a majority. In some towns the churches were invaded, the images torn down, and the relics burnt. The leaders strove to restrain their followers.[215] Calvin wrote energetically from Geneva against the lawlessness:

[Pg 184]

“God has never enjoined on any one to destroy idols, save on every man in his own house or on those placed in authority in public places.... Obedience is better than sacrifice; we must look to what it is lawful for us to do, and must keep ourselves within bounds.”

At the Court at Fontainebleau, Renée, Duchess of Ferrara, and the Princess of Condé were permitted by the Regent to have worship in their rooms after the Reformed rite; and Coligny had in his household a minister from Geneva, Jean Raymond Merlin, to whose sermons outsiders were not only admitted but invited. These things gave great offence to the Constable Montmorency, who was a strong Romanist. He was still more displeased when Monluc, Bishop of Valence, preached in the State apartments before the boy King and the Queen Mother. He thought it was undignified for a Bishop to preach, and he believed that Monluc’s sermons contained something very like Lutheran theology. He invited the Duke of Guise and Saint-André, both old enemies, to supper (April 16th, 1561), and the three pleged themselves to save the Romanism of France. This union was afterwards known as the Triumvirate.

Meanwhile religious disturbances were increasing. The Huguenots demanded the right to have “temples” granted to them or built at their own expense; and in many places they openly gathered for public worship and for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. They frequently met armed to protect themselves from attack. The Government at length interfered, and by an edict (July 1561) prohibited, under penalty of confiscation of property, all conventicles, public or private, whether the worshippers were armed or unarmed, where sermons were made and the sacraments celebrated in any other fashion than that of the Catholic Church. The edict declared, on the other hand, that magistrates were not to be too zealous; persons who laid false information were to be severely punished; and all attacks on houses were forbidden. It was evidently meant to conciliate both parties. Coligny did not discontinue[Pg 185] the services in his apartments, and wrote to his co-religionists that they had nothing to fear so long as they worshipped in private houses. Jeanne d’Albret declared herself openly a Protestant; and as she travelled from Nérac to Fontainebleau she restored to the Huguenots churches which the magistrates had taken from them in obedience to the edict of July.

The prorogued meeting of the States General did not assemble until the 1st of August, and even then representatives of two orders only were present. An ecclesiastical synod was sitting at Poissy (opened July 28th), and the clerical representatives were there. It was the 27th of August before the three orders met together in presence of the King and the members of his Council at Saint-Germain. The meeting had been called for the purpose of discussing the question of national finance; but it was impossible to ignore the religious question.

In their cahiers, both the Nobles and the Third Estate advocated complete toleration and the summoning a National Council. The financial proposals of the Third Estate were thoroughgoing. After a statement of the national indebtedness, and a representation that taxation had reached its utmost limits, they proposed that money should be obtained from the superfluity of ecclesiastical wealth. In their cahier of Jan. 1st, the Third Estate had sketched a civil constitution for the French Church; they now went further, and proposed that all ecclesiastical revenues should be nationalised, and that the clergy should be paid by the State. They calculated that a surplus of seventy-two million livres would result, and proposed that forty-two millions should be set aside to liquidate the national debt.

This bold proposal was impracticable in the condition of the kingdom. The Parlement of Paris regarded it as a revolutionary attack on the rights of property, and it alienated them for ever from the Reformation movement; but it enabled the Government to wring from the alarmed[Pg 186] Churchmen a subsidy of sixteen million livres, to be paid in six annual instalments.

§ 11. The Conference at Poissy.

It was scarcely possible, in view of the Pope and Philip of Spain, to assemble a National Council, but the Government had already conceived the idea of a meeting of theologians, which would be such an assembly in all but the name. They had invited representatives of the Protestant ministers (July 25th) to attend the synod of the clergy sitting at Poissy. The invitation had been accepted, and the Government intended to give an air of unusual solemnity to the meeting. The King, surrounded by his mother, his brothers, and the Princes of the Blood, presided as at a sitting of the States General. The Chancellor, in the King’s name, opened the session with a remarkable speech, in which he set forth the advantages to be gained from religious union. He addressed the assembled bishops and Roman Catholic theologians, assuring them that they ought to have no scruples in meeting the Protestant divines. The latter were not heretics like the old Manicheans or Arians. They accepted the Scriptures as the Rule of Faith, the Apostles’ Creed, the four principal Councils and their Creeds (the symbols of Nicea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon). The main difference between them was that the Protestants wished the Church to be reformed according to the primitive pattern. They had given proof of their sincerity by being content to die for their faith.

The Reformers were represented by twelve ministers, among whom were Morel of Paris; Nicolas des Gallars, minister of the French Protestant Church in London, and by twenty laymen. Their leader was Théodore de Bèze (Beza), a man of noble birth, celebrated as a Humanist, a brilliant writer and controversialist, whom Calvin, at the request of Antoine de Bourbon, Catherine de’ Medici, and Coligny, had commissioned to represent him. De Bèze[Pg 187] was privately presented to the King and the Regent by the King of Navarre and by the Prince de Condé, and his learning, presence, and stately courtesy made a great impression upon the Court. He had been born in the same year as the Regent (1519), and had thrown away very brilliant prospects to become a minister of the Reformed Church.

The meeting was held in the refectory of the nuns of Poissy.[216] The King and his suite were placed at one end of the hall, and the Romanist bishops and theologians were arranged by the walls on the two sides. After the Chancellor had finished his speech, the representatives of the Protestants were introduced by the Duke of Guise, in command of an escort of the King’s archers. They were placed in front of a barrier which separated them from the Romanist divines. “There come the dogs of Geneva,” said the Cardinal of Tournon as they entered the hall.

The speech of de Bèze, delivered on the first day (Sept. 7th) of the Colloquy, as it came to be called, made a great impression. He expounded with clearness of thought and precision of language the creed of his Church, showing where it agreed and where it differed from that of the Roman Catholic. The gravity and the charm of his eloquence compelled attention, and it was not until he began to criticise with frank severity the doctrine of transubstantiation that he provoked murmurs of dissent. The speech must have disappointed Catherine. It had made no attempt to attenuate the differences between the two confessions, and held out no hopes of a reunion of the Churches.

The Cardinal of Lorraine was charged to reply on behalf of the Roman Catholic party (Sept. 16th). His speech was that of a strong partisan, and dealt principally with the two points of the authority of the Church in matters of faith and usage, and the doctrine of the Sacrament of[Pg 188] the Holy Supper. There was no attempt at conciliation.

Three days after (Sept. 19th), Cardinal Ippolito d’Este arrived at Saint-Germain, accompanied by a numerous suite, among whom was Laynez, the General of the Society of Jesus. He had been sent by the Pope, legate a latere, to end, if possible, the conference at Poissy, and to secure the goodwill of the French Government for the promulgation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. He so far prevailed that the last two sittings of the conference (Sept. 24th, 26th) were with closed doors, and were scenes of perpetual recriminations. Laynez distinguished himself by his vituperative violence. The Protestant ministers were “wolves,” “foxes,” “serpents,” “assassins.” Catherine persevered. She arranged a conference between five of the more liberal Roman Catholic clergy and five Protestant ministers. It met (Sept. 30th, Oct. 1st), and managed to draft a formula about the Holy Supper which was at once rejected by the Bishops of the French Church (Oct. 9th).

Out of this Colloquy of Poissy came the edict of January 17th, 1562, which provided that Protestants were to surrender all the churches and ecclesiastical buildings they had seized, and prohibited them from meeting for public worship, whether within a building or not, inside the walls of any town. On the other hand, they were to have the right to assemble for public worship anywhere outside walled towns, and meetings in private houses within the walls were not prohibited. Thus the Protestants of France secured legal recognition for the first time, and enjoyed the right to worship according to their conscience. They were not satisfied—they could scarcely be, so long as they were kept outside the walls; but their leaders insisted on their accepting the edict as a reasonable compromise. “If the liberty promised us in the edict lasts,” Calvin wrote, “the Papacy will fall to the ground of itself.” Within one year the Huguenots of France found themselves freed from persecution, and in the enjoyment of a measured liberty of public worship. It can scarcely be doubted that they[Pg 189] owed this to Catherine de’ Medici. She was a child of the Renaissance, and was naturally on the side of free thought; and she was, besides, at this time persuaded that the Huguenots had the future on their side. In the coming struggle they regarded this edict as their charter, and frequently demanded its restitution and enforcement.

Catherine de’ Medici had shown both courage and constancy in her attempts at conciliation. To the remonstrances of Philip of Spain she had replied that she meant to be master in her own house; and when the Constable de Montmorency had threatened to leave the Court, he had been told that he might do as he pleased. But she was soon to be convinced that she had overestimated the strength of the Protestants, and that she could never count on the consistent support of their nominal leader, the vain and vacillating Antoine de Bourbon. Had Jeanne d’Albret been in her husband’s place, things might have been different.

The edict of January 17th, 1562, had exasperated the Romanists without satisfying the mass of the Protestants. The marked increase in the numbers of Protestant congregations, and their not very strict observance of the limitations of the edict, had given rise to disturbances in many parts of the country. Everything seemed to tend towards civil war. The spark which kindled the conflagration was the Massacre of Vassy.[217]

§ 12. The Massacre of Vassy.

The Duke of Guise, travelling from Joinville to Paris, accompanied by his brother, the Cardinal of Guise, his children and his wife, and escorted by a large armed retinue, halted at Vassy (March 1st, 1562). It was a Sunday, and the Duke wished to hear Mass. Scarcely a gunshot from the church was a barn where the Protestants (in defiance of the edict, for Vassy was a walled town) were holding a[Pg 190] service. The congregation, barely a year old, was numerous and zealous. It was an eyesore to Antoinette de Bourbon, the mother of the Guises, who lived in the neighbouring château of Joinville, and saw her dependants attracted by the preaching at Vassy. The Duke was exasperated at seeing men whom he counted his subjects defying him in his presence. He sent some of his retainers to order the worshippers to quit the place. They were received by cries of “Papists! idolaters!” When they attempted to force an entrance, stones began to fly, and the Duke was struck. The barn was rushed, the worshippers fusilladed, and before the Duke gave orders to cease firing, sixty-three of the six or seven hundred Protestants were slain, and over a hundred wounded.

The news of the massacre spread fast; and while it exasperated the Huguenots, the Romanists hailed it as a victory. The Constable de Montmorency and the Marshal Saint André went out to meet the Duke, and the Guises entered Paris in triumph, escorted by more than three thousand armed men. The Protestants began arming themselves, and crowded to Paris to place themselves under the orders of the Prince of Condé. It was feared that the two factions would fight in the streets.

The Regent with the King retired to Fontainebleau. She was afraid of the Triumvirs (Montmorency, the Duke of Guise, and Marshal Saint-André), and she invited the Prince de Condé to protect her and her children. Condé lost this opportunity of placing himself and his co-religionists in the position of being the support of the throne. The Triumvirate, with Antoine de Bourbon, who now seemed to be their obedient servant, marched on Fontainebleau, and compelled the King and the Queen Mother to return to Paris. Catherine believed that the Protestants had abandoned her, and turned to the Romanists.

The example of massacre given at Vassy was followed in many places where the Romanists were in a majority. In Paris, Sens, Rouen, and elsewhere, the Protestant places of worship were attacked, and many of the worshippers[Pg 191] slain. At Toulouse, the Protestants shut themselves up in the Capitol, and were besieged by the Romanists. They at last surrendered, trusting to a promise that they would be allowed to leave the town in safety. The promise was not kept, and three thousand men, women, and children were slain in cold blood. This slaughter, in violation of oath, was celebrated by the Roman Catholics of Toulouse in centenary festivals, which were held in 1662, in 1762, and would have been celebrated in 1862 had the Government of Napoleon III. not interfered to forbid it.

These massacres provoked reprisals. The Huguenots broke into the Romanist churches, tore down the images, defaced the altars, and destroyed the relics.

§ 13. The Beginning of the Wars of Religion.

Gradually the parties faced each other with the Duke of Guise and the Constable Montmorency at the head of the Romanists, and the Prince of Condé and Admiral Coligny at the head of the Huguenots. France became the scene of a civil conflict, where religious fanaticism added its cruelties to the ordinary barbarities of warfare.

The Venetian Ambassador, writing home to the chiefs of his State, was of opinion that this first war of religion prevented France from becoming Protestant. The cruelties of the Romanists had disgusted a large number of Frenchmen, who, though they had no great sympathy for the Protestant faith, would have gladly allied themselves with a policy of toleration. The Huguenot chiefs themselves saw that the desecration of churches did not serve the cause they had at heart. Calvin and de Bèze wrote, energetically urging their followers to refrain from attacks on churches, images, and relics. But it was all to no purpose. At Orléans, Coligny and Condé heard that their men were assaulting the Church of the Holy Spirit. They hastened there, and Condé saw a Huguenot soldier on the roof of the church about to cast an image to the ground. Seizing an arquebus, he pointed it at the man, and ordered him to[Pg 192] desist and come down. The soldier did not stop his work for an instant. “Sire,” he said, “have patience with me until I destroy this idol, and then let me die if it be your pleasure.” When men were content to die rather than refrain from iconoclasm, it was in vain to expect to check it. Somehow the slaughter of men made less impression than the sack of churches, and moderate men came to the opinion that if the Huguenots prevailed, they would be as intolerant as the Romanists had been. The rising tide of sympathy for the persecuted Protestants was checked by these deeds of violence.

The progress of the war was upon the whole unfavourable to the Huguenots, and in the beginning of 1553 both parties were exhausted. The Constable Montmorency had been captured by the Huguenots, and the Prince de Condé by the Romanists. The Duke of Guise was shot from behind by a Huguenot, and died six days later (Feb. 24th, 1563). The Marshal Saint-André and Antoine de Bourbon had both died during the course of the war. Catherine de’ Medici was everywhere recognised as the head of the Romanist party. She no longer needed the Protestants to counterbalance the Guises and the Constable. She could now pursue her own policy.

From this time forward she was decidedly hostile to the Huguenots. She had learned the resources and popularity of the Romanists. But she disliked fighting, and the religious war was ruining France. Her idea was that it would be necessary to tolerate the Protestants, but impossible to grant them common rights with the Romanists. She applied herself to win over the Prince de Condé, who was tired of his captivity. Negotiations were opened. Catherine, the Constable, Condé, and d’Andelot met at Orléans; and, after discussion, terms were agreed upon (March 7th), and the Edict of Amboise incorporating them was published (March 18th, 1563).

Condé had asked for the restitution of the edict of Jan. 17th, 1561, and the strict enforcement of its terms.[Pg 193] This was refused. The terms of the new edict were as favourable for men of good birth, but not for others. Condé had to undergo the reproaches of Coligny, that he had secured rights for himself but had betrayed his poorer brethren in the faith; and that he had destroyed by his signature more churches than the united forces of Romanism had done in ten years. Calvin spoke of him as a poor Prince who had betrayed God for his own vanity.

The truce, for it was no more than a truce, concluded by the Edict of Amboise lasted nearly five years. It was broken by the Huguenots, who were suspicious that Catherine was plotting with the Duke of Alva against them. Alva was engaged in a merciless attempt to exterminate the Protestants of the Low Countries, and Catherine had been at pains to provide provisions for his troops. The Protestant leaders came to the desperate conclusion to imitate the Triumvirate in 1561, and seize upon the King’s person. They failed, and their attempt began the Second War of Religion. The indecisive battle of Saint Denis was fought on Nov. 10th, 1567, and the Constable Montmorency fell in the fight. Both parties were almost exhausted, and the terms of peace were the same as those in the Edict of Amboise.

The close of this Second War of Religion saw a determined attempt, mainly directed by the Jesuits, to inspire the masses of France with enthusiasm for the Roman Catholic Church. Eloquent preachers traversed the land, who insisted on the antiquity of the Roman and the novelty of the Protestant faith. Brotherhoods were formed, and enrolled men of all sorts and conditions of life sworn to bear arms against every kind of heresy. Outrages and assassinations of Protestants were common; and the Government appeared indifferent. It was, however, the events in the Low Countries which again alarmed the Protestants. The Duke of Alva, who had begun his rule there with an appearance of gentleness, had suddenly seized and executed the Counts Egmont and Horn. He[Pg 194] had appointed a commission to judge the leaders and accomplices in the earlier rising—a commission which from its deeds gained for itself the name of the Tribunal of Blood. Huguenot soldiers hastened to enrol themselves in the levies which the Prince of Orange was raising for the deliverance of his countrymen. But the Huguenot leaders had other thoughts. Was Catherine meaning to treat them as Alva had treated Egmont and Horn? They found that they were watched. The suspicion and suspense became intolerable. Coligny and Condé resolved to take refuge in La Rochelle. As they passed through the country they were joined by numbers of Huguenots, and soon became a small army. Their followers were eager to avenge the murders committed on those of their faith, and pillage and worse marked the track of the army. Condé and the Admiral punished some of their marauding followers by death; and this, says the chronicler, “made the violence of the soldier more secret if not more rare.”

D’Andelot had collected his Normans and Bretons. Jeanne d’Albret had roused her Gascons and the Provençals, and appeared with her son, Henry of Navarre, a boy of fifteen, at the head of her troops. She published a manifesto to justify her in taking up arms. In the camp at La Rochelle she was the soul of the party, fired their passions, and sustained their courage.[218]

In the war which followed, the Huguenots were unfortunate. At the battle of Jarnac, Condé’s cavalry was broken by a charge on their flank made by the German mercenaries under Tavannes. He fought till he was surrounded and dismounted. After he had surrendered he was brutally shot in cold blood. The Huguenots soon rallied at Cognac, where the Queen of Navarre joined[Pg 195] them. She presented her son and her nephew, young Henry of Condé, to the troops, and was received with acclamations. Young Henry of Navarre was proclaimed head of the party, and his cousin, Henry of Condé, a boy of the same age, was associated with him. The war went on. The Battle of Moncontour ended in the most disastrous defeat the Huguenots had ever sustained. Catherine de’ Medici thought that she had them at her mercy, and proposed terms of submission which would have left them liberty of conscience but denied the right to worship. The heroic Queen of Navarre declared that the names of Jeanne and Henry would never appear on a treaty containing these conditions; and Coligny, like his contemporary, William the Silent, was never more dangerous than after a defeat. The Huguenots announced themselves ready to fight to the last; and Catherine, to her astonishment, saw them stronger than ever. An armistice was arranged, and the Edict of Saint-Germain (Aug. 8th, 1570) published the terms of peace. It was more favourable to the Huguenots than any earlier one. They were guaranteed freedom of conscience throughout the whole kingdom. They had the liberty of public worship in all places where it had been practised before the war, in the suburbs of at least two towns in every government, and in the residences of the great nobles. Four strongly fortified towns—La Rochelle, Montauban, Cognac, and La Charité—were to be held by them as pledges for at least two years. The King withdrew himself from the Spanish alliance and the international policy of the suppression of the Protestants. William of Orange and Ludovic of Nassau were declared to be his friends, in spite of the fact that they were the rebel subjects of Philip of Spain and had assisted the Huguenots in the late war.

After the peace of Saint-Germain, Coligny, now the only great leader left to the Huguenots, lived far from the Court at La Rochelle, acting as the guardian of the two young Bourbon Princes, Henry of Navarre and Henry[Pg 196] of Condé. He occupied himself in securing for the Reformed the advantages they had won in the recent treaty of peace.

Catherine de’ Medici had begun to think of strengthening herself at home and abroad by matrimonial alliances. She wished one of her sons, whether the Duke of Anjou or the Duke of Alençon it mattered little to her, to marry Elizabeth of England, and her daughter Marguerite to espouse the young King of Navarre. Both designs meant that the Huguenots must be conciliated. They were in no hurry to respond to her advances. Both Coligny and Jeanne d’Albret kept themselves at a distance from the Court. Suddenly the young King, Charles IX., seemed to awaken to his royal position. He had been hitherto entirely submissive to his mother, expending his energies now in hunting, now in lock-making; but, if one can judge from what awakened him, cherishing a sullen grudge against Philip of Spain and his pretensions to guide the policy of Roman Catholic Europe.

Pope Pius V. had made Cosmo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence, a Grand Duke, and Philip of Spain and Maximilian of Austria had protested. Cosmo sent an agent to win the German Protestants to side with him against Maximilian, and to engage the Dutch Protestants to make trouble in the Netherlands. Charles saw the opportunity of gratifying his grudge, and entered eagerly into the scheme. His wishes did not for the time interfere with his mother’s plans. If her marriage ideas were to succeed, she must break with Spain. Coligny saw the advantages which might come to his fellow-believers in the Netherlands—help in money from Italy and with troops from France. He resolved to make his peace with Catherine, respond to her advances, and betake himself to Court. He was graciously received, for Catherine wished to make use of him; was made a member of the Council, received a gift of one hundred and fifty thousand livres, and, although a heretic, was put into possession of an Abbey whose revenues amounted to twenty thousand livres[Pg 197] a year. The Protestant chiefs were respectfully listened to when they stated grievances, and these were promptly put right, even at the risk of exasperating the Romanists. The somewhat unwilling consent of Jeanne d’Albret was won to the marriage of her son with Marguerite, and she herself came to Paris to settle the terms of contract. There she was seized with pleurisy, and died—an irreparable loss to the Protestant cause. Catherine’s home policy had been successful.

But Elizabeth of England was not to be enticed either into a French marriage or a stable French alliance, and Catherine de’ Medici saw that her son’s scheme might lead to France being left to confront Spain alone; and the Spain of the sixteenth century played the part of Russia in the end of the nineteenth—fascinating the statesmen of the day with its gloomy, mysterious, incalculable power. She felt that she must detach Charles at whatever cost from his scheme of flouting Philip by giving assistance to the Protestants of the Low Countries. Coligny was in her way—recognised to be the greatest statesman in France, enthusiastically bent on sending French help to his struggling co-religionists, and encouraging Charles IX. Coligny must be removed. The Guises were at deadly feud with him, and would be useful in putting him out of the way. The Ambassador of Florence reported significantly conferences between Catherine and the Duchess de Nemours, the mother of the Guises (July 23rd, 1572). The Queen had secret interviews with Maureval, a professional bravo, who drew a pension as “tueur du Roy.”

Nothing could be done until Henry, now King of Navarre by his mother’s death, was safely married to Marguerite. The wedding took place on August 18th, 1572. On Friday (Aug. 22nd), between ten and eleven o’clock, Coligny left the Louvre to return to his lodging. The assassin was stationed in a house belonging to a retainer of the Guises, at a grated window concealed by a curtain. The Admiral was walking slowly, reading a letter.[Pg 198] Suddenly a shot carried away the index finger of his right hand and wounded his left arm. He calmly pointed to the window from whence the shot had come; and some of his suite rushed to the house, but found nothing but a smoking arquebus. The news reached the King when he was playing tennis. He became pallid, threw down his racquet, and went to his rooms.

Catherine closeted herself with the Duke of Anjou to discuss a situation which was fraught with terror.[219]

§ 14. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew.

Paris was full of Huguenot gentlemen, drawn from all parts of the country for the wedding of their young chief with the Princess Marguerite. They rushed to the house in which Coligny lay. The young King of Navarre and his cousin, Henry de Condé, went to the King to demand justice, which Charles promised would be promptly rendered. Coligny asked to see the King, who proposed to go at once. Catherine feared to leave the two alone, and accompanied him, attended by a number of her most trusty adherents. Even the Duke of Guise was there. The King by Coligny’s bedside swore again with a great oath that he would avenge the outrage in a way that it would never be forgotten. A commission was appointed to inquire into the affair, and they promptly discovered that retainers of the Guises were implicated. If the investigations were pursued in the King’s temper, Guise would probably seek to save himself by revealing Catherine’s share in the attempted assassination. She became more and more a prey to terror. The Huguenots grew more and more violent. At last Catherine, whether on her own initiative or prompted by others will never be known, believed that she could only save herself by a prompt and thorough[Pg 199] massacre of the Huguenots, gathered in unusual numbers in Paris.[220]

She summoned a council (Aug. 23rd), at which were present, so far as is known, the Duke of Anjou, her favourite son, afterwards Henry III., Marshal Tavannes, Nevers, Nemours (the stepfather of the Guises), Birago (Chancellor), the Count de Retz, and the Chevalier d’Angoulême—four of them Italians. They were unanimous in advising an instant massacre. Tavannes and Nevers, it is said, pled for and obtained the lives of the two young Bourbons, the King of Navarre and the Prince de Condé. The Count de Retz, who was a favourite with Charles, was engaged to win the King’s consent by appealing to his fears, and by telling him that his mother and brother were as deeply implicated as Guise.

Night had come down before the final resolution was taken; but the fanatical and bloodthirsty mob of Paris might be depended upon. At the last moment, Tavannes (the son) tells us in his Memoirs, Catherine wished to draw back, but the others kept her firm. The Duke of Guise undertook to slay Coligny. The Admiral was run through with a pike, and the body tossed out of the window into the courtyard where Guise was waiting. At the Louvre the young Bourbon Princes were arrested, taken to the King, and given their choice between death and the Mass. The other Huguenot gentlemen who were in the Louvre were slain. In the morning the staircases, balls, and anti-chambers of the Palace were deeply stained with blood. When the murders had been done in the Louvre, the troops divided into parties and went to seek other victims. Almost all the Huguenot gentlemen on the north side of[Pg 200] the river were slain, and all in the Quartier Latin. But some who lodged on the south side (among them Montgomery, and Jean de Ferrières, the Vidame de Chartres) escaped.

Orders were sent to complete the massacre in the provinces. At Orléans the slaughter lasted five days, and Protestants were slain in numbers at Meaux, Troyes, Rouen, Lyons, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and in many other places. The total number of victims has been variously estimated. Sully, the Prime Minister of Henry IV., who had good means of knowing, says that seventy thousand perished. Several thousands were slain in Paris alone.

The news was variously received by Roman Catholic Europe. The German Romanists, including the Emperor, were not slow to express their disapprobation. But Rome was illuminated in honour of the event, a medal was struck to commemorate the Hugonotorum Strages,[221] and Cardinal Orsini was sent to convey to the King and Queen Mother the congratulations of the Pope and the College of Cardinals. Philip of Spain was delighted, and is said to have laughed outright for the first and last time in his life. He congratulated the son on having such a mother, and the mother on having such a son.

Catherine herself believed that the massacre had ended all her troubles. The Huguenots had been annihilated, she thought; and it is reported that when she saw Henry of Navarre bowing to the altar she burst out into a shrill laugh.

§ 15. The Huguenot resistance after the Massacre.

Catherine’s difficulties were not ended. It was not so easy to exterminate the Huguenots. Most of the[Pg 201] leaders had perished, but the people remained, cowed for a time undoubtedly, but soon to regain their courage. The Protestants held the strongholds of La Rochelle and Sancerre, the one on the coast and the other in central France. The artisans and the small shopkeepers insisted that there should be no surrender. The sailors of La Rochelle fraternised with the Sea-Beggars of Brill, and waged an implacable sea-war against the ships of Spain. Nimes and Montauban closed their gates against the soldiers of the King. Milhaud, Aubenas, Privas, Mirabel, Anduze, Sommières, and other towns of the Viverais and of the Cevennes became cities of refuge. All over France, the Huguenots, although they had lost their leaders, kept together, armed themselves, communicated with each other, maintained their religious services—though compelled generally to meet at night.

The attempt to capture these Protestant strongholds made the Fourth Religious War. La Rochelle was invested, beat back many assaults, was blockaded and endured famine, and in the end compelled its enemies to retire from its walls. Sancerre was less fortunate. After the failure of an attempt to take it by assault, La Châtre, the general of the besieging army, blockaded the town in the closest fashion. The citizens endured all the utmost horrors of famine. Five hundred adults and all the children under twelve years of age died of hunger. “Why weep,” said a boy of ten, “to see me die of hunger? I do not ask bread, mother: I know that you have none. Since God wills that I die, thus we must accept it cheerfully. Was not that good man Lazarus hungry? Have I not so read in the Bible?” The survivors surrendered: their lives were spared; and on payment of a ransom of forty thousand livres the town was not pillaged.

The war ended with the peace of Rochelle (July 1573), when liberty of conscience was accorded to all, but the right of public worship was permitted only to Rochelle, Nimes, Montauban, and in the houses of some of the principal Protestant nobles. These terms were hard in comparison[Pg 202] with the rights which had been won before the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew; but the Huguenots had reason for rejoicing. Their cause was still alive. Neither war, nor massacre, nor frauds innumerable had made any impression on the great mass of the French Protestants.

The peace declared by the treaty of La Rochelle did not last long, and indeed was never universal. The Protestants of the South used it to prepare for a renewal of conflict. They remained under arms, perfecting their military organisation. They divided the districts which they controlled into regular governments, presided over by councils whose members were elected and were the military leaders of a Protestant nation for the time being separate from the kingdom of France. They imposed taxes on Romanists and Protestants, and confiscated the ecclesiastical revenues. They were able to stock their strongholds with provisions and munitions of war, and maintain a force of twenty thousand men ready for offensive action.

Their councils at Nimes and Montauban formulated the conditions under which they would submit to the French Government. Nimes sent a deputation to the King furnished with a series of written articles, in which they demanded the free exercise of their religion in every part of France, the maintenance at royal expense of Huguenot garrisons in all the strongholds held by them, and the cession of two strong posts to be cities of refuge in each of the provinces of France. The demands of the council of Montauban went further. They added that the King must condemn the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, execute justice on those who had perpetrated it, reverse the sentences passed on all the victims, approve of the Huguenot resistance, and declare that he praised la singulière et admirable bonté de Dieu who had still preserved his Protestant subjects. They required also that the rights of the Protestant minority in France should be guaranteed by the Protestant States of Europe—by the German Protestant Princes, by Switzerland, England, and Scotland. They dated their document significantly August 24th—the[Pg 203] anniversary of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. The deputies refused to discuss these terms; they simply presented them. The King might accept them; he might refuse them. They were not to be modified.

Catherine was both furious and confounded at the audacity of these “rascals” (ces misérables), as she called them. She declared that Condé, if he had been at the head of twenty thousand cavalry and fifty thousand infantry, would never have asked for the half of what these articles demanded. The Queen Mother found herself face to face with men on whom she might practise all her arts in vain, very different from the debonnaire Huguenot princes whom she had been able to cajole with feminine graces and enervate with her “Flying Squadron.” These farmers, citizens, artisans knew her and her Court, and called things by rude names. She herself was a “murderess,” and her “Flying Squadron” were “fallen women.” She had cleared away the Huguenot aristocracy to find herself in presence of the Protestant democracy.

The worst of it was that she dared not allow the King to give them a decided answer. A new force had been rising in France since Saint Bartholomew’s Day—the Politiques,[222] as they were called. They put France above religious parties, and were weary of the perpetual bloodshed; they said that “a man does not cease to be a citizen because he is excommunicated”; they declared that “with the men they had lost in the religious wars they could have driven Spain out of the Low Countries.” They chafed under the rule of “foreigners,” of the Queen Mother and her Italians, of the Guises and their Jesuits. They were prepared to unite with the Huguenots in order to give France peace. They only required leaders who could represent the two sides of the coalition. If the Duke of Alençon, the youngest brother of the King, and Henry of Navarre could escape from the Court and raise their standards together, they were prepared to join them.

Charles IX. died on Whitsunday 1574 of a disease[Pg 204] which the tainted blood of the Valois and the Médicis induced. The memories of Saint Bartholomew also hastened his death. Private memoirs of courtiers tell us that in his last weeks of fever he had frightful dreams by day and by night. He saw himself surrounded by dead bodies; hideous faces covered with blood thrust themselves forward towards his. The crime had not been so much his as his mother’s, but he had something of a conscience, and felt its burden. “Et ma Mère” was his last word—an appeal to his mother, whom he feared more than his God.

On Charles’ death, Henry, Duke of Anjou, succeeded as Henry III.[223] He was in Poland—king of that distracted country. He abandoned his crown, evaded his subjects, and reached France in September 1574. His advent did not change matters much. Catherine still ruled in reality. The war went on with varying success in different parts of France. But the Duke of Anjou (the Duke of Alençon took this title on his brother’s accession) succeeded in escaping from Court (Sept. 15th, 1575), and the King of Navarre also managed to elude his guardians (Feb. 3rd, 1576). Anjou joined the Prince of Condé, who was at the head of a mixed force of Huguenots and Politiques. Henry of Navarre went into Poitou and remained there. His first act was to attend the Protestant worship, and immediately afterwards he renounced his forced adhesion to Romanism. He did not join any of the parties in the field, but sent on his own demands to be forwarded to the King along with those of the confederates, adding to them the request that the King should aid him to recover the Spanish part of Navarre which had been forcibly annexed to Spain by Ferdinand of Aragon.

The escape of the two Princes led in the end to the “Peace of Monsieur,” the terms of which were published in the Edict of Beaulieu (May 6th, 1576). The right of[Pg 205] public worship was given to Protestants in all towns and places within the kingdom of France, Paris only and towns where the Court was residing being excepted. Protestants received eight strongholds, partly as cities of refuge and partly as guarantees. Chambers of Justice “mi-parties” (composed of both Protestants and Roman Catholics) were established in each Parliament. The King actually apologised for the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, and declared that it had happened to his great regret; and all sentences pronounced on the victims were reversed. This edict was much more favourable to the Protestants than any that had gone before. Almost all the Huguenots’ demands had been granted.

§ 16. The beginnings of the League.

Neither the King, who felt himself humiliated, nor the Romanists, who were indignant, were inclined to submit long to the terms of peace. Some of the Romanist leaders had long seen that the Huguenot enthusiasm and their organisation were enabling an actual minority to combat, on more than equal terms, a Romanist majority. Some of the provincial leaders had been able to inspire their followers with zeal, and to bind them together in an organisation by means of leagues. These provincial leagues suggested a universal organisation, which was fostered by Henry, Duke of Guise, and by Catherine de’ Medici. This was the first form of that celebrated League which gave twenty years’ life to the civil war in France. The Duke of Guise published a declaration in which he appealed to all France to associate together in defence of the Holy Church, Catholic and Roman, and of their King Henry III., whose authority and rights were being taken from him by rebels. All good Catholics were required to join the association, and to furnish arms for the accomplishment of its designs. Those who refused were to be accounted enemies. Neutrals were to be harassed with “toutes sortes d’offences et molestes”; open foes were to be fought strenuously.[Pg 206] Paris was easily won to the League, and agents were sent abroad throughout France to enrol recruits. Henry III. himself was enrolled, and led the movement.

The King had summoned the States General to meet at Blois and hold their first session there on Dec. 6th, 1576. The League had attended to the elections, and the Estates declared unanimously for unity of religion. Upon this the King announced that the Edict of Beaulieu had been extracted from him by force, and that he did not intend to keep it. Two of the Estates, the Clergy and the Nobles, were prepared to compel unity at any cost. The Third Estate was divided. A minority wished the unity brought about “by gentle and pacific ways”; the majority asked for the immediate and complete suppression of the public worship of the Protestants, and for the banishment of all ministers, elders, and deacons.

These decisions of the States General were taken by the Huguenots as a declaration of war, and they promptly began to arm themselves. It was the first war of the League, and the sixth of Religion. It ended with the Peace of Bergerac (Sept. 15th, 1578), in which the terms granted to the Huguenots were rather worse than those of the Edict of Beaulieu. A seventh war ensued, terminated by the Peace of Fleix (Nov. 1580).

The Duke of Anjou died (June 10th, 1584), and the King had no son. The heir to the throne, according to the Salic Law, which excluded females, was Henry of Navarre, a Protestant. On the death of Anjou, Henry III. found himself face to face with this fact. He knew and felt that he was the guardian of the dynastic rights of the French throne, and that his duty was to acknowledge Henry of Navarre as his successor. He accordingly sent one of his favourites, Éperon, to prevail upon Henry of Navarre to become a Roman Catholic and come to Court. Henry refused to do either.

[Pg 207]

§ 17. The League becomes disloyal.[224]

Meanwhile the Romanist nobles were taking their measures. Some of them met at Nancy towards the close of 1584 to reconstruct the League. They resolved to exclude the Protestant Bourbons from the throne, and proclaim the Cardinal Bourbon as the successor of Henry III. They hoped to obtain a Bull from the Pope authorising this selection; and they received the support of Philip of Spain in the Treaty of Joinville (Dec. 31st, 1584).

Paris did not wait for the sanction or recommendation of the nobles. A contemporary anonymous pamphlet, which is the principal source of our information, describes how four men, three of them ecclesiastics, met together to found the League of Paris. They discussed the names of suitable members, and, having selected a nucleus of trustworthy associates, they proceeded to elect a secret council of eight or nine who were to direct and control everything. The active work of recruiting was superintended by six associates, of whom one, the Sieur de la Rocheblond, was a member of the secret council. Soon all the most fanatical elements of the population of Paris belonged to this secret society, sworn to obey blindly the orders of the mysterious council who from a concealed background directed everything. The corporations of the various trades were won to the League; the butchers of Paris, for example, furnished a band of fifteen hundred resolute and dangerous men. Trusty[Pg 208] emissaries were sent to the large towns of France, and secret societies on the plan of the one in Paris were formed and affiliated with the mother-society in Paris, all bound to execute the orders of the secret council of the capital. The Sieur de la Rocheblond, whose brain had planned the whole organisation, was the medium of communication with the Romanist Princes; and through him Henry, Duke of Guise, le Balafré as he was called from a scar on his face, was placed in command of this new and formidable instrument, to be wielded as he thought best for the extirpation of the Protestantism of France.

The King had published an edict forbidding all armed assemblies, and this furnished the Leaguers with a pretext for sending forth their manifesto: Déclaration des causes qui ont meu Monseigneur le Cardinal de Bourbon et les Pairs, Princes, Seigneurs, villes et communautez catholiques de ce royaume de France: De s’opposer à ceux qui par tous moyens s’efforcent de subvertir la religion catholique et l’Estat (30 Mars 1585). It was a skilfully drafted document, setting forth the danger to religion in the foreground, but touching on all the evils and jealousies which had arisen from the favouritism of Henry III. Guise at once began to enrol troops and commence open hostilities; and almost all the great towns of France and most of the provinces in the North and in the Centre declared for the League.

Henry III. was greatly alarmed. With the help of his mother he negotiated a treaty with the Leaguers, in which he promised to revoke all the earlier Edicts of Toleration, to prohibit the exercise of Protestant public worship throughout the kingdom, to banish the ministers, and to give all Protestants the choice between becoming Roman Catholics or leaving the realm within six months (Treaty of Nemours, July 7th, 1585). These terms were embodied in an edict dated July 18th, 1585. The Pope, Sixtus V., thereupon published a Bull, which declared that the King of Navarre and the Prince of Condé, being heretics, were[Pg 209] incapable of succeeding to the throne of France, deprived them of their estates, and absolved all their vassals from allegiance. The King of Navarre replied to “Monsieur Sixtus, self-styled Pope, saving His Holiness,” and promised to avenge the insult done to himself and to the Parlements of France.

“The war of the three Henrys,” from Henry III., Henry of Guise, and Henry of Navarre, began in the later months of 1585. It was in some respects a triangular fight; for although the King and the Guises were both ostensibly combating the Huguenots, the Leaguers, headed by Guises, and the Loyalists, were by no means whole-hearted allies. It began unfavourably for the Protestants, but as it progressed the skilful generalship of the King of Navarre became more and more apparent—at Coutras (Oct. 20th, 1587) he almost annihilated the royalist army. The King made several ineffectual attempts to win the Protestant leader to his side. Navarre would never consent to abjure his faith, and Henry III. made that an absolute condition.

While the war was going on in the west and centre of France, the League was strengthening its organisation and perfecting its plans. It had become more and more hostile to Henry III., and had become a secret revolutionary society. It drafted a complete programme for the immediate future. The cities and districts of France which felt themselves specially threatened by the Huguenots were to beseech the King to raise levies for their protection. If he refused or procrastinated, they were to raise the troops themselves, to be commanded by officers in whom the League had confidence. They could then compel the King to place himself at the head of this army of the Leaguers, or show himself to be their open enemy by refusing. If the King died childless, the partisans of the League were to gather at Orléans and Paris, and were there to elect the Cardinal de Bourbon as the King of France. The Pope and the King of Spain were to be at once informed, when it had been arranged[Pg 210] that His Holiness would send his benediction, and that His Majesty would assist them with troops and supplies. A new form of oath was imposed on all the associates of the League. They were to swear allegiance to the King so long as he should show himself to be a good Catholic and refrained from favouring heretics. These instructions were sent down from the mother-society in Paris to the provinces, and the affiliated societies were recommended to keep in constant communication with Paris. Madame de Montpensier, sister to the Guises, at the same time directed the work of a band of preachers whose business it was to inflame the minds of the people in the capital and the provinces against the King and the Huguenots. She boasted that she did more work for the cause than her brothers were doing by the sword.

The Guises, with this force behind them, tried to force the King to make new concessions—to publish the decisions of the Council of Trent in France (a thing that had not been done); to establish the Inquisition in France; to order the execution of all Huguenot prisoners who would not promise to abjure their religion; and to remove from the armies all officers of whom the League did not approve. The mother-society in Paris prepared for his refusal by organising a secret revolutionary government for the city. It was called “The Sixteen,” being one for each of the sixteen sections of Paris. This government was under the orders of Guise, who communicated with them through an agent of his called Mayneville. Plot after plot was made to get possession of the King’s person; and but for the activity and information of Nicholas Poulain, an officer of police who managed to secure private information, they would have been successful.

[Pg 211]

§ 18. The Day of Barricades.[225]

The King redoubled his guards, and ordered four thousand Swiss troops which he had stationed at Lagny into the suburbs of Paris. The Parisian Leaguers in alarm sent for the Duke of Guise; and Guise, in spite of a prohibitive order from the King, entered the city. When he was recognised he was received with acclamations by the Parisian crowd. The Queen-Mother induced the King to receive him, which he did rather ungraciously. Officers and men devoted to the League crowded into Paris. The King, having tried in vain to prevent the entry of all suspected persons, at last ordered the Swiss into Paris (May 12th, 1588). The citizens flew to arms, and converted Paris into a stronghold. It was “the day of Barricades.” Chains were stretched across the streets, and behind them were piled beams, benches, carts, great barrels filled with stones or gravel. Houses were loop-holed and windows protected. Behind these defences men were stationed with arquebuses; and the women and children were provided with heaps of stones. Guise had remained in his house, but his officers were to be seen moving through the crowds and directing the defence. The Swiss troops found themselves caught in a trap, and helpless. Henry III. was compelled to ask Guise to interfere in order to save his soldiers. The King had to undergo further humiliation. The citizens proposed to attack the Louvre and seize the King’s person. Guise had to be appealed to again. He had an interview with the King on the 13th, at which Henry III. was forced to agree to all the demands of the League, and to leave the conduct of the war against the Huguenots in the hands of the leader of the League. After the interview the King was able to escape secretly from Paris.

The day of the “Barricades” had proved to Henry III. that the League was master in his capital. The meeting[Pg 212] of the States General at Blois (Oct. 1588) was to show him that the country had also turned against him.

The elections had been looked after by the Guises, and had taken place while the impression produced by the revolt of Paris was at its height. The League commanded an immense majority in all the three Estates. The business before them was grave. The finances of the kingdom were in disorder; favouritism had not been got rid of; and no one could trust the King’s word. Above all, the religious question was embittering every mind. The Estates met under the influence of a religious exaltation fanned by the priests. On the 9th of Oct. representatives of the three Estates went to Mass together. During the communion the assistant clergy chanted the well-known hymns,—Pange lingua gloriosi, O salutaris Hostia, Ave verum Corpus natum,—and the excitement was immense. The members of the Estates had never been so united.

Yet the King had a moment of unwonted courage. He had resolved to denounce the League as the source of the disorders in the kingdom. He declared that he would not allow a League to exist within the realm. He only succeeded in making the leaders furious. His bravado soon ceased. The Cardinal de Bourbon compelled him to omit from the published version of his speech the objectionable expressions. The Estates forced him to swear that he would not permit any religion within the kingdom but the Roman. This done, he was received with cries of Vive le Roi, and was accompanied to his house with acclamations. But he was compelled to see the Duke of Guise receive the office of Lieutenant-General, which placed the army under his command; and he felt that he would never be “master in his own house” until that man had been removed from his path.

The news of the completeness of the destruction of the Armada had been filtering through France; the fear of Spain was to some extent removed, and England might help the King if he persisted in a policy of tolerating his Protestant subjects. It is probable that he confided his project[Pg 213] of getting rid of Guise to some of his more intimate councillors, and that they assured him that it would be impossible to remove such a powerful subject by legal means. The Duke and his brother the Cardinal of Guise were summoned to a meeting of the Council. They had scarcely taken their seats when they were asked to see the King in his private apartments. There Guise was assassinated, and the Cardinal arrested, and slain the next day.[226] The Cardinal de Bourbon and the young Prince de Joinville (now Duke of Guise by his father’s death) were arrested and imprisoned. Orders were given to arrest the Duchess of Nemours (Guise’s mother), the Duke and Duchess of Elbœuf, the Count de Brissac, and other prominent Leaguers. The King’s guards invaded the sittings of the States General to carry out these orders. The bodies of the two Guises were burnt, and the ashes thrown into the Loire.

The news of the assassination raised the wildest rage in Paris. The League proclaimed itself a revolutionary society. The city organised itself in its sections. A council was appointed for each section to strengthen the hands of the “Sixteen.” Preachers caused their audiences to swear that they would spend the last farthing in their purses and the last drop of blood in their bodies to avenge the slaughtered princes. The Sorbonne in solemn conclave declared that the actions of Henry III. had absolved his subjects from their allegiance. The “Sixteen” drove from Parlement all suspected persons; and, thus purged, the Parlement of Paris ranged itself on the side of the revolution. The Duke of Mayenne, the sole surviving brother of Henry of Guise, was summoned to Paris. An assembly of the citizens of the capital elected a Council General of the Union of Catholics to manage the affairs of the State and to confer with all the Catholic towns and provinces of France. Deputies sent by these towns and provinces were to be members of the Council. The Duke of Mayenne was appointed by the[Pg 214] Council the Lieutenant-General of the State and Crown of France. The new Government had its seal—the Seal of the Kingdom of France. The larger number of the great towns of France adhered to this provisional and revolutionary Government.

In the midst of these tumults Catherine de’ Medici died (Jan. 5th, 1589).

§ 19. The King takes refuge with the Huguenots.

