Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 50

The Reformation in France

The history of the Reformation in France awakens, as we approach it, the most mingled feelings. The wonderful progress of the truth in that gay, frivolous, and dissolute kingdom, creates the deepest interest, gratitude, and admiration, while the enemies' opposition and triumph fill the heart with deepest sorrow. It was then a great nation, and early blessed with the doctrines of the Reformation. Four years before the voice of Luther or Zwingle was heard, the university of Paris had been convulsed by the proclamation of a free salvation to the chief of sinners, through faith in Christ without works of human merit. The doctrine of the Reformation was not, therefore, imported from Germany or Switzerland, but was the native fruit of French soil. We cannot but lament that a kingdom so great, so central, so intelligent, did not throw off the papal yoke like England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, and the half of Germany. But dearly she has had to pay in her periodical revolutions for the rejection of the light. The two elements, the gospel of the grace of God, and the superstitions of Rome, strove mightily with each other, and produced the most violent struggles and the most tragic scenes that history has recorded.

The awakening of souls by divine grace, to the importance of the truth, evidently commenced, as we have already seen, by means of James Lefevre, then nearly seventy years of age, and his youthful convert, William Farel. Then came Olivetan; and he, in his turn, was the means of leading Calvin to the knowledge of Jesus. In the commentary published by Lefevre, as early as 1512, he says, "It is God who gives us, by faith, that righteousness, which by grace alone justifies to eternal life." These few words-as in the case of Luther when he discovered the great truth-"The just shall live by faith"-show us plainly that the doctor of the Sorbonne, as well as the monk of Erfurt, was taught of God, that divine light had filled his own soul, and that this heavenly ray was sufficient to illumine the souls of others. And thus we find it. While Lefevre was sowing the seed of eternal life in his lecture room, Farel, now fully emancipated from the superstitions of Rome, and well instructed in the gospel of Christ, was preaching outside with great boldness. "Young and resolute," says Felice, "he caused the public places to resound with his voice of thunder;" and being now master of arts, he had the privilege of lecturing in the celebrated college of the cardinal Lemoine, one of the four principal colleges of the theological faculty in Paris, equal in rank to the Sorbonne. Other young evangelists were also engaged in preaching the gospel and circulating the truth.

The priests and the doctors of the Sorbonne became greatly alarmed for the interests of holy mother church; and the university issued a formal declaration condemnatory of the new opinions. But before going farther in the order of events, it may be well to notice the entrance upon the scene of three persons, on whose will the destinies of France henceforth depended; namely, Francis I., Margaret, his sister, and their mother, Louisa of Savoy, countess of Angouleme.

The good king Louis XII., styled the father of his people, died on the 1st of January, 1515. No sovereign of France had before been so honoured and loved; his death struck consternation into all hearts. When his funeral passed along the streets to the cathedral of Notre Dame, the public criers headed the procession, ringing their bells, and proclaiming in a voice almost inaudible through tears, "Le bon roi Louis, pere du peuple, est mort"-"the good king Louis, the Father of his people, is dead." Judging from circumstances, had the Reformation taken place during his reign, the whole of France might have become protestant; but his successor was a prince of a widely different character.

On the 25th of January, 1515, Francis of Angouleme, duke of Valois and cousin to the king, was crowned at Rheims with great display. He was of tall stature, handsome in person, possessed of every accomplishment as a cavalier and a soldier, but of dissolute character, and following rashly wherever his passions led him. His education, however, under de Boisy, his tutor, had not been neglected, so that he was considered the most learned prince in France, and greatly honoured literature and learned men. His queen, Claude, is little spoken of, but his sister Margaret, afterwards queen of Navarre, always occupies a prominent place. She was his senior by two years, had great influence over her brother, and being early converted, and amongst the first to embrace the Reformed doctrines, she often sheltered the persecuted, and succeeded in moving the king's heart to clemency. But state policy, his pretended zeal for the church, and the influence of the parliament and the Sorbonne, frequently proved stronger than his sister's love. Like her brother, she was tall, extremely beautiful, fascinating in her manners, and possessed of a great mind and ability, both natural and acquired. But after her conversion, all her powers, due allowance being made for the times and her position, were consecrated to the Lord and His people.

In the history of these remarkable persons, we have an instructive and an important illustration of the effect of grace and truth on the heart and in the life. They were the only children of Louisa, who was only twenty years old when she became a widow. Her daughter Margaret had not attained her fourth year; while the infant Francis had just completed his fifteenth month. Brave of heart, highly gifted and strong in the consciousness of duty, Louisa applied herself in every possible way to the responsibilities of her position. Her two cherished children became the objects of her affection and of her unceasing care, for which she was fully repaid in after life by the devotion of her children; though, morally, they pursued such widely different paths. But we must now return to the more direct line of our history.

First-Fruits of the Reformation

Meaux was the first city in France that heard the doctrines of the Reformation publicly expounded, and where the firstfruits of the gospel were gathered. About twenty-five miles east of Paris, and not far distant from the then Flemish frontier; it was a place full of working people-mechanics, wool-carders, fullers, cloth-makers, and artisans. The bishop of the place, William Brissonnet, a man of high rank, being count of Montbrun, became a convert to the new doctrines. Being a man of noble family, and of imposing address, he had been twice sent ambassador of Francis I. to the Holy See; but he returned to Paris less a son of the church than he had been before going. He may, like Luther, have had his eyes opened to the dazzling wickedness of Rome, and to the utter hollowness of her gorgeous ceremonies.

On his return from his diplomatic missions, he was astonished to find the interest which had been awakened, and the change which had been wrought by the preaching of the new doctrines. The universities were full of debate and tumult on the subject, and the hearts of the artisans in his own diocese were greatly moved by the tidings of the gospel which had reached them. This was in 1521, four years after Luther had affixed his thesis to the door of his cathedral, and the very year in which he appeared before the Diet of Worms. The proximity of Meaux to Flanders, and the similarity of its trade to that of the larger Flemish towns occasioned a degree of intercourse between them, which doubtless contributed to the spread of the new opinions.

