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Title: History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin - Vol. 1 of 8
Author: d'Aubigne, Merle
Language: English
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  VOL. I.










  ‘Les choses de petite durée out coutume de devenir fanées, quand
      elles out passé leur temps.

  ‘Au règne de Christ, il n’y a que le nouvel homme qui soit florissant,
      qui ait de la vigueur, et dont il faille faire cas.’






At the conclusion of the preface to the first volume of the _History
of the Reformation_, the author wrote, ‘This work will consist of four
volumes, or at the most five, which will appear successively.’ These
five volumes have appeared. In them are described the heroic times of
Luther, and the effects produced in Germany and other countries by
the characteristic doctrine of that reformer--justification by faith.
They present a picture of that great epoch which contained in the germ
the revival of christianity in the last three centuries. The author
has thus completed the task he had assigned himself; but there still
remained another.

The times of Luther were followed by those of Calvin. He, like his
great predecessor, undertook to search the Scriptures, and in them
he found the same truth and the same life; but a different character
distinguishes his work.

The renovation of the individual, of the Church, and of the human race,
is his theme. If the Holy Ghost kindles the lamp of truth in man, it
is (according to Calvin) ‘to the end that the entire man should be
transformed.’--‘In the kingdom of Christ,’ he says, ‘it is only the new
man that flourishes and has any vigour, and whom we ought to take into

This renovation is, at the same time, an enfranchisement; and we might
assign, as a motto to the reformation accomplished by Calvin, as well
as to apostolical christianity itself, these words of Jesus Christ:
_The truth shall make you free._[1]

When the gods of the nations fell, when the Father which is in heaven
manifested Himself to the world in the Gospel, adopting as His children
those who received into their hearts the glad tidings of reconciliation
with God, all these men became brethren, and this fraternity created
liberty. From that time a mighty transformation went on gradually, in
individuals, in families, and in society itself. Slavery disappeared,
without wars or revolutions.

Unhappily, the sun which had for some time gladdened the eyes of the
people, became obscured; the liberty of the children of God was lost;
new human ordinances appeared to bind men’s consciences and chill
their hearts. The Reformation of the sixteenth century restored to the
human race what the middle ages had stolen from them; it delivered
them from the traditions, laws, and despotism of the papacy; it put
an end to the minority and tutelage in which Rome claimed to keep
mankind for ever; and by calling upon man to establish his faith not
on the word of a priest, but on the infallible Word of God, and by
announcing to everyone free access to the Father through the new and
saving way--Christ Jesus, it proclaimed and brought about the hour of
christian manhood.

An explanation is, however, necessary. There are philosophers in our
days who regard Christ as simply the apostle of political liberty.
These men should learn that, if they desire liberty outwardly, they
must first possess it inwardly. To hope to enjoy the first without the
second is to run after a chimera.

The greatest and most dangerous of despotisms is that beneath which
the depraved inclination of human nature, the deadly influence of the
world, namely, sin, miserably subjects the human conscience. There
are, no doubt, many countries, especially among those which the sun of
christianity has not yet illumined, that are without civil liberty,
and that groan under the arbitrary rule of powerful masters. But, in
order to become free outwardly, men must first succeed in being free
inwardly. In the human heart there is a vast country to be delivered
from slavery--abysses which man cannot cross alone, heights he cannot
climb unaided, fortresses he cannot take, armies he cannot put to
flight. In order to conquer in this moral battle, man must unite with
One stronger than himself--with the Son of God.

If there is anyone, in the present state of society, who is fatigued
with the struggle and grieved at finding himself always overcome by
evil, and who desires to breathe the light pure air of the upper
regions of liberty--let him come to the Gospel; let him seek for union
with the Saviour, and in his Holy Spirit he will find a power by which
he will be able to gain the greatest of victories.

We are aware that there are men, and good men too, who are frightened
at the word ‘liberty;’ but these estimable persons are quite wrong.
Christ is a deliverer. _The Son_, He said, _shall make you free_. Would
they wish to change Him into a tyrant?

There are also, as we well know, some intelligent men, but enemies of
the Gospel, who, seeing a long and lamentable procession of despotic
acts pass before them in the history of the Church, place them
unceremoniously to the account of christianity. Let them undeceive
themselves: the oppression that revolts them may be pagan, jewish,
papal, or worldly ... but it is not christian. Whenever christianity
reappears in the world, with its spirit, faith, and primitive life, it
brings men deliverance and peace.

The liberty which the Truth brings is not for individuals only:
it affects the whole of society. Calvin’s work of renovation, in
particular, which was doubtless first of all an internal work, was
afterwards destined to exercise a great influence over nations.
Luther transformed princes into heroes of the faith, and we have
described with admiration their triumphs at Augsburg and elsewhere. The
reformation of Calvin was addressed particularly to the people, among
whom it raised up martyrs until the time came when it was to send forth
the spiritual conquerors of the world. For three centuries it has been
producing, in the social condition of the nations that have received
it, transformations unknown to former times. And still at this very
day, and now perhaps more than ever, it imparts to the men who accept
it a spirit of power which makes them chosen instruments, fitted to
propagate truth, morality, and civilisation to the ends of the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The idea of the present work is not a new one: it dates more than
forty years back. A writer, from whom the author differs on important
points, but whose name is dear to all who know the simple beauty of
his character, and have read with care his works on the history of the
Church and the history of Dogmas, which have placed him in the foremost
rank among the ecclesiastical historians of our day--the learned
Neander--speaking with the author at Berlin in 1818, pressed him to
undertake a _History of the Reformation of Calvin_. The author answered
that he desired first to describe that of Luther; but that he intended
to sketch successively two pictures so similar and yet so different.

The _History of the Reformation in Europe in the time of Calvin_
naturally begins with Geneva.

The Reformation of Geneva opens with the fall of a bishop-prince. This
is its characteristic; and if we passed over in silence the heroic
struggles which led to his fall, we should expose ourselves to just
reproaches on the part of enlightened men.