The miserable King had no resource left but to throw himself upon the protection of the Protestants. He hesitated at first, fearing threatened papal excommunication. Henry of Navarre’s bearing during these months of anxiety had been admirable. After the meeting of the States General at Blois, he had issued a stirring appeal to the nation, pleading for peace—the one thing needed for the distracted and fevered country. He now assured the King of his loyalty, and promised that he would never deny to Roman Catholics that liberty of conscience and worship which he claimed. A treaty was arranged, and the King of Navarre went to meet Henry III. at Tours. He arrived just in time. Mayenne at the head of an avenging army of Leaguers had started as soon as the provisional government had been established in Paris. He had taken by assault a suburb of the town, and was about to attack the city of Tours itself, when he found the Protestant vanguard guarding the bridge over the Loire, and had to retreat. He was slowly forced back towards Paris. The battle of Senlis, in which a much smaller force of Huguenots routed the Duke d’Aumale, who had been reinforced by the Parisian militia, opened the way to Paris. The King of Navarre pressed on. Town after town was taken, and the forces of the two kings, increased by fourteen thousand Swiss and Germans, were soon able to seize the bridge of St. Cloud and invest the capital on the south and west (July 29th, 1589). An assault was fixed for Aug. 2nd.

Since the murder of the Guises, Paris had been a caldron[Pg 215] of seething excitement. The whole population, “avec douleur et gemissements bien grands,” had assisted at the funeral service for “the Martyrs,” and the baptism of the posthumous son of the slaughtered Duke had been a civic ceremony. The Bull “monitory” of Pope Sixtus V., posted up in Rome on May 24th, which directed Henry III. on pain of excommunication to release the imprisoned prelates within ten days, and to appear either personally or by proxy within sixty days before the Curia to answer for the murder of a Prince of the Church, had fanned the excitement. Almost every day the Parisians saw processions of students, of women, of children, defiling through their streets. They marched from shrine to shrine, with naked feet, clad only in their shirts, defying the cold of winter. Parishioners dragged their priests out of bed to head nocturnal processions. The hatred of Henry III. became almost a madness. The Cordeliers decapitated his portraits. Parish priests made images of the King in wax, placed them on their altars, and practised on them magical incantations, in the hope of doing deadly harm to the living man. Bands of children carried lighted candles, which they extinguished to cries of, “God extinguish thus the race of the Valois.

Among the most excited members of this fevered throng was a young Jacobin monk, Jacques Clément, by birth a peasant, of scanty intelligence, and rough, violent manners. His excitement grew with the perils of the city. He consulted a theologian in whom he had confidence, and got from him a guarded answer that it might be lawful to slay a tyrant. He prayed, fasted, went through a course of maceration of the body. He saw visions. He believed that he heard voices, and that he received definite orders to give his life in order to slay the King. He confided his purpose to friends, who approved of it and helped his preparations. He was able to leave the city, to pass through the beleaguering lines, and to get private audience of the King. He presented a letter, and while Henry was reading it stabbed him in the lower part of the body. The deed[Pg 216] done, the monk raised himself to his full height, extended his arms to form himself into a crucifix, and received without flinching his deathblow from La Guesle and other attendants (Aug. 1st, 1589).[227]

The King lingered until the following morning, and then expired, commending Henry of Navarre to his companions as his legitimate successor.

The news of the assassination was received in Paris with wild delight. The Duchess de Nemours, the mother of the Guises, and the Duchess de Montpensier, their sister, went everywhere in the streets describing “the heroic act of Jacques Clément.” The former mounted the steps of the High Altar in the church of the Cordeliers to proclaim the news to the people. The citizens, high and low, brought out their tables into the streets, and they drank, sang, shouted and danced in honour of the news. They swore that they would never accept a Protestant king[228] and the Cardinal de Bourbon, still a prisoner, was proclaimed as Charles x.

At Tours, on the other hand, the fact that the heir to the throne was a Protestant, threw the Roman Catholic nobles into a state of perplexity. They had no sympathy with the League, but many felt that they could not serve a Protestant king. They pressed round the new King, beseeching him to abjure his faith at once. Henry refused to do what would humiliate himself, and could not be accepted as an act of sincerity. On the other hand, the[Pg 217] nobles of Champagne, Picardy, and the Isle of France sent assurances of allegiance; the Duke of Montpensier, the husband of the Leaguer Duchess, promised his support; and the Swiss mercenaries declared that they would serve for two months without pay.

§ 20. The Declaration of Henry IV.[229]

Thus encouraged, Henry published his famous declaration (Aug. 4th, 1589). He promised that the Roman Catholic would remain the religion of the realm, and that he would attempt no innovations. He declared that he was willing to be instructed in its tenets, and that within six months, if it were possible, he would summon a National Council. The Roman Catholics would be retained in their governments and charges; the Protestants would keep the strongholds which were at present in their hands; but all fortified places when reduced would be entrusted to Roman Catholics and none other. This declaration was signed by two Princes of the Blood, the Prince of Conti and the Duke of Montpensier; by three Dukes and Peers, Longueville, Luxembourg-Piney, and Rohan-Montbazon; by two Marshals of France, Biron and d’Aumont; and by several great officers. Notwithstanding, the defections were serious; all the Parlements save that of Bordeaux thundered against the heretic King; all the great towns save Tours, Bordeaux, Châlons, Langres, Compiègne, and Clermont declared for the League. The greater part of the kingdom[Pg 218] was in revolt. The royalist troops dwindled away. It was hopeless to think of attacking Paris, and Henry IV.[Pg 219] marched for Normandy with scarcely seven thousand men. He wished to be on the sea coast in hope of succour from England.

The Duke of Mayenne followed him with an army of thirty thousand men. He had promised to the Parisians to throw the “Bearnese” into the sea, or to bring him in chains to Paris, But it was not so easy to catch the “Bearnese.” In the series of marches, countermarches, and skirmishes which is known as the battle of Arques, the advantage was on the side of the King; and when Mayenne attempted to take Dieppe by assault, he was badly defeated (Sept. 24th, 1589). Then followed marches and countermarches; the King now threatening Paris and then retreating, until at last the royalist troops and the Leaguers met at Ivry. The King had two thousand cavalry and eight thousand infantry to meet eight thousand cavalry and twelve thousand infantry (including seventeen hundred Spanish troops sent by the Duke of Parma) under the command of Mayenne. The battle resulted in a surprising and decisive victory for the King. Mayenne and his cousin d’Aumale escaped only by the swiftness of their horses (March 14th, 1590).

It is needless to say much about the war or about the schemes of parties. Henry invested Paris, and had almost starved it into surrender, when it was revictualled by an army led from the Low Countries by the Duke of Parma. Henry took town after town, and gradually isolated the capital. In 1590 (May 10th) the old Cardinal Bourbon (Charles X.) died, and the Leaguers lost even the semblance of a legitimate king. The more fanatical members of the party, represented by the “Sixteen” of Paris, would have been content to place France under the dominion of Spain rather than see a heretic king. The Duke of Mayenne had long cherished dreams that the crown might come to him. But the great mass of the influential people of France who had not yet professed allegiance to Henry IV. (and many who had) had an almost equal dread of Spanish domination and of a heretic ruler.

§ 21. Henry IV. becomes a Roman Catholic.

Henry at last resolved to conform to the Roman Catholic religion as the only means of giving peace to his distracted kingdom. He informed the loyalist Archbishop of Bourges of his intention to be instructed in the Roman Catholic religion with a view to conversion. The Archbishop was able to announce this at the conference of Suresnes, and the news spread instantly over France. With his usual tact, Henry wrote with his own hand to several of the parish priests of Paris announcing his intention, and invited them to meet him at Mantes to give him instruction. At least one of them had been a furious Leaguer, and was won to be an enthusiastic loyalist.

The ceremony of the reception of Henry IV. into the Roman Catholic Church took place at Saint Denis, about four and a half miles to the north of Paris. The scene had all the appearance of some popular festival. The ancient church in which the Kings of France had for generations been buried, in which Jeanne d’Arc had hung up her arms, was decked with splendid tapestries, and the streets leading to it festooned with flowers. Multitudes of citizens had come from rebel Paris to swell the throng and to shout Vive le Roi! as Henry, escorted by a brilliant procession of nobles and guards, passed slowly to the church. The clergy, headed by the Archbishop of Bourges, met him at the door. The King dismounted, knelt, swore to live and die in the catholic apostolic and Roman religion, and renounced all the heresies which it condemned. The Archbishop gave him absolution, took him by the hand and led him into the church. There, kneeling before the High Altar, the King repeated his oath, confessed, and communicated. France had now a Roman Catholic as well as a legitimate King. Even if it be admitted that Henry IV. was not a man of any depth of religious feeling, the act of[Pg 220] abjuration must have been a humiliation for the son of Jeanne d’Albret. He never was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, and his well-known saying, that “Paris was well worth a Mass,” had as much bitterness in it as gaiety. He had paled with suppressed passion at Tours (1589) when the Roman Catholic nobles had urged him to become a Romanist. Had the success which followed his arms up to the battle of Ivry continued unbroken, it is probable that the ceremony at Saint Denis would never have taken place. But Parma’s invasion of France, which compelled the King to raise the siege of Paris, was the beginning of difficulties which seemed insurmountable. The dissensions of parties within the realm, and the presence of foreigners on the soil of France (Walloon, Spanish, Neapolitan, and Savoyard), were bringing France to the verge of dissolution. Henry believed that there was only one way to end the strife, and he sacrificed his convictions to his patriotism.

With Henry’s change of religion the condition of things changed as if by magic. The League seemed to dissolve. Tenders of allegiance poured in from all sides, from nobles, provinces, and towns. Rheims was still in possession of the Guises, and the anointing and crowning took place at Chartres (Feb. 27th, 1594). The manifestations of loyalty increased.

On the evening of the day on which Henry had been received into the Roman Catholic Church at Saint Denis, he had recklessly ridden up to the crest of the height of Montmartre and looked down on Paris, which was still in the hands of the League. The feelings of the Parisians were also changing. The League was seamed with dissensions; Mayenne had quarrelled with the “Sixteen,” and the partisans of these fanatics of the League had street brawls with the citizens of more moderate opinions. Parlement took courage and denounced the presence of Spanish soldiers within the capital. The loyalists opened the way for the royal troops, Henry entered Paris (March 22nd), and marched to Notre Dame, where the clergy chanted the Te Deum. From the cathedral he[Pg 221] rode to the Louvre through streets thronged with people, who pressed up to his very stirrups to see their King, and made the tall houses re-echo with their loyalist shoutings. Such a royal entry had not been seen for generations, and took everyone by surprise. Next day the foreign troops left the city. The King watched their departure from an open window in the Louvre, and as their chiefs passed he called out gaily, “My compliments to your Master. You need not come back.”

With the return of Paris to fealty, almost all signs of disaffection departed; and the King’s proclamation of amnesty for all past rebellions completed the conquest of his people. France was again united after thirty years of civil war.

§ 22. The Edict of Nantes.

The union of all Frenchmen to accept Henry IV. as their King had not changed the legal position of the Protestants. The laws against them were still in force; they had nothing but the King’s word promising protection to trust to. The war with Spain delayed matters, but when peace was made the time came for Henry to fulfil his pledges to his former companions. They had been chafing under the delay. At a General Assembly held at Mantes (October 1593-January 1594), the members had renewed their oath to live and to die true to their confession of faith, and year by year a General Assembly met to discuss their political disabilities as well as to conduct their ecclesiastical business. They had divided France into nine divisions under provincial synods, and had the appearance to men of that century of a kingdom within a kingdom. They demanded equal civic rights with their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and guarantees for their protection. At length, in 1597, four delegates were appointed with full powers to confer with the King. Out of these negotiations came the Edict of Nantes, the Charter of French Protestantism.

[Pg 222]

This celebrated edict was drawn up in ninety-five more general articles, which were signed on April 13th, and in fifty-six more particular articles which were signed on May 2nd (1598). Two Brevets, dated 13th and 30th of April, were added, dealing with the treatment of Protestant ministers, and with the strongholds given to the Protestants. The Articles were verified and registered by Parlements; the Brevets were guaranteed simply by the King’s word.

The Edict of Nantes codified and enlarged the rights given to the Protestants of France by the Edict of Poitiers (1577), the Convention of Nérac (1578), the treaty of Fleix (1580), the Declaration of Saint-Cloud (1589), the Edict of Mantes (1591), the Articles of Mantes (1593), and the Edict of Saint-Germain (1594).

It secured complete liberty of conscience everywhere within the realm, to the extent that no one was to be persecuted or molested in any way because of his religion, nor be compelled to do anything contrary to its tenets; and this carried with it the right of private or secret worship. The full and free right of public worship was granted in all places in which it existed during the years 1596 and 1597, or where it had been granted by the Edict of Poitiers interpreted by the Convention of Nérac and the treaty of Fleix (some two hundred towns); and, in addition, in two places within every bailliage and sénéchaussée in the realm. It was also permitted in the principal castles of Protestant seigneurs hauts justiciers (some three thousand), whether the proprietor was in residence or not, and in their other castles, the proprietor being in residence; to nobles who were not hauts justiciers, provided the audience did not consist of more than thirty persons over and above relations of the family. Even at the Court the high officers of the Crown, the great nobles, all governors and lieutenants-general, and captains of the guards, had the liberty of worship in their apartments provided the doors were kept shut and there was no loud singing of psalms, noise, or open scandal.

Protestants were granted full civil rights and protection,[Pg 223] entry into all universities, schools, and hospitals, and admission to all public offices. The Parlement of Paris admitted six Protestant councillors. And Protestant ministers were granted the exemptions from military service and such charges as the Romanist clergy enjoyed. Special Chambers (Chambres d’Édit) were established in the Parlements to try cases in which Protestants were interested. In the Parlement of Paris this Chamber consisted of six specially chosen Roman Catholics and one Protestant; in other Parlements, the Chambers were composed of equal numbers of Romanists and Protestants (mi-parties). The Protestants were permitted to hold their ecclesiastical assemblies—consistories, colloquies, and synods, national and provincial; they were even allowed to meet to discuss political questions, provided they first secured the permission of the King.

They remained in complete control of two hundred towns, including La Rochelle, Montauban, and Montpellier, strongholds of exceptional strength. They were to retain these places until 1607, but the right was prolonged for five years more. The State paid the expenses of the troops which garrisoned these Protestant fortified places; it paid the governors, who were always Protestants. When it is remembered that the royal army in time of peace did not exceed ten thousand men, and that the Huguenots could raise twenty-five thousand troops, it will be seen that Henry IV. did his utmost to provide guarantees against a return to a reign of intolerance.

Protected in this way, the Huguenot Church of France speedily took a foremost place among the Protestant Churches of Europe. Theological colleges were established at Sedan, Montauban, and Saumur. Learning and piety flourished, and French theology was always a counterpoise to the narrow Reformed Scholastic of Switzerland and of Holland.

[Pg 224]



§ 1. The Political Situation.

It was not until 1581 that the United Provinces took rank as a Protestant nation, notwithstanding the fact that the Netherlands furnished the first martyrs of the Reformation in the persons of Henry Voes and John Esch, Augustinian monks, who were burnt at Antwerp (July 31st, 1523).

“As they were led to the stake they cried with a loud voice that they were Christians; and when they were fastened to it, and the fire was kindled, they rehearsed the twelve articles of the Creed, and after that the hymn Te Deum laudamus, which each of them sang verse by verse alternately until the flames deprived them both of voice and life.”[231]

[Pg 225]

The struggle for religious liberty, combined latterly with one for national independence from Spain, lasted therefore for almost sixty years.

When the lifelong duel between Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Louis XI. of France ended with the death of the former on the battlefield under the walls of Nancy (January 4th, 1477), Louis was able to annex to France a large portion of the heterogeneous possessions of the Dukes of Burgundy, and Mary of Burgundy carried the remainder as her marriage portion (May 1477) to Maximilian of Austria, the future Emperor. Speaking roughly, and not quite accurately, those portions of the Burgundian lands which had been fiefs of France went to Louis, while Mary and Maximilian retained those which were fiefs of the Empire. The son of Maximilian and Mary, Philip the Handsome, married Juana (August 1496), the second daughter and ultimate heiress of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, and their son was Charles V., Emperor of Germany (b. February 24th, 1500), who inherited the Netherlands from his father and Spain from his mother, and thus linked the Netherlands to Spain. Philip died in 1506, leaving Charles, a boy of six years of age, the ruler of the Netherlands. His paternal aunt, Margaret, the daughter of the Emperor Maximilian, governed in the Netherlands during his minority, and, owing to Juana’s illness (an illness ending in madness), mothered her brother’s children. Margaret’s regency ended in 1515, and the earlier history of the Reformation in the Netherlands belongs either to the period of the personal rule of Charles or to that of the Regents whom he appointed to act for him.

The land, a delta of great rivers liable to overflow their banks, or a coast-line on which the sea made continual encroachment, produced a people hardy, strenuous, and independent. Their struggles with nature had braced their faculties. Municipal life had struck its roots deeply into the soil of the Netherlands, and its cities could vie with those of Italy in industry and intelligence. The[Pg 226] southern provinces were the home of the Trouvères.[232] Jan van-Ruysbroec, the most heart-searching of speculative Mystics, had been a curate of St. Gudule’s in Brussels. His pupil, Gerard Groot, had founded the lay-community of the Brethren of the Common Lot for the purpose of spreading Christian education among the laity; and the schools and convents of the Brethren had spread through the Netherlands and central Germany. Thomas à Kempis, the author of the Imitatio Christi, had lived most of his long life of ninety years in a small convent at Zwolle, within the territories of Utrecht. Men who have been called “Reformers before the Reformation,” John Pupper of Goch and John Wessel, both belonged to the Netherlands. Art flourished there in the fifteenth century in the persons of Hubert and Jan van Eyck and of Hans Memling. The Chambers of Oratory (Rederijkers) to begin with probably unions for the performance of miracle plays or moralities, became confraternities not unlike the societies of meistersänger in Germany, and gradually acquired the character of literary associations, which diffused not merely culture, but also habits of independent thinking among the people.

Intellectual life had become less exuberant in the end of the fifteenth century; but the Netherlands, nevertheless, produced Alexander Hegius, the greatest educational reformer of his time, and Erasmus the prince of the Humanists. Nor can the influence of the Chambers of Oratory have died out, for they had a great effect on the Reformation movement.[233]

When Charles assumed the government of the Netherlands, he found himself at the head of a group of duchies, lordships, counties, and municipalities which had little appearance of a compact principality, and he applied himself, like other princes of his time in the same[Pg 227] situation, to give them a unity both political and territorial. He was so successful that he was able to hand over to his son, Philip II. of Spain, an almost thoroughly organised State. The divisions which Charles largely overcame reappeared to some extent in the revolt against Philip and Romanism, and therefore in a measure concern the history of the Reformation. How Charles made his scattered Netherland inheritance territorially compact need not be told in detail. Friesland was secured (1515); the acquisition of temporal sovereignty over the ecclesiastical province of Utrecht (1527) united Holland with Friesland; Gronningen and the lands ruled by that turbulent city placed themselves under the government of Charles (1536); and the death of Charles of Egmont (1538), Count of Gueldres, completed the unification of the northern and central districts. The vague hold which France kept in some of the southern portions of the country was gradually loosened. Charles failed in the south-east. The independent principality of Lorraine lay between Luxemburg and Franche-Comté, and the Netherland Government could not seize it by purchase, treaty, or conquest. One and the same system of law regulated the rights and the duties of the whole population; and all the provinces were united into one principality by the reorganisation of a States General, which met almost annually, and which had a real if vaguely defined power to regulate the taxation of the country.

But although political and geographical difficulties might be more or less overcome, others remained which were not so easily disposed of. One set arose from the fact that the seventeen provinces were divided by race and by language. The Dutchmen in the north were different in interests and in sentiment from the Flemings in the centre; and both had little in common with the French-speaking provinces in the south. The other was due to the differing boundaries of the ecclesiastical and civil jurisdictions. When Charles began to rule in 1515, the only territorial see was Arras. Tournai, Utrecht,[Pg 228] and Cambrai became territorial before the abdication of Charles. But the confusion between civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction may be seen at a glance when it is remembered that a great part of the Frisian lands were subject to the German Sees of Münster, Minden, Paderborn, and Osnabrück; and that no less than six bishops, none of them belonging to the Netherlands, divided the ecclesiastical rule over Luxemburg. Charles’ proposals to establish six new bishoprics, plans invariably thwarted by the Roman Curia, were meant to give the Low Countries a national episcopate.

§ 2. The Beginnings of the Reformation.

The people of the Netherlands had been singularly prepared for the great religious revival of the sixteenth century by the work of the Brethren of the Common Lot and their schools. It was the aim of Gerard Groot, their founder, and also of Florentius Radevynszoon, his great educational assistant, to see “that the root of study and the mirror of life must, in the first place, be the Gospel of Christ.” Their pupils were taught to read the Bible in Latin, and the Brethren contended publicly for translations of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongues. There is evidence to show that the Vulgate was well known in the Netherlands in the end of the fifteenth century, and a translation of the Bible into Dutch was published at Delft in 1477[234]. Small tracts against Indulgences, founded probably on the reasonings of Pupper and Wessel, had been in circulation before Luther had nailed his Theses to the door of All Saints’ church in Wittenberg. Hendrik of Zutphen, Prior of the Augustinian Eremite convent at Antwerp, had been a pupil of Staupitz, a fellow student with Luther, and had spread Evangelical teaching not only among his order, but throughout the town.[235] It need be no matter[Pg 229] for surprise, then, that Luther’s writings were widely circulated in the Netherlands, and that between 1513 and 1531 no fewer than twenty-five translations of the Bible or of the New Testament had appeared in Dutch, Flemish, and French.

When Aleander was in the Netherlands, before attending the Diet of Worms he secured the burning of eighty Lutheran and other books at Louvain;[236] and when he came back ten months later, he had regular literary auto-da-fés. On Charles’ return from the Diet of Worms, he issued a proclamation to all his subjects in the Netherlands against Luther, his books and his followers, and Aleander made full use of the powers it gave. Four hundred Lutheran books were burnt at Antwerp, three hundred of them seized by the police in the stalls of the booksellers, and one hundred handed over by the owners; three hundred were burnt at Ghent, “part of them printed here and part in Germany,” says the Legate; and he adds that “many of them were very well bound, and one gorgeously in velvet.” About a month later he is forced to confess that these burnings had not made as much impression as he had hoped, and that he wishes the Emperor would “burn alive half a dozen Lutherans and confiscate their property.” Such a proceeding would make all see him to be the really Christian prince that he is.[237]

Next year (1522) Charles established the Inquisition within the seventeen provinces. It was a distinctively civil institution, and this was perhaps due to the fact that there was little correspondence between the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the Netherlands; but it must not be forgotten that the Kings of Spain had used the Holy Office for the purpose of stamping out political[Pg 230] and local opposition, and also that the civil courts were usually more energetic and more severe than the ecclesiastical. The man appointed was unworthy of any place of important trust. Francis van de Hulst, although he had been the Prince’s counsellor in Brabant, was a man accused both of bigamy and murder, and was hopelessly devoid of tact. He quarrelled violently with the High Court of Holland; and the Regent, Margaret of Austria, who had resumed her functions, found herself constantly compromised by his continual defiance of local privileges. He was a “wonderful enemy to learning,” says Erasmus. His colleague, Nicolas van Egmont, a Carmelite monk, is described by the same scholar as “a madman with a sword put into his hand who hates me worse than he does Luther.” The two men discredited the Inquisition from its beginning. Erasmus affected to believe that the Emperor could not know what they were doing.

The first victim was Cornelius Graphæus, town clerk of Antwerp, a poet and Humanist, a friend of Erasmus; and his offence was that he had published an edition of John Pupper of Goch’s book, entitled the Liberty of the Christian Religion, with a preface of his own. The unfortunate man was set on a scaffold in Brussels, compelled to retract certain propositions which were said to be contained in the preface, and obliged to throw the preface itself into a fire kindled on the scaffold for the purpose. He was dismissed from his office, declared incapable of receiving any other employment, compelled to repeat his recantation at Antwerp, imprisoned for two years, and finally banished.[238]

The earliest deaths were those of Henry Voes and John Esch, who have already been mentioned. Their Prior, Hendrik of Zutphen, escaped from the dungeon in which he had been confined. Luther commemorated them in a long hymn, entitled A New Song of the two[Pg 231] Martyrs of Christ burnt at Brussels by the Sophists of Louvain:

“Der erst recht wol Johannes heyst,
So reych an Gottes hulden
Seyn Bruder Henrch nach dem geyst,
Eyn rechter Christ on schulden:
Vonn dysser welt gescheyden synd,
Sye hand die kron erworben,
Recht wie die frumen gottes kind
Fur seyn wort synd gestorben,
Sein Marter synd sye worden.”[239]

Charles issued proclamation after proclamation, each of increasing severity. It was forbidden to print any books unless they had been first examined and approved by the censors (April 1st, 1524). “All open and secret meetings in order to read and preach the Gospel, the Epistles of St. Paul, and other spiritual writings,” were forbidden (Sept. 25th, 1525), as also to discuss the Holy Faith, the Sacraments, the Power of the Pope and Councils, “in private houses and at meals.” This was repeated on March 14th, 1526, and on July 17th there was issued a long edict, said to have been carefully drafted by the Emperor himself, forbidding all meetings to read or preach about the Gospel or other holy writings in Latin, Flemish, or Walloon. In the preamble it is said that ignorant persons have begun to expound Scripture, that even regular and secular clergy have presumed to teach the “errors and sinister doctrines of Luther and his adherents,” and that heresies are increasing in the land. Then followed edicts against unlicensed books, and against monks who had left their cloisters (Jan. 28th, 1528); against the possession of Lutheran books, commanding them upon pain of death to be delivered up (Oct. 14th, 1529); against printing unlicensed books—the penalties being a public whipping on the scaffold, branding with a red-iron, or the loss of an eye or a hand, at the discretion[Pg 232] of the judge (Dec. 7th, 1530); against heretics “who are more numerous than ever,” against certain books of which a long list is given, and against certain hymns which increase the zeal of the heretics (Sept. 22nd, 1540); against printing and distributing unlicensed books in the Italian, Spanish, or English languages (Dec. 18th, 1544); warning all schoolmasters about the use of unlicensed books in their schools, and giving a list of those only which are permitted (July 31st, 1546). The edict of 1546 was followed by a long list of prohibited books, among which are eleven editions of the Vulgate printed by Protestant firms, six editions of the Bible and three of the New Testament in Dutch, two editions of the Bible in French, and many others. Lastly, an edict of April 29th, 1550, confirmed all the previous edicts against heresy and its spread, and intimated that the Inquisitors would proceed against heretics “notwithstanding any privileges to the contrary, which are abrogated and annulled by this edict.” This was a clear threat that the terrible Spanish Inquisition was to be established in the Netherlands, and provoked such remonstrances that the edict was modified twice (Sept. 25th, Nov. 5th) before it was finally accepted as legal within the seventeen provinces.

All these edicts were directed against the Lutheran or kindred teaching. They had nothing to do with the Anabaptist movement, which called forth a special and different set of edicts. It seems against all evidence to say that the persecution of the Lutherans had almost ceased during the last years of Charles’ rule in the Netherlands, and Philip II. could declare with almost perfect truth that his edicts were only his father’s re-issued.

The continuous repetition and increasing severity of the edicts revealed not merely that persecution did not hinder the spread of the Reformed faith, but that the edicts themselves were found difficult to enforce. What Charles would have done had he been able to govern the country himself it is impossible to say. He became harder and more intolerant of differences in matters of[Pg 233] doctrine as years went on, and in his latest days is said to have regretted that he had allowed Luther to leave Worms alive; and he might have dealt with the Protestants of the seventeen provinces as his son afterwards did. His aunt, Margaret of Austria, who was Regent till 1530, had no desire to drive matters to an extremity; and his sister Mary, who ruled from 1530 till the abdication of Charles in 1555, was suspected in early life of being a Lutheran herself. She never openly joined the Lutheran Church as did her sister the Queen of Denmark, but she confessed her sympathies to Charles, and gave them as a reason for reluctance to undertake the regency of the Netherlands. It may therefore be presumed that the severe edicts were not enforced with undue stringency by either Margaret of Austria or by the widowed Queen of Hungary. There is also evidence to show that these proclamations denouncing and menacing the unfortunate Protestants of the Netherlands were not looked on with much favour by large sections of the population. Officials were dilatory, magistrates were known to have warned suspected persons to escape before the police came to arrest them; even to have given them facilities for escape after sentence had been delivered. Passive resistance on the part of the inferior authorities frequently interposed itself between the Emperor and the execution of his bloodthirsty proclamations. Yet the number of Protestant martyrs was large, and women as well as men suffered torture and death rather than deny their faith.

The edicts against conventicles deterred neither preachers nor audience. The earliest missioners were priests and monks who had become convinced of the errors of Romanism. Later, preachers were trained in the south German cities and in Geneva, that nursery of daring agents of the Reformed propaganda. But if trained teachers were lacking, members of the congregation took their place at the peril of their lives. Brandt relates how numbers of people were accustomed to meet for service in a shipwright’s yard at Antwerp to hear a monk who had been “proclaimed”:

[Pg 234]

“The teacher, by some chance or other, could not appear, and one of the company named Nicolas, a person well versed in Scripture, thought it a shame that such a congregation, hungering after the food of the Word, should depart without a little spiritual nourishment; wherefore, climbing the mast of a ship, he taught the people according to his capacity; and on that account, and for the sake of the reward that was set upon the preacher, he was seized by two butchers and delivered to the magistrates, who caused him to be put into a sack and thrown into the river, where he was drowned.”[240]

§ 3. The Anabaptists.

The severest persecutions, however, before the rule of Philip II., were reserved for those people who are called the Anabaptists.[241] We find several edicts directed against them solely. In February 1532 it was forbidden to harbour Anabaptists, and a price of 12 guilders was offered to informants. Later in the same year an edict was published which declared “that all who had been rebaptized, were sorry for their fault, and, in token of their repentance, had gone to confession, would be admitted to mercy for that time only, provided they brought a certificate from their confessor within twenty-four days of the date of the edict; those who continued obdurate were to be treated with the utmost rigour of the laws” (Feb. 1533). Anabaptists who had abjured were ordered to remain near their dwelling-places for the space of a year, “unless those who were engaged in the herring fishery” (June 1534). In 1535 the severest edict against the sect was published.[Pg 235] All who had “seduced or perverted any to this sect, or had rebaptized them,” were to suffer death by fire; all who had suffered themselves to be rebaptized, or who had harboured Anabaptists, and who recanted, were to be favoured by being put to death by the sword; women were “only to be buried alive.”[242]

To understand sympathetically that multiform movement which was called in the sixteenth century Anabaptism, it is necessary to remember that it was not created by the Reformation, although it certainly received an impetus from the inspiration of the age. Its roots can be traced back for some centuries, and its pedigree has at least two stems which are essentially distinct, and were only occasionally combined. The one stem is the successions of the Brethren, a mediæval, anti-clerical body of Christians whose history is written only in the records of Inquisitors of the mediæval Church, where they appear under a variety of names, but are universally said to prize the Scriptures and to accept the Apostles’ Creed.[243] The other existed in the continuous uprisings of the poor—peasants in rural districts and the lower classes in the towns—against the rich, which were a feature of the later Middle Ages.[244]

So far as the Netherlands are concerned, these popular outbreaks had been much more frequent among the towns’ population than in the rural districts. The city patriciate ordinarily controlled the magistracy; but when flagrant cases of oppression arose, all the judicial, financial, and other functions of government were sure to be swept out of their hands in an outburst of popular fury. So much was this the case, that the real holders of power in the towns in the Netherlands during the first half of the sixteenth century were the artisans, strong in their trade organisations. They had long known their power, and had been accustomed to exert it. The blood of a turbulent[Pg 236] ancestry ran in their veins—of men who could endure for a time, but who, when roused by serious oppression, had been accustomed to defend themselves, and to give stroke for stroke. It is only natural to find among the artisans of the Flemish and Dutch towns a curious mingling of sublime self-sacrifice for what they believed to be the truth, of the mystical exaltation of the martyr occasionally breaking out in hysterical action, and the habit of defending themselves against almost any odds.

So far as is known, the earliest Anabaptist martyrs were Jan Walen and two others belonging to Waterlandt. They were done to death in a peculiarly atrocious way at The Hague in 1527. Instead of being burnt alive, they were chained to a stake at some distance from a huge fire, and were slowly roasted to death. This frightful punishment seems to have been reserved for the Anabaptist martyrs. It was repeated at Haarlem in 1532, when a woman was drowned and her husband with two others was roasted alive. Some time in 1530, Jan Volkertz founded an Anabaptist congregation in Amsterdam which became so large as to attract the attention of the authorities. The head of the police (schout) in the city was ordered to apprehend them. Volkertz delivered himself up voluntarily. The greater part of the accused received timely warning from the schout’s wife. Nine were taken by night in their beds. These with their pastor were carried to The Hague and beheaded by express order of the Emperor. He also commanded that their heads should be sent to Amsterdam, where they were set on poles in a circle, the head of Volkertz being in the centre. This ghastly spectacle was so placed that it could be seen from the ships entering and leaving the harbour. All these martyrs, and many others whose deaths are duly recorded, were followers of Melchior Hoffman. Hoffman’s views were those of the “Brethren” of the later Middle Ages, the Old Evangelicals as they were called. In a paper of directions sent to Emden to assist in the organisation of an Anabaptist congregation there, he says:

[Pg 237]

“God’s community knows no head but Christ. No other can be endured, for it is a brother- and sisterhood. The teachers have none who rule them spiritually but Christ. Teachers and ministers are not lords. The pastors have no authority except to preach God’s Word and punish sins. A bishop must be elected out of his community. Where a pastor has thus been taken, and the guidance committed to him and to his deacon, a community should provide properly for those who help to build the Lord’s house. When teachers are thus found, there is no fear that the communities will suffer spiritual hunger. A true preacher would willingly see the whole community prophesy.”

But the persecution, with its peculiar atrocities, had been acting in its usual way on the Anabaptists of the Netherlands. They had been tortured on the rack, scourged, imprisoned in dungeons, roasted to death before slow fires, and had seen their women drowned, buried alive, pressed into coffins too small for their bodies till their ribs were broken, others stamped into them by the feet of the executioners. It is to be wondered at that those who stood firm sometimes gave way to hysterical excesses; that their leaders began to preach another creed than that of passive resistance; that wild apocalyptic visions were reported and believed?

Melchior Hoffman had been imprisoned in Strassburg in 1533, and a new leader arose in the Netherlands—Jan Matthys, a baker of Haarlem. Under his guidance an energetic propaganda was carried on in the Dutch towns, and hundreds of converts were made. One hundred persons were baptized in one day in February (1534); before the end of March it was reported that two-thirds of the population in Monnikendam were Anabaptists; and a similar state of matters existed in many of the larger Dutch towns. Deventer, Zwolle, and Kampen were almost wholly Anabaptist. The Government made great exertions to crush the movement. Detachments of soldiers were divided into bands of fifteen or twenty, and patrolled the environs of the cities, making midnight visitations, and haling men and women to prison until the dungeons were overcrowded with captured Anabaptists.

[Pg 238]

Attempts were made by the persecuted to leave the country for some more hospitable place where they could worship God in peace in the way their consciences directed them. East Friesland had once been a haven, but was so no longer. Münster offered a refuge. Ships were chartered,—thirty of them,—and the persecuted people proposed to sail round the north of Friesland, land at the mouth of the Ems, and travel to Münster by land.[245] The Emperor’s ships intercepted the little fleet, sank five of the vessels with all the emigrants on board, and compelled the rest to return. The leaders found on board were decapitated, and their heads stuck on poles to warn others. Hundreds from the provinces of Guelderland and Holland attempted the journey by land. They piled their bits of poor furniture and bundles of clothes on waggons; some rode horses, most trudged on foot, the women and children, let us hope, getting an occasional ride on the waggons. Soldiers were sent to intercept them. The leaders were beheaded, the men mostly imprisoned, and the women and children sent back to their towns and villages.

Then, and not till they had exhausted every method of passive resistance, the Anabaptists began to strike back. They wished to seize a town already containing a large Anabaptist population, and hold it as a city of refuge. Deventer, which was full of sympathisers, was their first aim. The plot failed, and the burgomaster’s son Willem, one of the conspirators, was seized, and with two companions beheaded in the market-place (Dec. 25th, 1534). Their next attempt was on Leyden. It was called a plot[Pg 239] to burn the town. The magistrates got word of it, and, by ordering the great town-clock to be stopped, disconcerted the plotters. Fifteen men and five women were seized; the men were decapitated, and the women drowned (Jan. 1535). Next month (Feb. 28th, 1535), Jan van Geelen, leading a band of three hundred refugees through Friesland, was overtaken by some troops of soldiers. The little company entrenched themselves, fought bravely for some days, until nearly all were killed. The survivors were almost all captured and put to death, the men by the sword, and the women by drowning. One hundred soldiers fell in the attack. A few months later (May 1535), an attempt was made to seize Amsterdam. It was headed by van Geelen, the only survivor of the skirmish in Friesland. He and his companions were able to get possession of the Stadthaus, and held it against the town’s forces until cannon were brought to batter down their defences.

In the early days of the same year an incident occurred which shows how, under the strain of persecution, an hysterical exaltation took possession of some of these poor people. It is variously reported. According to Brandt, seven men and five women having stript off their clothes, as a sign, they said, that they spoke the naked truth, ran through the streets of Amsterdam, crying Woe! Woe! Woe! The Wrath of God! They were apprehended, and slaughtered in the usual way. The woman in whose house they had met was hanged at her own door.

The insurrections were made the pretext for still fiercer persecutions. The Anabaptists were hunted out, tortured and slain without any attempt being made by the authorities to discriminate between those who had and those who had not been sharers in any insurrectionary attempt. It is alleged that over thirty thousand people were put to death in the Netherlands during the reign of Charles V. Many of the victims had no connection with Anabaptism whatsoever; they were quiet followers of Luther or of Calvin. The authorities discriminated between them in their proclamations, but not in the persecution.

[Pg 240]

§ 4. Philip of Spain and the Netherlands.

How long the Netherlands would have stood the continual drain of money and the severity of the persecution which the foreign and religious policy of Charles enforced upon them, it is impossible to say. The people of the country were strongly attached to him, as he was to them. He had been born and had grown from childhood to manhood among them. Their languages, French and Flemish, were the only speech he could ever use with ease. He had been ruler in the Netherlands before he became King of Spain, and long before he was called to fill the imperial throne. When he resolved to act on his long meditated scheme of abdicating in favour of his son Philip, it was to the Netherlands that he came. Their nobles and people witnessed the scene with hardly less emotion than that which showed itself in the faltering speech of the Emperor.

The ceremony took place in the great Hall of the palace in Brussels (Oct. 25th, 1555), in presence of the delegates of the seventeen provinces. Mary, the widowed Queen of Hungary, who had governed the land for twenty-five years, witnessed the scene which was to end her rule. Philip, who was to ruin the work of consolidation patiently planned and executed by his father and his aunt, was present, summoned from his uncongenial task of eating roast beef and drinking English ale in order to conciliate his new subjects across the Channel, and from the embarrassing endearments of his elderly spouse. The Emperor, aged by toil rather than by years, entered the Hall leaning heavily on his favourite page and trusty counsellor, the youthful William, Prince of Orange, who was to become the leader of the revolt against Philip’s rule, and to create a new Protestant State, the United Provinces.

The new lord of the Netherlands was then twenty-eight. In outward appearance he was a German like his father, but in speech he was a Spaniard. He had none of his father’s external geniality, and could never stoop to win men to his ends. But Philip II.[Pg 241] was much liker Charles V. than many historians seem willing to admit. Both had the same slow, patient industry—but in the son it was slower; the same cynical distrust of all men; the same belief in the divine selection of the head of the House of Hapsburg to guide all things in State and Church irrespective of Popes or Kings—only in the son it amounted to a sort of gloomy mystical assurance; the same callousness to human suffering, and the same utter inability to comprehend the force of strong religious conviction. Philip was an inferior edition of his father, succeeding to his father’s ideas, pursuing the same policy, using the same methods, but handicapped by the fact that he had not originated but had inherited both, and with them the troubles brought in their train.

Philip II. spent the first four years of his reign in the Netherlands, and during that short period of personal rule his policy had brought into being all the more important sources of dissatisfaction which ended in the revolt. Yet his policy was the same, and his methods were not different from those of his father. In one respect at least Charles had never spared the Netherlands. That country had to pay, as no other part of his vast possessions was asked to do, the price of his foreign policy, and Charles had wrung unexampled sums from his people.

When Philip summoned the States General (March 12th, 1556) and asked them for a very large grant (Fl. 1,300,000), he was only following his father’s example, and on that occasion was seeking money to liquidate the deficit which his father had bequeathed. Was it that the people of the Netherlands had resolved to end the practice of making them pay for a foreign policy which had hitherto concerned them little, or was it because they could not endure the young Spaniard who could not speak to them in their own language? Would Charles have been refused as well as Philip? Who can say?

When Philip obtained a Bull from Pope Paul IV. for creating a territorial episcopate in the Netherlands, he was only carrying out the policy which his father had sketched[Pg 242] as early as 1522, and which but for the shortness of the pontificate of Hadrian VI. would undoubtedly have been executed in 1524 without any popular opposition. Charles’ scheme contemplated six bishoprics, Philip’s fourteen; that was the sole difference; and from the ecclesiastical point of view Philip’s was probably the better. Why then the bitter opposition to the change in 1557? Most historians seem to think that had Charles been ruling, there would have been few murmurs. Is that so certain? The people feared the institution of the bishoprics, because they dreaded and hated an Inquisition which would override their local laws, rights, and privileges; and Charles had been obliged to modify his “Placard” of 1549 against heresy, because towns and districts protested so loudly against it. During these early years Philip made no alterations on his father’s proclamations against heresy. He contented himself with reissuing the “Placard” of 1549 as that had been amended in 1550 after the popular protests. The personality of Philip was no doubt objectionable to his subjects in the Netherlands, but it cannot be certainly affirmed that had Charles continued to reign there would have been no widespread revolt against his financial, ecclesiastical, and religious policy. The Regent Mary had been finding her task of ruling more and more difficult. A few weeks before the abdication, when the Emperor wished his sister to continue in the Regency, she wrote to him:

“I could not live among these people even as a private citizen, for it would be impossible to do my duty towards God and my Prince. As to governing them, I take God to witness that the task is so abhorrent to me that I would rather earn my daily bread by labour than attempt it.”

In 1559 (Aug. 26th), Philip left the Netherlands never to return. He had selected Margaret of Parma, his half-sister, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V., for Regent. Margaret had been born and brought up in the country; she knew the language, and she had been so long away from her native land that she was not personally committed to[Pg 243] any policy nor acquainted with the leaders of any of the parties.

The power of the Regent, nominally extensive, was in reality limited by secret instructions.[246] She was ordered to put in execution the edicts against heresy without any modification; and she was directed to submit to the advice given her by three Councils, a command which placed her under the supervision of the three men selected by Philip to be the presidents of these Councils. The Council of State was the most important, and was entrusted with the management of the whole foreign and home administration of the country. It consisted of the Bishop of Arras (Antoine Perronet de Granvelle, afterwards Cardinal de Granvelle);[247] the Baron de Barlaymont, who was President of the Council of Finance; Vigilius van Aytta, a learned lawyer from Friesland, “a small brisk man, with long yellow hair, glittering green eyes, fat round rosy cheeks, and flowing beard,” who was President of the Privy Council, and controlled the administration of law and justice; and two of the Netherland nobles, Lamoral, Count of Egmont and Prince of Gavre, and William, Prince of Orange. The two nobles were seldom consulted or even invited to be present. The three Presidents were the Consulta, or secret body of confidential advisers imposed by Philip upon his Regent, without whose advice nothing was to be attempted. Of the three, the Bishop of Arras (Cardinal de[Pg 244] Granvelle) was the most important, and the government was practically placed in his hands by his master. Behind the Consulta was Philip II. himself, who in his business room in the Escurial at Madrid issued his orders, repressing every tendency to treat the people with moderation and humanity, thrusting aside all suggestions of wise tolerance, and insisting that his own cold-blooded policy should be carried out in its most objectionable details. It was not until the publication of de Granvelle’s State Papers and Correspondence that it came to be known how much the Bishop of Arras has been misjudged by history, how he remonstrated unavailingly with his master, how he was forced to put into execution a sanguinary policy of repression which was repugnant to himself, and how Philip compelled him to bear the obloquy of his own misdeeds. The correspondence also reveals the curiously minute information which Philip must have privately received, for he was able to send to the Regent and the Bishop the names, ages, personal appearance, occupations, residence of numbers of obscure people whom he ordered to execution for their religious opinions.[248] No rigour of persecution seemed able to prevent the spread of the Reformation.[249]

The Government—Margaret and her Consulta—offended grievously not merely the people, but the nobility of the Netherlands. The nobles saw their services and positions treated as things of no consequence, and the people witnessed with alarm that the local charters and privileges of the land—charters and rights which Philip at his coronation had sworn to maintain—were totally disregarded. Gradually all classes of the population were united in a silent opposition. The Prince of Orange and Count Egmont became almost insensibly the leaders.

They had been dissatisfied with their position on the Council of State; they had no real share in the business; the correspondence was not submitted to them, and they[Pg 245] knew such details only as Granvelle chose to communicate to them. Their first overt act was to resign the commissions they held in the Spanish troops stationed in the country; their second, to write to the King asking him to relieve them of their position on the Council of State, telling him that matters of great importance were continually transacted without their knowledge or concurrence, and that in the circumstances they could not conscientiously continue to sustain the responsibilities of office.[250]

The opposition took their stand on three things, all of which hung together—the presence of Spanish troops on the soil of the Netherlands, the cruelties perpetrated in the execution of the Placards against heresy, and the institution of the new bishoprics in accordance with the Bull of Pope Paul IV., reaffirmed by Pius IV. in 1560 (Jan.). The common fighting ground for the opposition to all the three was the invasion of the charters and privileges of the various provinces which these measures necessarily involved, and the consequent violation of the King’s coronation oath.

Philip had solemnly promised to withdraw the Spanish troops within three or four months after he left the country. They had remained for fourteen, and the whole land cried out against the pillage and rapine which accompanied their presence. The people of Zeeland declared that they would rather see the ocean submerge their country—that they would rather perish, men, women, and children, in the waves—than endure longer the outrages which these mercenaries inflicted upon them. They refused to repair the Dykes. The presence of these troops had been early seen to be a degradation to his country by William of Orange.[251] At the States General held on the eve of Philip’s departure, he had urged the Assembly to[Pg 246] make the departure of the troops a condition of granting subsidies, and had roused Philip’s wrath in consequence. He now voiced the cry of the whole country. It was so strong that Granvelle sent many an urgent request to the King to sanction their removal; and at length he and the Regent, without waiting for orders, had the troops embarked for Madrid.