The bishop, evidently a pious, humble, but timid man, sought an interview with Lefevre, that he might be better instructed in the new doctrines. The aged doctor placed the Bible in the prelate's hands, assuring him that it was the Bible, and the Bible only, which ever leads the soul back to the truth as it was in the beginning of the gospel of Christ. Before there were schools, sects, ceremonies, or traditions, the truth was the means, and the Holy Spirit the power, of salvation. He searched the scriptures with great diligence; and, with the Lord's blessing, they became a source of great happiness to him. Writing to Margaret, over whom he exercised a wholesome influence, he says, "The savour of divine food is so sweet, that it renders the mind insatiable; the more one tastes, the more one desires it. What vessel is able to receive the exceeding fulness of this inexhaustible sweetness?"*

{*Freer's History of Margaret, vol. 1, p. 98; D'Aubigne, vol. 3, 509; Smiles' History of the Huguenots, p. 18.}

The Conversion of Margaret

Many of the eminent men who composed the court of Francis at this time, and who enjoy the confidence of the king, were favourably disposed towards the doctrines of Lefevre and the bishop. They were literary men whom Francis and Margaret had already encouraged and protected from the attacks of the Sorbonne, which regarded the study of Hebrew and Greek as the most pernicious of heresies. Francis, who loved learning, invited into his states learned men, thinking says Erasmus, "in this manner to adorn and illustrate his age in a more magnificent manner than he could have done by trophies, pyramids, or by the most pompous structures." For a time he was carried away by the influence of his sister, by Brissonnet, and the learned men of his court. He would often be present at the conversations of the learned, listening with delight to their discussions. It was then that he prepared the way for the word of God by founding Hebrew and Greek Professorships.

But there is one thing to be borne in mind respecting the favour shown by many learned men to the idea of Reform, at that time. They, no doubt, felt the power and the truth of the doctrines set forth by the Reformers, but were not prepared to separate from the communion of the church of Rome. They felt and owned the need of Reform, and hoped that Rome and her priesthood would take the lead in the needed Reformation, and in this way have their hopes realized. But there was one in that brilliant circle whose convictions were deeper; whose conscience was at work, and who was diligently reading the New Testament in the Greek tongue. Such was the gifted Margaret of Angouleme. But she was unhappy; she was sad at heart amidst the gaieties of the court. Francis was passionately fond of his sister whom he always called his "darling," and Margaret was not less devoted in affection to her brother. They had grown up together, wandered in the fields and gardens together as children, and for a time their lives and tastes were one. But the time was come when they must be parted-parted morally at least.

The time, too, when this moral divergence took place, made it the more trying. Her grace and beauty made her the ornament of her brother's court, and he wished her to be always at his side. "Francis," says Wylie, "after wavering some time between the gospel and Rome, between the pleasures of the world and the joys that are eternal, made at last his choice, but, alas! on the opposite side to that of his lovely and accomplished sister. Casting in his lot with Rome, and staking crown and kingdom and salvation upon the issue, he gave battle to the Reformation." The mother alas! followed her son in all the intrigues and dissimulation of state policy. She exercised the most unbounded influence over the king, and some of the calamities of France are attributed to her unjustifiable policy. He constituted her regent of France, during his absence on his Italian campaign, to the great mortification of his parliament.

Margaret, through divine grace, was led, chiefly by means of Brissonnet, to clearer and fuller views of the gospel, and to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. This took place about the year 1521, just as the persecution was beginning to burst forth, and many of the persecuted found within her gates a shelter which a merciful providence had provided against the evil days that were at hand.

The influence of Margaret's conversion was felt among the high personages of the court, and the literary circles of the capital. The surprise was great, and all talked of the king's sister embracing the new opinions. Those who sought to arrest the work of the Lord sought the ruin of Margaret. She was denounced to the king, but he pretended to think it was untrue. Meanwhile, says Brantome, "she was very kind, mild, gracious, charitable, affable, a great almsgiver, despising nobody, and winning all hearts by her excellent qualities." The heart loves to dwell on such an instance of the rich sovereign grace of God, in the midst of the corruption and frivolities of the court of Francis. But God would have His witnesses and light-bearers even in the palace in the morning of the Reformation. The dear young Christian, however, was severely tried. Her struggles between conscience and what was expected of her were great and frequent. "The timid heart of the princess," says D'Aubigne, "trembled before the anger of the king. She was constantly wavering between her brother and her Saviour, and could not resolve to sacrifice either.... However, such as she is, she is a pleasing character on the page of history. Neither Germany nor England present her parallel." Her light, we have no doubt, was often clouded and her testimony silenced by the angry looks of the king, as he manifested his hatred of the Reformation, and of the friends whom Margaret loved. But the Lord was with her though her feminine character may have sometimes drawn her into the shade.

The Reformation of Brissonnet

The courtly bishop was a constant and welcome guest at the palace. It was there he put the Bible into the hands of Margaret, and the friendship he enjoyed with Francis gave him many opportunities of spreading the new doctrines among the philosophers and scholars whom that monarch loved to assemble around him. And being a bishop,~and in such favour at court, he had many listeners, and it may be to this period, and to such conversions as Brissonnet and Margaret, that we should trace the inclination of so many French nobles to embrace Protestantism. But the king and a large majority of the people remained faithful to Rome, and many of the nobility, intimidated by her threakenings and martyrdoms, hesitated, drew back, until at length their convictions waned in their minds, and left them captives to the darkness from which they lacked the moral courage to extricate themselves.*

{*Freer's History of Margaret, vol. 1, p. 97.}

Brissonnet, now full of zeal for the Reformation of the church, determined to set the. example by reforming his own diocese. On his return from Paris to Meaux, he inquired into the lives and doctrines of the preachers, and discovered that nearly all the pulpits were filled with Franciscan monks, while the deans the incumbents, vicars, and curates, spent their time in idleness and their revenues in Paris. He ascertained that throughout his diocese there were scarcely ten resident priests, and out of one hundred and twenty-seven curates, there were only fourteen whom the.bishop could approve of, or permit to officiate in his diocese. Then the bishop, turning towards men, who did not belong to his clergy, called around him, not only his old friend Lefevre, but Farel, D'Arvande, Roussel, and Francis Vatable. Thus the light of the gospel was gradually withdrawn from Paris where God in His sovereign grace had kindled its earliest sparks; and thither the persecutors were determined to follow, but as yet the tempest is forbidden to burst. The Reformers must be protected by the hand of a divine providence until their work is more complete.*

{*D'Aubigne, vol. 3, p. 532; Freer, vol. 1, p. 98.}

The Bible in French at Meaux

Like our English Wycliffe, the aged Lefevre greatly desired that every man in France should have the privilege of reading the holy scriptures in his mother tongue. For this he laboured, and with the assistance of Brissonnet the four Gospels in French were published in October, 1522, the remaining books of the New Testament soon followed, and in October, 1524, a complete edition of the New Testament was published at Meaux. There the great fountain of light was first introduced which placed the work on a solid basis, and there the first Protestant congregation publicly assembled.