It is possible that this event, which we are called upon to describe
(the end of an ecclesiastical state), may give rise to comparisons
with the present times; but we have not gone out of our way for
them. The great question, which occupies Europe at this moment, also
occupied Geneva at the beginning of the sixteenth century. But that
portion of our history was written before these late exciting years,
during which the important and complex question of the maintenance or
the fall of the temporal power of the popes has come before, and is
continually coming before, sovereigns and their people. The historian,
while relating the facts of the sixteenth century, had no other
prepossessions than those which the story itself called up.

These prepossessions were quite natural. Descended from the huguenots
of France, whom persecution drove from their country in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, the author had become attached to that
hospitable city which received his forefathers, and in which they found
a new home. The huguenots of Geneva captivated his attention. The
decision, the sacrifices, the perseverance, and the heroism, with which
the Genevans defended their threatened liberty, moved him profoundly.
The independence of a city, acquired by so much courage and by so many
privations, perils, and sufferings, is, without doubt, a sacred thing
in the eyes of all; and no one should attempt to rob her of it. It may
be that this history contains lessons for the people, of which he did
not always think as he was writing it. May he be permitted to point out

The political emancipation of Geneva differs from many modern
revolutions in the fact that we find admirably combined therein the
two elements which make the movements of nations salutary; that is
to say, order and liberty. Nations have been seen in our days rising
in the name of liberty, and entirely forgetting right. It was not so
in Geneva. For some time the Genevans persevered in defending the
established order of things; and it was only when they had seen, during
a long course of years, their prince-bishops leaguing themselves with
the enemies of the state, conniving at usurpations, and indulging in
acts contrary to the charters of their ancestors, that they accepted
the divorce, and substituted a new state of things for the old one, or
rather returned to an antecedent state. We find them always quoting
the ancient _libertates_, _franchesiæ_, _immunitates_, _usus_,
_consuetudines civitatis Gebennensis_, first digested into a code in
1387, while their origin is stated in the document itself to be of
much greater antiquity. The author (as will be seen) is a friend of
liberty; but justice, morality, and order are, in his opinion, quite as
necessary to the prosperity of nations. On that point he agrees with
that distinguished writer on modern civilisation, M. Guizot, though he
may differ from him on others.

In writing this history we have had recourse to the original documents,
and in particular to some important manuscripts; the manuscript
registers of the Council of Geneva, the manuscript histories of Syndic
Roset and Syndic Gautier, the manuscript of the _Mamelus_ (Mamelukes),
and many letters and remarkable papers preserved in the Archives of
Geneva. We have also studied in the library of Berne some manuscripts
of which historians have hitherto made little or no use; a few of these
have been indicated in the notes, others will be mentioned hereafter.
Besides these original sources, we have profited by writings and
documents of great interest belonging to the sixteenth century, and
recently published by learned Genevese archæologists, particularly by
MM. Galiffe, Grenus, Revillod, E. Mallet, Chaponière, and Fick. We
have also made great use of the memoirs of the Society of History and
Archæology of Geneva.

With regard to France, the author has consulted various documents of
the sixteenth century, little or altogether unknown, especially in
what concerns the relations of the French government with the German
protestants. He has profited also by several manuscripts, and by their
means has been able to learn a few facts connected with the early part
of Calvin’s life, which have not hitherto been published. These facts
are partly derived from the Latin letters of the reformer, which have
not yet been printed either in French or Latin, and which are contained
in the excellent collection which Dr. Jules Bonnet intends giving to
the world, if such a work should receive from the christian public the
encouragement which the labour, disinterestedness, and zeal of its
learned editor deserve.

The author having habitual recourse to the French documents of the
sixteenth century, has often introduced their most characteristic
passages into his text. The work of the historian is neither a work of
the imagination, like that of the poet, nor a mere conversation about
times gone by, as some writers of our day appear to imagine. History
is a faithful description of past events; and when the historian can
relate them by making use of the language of those who took part in
them, he is more certain of describing them just as they were.

But the reproduction of contemporary documents is not the only business
of the historian. He must do more than exhume from the sepulchre in
which they are sleeping the relics of men and things of times past,
that he may exhibit them in the light of day. We value highly such a
work and those who perform it, for it is a necessary one; and yet we
do not think it sufficient. Dry bones do not faithfully represent the
men of other days. They did not live as skeletons, but as beings full
of life and activity. The historian is not simply a resurrectionist:
he needs--strange but necessary ambition--a power that can restore the
dead to life.

Certain modern historians have successfully accomplished this task. The
author, unable to follow them, and compelled to present his readers
with a simple and unassuming chronicle, feels bound to express his
admiration for those who have thus been able to revive the buried past.
He firmly believes that, if a history should have truth, it should also
have life. The events of past times did not resemble, in the days when
they occurred, those grand museums of Rome, Naples, Paris, and London,
in whose galleries we behold long rows of marble statues, mummies, and
tombs. There were then living beings who thought, felt, spoke, acted,
and struggled. The picture, whatever history may be able to do, will
always have less of life than the reality.

When an historian comes across a speech of one of the actors in the
great drama of human affairs, he ought to lay hold of it, as if it were
a pearl, and weave it into his tapestry, in order to relieve the duller
colours and give more solidity and brilliancy. Whether the speech be
met with in the letters or writings of the actor himself, or in those
of the chroniclers, is a matter of no importance: he should take it
wherever he finds it. The history which exhibits men thinking, feeling,
and acting as they did in their lifetime, is of far higher value than
those purely intellectual compositions in which the actors are deprived
of speech and even of life.

The author, having given his opinion in favour of this better and
higher historical method, is compelled to express a regret:

    Le _précepte_ est aisé, mais l’art est difficile.

And as he looks at his work, he has to repeat with sorrow the
confession of the poet of antiquity: _Deteriora sequor!_

This work is not a biography of Calvin, as some may imagine. The
name of that great reformer appears, indeed, on the title-page,
and we shall feel a pleasure, whenever the opportunity occurs, in
endeavouring to restore the true colours to that figure so strangely
misunderstood in our days. We know that, in so doing, we shall shock
certain deeply-rooted prejudices, and shall offend those who accept
without examination, in this respect, the fables of Romish writers.
Tacitus indeed assures us that malignity has a false show of liberty:
_Malignitati falsa species libertatis inest_; that history is listened
to with more favour when she slanders and disparages: _Obtrectatio et
livor pronis auribus accipiuntur_. But what historian could entertain
the culpable ambition of pleasing at the expense of truth? Moreover, we
believe that, if our age still labours under great errors with respect
to many men and things, it is more competent than those which went
before to hear the truth, to examine, appreciate, and accept it.