The rigorous repression of heresy compelled the Government to override the charters of the several provinces. Many of these charters contained very strong provisions, and the King had sworn to maintain them. The constitution of Brabant, known as the joyeuse entrée (blyde inkomst), provided that the clergy should not be given unusual powers; and that no subject, nor even a foreign resident, could be prosecuted civilly or criminally except in the ordinary courts of the land, where he could answer and defend himself with the help of advocates. The charter of Holland contained similar provisions. Both charters declared that if the Prince transgressed these provisions the subjects were freed from their allegiance. The inquisitorial courts violated the charters of those and of the other provinces. The great objection taken to the increase of the episcopate, according to the provisions of the Bulls of Paul IV. and of Pius IV., was that it involved a still greater infringement of the chartered rights of the land. For example, the Bulls provided that the bishops were to appoint nine canons, who were to assist them in all inquisitorial cases, while at least one of them was to be an Inquisitor charged with ferreting out and punishing heresy. This was apparently their great charm for Philip II. He desired an instrument to extirpate heretics. He knew that the Reformation was making great progress in the Netherlands, especially in the great commercial cities. “I would lose all my States and a hundred lives if I had them,” he wrote to the Pope, “rather than be the lord of heretics.”

The opposition at first contented itself with protesting against the position and rule of Granvelle, and with demanding[Pg 247] his recall. Philip came to the reluctant conclusion to dismiss his Minister, and did so with more than his usual duplicity. The nobles returned to the Council, and the Regent affected to take their advice. But they were soon to discover that the recall of the obnoxious Minister did not make any change in the policy of Philip.

The Regent read them a letter from Philip ordering the publication and enforcement of the Decrees of the Council of Trent in the Netherlands.[252] The nobles protested vehemently on the ground that this would mean a still further invasion of the privileges of the provinces. After long deliberation, it was resolved to send Count Egmont to Madrid to lay the opinions of the Council before the King. The debate was renewed on the instructions to be given to the delegate. Those suggested by the President, Vigilius, were colourless. Then William the Silent spoke out. His speech, a long one, full of suppressed passionate sympathy with his persecuted fellow-countrymen, made an extraordinary impression. It is thus summarised by Brandt:

That they ought to speak their minds freely; that there were such commotions and revolutions on account of religion in all the neighbouring countries, that it was impossible to maintain the present régime, and think to suppress disturbances by means of Placards, Inquisitions, and Bishops; that the King was mistaken if he proposed to maintain the Decrees of the Council of Trent in these Provinces which lay so near Germany, where all the Princes, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, have justly rejected them; that it would be better that His Majesty should tolerate these things as other Princes were obliged to do, and annul or else moderate the punishments proclaimed in the Placards; that though he himself had resolved to adhere to the Catholic religion, yet he could not approve that Princes should aim at dominion over the souls of men, or deprive them of the freedom of their faith and religion.[253]

[Pg 248]

The instructions given to Egmont were accordingly both full and plain-spoken.

Count Egmont departed leisurely to Madrid, was well received by Philip, and left thoroughly deceived, perhaps self-deceived, about the King’s intentions. He had a rude awakening when the sealed letter he bore was opened and read in the Council. It announced no real change in policy, and in the matter of heresy showed that the King’s resolve was unaltered. A despatch to the Regent (Nov. 5th, 1565) was still more unbending. Philip would not enlarge the powers of the Council in the Netherlands; he peremptorily refused to summon the States General; and he ordered the immediate publication and enforcement of the Decrees of the Council of Trent in every town and village in the seventeen provinces. True to the policy of his house, the Decrees of Trent were to be proclaimed in his name, not in that of the Pope. It was the beginning of the tragedy, as William of Orange remarked.

The effect of the order was immediate and alarming. The Courts of Holland and Brabant maintained that the Decrees infringed their charters, and refused to permit their publication. Stadtholders and magistrates declared that they would rather resign office than execute decrees which would compel them to burn over sixty thousand of their fellow-countrymen. Trade ceased; industries died out; a blight fell on the land. Pamphlets full of passionate appeals to the people to put an end to the tyranny were distributed and eagerly read. In one of them, which took the form of a letter to the King, it was said:

“We are ready to die for the Gospel, but we read therein, ‘Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’ We thank God that even our enemies are constrained to bear witness to our piety and innocence, for it is a common saying: ‘He does not swear, for he is a Protestant. He is not an immoral man, nor a drunkard, for he belongs to the new sect’; yet we are subjected to every kind of punishment that can be invented to torment us.”[254]

[Pg 249]

The year 1566 saw the origin of a new confederated opposition to Philip’s mode of ruling the Netherlands. Francis Du Jon, a young Frenchman of noble birth, belonging to Bourges, had studied for the ministry at Geneva, and had been sent as a missioner to the Netherlands, where his learning and eloquence had made a deep impression on young men of the upper classes. His life was in constant peril, and he was compelled to flit secretly from the house of one sympathiser to that of another. During the festivities which accompanied the marriage of the young Alexander of Parma with Maria of Portugal, he was concealed in the house of the Count of Culemburg in Brussels. On the day of the wedding he preached and prayed with a small company of young nobles, twenty in all. There and at other meetings held afterwards it was resolved to form a confederacy of nobles, all of whom agreed to bind themselves to support principles laid down in a carefully drafted manifesto which went by the name of the Compromise. It was mainly directed against the Inquisition, which it calls a tribunal opposed to all laws, divine and human. Copies passed from hand to hand soon obtained over two thousand signatures among the lower nobility and landed gentry. Many substantial burghers also signed. The leading spirits in the confederacy were Louis of Nassau, the younger brother of the Prince of Orange, then a Lutheran; Philip de Marnix, lord of Sainte Aldegonde, a Calvinist; and Henry Viscount Brederode, a Roman Catholic. The confederates declared that they were loyal subjects; but pledged themselves to protect each other if any of them were attacked.

The confederates met privately at Breda and Hoogstraten (March 1566), and resolved to present a petition to the Regent asking that the King should be recommended to abolish the Placards and the Inquisition, and that the Regent should suspend their operation until the King’s wishes were known; also that the States General should be assembled to consider other ordinances dangerous to the country. The Regent had called an assembly of the[Pg 250] Notables for March 28th, and it was resolved to present the petition then. The confederation and its Compromise were rather dreaded by the great nobles who had been the leaders of the constitutional opposition, and there was some debate about the presentation of the Request. The Baron de Barlaymont went so far as to recommend a massacre of the petitioners in the audience hall; but wiser counsels prevailed. The confederates met and marshalled themselves,—two hundred young nobles,—and marched through the streets to the Palace, amid the acclamations of the populace, to present the Request.[255] The Regent was somewhat dismayed by the imposing demonstration, but Barlaymont reassured her with the famous words: “Madame, is your Highness afraid of these beggars (ces gueux)?” The deputation was dismissed with fair words, and the promise that although the Regent had no power to suspend the Placards or the Inquisition, there would be some moderation used until the King’s pleasure was known.

Before leaving Brussels, three hundred of the confederates met in the house of the Count of Culemburg to celebrate their league at a banquet. The Viscount de Brederode presided, and during the feast he recalled to their memories the words of Barlaymont: “They call us beggars,” he said; “we accept the name. We pledge ourselves to resist the Inquisition, and keep true to the King and the beggar’s wallet.” He then produced the leathern sack of the wandering beggars, strapped it round his shoulder, and drank prosperity to the cause from a beggar’s wooden bowl. The name and the emblem were adopted with enthusiasm, and spread far beyond the circle of the confederacy.[256] Everywhere burghers, lawyers, peasants as well as nobles appeared wearing the beggar’s sack. Medals,[Pg 251] made first of wax set in a wooden cup, then of gold and silver, were adopted by the confederated nobles. On the one side was the effigies of the King, and on the obverse two hands clasped and the beggar’s sack with the motto, Fidelles au Roi jusques à porter la besace (beggar’s sack).

All these things were faithfully reported by the Regent to Philip, and she besought him either to permit her to moderate the Placards and the Inquisition, or to come to the Netherlands himself. He answered, promising to come, and permitted her some discretion in the matter of repression of heresy.

Meanwhile the people were greatly encouraged by the success, or appearance of success, attending the efforts of the confederates. Refugees returned from France, Germany, and Switzerland. Missioners of the Reformed faith came in great numbers. Field-preachings were held all over the country. The men came armed, planted sentinels, placed their women and children within the square, and thus listened to the services conducted by the excommunicated ministers. They heard the Scriptures read and prayers poured forth in their own tongue. They sang hymns and psalms in French, Flemish, and Dutch. The crowds were so large, the sentinels so wary, the men so well armed, that the soldiers dared not attempt to disperse them. At first the meetings were held at night in woods and desolate places, but immunity created boldness.

“On July 23rd (1566) the Reformed rendezvoused in great numbers in a large meadow not far from Ghent. There they formed a sort of camp, fortifying themselves with their waggons, and setting sentinels at all the roads. Some brought pikes, some hatchets, and others guns. In front of them were pedlars with prohibited books, which they sold to such as came. They planted several along the road whose business it was to invite people to come to the preaching and to show them the way. They made a kind of pulpit of planks, and set it upon a waggon, from which the minister preached. When the sermon was ended, all the congregation sang several psalms. They also drew water out of a well or brook near them, and a child was[Pg 252] baptized. Two days were spent there, and then they adjourned to Deinsen, then to Ekelo near Bruges, and so through all West Flanders.”[257]

Growing bolder still, the Reformed met in the environs and suburbs of the great towns. Bands of men marched through the streets singing Psalms, either the French versions of Clement Marot or Bèze or the Dutch one of Peter Dathenus. It was in vain that the Regent issued a new Placard against the preachers and the conventicles. It remained a dead letter. In Antwerp, bands of the Reformed, armed, crowded to the preachings in defiance of the magistrates, who were afraid of fighting in the streets. In the emergency the Regent appealed to William of Orange, and he with difficulty appeased the tumults and arranged a compromise. The Calvinists agreed to disarm on the condition that they were allowed the free exercise of their worship in the suburbs although not within the towns.[258]

The confederates were so encouraged with their successes that they thought of attempting more. A great conference was held at St. Trond in the principality of Liège (July 1566), attended by nearly two thousand members. The leader was Louis of Nassau. They resolved on another deputation to the Regent, and twelve of their number were selected to present their demands. These “Twelve Apostles,” as the courtiers contemptuously termed them, declared that the persecution had not been mitigated as promised, and not obscurely threatened that if some remedy were not found they might be forced to invoke foreign assistance. The threat enraged the Regent; but she was helpless; she could only urge that she had already made representations to the King, and had sent two members of Council to inform the King about the condition of the country.

It seemed as if some impression had been made on Philip. The Regent received a despatch (July 31st, 1566)[Pg 253] saying that he was prepared to withdraw the papal Inquisition from the Netherlands, and that he would grant what toleration was consistent with the maintenance of the Catholic religion; only he would in no way consent to a summoning of the States General.

There was great triumphing in the Netherlands at this news. Perhaps every one but the Prince of Orange was more or less deceived by Philip’s duplicity. It is only since the archives of Simancas have yielded their secrets that its depth has been known. They reveal that on Aug. 9th he executed a deed in which he declared that the promise of pardon had been won from him by force, and that he did not mean to keep it, and that on Aug. 12th he wrote to the Pope that his declaration to withdraw the Inquisition was a mere blind. William only knew that the King was levying troops, and that he was blaming the great nobles of the Netherlands for the check inflicted upon him by the confederates.

Long before Philip’s real intentions were unmasked, a series of iconoclastic attacks not only gave the King the pretext he needed, but did more harm to the cause of the Reformation in the Low Countries than all the persecutions under Charles V. and his son. The origin of these tumultuous proceedings is obscure. According to Brandt, who collects information from all sides:

“Some few of the vilest of the mob ... were those who began the dance, being hallooed on by nobody knows whom. Their arms were staves, hatchets, hammers, ladders, ropes, and other tools more proper to demolish than to fight with; some few were provided with guns and swords. At first they attacked the crosses and the images that had been erected on the great roads in the country; next, those in the villages; and, lastly, those in the towns and cities. All the chapels, churches, and convents which they found shut they forced open, breaking, tearing, and destroying all the images, pictures, shrines and other consecrated things they met with; nay, some did not scruple to lay their hands upon libraries, books, writings, monuments, and even on the dead bodies in churches and churchyards.”[259]

[Pg 254]

According to almost all accounts, the epidemic, for the madness resembled a disease, first appeared at St. Omer (Aug. 14th, 1566), then at Ypres, and extended rapidly to other towns. It came to a height at Antwerp (16th and 17th Aug. 1566), when the mob sacked the great cathedral and destroyed some of its richest treasures.[260] An eye-witness declared that the rioters in the cathedral did not number more than one hundred men, women, and boys, drawn from the dregs of the population, and that the attacks on the other churches were made by small parties of ten or twelve persons.

These outrages had a disastrous effect on the Reformation movement in the Netherlands, both immediately and in the future. They at once exasperated the more liberal-minded Roman Catholics and enraged the Regent: they began that gradual cleavage which ended in the separation of the Protestant North from the Romanist South. The Regent felt herself justified in practically withdrawing all the privileges she had accorded to the Reformed, and in raising German and Walloon troops to overawe the Protestants. The presence of these troops irritated some of the Calvinist nobles, and John de Marnix, elder brother of Sainte Aldegonde, attempted to seize the Island of Walcheren in order to hold it as a city of refuge for his persecuted brethren. He was unsuccessful; a fight took place not far from Antwerp itself, in which de Marnix was routed and slain (March 13th, 1567).

§ 5. William of Orange.

Meanwhile William of Orange had come to the conclusion that Philip was meditating the suppression of the rights and liberties of the Low Countries by Spanish troops, and was convinced that the great nobles who had hitherto headed the constitutional opposition would be the first to be attacked. He had conferences with Egmont and Hoorn at[Pg 255] Dendermonde (Oct. 3rd, 1566), and at Willebroek (April 2nd, 1567), and endeavoured to persuade them that the only course open to them was to resist by force of arms. His arguments were unavailing, and William sadly determined that he must leave the country and retire to his German estates.

His forebodings were only too correct. Philip had resolved to send the Duke of Alva to subdue the Netherlands. A force of nine thousand veteran Spanish infantry with thirteen hundred Italian cavalry had been collected from the garrisons of Lombardy and Naples, and Alva began a long, difficult march over the Mt. Cenis and through Franche-Comté, Lorraine, and Luxemburg. William had escaped just in time. When the Duke arrived in Brussels and presented his credentials to the Council of State, it was seen that the King had bestowed on him such extensive powers that Margaret remained Regent in name only. One of his earliest acts was to get possession of the persons of Counts Egmont and Hoorn, with their private secretaries, and to imprison Antony van Straelen, Burgomaster of Antwerp, and a confidential friend of the Prince of Orange. Many other arrests were made; and Alva, having caught his victims, invented an instrument to help him to dispose of them.

By the mere fiat of his will he created a judicial chamber, whose decisions were to override those of any other court of law in the Netherlands, and which was to be responsible to none, not even to the Council of State. It was called the Council of Tumults, but is better known by its popular name, The Bloody Tribunal. It consisted of twelve members, among whom were Barlaymont and a few of the most violent Romanists of the Netherlands; but only two, Juan de Vargas and del Rio, both Spaniards, were permitted to vote and influence the decisions. Del Rio was a nonentity; but de Vargas was a very stern reality—a man of infamous life, equally notorious for the delight he took in slaughtering his fellow-men and the facility with which he murdered the Latin language! He[Pg 256] brought the whole population of the Netherlands within the grip of the public executioner by his indictment: Hæretici fraxerunt templa, boni nihil faxerunt contra; ergo debent omnes patibulure: by which he meant, The heretics have broken open churches, the orthodox have done nothing to hinder them; therefore they ought all of them to be hanged together. Alva reserved all final decisions for his own judgment, in order that the work might be thoroughly done. He wrote to the King, “Men of law only condemn for crimes that are proved, whereas your Majesty knows that affairs of State are governed by very different rules from the laws which they have here.”

At its earlier sittings this terrible tribunal defined the crime of treason, and stated that its punishment was death. The definition extended to eighteen articles, and declared it to be treason—to have presented or signed any petition against the new bishoprics, the Inquisition, or the Placards; to have tolerated public preaching under any circumstances; to have omitted to resist iconoclasm, or field-preaching, or the presentation of the Request; to have asserted that the King had not the right to suspend the charters of the provinces; or to maintain that the Council of Tumults had not a right to override all the laws and privileges of the Netherlands. All these things were treason, and all of them were capital offences. Proof was not required; all that was needed was reasonable suspicion, or rather what the Duke of Alva believed to be so. The Council soon got to work. It sent commissioners through every part of the land—towns, villages, districts—to search for any who might be suspected of having committed any act which could be included within their definition of treason. Informers were invited, were bribed, to come forward; and soon shoals of denunciations and evidence flowed in to them. The accused were brought before the Council, tried (if the procedure could be called a trial), and condemned in batches. The records speak of ninety-five, eighty-four, forty-six, thirty-five at a time. Alva wrote[Pg 257] to Philip that no fewer than fifteen hundred had been taken in their beds early on Ash-Wednesday morning, and later he announces another batch of eight hundred. In each case he adds, “I have ordered all of them to be executed.” In view of these records, the language of a contemporary chronicler does not appeared exaggerated:

“The gallows, the wheel, stakes, trees along the highways, were laden with carcasses or limbs of those who had been hanged, beheaded, or roasted; so that the air which God made for the respiration of the living, was now become the common grave or habitation of the dead. Every day produced fresh objects of pity and of mourning, and the noise of the bloody passing-bell was continually heard, which by the martyrdom of this man’s cousin, and the other’s brother or friend, rang dismal peals in the hearts of the survivors.”[261]

Whole families left their dwellings to shelter themselves in the woods, and, goaded by their misery, pillaged and plundered. The priests had been active as informers, and these Wild-Beggars, as they were called, “made excursions on them, serving themselves of the darkest nights for revenge and robbery, punishing them not only by despoiling them of their goods, but by disfiguring their faces, cutting off ears and noses.” The country was in a state of anarchy.

Margaret, Duchess of Parma, the nominal Regent of the Netherlands, had found her position intolerable since the arrival of the Duke of Alva, and was permitted by Philip to resign (Oct. 6th, 1567). Alva henceforth[Pg 258] was untrammelled by even nominal restraint. A process was begun against the Counts Egmont and Hoorn, and William of Orange was proclaimed an outlaw (Jan. 24th, 1568) unless he submitted himself for trial before the Council of Tumults. Some days afterwards, his eldest son, a boy of fifteen and a student in the University of Louvain, was kidnapped and carried off to Spain.[262]

William replied in his famous Justification of the Prince of Orange against his Calumniators, in which he declared that he, a citizen of Brabant, a Knight of the Golden Fleece, a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, one of the sovereign Princes of Europe (in virtue of the principality of Orange), could not be summoned before an incompetent tribunal. He reviewed the events in the Netherlands since the accession of Philip II., and spoke plainly against the misgovernment caused, he said diplomatically, by the evil counsels of the King’s advisers. The Justification was published in several languages, and was not merely an act of defiance to Philip, but a plea made on behalf of his country to the whole of civilised Europe.

The earlier months of 1568 had been spent by the Prince of Orange in military preparations for the relief of his countrymen, and in the spring his army was ready. The campaign was a failure. Hoogstraten was defeated. Louis of Nassau had a temporary success at Heiliger-Lee (May 23rd, 1568), only to be routed at Jemmingen (July 21st, 1568). After William had issued a pathetic but unavailing manifesto to Protestant Europe, a second expedition was sent forth only to meet defeat. The cause of the Netherlands seemed hopeless.

But Alva was beginning to find himself in difficulties. On the news of the repulse of his troops at Heiliger-Lee he had hastily beheaded the Counts Egmont and Hoorn. Instead of striking terror into the hearts of the Netherlanders, the execution roused them to an undying hatred of the Spaniard. He was now troubled by lack of money to pay his troops. He had promised Philip to make gold[Pg 259] flow from the Low Countries to Spain; but his rule had destroyed the commerce and manufactures of the country, the source of its wealth. He was almost dependent on subsidies from Spain. Elizabeth of England had been assisting her fellow Protestants in the way she liked best, by seizing Spanish treasure ships; and Alva was reduced to find the money he needed within the Netherlands.

It was then that he proposed to the States General, summoned to meet him (March 20th, 1569), his notorious scheme of taxation, which finally ruined him—a tax of one per cent. (the “hundredth penny”) to be levied once for all on all property; a tax of five per cent. (the “twentieth penny”) to be levied at every sale or transfer of landed property: and a tax of ten per cent. (the “tenth penny”) on all articles of commerce each time they were sold. This scheme of taxation would have completely ruined a commercial and manufacturing country. It met with universal resistance. Provinces, towns, magistrates, guilds, the bishops and the clergy—everyone protested against the taxation. Even Philip’s Council at Madrid saw the impossibility of exacting such taxes from a country. Alva swore that he would have his own way. The town and district of Utrecht had been the first to protest. Alva quartered the regiment of Lombardy upon them; but not even the licence and brutality of the soldiers could force the wretched people to pay. Alva proclaimed the whole of the inhabitants to be guilty of high treason; he took from them all their charters and privileges; he declared their whole property confiscated to the King. But these were the acts of a furious madman, and were unavailing. He then postponed the collection of the hundredth and of the tenth pennies; but the need of money forced him on, and he gave definite orders for the collection of the “tenth” and the “twentieth pennies.” The trade and manufactures of the country came to a sudden standstill, and Alva at last knew that he was beaten. He had to be satisfied with a payment of two millions of florins for two years.

[Pg 260]

The real fighting force among the Reformed Netherlanders was to be found, not among the landsmen, but in the sailors and fishermen. It is said that Admiral Coligny was the first to point this out to the Prince of Orange. He acted upon the advice, and in 1569 he had given letters of marque to some eighteen small vessels to cruise in the narrow seas and attack the Spaniards. At first they were little better than pirates,—men of various nationalities united by a fierce hatred of Spaniards and Papists, feared by friends and foes alike. William attempted, at first somewhat unsuccessfully, to reduce them to discipline and order, by issuing with his letters of marque orders limiting their indiscriminate pillage, insisting upon the maintenance of religious services on board, and declaring that one-third of the booty was to be given to himself for the common good of the country. In their earlier days they were allowed to refit and sell their plunder in English ports, but these were closed to them on strong remonstrances from the Court of Spain. It was almost by accident that they seized and held (April 1st, 1572) Brill or Brielle, a strongly fortified town on Voorn, which was then an island at the mouth of the Maas, some twenty miles west or seaward from Rotterdam. The inhabitants were forced to take an oath of allegiance to William as Stadtholder under the King, and the flag of what was afterwards to become the United Provinces was hoisted on land for the first time. It was not William, but his brother Louis of Nassau, who was the first to see the future possibilities in this act. He urged the seizure of Flushing or Vlissingen, the chief stronghold in Zeeland, situated on an island at the mouth of the Honte or western Scheldt, and commanding the entrance to Antwerp. The citizens rose in revolt against the Spanish garrison; the Sea-Beggars, as they were called, hurried to assist them; the town was taken, and the Spanish commander, Pachecho, was captured and hanged. This gave the seamen possession of the whole island of Walcheren save the fortified town of Middleburg. Delfshaven and Schiedam were seized. The[Pg 261] news swept through Holland, Zeeland, Guelderland, Utrecht, and Friesland, and town after town declared for William of Orange the Stadtholder. The leaders were marvellously encouraged to renewed exertions.[263] Proclamations in the name of the new ruler were scattered broadcast through the country, and the people were fired by a song said to be written by Sainte Aldegonde, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, which is still the national hymn of Holland. The Prince of Orange thought he might venture on another invasion, and was already near Brussels when the news of the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew reached him. His plans had been based on assistance from France, urged by Coligny and promised by Charles IX. “What a sledge-hammer blow (coup de massue) that has been,” he wrote to his brother; “my only hope was from France.”[264] Mons, which Louis had seized in the south with his French troops, had to be abandoned; and William, after some vain efforts, had to disband his troops.

Then Alva came out from Brussels to wreak a fearful vengeance on Mons, Mechlin, Tergoes, Naarden, Haarlem, and Zutphen. The terms of the capitulation of Mons were violated. Mechlin was plundered and set on fire by the Spanish troops. The Spanish commander sent against Zutphen had orders to burn every house, and to slay men, women, and children. Haarlem was invested, resisted desperately, and then capitulated on promise of lenient treatment. When the Spaniards entered they butchered in cold blood all the Dutch soldiers and some hundreds of the citizens; and, tying the bodies two and two together, they cast them into the Haarlem lake. It seemed as if the Papists had determined to exterminate the Protestants when they found that they could not convert them.

Some towns, however, held out. Don Frederick, the son of Alva and the butcher of Haarlem, was beaten back from the little town of Alkmaar. The Sea-Beggars met the Spanish fleet sent to crush them, sank or scattered the[Pg 262] ships, and took the Admiral prisoner. The nation of fishermen and shopkeepers, once the scorn of Spain and of Europe for their patient endurance of indignities, were seen at last to be a race of heroes, determined never again to endure the yoke of the Spaniard. Alva had soon to face a soldiery mutinous for want of pay, and to see all his sea approaches in the hands of Dutch sailors, whom the strongest fleets of Spain could not subdue. The iron pitiless man at last acknowledged that he was beaten, and demanded his recall. He left Brussels on Dec. 18th, 1573, and did not again see the land he had deluged with blood during a space of six years. Like all tyrants, he had great faith in his system, even when it had broken in his hand. Had he been a little more severe, added a few more drops to the sea of blood he had spilled, all would have gone well. The only advice he could give to his successor was, to burn down every town he could not garrison with Spanish troops.

The new Spanish Regent was Don Louis Requesens-y-Zuniga, a member of the higher nobility of Spain, and a Grand Commander of the Knights of Malta. He was high-minded, and of a generous disposition. Had he been sent to the Netherlands ten years sooner, and allowed to act with a free hand, the history of the Netherlands might have been different. His earlier efforts at government were marked by attempts to negotiate, and he was at pains to give Philip his reasons for his conduct.

“Before my arrival,” he wrote, “I could not comprehend how the rebels contrived to maintain fleets so considerable, while your Majesty could not maintain one. Now I see that men who are fighting for their lives, their families, their property, and their false religion, in short, for their own cause, are content if they receive only rations without pay.”

He immediately reversed the policy of Alva: he repealed the hated taxes; dissolved the Council of Blood, and published a general amnesty. But he could not come to terms with the “rebels.” William of Orange refused[Pg 263] all negotiation which was not based on three preliminary conditions—freedom of conscience, and liberty to preach the Gospel according to the Word of God; the restoration of all the ancient charters; and the withdrawal of all Spaniards from all posts military and civil. He would accept no truce nor amnesty without these. “We have heard too often,” he said, “the words Agreed and Eternal. If I have your word for it, who will guarantee that the King will not deny it, and be absolved for his breach of faith by the Pope?” Requesens, hating the necessity, had to carry on the struggle which the policy of his King and of the Regents who preceded him had provoked.

The fortune of war seemed to be unchanged. The patriots were always victorious at sea and tenacious in desperate defence of their fortified towns when they were besieged, but they went down before the veteran Spanish infantry in almost every battle fought on land. In the beginning of 1574 two fortresses were invested. The patriots were besieging Middleburg, and the Spaniards had invested Leyden. The Sea-Beggars routed the Spanish fleet in a bloody fight in the mouth of the Scheldt, and Middleburg had to surrender. Leyden had two months’ respite owing to a mutiny among the Spanish soldiers, but the citizens neglected the opportunity thus given them to revictual their town. It was again invested (May 26th), and hardly pressed. Louis of Nassau, leading an army to its assistance, was totally routed at Mookerheide, and he and his younger brother Henry were among the slain. The fate of Leyden seemed to be sealed, when William suggested to the Estates of Holland to cut the dykes and let in the sea. The plan was adopted. But the dykes took long to cut, and when they were opened and the water began to flow in slowly, violent winds swept it back to the sea. Within Leyden the supply of food was melting away; and the famished and anxious burghers, looking over the plain from the steeples of the town, saw help coming so slowly that it seemed as if it could arrive only when it was too late. The Spaniards[Pg 264] knew also of the coming danger, and, calculating on the extremities of the townsfolk, urged on them to surrender, with promises of an honourable capitulation. “We have two arms,” one of the defenders on the walls shouted back, “and when hunger forces us we will eat the one and fight you with the other.” Four weary months passed amidst indescribable sufferings, when at last the sea reached the walls. With it came the patriotic fleet, sailing over buried corn fields and gardens, piloted through orchards and villages. The Spaniards fled in terror, for the Sea-Beggars were upon them, shouting their battle-cry, “Sooner Turks than Papists.” Townsmen and sailors went to the great church to offer thanksgiving for the deliverance which had been brought them from the sea. When the vast audience was singing a psalm of deliverance, the voices suddenly ceased, and nothing was heard but low sobbing; the people, broken by long watching and famine, overcome by unexpected deliverance, could only weep.

The good news was brought to Delft by Hans Brugge, who found William in church at the afternoon service. When the sermon was ended, the deliverance of Leyden was announced from the pulpit. William, weak with illness as he was, rode off to Leyden at once to congratulate the citizens on their heroic defence and miraculous deliverance. There he proposed the foundation of what became the famous University of Leyden, which became for Holland what Wittenberg had been to Germany, Geneva to Switzerland, and Saumur to France.

The siege of Leyden was the turning-point in the war for independence. The Spanish Regent saw that a new Protestant State was slowly and almost imperceptibly forming. His troops were almost uniformly victorious in the field, but the victories did not seem to be of much value. He decided once more to attempt negotiation. The conferences came to nothing. The utmost that Philip II. would concede was that the Protestants should have time to sell their possessions and leave the country. The war was again renewed, when death came to relieve[Pg 265] Requesens of his difficulties (March 1575). His last months were disgraced by the recommendation he made to his master to offer a reward for the assassination of the Prince of Orange.

The history of the next few years is a tangled story which would take too long to tell. When Requesens died the treasury was empty, and no public money was forthcoming. The Spanish soldiers mutinied, clamouring for their pay. They seized on some towns and laid hold on the citadel of Antwerp. Then occurred the awful pillage of the great city, when, during three terrible November days, populous and wealthy Antwerp suffered all the horrors that could be inflicted upon it.

The sudden death of Requesens had left everything in confusion; and leading men, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, conceived that advantage should be taken of the absence of any Spanish Governor to see whether all the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands could not combine on some common programme which would unite the country in spite of their religious differences. Delegates met together at Ghent (Oct. 28th, 1576) and drafted a treaty. A meeting of States General for the southern provinces was called to assemble at Brussels in November, and the members were discussing the terms of the treaty when the news of the “Spanish Fury” at Antwerp reached them. The story of the ghastly horrors perpetrated on their countrymen doubtless hastened their decision, and the treaty was ratified both by the States General and by the Council of State. The Pacification of Ghent cemented an alliance between the southern provinces represented in the States General which met at Brussels and the northern provinces of Holland and Zeeland. Its chief provisions were that all should combine to drive the Spanish and other foreign troops out of the land, and that a formal meeting of delegates from all the seventeen provinces should be called to deliberate upon the religious question. In the meantime the Roman Catholic religion was to be maintained; the Placards were to be abolished;[Pg 266] the Prince of Orange was declared to be the Governor of the seventeen provinces and the Admiral-General of Holland and Zeeland; and the confiscation of the properties of the houses of Nassau and Brederode was rescinded.

Don John of Austria had been appointed by Philip Regent of the Netherlands, and was in Luxemburg early in November. His arrival there was intimated to the States General, who refused to acknowledge him as Regent unless he would approve of the Pacification of Ghent and swear to maintain the ancient privileges of the various provinces. Months were spent in negotiations, but the States General were unmovable. He yielded at length, and made his State entry into Brussels on May 1st, 1577. When once there he found himself overshadowed by William, who had been accepted as leader by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. But Philip with great exertions had got together an army of twenty thousand veteran Spanish and Italian troops, and sent them to the Netherlands under the command of Alexander Farnese, the son of the former Regent, Margaret Duchess of Parma. The young Duke of Parma was a man of consummate abilities, military and diplomatic, and was by far the ablest agent Philip ever had in the Low Countries. He defeated the patriotic army at Gemblours (Jan. 31st, 1578), and several towns at once opened their gates to Parma and Don John. To increase the confusion, John Casimir, brother of the Elector Palatine, invaded the land from the east at the head of a large body of German mercenary soldiers to assist the Calvinists; the Archduke Matthias, brother of the Emperor Rudolph, was already in the country, invited by the Roman Catholics; and the Duke of Anjou had invaded the Netherlands from the south to uphold the interests of those Romanists who did not wish to tolerate Protestantism but hated the Spaniards. These foreigners represented only too well the latent divisions of the country—divisions which were skilfully taken advantage of by the Duke of Parma. After struggling[Pg 267] in vain for a union of the whole seventeen provinces on the basis of complete religious toleration, William saw that his task was hopeless. Neither the majority of the Romanists nor the majority of the Protestants could understand toleration. Delegates of the Romanist provinces of Hainault, Douai, and Artois met at Arras (Jan. 5th, 1579) to form a league which had for its ultimate intention a reconciliation with Spain on the basis of the Pacification of Ghent, laying stress on the provision for the maintenance of the Roman Catholic religion. Thus challenged, the northern provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelderland, and Zutphen met at Utrecht (Jan. 29th, 1579), and formed a league to maintain themselves against all foreign Princes, including the King of Spain. These two leagues mark the definite separation of the Romanist South from the Protestant North, and the creation of a new Protestant State, the United Provinces. William did not sign the Treaty of Utrecht until May 3rd.

In 1581, Philip made a last attempt to overcome his indomitable antagonist. He published the Ban against him, denouncing him as a traitor and an enemy of the human race, and offering a reward of twenty-five thousand crowns and a patent of nobility to anyone who should deliver him to the King dead or alive. William answered in his famous Apology, which gives an account of his whole career, and contains a scathing exposure of Philip’s misdeeds. The Apology was translated into several languages, and sent to all the Courts of Europe. Brabant, Flanders, Utrecht, Guelderland, Holland, and Zeeland answered Philip by the celebrated Act of Abjuration (July 26th, 1581), in which they solemnly renounced allegiance to the King of Spain, and constituted themselves an independent republic.

The date of the abjuration may be taken as the beginning of the new era, the birth of another Protestant nation. Its young life had been consecrated in a baptism of blood and fire such as no other nation in Europe had to endure. Its Declaration of Independence did not procure[Pg 268] immediate relief. Nearly thirty years of further struggle awaited it; and it was soon to mourn the loss of its heroic leader. The rewards promised by Philip II. were a spur to the zeal of Romanist fanatics. In 1582 (March 18th), Juan Jaureguy, a Biscayan, made a desperate attempt at assassination, which for the moment was thought to be successful. The pistol was so close to the Prince that his hair and beard were set on fire, and the ball entering under the right ear, passed through the palate and out by the left jaw. Two years later (July 9th, 1584), William fell mortally wounded by Balthasar Gerard, whose heirs claimed the reward for assassination promised by Philip, and received part of it from the King. The Prince’s last words were: “My God, have mercy on my soul and on these poor people.”

The sixteenth century produced no nobler character than that of William, Prince of Orange. His family were Lutherans, but they permitted the lad to be brought up in the Roman Catholic religion—the condition which Charles v. had imposed before he would consent to give effect to the will of René, Prince of Orange,[265] who, dying at the early age of twenty-six, had left his large possessions to his youthful cousin, William of Nassau. In an intolerant age he stands forth as the one great leader who rose above the religious passions of the time, and who strove all his life to secure freedom of conscience and right of public worship for men of all creeds.[266] He was a consistent liberal Roman Catholic down to the close of 1555. His letter (January 24th, 1566) to Margaret of Parma[Pg 269] perhaps reveals the beginnings of a change. He called himself “a good Christian,” not a “good Catholic.” Before the end of that year he had said privately that he was ready to return to the faith of his childhood and subscribe the Augsburg Confession. During his exile in 1568 he had made a daily study of the Holy Scriptures, and, whatever the exact shade of his theological opinions, had become a deeply religious man, animated with the lofty idea that God had called him to do a great work for Him and for His persecuted people. His private letters, meant for no eyes but those of his wife or of his most familiar friends, are full of passages expressing a quiet faith in God and in the leadings of His Providence.[267] During the last years of his life the teachings of Calvin had more and more taken hold on his intellect and sympathy, and he publicly declared himself a Calvinist in 1573 (October 23rd). A hatred of every form of oppression was his ruling passion, and he himself has told us that it was when he learnt that the Kings of France and Spain had come to a secret understanding to extirpate heresy by fire and sword, that he made the silent resolve to drive “This vermin of Spaniards out of his country.”[268]

The Protestant Netherlands might well believe themselves lost when he fell under the pistol of the assassin; but he left them a legacy in the persons of his confidential friend Johan van Oldenbarneveldt and of his son Maurice. Oldenbarneveldt’s patient diplomatic genius completed the political work left unfinished by William; and Maurice,[269][Pg 270] a lad of seventeen at his father’s death, was acknowledged only a few years afterwards as the greatest military leader in Europe. The older man in the politician’s study, and the boy-general in the field, were able to keep the Spaniards at bay, until at length, in 1607 (October), a suspension of arms was agreed to. This resulted in a truce for twelve years (April 9th, 1609), which was afterwards prolonged indefinitely. The Dutch had won their independence, and had become a strong Protestant power whose supremacy at sea was challenged only by England.

Notwithstanding the severity of the persecutions which they endured, the Protestants of the Netherlands organised themselves into churches, and as early as 1563 the delegates from the various churches met in a synod to settle the doctrine and discipline which was to bind them together. This was not done without internal difficulties. The people of the Netherlands had received the Evangelical faith from various sources, and the converts tenaciously clung to the creed and ecclesiastical system with which they were first acquainted. The earliest Reformation preachers in the Low Countries were followers of Luther, and many of them had been trained at Wittenberg. Lutherans were numerous among the lesser nobility and the more substantial burghers. Somewhat later the opinions of Zwingli also found their way into the Netherlands, and were adopted by many very sincere believers. The French-speaking[Pg 271] provinces in the south had been evangelised for the most part by missioners trained under Calvin at Geneva, and they brought his theology with them. Thus Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin had all attached followers in the Low Countries. The differences found expression, not so much in matters of doctrine as in preferences for different forms of Church government; and although they were almost overcome, they reappeared later in the contest which emerged in the beginning of the seventeenth century about the relation which ought to subsist between the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities. In the end, the teaching of Geneva displaced both Lutheranism and Zwinglianism, and the Reformed in the Netherlands became Calvinist in doctrine and discipline.

Accordingly, most of the churches were early organised on the principles of the churches in France, with a minister and a consistory of elders and deacons; and when delegates from the churches met to deliberate upon an organisation which would bind all together, the system which was adopted was the Presbyterian or Conciliar. The meeting was at Emden (1569), as it was too dangerous to assemble within the jurisdiction of the Government of the Netherlands. It was resolved that the Church should be ruled by consistories, classes, and synods. This Conciliar organisation, thus adopted at Emden in 1569, might not have met with unanimous support had not the Reformed been exposed to the full fury of Alva’s persecution. The consistorial system of the Lutheran Church, and the position which Zwingli assigned to the magistracy, are possible only when the civil government is favourably disposed towards the Church within the land which it rules; but Presbyterianism, as France, Scotland, and the Netherlands have proved, is the best suited for “a Church under the Cross.” Nor need this be wondered at, for the Presbyterian or Conciliar is the revival of the government of the Church of the early centuries while still under the ban of the Roman Empire.[270]

[Pg 272]

A synod which met at Dordrecht (Dort) in 1572 revised, enlarged, and formally adopted the articles of this Emden synod or conference.

Two peculiarities of the Dutch organisation ought to be explained. The consistory or kirk-session is the court which rules the individual congregation in Holland as in all other Presbyterian lands; but in the Dutch Church all Church members inhabiting a city are regarded as one congregation; the ministers are the pastors of the city, preaching in turn in all its buildings set apart for public worship, and the people are not considered to be specially attached to any one of the buildings, nor to belong to the flock of any one of the ministers; and therefore there is one consistory for the whole city. This peculiarity was also seen in the early centuries. Then it must be noticed that, owing to the political organisation of the United Provinces, it was difficult to arrange for a National Synod. The civil constitution was a federation of States, in many respects independent of each other, who were bound to protect each other in war, to maintain a common army, and to contribute to a common military treasury. When William of Orange was elected Stadtholder for life, one of the laws which bound him was that he should not acknowledge any ecclesiastical assembly which had not the approval of the civil authorities of the province in which it proposed to meet. This implied that each province was entitled to regulate its own ecclesiastical affairs. There could be no meeting of a National Synod unless all the United Provinces gave their approval. Hence the tendency was to prevent corporate and united action.

According to the articles of Emden, and the revised and enlarged edition approved at Dordrecht in 1572, it was agreed that office-bearers in the Church were to sign the Confession of Faith. This creed had been prepared by Guido de Brès (born at Mons in 1540) in 1561, and had been revised by several of his friends. It was based on the Confession of the French Church, and was originally written in French. It was approved by a series[Pg 273] of Synods, and was translated into Dutch, German, and Latin. It is known as the Belgic Confession. Its original title was, A Confession of Faith, generally and unanimously maintained by Believers dispersed throughout the Low Countries who desire to live according to the purity of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.[271] The Church also adopted the Heidelberg Catechism[272] for the instruction of the young.

The long fight against Spain and the Inquisition had stimulated the energies of the Church and the people of the Netherlands, and their Universities and theological schools soon rivalled older seats of learning. The University of Leyden, a thank-offering for the wonderful deliverance of the town, was founded in 1575; Franecker, ten years later, in 1585; and there followed in rapid succession the Universities of Gronningen (1612), Utrecht (1636), and Harderwyk (1648). Dutch theologians and lawyers became famous during the seventeenth century for their learning and acumen.

[Pg 274]



If civilisation means the art of living together in peace, Scotland was almost four hundred years behind the rest of Western Europe in the beginning of the sixteenth century.

[Pg 275]

The history of her kings is a tale of assassinations, long minorities, regencies scrambled and fought for by unscrupulous barons; and kingly authority, which had been growing in other countries, was on the verge of extinction in Scotland. Her Parliament or Estates of the Realm was a mere feudal assembly, with more than the usual uncertainty regarding who were entitled to be present; while its peculiar management by a Committee of the Estates made it a facile instrument in the hands of the faction who were for the moment in power, and robbed it of any stable influence on the country as a whole. The Church, wealthy so far as acreage was concerned, had become secularised to an extent unknown elsewhere, and its benefices served to provide for the younger sons of the great feudal families in a manner which recalls the days of Charles the Hammer.[274]

Yet the country had been prepared for the Reformation by the education of the people, especially of the middle class, by constant intercourse between Scotland and France and the Low Countries, and by the sympathy which Scottish students had felt for the earlier movements towards Church reform in England and Bohemia; while the wealth and immorality of the Romish clergy, the poverty of the nobility and landed gentry, and the changing political situation, combined to give an impetus to the efforts of those who longed for a Reformation.

More than one historian has remarked that the state of education in Scotland had always been considerably in advance of what might have been expected from its backward civilisation. This has been usually traced to the enduring influence of the old Celtic Church—a Church which had maintained its hold on the country for more than seven centuries, and which had always looked upon the education of the people as a religious duty. Old Celtic ecclesiastical rules declared that it was as important to teach boys and girls to read, as to dispense the sacraments, and to take part in soul-friendship (confession). The[Pg 276] Celtic monastery had always been an educational centre; and when Charles the Great established the High Schools which grew to be the older Universities of northern Europe, the Celtic monasteries furnished many of the teachers. The very complete educational system of the old Church had been taken over into the Roman Church which supplanted it, under Queen Margaret and her sons. Hence it was that the Cathedral and Monastery Schools produced a number of scholars who were eager to enrich their stores of learning beyond what the mother-country could give them, and the Scotch wandering student was well known during the Middle Ages on the Continent of Europe. One Scottish bishop founded a Scots College in Paris for his countrymen; other bishops obtained from English kings safe-conducts for their students to reside at Oxford and Cambridge.

This scholastic intercourse brought Scotland in touch with the intellectual movements in Europe. Scottish students at Paris listened to the lectures of Peter Dubois and William of Ockham when they taught the theories contained in the Defensor Pacis of Marsiglio of Padua, who had expounded that the Church is not the hierarchy, but the Christian people, and had denied both the temporal and spiritual supremacy of the Pope. The Rotuli Scotiæ,[275] or collection of safe-conducts issued by English monarchs to inhabitants of the northern kingdom, show that a continuous stream of Scottish students went to the English Universities from 1357 to 1389. During the earlier years of this period—that is, up to 1364—the safe-conducts applied for and granted entitled the bearers to go to Oxford or Cambridge or any other place of learning in England; but from 1364 to 1379 Oxford seems to have been the only University frequented. During one of these years (1365) safe-conducts were given to no fewer than eighty-one Scottish students to study in Oxford. The period was that during which[Pg 277] the influence of Wiclif was most powerful, when Oxford seethed with Lollardy; and the teachings of the great Reformer were thus brought into Scotland.

Lollardy seems to have made great progress. In 1405, Robert, Duke of Albany, was made Governor of Scotland, and Andrew Wyntoun in his Metrical Chronicle praises him for his fidelity to the Church:

“He wes a constant Catholike,
All Lollard he hatyt and heretike.”[276]

From this time down to the very dawn of the Reformation we find references to Lollardy in contemporary writers and in Acts of the Scots Parliament; and all the earlier histories of the Reformation movement in Scotland relate the story of the Lollards of Kyle and their interview with King James IV.[277]

The presence of Lollard opinions in Scotland must have attracted the attention of the leaders of the Hussites in Bohemia. In 1433 (July 23rd), Paul Craw or Crawar was seized, tried before the Inquisitorial court, condemned, and burnt as a heretic. He had brought letters from the Hussites of Prag, and acknowledged that he had been sent to interest the Scots in the Hussite movement—one of the many emissaries who were despatched in 1431 and 1432 by Procopius and John Rokycana into all European lands. He was found by the Inquisitor to be a man in sacris literis et in allegatione Bibliæ promptus et exercitatus. Knox tells us that he was condemned for denying transubstantiation, auricular confession to the priests, and prayers to saints departed. We learn also from Knox that at his burning the executioner put a ball of brass in his mouth that the people might not hear his defence. His execution did not arrest the progress of Lollardy.[Pg 278] The earlier poems of Sir David Lindsay contain Lollard opinions. By the time that these were published (1529-1530), Lutheran writings had found their way into Scotland, and may have influenced the writer; but the sentiments in the Testament and Complaynt of the Papyngo are more Lollard than Lutheran.