The pious bishop greatly furthered this good work by his wealth and his zeal. The word of God was speedily and widely circulated, the poor were supplied gratis. Never did a prelate devote his income to nobler purposes, and never did a seed time promise to bear a more glorious harvest. The preachers transferred from Paris to Meaux, and finding themselves unfettered, were acting with great liberty, while the word of God was diligently read in the homes and workshops of the people. The effect was sudden and great. Divine light had taken the place of papal darkness. The new book became the theme of their constant conversation, for while they handled their spindles and their combs, they could talk to each other of some fresh discovery they had made in the Gospels or the Epistles, and so the villagers in the vineyards, when the meal-hours came, one read aloud while the others gathered round him. "There was engendered in many," says a chronicler of that day, "an ardent desire for knowing the way of salvation, so that artisans, fullers, and wool-combers took no other recreation, as they worked with their hands, than to talk with each other of the word of God, and to comfort themselves with the same. Sundays and holidays especially were devoted to the reading of scripture, and inquiring into the good pleasure of the Lord."

The following quotation from a Catholic historian, though hostile, bears witness to the positive influence of the word of God on the people. "Lefevre, aided by the renown of his great learning contrived so to cajole and circumvent Messire Brissonnet with his plausible talk, that he caused him to tum aside grievously, so that it has been impossible to this day to free the city and diocese of Meaux from that pestilent doctrine, where it has so marvellously increased. The misleading that good bishop was a great injury, as until then he had been so devoted to God and to the Virgin Mary."*

{*Quoted by D'Aubigne, vol. 3, p. 544.}

The Blessed Effects of the Word of God

These simple people soon became better instructed than their former teachers, the Franciscan monks. Christianity had taken the place of superstition, and the word of God had revealed Christ to their souls as the sun and centre of divine light. They now saw that praying to the saints is idolatry; that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, and that the throne of grace is open to all. Meaux had thus become a focus of light; tidings of the great work spread through France, so that it became a proverb with reference to anyone noted for the new opinions that "he had drunk at the well of Meaux."

The preaching of the new ministers was for a time confined to private assemblies, but as the number of their hearers increased, they gained courage and ascended the public pulpits. The bishop preached in his turn; he entreated his flock to lend no ear to those who would tum them aside from the word of God; even if an angel from heaven were to preach another gospel, be sure you do not listen to him. Lefevre, energetically expounding the word on one occasion, exclaimed, "Kings, princes, nobles, peoples, all nations should think and aspire after Christ alone! .... Come near, ye pontiffs, come ye kings, come ye generous hearts! .... Nations awake to the light of the gospel, and inhale the heavenly life. The word of God is all-sufficient!" And this, henceforth became the motto of that school: THE WORD OF GOD IS ALL-SUFFICIENT.

Thus the ray of light which we have seen shining through the darkness of prejudice about the year 1512, when Lefevre proclaimed from the tribune of the popish Sorbonne the futility of works without faith, declared the one Mediator between God and man; and boldly denounced the idolatry of those who invocated, and offered prayers to the Virgin and the saints. That divine ray was not suffered to become extinct. Four nearly twelve years it has been expanding until, like a beacon in the surrounding gloom, it is showing thousands and tens of thousands the way of life and peace, and how to avoid the ways of death and hell.*

{*Freer, vol. 1, p. 70.}

Commencement of Persecution in France

We must now look at the other side of the picture. If the young flock of Meaux was peacefully feeding on the green pastures under the bishop's care, the monks, who cared little for the green pastures of the gospel, were losing their influence and their revenues, and the begging friars were returning home from their rounds with empty wallets. "These new teachers are heretics," said they; "and they attack the holiest of observances, and deny the most sacred mysteries." Then, growing bolder, the most incensed among them proceeded to the palace. On being admitted they said to the prelate, "Crush this heresy, or else the pestilence, which is already desolating the city of Meaux, will spread over the whole kingdom." Brissonnet was moved, and for a moment disturbed by the audacious monks, but did not give way. Yet admirable as were the piety and zeal of the bishop, he was of a timid and temporizing nature when danger assailed him. He lacked the firmness and constancy of spirit which enables some men, in days of persecution, to yield life rather than conscience and truth; and so he fell, yielding truth and conscience, and saving his life and liberty.

The monks, enraged at their unfavourable reception by the bishop, determined to lay their complaints before a higher tribunal. They hastened to Paris, and denounced the bishop before the Sorbonne and the parliament. "The city of Meaux," said they, "and all the neighbourhood, are infected with heresy, and its polluted waters flow from the episcopal palace." Thus was the cry of heresy raised, and France soon heard the cry raised of persecution against the gospel. The notorious Syndic, Noel Beda, eagerly listened. War was his native element. Shortly before the accession of Francis to the throne, he had been elected the head of the Sorbonne; so that he felt bound to wage war against any assertion or dogma at variance with the philosophy of the schools, or the articles of the Romish faith. "He eagerly dissected the writings of the Refommers," says Miss Freer, "to drag forth their errors, and exhibit them in triumph to the hostile Sorbonnists. His fiery oratory raged against the study of the Greek and Hebrew languages; and Paris and the university rang again with the angry protests of the irascible Syndic. His expressions of fanatic joy at the prospect of the war he was about to wage, caused a thrill of horror to pervade the university. No one dare pronounce himself, when the cruel scrutiny of Beda might detect heresy, where none but himself even dreamed that it existed." Such was the man that the timid Brissonnet had to face, along with others of a like spirit. "In a single Beda," Erasmus used to say, "there are three thousand monks."

The defeat of Pavia, where the flower of the French nobility fell, and where the knightly monarch was made the prisoner of Charles V., and carried to Madrid, made Louisa, the king's mother, Regent of France.* This augured badly for the Reformers; for she inherited the Savoy enmity to the gospel, and had become the leader of a licentious gallantry, which not only polluted the court of her son, but proved a great hindrance to the spread of the pure gospel.