We repeat, however, that it is not a history of Calvin, but of the
Reformation in Europe in the time of that reformer which we desire to
narrate. Other volumes are already far advanced, and we hope to publish
two more in the ensuing year. But may we be permitted, in conclusion,
to transcribe here a passage of Holy Scripture that has often occurred
to our mind in executing a new work? It is this:

_Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is
even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth
away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do
this or that._[2]










  Three Movements in Geneva--Importance of the Political Element--Causes
  of this Importance--Liberty in Protestant Nations--Influence
  of Calvin--Low Countries, Scotland, France, England,
  United States--Liberty and Licence--The Sixteenth Century,
  Servetus and Calvin--The Study of great things in small--Three
  Sources of Modern Liberty: Roman, Germanic, Christian--Three
  Strata of the Soil           PAGE 1




  Three Powers opposed to the Genevan Liberties--The Counts of
  Geneva--The Bishop-princes--Danger of the Temporal
  Power of Bishops--The Dukes of Savoy--They covet Geneva--Peter
  of Savoy gets possession of the Castle--His Successes
  and Failures--Amadeus V. seizes the second Castle--Makes himself
  Vidame--Confirms the Liberties of Geneva--Amadeus VIII.
  begs Geneva of the Pope--The Pope deprives Geneva of
  the Election of its Bishop--A Duke and Pope makes himself
  Bishop--Struggle between a Son and a Mother--Irregularities
  of Philip Lackland--The Father runs away from the Son--Stratagem
  of the Mother to save her Treasures--The Son
  appears before the Father--Singular Visit--Fair of Geneva
  transferred to Lyons--A Reforming Bishop at Geneva--Savoy
  prepares to strike a final Blow--God breathes over Men--Renovating
  Principle in Geneva      PAGE 14




  Death of the Bishop, Agitation of the People--Talk of the Citizens--De
  Bonmont chosen Bishop by popular Acclamation--The
  Duke and the Bastard of Savoy--Agreement between these
  Princes--Union with Savoy desired by the Pope--The Bargain
  concluded at Rome--The Swiss are deceived--Murmurs
  of the Genevans--The Servile Party yields, the Free Men protest--Entrance
  of the Bishop-prince into Geneva--He takes
  the Oath in order to break it--Tampers with Berthelier and
  De Bonmont--Balls and Banquets to corrupt the Youth--Savoyards
  at Geneva--A Young Rake--Immorality    PAGE  39




  Complaints of the Licentiousness of the Priests--Corruption in the
  Convents--Unavailing Representations of the Magistrates--Arrival
  of Bonivard at Geneva--His Wit and Good-humour--Death
  of his Uncle; the Culverins--Besançon Hugues appears--Character
  of Charles III.--Marriage of Julian and Philiberta--A
  Bull gives Geneva to Savoy--Indignation and Protest of
  the Citizens--Sadness in Geneva--Contrary Decision of the
  Cardinals--Charles’s new Scheme       PAGE 57




  Vandel and his four Sons--The Bishop kidnaps the Father--Emotion
  of the Sons and of the People--Berthelier tears up his
  Chatelain’s Commission--Address to the Bishop, who runs away--Miracles
  of a Monk--Fêtes and Debauchery--Berthelier’s
  School of Liberty--Sarcasms and Redress of Wrongs--No
  Liberty without Morality       PAGE 71




  A Thief pardoned by the Bishop--The Duke’s Anger--The
  Ducal Envoys sup at St. Victor’s--La Val d’Isère tries to gain
  Bonivard, and fails--The Envoys and the Bishop take to flight--The
  Duke and the Bishop plot together--Bonivard and
  Berthelier combine--Characters of Bonivard, Berthelier, and
  Calvin--A gloomy Omen          PAGE 81




  A few Patriots meet together--Assembly at the Molard--The
  Oath of the Patriots--Supper at Mugnier’s and the Momon--Bonivard’s
  Witticism--Death of Messire Gros’ Mule--Berthelier
  proposes a Practical Joke--The Mule’s Skin put up to Auction--The
  Duke comes to Geneva--Seyssel tries to divide the Genevans--Plot
  of the Duke and the Bishop         PAGE 92




  Pécolat’s Character--_Non videbit Dies Petri_--The Bishop’s stale
  Fish--Treacherous Stratagem to seize Pécolat--He is put to
  the Torture--Overcome by Pain--Terror of Pécolat and the
  Genevans--The Bishop desires that Berthelier be surrendered to
  him--He is advised to flee--Quits Geneva in disguise--They
  look for him everywhere      PAGE 103




  Berthelier courts the Swiss Alliance--Berthelier’s Speeches at
  Friburg--The Bishop refuses him a Safe-conduct--Threats of
  the Swiss--Huguenots--Mamelukes--Syndic d’Orsières deputed
  to the Bishop--The Ambassador thrown into prison--A
  Savoyard Deputy in Switzerland--The Duke in Switzerland--Complaints
  against the Bishop     PAGE 114



  (DECEMBER 1517 TO MARCH 1518.)

  Pécolat appears before his Judges--He is threatened with the
  Torture--Reported to be a Churchman--Handed over to the
  Priests--The Devil expelled from his Beard--Tries to cut
  off his Tongue--Bonivard attempts to save him--Appeal to
  the Metropolitan--The Bishop summoned by his Metropolitan--Bonivard
  finds a Clerk to serve the Summons--The Clerk’s
  Alarm and Bonivard’s Vigour--The Injunction made known to
  the Bishop--Four-score Citizens ask for Justice--Influence of
  Pécolat’s Friends--The Excommunication placarded in Geneva--Consternation
  and Tumult--Order to release Pécolat--Papal
  Letters against Pécolat--Pécolat set at large--Returns in
  triumph to Geneva--Pécolat in Yvonnet’s Cell--His pantomimic
  Story--The timid Blanchet            PAGE 126




  The three Princes plot against Geneva--Torch of Liberty rekindled
  at Geneva--Berthelier’s Trial begins--The Procurator-Fiscal
  asks for his Imprisonment--Passionate Accusations--Blanchet
  and Andrew Navis at Turin--The Bishop has them
  arrested--Their Examination--They are put to the Torture--Navis
  repents of his Disobedience to his Father--Bonivard
  goes to Rome--Morals of the Roman Prelates--Two Causes
  of the Corruption--Bonivard on the Germans and Luther--Bonivard
  at Turin--His Flight           PAGE 148



  (OCTOBER 1518.)