The Romish Church in Scotland was comparatively wealthy, and the rude Scottish nobles managed to place their younger sons in many a fat living, with the result that the manners of the clergy did little honour to their sacred calling. Satirists began to point the moral. John Row says:

“As for the more particulare means whereby many in Scotland got some knowledge of God’s trueth, in the time of great darkness, there were some books sett out, such as Sir David Lindesay his poesie upon the Four Monarchies, wherein many other treatises are conteined, opening up the abuses among the Clergie at that tyme; Wedderburn’s Psalms and Godlie Ballads, changing many of the old Popish songs unto Godlie purposes; a Complaint given in by the halt, blinde and poore of England, aganis the prelats, preists, friers, and others such kirkmen, who prodigallie wasted all the tithes and kirk liveings upon their unlawfull pleasures, so that they could get no sustentation nor releef as God had ordained. This was printed and came into Scotland. There were also some theatricall playes, comedies, and other notable histories acted in publict; for Sir David Lindesay his Satyre was acted in the Amphitheater of St. Johnestoun (Perth), before King James the V., and a great part of the nobilitie and gentrie, fra morn to even, whilk made the people sensible of the darknes wherein they lay, of the wickednes of their kirkmen, and did let them see how God’s Kirk should have bene otherwayes guyded nor it was; all of whilk did much good for that tyme.”[278]

It may be doubted, however, whether the Scottish people felt the real sting in such satires until they began to be[Pg 279] taught by preachers who had been to Wittenberg, or who had studied the writings of Luther and other Reformers, or who had learned from private perusal of the Scriptures what it was to be in earnest about pardon of sin and salvation of soul.

Some of the towns on the East Coast were centres of trade with the Continent, and Leith had once been an obscure member of the great Hanseatic League. Lutheran and other tracts were smuggled into Scotland from Campvere by way of Leith, Dundee, and Montrose. The authorities were on the alert, and tried to put an end to the practice. In 1525, Parliament forbade strangers bringing Lutheran books into Scotland on pain of imprisonment and forfeiture of their goods and ships;[279] and in the same year the Government were informed that “sundry strangers and others within the diocese of Aberdeen were possessed of Luther’s books, and favoured his errors and false opinions.” Two years later (1527), the Act was made to include those who assisted in spreading Lutheran views. An agent of Wolsey informed the Cardinal that Scottish merchants were purchasing copies of Tyndale’s New Testament in the Low Countries and sending them to Scotland.[280] The efforts of the Government do not seem to have been very successful. Another Act of Parliament in 1535 declared that none but the clergy were to be allowed to purchase heretical books; all others possessing such were required to give them up within forty days.[281] This legislation clearly shows the spread of Reformed writings among the people of Scotland.

The first Scottish martyr was Patrick Hamilton, a younger son of Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavel and Stanehouse. He had studied at Paris and Louvain. As he took his degree of M.A. in Paris in 1520, he had been there when the writings of Luther were being studied by all learned men, including the theological students of the[Pg 280] Sorbonne (the theological faculty).[282] Hamilton must have been impressed by the principles of the German Reformer, and have made no secret of his views when he returned to Scotland; for in the beginning of 1527 he was a suspected heretic, and was ordered to be summoned and accused as such. He fled from Scotland, went to Wittenberg, was at the opening of Philip of Hesse’s new Evangelical University of Marburg (May 30th, 1527), and drafted the theses for the first academic Disputation.[283] He felt constrained, however, to return to his native land to testify against the corruptions of the Roman Church, and was preaching in Scotland in the end of autumn 1527. The success attending his ministry excited the fears of the prelates. He was invited, or rather enticed, to St. Andrews; allowed for nearly a month to preach and dispute in the University; and was then arrested and tried in the cathedral. The trial took place in the forenoon, and at mid-day he was hurried to the stake (Feb. 27th, 1528). The fire by carelessness rather than with intention was slow, and death came only after lingering hours of agony.

If the ecclesiastical authorities thought to stamp out the new faith by this martyrdom, they were soon to discover their mistake. Alexander Alane (Alesius), who had undertaken to convince Patrick Hamilton of his errors, had been himself converted. He was arrested and imprisoned, but escaped to the Continent. The following years witnessed a succession of martyrs—Henry Forrest (1533), David Stratton and Norman Gourlay (1534), Duncan Simpson, Forrester, Keillor, Beverage, Forret, Russell, and Kennedy[Pg 281] (1539). The celebrated George Buchanan was imprisoned, but managed to escape.[284] The Scots Parliament and Privy Council assisted the Churchmen to extirpate the new faith in a series of enactments which themselves bear witness to its spread. In 1540, in a series of Acts (March 14th) it was declared that the Virgin Mary was “to be reverently worshipped, and prayers made to her” for the King’s prosperity, for peace with all Christian princes, for the triumph of the “Faith Catholic,” and that the people “may remain in the faith and conform to the statutes of Holy Kirk.” Prayers were also ordered to be made to the saints. It was forbidden to argue against, or impugn, the papal authority under pain of death and confiscation of “goods movable and immovable.” No one is to “cast down or otherwise treat irreverently or in any ways dishonour” the images of saints canonised by the Church. Heretics who have seen the error of their ways are not to discuss with others any matters touching “our holy faith.” No one suspected of heresy, even if he has recanted, is to be eligible to hold any office, nor to be admitted to the King’s Council. All who assist heretics are threatened with severe punishment. In 1543, notwithstanding all this legislation, the Lord Governor (the Earl of Arran) had to confess that heretics increase rapidly, and spread opinions contrary to the Church.[285] The terms of some of these enactments show that the new faith had been making converts among the nobility; and they also indicate the chief points of attack on the Roman Church in Scotland.

In 1542 (Dec. 14th), James V. died, leaving an infant daughter, Mary (b. Dec. 8th), who became the Queen of Scots when barely a week old. Thus Scotland was again harassed with an infant sovereign; and there was the usual scramble for the Regency, which this time involved questions of national policy as well as personal aggrandisement.

[Pg 282]

It was the settled policy of the Tudor kings to detach Scotland from the old French alliance, and secure it for England. The marriage of Margaret Tudor to James iv. shows what means they thought to employ, and but for Margaret’s quarrel with the Earl of Angus, her second husband, another wedding might have bound the nations firmly together. The French marriages of James V., first with Madeleine, daughter of Francis I. (1537), and on her premature death with Mary of Guise (1538), showed the recoil of Scotland from the English alliance. James’ death gave Henry VIII. an opportunity to renew his father’s schemes, and his idea was to betroth his boy Edward to the baby Mary, and get the “little Queen” brought to England for education. Many Scotsmen thought the proposal a good one for their country, and perhaps more were induced to think so by the money which Henry lavished upon them to secure their support They made the English party in Scotland. The policy of English alliance as against French alliance was complicated by the question of religion. Whatever may be thought of the character of the English Reformation at this date, Henry VIII. had broken thoroughly with the Papacy, and union with England would have dragged Scotland to revolt against the mediæval Church. The leader of the French and Romanist party in Scotland was David Beaton, certainly the ablest and perhaps the most unscrupulous man there. He had been made Archbishop of St. Andrews, coadjutor to his aged uncle, in 1538. In the same month, Pope Paul iii., who needed a Churchman of the highest rank to publish his Bull against Henry VIII. in a place as near England as was possible to find, had sent him a Cardinal’s Hat. The Cardinal, Beaton, stood in Scotland for France and Rome against England and the Reformation. The struggle for the Regency in Scotland in 1542 carried with it an international and a religious policy. The clouds heralding the storm which was to destroy Mary, gathered round the cradle of the baby Queen.

At first the English faction prevailed. The claims of[Pg 283] the Queen Mother were scarcely considered. Beaton produced a will, said to have been fraudulently obtained from the dying King, appointing him and several of the leading nobles of Scotland, Governors of the kingdom. This arrangement was soon set aside, the Earl of Arran was appointed Governor (Jan. 3rd, 1543), and Beaton was confined in Blackness Castle.

The Governor selected John Rough for his chaplain and Thomas Williams for his preacher, both ardent Reformers. The Acts of the previous reign against heresy were modified to the extent that men suspect of heresy might enjoy office, and heretics were accorded more merciful treatment. Moreover, an Act of Parliament (March 15th, 1543) permitted the possession and reading of a good and true translation of the Old and New Testaments. But the masterful policy of Henry VIII. and the weakness of the Governor brought about a change. Beaton was released from Blackness and restored to his own Castle of St. Andrews; the Governor dismissed his Reformed preachers; the Privy Council (June 2nd, 1543) forbade on pain of death and confiscation of goods all criticism of the mediæval doctrine of the Sacraments, and forbade the possession of heretical books. In September, Arran and Beaton were reconciled; in December, the Parliament annulled the treaties with England consenting to a marriage between Edward and Mary, and the ancient league with France was renewed. This was followed by the revival of persecution, and almost all that had been gained was lost. Henry’s ruthless devastation of the Borders did not mend matters. The more enlightened policy of Lord Protector Somerset could not allay the suspicions of the Scottish nation. Their “little Queen” was sent to France to be educated by the Guises, “to the end that in hir youth she should drynk of that lycour, that should remane with hir all hir lyfetyme, for a plague to this realme, and for hir finall destructioun.”[286]

[Pg 284]

But if the Reformation movement was losing ground as a national policy, it was gaining strength as a spiritual quickening in the hearts of the people. George Wishart, one of the Wisharts of Pittarrow, who had fled from persecution in 1538 and had wandered in England, Germany, and Switzerland, returned to his native country about 1543, consumed with the desire to bear witness for the Gospel. He preached in Montrose, and Dundee during a visitation of the plague, and Ayrshire. Beaton’s party were anxious to secure him, and after a preaching tour in the Lothians he was seized in Ormiston House and handed over to the Earl of Bothwell, who, breaking pledges he had made, delivered him to the Cardinal; he lodged him in the dungeon at St. Andrews (end of Jan. 1546), and had him tried in the cathedral, when he was condemned to the stake (March 1st, 1546).

Wishart was Knox’s forerunner, and during this tour in the Lothians, Knox had been his constant companion. The Romanist party had tried to assassinate the bold preacher, and Knox carried a two-handed sword ready to cut down anyone who attempted to strike at the missionary while he was speaking. All the tenderness which lay beneath the sternness of Knox’s character appears in the account he gives of Wishart in his History. And to Wishart, Knox was the beloved disciple. When he foresaw that the end was near, he refused to allow Knox to share his danger.[287]

Assassination was a not infrequent way of getting rid of a political opponent in the sixteenth century, and Beaton’s death had long been planned, not without secret promptings from England. Three months after Wishart’s martyrdom (May 29th, 1546), Norman Lesley and Kirkcaldy of Grange at the head of a small band of men broke into the Castle of St. Andrews and slew the Cardinal. They held the stronghold, and the castle became a place of refuge for men whose lives were threatened by the Government, and who sympathised with the English alliance. The Government[Pg 285] laid siege to the place but were unable to take it, and their troops withdrew. John Rough, who had been Arran’s Reformed chaplain, joined the company, and began to preach to the people of St. Andrews. Knox, who had become a marked man, and had thought of taking refuge in Germany, was persuaded to enter the castle, and there, sorely against his will, he was almost forced to stand forth as a preacher of the Word. His first sermon placed him at once in the foremost rank of Scottish Reformers, and men began to predict that he would share the fate of Wishart. “Master George Wishart spak never so plainelye, and yitt he was brunt: evin so will he be.”[288]

Next to nothing is known about the early history of John Knox. He came into the world at or near Haddington in the year 1515,[289] but on what day or month remains hidden. He sprang from the commons of Scotland, and his forebears were followers of the Earls of Bothwell; he was a papal notary, and in priest’s orders in 1540; he was tutor to the sons of the lairds of Ormiston and Longniddry in 1545; he accompanied Wishart in December and January 1545, 1546—these are the facts known about him before he was called to stand forward as a preacher of the Reformation in Scotland. He was then thirty-two—a silent, slow ripening man, with quite a talent for keeping himself in the background.

Knox’s work in the castle and town of St. Andrews was interrupted by the arrival of a French fleet (July 1547), which battered the walls with artillery until the castle was compelled to surrender. He and all the inmates were carried over to France. They had secured as terms of surrender that their lives should be spared; that they should be safely transported to France; and that if they could not accept the terms there offered to them by the French King, they should be allowed to depart to[Pg 286] any country they might select for their sojourn, save Scotland. It was not the custom, however, for French kings to keep promises made to heretics, and Knox and his companions were made galley-slaves. For nineteen months he had to endure this living death, which for long drawn out torture can only be compared with what the Christians of the earliest centuries had to suffer when they were condemned to the mines. He had to sit chained with four or six others to the rowing benches, which were set at right angles to the side of the ship, without change of posture by day, and compelled to sleep, still chained, under the benches by night; exposed to the elements day and night alike; enduring the lash of the overseer, who paced up and down the gangway which ran between the two lines of benches; feeding on the insufficient meals of coarse biscuit and porridge of oil and beans; chained along with the vilest malefactors. The French Papists had invented this method of treating all who differed from them in religious matters. It could scarcely make Knox the more tolerant of French policy or of the French religion. He seldom refers to this terrible experience. He dismisses it with:

“How long I continewed prisoneir, what torment I susteaned in the galaies, and what war the sobbes of my harte, is now no time to receat: This onlie I can nocht conceall, which mo than one have hard me say, when the body was far absent from Scotland, that my assured houp was, in oppin audience, to preache in Sanctandrois befoir I depairted this lyeff.”[290]

The prisoners were released from the galleys through the instrumentality of the English Government in the early months of 1549, and Knox reached England by the 7th of April. It was there that he began his real work as a preacher of the Reformation. He spent nearly five years as minister at Berwick, at Newcastle, and in London. He was twice offered preferment—the vacant bishopric of Rochester in 1552, and the vicarage of All Hallows in[Pg 287] Bread St., London, in the beginning of 1553. He refused both, and was actually summoned before the Privy Council to explain why he would not accept preferment.[291] It is probable that he had something to do with the production of The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies in the Church of England, 1552, commonly called the Second Prayer-Book of King Edward VI. The rubric explaining kneeling at the partaking of the Holy Supper, or at least one sentence in it, is most probably due to his remonstrances or suggestions.[292] The accession of Mary Tudor to the throne closed his career in England; but he stuck to his work long after his companion preachers had abandoned it. He was in London, and had the courage to rebuke the rejoicings of the crowd at her entry into the capital—a fearless, outspoken man, who could always be depended on for doing what no one else dared.

Knox got safely across the Channel, travelled through France by ways unknown, and reached Geneva. He spent some time with Calvin, then went on to Zurich to see Bullinger. He appears to have been meditating deeply on the condition of Scotland and England, and propounded a set of questions to these divines which show that he was trying to formulate for himself the principles he afterwards asserted on the rights of subjects to restrain tyrannical sovereigns.[293] The years 1554-58, with the exception of a brief visit to Scotland in the end of 1555, were spent on the Continent, but were important for his future work in Scotland. They witnessed the troubles in the Frankfurt congregation of English exiles, where Knox’s broad-minded[Pg 288] toleration and straightforward action stands in noble contrast with the narrow-minded and crooked policy of his opponents. They were the time of his peaceful and happy ministrations among the refugees at Geneva. They made him familiar with the leading Protestants of France and of Switzerland, and taught him the inner political condition of the nations of Europe. They explain Knox’s constant and accurate information in later years, when he seemed to learn about the doings of continental statesmen as early as Cecil, with all the resources of the English Foreign Office behind him. Above all, they made him see that, humanly speaking, the fate of the whole Reformation movement was bound up with an alliance between a Protestant England and a Protestant Scotland.

Knox returned to Scotland for a brief visit of about ten months (Sept. 1555-July 1556). He exhorted those who visited him in his lodgings in Edinburgh, and made preaching tours, dispensing the Lord’s Supper according to the Reformed rite on several occasions. He visited Dun, Calder House, Barr, Ayr, Ochiltree, and several other places, and was welcomed in the houses of many of the nobility. He left for Geneva in July, having found time to marry his first wife, Marjory Bowes,—uxor suavissima, and “a wife whose like is not to be found everywhere,”[294] Calvin calls her,—and having put some additional force into the growing Protestantism of his native land. He tells us that most part of the gentlemen of the Mearns “band thame selfis, to the uttermost of thare poweris, to manteane the trew preaching of the Evangell of Jesus Christ, as God should offer unto thame preacheris and opportunitie”—whether by word of mouth or in writing, is not certain.[295]

In 1557 (Dec. 3rd) the Protestants of Scotland laid the foundations of a definite organisation. It took a[Pg 289] form familiar enough in the civil history of the country, where the turbulent character of the Scottish barons and the weakness of the central authority led to constant confederations to carry out with safety enterprises sometimes legal and sometimes outside the law. The confederates promised to assist each other in the work proposed, and to defend each other from the consequences following. Such agreements were often drafted in legal fashion by public notaries, and made binding by all forms of legal security known. The Lords of the Congregation, as they came to be called, followed a prevailing custom when they promised—

“Befoir the Majestie of God and His congregatioun, that we (be His grace) shall with all diligence continually apply our hole power, substance, and our verray lyves, to manteane, sett fordward, and establish the most blessed word of God and His Congregatioun; and shall laubour at our possibilitie to have faythfull Ministeris purely and trewlie to minister Christis Evangell and Sacramentes to His people.”[296]

This “Band subscrived by the Lords” was the first (if the promise made by the gentlemen of the Mearns be excepted) of the many Covenants famous in the history of the Church of Scotland Reformed.[297] It was an old Scottish usage now impregnated with a new spiritual meaning, and become a public promise to God, after Old Testament fashion, to be faithful to His word and guidance.

This important act had immediate consequences. The confederated Lords sent letters to Knox, then at Geneva, and to Calvin, urging the return of the Scottish Reformer to his native land. They also passed two notable resolutions:

“First, It is thought expedient, devised and ordeaned that in all parochines of this Realme the Common Prayeris (probably[Pg 290] the Second Prayer-Book of Edward VI.)[298] be redd owklie (weekly) on Sounday, and other festuall dayis, publictlie in the Paroche Kirkis, with the Lessonis of the New and Old Testament, conforme to the ordour of the Book of Common Prayeris: And yf the curattis of the parochynes be qualified to cause thame to reid the samyn; and yf thei be nott, or yf thei refuise, that the maist qualified in the parish use and read the same. Secoundly, it is thought necessare that doctrin, preacheing and interpretatioun of Scriptures be had and used privatlie in Qwyet housis, without great conventionis of the people tharto, whill afterward that God move the Prince to grant publict preacheing be faithful and trew ministeris.”[299]

The Earl of Argyle set the example by maintaining John Douglas, and making him preach publicly in his mansion.

This conduct evidently alarmed the Queen Mother, who had been made Regent in 1554 (April 12th), and she attempted to stir the Primate to exercise his powers for the repression of heresy. The Archbishop wrote to Argyle urging him to dismiss Douglas, apologising at the same time for his interference by saying that the Queen wondered that he could “thole” persons with perverted doctrine within his diocese.

Another step in advance was taken some time in 1558, when it was resolved to give the Congregation, the whole company of those in Scotland who sincerely accepted the Evangelical Reformation, “the face of a Church,” by the creation and recognition of an authority which could exercise discipline. A number of elders were chosen “by common election,” to whom the whole of the brethren promised obedience. The lack of a publicly recognised ministry was supplied by laymen, who gave themselves to the work of exhortation; and at the head of them was[Pg 291] to be found Erskine of Dun. The first regularly constituted Reformed church in Scotland was in the town of Dundee.[300]

The organisation gave the Protestant leaders boldness, and, through Sir James Sandilands, they petitioned the Regent to permit them to worship publicly according to the Reformed fashion, and to reform the wicked lives of the clergy. This led to the offer of a compromise, which was at once rejected, as it would have compelled the Reformed to reverence the Mass, and to approve of prayers to the saints. The Queen Mother then permitted public worship, save in Leith and Edinburgh. The Lords of the Congregation next demanded a suspension of the laws which gave the clergy power to try and punish heresy, until a General Council, lawfully assembled, should decide upon points then debated in religion; and that all suspected of heresy should have a fair trial before “temporal judges.”[301] When the Regent, who gave them “amyable lookis and good wordes in aboundance,” refused to allow their petition to come before the Estates, and kept it “close in hir pocket,” the Reformers resolved to go to Parliament directly with another petition, in which they declared that since they had not been able to secure a reformation, they had resolved to follow their own consciences in matters of religion; that they would defend themselves and all of their way of thinking if attacked; that if tumults arose in consequence, the blame was with those who refused a just reformation; and that in forwarding this petition they had nothing in view but the reformation of abuses in religion.[302]

Knox had been invited by the Earl of Glencairn, the Lords Erskine and Lorn, and James Stewart (afterwards the Earl of Moray), to return to Scotland in 1557.[303] He reached Dieppe in October, and found letters awaiting him which told him that the times were not ripe. The[Pg 292] answer he sent spurred the Reforming lords to constitute the Band of December 1557. It was while he was at Dieppe, chafing at the news he had received, that he composed the violent treatise, entitled The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women[304]—a book which did more to hamper his future than anything else. The state of things was exasperating to a man who longed to be at work in Scotland or England. “Bloody” Mary in England was hounding on her officials to burn Knox’s co-religionists, and the Reformation, which had made so much progress under Edward VI., seemed to be entirely overthrown; while Mary of Guise, the Queen Mother and Regent in Scotland, was inciting the unwilling Archbishop of St. Andrews to make use of his legatine and episcopal powers to repress the believers of his native land. But as chance would have it, Mary Tudor was dead before the pamphlet was widely known, and the Queen whom of all others he desired to conciliate was seated on the throne of England, and had made William Cecil, the staunchest of Protestants, her Secretary of State. She could scarcely avoid believing that the Blast was meant for her; and, even if not, it was based on such general principles that it might prove dangerous to one whose throne was still insecure. It is scarcely to be wondered at that the Queen never forgave the vehement writer, and that the Blast was a continual obstacle to a complete understanding between the Scottish Reformer and his English allies.[305] If Knox would never confess publicly to queens, whether to Elizabeth Tudor or to Mary Stuart; that he had done wrong, he was ready to say to a friend whom he loved:

“My rude vehemencie and inconsidered affirmations, which may rather appear to procead from coler then of zeal and reason, I do not excuse.”[306]

[Pg 293]

It was the worse for Knox and for Scotland, for the reign of women had begun. Charles V., Francis I., and Henry VIII. had passed away, and the destinies of Europe were to be in the hands of Elizabeth, Catherine de’ Medici, Mary Stuart, and Philip of Spain, the most felinely feminine of the four.

Events marched fast in Scotland after Knox returned in the early summer of 1559. The Queen Regent and the Lords of the Congregation were facing each other, determined on a trial of strength. Knox reached Edinburgh on May 2nd, 1559, and hurried on to Dundee, where the Reformed had gathered in some force. They had resolved to support their brethren in maintaining public worship according to the usages of the Reformed Church, and in repressing “idolatrie” in all towns where a majority of the inhabitants had declared for the Reformed religion. The Regent threw down the gauntlet by summoning the preachers to appear before her, and by inhibiting their preaching. The Lords took it up by resolving that they would answer the summons and appear along with their preachers. A letter was addressed to the Regent (May 6th, 1559) by “The professouris of Christis Evangell in the realme of Scotland.” It was an admirable statement of the principles of the Scottish Reformation, and may be thus summarised:

“It records the hope, once entertained by the writers, that God would make her the instrument of setting up and maintaining his Word and true worship, of defending his congregation, and of downputting all idolatry, abomination, and superstition in the realm; it expresses their grief on learning that she was determined to do the very opposite; it warns her against crossing the bounds of her own office, and usurping a power in Christ’s kingdom which did not belong to her; it distinguishes clearly between the civil jurisdiction and the spiritual; it asks her to recall her letters inhibiting God’s messengers; it insists that His message ought to be received even though the speaker should lack the ordinary vocation; it claims that the ministers who had been inhibited were sent by God, and[Pg 294] were also called according to Scriptural order; it points out that her commands must be disobeyed if contrary to God’s, and that the enemies were craftily inducing her to command unjust things so that the professors, when they disobeyed, might be condemned for sedition and rebellion; it pled with her to have pity on those who were seeking the glory of God and her true obedience; it declared that, by God’s help, they would go forward in the way they had begun, that they would receive and assist His ministers and Word, and that they would never join themselves again to the abominations they had forsaken, though all the powers on earth should command them to do so; it conveyed their humble submission to her, in all obedience due to her in peace, in war, in body, in goods and in lands; and it closed with the prayer that the eternal God would instruct, strengthen, and lead her by His Spirit in the way that was acceptable to Him.”[307]

Then began a series of trials of strength in which the Regent had generally the better, because she was supplied with disciplined troops from France, which were more than a match for the feudal levies of the Lords of the Congregation. The uprising of the people against the Regent and the Prelates was characterised, as in France and the Low Countries, with an outbreak of iconoclasm which did no good to the Protestant cause. In the three countries the “raschall multitude” could not be restrained by the exhortation of the preachers nor by the commandment of the magistrates from destroying “the places of idolatrie.”[308]

From the beginning, Knox had seen that the Reformers had small hope of ultimate success unless they were aided from England; and he was encouraged to expect help because he knew that the salvation of Protestant England lay in its support of the Lords of the Congregation in Scotland.

The years from 1559 to 1567 were the most critical in the whole history of the Reformation. The existence[Pg 295] of the Protestantism of all Europe was involved in the struggle in Scotland; and for the first and perhaps last time in her history the eyes that had the furthest vision, whether in Rome, for centuries the citadel of mediævalism, or in Geneva, the stronghold of Protestantism, were turned towards the little backward northern kingdom. They watched the birth-throes of a new nation, a British nation which was coming into being. Two peoples, long hereditary foes, were coalescing; the Romanists in England recognised the Scottish Queen as their legitimate sovereign, and the Protestants in Scotland looked for aid to their brethren in England. The question was: Would the new nation accept the Reformed religion, or would the reaction triumph? If Knox and the Congregation gained the upper hand in Scotland, and if Cecil was able to guide England in the way he meant to lead it (and the two men were necessary to each other, and knew it), then the Reformation was safe. If Scotland could be kept for France and the Roman Church, and its Romanist Queen make good her claim to the English throne, then the Reformation would be crushed not merely within Great Britain, but in Germany and the Low Countries also. So thought the politicians, secular and ecclesiastical, in Rome and Geneva, in Paris, Madrid, and in London. The European situation had been summed up by Cecil: “The Emperor is aiming at the sovereignty of Europe, which he cannot obtain without the suppression of the Reformed religion, and, unless he crushes England, he cannot crush the Reformation.” In this peril a Scotland controlled by the Guises would have been fatal to the existence of the Reformation.

In 1559 the odds seemed in favour of reaction, if only its supporters were whole-hearted enough to put aside for the time national rivalries. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, concluded scarcely a month before Knox reached Scotland (April 1559), had secret clauses which bound the Kings of France and Spain to crush the Protestantism of Europe, in terms which made the young Prince of Orange, when he learned them, vow silently to devote his[Pg 296] life to protect his fellow-countrymen and drive the “scum of the Spaniards” out of the Netherlands. Henry II. of France, with his Edict of Chateaubriand and his Chambre Ardente, with the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal Lorraine to counsel him, and Diane of Poitiers to keep him up to the mark, was doing his best to exterminate the Protestants of France. Dr. Christopher Mundt kept reporting to Queen Elizabeth and her Minister the symptoms of a general combination against the Protestants of Europe—symptoms ranging from a proposed conquest of Denmark to the Emperor’s forbidding members of his Household to attend Protestant services.[309] Throckmorton wrote almost passionately from Paris urging Cecil to support the Scottish Lords of the Congregation; and even Dr. Mundt in Strassburg saw that the struggle in Scotland was the most important fact in the European situation.[310]

Yet it was difficult for Cecil to send the aid which Knox and the Scottish Protestants needed sorely. It meant that the sovereign of one country aided men of another country who were de jure rebels against their own sovereign. It seemed a hazardous policy in the case of a Queen like Elizabeth, who was not yet freed from the danger arising from rebellious subjects. There was France, with which England had just made peace. Cecil had difficulties with Elizabeth. She did not like Calvin himself. She had no sympathy with his theology, which, with its mingled sob and hosanna, stirred the hearts of oppressed peoples. There was Knox and his Blast, to say nothing of his appealing to the commonalty of his country. “God[Pg 297] keep us from such visitations as Knockes hath attempted in Scotland; the people to be orderers of things!” wrote Dr. Parker to Cecil on the 6th of November.[311] Yet Cecil knew—no man better—that if the Lords of the Congregation failed there was little hope for a Protestant England, and that Elizabeth’s crown and Dr. Parker’s mitre depended on the victory of Knox in Scotland.

He watched the struggle across the border. He had made up his mind as early as July 8th, 1559, that assistance must be given to the Lords of the Congregation “with all fair promises first, next with money, and last with arms.”[312] The second stage of his programme was reached in November; and, two days before the Archbishop of Canterbury was piously invoking God’s help to keep Knox’s influences out of England, Cecil had resolved to send money to Scotland and to entrust its distribution to Knox. The memorandum runs: Knox to be a counsel with the payments, to see that they be employed to the common action.[313]

The third stage—assistance with arms—came sooner than might have been expected. The condition of France became more favourable. Henry II. had died (July 10th, 1559), and the Guises ruled France through their niece Mary and her sickly devoted husband. But the Bourbon Princes and many of the higher nobles did not take kindly to the sudden rise of a family which had been French for only two generations, and the easiest way to annoy them was to favour publicly or secretly “those of the religion.” There was unrest in France. “Beat the iron while it is hot,” Throckmorton wrote from Paris; “their fair flatterings and sweet language are only to gain time.”[314] Cecil struck. He had a sore battle with his royal mistress, but he won.[315] An arrangement was come to between England[Pg 298] and the Lords of the Congregation acting on behalf “of the second person of the realm of Scotland” (Treaty of Berwick, May 10th, 1560).[316] An English fleet entered the Firth of Forth; an English army beleaguered the French troops in Leith Fort; and the end of it was that France was obliged to let go its hold on Scotland, and never thoroughly recovered it (Treaty of Edinburgh, July 6th, 1560).[317] The great majority of the Scottish people saw in the English victory only their deliverance from French tyranny, and for the first time a conquering English army left the Scottish soil followed by blessings and not curses. The Scottish Liturgy, which had contained Prayers used in the Churches of Scotland in the time of their persecution by the Frenchmen, was enriched by a Thanksgiving unto God after our deliverance from the tyranny of the Frenchmen; with prayers made for the continuance of the peace betwixt the realms of England and Scotland, which contained the following petition:

“And seeing that when we by our owne power were altogether unable to have freed ourselves from the tyranny of strangers, and from the bondage and thraldome pretended against us, Thou of thyne especial goodnes didst move the hearts of our neighbours (of whom we deserved no such favour) to take upon them the common burthen with us, and for our deliverance not only to spend the lives of many, but also to hazards the estate and tranquillity of their Realme and commonwealth: Grant unto us, O Lord, that with such reverence we may remember thy benefits received that after this in our defaute we never enter into hostilitie against the Realme and nation of England.”[318]

The Regent had died during the course of the hostilities, and Cecil, following and improving upon the[Pg 299] wise policy of Protector Somerset, left it entirely to the Scots to settle their own affairs.[319]

Now or never was the opportunity for Knox and the Lords of the Congregation. They had not been idle during the months since Knox had arrived in Scotland. They had strengthened the ties uniting them by three additional Bands. At a meeting of the Congregation of the West with the Congregations of Fife, Perth, Dundee, Angus, Mearns, and Montrose, held in Perth (May 31st, 1559), they had covenanted to spare neither

“labouris, goodis, substancis, bodyis, and lives, in manteaning the libertie of the haill Congregatioun and everie member thairof, aganis whatsomevir power that shall intend trubill for the caus of religion.”[320]

They had renewed this Band in Edinburgh on July 13th; and at Stirling (Aug. 1st) they had covenanted,

“that nane of us sall in tymeis cuming pas to the Quenis Grace Dowriare, to talk or commun with hir for any letter without consent of the rest and commone consultatioun.”[321]

They had the bitter satisfaction of knowing that although the French troops and officers of the Regent were too strong for them in the field, the insolence and rapine of these foreigners was rousing all ranks and classes in Scotland to see that their only deliverance lay in the English alliance and the triumph of the Reformation. The Band of 1560 (April 27th) included, with “the nobilitie, barronis, and gentilmen professing Chryst Jesus in Scotland ... dyveris utheris that joyint with us, for expelling of the French army: amangis quham the Erle of Huntlie was principall.”[322]

The Estates or Parliament met in Edinburgh on[Pg 300] July 10th, 1560. Neither the French nor the English soldiers had left; so they adjourned to August 1st, and again to the 8th.[323]

Meanwhile Knox and the Congregation were busy. The Reformer excelled himself in the pulpit of St. Giles’, lecturing daily on the Book of the Prophet Haggai (on the building of the Temple)—“a doctrine proper for the time.”[324] Randolph wrote to Cecil, Aug. 15th:

“Sermons are daylie, and greate audience; though dyvers of the nobles present ar not resolved in religion, yet do thei repayre to the prechynges, which gevethe a good hope to maynie that God wyll bowe their hartes.”[325]

The Congregation held a great thanksgiving service in St. Giles’; and after it arranged for eight fully constituted churches, and appointed five superintendents in matters of religion.[326] They also prepared a petition for Parliament asking for a settlement of the religious question in the way they desired.[327] At the request of the Estates or Parliament, Knox and five companions prepared The Confessioun of Faith professit and belevit be the Protestantis within the Realme of Scotland, which was ratified and approved as “hailsome and sound doctrine, groundit upoun the infallible trewth of Godis Word.” It was afterwards issued by the Estates as the “summe of that doctrin quhilk we professe, and for the quhilk we haif sustenit infamy and daingear.”[328] Seven days later (Aug. 24th), the Estates decreed that “the Bischope of Rome have na jurisdictioun nor authoritie in this Realme in tymes cuming”; they[Pg 301] annulled all Acts of previous Parliaments which were contrary to the Confession of Faith; and they forbade the saying, hearing, or being present at Mass, under penalty of confiscation of goods and bodily punishment at the discretion of the magistrates for the first offence, of banishment for the second, and of death for the third.[329] These severe penalties, however, were by no means rigidly enforced. Lesley (Roman Catholic Bishop of Ross) says in his History:

“The clemency of the heretic nobles must not be left unmentioned, since at that time they exiled few Catholic on the score of religion, imprisoned fewer, and put none to death.”[330]

One thing still required to be done—to draft a constitution for the new Protestant Church. The work was committed to the same ministers who had compiled the Confession. They had been asked to prepare it as early as April 29th, and they had it ready for the Lords of the Congregation within a month. It was not approved by the Estates; but was ordered to be submitted to the next general meeting, and was meanwhile translated into Latin, to be sent to Calvin, Viret, and Beza in Geneva.[331] The delay seemed to some to arise from the unwillingness of many of the lords to see “their carnal liberty and worldly commoditie impaired”;[332] but another cause was also at work. Cecil evidently wished that the Church in Scotland should be uniform with the Church in England, and had instructed Randolph to press this question of uniformity. It was a favourite idea with statesmen of both countries—pressed on Scotland by England during the reigns of James I. and Charles I., and by Scotland on England in the Solemn League and[Pg 302] Covenant. Randolph was wise enough to see that such uniformity was an impossibility.[333]

The Confession of the Faith and Doctrine, Believed and Professed by the Protestants of Scotland, was translated into Latin, and, under the title Confessio Scoticana, occupies an honoured place in the collections of the creeds of the Reformed Churches. It remained the symbol of the Church of Scotland during the first stormy century of its existence. It was displaced by the Westminster Confession in 1647, only on the understanding that the later document was “in nothing contrary” to the former; and continued authoritative long after that date.[334] Drawn up in haste by a small number of theologians, it is more sympathetic and human than most creeds, and has commended itself to many who object to the impersonal logic of the Westminster Confession.[335] The first sentence of the preface gives the tone to the whole:

“Lang have we thirsted, dear Brethren, to have notified to the Warld the Sum of that Doctrine quhilk we professe, and for quhilk we have susteined Infamie and Danger; Bot sik has bene the Rage of Sathane againis us, and againis Christ Jesus his eternal Veritie latlie now againe born amangst us, that to this daie na Time has been graunted unto us to cleir our Consciences as maist gladlie we wald have done.”[336]

The preface also puts more clearly than any similiar document save the First Confession of Basel the reverence[Pg 303] felt by the early Reformers for the Word of God and the renunciation of any claim to infallibility of interpretation:

“Protestand that gif onie man will note in this our confessioun onie Artickle repugnand to Gods halie word, that it wald pleis him of his gentleness and for christian charities sake to admonish us of the same in writing; and we upon our honoures and fidelitie, be Gods grace do promise unto him satisfaction fra the mouth of God, that is fra his haly scriptures, or else reformation of that quhilk he sal prove to be amisse.”

The Confession itself contains the truths common to the Reformed creeds of the Reformation. It contains all the Œcumenical doctrines, as they have been called—that is, the truths taught in the early Œcumenical Councils, and embodied in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds; and adds those doctrines of grace, of pardon, and of enlightenment through Word and Spirit which were brought into special prominence by the Reformation revival of religion. The Confession is more remarkable for quaint suggestiveness of titles than for any special peculiarity of doctrine. Thus the doctrine of revelation is defined by itself, apart from the doctrine of Scripture, under the title of “The Revelation of the Promise.” Election is treated according to the view of earlier Calvinism as a means of grace, and an evidence of the “invincible power” of the Godhead in salvation. The “notes by which the true Kirk is discerned from the false” are said to be the true preaching of the Word of God, the right administration of the sacraments, and ecclesiastical discipline rightly administered. The authority of Scriptures is said to come from God, and to depend neither “on man nor angels”; and the Church knows them to be true, because “the true kirk always heareth and obeyeth the voice of her own spouse and pastor.”

Randolph says in a letter to Cecil (September 7th, 1560) that before the Confession was publicly read it was revised by Lethington and Lord James Stewart, who “dyd[Pg 304] mytigate the austeritie of maynie wordes and sentences,” and that a certain article which dealt with the “dysobediens that subjects owe unto their magistrates” was advised to be left out.[337] Thus amended it was read over, and then re-read article by article in the Estates, and passed without alteration,[338]—“no man present gainsaying.”[339] When it was read before the Estates:

“Maynie offered to sheede ther blude in defence of the same. The old Lord of Lynsay, as grave and goodly a man as ever I sawe, said, ‘I have lyved maynie yeres, I am the eldest in thys Compagnie of my sorte; nowe that yt hathe pleased God to lett me see thys daye wher so maynie nobles and other have allowed so worthie a work, I will say with Simion, Nunc dimittis.’”[340]

A copy was sent to Cecil, and Maitland of Lethington assured him that if there was anything in the Confession of Faith which the English Minister misliked, “It may eyther be changed (if the mater so permit) or at least in some thyng qualifieed”; which shows the anxiety of the Scots to keep step with their English allies.[341]

The authors of the Confession were asked to draw up a short statement showing how a Reformed Church could best be governed. The result was the remarkable document which was afterwards called the First Book of Discipline, or the Policie and Discipline of the Church.[342] It provided for the government of the Church by kirk-sessions, synods, and general assemblies; and recognised as office-bearers in the Church, ministers, teachers, elders, deacons, superintendents, and readers.[Pg 305] The authors of this Book of Discipline professed to go directly to Scripture for the outlines of the system of Church government which they advised their countrymen to adopt, and their profession was undoubtedly sincere and likewise just. They were, however, all of them men in sympathy with Calvin, and had had personal intercourse with the Protestants of France. Their form of government is clearly inspired by Calvin’s ideas as stated in his Institution, and follows closely the Ecclesiastical Ordinances of the French Church. The offices of superintendent and reader were added to the usual threefold or fourfold Presbyterian form of government. The former was due to the unsettled state of the country and the scarcity of Protestant pastors. The Superintendents took charge of districts corresponding not very exactly with the Episcopal dioceses, and were ordered to make annual reports to the General Assembly of the ecclesiastical and religious state of their provinces, and to preach in the various churches in their district. The Readers owed their existence to the small number of Protestant pastors, to the great importance attached by the early Scottish Reformers to an educated ministry, and also to the difficulty of procuring funds for the support of pastors in every parish. They were of two classes—those of a higher grade, who were permitted to deliver addresses and who were called Exhorters; and those of the lower grade, whose duty it was to read “distinctly” the Common Prayers and the Scriptures. Both classes were expected to teach the younger children. Exhorters who studied theology diligently and satisfied the synod of their learning could rise to be ministers. The Book of Discipline contains a chapter on the patrimony of the Church which urges the necessity of preserving monies possessed by the Church for the maintenance of religion, the support of education, and the help of the poor. The presence of this chapter prevented the book being accepted by the Estates in the same way as the Confession of Faith. The barons, greater and lesser, who sat there had in too many cases appropriated[Pg 306] the “patrimony of the Kirk” to their own private uses, and were unwilling to sign a document which condemned their conduct. The Book of Discipline approved by the General Assembly, and signed by a large number of the nobles and burgesses, never received the legal sanction accorded to the Confession.

The General Assembly of the Reformed Church of Scotland met for the first time in 1560; and thereafter, in spite of the struggle in which the Church was involved, meetings were held generally twice a year, sometimes oftener, and the Church was organised for active work.

A third book, variously called The Book of Common Order,[343] The Order of Geneva, and now frequently Knox’s Liturgy, was a directory for the public worship and services of the Church. It was usually bound up with a metrical version of the Psalms, and is often spoken of as the Psalm Book.

Calvin’s Catechism was translated and ordered to be used for the instruction of the youth in the faith. Later, the Heidelberg Catechism was translated and annotated for the same purpose. They were both superseded by Craig’s Catechism, which in its turn gave way to the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Divines.[344]

The democratic ideas of Presbyterianism, enforced by the practical necessity of trusting in the people, made the Scotch Reformers pay great attention to education. All the leaders of the Reformation, whether in Germany, France, or Holland, had felt the importance of enlightening the commonalty; but perhaps Scotland and Holland were the two countries where the attempt was most successful. The education of the people was no new thing in Scotland; and although in the troublous times before and during the Reformation high schools had[Pg 307] disappeared and the Universities had decayed, still the craving for learning had not altogether died out. Knox and his friend George Buchanan had a magnificent scheme of endowing schools in every parish, high schools or colleges in all important towns, and of increasing the power and influence of the Universities. Their scheme, owing to the greed of the Barons, who had seized the Church property, was little more than a devout imagination; but it laid hold on the mind of Scotland, and the lack of endowments was more than compensated by the craving of the people for education. The three Universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen took new life, and a fourth, the University of Edinburgh, was founded. Scotch students who had been trained in the continental schools of learning, and who had embraced the Reformed faith, were employed to superintend the newly-organised educational system of the country, and the whole organisation was brought into sympathy with the everyday life of the people by the preference given to day schools over boarding schools, and by a system of inspection by the most pious and learned men in each circle of parishes. Knox also was prepared to order compulsory attendance at school on the part of two classes of society, the upper and the lower—the middle class he thought might be trusted to its own natural desire for learning; and he wished to see the State so exercise power and patronage as to lay hold on all youths “of parts” and compel them to proceed to the high schools and Universities, that the commonwealth might get the greatest good of their service.

The form of Church government given in the First Book of Discipline represented rather an outline requiring to be filled in than a picture of what actually existed for many a year after 1560. It provided for a form of Church government by ecclesiastical councils rising from the Session of the individual congregation up to a National Assembly, and its first requisite was a fully organised church in every parish ruled by a minister[Pg 308] with his Session or council of Elders and his body of Deacons. But there was a great lack of men having the necessary amount of education to be ordained as ministers, and consequently there were few fully equipped congregations. The first court in existence was the Kirk-Session; it was in being in every organised congregation. The second in order of time was the General Assembly. Its first meeting was in Edinburgh, Dec. 20th, 1560. Forty-two members were present, of whom only six were ministers. These were the small beginnings from which it grew. The Synods came into existence later. At first they were yearly gatherings of the ministry of the Superintendent’s district, to which each congregation within the district was asked to send an Elder and a Deacon. The Court of the Presbytery came latest into existence; it had its beginnings in the “weekly exercise.”

The work had been rapidly done. Barely a year had elapsed between the return of Knox to Scotland and the establishment of the Reformed religion by the Estates. Calvin wrote from Geneva (Nov. 8th, 1559):

“As we wonder at success incredible in so short a time, so also we give great thanks to God, whose special blessing here shines forth.”

And Knox himself, writing from the midst of the battle, says:[345]

“We doe nothing but goe about Jericho, blowing with trumpets, as God giveth strength, hoping victorie by his power alone.”[346]

But dangers had been imminent; shot at through his window, deadly ambushes set, and the man’s powers taxed almost beyond endurance:

“In twenty-four hours I have not four free to naturall rest and ease of this wicked carcass ... I have nead of a[Pg 309] good and an assured horse, for great watch is laid for my apprehension, and large money promissed till any that shall kyll me.”[347]

If the victory had been won, it was not secured. The sovereigns Mary and Francis had refused to ratify the Acts of their Estates; and it was not until Mary was deposed in 1567 that the Acts of the Estates of 1560 were legally placed on the Statute Book of Scotland. Francis II. died in 1560 (Dec. 5th), and Mary the young and widowed Queen returned to her native land (Aug. 19th, 1561). Her coming was looked forward to with dread by the party of the Reformation.