{*For a brief but graphic description of this memorable engagement, which Wylie truly calls the "Flodden of France," see Freer's History of Margaret, vol. l, p. 153.}

Brissonnet Accused of Heresy

As regent, she proposed the following question to the Sorbonne: "By what means can the damnable doctrines of Luther be chased and extirpated from this most christian kingdom?" The answer was brief, but emphatic-"By the stake." And it was added, that if the remedy was not soon put in force, there would result great damage to the honour of the king, and of Madame Louisa of Savoy. Thus it was, according to a usual hollow pretence to uphold the throne, maintain the laws and order, that the authorities were compelled to unsheath the sword of persecution. The parliament was convoked. Brissonnet was summoned to appear. Beda and the monks of Meaux carried on the prosecution against the bishop and his friends, the Reformers, with unflagging vindictiveness. He was accused of holding Lutheran doctrines. The French edition of the New Testament, the joint labour of Brissonnet and Lefevre, was vehemently denounced; especially Lefevre's preface, addressed "to all christian readers." Beda had extracted from this address, and other works published at Meaux, forty-eight propositions which were declared by the faculty of theology to be heretical.

Brissonnet now saw what was before him; he must abandon the new doctrines, or go to prison, perhaps to the stake. He had not the courage necessary for resistance. Naturally timid, the menaces of Beda terrified him. Besides, he was persuaded by his friends to concede as much as would satisfy Rome, and then carry on the work of the Reformation in a less open way. He had also the powerful protection of Margaret to count upon, who was at this moment at St. Germain. But alas! he was not prepared to bear the scorn of the world, leave the church of Rome, and give up his riches and his station for the truth's sake. At last the power of present things prevailed, and he yielded to the terms of the Sorbonne. He accordingly issued, in October, 1523, his episcopal mandates. 1. To restore public prayers to the Virgin and the saints. 2. To forbid anyone to buy, borrow, read, possess, or carry about with him, Luther's works. 3. Not only to interdict the pulpits to Lefevre, Farel, and their companions, but to expel them from the diocese of Meaux. In addition to these stipulations, he had to pay a fine of two hundred livres.

What a blow this first fall of their kind and munificent friend must have been to both ministers and people! The flocks scattered, and the shepherds with heavy hearts turning their backs upon Meaux. Lefevre found his way to Nerac, where he terminated his career, under the protection of Margaret, at the advanced age of ninety-two. Farel escaped to Switzerland, where we have seen him happily engaged in the Lord's work. Gerard Roussel contributed to the progress of the Reformation in the kingdom of Navarre. The members of the church were, by persecution, dispersed throughout France; the rest of the flock, too poor to flee, had to abide the brunt of the tempest.*

{*Wylie's Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 141. D'Aubigné, vol. 3, chap. 7. Freer's History of Margaret, vol. 1, p. 134. Fry's History, p. 356.}

The First Martyrs of France

Brissonnet fallen, Lefevre and his friends compelled to flee, the Reformed church at Meaux dispersed, the monks again in the pulpits; this was a beginning of victory! But Rome was not satisfied, and never was, without the blood of the saints. "The sacerdotal and the civil power, the Sorbonne and the parliament, had grasped their arms — arms that were soon to be stained with blood. They set to work again; and blood, since it must be so, was ere long to gratify the fanaticism of Rome." The Christians at Meaux, though left without a shepherd, continued to meet in some private place for the reading of the word and prayer. One of their number, John Leclerc, a wool-comber, was so well instructed in the word, that he was soon regarded as one whom the Lord had raised up to strengthen and encourage them. True, he had neither received a college education, nor the imposition of hands, but he had the credentials of heaven, and took the oversight of the flock which the learned bishop had deserted.

Leclerc began well. He visited from house to house instructing and confirming the disciples; but his spirit was stirred within him, as he witnessed the monks so jubilant over their victory. Could he have overthrown the whole edifice of popery, and filled France with the truth of the gospel, the desire of his heart would have been answered. But like many others of a similar spirit in those times, his zeal carried him beyond the limits of prudence. He wrote a proclamation, styling the pope the Antichrist, predicting the downfall of his kingdom, and that the Lord was about to destroy it by the breath of His mouth. He then boldly posted his "placards" on the gates of the cathedral. Presently, all was in confusion. Priests, monks, and citizens gathered before the placards. Leclerc was suspected, seized, and thrown into prison. His trial was finished in a few days. The wool-comber was condemned to be whipped three days successively through the city, and branded on the forehead. He was led through the streets with his hands tied, and his neck bare, and the executioners willingly fulfilling their office. A great crowd followed, the papists yelled with rage; his friends showed him every mark of their tender compassion. When the brand of infamy was imprinted on his forehead with a hot iron, one woman drew near the martyr, with his bleeding back and burning brow, and sought to encourage him — she was his mother. Faith and maternal love struggled in her heart. At length, faith triumphed, and she exclaimed with a loud voice, ''Glory to Jesus Christ and His witnesses." The crowd, so thrilled with her emotional voice, made way for her to return home unmolested, while her son was banished from Meaux.

Leclerc found his way to Metz, where the Reformation had made some progress. Though with the brand of heretic on his brow, his zeal was unabated, his courage unabashed, and his prudence as greatly at fault. One of the great festivals of the place was approaching. A little way outside the gates of the city stood a chapel, containing images of the Virgin, and of the most celebrated saints of the province, and whither all the inhabitants of Metz were in the habit of making a pilgrimage on a certain day in the year, to worship these gods of stone, and to obtain the pardon of their sins. The pious and courageous soul of Leclerc was violently agitated. Tomorrow, he thought, the whole city, that should worship the one living and only true God, will be bowing down before these blocks of wood and stone. Without consulting the leading brethren there, he stole out of the city before the gates were closed, and sat down before the images in great conflict of mind. The passage in Exodus 23, "Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images," he believed, was now brought home to his conscience by the Spirit of the Lord, and, as Beza says "impelled by a divine afflatus," he broke down the images and indignantly scattered their fragments before the altar. At daybreak he re-entered Metz.

In a few hours, all were in motion in the ancient city of Metz. Bells were ringing, the population assembling, banners flying, and all, headed by canons, priests, and monks, moved on amidst burning tapers and smoking incense, to the chapel of Our Lady. But, suddenly, all the instruments of music were silent, and the whole multitude filled with indescribable agitation, as they saw the heads, arms, and legs of their deities strewn over the area where they had expected to worship them.