  Blanchet and Navis condemned--Farewell, Decapitation, and
  Mutilation--Their Limbs salted and sent to Geneva--Hung up
  on the Walnut-tree, where they are discovered--Indignation,
  Irony, and Sorrow--Father and Mother of Navis--The Bishop’s
  Cure of Souls--Chastisement of the Princes--Various Effects
  in the Council--Embassy sent to the Duke--The Bishop asks
  for more Heads--Will Geneva give way?     PAGE 164




  Berthelier’s Energy--The Limbs of Navis and Tell’s Apple--Bishop
  and Duke deny the Murder--The Deputies join the
  Ducal Partisans--Bishop and Duke demand Ten or Twelve
  Heads--The chief Huguenots consult together--An Assembly
  calls for Alliance with Switzerland--Marti of Friburg supports
  Liberty at Geneva--Return of the Genevan Deputies--The
  Council rejects their Demand--The People assemble--The
  Duke’s Letter refused            PAGE 176




  Two Parties face to face--Hugues’ Mission to Friburg--Alliance
  proposed to the People--The Moderates and Men of Action--Agitation
  at Geneva--Quarrels--Berthelier’s Danger--His
  Calmness and Trial--His Acquittal--Great Sensation at Turin--Ducal
  Embassy to Geneva--Flattery and Quarrels    PAGE 188



  (FEBRUARY 6 TO MARCH 2, 1519.)

  Friburg offers her Alliance--Voted with enthusiasm--Huguenot
  Elections--Great Joy--Mameluke Party organised--Liberty
  awakens--Strange Talk about Geneva--The Princes try to
  win Friburg--Tamper with the Huguenot Leaders--The
  Princes agitate Switzerland--Joy caused by the Deputy from
  Friburg--Trouble caused by the Deputy from the Cantons--Noble
  Answer of Geneva--To whom Geneva owes her Independence    PAGE 199



  (MARCH 1519.)

  The Duke wins over the Canons--Bonivard’s Speech--His Distinction
  between the Temporality and Spirituality--Declaration
  of the Canons against the Alliance--The exasperated Patriots
  proceed to their Houses--Bonivard between the People and the
  Canons--Canons write another Letter--The People quieted          PAGE 212




  Insolence of fifteen Ducal Gentlemen--Firm Reply of the Council--Alarm
  at Geneva--The Duke’s King-at-arms before the Council--His
  Speech; Reply of the Premier Syndic--The Herald
  declares War--Geneva prepares for Resistance--Mamelukes go
  out to the Duke--Their Conference in the Falcon Orchard--Duke
  removes to Gaillard--Marti arrives from Friburg--Interview
  between the Duke and Marti--Failure of the Night
  Attack--Duke’s Wiles and Promises--Bonivard’s Flight    PAGE 220



  (APRIL AND MAY 1519.)

  The Duke and his Army enter Geneva--The Army takes up its
  Quarters in the City--The Duke and the Count are Masters--Pillage
  of Geneva--Proscription List--The Friburger reproaches
  the Duke--A General Council and the Duke’s Proclamation--Friburg
  Army approaches--Message from Friburg to the Duke--Alarm
  and Change of the Duke--Genevan Sarcasms: the
  _Bésolles_ War--Mediation of Zurich, Berne, and Soleure    PAGE 236




  The Bishop and Mamelukes conspire at Troches--Bonivard’s
  Escape between a Lord and a Priest--Treachery of the two
  Wretches--Bonivard’s Imprisonment at Grolée--The Bishop
  raises Troops--His Entrance into Geneva and his Intentions--Berthelier’s
  Calmness--His Meadow on the Rhone and his
  Weasel--His Arrest--His Contempt of Death--Refuses to ask
  for Pardon--The Word of God consoles him    PAGE 249




  The Bishop refuses a legal Trial--All done in one Day--Six
  hundred Men in line of battle--Unjust and illegal Condemnation--Berthelier’s
  Death--Procession through the City--Emotion
  and Horror of the Genevans--Struggles and future Victory--The
  Blood of the Martyrs is a Seed--The Bishop desires to
  revolutionise Geneva--Mameluke Syndics’ silent Sorrow--First
  Opposition to Superstitions--St. Babolin--De Joye’s Examination--Threatened
  with the Torture--Princes of Savoy
  crush Liberty--Voice of a Prophetess        PAGE 261




  Lévrier’s Protest in the Name of Right--Huguenots recover
  Courage--Their Moderation and Love of Concord--Clergy
  refuse to pay Taxes--Luther’s Teaching--His Example encourages
  Geneva--Great Procession outside the City--A Threat
  to shut the Gates against the Clergy--Bonivard set at liberty--Pierre
  de la Baume Coadjutor--Death of the Bishop--Despair
  and Repentance--His Successor--The new Bishop’s Letter to
  the Council--Reception of Pierre de la Baume--Hopes of some
  of the Genevans--The Bishop’s Oath and Tyranny    PAGE 278



  (AUGUST 1523.)

  Beatrice of Portugal--Vanity of the Genevans--Magnificent Entry
  of the Duke and Duchess--Beatrice’s Pride offends the Genevans--Proof
  that Geneva loves Popery--Representation of a
  Mystery--Invention of the Cross--Banquets, Balls, and Triumphs--The
  Love of Independence seems checked--New Testaments
  sold in Geneva--New Authority, new Doctrine--Memoir
  to the Pope on the Rebellion of Geneva--Huguenots
  represent a Mystery--_The Sick World_--The Bible unerring,
  a true Remedy--Disorders of the Clergy--Luther and the
  Reformation--The World prefers to be mad--Quarrels between
  Genevans and Savoyards--Lévrier and Lullin--Carters before
  Princes--Birth of a Prince of Savoy--Duke’s Efforts to obtain
  Geneva--Disorders in the Convents--God keeps watch for
  Geneva              PAGE 295



  (MARCH 1524.)