There was abundant reason for alarm. Mary was the Stuart Queen; she represented France, the old hereditary ally; she had been trained from childhood by a consummate politician and deadly enemy of the Reformation, her uncle the Cardinal of Lorraine, to be his instrument to win back Scotland and England to the deadliest type of Romanism. She was a lovely creature, and was, besides, gifted with a power of personal fascination greater than her physical charms, and such as no other woman of her time possessed; she had a sweet caressing voice, beautiful hands; and not least, she had a gift of tears at command. She had been brought up at a Court where women were taught to use all such charms to win men for political ends. The Escadron volant de la Reine had not come into existence when Mary left France, but its recruits were ready, and some of them had been her companions. She had made it clearly understood that she meant to overthrow the Reformation in Scotland.[348] Her unscrupulous character was already known to Knox and the other Protestant leaders. Nine days before her marriage she had signed deeds guaranteeing the ancient liberties and independence of[Pg 310] Scotland; six days after her marriage she and her husband had appended their signatures to the same deeds; but twenty days before her wedding she had secretly signed away these very liberties, and had made Scotland a mere appanage of France.[349] They suspected that the party in France whose figure-head she was, would stick at no crime to carry out their designs, and had shown what they were ready to do by poisoning four of the Scotch Commissioners sent to Paris for their young Queen’s wedding, because they refused to allow Francis to be immediately crowned King of Scotland.[350] They knew how apt a pupil she had already shown herself in their school, when she led her boy husband and her ladies for a walk round the Castle of Amboise, to see the bodies of dozens of Protestants hung from lintels and turrets, and to contemplate “the fair clusters of grapes which the grey stones had produced.”[351]

It was scarcely wonderful that Lord James, Morton, and Lethington, were it not for obedience’ sake, “cared not thoughe theie never saw her face,” and felt that there was no safety for them but in Elizabeth’s protection. As for Knox, we are told: “Mr. Knox is determined to abide the uttermost, and others will not leave him till God have taken his life and theirs together.”[352] What use might she not make of these fascinations of hers on the vain, turbulent nobles of Scotland? Is it too much to say that but for the passionate womanly impulse—so like a Stuart[353]—which made her fling herself first into the arms of Darnley and then of Bothwell, and but for[Pg 311] Knox, she might have succeeded in re-establishing Popery in Scotland and in reducing Protestant England?

Cecil himself was not without his fears, and urged the Protestants in Scotland to stand firm. Randolph’s answer shows how much he trusted Knox’s tenacity, however much he might sometimes deprecate his violence:

“Where your honour exhortethe us to stowteness, I assure you the voyce of one man is hable in one hower to put more lyf in us than five hundred trompettes contynually blusteringe in our eares.”[354]

He was able to write after Mary’s arrival:

“She (Mary) was four days without Mass; the next Sunday after arrival she had it said in her chapel by a French priest. There were at it besides her uncles and her own Household, the Earle of Montrose, Lord Graham ... the rest were at Mr. Knox sermon, as great a number as ever was any day.”[355]

Mary’s advisers, her uncles, knew how dangerous the state of Scotland was for their designs, and counselled her to temporise and gradually win over the leading Reforming nobles to her side. The young Queen entered on her task with some zest. She insisted on having Mass for her own household; but she would maintain, she promised, the laws which had made the Mass illegal in Scotland; and it says a great deal for her powers of fascination and dissimulation that there was scarcely one of the Reforming nobles that she did not win over to believe in her sincerity at one time or another, and that even the sagacious Randolph seemed for a time to credit that she meant what she said.[356] Knox alone in Scotland read her character and paid unwilling tribute to her abilities from his first interview with her.[357]

[Pg 312]

He saw that she had been thoroughly trained by her uncles, and especially by the Cardinal of Lorraine, and that it was hopeless to expect anything like fair dealing from her:

“In verry dead hir hole proceadings do declayr that the Cardinalles lessons ar so deaplie prented in hir heart, that the substance and the qualitie ar liek to perische together. 1 wold be glaid to be deceaved, but I fear I shall not. In communication with her, I espyed such craft as I have not found in such aige.”[358]

Maitland of Lethington thought otherwise. Writing to Cecil (Oct. 25th, 1561) he says:

“You know the vehemency of Mr. Knox spreit, which cannot be brydled.... I wold wishe he shold deale with her more gently, being a young princess unpersuaded.”[359]

It was thought that Mary might be led to adopt the Reformation if she were only tenderly guided. When Mary’s private correspondence is read, when the secret knowledge which her co-religionists abroad had of her designs is studied and known, it can be seen how true was Knox’s reading of her character and of her intentions.[360] He stood firm, almost alone at times among the leading men, but faithfully supported by the commons of Scotland.[361]

Then began the struggle between the fascinating Queen, Mary Stuart, one of the fairest flowers of the French Renaissance, and the unbending preacher, trained in the sternest school of the Reformation movement—a struggle which was so picturesque, in which the two opponents had each such strongly marked individuality, and in which the[Pg 313] accessories were so dramatic, that the spectator insensibly becomes absorbed in the personal side of the conflict, and is tempted to forget that it was part of a Revolution which was convulsing the whole of middle and western Europe.

A good deal has been written about the rudeness with which Knox assailed Mary in public and in private, and his conversations with her are continually referred to but seldom quoted in full. It is forgotten that it was Mary who wished to try her gifts of fascination on the preacher, just as Catherine de’ Medici tried to charm de Bèze before Poissy; that Knox never sought an interview; that he never approached the Court unless he was summoned by the sovereign to her presence; that he was deferential as a subject should be; and it was only when he was compelled by Mary herself to speak on themes for which he was ready to lay down his life that he displayed a sternness which monarchs seldom experience in those to whom they give audience. What makes these interviews stand forth in history is that they exhibit the first clash of autocratic kingship and the hitherto unknown power of the people. It was an age in which sovereigns were everywhere gaining despotic power, when the might of feudal barons was being broken, when the commonalty was dumb. A young Queen, whose training from childhood had stamped indelibly on her character that kingship meant the possession of unlimited autocratic privileges before which everything must give way, who had seen that none in France had dared dispute the will of her sickly, dull boy-husband simply because he was King, was suddenly confronted by something above and beyond her comprehension:

“‘What have ye to do,’ said sche, ‘with my marriage? Or what ar ye within this Commounwealth?’ ‘A subject borne within the same,’ said he, ‘Madam. And albeit I neather be Erle, Lord, nor Barroun within it, yitt hes God maid me (how abject that ever I be in your eyes) a profitable member within the same.’”[362]

[Pg 314]

Modern democracy came into being in that answer. It is curious to see how this conflict between autocratic power and the civil and religious rights of the people runs through all the interviews between Mary and Knox, and was, in truth, the question of questions between them.[363]

It is unnecessary to tell the story of the seven years of struggle between 1560 and 1567. In the end, Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, deposed, and her infant son, James VI., was placed on the throne. Lord James Stewart, Earl of Moray, was made Regent. The Estates or Parliament again voted the Confession of Faith, and engrossed it in their Acts. The Regent, acting for the sovereign, signed the Acts. The Confession thus became part of the law of the land, and the Reformed Church was legally recognised in Scotland.

[Pg 315]





The Church and people of England broke away from the mediæval papal ecclesiastical system in a manner so exceptional, that the rupture had not very much in[Pg 316] common with the contemporary movements in France and Germany. Henry VIII. destroyed the papal supremacy, spiritual and temporal, within the land which he governed; he cut the bands which united the Church of England with the great Western Church ruled over by the Bishop of Rome; he built up what may be called a kingly papacy on the ruins of the jurisdiction of the Pope. His starting-point was a quarrel with the Pope, who refused to divorce him from Catharine of Aragon.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that Henry’s eagerness to be divorced from Catharine accounts for the English Reformation. No king, however despotic, could have forced on such a revolution unless there was much in the life of the people that reconciled them to the change, and evidence of this is abundantly forthcoming.

There was a good deal of heresy, so called, in England long before Luther’s voice had been heard in Germany. Men maintained that the tithes were exactions of covetous priests, and were not sanctioned by the law of God; they protested against the hierarchical constitution of the mediæval Church; they read the Scriptures, and attended services in the vernacular; and they scoffed at the authority of the Church and attacked some of its doctrines. Lollardy had never died out in England, and Lollardy was simply the English form of that passive protest against the mediæval Church which under various names had maintained itself in France, Germany, and Bohemia for centuries in spite of persecution. Foxe’s Acts and Monuments show that there was a fairly active repression of so-called heresy in England before Luther’s days, and his accounts are confirmed by the State Papers of the period. In 1511, Andreas Ammonius, the Latin secretary of Henry VIII., writing to Erasmus, says that wood has grown scarce and dear because so much was needed to burn heretics, “and[Pg 317] yet their numbers grow.” Yet Dr. James Gairdner declares that only a solitary pair had suffered during that year at the stake![365] Early in 1512 the Archbishop of Canterbury summoned a meeting of convocation for the express purpose of arresting the spread of heresy;[366] in that same year Erasmus was told by More that the Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum were popular everywhere throughout England;[367] and a commission was given to the Bishop of Coventry and others to inquire about Lollards in Wales and other parts;[368] and as late as 1521 the Bishop of London arrested five hundred Lollards.[369] In 1530, Henry VIII. himself, always curious about theology and anxious to know about the books which interested his subjects, sent to Oxford for a copy of the Articles on which Wiclif had been condemned.[370] Anyone who scoffed at relics or pilgrimages was thought to be a Wiclifite.[371] In 1531, divinity students were required to take an oath to renounce the doctrines of Wiclif, Hus, and Luther;[372] and in 1533, More, writing to Erasmus, calls Tyndale and his sympathisers Wiclifites.[373] Henry VIII. was engaged as early as 1518 in composing a book against heresy and vindicating the claims of the Roman See, which in its first inception could scarcely be directed against Luther, and probably dealt with the views of home heretics.[374] Some modern historians are inclined to find a strong[Pg 318] English revolt against Rome native to the soil and borrowing little or nothing from Luther, which they believe to have been the initial force at work in shaping the English Reformation. Mr. Pollard points out that in many particulars this Reformation followed the lines laid down by Wiclif. Its leaders, like Wiclif, denounced the Papal Supremacy on the ground of the political injury it did to the English people; declaimed against the sloth, immorality, and wealth of the English ecclesiastics; advocated a preaching ministry; and looked to the secular power to restrain the vices and reform the manners of the clergy, and to govern the Church. He shows that

“most of the English Reformers were acquainted with Wycliffe’s works: Cranmer declares that he set forth the truth of the Gospel; Hooper recalls how he resisted ‘the popish doctrine of the Mass’; Ridley, how he denied transubstantiation; and Bale, how he denounced the friars.... Bale records with triumph that, in spite of the efforts to suppress (the writings of Wicliffe), not one had utterly perished.”[375]

And Dr. Rashdall goes the length of saying:

“It is certain that the Reformation had virtually broken out in the secret Bible-readings of the Cambridge Reformers before either the trumpet-call of Luther or the exigencies of Henry VIII.’s personal and political position set men free once more to talk openly against the Pope and the monks, and to teach a simpler and more spiritual gospel than the system against which Wycliffe had striven.”[376]

Even if it be admitted that these statements are somewhat strong, they at least call attention to the fact of the vigorous Lollard leaven which permeated the English people, and are a very necessary corrective of the misleading assertions of Dr. James Gairdner on the matter.

Henry VIII. had other popular forces behind him—the[Pg 319] rooted dislike to the clergy which characterised a large mass of the people, the effects of the teaching of the Christian Humanists of England, and the spread of Lutheran opinions throughout the land.

The Bishop of London, writing to Wolsey about the proposal to try his Chancellor, Dr. Horsey, for complicity in the supposed murder of Richard Hunne, declared that if the Chancellor

“be tried by any twelve men in London, they be so maliciously set in favorem hæreticæ pravitatis that they will cast and condemn any clerk though he were as innocent as Abel.”[377]

This dislike was not confined to the capital. The Parliaments showed themselves anti-clerical long before Henry had thrown off his allegiance to Rome;[378] and Englishmen could find no better term of insult to throw at the Scots than to call them “Pope’s men.”[379]

Nor should the work of the Christian Humanists be forgotten. The double tendency in their longings for a reformation of the abuses of superstition, of pilgrimages, of relic-worship, etc., may be seen in the lives of Sir Thomas More and of William Tyndale. When the former saw that reform meant the breaking up of the mediæval Church, he became more and more conservative. But More in 1520 (Feb. 28th) could write to Lea that if the Pope (Leo X.) should withdraw his approval of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, Luther’s attacks on the Holy See were piety itself compared with such a deed.[380] Tyndale, the favourite pupil of Dean Colet, on the other hand, went forward and earned the martyr’s crown. These Christian Humanists had expected much from Henry VIII., whom they looked on as imbued with the New Learning; and in the end perhaps they were not altogether mistaken. If the Bishops’ Book and the King’s Book be studied, it will[Pg 320] be seen that in both what is insisted upon is a reformation of conduct and a study of the Bible—quite in the spirit of Colet and of Erasmus.

The writings of Luther found early entrance into England, and were read by King[381] and people. A long list of them, including six copies of his work De potestate Papæ, is to be found in the stock of the Oxford bookseller, John Dorne[382] (1520). Erasmus, writing to Oecolampadius (May 15th, 1521), declares that there are many of Luther’s books in England, and hints that but for his exertions they would have been burnt.[383] That was before Luther’s official condemnation. On May 28th, Silvester, Bishop of Worcester, wrote to Wolsey from Rome announcing that the Cardinals had agreed to declare Martin a heretic, and that a Bull was being prepared on the subject.[384] The Bull itself appeared in Rome on the 15th of June; and thereafter our information about Luther’s writings in England comes from evidence of endeavours to destroy them. Warham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to Wolsey (March 8th, 1521) that he had received letters from Oxford which declared that the University was infected with Lutheranism, and that the forbidden books were in circulation there.[385] Indeed, most of the canons appointed to Wolsey’s new foundation of the Cardinal College were suspect. Cambridge was as bad, if not worse. Members of the University met at the White Horse Tavern to read and discuss Luther’s writings; the inn was called “Germany,” and those who frequented it “the Germans.” Pope Leo urged both the King and Wolsey to prevent the circulation of Lutheran literature; and they did their best to obey. We read that on May 12th, 1521, Wolsey went in great state to St. Paul’s, and after various ceremonies mounted a scaffold, seated himself “under a cloth of estate,” and listened to a sermon preached by Bishop Fisher against Lutheran errors.[Pg 321] At his feet on the right side sat the Pope’s ambassadors and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and on the left side the imperial ambassadors and the Bishop of Durham. While the sermon was being preached, numbers of Lutheran books were burnt in a huge bonfire kindled hard by in St. Paul’s Churchyard.[386] The representatives of Pope and Emperor saw it all, and doubtless reported to their respective Courts that Wolsey was doing his duty by Church and Empire. It may be doubted whether such theatrical exhibitions hindered the spread of Luther’s books in England or prevented them being read.

All these things indicated a certain preparedness in England for the Reformation, and all meant that there was a strong national force behind Henry VIII. when he at last made up his mind to defy Rome.

Nor was a national separation from Rome so formidable an affair as Dr. Gairdner would have us believe. The Papacy had secularised itself, and European monarchs were accustomed to treat the Popes as secular princes. The possibility of England breaking away from papal authority and erecting itself into a separate patriarchate under the Archbishop of Canterbury had been thought probable before the divorce was talked about.[387]

It was Henry himself who clung strenuously to the conception of papal supremacy, and who advocated it in a manner only done hitherto by canonists of the Roman Curia. Whatever be the secret reason which he gave to Sir Thomas More, and which silenced the latter’s remonstrances, it is evident that the validity of Henry’s marriage and the legitimacy of his children by Catharine of Aragon depended on the Pope being in possession of the very fullest powers of dispensation. Henry had been married to Catharine under very peculiar circumstances, which might well[Pg 322] suggest doubts about the validity of the marriage ceremony.

The England of Henry VII. was almost as much a satellite of Spain as Scotland was of France, and to make the alliance still stronger a marriage was arranged between Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catharine the youngest of the three daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. The Spanish Princess landed at Plymouth (October 2nd, 1501), and the wedding took place in St. Paul’s on November 14th. But Prince Arthur died a few months afterwards (April 2nd, 1502), and Catharine became a widow. The circumstances of the two nations appeared to require more than ever the cementing of the alliance by intermarriage, and it was proposed from the side of Spain that the young widow should marry Henry, her brother-in-law, now Prince of Wales.[388] Ferdinand brought pressure to bear on England by insisting that if this were not done Catharine should be sent back to Spain and the first instalment of her dowry (all that had been paid) returned. The two Kings then besieged the Pope, Julius II., to grant a dispensation for the marriage. At first His Holiness was very unwilling to consent. Such a marriage had been branded as sin by canonical law, and the Pope himself had great doubts whether it was competent for him to grant a dispensation in such a case.[389] In the end he was persuaded to give it. The two young people had their own scruples of conscience. Ferdinand felt called upon to reason with his proposed son-in-law.[390] The confessor of his daughter was changed.[391] The Archbishop of Canterbury, who doubted whether the Pope could grant dispensation for what was a mortal sin in his eyes, was silenced.[392] The wedding took place (June 11th, 1509).

[Pg 323]

The marriage was in one sense singularly unfortunate. The first four children were either stillborn or died soon after birth; and it was rumoured in Rome as early as 1514 that Henry might ask to be divorced in order to save England from a disputed succession. Mary was born in 1516 and survived, but all the children who came afterwards were either stillborn or died in early infancy. It became evident by 1525 that if Henry did not divorce his wife he would have no male heir.

There is no doubt that the lack of a male heir troubled Henry greatly. The English people had not been accustomed to a female sovereign; it was currently, if erroneously, reported in England that the laws of the land did not permit a woman to be sovereign, and such well-informed diplomatists as the Venetian Ambassadors believed the statement;[393]and the Tudor dynasty was not so firmly settled on the throne that it could afford to look forward to a disputed succession. The King’s first idea was to ask the Pope to legitimise his illegitimate son the Duke of Richmond;[394]and Cardinal Campeggio actually suggested that the Princess Mary should be married to her half-brother.[395] These projects came to an end with the death of the young Prince.

There seems to be no reason for questioning the sincerity of Henry’s doubts about the legitimacy of his marriage with Catharine, or that he actually looked upon the repeated destruction of his hopes of a male heir as a divine punishment for the sin of that contract.[396]Questions of national policy and impulses of passion quicken marvellously conscientious convictions, but they do not show that the convictions are not real. In the perplexities of his position the shortest way out seemed to be to ask the Pope to declare that he had never been legally married to[Pg 324] Catharine. If he had scruples of conscience about his marriage with his brother’s widow, this would end them; if the fears of a disputed succession haunted him, he could marry again, and might hope for a son and a lawful heir whose succession none would dispute. Cardinal Wolsey adopted his master’s plans, and the Pope was to be asked for a declaration that the marriage with Catharine had been no marriage at all.

There entered, however, into all this, at what time it is not easy to determine, an element of sordidness which goes ill with asserted scruples of conscience and imperious necessities of State. Wolsey was astonished when he learned that Henry had made up his mind to marry Anne Boleyn, a lady whose station in life and personal reputation unfitted her for the position of Queen of England. It was Henry’s inordinate, if not very long-lived, passion for this lady that put him in the wrong, and enabled the Pope to pose as the guardian of the public morality of Europe.

It is plain that Henry VIII. fully expected that the Pope would declare his first marriage invalid; there was many a precedent for such action—two in Henry’s own family;[397] and the delay had nothing to do with the interests of public morality. The Pope was at the time practically in the power of Charles V., to whom his aunt, the injured Catharine, had appealed, and who had promised her his protection. One has only to study the phases of the protracted proceedings in the “Divorce” and compare them with the contemporary situation in Italy to see that all that the Curia cared for was the success of the papal diplomacy in the Italian peninsula. The interests of morality were so little in his mind that Clement proposed to Henry more than once that the King might take a second wife without going through the formality of having his first marriage declared null and void.[398] This had been[Pg 325] the papal solution of the matter in an earlier instance, and Clement VII. saw no reasons why what had been allowed to a King of Spain should be denied to the King of England.[399] He was prepared to tolerate bigamy, but not to thwart Charles, so long as the Emperor was master within Italy.[400]

It is needless to follow the intricacies of the Divorce. The protracted proceedings were an object lesson for English statesmen. They saw a grave moral question—whether a man could lawfully marry his deceased brother’s widow; a matter vitally affecting the welfare of the English people—the possibility of a disputed succession; the personal wishes of a powerful, strong-willed, and choleric sovereign (for all considerations were present, not only the last)—all subjected to the shifting needs of a petty Italian prince. So far as England was concerned, the grave interest in the case ended when Campeggio adjourned the inquiry (July 23rd, 1529). Henry knew that he could not expect the Pope to give him what he wanted; and although his agents fought the case at Rome, he at once began preparing for the separation from papal jurisdiction.

The English nobles, who had long chafed under the rule of Wolsey, took advantage of the great Minister’s failure in the Divorce negotiations to press forward his downfall. He was deprived of the Lord Chancellorship, which was given to Sir Thomas More, and was further indicted before the King’s Bench for infringement of the law of Præmunire—an accusation to which he pleaded guilty.[401]

Meanwhile Henry had taken measures to summon a Parliament; and in the interval between summons and[Pg 326] assembly, it had been suggested to him that Cranmer was of opinion that the best way to deal with the Divorce was to take it out of the hands of the Curia and consult the canonists of the various Universities of Europe. Cranmer was instructed to prepare the case to be laid before them. This was done so successfully that the two great English Universities, the French Universities of Paris, Orleans, Bourges, and Toulouse, decided that the King’s marriage with Catharine was not valid; the Italian Universities of Ferrara, Padua, Pavia, and Bologna came to the same conclusion in spite of a proclamation issued by the Pope prohibiting all doctors from maintaining the invalid nature of the King’s marriage.[402]

Parliament met on November 3rd, 1529, and, from the matters brought before it, received the name of the “Parliament for the enormities of the clergy.”[403] It revealed the force of lay opinion on which Henry might count in the struggle he was about to begin with the clergy. With a view of strengthening his hands still further, the King summoned an assembly of Notables,[404] which met on June 12th, 1530, and addressed the Pope in a letter in which they prayed him to consent to the King’s desire, pointed out the evils which would follow from delaying the Divorce, and hinted that they might be compelled to take the matter into their own hands. This seems to have been the general feeling among the laity of England; for a foreigner writing to the Republic of Florence says: “Nothing else is thought of in that island every day, except of arranging affairs in such a way that they do no longer be in want of the Pope, neither for filling vacancies in the Church, nor for any other purpose.”[405]

[Pg 327]

Having made himself sure of the great mass of the laity, Henry next set himself to force the clergy into submission. He suddenly charged them all with being guilty of Præmunire because they had accepted the authority of Papal Legates within the kingdom; and managed to extort a sum of £100,000, to be paid in five yearly instalments, by way of a fine from the clergy of the Province of Canterbury.[406] At the same meeting of Convocation (1531) the clergy were compelled, under threat of the law of Præmunire, to declare that the King was “their singular protector and only supreme lord, and, as far as that is permitted by the law of Christ, the Supreme Head of the Church and of the clergy.” The ambiguity in the acknowledgment left a loophole for weak consciences; but the King was satisfied with the phrase, feeling confident that he could force his own interpretation of the acknowledgment on the Church. “It is all the same,” Charles V.’s ambassador wrote to his master, “as far as the King is concerned, as if they had made no reservation; for no one now will be so bold as to contest with his lord the importance of this reservation.”[407]

This acknowledgment was, according to the King, simply a clearer statement of what was contained in the old statutes of Præmunire, and in all his subsequent ecclesiastical legislation he claimed that he was only giving effect to the earlier laws of England.

The Parliament of 1532 gave the King important assistance in forcing on the submission, not only of the clergy of England, but of the Pope, to his wishes. The Commons presented a petition complaining of various grievances affecting the laity in the working of the ecclesiastical courts, which was sent with a set of demands from the King to the Convocation. The result was the important resolution of Convocation (May 15th, 1532) which is called the Submission of the Clergy, where it is[Pg 328] promised not to make any new canons without the King’s licence and ratification, and to submit all previous canons to a committee of revision, to consist of thirty-two persons, sixteen from Parliament and sixteen from the clergy, and all to be chosen by the King. This committee was to expunge all containing anything prejudicial to the King’s prerogative. This Act of Convocation practically declared that the Church of England could neither make any rules for its own guidance without the King’s permission, nor act according to the common law of the mediæval Church when that, in the King’s opinion, invaded the royal prerogative.[408] From this Act the Church of England has never been able to free itself. The other deed of this Parliament which was destined to be of the greatest use to Henry in his dealings with the Pope was an Act dealing with the annates, i.e. one year’s income from all ecclesiastical benefices paid to the Pope on entrance into any benefice. The Act declared that the annates should be withheld from the Pope and given to the King, but permitted His Majesty to suspend its operation so long as it pleased him.[409] It was the suspensory clause which enabled Henry to coerce the Pope, and he was not slow to take advantage of it.[410] Writing to Rome (March 21st, 1532), he said: “The Pope and Cardinals may gain our friendship by truth and justice. Take care that they do not hope or despair too much from this power which has been committed to us by the statute. I do not mean to deceive them, but to tell them the fact that this statute will be to their advantage, if they show themselves deserving of it; if not, otherwise. Nothing has been defined at present, which must be to their advantage if they do not despise my friendship.”[411]

[Pg 329]

Archbishop Warham, who had presided at the Convocation which made the submission of the clergy, died in August 1532; and Henry resolved that Cranmer, notwithstanding his unwillingness, should succeed him as Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer conscientiously believed that the royal supremacy was a good thing, and would cure many of the ecclesiastical evils which no appeals to the Pope seemed able to reform; and he was also convinced that the marriage of Henry with Catharine had been one for which not even the highest ecclesiastical authority could give a dispensation. He was prepared to carry out the King’s wishes in both respects. He could not be an acceptable Primate to the Roman Curia. Yet Henry, by threatening the Pope with the loss of the annates, actually compelled him to send Bulls to England, and that with unusual speed, ratifying the appointment to the Primacy of a man who was known to believe in the nullity of the King’s marriage, and to be ready to give effect to his opinion; and this at a time when the Parliament of England had declared that the Primate’s court was the supreme ecclesiastical tribunal for the English Church and people. The deed made the Curia really responsible for almost all that followed in England. For Parliament in February 1533, acting on the submission of the clergy, had passed an Act prohibiting all appeals to Rome from the Archbishop’s court, and ordering that, if any appeals were taken, they must be to the King’s Court of Chancery. This was the celebrated Act of Restraint of Appeals.[412]

In the beginning of 1533 (Jan. 25th), Henry VIII. was privately married to Anne Boleyn. He had taken the Pope’s advice in this one particular, to get married without waiting for the Divorce; but soon afterwards (April 5th) he got from the Convocation of Canterbury a document declaring that the Pope had no power to grant a dispensation in such a case as the marriage of Henry[Pg 330] with Catharine;[413] and the Act of Restraint of Appeals had made such a decision practically final so far as England was concerned.

Cranmer was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on March 30th, 1533. His opinions were known. He had been one of the Cambridge “Germans”; he had freely consorted with Lutheran divines in Germany; he had begun to pray in private for the abolition of the Pope’s power in England as early as 1525; and it was not without reason that Chapuys called him a “Lutheran.”[414]

On April 11th, 1533, the new Primate asked the King to permit him to try the question of the Divorce before his own ecclesiastical court; and leave was granted him on the following day, as the principal minister “of our spiritual jurisdiction.”[415] The trial was begun, and the court, acting on the decisions of Convocation two months earlier, which had declared[416] that no dispensation could be given for a marriage with the widow of a brother provided the marriage had been consummated, and[417] that the marriage between Arthur and Catharine had been consummated, pronounced that the marriage between the King and Catharine of Aragon was null and void.[418] This was followed by an inquiry about the marriage between the King and Anne Boleyn, which was pronounced valid, and preparations were made for the coronation of Queen Anne, which took place on June 1st, 1533.[419]

This act of defiance to Rome was at once resented by the Pope. The Curia declared that the marriage between Henry and Catharine was lawful, and a Bull was issued commanding Henry to restore Catharine and put away Anne within ten days on pain of excommunication; which sentence the Emperor, all Christian Princes, and Henry’s own subjects were called upon to execute by force of arms.[420]

The action at Rome was answered from England by[Pg 331] the passing of several strong Acts of Parliament—all in 1534. They completed the separation of the Church and people of England from the See of Rome.

1. The Act forbidding the payment of annates to the Pope was again introduced, and this time made absolute; no annates were for the future to be sent to Rome as the first-fruits of any benefice. In the same Act new provisions were made for the appointment of Bishops; they were for the future to be elected by the Deans and Chapters on receiving a royal letter of leave and nomination.[421]

2. An Act forbidding the payment of Peter’s Pence to the Bishop of Rome; forbidding all application to the Pope for dispensations; and declaring that all such dispensations were to be sought for in the ecclesiastical courts within England.[422]

3. The Act of Succession, which was followed by a second within the same year in which the nullity of the marriage of Henry with Catharine of Aragon was clearly stated, and Catharine was declared to be the “Princess of Wales,” i.e. the widow of Arthur; which affirms the validity of the King’s marriage with Anne Boleyn, and declares that all the issue of that marriage are legitimate; and which affirms that, failing male succession, the crown falls to the Princess Elizabeth.[423]

4. The Supremacy Act, which declares that the King is rightfully the Supreme Head of the Church of England, has been recognised as such by Convocation, and that it is within his powers to make ecclesiastical visitations and to redress ecclesiastical abuses.[424]

5. The Treasons Act must also be included, inasmuch as one of its provisions is that it is treason to deny to the King any of his lawful titles (the Supreme Head of the Church of England being one), and that treason includes calling the King a heretic or a schismatic.[425]

[Pg 332]

To complete the list, it is necessary to mention that the two Convocations of Canterbury and of York solemnly declared that “the Roman Pontiff had no greater jurisdiction bestowed on him by God in the Holy Scriptures than any other foreign (externus) Bishop”—a declaration called the Abjuration of the Papal Supremacy by the Clergy.[426]

This separation of the Church of England from Rome really meant that instead of there being a dual control, there was to be a single one only. The Kings of England had always claimed to have some control over the Church of their realm; Henry went further, and insisted that he would share that supervision with no one. But it should be noticed that what he did claim was, to use the terms of canon law, the potestas jurisdictionis, not the potestas ordinis; he never asserted his right to ordain or to control the sacraments. Nor was there at first any change in definition of doctrines. The Church of England remained what it had been in every respect, with the exception that the Bishop of Rome was no longer recognised as the Episcopus Universalis, and that, if appeals were necessary from the highest ecclesiastical courts in England, they were not to be taken as formerly to Rome, but were to be settled in the King’s courts within the land of England. The power of jurisdiction over the affairs of the Church could scarcely be exercised by the King personally. Appeals could be settled by his judges in the law courts, but he required a substitute to exercise his power of visitation. This duty was given to Thomas Cromwell, who was made Vicar-General,[427] and the office to some small extent may be said to resemble that of the Papal Legate; he represented the King as the Legate had represented the Pope.

It was impossible, however, for the Church of England to maintain exactly the place which it had occupied. There was some stirring of Reformation life in the land. Cranmer had been early attracted by the writings of Luther; Thomas Cromwell was not unsympathetic, and,[Pg 333] besides, he had the idea that there would be some advantage gained politically by an approach to the German Protestants. There was soon talk about a set of Articles which would express the doctrinal beliefs of the Church of England. It was, however, no easy matter to draft them. While Cranmer, Cromwell, and such new Bishops as Latimer, had decided leanings towards the theology of the Reformation, the older Bishops held strongly by the mediæval doctrines. The result was that, after prolonged consultations, little progress was made, and very varying doctrines seem to have been taught, all of which tended to dispeace. In the end, the King himself, to use his own words, “was constrained to put his own pen to the book, and conceive certain articles which were agreed upon by Convocation as catholic and meet to be set forth by authority.”[428] They were published in 1536 under the title, Articles devised by the Kyng’s Highnes Majestie to stablysh Christen quietnes, and were ordered to be read “plainly” in the churches.[429] They came to be called the Ten Articles, the first doctrinal symbol of the Church of England.

According to the preface, they were meant to secure, by royal authority, unity and concord in religious beliefs, and to repress and utterly extinguish all dissent and discord. Foxe the Martyrologist describes them very accurately as meant for “weaklings newly weaned from their mother’s milk of Rome.” Five deal with doctrines and five with ceremonies. The Bible, the Three Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian), and the doctrinal decisions of the first four Œcumenical Councils, are to be regarded as the standards of orthodoxy; baptism is necessary for salvation—children dying in infancy “shall undoubtedly be saved thereby, and else not”; the Sacrament of Penance is retained with confession and absolution, which are declared to be expedient and necessary; the substantial, real, corporeal Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood under the form of Bread and Wine in the Eucharist is taught;[Pg 334] faith as well as charity is necessary to salvation; images are to remain in the churches; the saints and the Blessed Virgin are to be reverenced as intercessors; the saints are to be invoked; certain rites and ceremonies, such as clerical vestments, sprinkling with holy water, carrying candles on Candlemas Day, and sprinkling ashes on Ash-Wednesday, are good and laudable; the doctrines of Purgatory and of prayers for the dead were not denied, but people were warned about them. It should be noticed that while the three Sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance are retained, no mention is made of the other four, and that this is not unlike what Luther taught in the Babylonian Captivity of the Church of Christ; that while the Real Presence is maintained, nothing is said about Transubstantiation; that while images are retained in churches, all incensing, kneeling, or offering to images is forbidden; that while saints and the Virgin may be invoked as intercessors, it is said that it is a vain superstition to believe that any saint can be more merciful than Christ Himself; and that the whole doctrine of Attrition and Indulgences is paralysed by the statement that amendment of life is a necessary part of Penance.

It is only when these Articles are read along with the Injunctions issued in 1536 and 1538 that it can be fully seen how much they were meant to wean the people, if gradually, from the gross superstition which disgraced the popular mediæval religion. If this be done, they seem an attempt to fulfil the aspirations of Christian Humanists like Dean Colet and Erasmus.

After warning the clergy to observe all the laws made for the abolition of the papal supremacy, all those insisting on the supremacy of the King as the “supreme Head of the Church of England,” and to preach against the Pope’s usurped power within the realm of England, the Injunctions proceed to say that the clergy are to expound the Ten Articles to their people. In doing so they are to explain why superfluous holy days ought not to be observed; they are to exhort their people against such superstitions as[Pg 335] images, relics, and priestly miracles. They are to tell them that it is best to keep God’s commandments, to fulfil His works of charity, to provide for their families, and to bestow upon the poor the money they often lavish on pilgrimages, images, and relics. They are to see that parents and teachers instruct children from their earliest years in the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. They are to be careful that the sacraments are duly and reverently administered within their parishes, are to set an example of moral living, and are to give themselves to the study of the Scriptures. The second set of Injunctions (1538) goes further. The clergy are told to provide “one whole Bible of the largest volume in English,” which is to be set somewhere in the church where the parishioners can most easily read it; and they are to beware of discouraging any man from perusing it, “for it is the lively word of God that every Christian man is bound to embrace and follow.” They are to preach a sermon at least every quarter, in which they are to declare the very gospel of Christ, and to exhort the people to the works of charity, mercy, and faith especially prescribed in the Scriptures. They are to warn them against trusting to fancies entirely outside of Scripture, such as “wandering to pilgrimages, offering of money or candles to images or relics, kissing or licking the same, and saying over a number of beads or suchlike superstitions.” They are not to permit candles, tapers, or images of wax to be placed before the images in the churches, in order to avoid “that most detestable offence of idolatry.”[430]

The Ten Articles thus authoritatively expounded are anything but “essentially Romish with the Pope left out in the cold.” They are rather an attempt to construct a brief creed which a pliant Lutheran and a pliant Romanist might agree upon—a singularly successful attempt, and one which does great credit to the theological attainments of the English King.

[Pg 336]

It was thought good to have a brief manual of religious instruction to place in the hands of the lower clergy and of the people, perhaps because the Ten Articles were not always well received. A committee of divines, chiefly Bishops,[431] were appointed to “compile certain rudiments of Christianity and a Catechism.”[432] The result was a small book, divided into four parts—an exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, of the seven Sacraments, of the Ten Commandments, of the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ave Maria. Two other parts were added from the Ten Articles—one on Justification, for which faith is said to be necessary; and the other on Purgatory, which is stoutly denied. Great difficulties were experienced in the compilation, owing to the “great diversity of opinions”[433] which prevailed among the compilers; and the book was a compromise between those who were stout for the old faith and those who were keen for the new; but in the end all seemed satisfied with their work. The chief difference between its teaching and that of the Ten Articles is that the name sacrament is given to seven and not three of the chief ceremonies of the mediæval Church; but, on the other hand, the doctrine of Purgatory is denied. It was expected that the King would revise the book before its publication,[434] but he “had no time convenient to overlook the great pains” bestowed upon it.[435] Drafts of an imprimatur by the King have been found among the State Papers,[436] but the book was finally issued in 1537 by the “Archbishops and Bishops of England,” and was therefore popularly called the Bishops’ Book. All the clergy were ordered “to read aloud from the pulpit every Sunday a portion of this book” to their people.[437] The Catechism appears to have been published at the same time, and to have been in large request.[438]

[Pg 337]

Henry VIII. afterwards revised the Bishops’ Book according to his own ideas. The revision was published in 1543, and was known as the King’s Book.[439]

Perhaps the greatest boon bestowed on the people of England by the Ten Articles and the Injunctions which enforced them was the permission to read and hear read a version of the Bible in their own tongue. For the vernacular Scriptures had been banned in England as they had not been on the Continent, save perhaps during the Albigensian persecution. The seventh of the Constitutions of Thomas Arundel ordains “that no one hereafter translates into the English tongue or into any other, on his own authority, the text of Holy Scripture either by way of book, or booklet, or tract.” This constitution was directed against Wiclif’s translation, which had been severely proscribed. That version, like so many others during the Middle Ages, had been made from the Vulgate. But Luther’s example had fired the heart of William Tyndale to give his countrymen an English version translated directly from the Hebrew and the Greek originals.

Tyndale was a distinguished scholar, trained first at Oxford and then at Cambridge. When at the former University he had belonged to that circle of learned and pious men who had encouraged Erasmus to complete his critical text of the New Testament. He knew, as did More, that Erasmus desired that the weakest woman should be able to read the Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul; that the husbandman should sing portions of them to himself as he followed the plough; that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his shuttle; and that the traveller should beguile the tedium of the road by repeating their stories; and he did not, like More, turn his back on the ennobling enthusiasms of his youth.[440]

[Pg 338]

Tyndale found that he could not attempt his task in England. He went to Germany and began work in Cologne; but, betrayed to the magistrates of that centre of German Romanism, he fled to Worms. There he finished the translation of the New Testament, and printed two editions, one in octavo and the other in quarto—the latter being enriched with copious marginal notes. The ecclesiastical authorities in England had early word of this translation, and by Nov. 3rd, Archbishop Warham was exerting himself to buy and destroy as many copies as he could get hold of both in England and abroad; and, thanks to his exertions, Tyndale was supplied with funds to revise his work and print a corrected edition. This version was welcomed in England, and passed secretly from hand to hand. It was severely censured by Sir Thomas More, not because the work was badly done, but really because it was so scholarly. The faithful translation of certain words and sentences was to the reactionary More “a mischievous perversion of those writings intended to advance heretical opinion”;[441] and, strange to say, Dr. James Gairdner seems to agree with him.[442] Tyndale’s version had been publicly condemned in England at the Council called by the King in 1530 (May), and copies of his book had been publicly burnt in St. Paul’s Churchyard, while he himself had been tracked like a wild beast by emissaries of the English Government in the Netherlands.

Cranmer induced Convocation in 1534 to petition for an English version of the Bible, and next year Cromwell persuaded Miles Coverdale to undertake his translation in 1535. It was made from the Vulgate with some assistance[Pg 339] from Luther’s version, and was much inferior to the proscribed version of Tyndale; but it had a large private sale in England, and the King was induced to license it to enable the clergy to obey the Injunctions of 1536, which had ordered a copy of the English Bible to be placed in all the churches before August 1537.[443]

The Archbishop, however, had another version in view, which he sent to Cromwell (Aug. 1537), saying that he liked it better than any other translation, and hoped it would be licensed to be read freely until the Bishops could set forth a better, which he believes will not be until after Doomsday. This version was practically Tyndale’s.

Tyndale had entrusted one of his friends, Rogers, with his translation of the Old Testament, finished as far as the Book of Jonah, and with his complete version of the New Testament. Rogers had taken Tyndale’s New Testament, his Old Testament as far as the Book of Chronicles, borrowed the remaining portion of the Old Testament from Coverdale’s version, and printed them with a dedication to the King, signed Thomas Matthew.[444] This was the edition recommended by Cranmer to Cromwell, which was licensed. The result was that Tyndale’s New Testament (the same version which had been denounced as pernicious, and which had been publicly burnt only a few years before) and a large part of his Old Testament were publicly introduced into the parish churches of England, and became the foundation of all succeeding translations of the Bible into the English language.[445] On reconsideration, the translation was found to be rather too accurate for the Government, and some changes (certainly not corrections) were made in 1538—39. Thus altered, the translation was known as the Great Bible, and, because Cranmer wrote the preface, as Cranmer’s Bible.[446] This[Pg 340] was the version, the Bible “of the largest volume,” which was ordered to be placed in the churches for the people to read, and portions of which were to be read from the pulpit every Sunday, according to the Injunctions of 1538.

From 1533 on to the middle of 1539, there was a distinct if slow advance in England towards a real Reformation; then the progress was arrested, if the movement did not become decidedly retrograde. It seems more than probable that if Henry had lived a few years longer, there would have been another attempt at an advance.

Part of the advance had been a projected political and religious treaty with the German Protestants. Neither Henry viii. nor John Frederick of Saxony appears to have been much in earnest about an alliance, and from the English King’s instructions to his envoys it would appear that his chief desire was to commit the German divines to an approval of the Divorce.[447] Luther was somewhat scornful, and seems to have penetrated Henry’s design.[448] The German theologians had no doubt but that the marriage of Henry with Catharine was one which should never have taken place; but they all held that, once made, it ought not to be broken.[449] Determined efforts were made to capture the sympathies of Melanchthon. Bishop Foxe, selected as the theological ambassador, was instructed to take him presents to the value of £70.[450] His books were placed on the course of study for Cambridge at Cromwell’s order.[451] Henry exchanged complimentary letters, and graciously accepted the dedication of Melanchthon’s De Locis Communibus.[452] An embassy was despatched, consisting of Foxe, Bishop elect of Hereford; Heath, Archdeacon of Canterbury; and Dr. Barnes, an English divine, who was a pronounced Lutheran. They met the Protestant Princes at Schmalkald and had long discussions.[Pg 341] The confederated Princes and Henry found themselves in agreement on many points: they would stoutly disown the primacy of the Pope; they would declare that they would not be bound by the decrees of any Council which the Pope and the Emperor might assemble; and they would pledge each other to get their Bishops and preachers to declare them null and void. The German Princes were quite willing to give Henry the title of “Defender of the Schmalkald League.” But they insisted as the first articles of any alliance that the English Church and King must accept the theology of the Augsburg Confession and adopt the ceremonies of the Lutheran Church; and on these rocks of doctrine and ritual the proposed alliance was shattered.[453] The Germans had their own private view of the English Reformation under Henry VIII., which was neither very flattering nor quite accurate.

“So far the King has become Lutheran, that, because the Pope has refused to sanction his divorce, he has ordered, on penalty of death, that every one shall believe and preach that not the Pope but himself is the head of the universal Church. All other papistry, monasteries, mass, indulgences, and intercessions for the dead, are pertinaciously adhered to.”[454]

The English embassy went from Schmalkald to Wittenberg, where they met a number of divines, including Luther and Melanchthon, and proceeded to discuss the question of doctrinal agreement. Melanchthon had gone over the Augsburg Confession, and produced a series of articles which presented all that the Wittenberg theologians could concede, and Luther had revised the draft.[455] Both the Germans were charmed with the learning and courtesy of Archdeacon Heath. Bishop Foxe “had the manner of prelates,” says Melanchthon, and his learning did not[Pg 342] impress the Germans.[456] The conference came to nothing. Henry did not care to accept a creed ready made for him, and thought that ecclesiastical ceremonies might differ in different countries. He was a King “reckoned somewhat learned, though unworthy,” he said, “and having so many learned men in his realm, he could not accept at any creature’s hand the observing of his and the realm’s faith; but he was willing to confer with learned men sent from them.”[457]

Before the conference at Wittenberg had come to an end, Henry believed that he had no need for a German alliance. The ill-used Queen Catharine, who, alone of all persons concerned in the Divorce proceedings, comes out unstained, died on Jan. 7th, 1536. Her will contained the touching bequest: “To my daughter, the collar of gold which I brought out of Spain”[458]—out of Spain, when she came a fair young bride to marry Prince Arthur of England thirty-five years before.

There is no need to believe that Henry exhibited the unseemly manifestations of joy which his enemies credit him with when the news of Catharine’s death was brought to him, but it did free him from a great dread. He read men and circumstances shrewdly, and he knew enough of Charles V. to believe that the Emperor, after his aunt’s death, and when he had no flagrant attack on the family honour of his house to protest against, would not make himself the Pope’s instrument against England.

Henry had always maintained himself and England by balancing France against the Empire, and could in addition weaken the Empire by strengthening the German Protestants. But in 1539, France and the Emperor had become allies, and Henry was feeling himself very insecure. It is probable that the negotiations which led to Henry’s marriage with Anne of Cleves were due to this new danger. On the other hand, there had been discontent in England at many of the actions[Pg 343] which were supposed to come from the advance towards Reformation.