The Martyrdom of Leclerc

The branded heretic was suspected. Death, death to the impious wretch was the cry, and all returned in haste and disorder to Metz. Leclerc was seized. He admitted his crime, and prayed the deluded people to worship God only. When led before his judges, he boldly confessed his faith in Christ, God manifest in the flesh, and declared that He alone should be adored. He was sentenced to be burnt alive, and immediately dragged to the place of execution. His persecutors contrived to render his punishment most fearful and appalling. He beheld the terrible preparation of his torture, but he was calm, firm, and unmoved as he heard the wild yells of monks and the people; and through the marvellous grace and power of God, no sign of weakness marred the glory of his sacrifice. They began by cutting off his right hand; then tearing his flesh with red-hot pincers; they concluded by burning his breasts. While his enemies were in this way wearying themselves by their new inventions of torture, Leclerc's mind was at rest. He recited solemnly, and in a loud voice, the words of the psalmist: "Their idols are silver and gold, 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 throats. They that make them are like unto them, so is every one that trusteth in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: He is their help and their shield." (Psa. 115:4-9) After these tortures, Leclerc was burnt by a slow fire. Such was the death of the first martyr of the gospel in France.*

{*D'Aubigne, vol. 3, p. 582.}

But the priests of Metz were not satisfied with the blood of the poor wool-comber. Dean Chatelain had embraced the Reform doctrines, and could not be shaken from the faith. He was denounced before the cardinal of Lorraine, stripped of his priestly vestments, and in a layman's dress, handed over to the secular power, which condemned him to be burnt alive: and soon the minister of Christ was consumed in the flames. But the effect of these tragedies, as might have been expected, was to cause Lutheranism to spread through the whole district of Metz. "The beholders," says a chronicler "were astonished; nor were they untouched by compassion and not a few retired from the sad scenes to confess the gospel for which they had seen the martyrs, with so serene and noble a fortitude, lay down their lives."

Reflections on the Fall of Brissonnet

It is difficult to leave the ashes of Leclerc without a mournful thought of the poor bishop. If Leclerc is to be condemned for his indiscretion, he must be admired for his courage. But what of Brissonnet? Having many friends at court, he saved his mitre, his palace, and his riches; but at the cost of conscience, truth, and a crown of life. "What Brissonnet's reflections may have been," says Wylie, "as he saw one after another of his former flock go to the stake, and from the stake to heaven, we shall not venture to guess. May there not have been moments when he felt as if the mitre which he had saved at so great a cost, was burning his brow, and that even yet he must needs arise and leave his palace with all its honours, and by the way of the dungeon and the stake, rejoin the members of his former flock who had preceded him, by this same road, and inherit with them honours and joys, higher far than any the pope or the king of France had to bestow. But whatever he felt, and whatever at times may have been his secret resolutions, we know that his thoughts and purposes never ripened into acts."

Humanly speaking, we are disposed to attribute the fall of Brissonnet to a natural weakness of character, the deceitfulness of riches, and the influence of plausible friends. His case was conducted with closed doors before a commission, so that it is unknown to what extent he renounced the faith he had preached, and laboured to diffuse with a zeal apparently so ardent and so sincere. He remained in communion with Rome till his death-which happened a few years after his recantation-and contrived so to live, that there should be no more question about his orthodoxy.

By judging of such cases in the present day, there are many things to consider. They were just emerging from the darkness, superstitions, and indescribable wickedness of popery. Men of pure and pious minds, such as Brissonnet really was, saw the great need of Reform, and honestly wished to promote it, although they may not have contemplated a complete secession from her communion. The idea of separation as taught by our Lord in John 17, where He gives the disciples His own place of rejection on earth, and His own place of acceptance in heaven, formed no part in the teaching of those early times. Luther, a man of deep convictions and strong faith, was never really separated in spirit from the idolatry of Rome. He was no image-breaker, and his doctrine of the sacraments contradicted the truth he preached.

The heavenly relations of the Christian and the church not being seen, there was very little separating truth in the teaching of the early Reformers. It was chiefly doctrinal; comparatively little for the heart. The dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the saints individually, and in the assembly as the house of God, and the hope of the Lord's return, were overlooked by the Reformers in the sixteenth century. So that we must make great allowance, and not think too hardly of some who hesitated, or even drew back for a time, when they saw the stake; and, on the other hand, we must admire the grace of God which triumphed in many who knew very little truth. The Holy Spirit was their teacher, and they knew what was necessary to their own salvation and the glory of God.

The Conversion and Faith of Louis Berquin

One of the most illustrious victims of those early times was Louis Berquin, a gentleman of Artois, and an officer of the king's body-guard. "He would have been another Luther for France," says Beza, "if he had found in Francis another Elector of Saxony." Unlike the knights of his time, acquainted only with the helmet and the sword, he was learned, contemplative, frank, open-hearted, and generous to the poor. He had acquired a great reputation at the court of Francis; and, being sheltered by the powerful patronage of his royal master, he studied diligently the works of the Reformers, and soon became one of the most zealous of their converts. His conversion, through the grace of God, proved to be genuine. His learning, his eloquence, his influence, were from that hour all consecrated to the service of the gospel. Many looked to him as the Reformer of his native land. His leisure hours were spent in translating the works of Luther Melancthon, and Erasmus into French, and writing tracts on the leading doctrines of the christian faith, which he privately printed himself.

This heretic, thought Beda, is worse than Luther, but so unobtrusive was this christian knight, that it was difficult to find a charge on which to found an indictment of heresy. Spies were now employed. A rigorous watch was kept over every word uttered by Berquin. At length witnesses were found to prove that he had asserted it was heretical to invoke the Virgin Mary instead of the Holy Spirit before the sermon in the mass. This was enough; the Syndic, obtaining authority from the parliament to search the dwelling of Berquin made a forcible seizure of his books and papers, which he laid before the faculty of theology. These were condemned as having a heretical tendency, and Berquin was thrown into prison. "This one," said the sanguinary Beda, "shall not escape us, like Brissonnet and Lefevre." He was kept in solitary confinement, preparatory to his formal trial and certain condemnation to the stake.

Margaret, who had ever professed admiration of Berquin's talents, and had distinguished him by marks of her regard was immediately informed of his fate, and asked to interest herself in his favour. With the unhappy case of her friend Brissonnet before her, and dreading to see Berquin dragged to the stake, she wrote to her brother. She represented to the king the insolence of the Sorbonne in daring to arrest one of his officers upon so frivolous a pretence, without having first ascertained his royal pleasure. The suggestion touched the pride of Francis who broke out into violent transports of passion, menaced the parliament, and sent an order for the instant liberation of his officer. A second time he was imprisoned, and again the king came to his rescue, advising him to be more prudent. But his strong convictions of duty, as a witness for Christ, could not be suppressed. He laboured to spread the truth among the poor in the country, and among his friends in the city, and at the court. But the burning desire of his heart was to communicate his convictions to all France. A third time he was imprisoned, and the Sorbonne thought that this time they had made sure of their prey. The king was a prisoner at Madrid; Louisa was all-powerful at Paris, and along with Duprat, the unprincipled chancellor supported the persecutors. But no: Margaret's word again prevailed with her impulsive brother, and a royal order dated April 1st, 1526, commanded the suspension of the matter until the king's return.