  Homage to the Martyrs of Liberty--The Vidames in Geneva--Who
  will hinder the Duke?--The Duke and Lévrier at Bonne--Firm
  Language of Lévrier--Church and State--Duke unmasks
  his Batteries--Promises and Seductions--Episcopal
  Council before the Duke--Lévrier before the Duke--The Duke
  threatens him with Death--Lévrier prefers Death to Flight--St.
  Sorlin and the Duke retire--Lévrier kidnapped and carried
  off to Bonne--Agitation at Geneva--Episcopals afraid to intercede--Machiavellian
  Plot of the Duke--Geneva or Lévrier’s
  Head--Intercession of Genevan Ladies--Lévrier’s Calmness
  and Condemnation--Ten o’clock at Night--Lévrier’s Martyrdom--A
  moral Victory--Founders of Modern Liberty--Effect
  on the Young and Worldly--Hope of the Genevans, Flight of
  the Duke--Geneva breathes and awakens    PAGE 318




  Dishonesty of Treasurer Boulet--Syndic Richardet strikes him--Boulet
  trades upon this Assault--Vengeance of the Council of
  Savoy--Boulet and the Bishop at Geneva--Geneva reports to
  the Bishop the Duke’s Violence--A new Leader, Besançon
  Hugues--Election of four Huguenot Syndics--Hugues refuses
  to serve--Appeal from Geneva to Rome--Threats of the Council
  of Savoy--The Bishop neglects Geneva--Violence done to the
  Genevans--The Duke requires the Recall of the Appeal to Rome--Forty-two
  Opponents--Proscription Lists--The Storm bursts--Terror
  in Geneva--The Exodus--Vuillet’s Visit to Hugues--Flight
  through Vaud and Franche-Comté--Hugues quits his
  House by night--Pursuit of the Fugitives           PAGE 345




  Speech of Hugues at Friburg--Welcome of Friburg, Berne, and
  Lucerne--Evangelical Influence at Berne--Thoughts of the
  Savoyards--Mamelukes withdraw the Appeal to Rome--The
  Duke desires the Sovereignty--Geneva wavers--The Swiss Support--The
  Duke’s Stratagem--Hugues exposes it--The Fugitives
  joined by their Wives--Sorrow and Appeal of the Fugitives--Anxiety
  of the Bishop--Lay Power--The Duke’s Scheme--Convokes
  a General Council--Council of Halberds--The Duke
  claims the Sovereignty--Vote in the absence of the Halberds--The
  Duke thwarted in his Despotism--His Heart fails him: he
  departs--Mamelukes accuse the Exiles--Lullin and others return
  to Geneva--Their Demand for Justification    PAGE 369




  One hundred Citizens before the Council--Justification of the
  Fugitives--The Friburg Notary interrogates the Assembly--Rising-up
  of a little People--The Protest numerously signed--Measures
  of the Savoyard Party--Both Parties appeal to the
  Bishop--Pierre de la Baume at Geneva--Vandel wins him
  over--The Bishop braves and fears the Duke--Election of
  Syndics: Mameluke List--Episcopal List--Four Huguenots
  elected--The People quash the Decrees against Liberty--Effects
  of the good News at Berne--The Bark of God’s Miracles.        PAGE 391




  Act of Alliance in the Name of the Trinity--Return of the Exiles
  to Geneva--Speech of Hugues--Reads the Act of Alliance--Clergy
  plot against the Alliance--The Bishop protests against it--People
  ratify the Alliance--Liberty of the People and Temporality
  of the Bishop--Germ of great Questions in Geneva--Genevans
  incline towards the Reform--Conspiracy of the Canons--A
  Flight--Everything by the Grace of God--The Swiss
  receive the Oaths of Geneva--Joy of the People--Honour to
  Bonivard, Berthelier, and Lévrier--Awakening of Society in the
  Sixteenth Century--Will the Tomb close again?--Greatest
  Glory of France--Her Salvation    PAGE 407






  Three Acts necessary for Union with God--Work of Luther,
  Zwingle, and Calvin--Truth and Morality procure Liberty--Calvin
  crowns the Temple of God--A Queen--Similarity between
  Margaret and Calvin--Their Contrast--Pavia--Effect
  produced on Charles V.--Advice of the Duke of Alva--Dismemberment
  of France--The Way of the Cross--Margaret’s
  Prayers--She finds the King dying--Francis restored to health--Margaret
  at Toledo--Her Eloquence and Piety--Admiration
  she inspires           PAGE 427




  Persecution in France--Berquin preaches at Artois--Opposition--Beda
  examines Berquin’s Books--Berquin put in prison--Margaret
  and the King interfere--Margaret’s Danger in Spain--The
  King’s false Oaths--The Pope sanctions Perjury    PAGE 445




  Passage of the Rhine at Strasburg--Count of Hohenlohe--Correspondence
  between Margaret and Hohenlohe--Margaret’s
  System--She invites Hohenlohe into France--Interdict against
  Speaking, Printing, and Reading--Berquin’s Examination--Margaret
  wins over her Mother in Berquin’s favour--Francis I.
  forbids the Parliament to proceed--Henry d’Albret, King of
  Navarre, seeks the Hand of Margaret--Her Anxieties    PAGE 454




  Martyrdom of Joubert--A young Christian of Meaux recants--Vaudery
  in Picardy--A young Picard burnt at the Grève--Toussaint
  given up to the Abbot of St. Antoine--Toussaint’s
  Anguish in his Dungeon--Francis I. restored to liberty--Petitions
  to the King in favour of the Evangelicals--Francis objects
  to Hohenlohe’s coming--The King’s Hostages--Aspirations of
  Margaret’s Soul--The Prisoner’s Complaint--Thoughts of the
  King about his Sister’s Marriage--New State of Things in
  Europe    PAGE 466