Henry VIII. had always spent money lavishly. His father’s immense hoards had disappeared, while England, under Wolsey, was the paymaster of Europe, and the King was in great need of funds. In England as elsewhere the wealth of the monasteries seemed to have been collected for the purpose of supplying an empty royal exchequer. A visitation of monasteries was ordered, under the superintendence of Thomas Cromwell; and, in order to give him a perfectly free hand, all episcopal functions were for the time being suspended. The visitation disclosed many scandalous things. It was followed by the Act of Parliament (1536) for The Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries.[459] The lands of all monasteries whose annual rental was less than £200 a year were given to the King, as well as all the ornaments, jewels, and other goods belonging to them. The dislodged monks and nuns were either to be taken into the larger houses or to receive some measure of support, and the heads were to get pensions sufficient to sustain them. The lands thus acquired might have been formed into a great crown estate yielding revenues large enough to permit taxation to be dispensed with; but the King was in need of ready money, and he had courtiers to gratify. The convent lands were for the most part sold cheaply to courtiers, and the numbers and power of the county families were largely increased. A new visitation of the remaining monasteries was begun in 1538, this time accompanied with an inquiry into superstitious practices indulged in in various parts of the country, and notorious relics were removed. They were of all sorts—part of St. Peter’s hair and beard; stones with which St. Stephen was stoned; the hair shirt and bones of St. Thomas the martyr; a crystal containing a little quantity of Our Lady’s milk, “with two other bones”; the “principal relic in England, an angel with one wing that brought to[Pg 344] Caversham (near Reading) the spear’s head that pierced the side of our Saviour on the cross”; the ear of Malchus, which St. Peter cut off; a foot of St. Philip at Winchester “covered with gold plate and (precious) stones”; and so forth.[460] Miraculous images were brought up to London and their mechanism exposed to the crowd, while an eloquent preacher thundered against the superstition:

“The bearded crucifix called the ‘Rood of Grace’ (was brought from Maidstone, and) while the Bishop of Rochester preached it turned its head, rolled its eyes, foamed at the mouth, and shed tears,—in the presence, too, of many other famous saints of wood and stone ... the satellite saints of the Kentish image acted in the same way. It is expected that the Virgin of Walsingham, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and other images will soon perform miracles also in the same place; for the trickery was so thoroughly exposed that every one was indignant at the monks and impostors.”[461]

A second Act of Parliament followed, which vested all monastic property in the King; and this gave the King[Pg 345] possession not only of huge estates, but also of an immense quantity of jewels and precious metals.[462] The shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, when “disgarnished,” yielded, it is said, no fewer than twenty-six cartloads of gold and silver.[463]

This wholesale confiscation of monastic property, plundering of shrines, and above all the report that Henry had ordered the bones of St. Thomas of Canterbury to be burned and the ashes scattered to the winds, determined Pope Paul III. to renew (Dec. 17th, 1538) the execution of his Bull of excommunication (Aug. 30th, 1535), which had been hitherto suspended. It was declared that the Bull might be published in St. Andrews or “in oppido Calistrensi” in Scotland, at Dieppe or Boulogne in France, or at Tuam in Ireland.[464] The Pope knew that he could not get it published in England itself.

The violent destruction of shrines and pilgrimage places, which had been holiday resorts as well as places of devotion, could not fail to create some popular uneasiness, and there were other and probably deeper roots of discontent. England, like other nations, had been suffering from the economic changes which were a feature of the times. One form peculiar to England was that wool-growing had become more profitable than keeping stock or raising grain, and landed proprietors were enclosing commons for pasture land and letting much of their arable land lie fallow. The poor men could no longer graze their beasts on the commons, and the substitution of pasture for arable land threw great numbers out of employment. They had to sell the animals they could no longer feed, and did not see how a living could be earned; nor had they the compensation given to the disbanded monks. The pressure of taxation increased the prevailing distress.[Pg 346] Risings took place in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Lincolnshire, and the insurgents marched singing:

“Christ crucified,
For Thy woundes wide,
Us commons guyde,
Which pilgrims be,
Through Godes grace,
For to purchache,
Old wealth and peax
Of the Spiritualitie.”[465]

In their demands they denounced equally the contempt shown for Holy Mother Church, the dissolution of the monasteries, the spoliation of shrines, the contempt shown to “Our Ladye and all the saints,” new taxes, the enclosure of commons, the doing away with use and wont in tenant rights, the branding of the Lady Mary as illegitimate, King’s counsellors of “low birth and small estimation,” and the five reforming Bishops—Cranmer and Latimer being considered as specially objectionable.[466] The Yorkshire Rising was called the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The insurgents or “pilgrims” were not more consistent than other people, for they plundered priests to support their “army”;[467] and while they insisted on the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, they had no wish to see his authority re-established in England. They asked the King to admit the Pope to be head of spiritual things, giving spiritual authority to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, “so that the said Bishop of Rome have no further meddling.”[468]

The insurrections were put down, and Henry did not cease his spoliation of shrines and monasteries in consequence of their protests; but the feelings of the people made known by their proclamations, at the conferences held between their leaders and the representatives of authority, and by the examination of prisoners and suspected persons, must have suggested to his shrewd mind whether the[Pg 347] Reformation was not being pressed onward too hastily for the great majority of the English laity. England did not produce in the sixteenth century a great spiritual leader inspired by a prophetic conviction that he was speaking the truth of God, and able to create a like conviction in the hearts of his neighbours, while he was never so far before them that they could not easily follow him step by step. The King cried halt; and when Cromwell insisted on his plan of alliance with the Protestants of the Continent of Europe, he went the way of all the counsellors of Henry who withstood their imperious master (July 28th, 1540).

But this is to anticipate. Negotiations were still in progress with the Lords of the Schmalkald League in the spring of 1539,[469] and the King was thinking of cementing his connection with the German Lutherans by marrying Anne of Cleves,[470] the sister-in-law of John Frederick of Saxony. The Parliament of 1539 (April 28th to June 28th) saw the beginnings of the change. Six questions were introduced for discussion:

“Whether there be in the sacrament of the altar transubstantiation of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of flesh and blood or not? Whether priests may marry by the law of God or not? Whether the vow of chastity of men and women bindeth by the law of God or not? Whether auricular confession be necessary by the law of God or not? Whether private Masses may stand with the Word of God or not? Whether it be necessary by the Word of God that the sacrament of the altar should be administered under both kinds or not?”[471]

The opinions of the Bishops were divided; but the lay members of the House of Lords evidently did not wish any change from the mediæval doctrines, and believed that no one could be such a wise theologian as their King when he confounded the Bishop with his stores of learning. “We of the temporalitie,” wrote one who was present, “have been all of one opinion ... all England have cause[Pg 348] to thank God and most heartily to rejoice of the King’s most godly proceedings.”[472] So Parliament enacted the Six Articles Act,[473] a ferocious statute commonly called “the bloody whip with six strings.” To deny transubstantiation or to deprave the sacraments was to be reckoned heresy, and to be punished with burning and confiscation of goods. It was made a felony, and punishable with death, to teach that it was necessary to communicate in both kinds in the Holy Supper; or that priests, monks, or nuns vowed to celibacy might marry. All clerical marriages which had been contracted were to be dissolved, and clerical incontinence was punishable by loss of property and benefice. Special commissions were issued to hold quarterly sessions in every county for the enforcement of the statute. The official title of the Act was An Act abolishing Diversity of Opinion. The first commission issued was for the county of London, and at the first session five hundred persons were indicted within a fortnight. The law was, however, much more severe than its enforcement. The five hundred made their submission and received the King’s pardon. It was under this barbarous statute that so-called heretics were tried and condemned during the last years of the reign of Henry VIII.

The revival of mediæval doctrine did not mean any difference in the strong anti-papal policy of the English King. It rather became more emphatic, and Henry spoke of the Pope in terms of the greatest disrespect. “That most persistent idol, enemy of all truth, and usurpator of Princes, the Bishop of Rome,” “that cankered and venomous serpent, Paul, Bishop of Rome,” are two of his phrases.[474]

The Act of the Six Statutes made Lutherans, as previous Acts had made Papists, liable to capital punishment; but while Cromwell remained in power he evidently was able to hinder its practical execution. Cromwell, however, was soon to fall. He seemed to be higher in favour than ever.[Pg 349] He had almost forced his policy on his master, and the marriage of Henry with Anne of Cleves (Jan. 6th, 1540) seemed to be his triumph. Then Henry struck suddenly and remorselessly as usual. The Minister was impeached, and condemned without trial. He was executed (July 28th); and Anne of Cleves was got rid of on the plea of pre-contract to the son of the Duke of Lorraine (July 9th). It was not the fault of Gardiner, the sleuth-hound of the reaction, that Cranmer did not share the fate of the Minister. Immediately after the execution of Cromwell (July 30th), the King gave a brutal exhibition of his position. Three clergymen of Lutheran views, Barnes, Garret, and Jerome, were burnt at Smithfield; and three Romanists were beheaded and tortured for denying the King’s spiritual supremacy.

Henry had kept himself ostentatiously free from responsibility for the manual of doctrine entitled Institution of a Christian Man. Perhaps he believed it too advanced for his people; it was at all events too advanced for the theology of the Six Articles; another manual was needed, and was published in 1543 (May 19th). It was entitled A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man; set forth by the King’s Majesty of England.

It was essentially a revision of the former manual, and may have been of composite authorship. Cranmer was believed to have written the chapter on faith, and it was revised by Convocation. The King, who issued it himself with a preface commending it, declared it to be “a true and perfect doctrine for all people.” It contains an exposition of the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and of some selected passages of Scripture. Its chief difference from the former manual is that it teaches unmistakably the doctrines of Transubstantiation, the Invocation of Saints, and the Celibacy of the Clergy. It may be said that it very accurately represented the theology of the majority of Englishmen in the year 1543. For King and people were not very far apart. They both clung to mediæval theology; and they both detested the Papacy,[Pg 350] and wished the clergy to be kept in due subordination. There was a widespread and silent movement towards an Evangelical Reformation always making itself apparent when least expected; but probably three-fourths of the people had not felt it during the reign of Henry. It needed Mary’s burnings in Smithfield and the fears of a Spanish overlord, before the leaven could leaven the whole lump.

[Pg 351]



When Henry VIII. died, in 1547 (Jan. 28th), the situation in England was difficult for those who came after him. A religious revolution had been half accomplished; a social revolution was in progress, creating popular ferment; evicted tenants and uncloistered monks formed raw material for revolt; the treasury was empty, the kingdom in debt, and the coinage debased. The kingly authority had undermined every other, and the King was a child. The new nobility, enriched by the spoils of the Church, did not command hereditary respect; and the Council which gathered round the King was torn by rival factions.[476]

Henry VIII. had died on a Friday, but his death was[Pg 352] kept concealed till the Monday (Jan. 31st), when Edward VI. was brought by his uncle, the Earl of Hertford, and presented to the Council. There a will of the late King was produced, the terms of which make it almost impossible to believe that Henry did not contemplate a further advance towards a Reformation. It appointed a Council of Regency, consisting of sixteen persons who were named. Eleven belonged to the old Council, and among them were five who were well known to desire an advance, while the two most determined reactionaries were omitted—Bishop Gardiner and Thirlby. The will also mentioned by name twelve men who might be added to the Council if their services were thought to be necessary. These were added. Then the Earl of Hertford was chosen to be Lord Protector of the Realm, and was promoted to be Duke of Somerset. The coronation followed (Feb. 20th), and all the Bishops were required to take out new commissions in the name of the young King—the King’s ecclesiastical supremacy being thus rigidly enforced. Wriothesley, Henry’s Lord Chancellor, who had been created the Earl of Southampton, was compelled to resign the Great Seal, and with his retirement the Government was entirely in the hands of men who wished the nation to go forward in the path of Reformation.

Signs of their intention were not lacking, nor evidence that such an advance would be welcomed by the population of the capital at least. On Feb. 10th a clergyman and churchwardens had removed the images from the walls of their church, and painted instead texts of Scripture; an eloquent preacher, Dr. Barlow, denounced the presence of images in churches; images were pulled down from the churches in Portsmouth; and so on. In May it was announced that a royal visitation of the country would be made, and Bishops were inhibited from making their ordinary visitations.

In July (31st) the Council began the changes. They issued a series of Injunctions[477] to the clergy, in which they[Pg 353] were commanded to preach against “the Bishop of Rome’s usurped power and jurisdiction”; to see that all images which had been “abused” as objects of pilgrimages should be destroyed; to read the Gospels and Epistles in English during the service; and to see that the Litany was no longer recited or sung in processions, but said devoutly kneeling. They next issued Twelve Homilies, meant to guard the people against “rash preaching.” Such a series had been suggested as early as 1542, and a proposed draft had been presented to Convocation by Cranmer in that year, but had not been authorised. They were now issued on the authority of the Council. Three of them were composed by Cranmer. These sermons contain little that is doctrinal, and confine themselves to inciting to godly living.[478] Along with the Homilies, the Council authorised the issue of Udall’s translation of the Paraphrases of Erasmus, which they meant to be read in the churches.

The royal visitation seems to have extended over a series of years, beginning in 1547. Dr. James Gairdner discovered, and has printed with comments, an account or report of a visitation held by Bishop Hooper in the diocese of Gloucester in 1551. One of the intentions of the visitation was to discover how far it was possible to expect preaching from the English clergy. Dr. Gairdner sums up the illiteracy exhibited in the report as follows:—Three hundred and eleven clergymen were examined, and of these one hundred and seventy-one were unable to repeat the Ten Commandments, though, strangely enough, all but thirty-four could tell the chapter (Ex. xx.) in which they were to be found; ten were unable to repeat the Lord’s Prayer; twenty-seven could not tell who was its author: and thirty could not tell where it was to be found. The Report deserves study as a description of the condition of the clergy of the Church of England before the Reformation. These clergymen of the diocese of Gloucester were asked nine questions—three under three separate heads: (1)[Pg 354] How many commandments are there? Where are they to be found? Repeat them. (2) What are the Articles of the Christian Faith (the Apostles’ Creed)? Repeat them.—Prove them from Scripture. (3) Repeat the Lord’s Prayer. How do you know that it is the Lord’s? Where is it to be found? Only fifty out of the three hundred and eleven answered all these simple questions, and of the fifty, nineteen are noted as having answered mediocriter. Eight clergymen could not answer any single one of the questions; and while one knew that the number of the Commandments was ten, he knew nothing else. Two clergymen, when asked why the Lord’s Prayer was so called, answered that it was because Christ had given it to His disciples when he told them to watch and pray; another said that he did not know why it was called the Lord’s Prayer, but that he was quite willing to believe that it was the Lord’s because the King had said so; and another answered that all he knew about it was that such was the common report. Two clergymen said that while they could not prove the articles of the Creed from Scripture, they accepted them on the authority of the King; and one said that he could not tell what was the Scripture authority for the Creed, unless it was the first chapter of Genesis, but that it did not matter, since the King had guaranteed it to be correct.[479]

There is no reason to believe that the clergy of this diocese were worse than those in other parts of England. If this report be compared with the accounts of the unreformed clergy of central Germany given in the reports of the visitations held there between 1528 and 1535, the condition of things there which filled Luther with such despair, and induced him to write his Small Cathechism, was very much better than that of the clergy of England. Not more than three or perhaps four out of the three hundred and eleven had ever preached or could preach. These facts, extracted from the formal report of an authoritative visitation made by a Bishop, explain the[Pg 355] constant cry of the Puritans under Elizabeth for a preaching ministry.

The Council were evidently anxious that the whole service should be conducted in the English language, and that a sermon should always be part of the public worship. The reports of the visitation showed that it was useless to make any general order, but an example was given in the services conducted in the Royal Chapel. Meanwhile (1547) Thomas Hopkins was engaged in making a version of the Psalms in metre, to be sung both in private and in the churches, and these soon became highly popular. Like corresponding versions in France and in Germany, it served to spread the Reformation among the people; and, as might have been expected, Archbishop Laud did his best to stop the singing of these Psalms in later days.

The first Parliament of Edward VI. (Nov. 4th to Dec. 24th, 1547) made large changes in the laws of England affecting treason, which had the effect of sweeping away the edifice of absolute government which had been so carefully erected by Henry VIII. and his Minister Thomas Cromwell. The kingly supremacy in matters of religion was maintained; but the Act of the Six Articles was erased from the Statute Book, and with it all heresy Acts which had been enacted since the days of Richard II., and treason was defined as it had been in the days of Edward III. This legislation gave an unwonted amount of freedom to the English people.

Convocation had met in November and December (1547), and, among other things, had agreed unanimously that in the Holy Supper the partakers should communicate in both kinds, and had passed a resolution by fifty-three votes to twelve that all canons against the marriage of the clergy should be declared void. These two resolutions were communicated to Parliament, with the result that an Act was passed ordaining that “the most blessed Sacrament be hereafter commonly administered unto the people within the Church of England and Ireland, and other the King’s[Pg 356] dominions, under both the kinds, that is to say, of bread and wine, except necessity otherwise require.”[480] An Act was also framed permitting the marriage of the clergy, which passed the Commons, but did not reach the House of Lords in time to be voted upon, and did not become law until the following year. Other two Acts bearing on the condition of the Church of England were issued by this Parliament. According to the one, Bishops were henceforth to be appointed directly by the King, and their courts were to meet in the King’s name. According to the other, the property of all colleges, chantries, guilds, etc., with certain specified exceptions, was declared to be vested in the Crown.[481]

Communion in both kinds made necessary a new Communion Service, and as a tentative measure a new form for the celebration was issued by the Council, which is called by Strype the Book of Communion.[482] It enjoined that the essential words of the Mass should still be said in Latin, but inserted seven prayers in English in the ceremony. The Council also proceeded in their war against superstitions. They forbade the creeping to the Cross on Good Friday, the use of ashes on Ash-Wednesday, of palms on Palm Sunday, and of candles on Candlemas; and they ordered the removal of all images from the churches. Cranmer asserted that all these measures had been intended by Henry VIII.

The next important addition to the progress of the Reformation was the preparation and introduction of a Service Book[483]The Boke of the Common Praier and Administration of the Sacramentes and other Rites and Ceremonies after the use of the Churche of England[Pg 357] (1549), commonly called The First Prayer-Book of King Edward VI. It was introduced by an Act of Uniformity,[484] which, after relating how there had been for long time in England “divers forms of Common Prayer ... the use of Sarum, York, Bangor, and of Lincoln,” and that diversity of use caused many inconveniences, ordains the universal use of this one form, and enacts penalties on those who make use of any other. The origin of the book is somewhat obscure. There is no trace of any commission appointed to frame it, nor of any formally selected body of revisers. Cranmer had the chief charge of it, and was assisted by a number of divines—though where they met is uncertain, whether at Windsor as the King records in his diary, or at Chertsey Abbey, as is said in the Grey Friars Chronicle. About the end of October the Bishops were asked to subscribe it, and it was subjected to some revision. It was then brought before the House of Lords and discussed there. It was in this debate that Cranmer disclosed that he had definitely abandoned the theory of transubstantiation. The Prayer-Book, however, was eminently conservative, and could be subscribed to by a believer in the old theory. The giving and receiving of the Bread is called the Communion of the Body of Christ, of the Wine, the Communion of the Blood of Christ; and the practice of making the sign of the Cross is adhered to at stated points in the ceremony. An examination of its structure and contents reveals that it was borrowed largely from the old English Use of Sarum, and from a new Service Book drafted by the Cardinal Quignon and dedicated to Pope Paul III. The feeling that a new Service Book was needed was not confined to the Reformers, but was affecting all European Christians. The great innovation in this Liturgy was that all its parts were in the English language, and that every portion of the service could be followed and understood by all the worshippers.

With the publication of this First Prayer-Book of King[Pg 358] Edward VI. the first stage of the Reformation during his reign comes to an end. The changes made had all been contemplated by Henry VIII. himself, if we are to believe what Cranmer affirmed. They did not content the more advanced Reformers, and they were not deemed sufficient by Cranmer himself.

The changes made in the laws of England—the repeal of the “bloody” Statue of the Six Articles and of the treason laws—had induced many of the English refugees who had gone to Germany and to Switzerland to return to their native land. The Emperor Charles V. had defeated the German Protestants in the battle of Mühlberg in 1547 (April), and England for a few years became a place of refuge for continental Protestants fleeing from the requirements and penalties of the Interim. All this gave a strong impetus to the Reformation movement in England. Martin Bucer, compelled to leave Strassburg, found refuge and taught in Cambridge, where he was for a time the regius professor of divinity. Paul Büchlein (usually known by his latinised name of Fagius), a compatriot of Bucer and a well-known Hebrew scholar, was also settled at Cambridge, where he died (Nov. 1549). Peter Martyr Vermigli and Bernardino Ochino, two illustrious Italian Protestants, came to England at the invitation of Cranmer himself, and long afterwards Queen Elizabeth confessed that she had been drawn towards their theology. Peter Alexander of Arles and John à Lasco, the Pole, also received the protection and hospitality of England.[485] The reception of these foreign[Pg 359] divines, and their appointment as teachers in the English universities, did not escape protest from the local teachers of theology, who were overruled by the Government.

Between the first and the second stage of the Reformation of the Church of England in this reign, a political change occurred which must be mentioned but need not be dwelt upon. The Duke of Somerset incurred the wrath of his colleagues, and of the new nobility who had profited by the sale of Church lands, by his active sympathy with the landless peasantry, and by his proposals to benefit them. He was driven from power, and his place was taken by the unscrupulous Earl of Warwick, who became Lord Protector, and received the Dukedom of Northumberland. The new Governor of England has been almost universally praised by the advanced Reformers because of the way in which he pushed forward the Reformation. It is well to remember in these days, when the noble character of the Duke of Somerset has received a tardy recognition,[486] that John Knox, no mean judge of men, never joined in the praise of Northumberland, and greatly preferred his predecessor, although his advance in the path of Reformation had been slower and much more cautious.

There was much in the times to encourage Northumberland and his Council to think that they might hurry on the Reformation movement.

The New Learning had made great strides in England, and was leavening all the more cultured classes, and it naturally led to the discredit of the old theology. The English advanced Reformers who had taken refuge abroad, and who now returned,—men like Ridley and Hooper,—could not fail to have had some influence on their countrymen; they had almost all become imbued with the[Pg 360] Zwinglian type of theology, and Bullinger was their trusted adviser. It seemed as if the feelings of the populace were changing, for the mobs, instead of resenting the destruction of images, were rather inspired by too much iconoclastic zeal, and tried to destroy stained-glass windows and to harry priests. Cranmer’s influence, always on the side of reform, had much more weight with the Council than was the case under Henry VIII. He had abandoned long ago his belief in transubstantiation, he had given up the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation, if he ever held it, and had now accepted a theory of a real but spiritual Presence in the communion elements which did not greatly differ from the more moderate Zwinglian view. The clergy, many of them, were making changes which went far beyond the Act of Uniformity. The removal of restrictions on printing the Bible had resulted in the publication of more than twenty editions, most of them with annotations which explained and enforced the new theology on the authority of Scripture.

In these circumstances the Council enforced the Act of Uniformity in a one-sided way—against the Romanist sympathisers. Many Romanist Bishops were deprived of their sees, and their places were filled by such men as Coverdale, Ridley, Ponet, and Scovey—all advanced Reformers. John Knox himself, freed from his slavery in the French galleys by the intervention of the English Government and made one of the King’s preachers, was offered the bishopric of Rochester, which he declined. It must be remembered, however, that the Lord Protector and his entourage seem to have been quite as much animated by a desire to fill their own pockets as by zeal to promote the cause of the Reformation. Indeed, there came to be in England at this time something like the tulchan Bishops of a later period in Scotland; great nobles got possession of the episcopal revenues and allowed the new Bishops a stipend out of them.[487]

[Pg 361]

Then came a second revision of the Prayer-Book—The Boke of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacramentes and other Rites and Ceremonies in the Churche of England (1552). It is commonly called the Second Prayer-Book of King Edward the Sixth.[488] Cranmer had conferences with some of the Bishops as early as Jan. 1551 on the subject, and also with some of the foreign divines then resident in England; and it is more than probable that his intention was to frame such a liturgy as would bring the worship of the Church of England into harmony with that of the continental Reformers. There is no proof that the book was ever presented to Convocation for revision, or that it was subject to a debate in Parliament, as was its predecessor. The authoritative proclamation says:

“The King’s most excellent majesty, with the assent of the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, has caused the aforesaid order of common service, entitled The Book of Common Prayer, to be faithfully and godly perused, explained, and made fully perfect, and by the aforesaid authority has annexed and joined it, so explained and perfected, to this present statute.”[489]

This Book of Common Prayer deserves special notice, because, although some important changes were made, it is largely reproduced in the Book of Common Prayer which is at present used in the Church of England. The main differences between it and the First Prayer-Book of King Edward appear for the most part in the communion service, and were evidently introduced to do away with all thought of a propitiatory Mass. The word altar is expunged, and table is used instead: minister and priest are used indifferently as equivalent terms. “The minister at[Pg 362] the time of the communion, and at all other times in his ministration, shall use neither Alb, Vestment, nor Cope; but being an archbishop or bishop, he shall have or wear a rochet: and being a priest or deacon, he shall have and wear a surplice only.” Instead of “standing humbly afore the midst of the altar,” he was to stand “at the north side of the table”; and the communion table was ordered to be removed from the east end of the church and to be placed in the chancel. Ordinary instead of unleavened bread was ordered to be used. In the older book the prayer, Have mercy on us, O Lord, had been used as an invocation of God present in the sacramental elements; in the new it became an ordinary prayer to keep the commandments. The Ten Commandments were introduced for the first time. Some rubrics—that enjoining the minister to add a little water to the wine—were omitted. Similar changes were made in the services for baptism and confirmation, and in the directions for ordination. One rubric was retained which the more advanced Reformers wished done away with. Communicants were required to receive the elements kneeling. But the difficulties were removed by a later rubric:

“Yet lest the same kneeling might be thought or taken otherwise, we do declare that it is not meant thereby, that any adoration is done, or ought to be done, either unto the sacramental bread or wine there bodily received, or to any real or essential presence there being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood.”

This addition is said, on somewhat uncertain evidence, to have been suggested by John Knox.

The most important change, however, was that made in the words to be addressed to the communicant in the act of partaking. In the First Prayer-Book the words were:

“When the priest delivereth the sacrament of the Body of Christ, he shall say to every one these words:

‘The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given, for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.’

[Pg 363]

And the minister delivering the sacrament of the Blood, and giving every one once to drink and no more, shall say:

‘The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.’[490]

In the Second Prayer-Book the rubric was altered to:

“Then the minister, when he delivereth the bread, shall say:

‘Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith and with thanksgiving.’

And the minister that delivereth the cup shall say:

‘Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.’[491]

The difference represented by the change in these words is between what might be the doctrine of transubstantiation and a sacramental theory distinctly lower than that of Luther or Calvin, and which might be pure Zwinglianism.

This Second Prayer-Book of King Edward was enforced by a second Act of Uniformity, which for the first time contained penalties against laymen as well as clergymen—against “a great number of people in divers parts of the realm, who did wilfully refuse to come to their parish churches.” The penalties themselves show that many of the population refused to be dragged along the path of reformation as fast as the Council wished them to go.[492]

Soon after there followed a new creed or statement of the fundamental doctrines received by the Church of England. This was the Forty-two Articles, interesting because they formed the basis of the later Elizabethan Thirty-nine Articles. They were thrust on the Church of England in a rather disreputable way. It was expressly slated on the title-page that they had been agreed upon by the Bishops and godly divines at the last Convocation[Pg 364] in London—a statement which is not correct. They were never presented to Convocation, and were issued on the authority of the King alone, and received his signature on June 12th (1553), scarcely a month before he died.

One other document belonging to the reign of Edward VI. must be mentioned—the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, drafted by Cranmer. The Archbishop had begun in 1544 to collect passages from the old Canon Law which he thought might serve to regulate the government and discipline of the Church of England. A commission of thirty-two was appointed to assist him, and from these a committee of eight were selected to “rough hew the Canon Law.” When the selection was made, a Bill to legalise it was introduced into Parliament, but it failed to pass; and the Reformatio Legum never became authoritative in England. It was as well, for the book enacted death penalties for various heresies, which would have made it a cruel weapon in the hands of a persecuting government.

During the reign of Edward VI. the beginnings of that Puritanism which was so prominent in the time of Elizabeth first manifested themselves. Its two principal spokesmen were the Bishops Hooper and Ridley. Hooper was an ardent follower of Zwingli, and was esteemed to be the leader of the party; and Ridley’s sentiments were not greatly different. Hooper came into contact with the Government when he was appointed to the See of Gloucester. He then objected to the oath required from Bishops at their consecration, and to the episcopal robes, which he called “Aaronic” vestments. The details of the contest are described by a Zwinglian sympathiser, Macronius, in a letter to Bullinger at Zurich[493] (Aug. 28th, 1550):

“The King, as you know, has appointed him (Hooper) to the bishopric of Gloucester, which, however, he refused to accept unless he cd. be altogether relieved from all [Pg 365]appearance of popish superstition. Here then a question immediately arises as to the form of oath which the Bishops have ordered to be taken in the name of God, the saints, and the Gospels; which impious oath Hooper positively refused to take. So, when he appeared before the King in the presence of the Council, Hooper convinced the King by many arguments that the oath should be taken in the name of God alone, who knoweth the heart. This took place on the 20th of July. It was so agreeable to the godly King, that with his own pen he erased the clause of the oath which sanctioned swearing by any creatures. Nothing could be more godly than this act, or more worthy of a Christian king. When this was done there remained the form of episcopal consecration, wh., as lately prescribed by the Bishops in Parliament, differs but little from the popish one. Hooper therefore obtained a letter from the King to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Cranmer), that he might be consecrated without superstition. But he gained nothing by this, as he was referred from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Bishop of London (Ridley), who refused to use any other form of consecration than that which had been subscribed by Parliament. Thus the Bishops mutually endeavour that none of their glory shall depart. A few days after, on the 30th of July, Hooper obtained leave from the King and the Council to be consecrated by the Bishop of London without any superstition. He replied that he would shortly send an answer either to the Council or to Hooper. While, therefore, Hooper was expecting the Bishop’s answer, the latter went to court and alienated the minds of the Council from Hooper, making light of the use of the vestments and the like in the church, and calling them mere matters of indifference. Many were so convinced by him that they would hardly listen to Hooper’s defence when he came into court shortly afterwards. He therefore requested them, that if they would not hear him speak, they would at least think it proper to hear and read his written apology. His request was granted: wherefore he delivered to the King’s councillors, in writing, his opinion respecting the discontinuance of the use of vestments and the like puerilities. And if the Bishop cannot satisfy the King with other reasons, Hooper will gain the victory. We are daily expecting the termination of this controversy, which is only conducted between individuals, either by conference or by letter, for fear of any tumult being excited[Pg 366] among the ignorant. You see in what a state of affairs the Church would be if they were left to the Bishops, even to the best of them.”

In the end, Hooper allowed himself to be persuaded, and was consecrated in the usual way.

The advanced Reformers in England were probably incited to demand more freedom than the law permitted by the sight of the liberty enjoyed by men who were not Englishmen. French and German Protestants had come to England for refuge, and had been welcomed. The King had permitted them to use the Augustines’ church in London, that they might “have the pure ministry of the Word and Sacraments according to the apostolic form,” and they enjoyed their privileges.

“We are altogether exempted by letters patent from the King and Council from the jurisdiction of the Bishops. To each church (I mean the German and the French) are assigned two ministers of the Word (among whom is my unworthy self), over whom has been appointed superintendent the most illustrious John à Lasco; by whose aid alone, under God, we foreigners have arrived at our present state of pure religion. Some of the Bishops, and especially the Bishop of London, with certain others, are opposed to our design; but I hope their opposition will be ineffectual. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the special patron of foreigners, has been the chief support and promoter of our church, to the great astonishment of some.”[494]

These foreigners, outside episcopal control and not subject to the Acts of Uniformity, enjoyed liberties of worship which were not granted to Englishmen. They were driven out of the country when Mary succeeded; but under Elizabeth and James they had the same privileges and were naturally envied by the English Puritans, coerced by Bishops and harried by Acts of Uniformity.

While the Reformation was being pushed forward in[Pg 367] England at a speed too great for the majority of the people, the King was showing the feebleness of his constitution. He died on the 6th of July 1553, and the collapse of the Reformation after his death showed the uncertainty of the foundation on which it had been built.

[Pg 368]



One of the last acts of the dying King had been to make a will regulating the succession. It was doubtless suggested to him by the Duke of Northumberland, but, once adopted, the lad clung to it with Tudor tenacity. It set aside as illegitimate both his sisters. It also set aside the young Queen of Scotland, who, failing Mary and Elizabeth, was the legitimate heir, being the granddaughter of Margaret, the eldest sister of Henry VIII., and selected the Lady Jane Grey, the representative (eldest child of eldest child) of Mary, the younger sister of Henry VIII. Both the King and his Council seem to have thought that the nation would not submit to a Roman Catholic on the throne; and Charles V. appears to have agreed with them. He considered the chances of Mary’s succession small.

The people of England, however, rallied to Mary, as the nearest in blood to their old monarch, who, notwithstanding his autocratic rule, had never lost touch with his people.

[Pg 369]

The new Queen naturally turned to her cousin Charles V. for guidance. He had upheld her mother’s cause and her own; and in the dark days which were past, his Ambassador Chapuys had been her indefatigable friend.

It was Mary’s consuming desire to bring back the English Church and nation to obedience to Rome—to undo the work of her father, and especially of her brother. The Emperor recommended caution; he advised the Queen to be patient; to watch and accommodate her policy to the manifestations of the feelings of her people; to punish the leaders who had striven to keep her from the throne, but to treat all their followers with clemency. Above all, she was to mark carefully the attitude of her sister Elizabeth, and to reorganise the finances of the country.

Mary had released Gardiner from the Tower, and made him her trusted Minister. His advice in all matters, save that of her marriage, coincided with the Emperor’s. It was thought that small difficulty would be found in restoring the Roman Catholic religion, but that difficulties might arise about the papal supremacy, and especially about the reception of a papal Legate. Much depended on the Pope. If His Holiness did not demand the restoration of the ecclesiastical property alienated during the last two reigns, and now distributed among over forty thousand proprietors, all might go well.

Signs were not wanting, however, that if the people were almost unanimous in accepting Mary as their Queen, they were not united upon religion. When Dr. Gilbert Bourne, preaching at St. Paul’s Cross (Aug. 13th, 1553) praised Bishop Bonner, he was interrupted by shouts; a dagger was thrown at him; he was hustled out of the pulpit, and his life was threatened. The tumult was only appeased when Bradford, a known Protestant, appealed to the crowd. The Lord Mayor of London was authorised to declare to the people that it was not the Queen’s intention to constrain men’s consciences, and that she meant to trust solely to persuasion to bring them to the true faith.

[Pg 370]

Five days later (August 18th), Mary issued her first Proclamation about Religion, in which she advised her subjects “to live together in quiet sort and Christian charity, leaving those new-found devilish terms of papist or heretic and such like.” She declared that she meant to support that religion which she had always professed; but she promised “that she would not compel any of her subjects thereunto, unto such time as further order, by common assent, may be taken therein”—a somewhat significant threat. The proclamation prohibited unlicensed preaching and printing “any book, matter, ballad, rhyme, interlude, process, or treatise, or to play any interlude, except they have Her Grace’s special licence in writing for the same,” which makes it plain that from the outset Mary did not intend that any Protestant literature should be read by her subjects if she could help it.[496]

Mary was crowned with great ceremony on October 1st, and her first Parliament met four days later (Oct. 5th to Dec. 6th, 1553). It reversed a decision of a former Parliament, and declared that Henry VIII.’s marriage with Catharine of Aragon had been valid, and that Mary was the legitimate heir to the throne; and it wiped out all the religious legislation under Edward VI. The Council had wished the anti-papal laws of Henry VIII. to be rescinded; but Parliament, especially the House of Commons, was not prepared for anything so sweeping. The Church of England was legally restored to what it had been at the death of Henry, and Mary was left in the anomalous position of being the supreme head of the Church in England while she herself devoutly believed in the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. The title and the powers it gave were useful to restore by royal proclamation the mediæval ritual and worship, and Mass was reintroduced in this way in December.[497]

Meanwhile the marriage of the Queen was being[Pg 371] discussed. Mary herself decided the matter by solemnly promising the Spanish Ambassador (Oct. 19th) that she would wed Philip of Spain; the marriage treaty was signed on January 12th, 1554; the formal betrothal took place in March, and the wedding was celebrated on July 25th.[498] It was very unpopular from the first. The boys of London pelted with snowballs the servants of the Spanish embassy sent to ratify the wedding treaty (Jan. 1st, 1554); the envoys themselves were very coldly received by the populace; and Mary had to issue a proclamation commanding that all courtesy should be used to the Prince of Spain and his train coming to England to marry the Queen.[499]

In September (1553) the pronouncedly Protestant Bishops who had remained in England to face the storm, Cranmer, Ridley, Coverdale, Latimer, were ejected and imprisoned; the Protestant refugees from France and Germany and many of the eminent Protestant leaders had sought safety on the Continent; the deprived Romanist Bishops, Gardiner, Heath, Bonner, Day, had been reinstated; and the venerable Bishop Tunstall, who had acted as Wolsey’s agent at the famous Diet of Worms, had been placed in the See of Durham.

Various risings, one or two of minor importance and a more formidable one under Sir Thomas Wyatt, had been crushed. Lady Jane Grey, Lord Guilford Dudley (February 12th, 1554), Sir Thomas Wyatt, Lord Suffolk, and others were executed. Charles V. strongly recommended the execution of the Princess Elizabeth, but his advice was not followed.

England was still an excommunicated land, and both Queen and King Consort were anxious to receive the papal peace. As soon as he had been informed by Mary of her succession to the throne, the Pope, Julius II., had selected[Pg 372] Cardinal Pole to be his Legate to England (early in August 1553). No one could have been more suitable. He was related to the royal house of England, a grandson of the Duke of Clarence, who was the brother of Edward IV. He had so thoroughly disapproved of the anti-papal policy of Henry VIII. that he had been compelled to live in exile. He was a Cardinal, and had almost become Pope. No one could have been more acceptable to Mary. He had protested against her mother’s divorce, and had suffered for it; and he was as anxious as she to see England restored to the papal obedience. But many difficulties had to be cleared away before Pole could land in England as the Pope’s Legate. The English people did not love Legates, and their susceptibilities had to be soothed. If the Pope made the restoration of the Church lands a condition of the restoration of England to the papal obedience, and if Mary insisted on securing that obedience, there would be a rebellion, and she would lose her crown. No one knew all these difficulties better than the Emperor, and he exerted himself to overcome them. The Curia was persuaded that, as it was within the Canon Law to alienate ecclesiastical property for the redemption of prisoners, the Church might give up her claims to the English abbey lands in order to win back the whole kingdom. Pole himself had doubts about this. He believed that he might be allowed to reason with the lay appropriators and persuade them to make restoration, and his enthusiasm on the subject caused many misgivings in the minds of both Charles and Philip. Nor could the Cardinal land in England until his attainder as an English nobleman had been reversed by Parliament. He had been appointed Legate to England once before (February 7th, 1536), in order to compass Henry VIII.’s return to the papal obedience; he had written against the Royal Supremacy. Neither Lords nor Commons were very anxious to receive him.

At last, more than thirteen months after his appointment, the way was open for his coming to England. He landed at Dover (Nov. 20th, 1554), went on to Gravesend,[Pg 373] and there found waiting him an Act of Parliament revers ing his attainder. It had been introduced into the Lords, passed in the Upper House in two days, was read three times in the Commons in one day, and received the Royal Assent immediately thereafter (Nov. 27th, 1554). Tunstall, the Bishop of Durham, brought him letters patent, empowering him to exercise his office of Legate in England. He embarked in a royal barge with his silver cross in the prow, sailed up the Thames on a favouring tide, landed at Whitehall, and was welcomed by Mary and Philip. On the following day the two Houses of Parliament were invited to the Palace to meet him, and he explained his commission. The day after, the question was put in both Houses of Parliament whether the nation should return to the papal obedience, and was answered affirmatively. Whereupon Lords and Commons joined in a supplication to the Queen “that they might receive absolution, and be received into the body of the Holy Catholic Church, under the Pope, the Supreme Head thereof.” The Supplication was presented on the 30th, and in its terms the Queen besought the Legate to absolve the realm for its disobedience and schism. Then, while the whole assembly knelt, King and Queen on their knees with the others, the Legate pronounced the absolution, and received the kingdom “again into the unity of our Mother the Holy Church.”

It now remained to Parliament to pass the laws which the change required. In one comprehensive statute all the anti-papal legislation of the reigns of Henry VIII. and of Edward VI. was rescinded, and England was, so far as laws could make it,[500] what it had been in the reign of Henry VII. Two days later (Dec. 2nd, 1554), on the first Sunday in Advent, Philip and Mary, with the Legate, attended divine service in St. Paul’s, and after Mass listened to an eloquent sermon from Bishop Gardiner, in the course of which he publicly abjured the teaching[Pg 374] of his book De vera obedientia.[501] Convocation received a special absolution from the Legate. To show how thoroughly England had reconciled itself to Mother Church, Parliament proceeded to revive the old Acts against heresy which had been originally passed for the suppression of Lollardy, among them the notorious De hæretico comburendo, and England had again the privilege of burning Evangelical Christians secured to it by Act of Parliament.[502]

In March 1554 the Queen had issued a series of Injunctions to all Bishops, instructing them on a variety of matters, all tending to bring the Church into the condition in which it had been before the innovations of the late reign. The Bishops were to put into execution all canons and ecclesiastical laws which were not expressly contrary to the statutes of the realm. They were not to inscribe on any of their ecclesiastical documents the phrase regia auctoritate fulcitus; they were to see that no heretic was admitted to any ecclesiastical office; they were to remove all married priests, and to insist that every person vowed to celibacy was to be separated from his wife if he had married; they were to observe all the holy days and ceremonies which were in use in the later days of the reign of King Henry VIII.; all schoolmasters suspected of heresy were to be removed from their office. These Injunctions kept carefully within the lines of the Act which had rescinded the ecclesiastical legislation of the reign of Edward VI.[503] The Bishop of London, Bonner, had previously issued a list of searching questions to be put to the clergy of his diocese, which concerned the[Pg 375] laity as well as the clergy, and which went a good deal further. He asked whether there were any married clergymen, or clergymen who had not separated themselves from their wives or concubines? Whether any of the clergy maintained doctrines contrary to the Catholic faith? Whether any of the clergy had been irregularly or schismatically ordained? Whether any of them had said Mass or administered the sacraments in the English language after the Queen’s proclamation? Whether they kept all the holy days and fasting days prescribed by the Church? Whether any of the clergy went about in other than full clerical dress? Whether any persons in the parish spoke in favour of clerical marriage? These and many other minute questions were put, with the evident intention of restoring the mediæval ceremonies and customs in every detail.[504] His clergy assured the Bishop that it was impossible to make all the changes he demanded at once, and Bonner was obliged to give them till the month of November to get their parishes in order. This London visitation evidently provoked a great deal of discontent. In April (1554) “a dead cat was hung on the gallows in the Cheap, habited in garments like those of a priest. It had a shaven crown, and held in its forepaws a round piece of paper to represent a wafer.... A reward of twenty marks was offered for the discovery of the author of the outrage, but it was quite ineffectual.”[505] Other graver incidents showed the smouldering discontent.

The revival in Parliament of the old anti-heresy laws may be taken as the time clearly foreshadowed in the Queen’s first proclamation on religious affairs when persuasion was to cease and force take its place. The platitudes of many modern historians about Mary’s humane and merciful disposition, about Gardiner’s aversion to shedding blood, about “the good Bishop” Bonner’s[Pg 376] benevolent attempt to persuade his victims to recant, may be dismissed from our minds. The fact remains, that the persecutions which began in 1555 were clearly indicated in 1553, and went on with increasing severity until the Queen’s death put an end to them.

The visitations had done their work, and the most eminent of the Reformed bishops and divines had been caught and secured in various prisons. “The Tower, the Fleet, the Marshalsea, the King’s Bench, Newgate, and the two Counters were full of them.”[506] Their treatment differed. “The prisoners in the King’s Bench had tolerably fair usage, and favour sometimes shown them. There was a pleasant garden belonging thereunto, where they had liberty sometimes to walk.” They had also the liberty of meeting for worship, as had the prisoners in the Marshalsea. Their sympathisers who had escaped the search kept them supplied with food, as did the early Christians their suffering brethren in the first centuries. But in some of the other prisons the confessors were not only confined in loathsome cells, but suffered terribly from lack of food. At the end of Strype’s catalogue of the two hundred and eighty-eight persons who were burnt during the reign of Mary, he significantly adds, “besides those that dyed of famyne in sondry prisons.”[507] Some of the imprisoned were able to draw up (May 8th, 1554) and send out for circulation a confession of their faith, meant to show that they were suffering simply for holding and proclaiming what they believed to be scriptural truth. They declared that they believed all the canonical books of Scripture to be God’s very Word, and that it was to be the judge in all controversies of faith; that the Catholic Church was the Church which believed and followed the doctrines taught in Scripture; that they accepted the Apostles’ Creed and the decisions of the first four Œcumenical Councils and of the Council of Toledo, as well as the teachings of Athanasius, Irenæus,[Pg 377] Tertullian, and Damasus; that they believed that justification came through the mercy of God, and that it was received by none but by faith only, and that faith was not an opinion, but a persuasion wrought by the Holy Ghost; they declared that the external service of God ought to be according to God’s Word, and conducted in a language which the people could understand; they confessed that God only by Jesus Christ is to be prayed to, and therefore disapproved of the invocation of the saints; they disowned Purgatory and Masses for the dead; they held that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were the Sacraments instituted by Christ, were to be administered according to the institution of Christ, and disallowed the mutilation of the sacrament, the theory of transubstantiation, and the adoration of the bread.[508] This was signed by Ferrar, Hooper, Coverdale (Bishops), by Rogers (the first martyr), by Bradford, Philpot, Crome, Saunders, and others. John Bradford, the single-minded, gentle scholar, was probably the author of the Confession.

Cardinal Pole, in his capacity as papal Legate, issued a commission (Jan. 28th, 1555) to Bishop Gardiner and several others to try the prisoners detained for heresy. Then followed (Feb. 4th, 1555) the burning of John Rogers, to whom Tyndale had entrusted his translation of the Scriptures, and who was the real compiler of the Bible known as Matthews’. The scenes at his execution might have warned the authorities that persecution was not going to be persuasive. Crowds cheered him as he passed to his death, “as if he were going to his wedding,” the French Ambassador reported. His fate excited a strong feeling of sympathy among almost all classes in society, which was ominous. Even Simon Renard, the trusted envoy of Charles V., took the liberty of warning Philip that less extreme measures ought to be used. But the worst of a persecuting policy is that when it has once begun it is almost impossible to give it up without confession of defeat. Bishop Hooper was sent to[Pg 378] Gloucester to suffer in his cathedral town, Saunders to Coventry, and Dr. Taylor was burnt on Aldham Common in Suffolk. Several other martyrs suffered the same fate of burning a few days afterwards.

Robert Ferrar, the Reformed Bishop of St. David’s, was sent to Carmarthen to be burnt in the chief town of his diocese (March 30th, 1555). Perhaps it was his death that gave rise to the verses in Welsh, exhorting the men of the Principality to rise in defence of their religion against the English who were bent on its destruction, and calling them to extirpate image worship and the use of the crucifix.[509]

Bishops Ridley and Latimer and Archbishop Cranmer had been kept in confinement at Oxford since April 1554; and they were now to be proceeded against. The two Bishops were brought before the Court acting on a commission from Cardinal Pole, the Legate. They were condemned on Oct. 1st, 1555, and on the 16th they were burnt at Oxford in the present Broad Street before Balliol College. Cranmer witnessed their death from the top of the tower in which he was confined.