When again at liberty, his lukewarm friends entreated him to avoid giving offence to the doctors who had evidently marked him for destruction. Erasmus, in particular, who, having learned that he was about to publish a translation of one of his Latin works with the addition of notes, wrote to him letter upon letter to persuade him to desist. "Leave these hornets alone," he said, "above all, do not mix me up in these things; my burden is already heavy enough. If it is your pleasure to dispute, be it so; as for me, I have no desire of the kind." Again he wrote, "Ask for an embassy to some foreign country, travel in Germany. You know Beda and his familiars, a thousand-headed hydra is shooting out its venom on all sides. The name of your enemies is Legion. Were your cause better than that of Jesus Christ, they will not let you go until they have brought you to a cruel end. Do not trust in the protection of the king. But in any case do not commit me with the faculty of theology." This letter, so characteristic of the timid philosopher, who always steered a middle course between the gospel and popery, only redoubled the courage of Berquin. He determined to stand no longer on the defensive, but to attack. He set to work, and extracted from the writings of Beda and his brethren, twelve propositions which he accused before Francis of being false, contrary to the Bible, and heretical.

The Sorbonnists were confounded. The outcry was tremendous. What! even the defenders of the faith, the pillars of the church, taxed with heresy by a Lutheran, who had deserved death a thousand times.* The king, however, not sorry to have an opportunity of humbling these turbulent doctors, commanded them to condemn or to establish the twelve propositions from scripture. This might have been a difficult task for the doctors, the matter was assuming a grave turn, when an accident occurred which turned everything in favour of the Sorbonne. An image of the Virgin happened to be mutilated just at that moment in one of the quarters of Paris. "It is a vast plot," cried the priests; "it is a great conspiracy against religion, against the prince, against the order and tranquillity of the country! All laws will be overthrown; all dignities abolished: this is the fruit of the doctrines preached by Berquin!" At the cries of the Sorbonne, the priests, the parliament, and of the people, the king himself was greatly excited. Death to the image-breakers! No quarter to the heretics! And Berquin is in prison a fourth time.

{*Felice, p. 26.}

The Sentence of the Sorbonne, and the Martyrdom of Berquin

A commission of twelve, delegated by the parliament, condemned him to make a public abjuration, then remain in prison without books, pen or paper, for the rest of his life after having had his tongue pierced with a hot iron. "I appeal to the king," exclaimed Berquin. "If you do not submit to our sentence," replied one of the judges, "we will find means to stop your appeals for ever. " "I would rather die, " said Berquin, "than only approve by my silence that the truth is thus condemned." "Let him then be strangled and burned upon the place de Greve!" said the judges with one voice. But it was deemed advisable to delay the execution till Francis was absent; for it was feared lest his lingering affection for his favorite and loyal servant might be awakened, and that he might order Berquin's release a fourth time.

A week's delay was craved in the execution of the sentence. "Not a day," said Beda; "let him be put to death at once." That same day, April 22nd, 1529, Berquin was led forth to die. Six hundred soldiers and a vast stream of spectators escorted him to the place of execution. Erasmus, on the testimony of an eyewitness, thus describes his appearance. "He showed no sign of depression. You would have said, that he was in his library pursuing his studies, or in a temple meditating on things divine. When the executioner, with husky voice, read to him his sentence, he never changed countenance. He alighted from the cart with a firm step. But his was not the stoical indifference of the hardened criminal, it was the serenity, the peace of a good conscience." As a peer of France, he was dressed according to his dignity: "he wore a cloak of velvet, a doublet of satin and damask, and golden hose;" there was no sign of mourning, but rather as if he were to appear at court; though not the court of Francis, but the court of heaven.

Wishing to make known the Saviour to the poor people around him, Berquin tried to speak to them, but he could not be heard. The monks gave the signal, and instantly, the clamour of voices, and the clash of arms, prevented the sacred words of the dying martyr being heard. But his death spoke to all France, and that, in a voice which no clamours could silence. The fire had done its work, and where had stood the noble of France and the humble Christian, there was now a heap of ashes. "Berquin's stake was to be, in some good measure, to France, what Ridley's was to England-'a candle which by God's grace, would not be put out, but would shine through all that realm.'"*

{*Wylie, vol. 2, p. 162; D'Aubigne's Calvin, vol. 2, p. 56; Felice, p. 27.}

The Rapid Spread of the Reform Doctrines

The two examples of martyrdom which we have given-one from the humbler and one from the higher ranks of life-may be considered as types of a vast crowd of others. Our limited space prevents us from recording the patient sufferings and the triumphant death of many noble witnesses for Christ. But notwithstanding the violence of the persecution the converts were more numerous than ever. The fame of Francis I. as showing favour to men of learning, and having, through the influence of his sister, invited Melancthon to take up his residence in Paris, led many of the Reformers in Germany and Switzerland to visit France and help on the good work of the Lord. In this way the writings of Luther, Zwingle, and others, found an entrance into that country, were extensively read, and the new opinions made rapid progress among all classes of the people. Here and there missionaries of the Reformation arose, congregations were formed, and from time to time, one and another, torn from the prayer-meeting or the scripture reading, went to seal his faith with his blood.

But in 1533 better days seemed to dawn on the Reformation. The queen-mother, Louisa of Savoy, one of its bitterest persecutors, had just died. Francis had made an alliance with the Protestants of the Smalcald league, and the influence of Margaret had thence increased. Taking advantage of this favourable moment, she opened the pulpits of Paris to Roussel, Courault, and Bertault, who leaned towards the Reformed doctrines. The bishop, John du Bellay, offered no opposition. The churches were crowded; Beda and the doctors of the Sorbonne tried to raise the people, but were prevented. Meanwhile Francis returned to Paris from Marseilles, where he had an interview with Clement VII. for the marriage of his son Henry with Catherine de Medici. His renewed friendship with the pope, Catherine's uncle, strongly bent his mind against the heretics. Many of them were cast into prison, and the three suspected ministers interdicted from preaching.