  Deliverance of the Captives: Berquin, Marot--Michael d’Aranda
  made a Bishop--Toussaint taken out of his Dungeon--Great
  Joy at Strasburg--The Refugees in that City--Lefèvre and
  Roussel welcomed by Margaret--Fruits of the Trial--Evangelical
  Meeting at Blois--Toussaint at Court--Beginning of an
  Era of Light--Francis comes to Paris to inaugurate it--Hypocrisy
  of the Nobles and Prelates--Weakness of Lefèvre and
  Roussel--Toussaint disgusted with the Court--May France
  show herself worthy of the Word!    PAGE 480




  Will it be Lefèvre, Roussel, or Farel?--Roussel and the Princes of
  La Marche--Farel invited to La Marche--Margaret as a Missionary--She
  longs for Sanctification--The Gospel and the
  Moral Faculty--Farel as a Reformer--Farel and Mirabeau--How
  Farel would have been received--The Invitation to La
  Marche comes too late--Berquin set at liberty--Will he be the
  Reformer?--Marriage of Margaret with the King of Navarre--Aspirations
  of the Queen--Everything in the World is
  changing    PAGE 495




  A Professor and a Scholar--Calvin’s Arrival and Gratitude--Cordier’s
  Influence on Calvin--Calvin enters the College of Montaigu--A
  Spanish Professor--Calvin promoted to the Philosophy
  Class--His Purity and Zeal--His Studies--A Breath of the
  Gospel in the Air--Olivétan, Calvin’s Cousin--Conversations
  between Olivétan and Calvin--Calvin’s Resistance--His Self-examination--His
  Teachers desire to stop him--Calvin has
  recourse to Penance and the Saints--His Despair    PAGE 511




  The Prothonotary Doullon burnt alive--The Light shines upon
  Calvin--He falls at the Feet of Christ--He cannot separate
  from the Church--The Pope’s Doctrine attacked by his Friends--The
  Papacy before Calvin--Was his Conversion sudden?--Date
  of this Conversion--Regrets of Calvin’s Father--Gerard
  Cauvin advises his Son to study the Law--Conversion, Christianity,
  and the Reformation    PAGE 527




  Order and Liberty proceed from Truth--Beda and Berquin--Berquin’s
  Enterprise--Terror of his Friends--Beda confined in the
  Palace--Berquin attacks Beda and the Sorbonne--Erasmus’s
  Fears--He will not fight--Agitation of the Catholic Party    PAGE 539




  Louisa of Savoy and Duprat--Francis I. and the Sixteenth Century--Bargain
  proposed by the Clergy--Margaret encouraged--Her
  Walks at Fontainebleau--Her Accouchement at Paris--Martyrdom
  of De la Tour--Margaret returns hastily to Paris--A Synod
  in Paris--Duprat solicits the King--Synods in other parts of
  France--Duprat and the Parliament reconciled--The King
  resists the Persecution    PAGE 549




  Evangelisation by the Queen of Navarre--The Queen and the
  Hunter--Le Mauvais Chasseur--Marriage of Renée with the
  Duke of Ferrara--The King’s Fit of Anger--The Image of the
  Virgin broken--Grief and Cries of the People--Efforts to discover
  the Criminal--Immense Procession--Miracles worked by
  the Image--The King gives the Rein to the Persecutors.    PAGE 561




  A Christaudin--Denis of Meaux--Briçonnet in Denis’s Dungeon--The
  Hurdle and the Stake--The Holy Virtues of Annonay--Machopolis,
  Renier, and Jonas--Berquin’s Calmness in the Storm--Berquin
  arrested--Blindness of the Papacy--Out of Persecution
  comes the Reformer    PAGE 572









Facts alone do not constitute the whole of history, any more than the
members of the body form the complete man. There is a soul in history
as well as in the body, and it is this which generates, vivifies, and
links the facts together, so that they all combine to the same end.

The instant we begin to treat of Geneva, which, through the ministry
of Calvin, was to become the most powerful centre of Reform in the
sixteenth century, one question starts up before us.

What was the soul of the Reformation of Geneva? Truly, salvation by
faith in Christ, who died to save--truly, the renewal of the heart by
the word and the Spirit of God. But side by side with these supreme
elements, that are found in all the Reformations, we meet with
secondary elements that have existed in one country and not in another.
What we discover at Geneva may possibly deserve to fix the attention of
men in our own days: the characteristic element of the Genevese Reform
is liberty.

Three great movements were carried out in this city during the
first half of the sixteenth century. The first was the conquest of
independence; the second, the conquest of faith; the third, the
renovation and organisation of the Church. Berthelier, Farel, and
Calvin are the three heroes of these three epics.

Each of these different movements was necessary. The bishop of Geneva
was a temporal prince like the bishop of Rome; it was difficult to
deprive the bishop of his pastoral staff unless he were first deprived
of his sword. The necessity of liberty for the Gospel and of the Gospel
for liberty is now acknowledged by all thoughtful men; but it was
proclaimed by the history of Geneva three centuries ago.

But it may be said, a history of the Reformation has no concern with
the secular, political, and social element. I have been reproached with
not putting this sufficiently forward in the history of the Reformation
of Germany, where it had relatively but little importance. I may
perhaps be reproached with dwelling on it too much in the Reformation
of Geneva, where it holds a prominent place. It is a hard matter to
please all tastes: the safest course is to be guided by the truth of
principles and not by the exigencies of individuals. Is it my fault if
an epoch possesses its characteristic features? if it is impossible
to keep back the secular, without wronging the spiritual, element?
To cut history in two is to distort it. In the Reform of Geneva, and
especially in the constitution of its church, the element of liberty
predominates more than in the Reforms of other countries. We cannot
know the reason of this unless we study the movement which gave birth
to that Reform. The history of the political emancipation of Geneva is
interesting of itself; liberty, it has been said,[3] has never been
common in the world; it has not flourished in all countries or in all
climates, and the periods when a people struggles _justly_ for liberty
are the privileged epochs of history. One such epoch occurred at the
commencement of modern times; but strange to say, it is almost in
Geneva alone that the struggles for liberty make the earlier decades of
the sixteenth century a privileged time.