In the Archbishop’s case it was deemed necessary, in order to fulfil the requirements of Canon Law, that he should be tried by the Pope himself. He was accordingly informed that his sovereigns had “denounced” him to the Pope, and that His Holiness had commissioned the Cardinal Du Puy, Prefect of the Inquisition, to act on his behalf, and that Du Puy had delegated the duty to James Brooks, who had succeeded Hooper as Bishop of Gloucester, to the Dean of St. Paul’s, and to the Archdeacon of Canterbury. The trial took place in St. Mary’s Church. The accusers, Philip and Mary, were represented by Drs. Martyn and Story. They, in the name of their sovereigns, presented a lengthy indictment, in which the chief charges were adultery, perjury, and heresy. The first meant that although a priest he had been married, and had even[Pg 379] married a second time after he had been made an Archbishop; the second, that he had sworn obedience to the Pope and broken his oath; and the third, that he had denied the doctrine of transubstantiation.[510]

Cranmer refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of his judges, but answered the charges brought against him to his accusers because they represented his sovereigns. He denied that the Pope had any ecclesiastical power within England; but submitted to the kingly supremacy. As Brooks had no authority from the Pope to do more than hear the case, no judgment was pronounced; it was only intimated that the proceedings would be reported to Rome. Cranmer was conducted back to his prison. There he addressed first one, then a second letter to the Queen.[511] In dignified and perfectly respectful language he expressed the degradation of the kingdom exhibited in the act of the sovereigns appealing to an “outward judge, or to an authority coming from any person out of this realm” to judge between them and one of their own subjects. Cranmer early in his career had come to the unalterable opinion that the papal supremacy was responsible for the abuses and disorders in the mediæval Church, and that reformation was impossible so long as it was maintained. In common with every thoughtful man of his generation, he repudiated the whole structure of papal claims built up by the Roman Curia during the fifteenth century, and held that it was in every way incompatible with the loyalty which every subject owed to his sovereign and to the laws of his country. He took his stand on this conviction.

“Ignorance, I know,” he said, “may excuse other men; but he that knoweth how prejudicial and injurious the power and authority which the Pope challengeth everywhere is to the Crown, laws, and customs of this realm, and yet will allow the same, I cannot see in anywise how he can[Pg 380] keep his due allegiance, fidelity, and truth to the Crown and slate of this realm.”

In his second letter he struck a bolder note, and declared that the oath which Mary had sworn to maintain the laws, liberties, and customs of the realm was inconsistent with the other oath she had taken to obey the Pope, to defend his person, and to maintain his authority, honour, laws, and privileges. The accusation of perjury did not touch him at all. The sovereigns—Bishop Brooks, appointed to try him—every constituted authority in the realm—when confronted by it, had to choose between the oath of allegiance to country or to Papacy; he had chosen allegiance to his fatherland; others who acted differently betrayed it. That was his position. The words he addressed to Queen Mary—“I fear me that there be contradictions in your oath”—was his justification.

At Rome, Cranmer was found guilty of contumacy, and the command went forth that he was to be deposed, degraded, and punished as a heretic. In the meantime he was burnt in effigy at Rome. When he heard his sentence, he composed an Appeal to a General Council, following, he said, the example of Luther.[512] The degradation was committed to Bonner and Thirlby, and was executed by the former with his usual brutality. This done, he was handed over to the secular authorities for execution. Then began a carefully prepared course of refined mental torture, which resulted in the “Recantations of Thomas Cranmer.”[513] A series of recantations was presented to him, which he was ordered to sign by his sovereign; and, strange as it may seem now, it was the sovereign’s command that made it almost impossible for Cranmer to refuse to sign the papers which, one after another, were given him. He was a man who felt the necessity of an ultimate authority. He had deliberately put aside that of the Pope, and as deliberately placed that of the sovereign in its place; and now the ultimate authority, which his conscience[Pg 381] approved, commanded him to sign. The first four were not real recantations; Cranmer could sign them with a good conscience; they consisted of generalities, the effect of which depended on the meaning of the terms used, and everyone knew the meanings which he had attached to the words all throughout his public life. But the fifth and the sixth soiled his conscience and occasioned his remorse. It was not enough for Mary, Pole, and Bonner that they were able to destroy by fire the bodies of English Reformers, they hoped by working partly on the conscience and partly on the weakness of the leader of the English Reformation, to show the worthlessness of the whole movement. In the end, the aged martyr redeemed his momentary weakness by a last act of heroism. He knew that his recantations had been published, and that any further declaration made would probably be suppressed by his unscrupulous antagonists. He resolved by a single action to defeat their calculations and stamp his sincerity on the memories of his countrymen. His dying speech was silenced, as he might well have expected; but he had made up his mind to something which could not be stifled.[514]

“At the moment he was taken to the stake he drew from his bosom the identical paper (the recantation), throwing it, in the presence of the multitude, with his own hands into the flames, asking pardon of God and of the people for having consented to such an act, which he excused by saying that he did it for the public benefit, as, had his life, which he sought to save, been spared him, he might at some time have still been of use to them, praying them all to persist in the doctrines believed by him, and absolutely denying the Sacrament and the supremacy of the Church. And, finally, stretching forth his arm and right hand, he said: ‘This which hath sinned, having signed the writing, must be the first to suffer punishment’; and thus did he place it in the fire and burned it himself.”[515]

[Pg 382]

If the martyrdoms of Ridley and Latimer lighted the torch, Cranmer’s spread the conflagration which in the end burnt up the Romanist reaction and made England a Protestant nation. The very weakness of the aged Primate became a background to make the clearer his final heroism. The “common man” sympathised with him all the more. He had never been a very strong man in the usual sense of the words. The qualities which go to form the exquisite liturgist demand an amount of religious sensibility and sympathy which seldom belongs to the leader of a minority with the present against it and the future before it. His peculiar kind of courage, which enabled him to face Henry VIII. in his most truculent moods, was liker a woman’s than a man’s, and was especially called forth by sympathy with others in suffering. None of Henry’s Ministers pleaded harder or more persistently for the Princess Mary, the woman who burnt him, than did Cranmer; and he alone of all his fellows dared to beseech the monarch for Cromwell in his fall.[516]

The death of Cranmer was followed by a long succession of martyrdoms. Cardinal Pole became the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in Philip’s absence the principal adviser of the Queen. He did not manage, if he tried, to stop the burnings. Sometimes he rescued prisoners from the vindictive Bonner; at others he seems to have hounded on the persecutors. Mary’s conscience, never satisfied at the confiscation of property, compelled her to restore the lands still in possession of the Crown, and to give up the “first fruits” of English benefices—the only result being to awaken the fears of thousands of proprietors, and set them against the papal claims. She attempted to restore the monastic institutions, with but scanty results; to revive pilgrimages to shrines, which were very forced affairs, and had to be kept alive by fining the parents of children who did not join them. The elevation of Pope Paul IV. (Cardinal Caraffa) to the See of Rome increased her difficulties. The new Pontiff, a Neapolitan, hated her[Pg 383] Spanish husband, and personally disliked Cardinal Pole, her chief adviser. Her last years were full of troubles.

Mary died in 1558 (Nov. 17th). “The unhappiest of queens, and wives, and women,” she had been born amidst the rejoicings of a nation, her mother a princess of the haughtiest house in Europe. In her girlhood she had been the bride-elect of the Emperor—a lovely, winning young creature, all men say. In her seventeenth year, at the age when girls are most sensitive, the crushing stroke which blasted her whole life fell upon her. Her father, the Parliament, and the Church of her country called her illegitimate; and thus branded, she was sent into solitude to brood over her disgrace. When almost all England hailed her Queen in her thirty-seventh year, she was already an old woman, with sallow face, harsh voice, her dark bright eyes alone telling how beautiful she had once been. But the nation seemed to love her who had been so long yearning for affection; she married the man of her choice; and she felt herself the instrument selected by Heaven to restore an excommunicated nation to the peace of God. Her husband, whom she idolised, tired of living with her after a few years. The child she passionately longed for and pathetically believed to be coming never came.[517] The Church and the Pope she had sacrificed so much for, disregarded her entreaties, and seemed careless of her troubles. The people who had welcomed her, and whom she really loved, called her “Bloody” Mary,—a name which was, after all, so well deserved that it will[Pg 384] always remain. Each disappointment she took as a warning from Heaven that atonement had not yet been paid for England’s crimes, and the fires of persecution were kept burning to appease the God of sixteenth century Romanism.

[Pg 385]



Mary Tudor’s health had long been frail, and when it was known for certain that she would leave no direct heir (i.e. from about June 1558), the people of England were silently coming to the conclusion that Elizabeth must be Queen, or civil war would result. It seemed also to be assumed that she would be a Protestant, and that her chief adviser would[Pg 386] be William Cecil, who had been trained in statecraft as secretary to England’s greatest statesman, the Lord Protector Somerset. So it fell out.

Many things contributed to create such expectations. The young intellectual life of England was slowly becoming Protestant. Both the Spanish ambassadors noticed this with alarm, and reported it to their master.[519] This was especially the case among the young ladies of the upper classes, who were becoming students learned in Latin, Greek, and Italian, and at the same time devout Protestants, with a distinct leaning to what afterwards became Puritanism. Elizabeth herself, at her most impressionable age had been the pupil of Bishop Hooper, who was accustomed to praise her intelligence. “In religious matters she has been saturated ever since she was born in a bitter hatred to our faith,” said the Bishop of Aquila.[520] The common people had been showing their hatred of Romanism, and “images and religious persons were treated disrespectfully.” It was observed that Elizabeth “was very much wedded to the people and thinks as they do,” and that “her attitude was much more gracious to the common people than to others.”[521] The burnings of the Protestant martyrs, and especially the execution of Cranmer, had stirred the indignation of the populace of London and the south counties against Romanism, and the feelings were spreading throughout the country. All classes of the people hated the entire subjugation of English interests to those of Spain during the late reign, just as the people of Scotland at the same time were growing weary of French domination under Mary of Lorraine, and Elizabeth shared the feeling of her people.[522]

Yet there was so much in the political condition of the times to make both Elizabeth and Cecil pause before[Pg 387] committing themselves to the Reformation, that it is necessary to believe that religious conviction had a great influence in determining their action. England was not the powerful nation in 1558-60 which it became after twenty years under the rule of the great Queen. The agrarian troubles which had disturbed the three reigns of Henry VIII., Edward, and Mary had not died out. The coinage was still as debased as it had been in the closing years of Henry VIII. Trade was stagnant, and the country was suffering from a two years’ visitation of the plague. The war with France, into which England had been dragged by Spain, had not merely drained the country of men and money, but was bringing nothing save loss of territory and damage to prestige. Nor was there much to be hoped from foreign aid. The Romanist reaction was in full swing throughout Europe, and the fortunes of the continental Protestants were at their lowest ebb. It was part of the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (April 1559) that France and Spain should unite to crush the Protestantism of the whole of Europe, and the secret treaty between Philip II. and Catherine de’ Medici in 1565[523] showed that such a design was thought possible of accomplishment during the earlier years of Elizabeth. It was never wholly abandoned until the defeat of the Armada in 1588. Cecil’s maxim, that the Reformation could not be crushed until England had been conquered, had for its corollary that the conquest of England must be the prime object of the Romanist sovereigns who were bent on bringing Europe back to the obedience of Rome. The determination to take the Protestant side added to the insecurity of Elizabeth’s position in the earlier years of her reign. She was, in the opinion of the Pope and probably of all the European Powers, Romanist and Protestant, illegitimate; and heresy combined with bastardy was a terrible weapon in the hands of Henry II. of France, who meant to support the claims of his daughter-in-law, the young Queen of[Pg 388] Scots,—undoubtedly the lawful heir in the eyes of all who believed that Henry VIII. had been lawfully married to Catharine of Aragon. The Spanish Ambassador, Count de Feria, tried to frighten Elizabeth by reminding her how, in consequence of a papal excommunication, Navarre had been seized by the King of Spain.[524] His statement to his master, that at her accession two-thirds of the English people were Romanists,[525] may be questioned (he made many miscalculations), but it is certain that England was anything but a united Protestant nation. Still, who knew what trouble Philip might have in the Netherlands, and the Lords of the Congregation might be encouraged enough to check French designs on England through Scotland.[526] At the worst, Philip of Spain would not like to see England wholly in the grip of France. The Queen and Cecil made up their minds to take the risk, and England was to be Protestant and defy the Pope, from “whom nothing was to be feared but evil will, cursing, and practising.”

Paul IV., it was said, was prepared to receive the news of Elizabeth’s succession favourably, perhaps under conditions to guarantee her legitimacy; but partly to his astonishment, and certainly to his wrath, he was not even officially informed of her accession, and the young Queen’s ambassador at Rome was told that she had no need for him there.

The changes at home, however, were made with all due caution. In Elizabeth’s first proclamation an “et cetera” veiled any claim to be the Head of the Church,[527] and her earliest meddling with ecclesiastical matters was to forbid all contentious preaching.[528] The statutory religion (Romanist) was to be maintained for the meantime. No[Pg 389] official proclamation was made foreshadowing coming changes.

Elizabeth, however, did not need to depend on proclamations to indicate to her people the path she meant to tread. She graciously accepted the Bible presented to her on her entry into London, clasped it to her bosom, and pressed it to her lips. Her hand ostentatiously shrank from the kiss of Bonner the persecutor. The great lawyer, Goderick, pointed out ways in which Protestant feeling might find vent in a legal manner:

“In the meantime Her Majesty and all her subjects may by licence of law use the English Litany and suffrages used in King Henry’s time, and besides Her Majesty in her closet may use the Mass without lifting up the Host according to the ancient canons, and may also have at every Mass some communicants with the ministers to be used in both kinds.”[529]

The advice was acted upon, improved upon. “The affairs of religion continue as usual,” says the Venetian agent (Dec. 17th, 1558), “but I hear that at Court when the Queen is present a priest officiates, who says certain prayers with the Litanies in English, after the fashion of King Edward.”[530] She went to Mass, but asked the Bishop officiating not to elevate the Host for adoration; and when he refused to comply, she and her ladies swept out of church immediately after the Gospel was read.[531] Parliament was opened in the usual manner with the performance of Mass, but the Queen did not appear until it was over; and then her procession was preceded by a choir which sang hymns in English. When the Abbot of Westminster met her in ecclesiastical procession with the usual candles sputtering in the hands of his clergy, the[Pg 390] Queen shouted, “Away with these torches, we have light enough.”[532]

She was crowned on January 15th, 1559; but whether with all the customary ceremonies, it is impossible to say; it is most likely that she did not communicate.[533] The Bishops swore fealty in the usual way, but were chary of taking any official part in the coronation of one so plainly a heretic. Later in the day, Dr. Cox, who had been King Edward’s tutor, and was one of the returned refugees, preached before the Queen. As early as Dec. 14th (1558) the Spanish Ambassador could report that the Queen “is every day standing up against religion (Romanism) more openly,” and that “all the heretics who had escaped are beginning to flock back again from Germany.”[534]

When Convocation met it became manifest that the clergy would not help the Government in the proposed changes. They declared in favour of transubstantiation and of the sacrifice of the Mass, and against the royal supremacy. The Reformation, it was seen, must be carried through by the civil power exclusively; and it was somewhat difficult to forecast what Parliament would consent to do.

What was actually done is still matter of debate, but it seems probable that the Government presented at least three Bills. The first was withdrawn; the second was wrecked by the Queen withholding her Royal Assent; the third resulted in the Act of Supremacy and in the Act of Uniformity. It is most likely that the first and second Bills, which did not become law, included in one proposed Act of legislation the proposals of the Government about the Queen’s Supremacy and about Uniformity of Public Worship.[535] The first was introduced into the House of[Pg 391] Commons on Feb. 9th (1559), was discussed there Feb. 13th to 16th, and then withdrawn. A “new” Bill “for the supremacy annexed to the Crown” was introduced in the Commons on Feb. 21st, passed the third reading on the 25th, and was sent to the Lords on the 27th.[536]

The majority in the House of Commons was Protestant;[537] but the Marian Bishops had great influence in the House of Lords, and it was there that the Government proposals met with strong opposition. Dr. Jewel describes the situation in a letter to Peter Martyr (March 20th):

“The bishops are a great hindrance to us; for being, as you know, among the nobility and leading men in the Upper House, and having none there on our side to expose their artifices and confute their falsehoods, they reign as sole monarchs in the midst of ignorant and weak men, and easily overreach our little party, either by their numbers or their reputation for learning. The Queen, meanwhile, though she openly favours our cause, yet is wonderfully afraid of allowing any innovations.”[538]

The Bill (Bill No. 2—the “new” Bill), which had passed the Commons on the 25th, was read for the first time in the Lords on the 28th, passed the second reading on March 13th, and was referred to a Committee consisting of the Duke of Norfolk, the Bishops of Exeter and Carlisle, and Lords Winchester, Westmoreland, Shrewsbury, Rutland, Sussex, Pembroke, Montagu, Clinton, Morley, Rich, Willoughby, and North. They evidently made such alterations on the Bill as to make that part of it at least which enforced a radical change in public worship useless for the purpose of[Pg 392] the Government. The clearest account of what the Lords did is contained in a letter of a person who signs himself “Il Schifanoya,” which is preserved in the State Archives in Mantua.[539] He says:

“Parliament, which ought to have ended last Saturday, was prolonged till next Wednesday in Passion Week, and according to report they will return a week after Easter (March 26, 1559); which report I believe, because of the three principal articles the first alone passed, viz. to give the supremacy of the Anglican Church to the Queen ... notwithstanding the opposition of the bishops, and of the chief lords and barons of this kingdom; but the Earls of Arundel and Derby, who are very good Christians, absented themselves from indisposition, feigned, as some think, to avoid consulting about such ruin of this realm.

“The Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Viscount Montague and Lord Hastings did not fail in their duty, like true soldiers of Christ, to resist the Commons, whom they compelled to modify a book passed by the Commons forbidding the Mass to be said or the Communion to be administered (ne se communicassero) except at the table in the manner of Edward VI.; nor were the Divine offices to be performed in church; priests likewise being allowed to marry, and the Christian religion and the Sacraments being absolutely abolished; adding thereto many extraordinary penalties against delinquents. By a majority of votes they have decided that the aforesaid things shall be expunged from the book, and that the Masses, Sacraments, and the rest of the Divine offices shall be performed as hitherto.... The members of the Lower House, seeing that the Lords passed this article of the Queen’s supremacy of the Church, but not as the Commons drew it up,—the Lords cancelling the aforesaid clauses and modifying some others,—grew angry, and would consent to nothing, but are in very great controversy.”[540]

The Lords, induced by the Marian Bishops, had wrecked the Government’s plan for an alteration of religion.

The Queen then intervened. She refused her assent[Pg 393] to the Bill, on the dexterous pretext that she had doubts about the title which it proposed to confer upon her—Supreme Head of the Church.[541] She knew that Romanists and Calvinists both disliked it, and she adroitly managed to make both parties think that she had yielded to the arguments which each had brought forward. The Spanish Ambassador took all the credit to himself; and Sandys was convinced that Elizabeth had been persuaded by Mr. Lever, who “had put a scruple into the Queen’s head that she would not take the title of Supreme Head.”[542]

The refusal of Royal Assent enabled the Government to start afresh. They no longer attempted to put everything in one Bill. A new Act of Supremacy,[543] in which the Queen was declared to be “the only supreme governor of this realm ... as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal,” was introduced into the Commons on April 10th, and was read for a third time on the 13th. Brought into the Lords on April 14th, it was read for a second time on the 17th, and finally passed on April 29th. If the obnoxious title was omitted, all the drastic powers claimed by Henry VIII. were given to Elizabeth. The Elizabethan Act revived no less than nine of the Acts of Henry VIII.,[544] and among them the statute[Pg 394] concerning doctors of civil law,[545] which contained these sentences: “Most royal majesty is and hath always been, by the Word of God, Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England, and hath full power and authority to correct, punish, and repress all manner of heresies ... and to exercise all other manner of jurisdiction commonly called ecclesiastical jurisdiction”; and his majesty is “the only and undoubted Supreme Head of the Church of England, and also of Ireland, to whom by Holy Scripture all authority and power is wholly given to hear and determine all manner of causes ecclesiastical.” Thus the very title Supreme Head of the Church of England was revived and bestowed on Elizabeth by this Parliament of 1559. It may even be said that the ecclesiastical jurisdiction bestowed upon Elizabeth was more extensive than that given to her father, for schisms were added to the list of matters subject to the Queen’s correction, and she was empowered to delegate her authority to commissioners—a provision which enabled her to exercise her supreme governorship in a way to be felt in every corner of the land.[546] This Act of Supremacy revived an Act of King Edward VI., enjoining that the communion should be given in both “kinds,” and declared that the revived Act should take effect from the last day of Parliament.[547] It contained an interesting proviso that nothing should be judged to be heresy which was not condemned by canonical Scripture, or by the first four General Councils “or any of them.”[548]

The same Parliament, after briefer debate (April 18th[Pg 395] to 28th), passed an Act of Uniformity which took an interesting form.[549] The Act began by declaring that at the death of King Edward VI. there “remained one uniform order of common service and prayer, and of the administration of sacraments, rites, and ceremonies in the Church of England, which was set forth in one Book, entitled The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies in the Church of England.” This Book had been authorised by Act of Parliament held in the fifth and sixth years of King Edward VI., and this Act had been repealed by an Act of Parliament in the first year of the reign of Queen Mary “to the great decay of the due honour of God, and discomfort of the professors of the truth of Christ’s religion.” This Act of Queen Mary was solemnly repealed, and the Act of King Edward VI., with some trifling alterations, was restored. In consequence, “all and singular ministers in any cathedral or parish church” were ordered “to say and use the Matins, Evensong, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and administration of each of the sacraments, and all their common and open prayer, in such order and form as is mentioned in the said Book, so authorised by Parliament in the said fifth and sixth years of the reign of King Edward VI., with one alteration or addition of certain lessons to be used on every Sunday in the year, and the form of the Litany altered and corrected, and two sentences only added in the delivery of the sacrament to the communicants, and none other or otherwise.” This meant that while there might be the fullest freedom of thought in the country and a good deal of liberty of expression, there was to be no freedom of public worship. All Englishmen, of whatever creed, were to be compelled by law to join in one common public worship according to the ritual prescribed. The Act of Parliament which compelled them to this had no specific Book of Common Prayer annexed to it and incorporated in it. It simply replaced on the Statute Book the Act of King Edward VI., and with it[Pg 396] the Second Prayer-Book of King Edward, which with its rubrics had been “annexed and joined” to that Act[550]—certain specified alterations in the Book being notified in the Elizabethan Act.

The history of the Elizabethan Prayer-Book is confessedly obscure. If an important paper called the Device,[551] probably drafted by Cecil, embodied the intentions of the Government, their procedure may be guessed with some probability. It enumerates carefully, after the manner of the great Elizabethan statesman, the dangers involved in any “alteration of religion,” and shows how they can be met or averted. France and Scotland can be treated diplomatically. Rome may be left unheeded—it is far away, and its opposition will not go beyond “evil will and cursing.” The important dangers were at home. They would come from two sides—from the Romanists backed by most of the higher clergy; and from the advanced Reformers, who would scoff at the alteration which is alone possible in the condition of the kingdom, and would call it a “cloaked papistry and a mingle-mangle.” Yet both may be overcome by judicious firmness. The Romanists may be coerced by penal laws. The danger from the advanced Reformers may be got over by a carefully drafted Prayer-Book, made as far as possible to their liking, and enforced by such penalties as would minimise all objections. There is great hope that such penalties would “touch but few.” “And better it were that they did suffer than Her Highness or Commonwealth should shake or be in danger.” The Device suggested that a small committee of seven divines—all of them well-known Reformers, and most of them refugees—should prepare a Book “which, being approved by Her Majesty,” might be laid before Parliament. It was evidently believed that the preparation of the Book would take some time, for suggestion is made that food, drink, wood, and coals should be provided for their sustenance[Pg 397] and comfort. There is no direct evidence to show that the suggested committee met or was even appointed; but evidence has been brought forward to show that most of the theologians named were in London, and were in a position to meet together and consult during the period when such a Book would naturally be prepared.[552] The whole matter is shrouded in mystery, and secrecy was probably necessary in the circumstances. No one knew exactly what was to take place; but some change was universally expected. “There is a general expectation that all rites and ceremonies will shortly be reformed,” said Richard Hilles, writing to Bullinger in the end of February (1559), “by our faithful citizens and other godly men in the afore-mentioned Parliament, either after the pattern which was lately in use in the time of King Edward the Sixth, or which is set forth by the Protestant Princes of Germany in the afore-mentioned Confession of Augsburg.”[553]

The authorities kept their own counsel, and nothing definite was known to outsiders. A Book was presented to the Commons—The Book of Common Prayer and Ministration of the Sacraments—on Feb. 16th, at the time when the first draft of the Supremacy Bill was being discussed.[554] It must have been withdrawn along with that Bill. The second attempt at a Supremacy Act was probably accompanied with a Prayer-Book annexed to the Bill; and this Prayer-Book was vehemently opposed in the Lords, who struck out all the clauses relating to it.[555] What this Book of Common Prayer was, cannot be exactly known. Many competent liturgist scholars are inclined[Pg 398] to believe that it was something more drastic than the Edwardine Prayer-Book of 1552, and that it was proposed to enforce it by penalties more drastic than those enacted by the Act of Uniformity which finally passed. They find the characteristic features of the Book in the well-known letter of Guest (Geste) to Cecil.[556] Such suggestions are mere conjectures. The Book may have been the Edwardine Prayer-Book of 1552.

The Government had made slow progress with their proposed “alteration of religion,” and the Protestant party were chafing at the delay. Easter was approaching, and its nearness made them more impatient. Canon law required everyone to communicate on Easter Day, which in 1559 fell on the 26th of March, and by a long established custom the laity of England had gone to the Lord’s Table on that one day of the year. Men were asking whether it was possible that a whole year was to elapse before they could partake of the communion in a Protestant fashion. The House of Commons was full of this Protestant sentiment. The reactionary proceedings in the House of Lords urged them to some protest.[557] A Bill was introduced into the Lower House declaring that “no person shall be punished for now using the religion used in King Edward’s last year.” It was read twice and engrossed in one day (March 15th), and was read a third time and passed on March 18th.[558] It does not appear to have been before the Lords; but it was acted on in a curious way. A proclamation, dated March 22nd, declares that the Queen, “with the assent of Lords and Commons,”[Pg 399] in the “present last session,” has revived the Act of King Edward VI. touching the reception of the Communion in both “kinds,” and explains that the Act cannot be ready for Easter. It proceeds: “And because the time of Easter is so at hand, and that great numbers, not only of the noblemen and gentry, but also of the common people of this realm, be certainly persuaded in conscience in such sort as they cannot be induced in any wise to communicate or receive the said holy Sacrament but under both kinds, according to the first institution, and to the common use both of the Apostles and of the Primitive Church ... it is thought necessary to Her Majesty, by the advice of sundry of her nobility and commons lately assembled in Parliament,” to declare that the statute of Edward is in force, and all and sundry are commanded to observe the provisions of the statute.[559] What is more, the Queen acted upon her proclamation. The well-informed “Schifanoya,” writing on March 28th, says that the Government “during this interval” (i.e. between March 22nd and March 28th) had ordered and printed a proclamation for every one to take the communion in both “kinds” (sub utraque specie). He goes on to say that on Easter Day “Her Majesty appeared in chapel, where Mass was sung in English, according to the use of her brother, King Edward, and the communion received in both ‘kinds,’ kneeling.” The chaplain wore nothing “but the mere surplice” (la semplice cotta).[560] The news went the round of Europe.[Pg 400] Elizabeth had at last declared herself unmistakably on the Protestant side.

Easter had come and gone, and the religious question had not received final settlement. The authorities felt that something must be done to counteract the speeches of the Romanist partisans in the Lords.[561] So, while Parliament was sitting, a conference was arranged between Roman Catholic and Protestant divines. It seems to have been welcomed by both parties. Count Feria, the Spanish Ambassador, declared that he had something to do with it. He was anxious that the disputation should be in Latin, that the arguments should be reduced to writing, and that each disputant should sign his paper. He was overruled so far as the language was concerned. The authorities meant that the laity should hear and understand. The three questions debated were:—Whether a “particular Church can change rites and ceremonies; Whether the services of public worship must be conducted in Latin; Whether the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice.” The conference was held at Westminster on March 31st, in presence of the Privy Council, the Lords and Commons, and the “multitude.” Great expectations were cherished by both parties in anticipation, and when the Romanist divines withdrew on points of procedure, their cause suffered in the[Pg 401] popular estimation. Two of the Bishops were sent to the Tower “for open contempt and contumacy”; and others seem to have been threatened.[562]

Parliament reassembled after the Easter recess and passed the Act of Supremacy in its third form, and the Act of Uniformity, which re-enacted, as has been said, the revised Prayer-Book—that is, the Second Book of King Edward VI. with the distinctly specified alterations. The most important of these changes were the two sentences added to the words to be used by the officiating minister when giving the communion. The clauses had been in the First Prayer-Book of Edward VI.

While in the Second Prayer-Book of King Edward the officiating minister was commanded to say while giving the Bread:

“Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving,”

and while giving the Cup, to say:

“Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful;”

the words were altered in the Elizabethan book to:

“The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving;”

The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.

The additions in no way detracted from the Evangelical doctrine of the Sacrament. They rather brought the[Pg 402] underlying thought, into greater harmony with the doctrine of the Reformed Churches. But they have had the effect of enabling men who hold different views about the nature of the rite to join in its common use.

When the Act of Uniformity was passed by Parliament, the advanced Reformers, who had chafed at what appeared to them to be a long delay, were contented. They, one and all, believed that the Church of England had been restored to what it had been during the last year of the reign of Edward VI.; and this was the end for which they had been striving, the goal placed before them by their friend and adviser, Henry Bullinger of Zurich.[563] Their letters are full of jubilation.[564]

Yet there were some things about this Elizabethan[Pg 403] settlement which, if interpreted as they have been by some ecclesiastical historians, make it very difficult to understand the contentment of such men as Grindal, Jewel, and Sandys. “Of what was done in the matter of ornaments,” says Professor Maitland, “by statute, by the rubrics of the Book, and by Injunctions that the Queen promptly issued, it would be impossible to speak fairly without lengthy quotation of documents, the import of which became in the nineteenth century a theme of prolonged and inconclusive disputation.”[565] All that can be attempted here is to mention the principal documents involved in the later controversy, and to show how they were interpreted in the life and conduct of contemporaries.

The Act of Uniformity had restored, with some trifling differences clearly and definitely stated, Edward VI.’s Prayer-Book of 1552, and therefore its rubrics.[566] It had[Pg 404] at the same time contained a proviso saying that the ornaments sanctioned by the authority of Parliament in the second year of Edward VI. were “to be retained and be in use” “until further order shall therein be taken.”

Men like Grindal and Jewel took no exception to this proviso, which they certainly would have done had they believed that it ordained the actual use in time of public worship, of the ornaments used in the second year of King Edward. The interpretation they gave to the proviso is seen from a letter from Sandys to Parker (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury), written two days after the Act of Uniformity had passed the Lords. He says:

“The last book of service has gone through with a proviso to retain the ornaments which were used in the first and second year of King Edward, until it please the Queen to take other order for them. Our gloss upon the text is that we shall not be enforced to use them, but that others in the meantime shall not convey them away, but that they may remain for the Queen.”[567]

Sandys and others understood the proviso to mean that recalcitrant clergy like the Warden of Manchester, who carried his consecrated vestments to Ireland, were not to make off with the ornaments, and that churchwardens or patrons were not to confiscate them for their private use. They were property belonging to the Queen, and to be retained until her Majesty’s pleasure was known. The whole history of the visitations goes to prove that Sandys’ interpretation of the proviso was that of its framers.

When the Prayer-Book was actually printed it was found to contain some differences from the Edwardine[Pg 405] Book of 1552 besides those mentioned in the Act as the only ones to be admitted; and early editions have not always the same changes. But the one thing of importance was a rubric which, on what seems to be the only possible interpretation, enjoins the use in public worship of the ornaments (i.e. the vestments) in use in the second year of King Edward.[568] How this rubric got into the Prayer-Book it is impossible to say. It certainly was not enacted by the Queen “with assent of Lords and Commons.” We have no proof that it was issued by the Privy Council.[569][Pg 406] The use and wont of the Church of England during the period of the Elizabethan settlement was as if this rubric had never existed. It is directly contradicted by the thirtieth Injunction issued for the Royal Visitation of 1559.[570] It was not merely contemptuously ignored by the Elizabethan Bishops; they compelled their clergy, if compulsion was needed, to act in defiance of it.

Contemporary sources abundantly testify that in the earlier years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the English clergy in their ministrations scarcely ever wore any ecclesiastical garment but the surplice; and sometimes not even that. The Advertisements[571] of 1566, which almost all contemporary notices speak of as prescribing what had been enjoined in the Injunctions of 1559, were drafted for the purpose of coercing clergymen who were in the habit of refusing to wear even the surplice, and they enjoined the surplice only, and the cope[572] in cathedrals. In the [Pg 407] Visitation carried out in accordance with the directions in the Injunctions, a clean sweep was made of almost all the ornaments which were not merely permitted but ordered in the proviso of the Act of Uniformity and the Rubric of 1559 on the ordinary ritualistic interpretation of these clauses. The visitors proceeded on a uniform plan, and what we hear was done in one place may be inferred as the common practice. The Spanish Ambassador (July or August 1559) wrote to his master: “They are now carrying out the law of Parliament respecting religion with great rigour, and have appointed six visitors.... They have just taken the crosses, images, and altars from St. Paul’s and all the other London churches.”[573] A citizen of London noted in his diary: “The time before Bartholomew tide and after, were all the roods and Maries and Johns, and many other of the church goods, both copes, crosses, censers, altar cloth, rood cloths, books, banners, banner stays, wainscot and much other gear about London, burnt in Smithfield.”[574] What took place in London was done in the provinces. At Grantham, “the vestments, copes, albs, tunicles, and all other such baggages were defaced and openly sold by the general consent of the whole corporation, and the money employed in setting up desks in the church, and making of a decent communion table, and the remnant to the poor.”[575]

It is true that we find complaints on the part of men like Jewel of ritualistic practices which they do not like; but these in almost every case refer to worship in the royal chapel. The services there were well known, and both friends and foes of the Reformation seemed to take it for granted that what was the fashion in the royal[Pg 408] chapel would soon extend to the rest of the realm.[576] Historians have usually attributed the presence of crosses, vestments, lights on the altar, to the desire of the Queen to conciliate her Romanist subjects, or to stand well with the great Roman Catholic Powers of Europe. It is quite likely that the Queen had this thought in her mind. Elizabeth was a thrifty lady, and liked to bring down many birds with the one stone. But the one abiding thought in the mind of the astute Queen was to stand well with the Lutherans, and to be able, when threatened with papal excommunication, to take shelter under the ægis of the Peace of Augsburg.

When the Government had secured the passing of the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, they were in a position to deal with the recalcitrant clergy. Eleven of the English Episcopal Sees had been vacant at the accession of Elizabeth, among them that of the Primate; for Cardinal Pole had died a few hours after Mary, In the summer and autumn of 1559 the sixteen Bishops were called upon to sign the Oath of Supremacy, in which the papal rule over the Church of England was abjured, and the Queen declared to be the Supreme Governor of the Church. All the Bishops, more or less definitely, refused to take the oath; although three were at first doubtful. They were deprived, and the English Church was practically without Bishops.[577] Some of the deprived Bishops of King Edward’s time survived, and they were restored. Then came discussion about the manner of appointing new ones. Some would have preferred a simple royal nomination, as in Edward’s time; but in the end it was resolved that the[Pg 409] appointment should be nominally in the hands of the Deans and Chapters according to mediæval rule, with the proviso, however, that the royal permission to elect had first to be given, and that the person named in the “leave to elect” should be chosen. Then the question of consecration gave rise to some difficulties; but these were got over in ways which were deemed to be sufficient. Matthew Parker, after more than one refusal, was nominated and consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Lists of clerical persons suitable for promotion were prepared for the Queen,[578] and the other Sees were gradually filled. The Elizabethan episcopate, with the exception of the few Edwardine Bishops, was an entirely new creation. A large number of the Deans and members of the Cathedral Chapters had also refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy; they were deprived, and others who were on the lists were appointed in their place. The inferior clergy proved to be much more amenable, and only about two hundred were in the end deprived. The others all accepted the “alteration of religion”; and the change was brought about quietly and without the riotings which had accompanied the alterations made in the days of Edward, or the wholesale deprivations which had followed upon those made by Queen Mary—when almost one-third of the beneficed clergy of the Church of England had been removed from their benefices. A similar passive acquiescence was seen in the introduction of the new Book of Common Prayer, and in the fulfilment of the various orders for the removal of images, etc. The great altars and crucifixes were taken away, and the pictures covered with whitewash, without any disturbances to speak of.

The comparative ease with which the “alteration of religion” was effected was no doubt largely due to the increased Protestant feeling of the country; but the tact and forbearance of those who were appointed to see the changes carried out counted for something; and perhaps[Pg 410] the acquiescence of the Roman Catholics was due to the fact that they had no great leader, that they did not expect the Elizabethan settlement to last long, and that they waited in expectation that one or other of the two Romanist Powers, France or Spain, would interfere in their behalf. The religious revolution in Scotland in 1560 saved the Elizabethan settlement for the time; and Philip of Spain trifled away his opportunities until a united England overthrew his Armada, which came thirty years too late.

The change was given effect to by a Royal Visitation. England was divided into six districts, and lists of visitors were drawn up which included the Lords Lieutenants of the counties, the chief men of the districts, and some lawyers and clergymen known to be well affected to the Reformation. They had to assist them a set of Injunctions, modelled largely, not entirely, on those of Edward VI., drafted and issued by royal command.[579] The members of the clergy were dealt with very patiently, and explanations, public and private, were given of the Act of Supremacy which made it easier for them to accept it. The Elizabethan Bishops were also evidently warned to deal tenderly with stubborn parish clergymen; they would have been less patient with them if left to themselves. One, Bishop Best, Bishop of Carlisle, is found writing to Cecil about his clergy, that “the priests are wicked impes of Antichrist,” for the most part very ignorant and stubborn; another, Pilkington, the Bishop of Durham, in describing the disordered state of his diocese, declared that “like St. Paul, he has to fight with beasts at Ephesus”; and a third, Scory, Bishop of Winchester, wrote that he was much hindered by justices of the peace who were Roman Catholics, and that when certain priests who had refused to take the oath were driven out of Exeter and elsewhere, they were received and feasted in the streets with torch-lights.[580]

[Pg 411]

Elizabeth’s second Parliament was very much more Protestant than the first, and insisted that the Oath of Supremacy must be taken by all the members of the House of Commons, by all lawyers, and by all schoolmasters. The Convocation of 1563 proved that the clergy desired to go much further in the path of Reformation than the Queen thought desirable.

They clearly wished for some doctrinal standard, and Archbishop Parker had prepared and laid before Convocation a revised edition of the Forty-two Articles which had defined the theology of the Church of England in the last year of King Edward VI.[581] The way had been prepared for the issue of some authoritative exposition of the doctrinal position of the Elizabethan Church by the Declaration of the Principal Articles of Religion—a series of eleven articles framed by the Bishops and published in 1561 (March), which repudiates strongly the Romanist doctrines of the Papacy, private Masses, and the propitiatory sacrifice in the Holy Supper. The Spanish Ambassador, who had heard of the meetings of the Bishops for this purpose, imagined that they were preparing articles to be presented to the Council of Trent on behalf of the Church of England.[582] The Archbishop’s draft was revised by Convocation, and was “diligently read and sifted” by the Queen herself before she gave her consent to the authoritative publication of the Articles.

These Thirty-nine Articles expressed the doctrine of the Reformed or Calvinist as distinguished from the Evangelical or Lutheran form of Protestant doctrine, and the distinction lay mainly in the views which the respective Confessions of the two Churches held about the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper. By this time (1562) Zwinglianism, as a doctrinal system, not as[Pg 412] an ecclesiastical policy, had disappeared;[583] and the three theories of the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament had all to do with the Presence of the Body of Christ and not with a spiritual Presence simply. The Romanist theory, transubstantiation, was based on the mediæval conception of a substance existing apart from all accidents of smell, shape, colour, etc., and declared that the “substance” of the Bread and of the Wine was changed into the “substance” of the Body and Blood of Christ, while the accidents or qualities remained the same—the change being miraculously effected by the priest in consecrating the communion elements. The Lutheran explanation was based upon a mediæval theory also—on that of the ubiquity or natural omnipresence of the “glorified” Body of Christ. The Body of Christ, in virtue of its ubiquity, was present everywhere, in chairs, tables, stones flung through the air (to use Luther’s illustrations), and therefore in the Bread and in the Wine as everywhere else. This ordinary presence became an efficacious sacramental Presence owing to the promise of God. Calvin had discarded both mediæval theories, and started by asking what was meant by substance and what by presence; he answered that the substance of anything is its power (vis), and its presence is the immediate application of its power. Thus the substance of the crucified Body of Christ is its power, and the Presence of the crucified Body of Christ is the immediate application of its power; and the guarantee of the application of the power is the promise of God received by the believing communicant. By discarding the Lutheran thought that the substance of the Body of Christ is something extended in space, and accepting the thought that the main thing in substance is power, Calvin was able to think of the substance of the Body of Christ in a way somewhat similar to the mediæval conception of “substance without accidents,” and was able to show that the Presence of Christ’s Body in the sacrament could be accepted and understood without the priestly[Pg 413] miracle, which he and all Protestants rejected. Hence it came to pass that Calvin could teach the Real Presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament of the Supper without having recourse to the mediæval doctrine of “ubiquity,” which was the basis of the Lutheran theory. They both (Calvin and Luther) insisted on the Presence of the Body of Christ; but the one (Luther) needed the theory of “ubiquity” to explain the Presence, while the other (Calvin) did not need it. But as both discarded the priestly miracle while insisting on the Presence of the Body, the two doctrines might be stated in almost the same words, provided all mention of “ubiquity” was omitted. Calvin could and did sign the Augsburg Confession; but he did not read into it what a Lutheran would have done, the theory of “ubiquity”; and a Calvinist statement of the doctrine, provided only “ubiquity” was not denied, might be accepted by a Lutheran as not differing greatly from his own. Bishop Jewel asserts again and again in his correspondence, that the Elizabethan divines did not believe in the theory of “ubiquity,”[584] and many of them probably desired to say so in their articles of religion. Hence in the first draft of the Thirty-nine Articles presented to Convocation by Archbishop Parker, Article XXVIII. contained a strong repudiation of the doctrine of “ubiquity,” which, if retained, would have made the Articles of the Church of England more anti-Lutheran than even the second Helvetic Confession. The clause was struck out in Convocation, probably because it was thought to be needlessly offensive to the German Protestants.[585] The Queen, however, was not satisfied with[Pg 414] what her divines had done, and two important interferences with the Articles as they came from Convocation are attributed to her. The first was the addition of the words: and authoritie in controversies of fayth, in Article XX., which deals with the authority possessed by the Church. The second was the complete suppression for the time being of Article XXIX., which is entitled, Of the wicked which do not eate the Body of Christe in the use of the Lordes Supper, and is expressed in terms which most Lutherans would have been loath to use.

The Queen’s action was probably due to political reasons. It was important in international politics for a Protestant Queen not yet securely seated on her throne to shelter herself under the shield which a profession of Lutheranism would give. The German Lutherans had won legal recognition within the Empire at the Diet of Augsburg in 1555; the votes of two Lutheran Electors had helped to place the Emperor on his throne; and the Pope dared not excommunicate Lutheran Princes save at the risk of offending the Emperor and invalidating all his acts. This had been somewhat sternly pointed out to him when he first threatened to excommunicate Elizabeth, and the Queen knew all the difficulties of the papal position. One has only to read an account of a long conversation with her, reported by the Spanish Ambassador to his master (April 29th, 1559), to see what use the “wise Queen with the eyes that could flash”[586] made of the situation. The Ambassador had not obscurely threatened her with a papal Bull declaring her a bastard and a heretic, and had brought home its effects by citing the case of the King of Navarre, whose kingdom was taken[Pg 415] from him by Ferdinand of Spain acting as the Pope’s agent, and Elizabeth had played with him in her usual way. She had remarked casually “that she wished the Augsburg Confession to be maintained in her realm, whereat,” says the Count de Feria, “I was much surprised, and found fault with it all I could, adducing the arguments I thought might dissuade her from it. She then told me it would not be the Augsburg Confession, but something else like it, and that she differed very little from us, as she believed that God was in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and only dissented from three or four things in the Mass. After this she told me that she did not wish to argue about religious matters.”[587] She did not need to argue; the hint had been enough for the baffled Ambassador.

Article XXIX. was suppressed, and only Thirty-eight Articles were acknowledged publicly. The papal Bull of excommunication was delayed until 1570, when its publication could harm no one but Elizabeth’s own Romanist subjects, and the dangerous period was tided over safely. When it came at last, the Queen was not anathematised in terms which could apply to Lutherans, but because she personally acknowledged and observed “the impious constitutions and atrocious mysteries of Calvin,” and had commanded that they should be observed by her subjects.[588] Then, when the need for politic suppression was past, Article XXIX. was published, and the Thirty-nine Articles became the recognised doctrinal standard of the Church of England (1571).

What the Queen’s own doctrinal beliefs were no one can tell; and she herself gave the most contrary descriptions when it suited her policy. The disappearance and reappearance of crosses and candles on the altar of the royal chapel were due as much to the wish to keep in touch with the Lutherans as to any desire to conciliate the Queen’s Romanist subjects.