Such was Francis I., on whose humour so much depended. On the important subject of religion he had never come to a decision; he neither knew what he was nor what he wished. Still, from his natural hatred of the monks, and the powerful influence of his sister, he had hitherto favoured the Reformers. But an incident, for which the latter were much to blame, took place about this time, which ended the many struggles between Margaret and her brother as to the conduct to be pursued towards the Reformers, and also put an end to the king's vacillation.

Many of the Reformers were led, or rather misled, to depend upon the favour of the court for the furtherance of the gospel, and proposed to proceed moderately, desiring to do nothing that might offend. These were called Temporizers. The other party, called the Scripturalists, thought that they should place no dependence on the favour of princes, but boldly preach the gospel and resist everything that might bring back the superstitions of Rome. The young church of France being thus divided, they agreed to consult their old teachers, Farel and the other exiles. A young Christian, by name Feret, accepted the mission and proceeded to Switzerland. Scarcely had he crossed the Jura when a spectacle, so different from Paris, met his eye. In the towns and villages the altars were being demolished, the idols cast down, and all idolatry removed from public worship. This, as we have already seen was the work of Farel, Viret, Saunier, Olivetan Froment, and others. But France was altogether different. A powerful prince and a haughty priesthood were there to contend with a mere handful of Reformers.

"These medleys of the gospel and popery," said the Swiss evangelists, "can never exist together, any more than fire and water." They recommended bold measures. A vigorous blow must be struck at that which is the citidel of the papal empire. The mass must be abolished. "If the papal hierarchy was the tree whose deadly shade killed the living seeds of the word, the mass was its root." The writing and posting of placards all over France was proposed.

The Year of the Placards

At length the evangelical protest was written. Farel has been commonly credited with the authorship. Historians vie with each other in describing the violence of its style. "Indignation guided his daring pen," says one. "It was a torrent of scathing fire;" says another. "It was a thunderbolt, fierce terrific, and grand, resembling one of those tempests that gather in awful darkness on the summits of those mountains amid which the document was written, and finally explode in flashes which irradiate the whole heavens, and in volleys of sound which shake the plains over which the awful reverberations are rolled."*

{*Wylie, vol. 2; D'Aubigné's Calvin, vol. 3; Felice, p. 35; Freer, vol. 2, p. 138.}

When the placards reached Paris, many of the Christians thought the style too bitter and violent, but the majority were in favour of their publication. A night was fixed, October 18th, 1534, for the work to be done all over France. The eventful night came, and the venerable walls of the university of Paris, the public buildings of the capital, the church doors, and the Sorbonne itself were covered with placards. The movement was simultaneous throughout France. The placard was headed in large letters-"True articles on the horrible, great and intolerable abuses of the popish mass, invented in direct opposition to the holy supper of our Lord and only Mediator and Saviour Jesus Christ." Popes, cardinals, bishops, monks, and every distinguishing tenet of the Romish faith were attacked with sharpest invectives. The long placard-which occupies over five pages in D'Aubigné's history-thus concludes, "In fine, truth has deserted them, truth threatens them, truth chases them, truth fills them with fear; by all which shall their reign be shortly destroyed for ever."

No language can describe the one universal cry of rage and consternation which resounded throughout France on the morning of the 19th. The people gathered in groups around the placards. The priests and monks kindled the rage. The Lutherans, it was said, had laid a frightful plot for burning the churches, firing the town, and massacring every one; and the whole multitude shouted, Death! death to the heretics! The king at the time was living at the Chateau de Blois. A placard was pasted-no doubt by the hand of an enemy-on the very door of the king's apartment. Montmorency and the Cardinal de Tournon drew the king's attention to the paper. The prince was greatly agitated, he grew pale and speechless. He saw therein an insult, not only against his authority, but against his person, and these enemies of the Reformation- Montmorency and Tournon-so fixed this notion in his mind, that in his wrath he exclaimed, "Let all be seized, and let Lutheranism be totally exterminated." The members of the faculties also demanded that by a general auto-de-fe the daring blasphemy might be avenged.

Now it was that the storm, long held back by a good providence, burst forth in awful fury. The king was fully committed to the system of persecution. But, making every allowance for the times, the Reformers were not free from blame. Would the apostles have written and posted such placards? We have no standard of action, no guide but the word of God. Yet there can be only one feeling towards the sufferers-that of tenderest compassion. Orders were immediately issued by the king to seize the Sacramentarians, dead or alive. By the help of a traitor, their houses were pointed out and all were in a short time seized and thrown into prison. The criminal officer having entered the house of one, named Bartholomew Millon, a cripple, wholly helpless in body, said to him, "Come, get thee up." "Alas! sir," said the poor paralytic, "it must be a greater master than thee to raise me up." The sergeants carried him out, but so full of peace and holy courage was Bartholomew, that his companions in captivity grew firm through his exhortations. Formerly, when lifted by his friends, he felt pain in every limb, but the Lord in great mercy took that sensitiveness away, so that in prison he used to say, "the roughest handling seemed tender."

The Executions

The trial of the Lutherans was soon over, and the executions began. An expiation was required for the purification of France, and the heretics must be offered in sacrifice. The burning piles were distributed over all the quarters of Paris and the executions followed on successive days. Millon was the first. The turnkey entered his cell, lifted him in his arms, and placed him on a tumbril-a cart. The procession then took its course towards the Place de Greve. Passing his father's house, he smiled, bidding adieu to his old home, as one in sight of that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. "Lower the flames," said the officer in command, "the sentence says he is to be burnt at a slow fire." He had to be lifted and flung into the flames, but he bore his lingering tortures as if miraculously sustained. Only words of peace, with great sweetness of spirit, dropped from his lips, while his soul, ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus, ascended on angels' wings to the paradise of God.

A long list of names follows. Du Bourg, of the Rue St. Denis, Calvin's friend, was the next; and many persons of distinction suffered at that time, and many, having warning, made their escape.

While these tumultuous scenes were convulsing the capital, Margaret was residing at her castle of Nerac. The news filled her with dismay. Her enemies, now that they had the ear of the king, laboured to inflame his mind against her. In times past, the slightest reflection on the reputation of his beloved sister would have been instantly and vehemently silenced by Francis. But now, in his gloomy state of mind, he listened to the representations of his ministers. It was insinuated to the king, that "if he had a mind to extirpate the heretics out of his kingdom, he must begin by his court and his nearest relations." Margaret was summoned to Paris. She immediately obeyed, confident in the integrity of her intentions, the love of her brother, and fearless of the hostile theologians, whom she neither dreaded nor respected. For the first time, perhaps, in his life, Francis received Margaret at the Louvre with cold severity, and reproached her for the evils which her support of heresy had brought on his kingdom. Margaret wept, but she concealed her tears from her angry brother. She gently expostulated with him, and soon found that bigotry had not quite extinguished his love for her. She became bolder, and ventured to suggest that it was the intolerance of the fanatical party that had filled the kingdom with discord. She was as grieved about the placards as he was, but felt sure that none of the ministers whom she knew had any hand in their publication.