It is in this small republic that we find men remarkable for their
devotion to liberty, for their attachment to law, for the boldness of
their thoughts, the firmness of their character, and the strength of
their energy. In the sixteenth century, after a repose of some hundreds
of years, humanity having recovered its powers, like a field that had
long lain fallow, displayed almost everywhere the marvels of the most
luxuriant vegetation. Geneva is indeed the smallest theatre of this
extraordinary fermentation; but it was not the least in heroism and
grandeur, and on that ground alone it deserves attention.

There are, however, other reasons to induce us to this study. The
struggle for liberty in Geneva was one of the agents of its religious
transformation; that we may know one, we must study the other. Again,
Calvin is the great man of this epoch; it is needful, therefore, to
study the country where he appeared. A knowledge of the history of
Geneva before Calvin can alone enable us to understand the life of this
great reformer. But there remains a third and more important reason.
I am about to narrate the history of the Reformation of the sixteenth
century in the time of Calvin. Now, what chiefly distinguishes the
Reformation of Calvin from that of Luther is, that wherever it was
established, it brought with it not only truth but liberty, and all the
great developments which these two fertile principles carry with them.
Political liberty, as we shall see, settled upon those hills at the
southern extremity of the Leman lake where stands the city of Calvin,
and has never deserted them since. And more than this: earthly liberty,
the faithful companion of divine truth, appeared at the same time with
her in the Low Countries, in England, in Scotland, and subsequently in
North America and other places besides, everywhere creating powerful
nations. The Reformation of Calvin is that of modern times; it is the
religion destined for the whole world. Being profoundly spiritual, it
subserves also in an admirable manner all the temporal interests of
man. It has the _promise of the life that now is, and of that which is
to come_.

The free institutions of Protestant countries are not due solely to the
Reformation of Calvin: they spring from various sources, and are not of
foreign importation. The elements of liberty were in the blood of these
nations, and remarkable men exerted a civilising influence over them.
Magna Charta is older than the Genevese Reform; but we believe (though
we may be mistaken) that this Reformation has had some small share in
the introduction of those constitutional principles, without which
nations can never attain their majority. Whence did this influence

The people of Geneva and their great doctor have each left their stamp
on the Reformation which issued from their walls: Calvin’s was truth,
the people’s, liberty. This last consideration compels us to narrate
the struggles of which Geneva was the theatre, and which, though almost
unknown up to the present hour, have aided, like a slender brook, to
swell the great stream of modern civilisation. But there was a second
and more potent cause. Supreme among the great principles that Calvin
has diffused is the sovereignty of God. He has enjoined us to _render
unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s_; but he has added: ‘God must
always retain the sovereign empire, and all that may belong to man
remains subordinate. Obedience towards princes accords with God’s
service; but if princes usurp any portion of the authority of God, we
must obey them only so far as may be done without offending God.’[4] If
my conscience is thoroughly subject to God, I am free as regards men;
but if I cling to anything besides heaven, men may easily enslave me.
True liberty exists only in the higher regions. The bird that skims the
earth may lose it at any moment; but we cannot ravish it from the eagle
who soars among the clouds.

The great movements in the way of law and liberty effected by the
people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, have certain
relations with the Reformation of Calvin, which it is impossible to

As soon as Guy de Brès and many others returned from Geneva to the
Low Countries, the great contest between the rights of the people and
the revolutionary and bloody despotism of Philip II. began; heroic
struggles took place, and the creation of the United Provinces was
their glorious termination.

John Knox returned to his native Scotland from Geneva, where he had
spent several years; then popery, arbitrary power, and the immorality
of a French court made way in that noble country for that enthusiasm
for the gospel, liberty, and holiness, which has never since failed to
kindle the ardent souls of its energetic people.

Numberless friends and disciples of Calvin carried with them every
year into France the principles of civil and political liberty;[5] and
a fierce struggle began with popery and the despotism, of the Valois
first, and afterwards of the Bourbons. And though these princes sought
to destroy the liberties for which the Huguenots shed their blood,
their imperishable traces still remain among that illustrious nation.

The Englishmen who, during the bloody persecution of Mary, had sought
an asylum at Geneva imbibed there a love for the gospel and for
liberty. When they returned to England, a fountain gushed out beneath
their footsteps. The waters confined by Elizabeth to a narrow channel,
rose under her successors and swiftly became an impetuous roaring
flood, whose insolent waves swept away the throne itself in their
violent course. But restored to their bed by the wise hand of William
of Orange, the dashing torrent sank into a smiling stream, bearing
prosperity and life afar.

Lastly, Calvin was the founder of the greatest of republics. The
‘pilgrims’ who left their country in the reign of James I., and,
landing on the barren shores of New England, founded populous and
mighty colonies, are his sons, his direct and legitimate sons; and that
American nation which we have seen growing so rapidly boasts as its
father the humble reformer on the shores of the Leman.

There are, indeed, writers of eminence who charge this man of God with
despotism; because he was the enemy of libertinage, he has been called
the enemy of liberty. Nobody was more opposed than Calvin to that moral
and social anarchy which threatened the sixteenth century, and which
ruins every epoch unable to keep it under control. This bold struggle
of Calvin’s is one of the greatest services he has done to liberty,
which has no enemies more dangerous than immorality and disorder.

Should the question be asked, How ought infidelity to be arrested? we
must confess that Calvin was not before his age, which was unanimous,
in every communion, for the application of the severest punishments. If
a man is in error as regards the knowledge of God, it is to God alone
that he must render an account. When men--and they are sometimes the
best of men--make themselves the avengers of God, the conscience is
startled, and religion hides her face. It was not so three centuries
back, and the most eminent minds always pay in one manner or another
their tribute to human weakness. And yet, on a well-known occasion,
when a wretched man, whose doctrines threatened society, stood before
the civil tribunals of Geneva, there was but one voice in all Europe
raised in favour of the prisoner; but one voice that prayed for some
mitigation of Servetus’s punishment, and that voice was Calvin’s.[6]

However inveterate the prejudices against him may be, the indisputable
evidence of history places Calvin among the fathers of modern liberty.
It is possible that we may find impartial men gradually lending their
ear to the honest and solemn testimony of past ages; and the more the
world recognises the importance and universality of the Reformation
which came forth from Geneva, the more shall we be excused for
directing attention for a few moments to the heroic age of this obscure

The sixteenth century is the greatest in Christian times; it is the
epoch where (so to speak) everything ends and everything begins;
nothing is paltry, not even dissipation; nothing small, not even a
little city lying unobserved at the foot of the Alps.