[Pg 416]

The Convocation of 1563 had other important matters before it. Its proceedings showed that the new Elizabethan clergy contained a large number who were in favour of some drastic changes in the Prayer-Book and in the Act of Uniformity. Many of them had become acquainted with and had come to like the simplicity of the Swiss worship, thoroughly purified from what they called “the dregs of Popery”; and others envied the Scots, “who,” wrote Parkhurst to Bullinger (Aug. 23rd, 1559), “have made greater progress in true religion in a few months than we have done in many years.”[589]

Such men were dissatisfied with much in the Prayer-Book, or rather in its rubrics, and brought forward proposals for simplifying the worship, which received a large measure of support. It was thought that all organs should be done away with; that the ceremony of “crossing” in baptism should be omitted; that all festival days save the Sundays and the “principal feasts of the Church” should be abolished;—this proposal was lost by a majority of one in the Lower House. Another motion, leaving it to the option of communicants to receive the Holy Supper either standing, sitting, or kneeling, as it pleased them, was lost by a very small majority. Many of the Bishops themselves were in favour of simplifying the rites of the Church; and five Deans and twelve Archdeacons petitioned against the use of the surplice. The movement was so strong that Convocation, if left to itself, would probably have purified the Church in the Puritan sense of the word. But the Queen had all the Tudor liking for a stately ceremonial, and she had political reasons, national and international, to prevent her allowing any drastic changes. She was bent on welding her nation together into one, and she had to capture for her Church the large mass of people who were either neutral or who had leanings to Romanism, or at least to the old mediæval service. The Council of Trent was sitting; Papal excommunication was always threatened, and, as above explained, Lutheran protection[Pg 417] and sympathy were useful. The ceremonies were retained, the crucifixes and lights on the altars were paraded in the chapel royal to show the Lutheran sympathies of the Queen and of the Church of England. The Reforming Bishops, with many an inward qualm,[590] had to give way; and gradually, as the Queen had hoped, a strong Conservative instinct gathered round the Prayer-Book and its rubrics. The Convocation of 1563 witnessed the last determined attempt to propose any substantial alteration in the public worship of the English people.

At the same Convocation a good deal of time was spent upon a proposed Book of Discipline, or an authoritative statement of the English canon law. It is probable that its contents are to be found in certain “Articles for government and order in the Church, exhibited to be permitted by authority; but not allowed,” which are printed by Strype[591] from Archbishop Parker’s MSS. Such a book would have required parliamentary authority, and the Parliament of 1563 was too much occupied with the vanishing protection of Spain and with the threatening aspect of France and Scotland. The marriage of the Queen of Scots with Darnley had given additional weight to her claims on the English throne; and it was feared that the English Romanists might rise in support of the legitimate heir. Parliament almost in a panic passed severe laws against all recusants, and increased the penalties against all who refused the oath of allegiance or who spoke in support of the authority of the Bishop of Rome. The discipline of the Church was left to be regulated by the old statute of Henry VIII., which declared that as much of the mediæval canon law as was not at variance with the Scriptures and the Acts of the English Parliament was to form the basis of law for the ecclesiastical courts. This gave the Bishop’s[Pg 418] officials who presided over the ecclesiastical courts a very free hand; and under their manipulation there was soon very little left of the canon law—less, in fact, than in the ecclesiastical courts of any other Protestant Churches. For these officials were lawyers trained in civil law and imbued with its principles, and predisposed to apply them whenever it was possible to do so.

The formulation of the Thirty-nine Articles in the Convocation of 1563 may be taken as marking the time when the “alteration of religion” was completed. The result, arrived at during a period of exceptional storm and strain, has had the qualities of endurance, and the Church of England is at present what the Queen made it. It was the Royal Supremacy which secured for High Church Anglicans the position they have to-day. The chief features of the settlement of religion were:

1. The complete repudiation within the realm and Church of England of the authority of the Bishop of Rome. All the clergy and everyone holding office under the Crown had to swear to this repudiation. If they refused, or were recusants in the language of the day, they lost their offices and benefices; if they persisted in their refusal, they were liable to forfeit all their personal property; if they declined to take the oath for a third time, they could be proclaimed traitors, and were liable to the hideous punishments which the age inflicted for that crime. But Elizabeth, with all her sternness, was never cruel, and no religious revolution was effected with less bloodshed.

2. The sovereign was made the supreme Governor of the Church of England; and that the title differed in name only from that assumed by Henry VIII. was made plain in the following ways:

(a) Convocation was stript of all independent legislative action, and its power to make ecclesiastical laws and regulations was placed under strict royal control.[592]

[Pg 419]

(b) Appeals from all ecclesiastical courts, which were themselves actually, if not nominally, under the presidency of civil lawyers, could be made to royal delegates who might be laymen; and these delegates were given very full powers, and could inflict civil punishments in a way which had not been permitted to the old mediæval ecclesiastical courts. These powers raised a grave constitutional question in the following reigns. The royal delegates became a Court of High Commission, which may have been modelled on the Consistories of the German Princes, and had somewhat the same powers.

3. One uniform ritual of public worship was prescribed for all Englishmen in the Book of Common Prayer with its rubrics, enforced by the Act of Uniformity. No liberty of worship was permitted. Any clergyman who deviated from this prescribed form of worship was liable to be treated as a criminal, and so also were all those who abetted him. No one could, under penalties, seek to avoid this public worship. Every subject was bound to attend church on Sunday, and to bide the prayers and the preaching, or else forfeit the sum of twelvepence to the poor. Obstinate recusants or nonconformists might be excommunicated, and all excommunicated persons were liable to imprisonment.

4. Although it was said, and was largely true, that there was freedom of opinion, still obstinate heretics were liable to be held guilty of a capital offence. On the other hand, the Bishops had little power to force heretics to stand a trial, and, unless Parliament or Convocation ordered it otherwise, only the wilder sectaries were in any danger.[593]

Protestant England grew stronger year by year. The debased copper and brass coinage was replaced gradually by honest gold and silver.[594] Manufactures were encouraged.[Pg 420] Merchant adventurers, hiring the Queen’s ships, took an increasing share in the world-trade with Elizabeth as a partner.[595] Persecuted Huguenots and Flemings settled in great numbers in the country, and brought with them their thrift and knowledge of mechanical trades to enrich the land of their adoption;[596] and the oppressed Protestants of France and of the Low Countries learnt that there was a land beyond the sea ruled by a “wise young Queen” which might be their city of refuge, and which was ready to aid them, if not openly, at least stealthily. England, formerly unarmed, became supplied “more abundantly than any other country with arms, munitions, and artillery.” Sound money, enlarged trade, growing wealth, and an increasing sense of security, were excellent allies to the cause of the Protestant Religion.

So long as Mary of Scotland was in Holyrood and able to command the sympathy, if not the allegiance, of the English Roman Catholics, the throne of Elizabeth was never perfectly secure; but the danger from Scotland was minimised by the jealousy between Catherine de’ Medici and her daughter-in-law, and the Scottish Protestant Lords could always be secretly helped. When Philip II. of Spain, in his slow, hesitating way, which made him always miss the turn of the tide, at length resolved to aid Mary to crush her rebels at home and to prosecute her claims on England, his interference had no further consequences than to afford Elizabeth an honourable pretext for giving effectual assistance in the conflict which drove Mary from her throne, and made Scotland completely and permanently Protestant.[597]

[Pg 421]





The revolt of Luther was the occasion for the appearance—the outbreak, it might be called—of a large amount of irregular independent thinking upon religion and theology which had expressed itself sporadically during the whole course of the Middle Ages. The great difference between the thinkers and their intellectual ancestors who were at war with the mediæval Church life and doctrine, did not consist in the expression of anything essentially new, but in the fact that the Renaissance had introduced a profound contempt for the intellectual structure of ecclesiastical dogma, and that the whole of the sixteenth century was instinct with the feeling of individuality and the pride of personal existence. The old thoughts were less careful to accommodate themselves to the recognised modes of theological statement, they took bolder forms of expression, presented sharper outlines, and appeared in more definite statements.

Part of this thinking scarcely belongs to ecclesiastical history at all. It never became the intellectual basis of an institution; it neither stirred nor moulded the lives of masses of men. The leaders of thought remained solitary thinkers, surrounded by a loose fringe of followers. But[Pg 422] as there is always something immortal in the forcible expression of human thought, their opinions have not died altogether, but have affected powerfully all the various branches of the Christian Church at different periods and in divers ways. The old conceptions, somewhat disguised, perhaps, but still the same, reappear in most systems of speculative theology. It therefore demands a brief notice.

The greater portion of this intellectual effervescence, however, did not share the same fate. Menno Simons, aided, no doubt, by the winnowing fan of persecution, was able to introduce order into the wild fermenting elements of Anabaptism, and to form the Baptist Church which has had such an honourable history in Europe and America. Fausto Sozzini did the same for the heterogeneous mass of anti-Trinitarian thinking, and out of the confusion brought the orderly unity of an institutional life.

This great mass of crude independent thought may be roughly classified as Mystic, or perhaps Pantheist Mystic, Anabaptist, and anti-Trinitarian; but the division, so far as the earlier thinkers go, is very artificial. The groups continually overlap; many of the leaders of thought might be placed in two or in all three of these divisions. What characterised them all was that they had little sense of historical continuity, cared nothing for it, and so broke with the past completely; that they despaired of seeing any good in the historical Church, and believed that it must be ended, as it was impossible to mend it; and that they all possessed a strong sense of individuality, believing the human soul to be imprisoned when it accepted the confinement of a common creed, institution, or form of service unless of the very simplest kind.

Pantheistic Mysticism was no new thing in Christianity. As early as the sixth century at least, schools of thought may be found which interpreted such doctrines as the Trinity and the Person of Christ in ways which led to what must be called Pantheism; and if such modes of dissolving Christian doctrines had not a continuous succession within the Christian Church, they were always appearing.[Pg 423] They were generally accompanied with a theory of an “inner light” which claimed either to supersede the Scriptures as the Rule of Faith, or at least to interpret them. The Scriptures were the husk which might be thrown away when its kernel, discovered by the “inner light,” was once revealed. The Schwenkfelds, Weigels, Giordano Brunos of the sixteenth century, who used what they called the “inner light” in somewhat the same way as the Council of Trent employed dogmatic tradition, had a long line of ancestry in the mediæval Church, and their appearance at the time of the Reformation was only the recrudescence of certain phases of mediæval thought. But, as has been said, such thinkers were never able, nor perhaps did they wish, to form their followers into a Church; and they belong much more to the history of philosophy than to an ecclesiastical narrative. They had no conception whatever of religion in the Reformation sense of the word. Their idea of faith was purely intellectual—something to be fed on metaphysics more or less refined.

By far the most numerous of those sixteenth century representatives of mediæval nonconformists were classed by contemporaries under the common name of Anabaptists or Katabaptists, because, from 1526 onwards, they all, or most of them, insisted on re-baptism as the sign of belonging to the brotherhood of believers. They were scattered over the greater part of Europe, from Sweden in the north to Venice in the south, from England in the west to Poland in the east. The Netherlands, Germany,—southern, north-western, and the Rhineland,—Switzerland, the Tyrol, Moravia, and Livonia were scenes of bloody persecution endured with heroic constancy. Their leaders flit across the pages of history, courageous, much-enduring men, to whom the world was nothing, whose eyes were fixed on the eternal throne of God, and who lived in the calm consciousness that in a few hours they might be fastened to the stake or called upon to endure more dreadful and more prolonged tortures,—men of every varying type of character, from the gentle and pious young Humanist Hans [Pg 424] Denck to Jan Matthys the forerunner of the stern Camisard and Covenanter. No statement of doctrine can include the beliefs held in all their innumerable groups. Some maintained the distinctive doctrines of the mediæval Church (the special conceptions of a priestly hierarchy, and of the Sacraments being always excluded); others were Lutherans, Calvinists, or Zwinglians; some were Unitarians, and denied the usual doctrine of the Person of Christ;[598] a few must be classed among the Pantheists. All held some doctrine of an “inner light”; but while some sat very loose to the letter of Scripture, others insisted on the most literal reading and application of Biblical phraseology. They all united in maintaining that true Christians ought to live separate from the world (i.e. from those who were not rebaptized), in communities whose lives were to be modelled on the accounts given in the New Testament of the primitive Christians, and that the true Church had nothing whatever to do with the State.

Curiously enough, the leaders in the third group, the anti-Trinitarians, were almost all Italians.

The most outstanding man among them, distinguished alike by his learning, his pure moral life, a distinct vein of piety, and the calm courage with which he faced every danger to secure the propagation of his opinions, was the Spaniard Miguel Servede (Servetus),[599] who was burnt at[Pg 425] Geneva in 1553. He was very much a man by himself. His whole line of thought separated him from the rest of the anti-Trinitarian group associated with the names of the Sozzini. He reached his position through a mystical Pantheism—a course of thought which one might have expected from a Spaniard. He made few or no disciples, and did not exert any permanent influence.

The other anti-Trinitarians of the first rank were all cultured Italians, whom the spirit of the Renaissance prompted to criticise and reconstruct theology as they found it. They were all men who had been driven to reject the Roman Church because of its corruptions and immoralities, and who had no conception of any other universal Christian society. Men of pure lives, pious after their own fashion, they never had any idea of what lay at the root of the Reformation thought of what real religion was. It never dawned upon them that the sum of Christianity is the God of Grace, manifest in Christ, accessible to every believing soul, and unwavering trust on man’s part. Their interest in religion was almost exclusively intellectual. The Reformers had defined the Church as the fellowship of believers, and they had said that the marks of that fellowship were the preaching of[Pg 426] the Word and the right use of the sacraments—the means through which God manifests Himself to men, and men manifest their faith in God. These men never apprehended this; the only idea which they seemed able to have of the Church was a school of definite and correct opinions. Compelled to flee from their native land, they naturally took refuge in Switzerland or in the Grisons. It is almost pathetic to see how they utterly failed to understand the men among whom they found themselves. Reformation to them was a criticism and reconstruction of theology; they were simply carrying the criticism a little further than their new neighbours. They never perceived the real gulf fixed between them and the adherents of the Reformation.

They were all highly educated and cultivated men—individual units from all parts of Italy. Camillo Renato, who proclaimed himself an Anabaptist, was a Sicilian. Gentili came from Calabria; Gribaldo from Padua; Bernardino Occhino, who in his later days joined the band, and the two Sozzini from Siena. Alciat was a Piedmontese. Blandrata (Biandrata), the most energetic member of the group save Fausto Sozzini, belonged to a noble family in Saluzzo which had long been noted for the protection it had afforded to poor people persecuted by the Church. They were physicians or lawyers; one, Gentili, was a schoolmaster.

The strong sense of individuality, which seems the birthright of every Italian, fostered by their life within their small city republics, had been accentuated by the Renaissance. The historical past of Italy, and its political and social condition in the sixteenth century, made it impossible for the impulse towards reform to take any other shape than that of individual action. The strength and the impetus which comes from the thought of fellow-man, fellow-believer, and which was so apparent in the Reformation movements beyond the Alps and in the Jesuit reaction, was entirely lacking among these Reformers in Italy. In that land the Empire had never[Pg 427] regained its power lost under the great Popes, Gregory VII. and Innocent III. The Romish Church presented itself to all Italians as the only possible form under which a wide-spreading Christian Society could be organised. If men rejected it, personal Christian life alone remained. The Church dominated the masses unprepared by any such conception of ecclesiastical reform as influenced the people in Germany and Switzerland. Only men who had received some literary education were susceptible to the influences making for Reformation. They were always prevented by the unbroken power of the agencies of the Church from organising themselves publicly into congregations, and could only meet to exchange confidences privately and on rare occasions.[600] We hear of several such assemblies, which invariably took the form of conferences, in which the members discussed and communicated to each other the criticisms of the mediæval theology which solitary meditation had suggested to them. They were much more like debating societies than the beginnings of a Church. Thus we hear of one at Vincenza,[601] in 1546, where about forty friends met, among whom was Lelio Sozzini, where they debated such doctrines as the Satisfaction of Christ, the Trinity, etc., and expressed doubts about their truth. It was inevitable that such men could not hope to create a popular movement towards Reformation in their native land, and also that they should be compelled to seek safety beyond the bounds of Italy. They fled, one by one, across the Alps. In the Grisons and in Reformed Switzerland they found little communities of their countrymen who had sought[Pg 428] shelter there, and their presence was always followed by dissensions and by difficulties with the native Protestants.

Their whole habits of life and thought were not of the kind calculated to produce a lasting Christian fellowship. Their theological opinions, which were not the outcome of a new and living Christian experience, but had been the result of an intellectual criticism of the mediæval theology, had little stability, and did not tend to produce unity. The execution of Servede and the jealousy which all the Reformed cantons of Switzerland manifested towards opinions in any way similar to those of the learned Spaniard, made life in Switzerland as unsafe as it had been in Italy. They migrated to Poland and Transylvania, attracted by the freedom of thought existing in both lands.

Poland, besides, had special attractions for refugees from Italy. The two countries had long been in intimate relationship. Italian architects had designed the stately buildings in Crakau and other Polish cities, and the commercial intercourse between the two countries was great. The independence and the privileges of the Polish nobles secured them from ecclesiastical interference, and both Calvinism and Lutheranism had found many adherents among the aristocracy. They, like the Roman patricians of the early centuries, gave the security of their halls to their co-religionists, and the heads of the Romanist Church chafed at their impotence to prevent the spread of opinions and usages which they deemed heretical. In Transylvania the absence of a strong central government permitted the same freedom to the expression of every variety of religious opinion.

The views held by the group of anti-Trinitarians were by no means the same. They reproduced in Poland the same medley of views we find existing in the end of the third century. Some were Sabellians, others Adoptianists, a few were Arians. Perhaps most of them believed in the miraculous birth of our Lord, and held as[Pg 429] a consequence that He ought to be adored; but a strong minority, under the leadership of Francis Davidis, repudiated the miraculous birth, and refused to worship Christ (non-adorantes). For a time they seem to have lived in a certain amount of accord with the members of the Reformed communities. A crisis came at the Polish Diet of 1564, and the anti-Trinitarians were recognised then to be a separate religious community, or ecclesia minor. This was the field in which Fausto Sozzini exercised his commanding intellect, his genius for organisation, and his eminently strong will. He created out of these jarring elements the Socinian Church.

The Anabaptist and the Socinian movements require, however, a more detailed description.

[Pg 430]



The old monotonous mode of describing Anabaptism has almost entirely disappeared with the modern careful examination of sources. It is no longer possible to sum up the[Pg 431] movement in four stages, beginning with the Zwickau prophets and ending with the catastrophe in Münster, or to explain its origin by calling it the radical side of the Reformation movement.[603] It is acknowledged by careful students to have been a very complicated affair, to have had roots buried in the previous centuries, and to have had men among its leaders who were distinguished Humanists. It is now known that it spread over Europe with great rapidity, and attracted to itself an enormously larger number of adherents than had been imagined.

It is impossible within the limits of one brief chapter to state and criticise the various theories of the origin and roots of the movement which modern investigation has[Pg 432] suggested. All that can be done is to set down succinctly the conclusions reached after a tolerably wide examination of the sources—admitting at the same time that more information must be obtained ere the history of the movement advances beyond the controversial stage.

It is neither safe nor easy to make abrupt general statements about the causes or character of great popular movements. The elements which combine to bring them into being and keep them in existence are commonly as innumerable as the hues which blend in the colour of a mountain side. Anabaptism was such a complicated movement that it presents peculiar difficulties. As has been said, it had a distinct relation to two different streams of mediæval life, the one social and the other religious—the revolts of peasants and artisans, and the successions of the Brethren.

From the third quarter of the fifteenth century social uprisings had taken place almost every decade, all of them more or less impregnated with crude religious beliefs. They were part of the intellectual and moral atmosphere that the “common man,” whether in town or country district, continuously breathed, and their power over him must not be lost sight of. The Reformation movement quickened and strengthened these influences simply because it set all things in motion. It is not possible, therefore, to draw a rigid line of separation between some sides of the Anabaptist movement and the social revolt; and hence it is that there is at least a grain of truth in the conception that the Anabaptists were the revolutionaries of the times of the Reformation.

On the other hand, there are good reasons for asserting that the distinctively religious side of Anabaptism had little to do with the anarchic outbreaks. It comes in direct succession from those communities of pious Christians who, on the testimony of their enemies, lived quiet God-fearing lives, and believed all the articles in the Apostles’ Creed; but who were strongly anti-clerical. They lived unobtrusively, and rarely appear in history save when the chronicle[Pg 433] of some town makes casual mention of their existence, or when an Inquisitor ferreted them out and records their so-called heresies. Their objections to the constitution and ceremonies of the mediæval Church were exactly those of the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century; and if we do not find a universal repudiation of infant baptism, there are traces that some did not approve of it. They insisted that the service ought to be in the vulgar tongue; they objected to all the Church festivals; to all blessing of buildings, crosses, and candles; they alleged that Christ did not give His Apostles stoles or chasubles; they scoffed at excommunications, Indulgences, and dispensations; they declared that there was no regenerative efficacy in infant baptism; and they were keenly alive to all the injunctions of Christian charity—it was better, they said, to clothe the poor than to expend money on costly vestments or to adorn the walls of Churches, and they kept up schools and hospitals for lepers. They met in each other’s houses for public worship, which took the form of reading and commenting upon the Holy Scriptures.[604]

As we are dependent on very casual sources of information, it is not surprising that we cannot trace their continuous descent down to the period of the Reformation; but we do find in the earlier decades of the sixteenth century notices of the existence of small praying communities, which have all the characteristics of those recorded in the Inquisitors’ reports belonging to the end of the fourteenth or beginning of the fifteenth centuries. They appeared in Basel in 1514, in Switzerland in 1515, in Mainz in 1518, and in Augsburg somewhat earlier.[605] By the year 1524 similar “praying circles” were recorded as existing in France, in the Netherlands, in Italy, in Saxony, in Franconia, at Strassburg, and in Bohemia. They used a common catechism for the instruction of their young[Pg 434] people which was printed in French, German, Bohemian, and perhaps Italian. In Germany, the Bible was the German Vulgate—a version retained among the Anabaptists long after the publication of Luther’s. They exhibited great zeal in printing and distributing the pious literature of the Friends of God of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Many of them taught Baptist views, though the tenets were not universally accepted, and they were already called Anabaptists or Katabaptists—a term of reproach. Some of their more distinguished leaders were pious Humanists, and their influence may perhaps be seen in the efforts made by the Brethren to print and distribute the Defensor Pacis of Marsiglio of Padua.

This quiet Evangelical movement assumed a more definite form in 1524. Before that date the associations of pious people acted like the Pietists of the seventeenth or like the Wesleyans of the eighteenth century. They associated together for mutual edification; they did not obtrusively separate themselves from the corrupt or slothful Church. But in June 1524, delegates representing a very wide circle of “praying assemblies” or Readings met at Waldshut, in the house of Balthasar Hübmaier,[606] bringing their Bibles with them, to consult how to organise their Christian living on the lines laid down in the New Testament. No regular ecclesiastical organisation was formed. The Brethren resolved to separate from the Papal Church; they published a Directory for Christian living, and drew up a statement of principles in which they believed. Amongst other things, they protested against any miraculous efficacy in the Sacraments in general, and held that Baptism is efficacious only when it is received in faith. This led afterwards to the adoption of Baptist views. A second conference was held at Augsburg in 1526, which probably dates the time when adult baptism became a distinctive belief among all the Brethren. This conference suggested a General Synod which met at Augsburg in 1527 (Aug.), and included among its members, delegates from Munich,[Pg 435] Franconia, Ingolstadt, Upper Austria, Styria, and Switzerland. There they drew up a statement of doctrinal truth, which is very simple, and corresponds intimately with what is now taught among the Moravian Brethren. Their Hymn-book[607] does not bear any traces of the errors in doctrine usually attributed to them. Its chief theme is the love of God awakening our love to God and to our fellow-men. Instead of infant baptism they had a ceremony in which the children were consecrated to God. Baptism was regarded as the sign of conversion and of definite resolve to give one’s self up to the worship and service of God. It was administered by sprinkling; the recipient knelt to receive it in the presence of the congregation. The Holy Supper was administered at stated times, and always after one or two days of solemn preparation. Their office-bearers were deacons, elders, masters and teachers, or pastors. They distinguished between pastors who were wandering evangelists and those who were attached to single congregations. The latter, who were ordained by the laying on of hands, alone had the right to dispense the Sacraments. All the deacons, elders, and pastors belonging to communities within a prescribed district, selected from among themselves delegates who formed their ecclesiastical council for the district, and this council elected one of the pastors to act as Bishop or Superintendent. It was the Superintendent who ordained by laying on of hands. The whole of the Brethren were governed ecclesiastically by a series of Synods corresponding to those in the Presbyterian Churches. This organisation enabled the Anabaptists to endure the frightful persecution which they were soon to experience at the hands of the papal and Lutheran State Churches.

The chief leaders were Balthasar Hübmaier and Hans Denck. Hübmaier was a distinguished scholar. He became, at an unusually early age, Professor of theology at[Pg 436] Ingolstadt (1512); he was Rector of the famous High School in that city (1515); and Cathedral preacher at Regensburg (Ratisbon) (1516). In 1519, feeling that he could no longer conscientiously occupy such positions, he retired to the little town of Waldshut. Hans Denck was a noted Humanist, a member of the “Erasmus circle” at Basel, and esteemed the most accurate Greek scholar in the learned community. Conrad Grebel, another well-known Anabaptist leader, also belonged to the “Erasmus circle,” and was a member of one of the patrician families of Zurich. Like Hübmaier and Denck, he gave up all to become an evangelist, and spent his life on long preaching tours. These facts are sufficient to refute the common statement that the Anabaptists were ignorant fanatics.

Perhaps Denck was the most widely known and highly esteemed. In the summer of 1523 he was appointed Rector of the celebrated Sebaldus School in Nürnberg. In the end of 1524 he was charged with heresy, and along with him Jörg Penz, the artist, the favourite pupil of Albert Dürer, and four others. Denck was banished from the city, and his name became well known. This trial and sentence was the occasion of his beginning that life of wandering evangelist which had among other results the conferences in 1526 and 1527, and the organisation above described. Denck had drunk deeply at the well of the fourteenth and fifteenth century Mystics, and his teaching was tinged by many of their ideas. He believed that there was a spark of the divine nature in man, an Inner Word, which urged man to walk in the ways of God, and that man could always keep true to the inward monitor, who was none else than Christ. The accounts given of some of his addresses seem to be echoes of Tauler’s famous sermon on the Bridegroom and the Bride, for he taught that the sufferings of the faithful are to be looked upon as the love-gifts of the Saviour, and are neither to be mourned nor resisted. We are told in the quaint Chronicle of Sebastian Frauck, that the Baptist current swept swiftly through the whole land; many thousands were[Pg 437] baptized, and many hearts drawn to them. “For they taught nothing but love, faith, and crucifixion of the flesh, manifesting patience and humility under many sufferings, breaking bread with one another in sign of unity and love, helping one another with true helpfulness, lending, borrowing, giving, learning to have all things in common, calling each other ‘brother.’”[608] He adds that they were accused of many things of which they were innocent, and were treated very tyrannically.

The Anabaptists, like the earlier Mystics, displayed a strong individuality; and this makes it impossible to classify their tenets in a body of doctrine which can be held to express the system of intellectual belief which lay at the basis of the whole movement. We have three contemporary accounts which show the divergence of opinion among them—two from hostile and one from a sympathetic historian. Bullinger[609] attempts a classification of their different divisions, and mentions thirteen distinct sects within the Anabaptist circle; but they manifestly overlap in such a way as to suggest a very large amount of difference which cannot be distinctly tabulated. Sebastian Franck[610] notes all the varieties of views which Bullinger mentions, but refrains from any classification. “There are,” he says, “more sects and opinions, which I do not know and cannot describe, but it appears to me that there are not two to be found who agree with each other on all points.” Kessler,[611] who recounts the story of the Anabaptists of St. Gallen, notes the same great variety of opinions.

It is quite possible to describe the leading ideas taught by a few noted men and approved of by their immediate circle of followers, and so to arrive with some accuracy at the popularity of certain leading principles among different parties, but it must be remembered that no great[Pg 438] leader imposed his opinions on the whole Anabaptist circle, and that the views held at different times by prominent men were not invariably the sentiments which lay at the basis of the whole movement.

The doctrine of passive resistance was held by almost all the earlier Anabaptists, but it was taught and practised in such a great variety of ways that a merely general statement gives a misleading idea. All the earlier Anabaptists believed that it was unchristian to return evil for evil, and that they should take the persecutions which came to them without attempting to retaliate. Some, like the young Humanist, Hans Denck, pushed the theory so far that they believed that no real Christian could be either a magistrate or a soldier. A small band of Anabaptists, to whom one of the Counts of Liechtenstein had given shelter at Nikolsburg, told their protector plainly that they utterly disapproved of his threatening the Austrian Commissary with armed resistance if he entered the Nikolsburg territory to seize them. In short, what is called “passive resistance” took any number of forms, from the ordinary Christian maxim to be patient under tribulation, to that inculcated and practised by the modern sect of Dunkers.

The followers of Melchior Hoffman, called “Melchiorites,” held apocalyptic or millenarian views, and expected in the near future the return of Christ to reign over His saints; but there is no reason to suppose that this conception was very widely adopted, still less that it can be called a tenet of Anabaptism in general. All the Anabaptists inculcated the duty of charity and the claims of the poor on the richer members of the community; but that is a common Christian precept, and does not necessarily imply communistic theories or practices. All that can be definitely said of the whole Anabaptist circle was that they did keep very clearly before them the obligations of Christian love. The so-called Communism in Münster will be described later.

When we examine carefully the incidental records of contemporary witnesses observing their Anabaptist[Pg 439] neighbours, we reach the general conclusion that their main thought was to reproduce in their own lives what seemed to them to be the beliefs, usages, and social practices of the primitive Christians. Translations of the Bible and of parts of it had been common enough in Germany before Luther’s days. The “common man,” especially the artisan of the towns, knew a great deal about the Bible. It was the one book he read, re-read, and pondered over. Fired with the thoughts created in his mind by its perusal, simple men felt impelled to become itinerant preachers. The “call” came to them, and they responded at once to what they believed to be the divine voice. Witness Hans Ber of Alten-Erlangen, a poor peasant. He rose from his bed one night and suddenly began to put on his clothes. “Whither goest thou?” asked his poor wife. “I know not; God knoweth,” he answered. “What evil have I done thee? Stay and help me to bring up my little children,” “Dear wife,” he answered, “trouble me not with the things of time. I must away, that I may learn the will of the Lord.”[612] Such men wandered about in rude homespun garments, often barefooted, their heads covered with rough felt hats. They craved hospitality in houses, and after supper produced their portions of the Bible, read and expounded, then vanished in the early morning. We are told how Hans Hut came to the house of Franz Strigel at Weier in Franconia, produced his Bible, read and expounded, explained the necessity of adult baptism, convinced Strigel, the house father, and eight others, and baptized them there and then. He wandered forth the same night. None of the baptized saw him again; but the little community remained—a small band of Anabaptists.[613]

These wandering preachers, “prophets” they may be called if we give them the early Christian name, were not drilled in any common set of opinions. Each conceived[Pg 440] the primitive teaching and social life as he seemed to see it reflected in the New Testament; and no two conceptions were exactly the same. The circumstances and surroundings produced an infinite variety of thought about the doctrines and usages which ought to be accepted and practised. Yet they had traditional modes of interpretation handed down to them from the praying circles of the “Brethren.” Compare what the Austrian Inquisitor says of the “Brethren” in the thirteenth century, with what Johann Kessler tells about the Anabaptists of St. Gallen, and the resemblance is striking so far as external appearance goes. “Hæretici cognoscuntur per mores et verba,” says the Inquisitor. “Sunt enim in moribus compositi et modesti; superbiam in vestibus non habent, nec pretiosis, nec multum abjectis utuntur.... Doctores etiam ipsorum sunt sutores et textores. Divitias non multiplicant, sed necessariis sunt contenti. Casti etiam sunt.... Temperati etiam in cibo et potu. Ad tabernas non eunt, nec ad choreas, nec ad alias vanitates. Ab ira se cohibent; semper operantur, discunt vel docent, et ideo parum orant.... Cognoscuntur etiam in verbis præcisis et modestis. Cavent etiam a scurrilitate et detractione, et verborum levitate, et mendacio, et juramento.”[614] Kessler tells us that the walk and conversation of these Anabaptists was “throughout pious, holy, and blameless”; that they refrained from wearing costly apparel, despised luxurious eating and drinking, clothed themselves in rough cloth, wore slouch hats on their heads. Franck relates that they refused to frequent wine-shops and the “gild” rooms where dances were held.

As they lived again the life of these mediæval sectaries, so they reproduced their opinions in the same sporadic way. Some of them objected to all war even in self-defence, as did some of the earlier Lollards. Their Lord had said to His first disciples: “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.” They flung[Pg 441] from them the sword, with which peasant and artisan were then alike girt, and went about as the apostles were ordered to do, with staves in their hands—the Stäbler or staffmen who would have nothing to do with the weapons of wolves. Others, also like some of the Lollards, would not enter the “huge stone houses with great glass windows which men called ‘churches.’” The early Christians had preached and “broken bread” in houses; and they would follow their example; and in private rooms, in the streets, in the market-places, they proclaimed their gospel of peace and contentment. The infinitesimal number who taught something like “free love,” and who were repudiated by the others, were reproducing the vagaries of the mediæval Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit, who gave Meister Eckhart so much trouble centuries before in the Rhineland. All the more extravagant ideas and practices which appear among small sections of these Anabaptists of the sixteenth century can be found among the sectaries of the Middle Ages. For the whole Anabaptist movement was mediæval to the core; and, like most of the mediæval religious awakenings, produced an infinite variety of opinions and practices. The one idea common to all was, that the Christians of the sixteenth century were called to reproduce in thought and life the intellectual beliefs and usages of the primitive Christians. It is simply impossible to give any account of opinions and practices which were universally prevalent among them. Even the most widely spread usages, adult baptism and the “breaking of bread,” were not adopted in all the divisions of the Anabaptists.

What is more, they were modern enough, at least in the earlier stages of the movement, to be conscious of this (which the Mystics were not), and to give it expression. All felt and thought as did a “simple man,” Hans Müller of Medikon, when brought before the Zurich magistrates: “Do not lay a burden on my conscience, for faith is a gift given freely by God, and is not common property. The mystery of God lies hidden, like the treasure in the field, which no one can find but he to whom the Spirit shows it.[Pg 442] So I beg you, ye servants of God, let my faith stand free.”[615] And the Anabaptists, alone of all the religious parties in those strenuous times, seem to have recognised that what they claimed for themselves they were bound to grant to others. Great differences in opinion did not prevent the strictest brotherly fellowship. Hans Denck held a doctrine of non-resistance as thoroughgoing as that of Count Tolstoy, and fully recognised the practical consequences to which it led. But this did not prevent the ardent and gifted young Humanist working loyally with Hübmaier, who did not share his extreme opinions. The divergences among the leaders appeared in their followers without destroying the sense of brotherhood. Franck tells us in his Chronicle[616] that some, but very few, held that no Christian could enter the magistracy, for Christians had nothing to do with the sword, but only with spiritual excommunication, and that no Christian should fight and slay. The others, he says, including the very great majority, believed that Christians might become magistrates, and that in case of dire necessity and when they clearly saw the leading of God, might take their share in fighting as soldiers.

Melchior Hoffman, while he believed in the incarnation, held that Jesus received His flesh directly from God, and did not owe His body to the Virgin Mother, through whom He passed “as light through a pane of glass.” He also held that the whole history of the world, down to the last days, was revealed in Scripture, and could be discovered through prayer and meditation. He was an eloquent and persuasive preacher, and his views were accepted by many; but it would be a great mistake to assume that they were shared in by the Anabaptists as a community. Yet even contemporaries, who were opponents, usually attribute the extreme opinions of a few to the entire body.

It ought to be observed that this tolerance of different opinions within the one society did not extend to those[Pg 443] who remained true to the State Churches, whether Romanist or Reformed. The Anabaptists would have nothing to do with a State Church; and this was the main point in their separation from the Lutherans, Zwinglians, and Calvinists. It was perhaps the one conception on which all parties among them were in absolute accord. The real Church, which might be small or great, was for them an association of believing people; and the great ecclesiastical institutions into which unconscious infants were admitted by a ceremony called baptism long before they could have or exercise faith, represented to them an idea subversive of true Christianity. They had no wish to persecute men who differed widely from them, but they would not associate with them. This enforced “separation,” like everything else connected with Anabaptism, differed considerably in the way in which it was carried into practice. In some of the smaller sections it appeared in very extravagant forms. Wives and husbands, Anabaptists whose partners belonged to the State Churches, were in some small sections advised to refuse cohabitation. It is more than probable that some recorded sayings on which opponents have founded charges of encouraging sexual irregularities,—that it was better for women to have connection irregularly with members of the brotherhood than to cohabit with unbelieving husbands,—were simply extravagant ways of expressing this duty of separation.

It is also true that as time went on and sects of extreme opinions multiplied, the excommunication of members for their views came to be a common practice. It was as frequent among some of the smaller divisions as it is among modern Plymouth Brethren; but the occasion was, as a rule, difference of opinion about the way to express and exercise the duty of not returning evil for evil—was it permitted to pay taxes or not? was it lawful to see without protest their protectors using force to prevent their enemies from attacking them, etc.?

The earlier ideas of non-resistance, whatever practical shape they might take, gave way before the continuous and terrible persecution which the Anabaptists had to endure.[Pg 444] They were first definitely condemned by Melchior Hoffman and his followers. They believed in the speedy establishment on earth of the millennial kingdom of Christ, and they declared that they were ready to fight for it when it appeared. With them the conception was simply a pious opinion, and they had no occasion to reduce it to action. The Anabaptists, however, who followed the teaching of Jan Matthys and of his disciple Jan Bockelson, repudiated passive resistance both in theory and in practice.

Of course, there are many things about some, perhaps all, great religious awakenings which critics can lay hold of to their disparagement; and it was so with the Anabaptist movement. Everything, from the scientific frame of mind to the religious sensibility, has the defects of its qualities. When a man is seized and possessed by a new spiritual emotion which seems to lift him above all previous experience of life or of thought, all things are new to him, and all things seem possible. His old life with its limitations has departed. He is embarked on a sea which has no imprisoning shores. He is carried along on a great current of emotion, and others are borne with him. Human deep calleth unto deep when they exchange confidences. He and his fellows have become new creatures; and that is almost all that they know about themselves. Such experiences are quite consistent with soundness of mind and clearness of vision of God and Divine things—that is usual; but sometimes they are too powerful for the imperfect mind which holds them. The converts are “puffed up,” as St. Paul said. Then arise morbid states, distorted vision, sometimes actual shipwreck of mental faculties, not seldom acute religious mania. Leaders in a great religious awakening have always to reckon with such developments—St. Paul, Francis of Assisi, Eckhart, Tauler, to say nothing of modern instances. The Apostle addressed morbid souls with severe sarcasm. Did any man really think, he asked, that to commit incest, to take to wife his father’s widow, was an example of the freedom with which Christ had made them free?

[Pg 445]

The Anabaptist movement had its share of such cases, like other religious movements; they grew more frequent as the unfortunate people were maddened by persecution; and these exceptional incidents are invariably retailed at length by historians hostile to the movement.

The Anabaptists, as a whole, were subjected to persecutions, especially from the Romanists and the Lutherans, much more harsh than befell any of the religious parties of the sixteenth century. Their treatment in Zurich may be taken as an example of how they came in contact with the civil authorities, and how their treatment grew in severity.[617]

The Swiss Anabaptists were in no sense disciples of Zwingli. They had held their distinctive principles and were a recognised community long before Zwingli came from Einsiedeln, and were the lineal descendants of the mediæval Waldenses. They welcomed the Reformer; some of them were in the company who challenged the authorities by eating meat during Lent in 1522; but a fundamental difference soon emerged. After the Public Disputation of 1523, when it became clear that Zurich meant to accept the Reformation, a deputation of the Brethren appeared before the Council to urge their idea of what a Reformed Church should be. Their statement of principles is an exposition of the fundamental conceptions which lay at the basis of the whole Anabaptist movement, and explains why they could not join either the Lutheran or the Reformed branch of the Reformation Church. They insisted that an Evangelical Church must differ from the Roman Church in this among other things, that it should consist of members who had made a personal profession of faith in their Saviour, and who had vowed to live in obedience to[Pg 446] Jesus Christ their Hauptmann. It could not be like a State Church, whether Romanist or other, to which people belonged without any individual profession of faith. They insisted that the Church, thus formed, should be free from all civil control, to decide for itself what doctrines and ceremonies of worship were founded on the Word of God, and agreeable thereto, and should make this decision according to the opinions of a majority of the members. They further asked that the Church should be free to exercise, by brotherly admonition and, as a last resort, by excommunication, discipline on such of its members as offended against the moral law. They also declared that the Church which thus rejected State control ought to refuse State support, and proposed that the tithes should be secularised. The New Testament, they said, knew nothing about interest and usury, tithes, livings, and prebends.

These views were quite opposed to the ideas of the Zurich Council, who contemplated a State Church reformed from Romanist abuses, but strictly under the control of the State, and supported by the tithes, as the mediæval Church had been. They refused to adopt the ideas of the Anabaptists; and this was the beginning of the antagonism. The Council found that the great majority of the petitioners had doubts about infant baptism, and were inclined to what are now called Baptist views; and they brought matters to a crisis by ordering a Public Disputation on Baptism (Jan. 17th, 1525). Among the Anabaptists who appeared to defend their principles, were young Conrad Grebel the Humanist, Felix Manz, and Brother Jörg from Jacob’s House, a conventual establishment near Chur, who is always called “Blaurock” (Blue-coat). They were opposed by Zwingli, who insisted that infant baptism must be maintained, because it took the place of circumcision. The Council decided that Zwingli’s contention was right, and they made it a law that all children must be baptized, and added that all persons who refused to have their children baptized after Feb. 1st, 1525, were to be arrested. The Anabaptists were not slow to answer the challenge thus[Pg 447] given. They met, and after deliberation and prayer Blaurock asked Conrad Grebel to baptize him in a truly Christian fashion, “there being no ordained person present,” and Grebel did so. “When this had been done the others entreated Blaurock to baptize them, which he did; and in deep fear of the Lord they gave themselves to God.” They resolved to preach and baptize, because in this they ought to obey God rather than men.[618]

When the Council heard that adult baptism had begun, they enacted that all who had been rebaptized after Feb. 8th (1525) were to be fined a silver mark, and that whoever was baptized after the issue of their decree should be banished. They also imprisoned the leaders. When they found that neither fines, nor threats, nor imprisonment, nor banishment had any effect on the Anabaptists, the Town Council thought to terrify them by a death sentence. Two were selected, Manz and Blaurock. The latter was not a citizen, and the sentence of death was commuted to one of public scourging and being thrust out of the town; but Felix Manz, a townsman, was put to death by drowning (1527). Zwingli insisted that this judicial murder was not done because of baptism, but because of rebellion!

What was done in Reformed Switzerland was seen all over Roman Catholic and Lutheran Germany. It is only fair to say that the persecution was more murderous within the Romanist districts; but the only Lutheran Prince who refused to permit a death penalty on Anabaptism was Philip of Hesse. He was afterwards joined by the Elector of Saxony.

In 1527 (Aug. 26th), the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria published an imperial mandate threatening all Anabaptists with the punishment of death. Two months later, two thousand copies of this proclamation were sent to the provinces of the German Empire, calling on the authorities to extirpate these unfortunate people. The[Pg 448] rulers in Salzburg and in the Tyrol obeyed the order at once, and a fierce persecution soon raged. The minds of the population were inflamed by infamous calumnies. It was said in Salzburg that the Anabaptists had planned to massacre all the priests and monks within the principality. The well-known dislike of the brethren to war was tortured into the accusation that on a Turkish invasion they would side with the enemy against all loyal Germans. A certain Leopold Dickius, who wrote an atrocious book against the Anabaptists, demanded that all the men should be slain and the women and children suffered to perish from starvation; in this way only, he said, could their errors be stamped out.

The Salzburg chronicler, Kilian Leib, a Romanist, gives details of the persecution. He tells us that men, women, and young maidens suffered death by fire, beheading, and drowning, not only uncomplainingly, but with solemn joy. He dwells on the case of “a beautiful young girl” of sixteen, whose gentle innocence excited universal compassion, and who utterly refused to recant. The executioner pinned her hands to her sides, plunged her head downwards into a horse trough, held her there till she was suffocated, and then took her body away to burn it. The official lists show that the victims came from all classes in society. Noblemen, girdle-makers, wallet-makers, shoemakers, a town clerk, and ex-priests.

The persecution in the Tyrol was severe and thorough. A large number of the miners of the district were Anabaptists, and it was resolved to root out the so-called heresy. Descriptions were published of prominent Anabaptists, who wandered from place to place encouraging their brethren to steadfastness. “One named Mayerhofer has a long brown beard and wears a grey soldier’s coat; a companion, tall and pale, wears a long black coat with trimming; a third is shorter; a fourth, thin and of a ruddy complexion, is known as a cutler.” Conrad Braun, an assessor to the imperial Chamber and an eye-witness to the persecutions, wrote,—“I have seen[Pg 449] with my own eyes that nothing has been able to bring back the Anabaptists from their errors or to make them recant. The hardest imprisonment, hunger, fire, water, the sword, all sorts of frightful executions, have not been able to shake them. I have seen young people, men, women, go to the stake singing, filled with joy; and I can say that in the course of my whole life nothing has moved me more.”[619] In the Tyrol and Görz the number of executions by the year 1531 amounted to a thousand, according to the chronicler Kirchmayr. Sebastian Franck reckons the number in Enisheim, within the government of Upper Austria, at six hundred. Seventy-three martyrs suffered in Linz within six weeks. The persecution in Bavaria was particularly severe; Duke William ordered that those who recanted were to be beheaded, and those who refused were to be burned. The general practice, made a law by Ferdinand of Austria in 1529 (April 23rd), was that only preachers, baptizers, Baptists who refused to recant, and those who had relapsed after recantation, were to be punished with death.[620]

In these bloody persecutions, which raged over almost all Europe, most of the earlier leaders of the Anabaptists perished; but the great body of their followers were neither intimidated nor disposed to abjure their teaching. Persecution did not come unexpectedly. No one was admitted into an Anabaptist community without being warned of the probable fate which lay before him. Baptism was a vow that he would be constant unto death; the “breaking of bread” strengthened his faith; the sermon was full of exhortations to endurance unto the end. Their whole service of worship was a preparation for and an expectation of martyrdom.

The strain of Christian song seemed to rise higher with the fires of persecution. Most of the Anabaptist[Pg 450] hymns belong to the time when their sufferings were greatest. Some are simply histories of a martyrdom, as of Jörg Wagner at Munich, or of the “Seven Brethren at Germünd.” They are all echoes of endurance where the notes of the sob, the trust, the warning, the hosanna of a time of martyrdom, blend in rough heroic strains. They sing of Christ, who in these last days has manifested Himself that the pure word of His Gospel may again run through the earth as it did in the days of the early Church. They tell how the arch-enemy of souls seeks to protect himself against the advancing host of Jesus by exciting bloody persecutions. They utter warnings against false prophets, ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing, who beset all the paths of life leading towards the true fold, who pour forth threats and curses against the people of Go