Without entering into particulars, we need only further add, that her entreaties obtained the liberation of the three preachers-Roussel, Berthault, and Couralt; and that the king's countenance was changed towards those who had maligned the motives of his sister. Her presence in Paris, for a time, hindered the designs of the persecutors; but as Francis was determined to command a public procession through the streets of Paris to cleanse away the pollution of the placards, she petitioned the king to permit her departure into Beam, which he reluctantly granted.

The Procession and Martyrdoms

On the 21st of January, 1535, the "peace offering" procession marched through the most public streets of Paris in gloomy majesty, and striking awe into the hearts of all beholders. The houses along the line of procession were hung with mourning drapery. All the religious orders of Paris took part in the procession, bearing aloft the sacred relics possessed by their respective convents-the head of St. Louis, the patron saint of France, a piece of the true cross, the real crown of thorns, a holy nail, and also the spear-head which had pierced the side of our Lord. On no former occasion had so many relics been paraded in the streets of Paris. The cardinals, archbishops, and bishops followed, wearing their robes and mitres. They immediately preceded the host, which was borne by the bishop of Paris, under a canopy of crimson velvet, supported by the dauphin, the dukes of Orleans, of Angouleme, and of Vendome. Around the holy sacrament marched two hundred gentlemen of the king's household, each bearing a torch. The king followed on foot with his head bare, carrying a burning torch of white virgin-wax, surrounded by his children and the princes of the blood royal. Afterwards came a countless throng of all the noblemen of the court, princes, ambassadors, and foreigners, each carrying a flaming torch. In front of their houses stood the burgesses with lighted tapers, who sank on their knees as the holy sacrament passed them. But the end of the procession was not yet; it still moved on in mournful silence; the guilds of the capital, the municipality, the officers of the courts, the Swiss guards, the choristers of the royal chapels-amounting to several thousand persons, and every individual carrying a lighted taper. This was the comedy of the fanatical frenzy of the king, the tragedy was to follow, "to implore the mercy of the Redeemer for the insult offered to the sacrifice of the mass."

Having marched from the church of the Louvre to Notre Dame, the king seated himself on a throne, and then pronounced a harangue against the new opinions, as violent as thought could suggest, or words express. "If my arm were infected with this pestilence," he said, "I would cut it off. If one of my children were so wretched as to favour this new Reform, and to wish to make profession of it, I would sacrifice him myself to the justice of God, and to my own justice." From declamation he proceeded to action. The same day six Lutherans were burned alive. The most courageous had their tongues cut out, lest they should offer a word of exhortation to the people, or be heard praying to God. They were suspended on a moveable gibbet, which, rising and falling by turns, plunged them into the fire, where they were left a few moments, then raised into the air, and again plunged into the flames; and this continued until the ropes that fastened them to the beam were consumed; then, for the last time, they fell amid the burning faggots, and in a few moments their souls ascended, as in a chariot of fire, to the bright realms of unmingled and eternal blessedness.

Retributive Justice

The epoch of persecution and martyrdom was now solemnly inaugurated in France. The 21st of January must be a date of evil omen in that land of revolutions. Two hundred and fifty-eight years after Francis had devoted to death the humble followers of Christ, one of the simplest and most generous of the Bourbons was condemned to death by misguided and furious men, and received his death-blow on the twenty-first of January, 1793. The sight must have been beyond all conception pitiful. The poor king, Louis XVI., unlike the martyrs of his predecessors, who laid down their lives willingly for Jesus' sake, was dragged by his gaolers to the block, and held down by force till the axe gleamed in the air, and his head rolled on the scaffold. But there is a third 21st of January, and the most humiliating of the three to the pride of France. It is said that Paris resolved to capitulate to the victorious Germans on the 21st of January, 1871. The coincidence of these dates is most striking and suggestive but we offer no comments, those who have studied history aright, will surely believe in a just and retributive providence. But God gives none account of His ways; or, as the psalmist says, "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters and Thy footsteps are not known." (Ps. 77:19)

Felice, the historian of the Protestants of France, observes with reference to this dismal day, "that it marks an important date in our history, for it was from this moment that the Parisian populace took part in the contest against the heretics; and once mounted on the stage, they never quitted it until the end of the league. In the chain of events this procession, intermingled with executions, was the first of the bloody days of the sixteenth century, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the Barricades, the murder of Henry III. and the assassination of Henry IV., could but follow"-p. 36.

The Protestant princes of Germany, justly indignant when they heard of the cruelties of Francis, threatened to ally themselves against him with the house of Austria. Fearing a breach, he sent in the following spring an ambassador to Smalcald. His excuse was that of all persecutors in every age-"seditious tendency." Those whom he had put to death were men of a rebellious spirit, sacramentarians, and not Lutherans. He even professed a strong desire for better information respecting their doctrines, in order, no doubt, to effect a reconciliation with the league of Smalcald, and requested that one of their most eminent divines might be sent to his court. He attempted to induce Melancthon to take up his abode in Paris; but his double dealings and hypocrisies availed little: Melancthon refused, and the Smalcald league objected to an alliance with the persecutor of their brethren.

The gloomy determination, which had now taken possession of Francis to crush heresy, decided Margaret to leave Paris. She retired to her own little kingdom of Bearn, an ancient province of France. Her court became the asylum of the celebrated men who escaped from persecution. "Many refugee families brought their industry and their fortunes. Everything assumed a new face. The laws were corrected, the arts cultivated, agriculture was improved, schools were established, and the people were prepared to receive the teaching of the Reformation. In a short time, the foundations were laid of that remarkable prosperity which made the little kingdom in the Pyrenees resemble an oasis amid the desert which France and Spain were now beginning to become."*

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 212.}

Margaret, the pious queen of Navarre, died, 1549; and was deeply lamented by the Bearnais, who loved to repeat her generous saying, "Kings and princes are not the lords and masters of their inferiors, but only ministers whom God has set up to serve and to keep them." She was the mother of Jeanne d'Albret, one of the most illustrious women in history, and grandmother of Henry IV.