In that renovating age, so full of antagonist forces and energetic
struggles, the religious movements did not proceed from a single
centre; they emanated from opposite poles, and are mentioned in the
well-known line--

    Je ne décide pas entre Genève et Rome.[7]

The Catholic focus was in Italy--in the metropolis of the ancient
world; the evangelical focus in Germany was transferred from Wittemberg
to the middle of European nations--to the smallest of cities--to that
whose history I have to relate.

When history treats of certain epochs, as for instance the reign of
Charles V., there may be a certain disadvantage in the vastness of the
stage on which the action passes; we may complain that the principal
actor, however colossal, is necessarily dwarfed. This inconvenience
will not be found in the narrative I have undertaken. If the empire
of Charles V. was the largest theatre in modern history, Geneva was
the smallest. In the one case we have a vast empire, in the other
a microscopical republic. But the smallness of the theatre serves
to bring out more prominently the greatness of the actions: only
superficial minds turn with contempt from a sublime drama because
the stage is narrow and the representation devoid of pomp. To study
great things in small is one of the most useful exercises. What I
have in view--and this is my apology--is not to describe a petty city
of the Alps, for that would not be worth the labour; but to study in
that city a history which is in the main a reflection of the history
of Europe,--of its sufferings, its struggles, its aspirations, its
political liberties, and its religious transformations. I will
confess that my attachment to the land of my birth may have led me to
examine our annals rather too closely, and narrate them at too great
length. This attachment to my country which has cheered me in my task,
may possibly expose me to reproach; but I hope it will rather be my
justification. ‘This book,’ said Tacitus, at the beginning of one
of his immortal works, ‘was dictated by affection: that must be its
praise, or at least its excuse.’[8] Shall we be forbidden to shelter
ourselves humbly behind the lofty stature of the prince of history?

Modern liberties proceed from three different sources, from the union
of three characters, three laws, three conquests--the Roman, the
German, and the Christian. The combination of these three influences,
which has made modern Europe, is found in a rather striking manner in
the valley of the Leman. The three torrents from north, south, and
east, whose union forms the great stream of civilisation, deposited
in that valley which the Creator hollowed out between the Alps and
the Jura that precious sediment whose component parts can easily be
distinguished after so many ages.

First we come upon the Roman element in Geneva. This city was for
a long while part of the empire; ‘it was the remotest town of the
Allobroges,’ says Cæsar.[9] About a league from Geneva there once
stood an antique marble in honour of Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus,
who 122 years before Christ had triumphed over the people of this
district;[10] and the great Julius himself, who constructed immense
works round the city, bequeathed his name to a number of Roman
colonists, or clients at least. More remarkable traces--their municipal
institutions--are found in most of the cities which the Romans
occupied; we may be permitted to believe that Geneva was not without

In the fifth century the second element of modern liberties appeared
with the Germans. The Burgundians--those Teutons of the Oder, the
Vistula, and the Warta--being already converted to Christianity,
poured their bands into the vast basin of the Rhone, and a spirit
of independence, issuing from the distant forests of the north,
breathed on the shores of the Leman lake. The Burgundian tribe,
however, combined with the vigour of the other Germans a milder and
more civilising temperament. King Gondebald built a palace at Geneva;
an inscription placed fifteen feet above the gate of the castle,
and which remains to this day, bears the words, _Gundebadus rex
clementissimus_, &c.[11] From this castle departed the king’s niece,
the famous Clotilda, who, by marrying Clovis, converted to Christianity
the founder of the French monarchy. If the Franks then received the
Christian faith from Geneva, many of their descendants in the days of
Calvin received the Reformation from the same place.

Clotilda’s uncle repaired the breaches in the city walls, and having
assembled his ablest counsellors, drew up those Burgundian laws which
defended small and great alike, and protected the life and honour of
man against injury.[12]

The first kingdom founded by the Burgundians did not, however, last
long. In 534 it fell into the hands of the Merovingian kings, and
the history of Geneva was absorbed in that of France until 888, the
epoch when the second kingdom of Burgundy rose out of the ruins of the
majestic but ephemeral empire of Charlemagne.

But long before the invasion of the Burgundians in the fifth century, a
portion of Europe, and Geneva in particular, had submitted to another
conquest. In the second century Christianity had its representatives
in almost every part of the Roman world. In the time of the Emperor
Marcus Aurelius and of Bishop Irenæus (177) some persecuted Christians
of Lyons and Vienne, in Dauphiny, wishing to escape from the flames and
the wild beasts to which Rome was flinging the children of God, and
desirous of trying whether their pious activity could not bear fruit in
some other soil, had ascended the formidable waters of the Rhone, and,
coming to the foot of the Alps--refuge and refugees are of old date in
this country--brought the gospel thither, as other refugees, coming
also from Gaul, and also fleeing their persecutors, were fourteen
centuries later to bring the Reformation. It seems they were only
disciples, humble presbyters and evangelists, who in the second and
third century first proclaimed the divine word on the shores of the
Leman; we may therefore suppose that the Church was instituted in its
simplest form. At least it was not until two centuries later, in 381,
that Geneva had a bishop, Diogenes,[13] and even this first bishop is
disputed.[14] Be that as it may, the gospel which the refugees brought
into the valley lying between the Alps and the Jura, proclaimed, as it
does everywhere, the equality of all men before God, and thus laid the
foundations of its future liberties.

Thus were commingled in this region the generating elements of modern
institutions. Cæsar, Gondebald, and an unknown missionary represent, so
to speak, the three strata that form the Genevese soil.

Let us here sketch rapidly a few salient points of the ancient history
of Geneva. The foundations upon which a building stands are certainly
not the most interesting part, but they are perhaps the most necessary.



Geneva was at first nothing but a rural township (_vicus_), with a
municipal council and an edile. Under Honorius in the 4th century
it had become a city, having probably received this title after
Caracalla had extended the rights of citizenship to all the Gauls.
From the earliest times, either before or after Charlemagne, Geneva
possessed rights and liberties which guaranteed the citizens against
the despotism of its feudal lord. But did it possess political
institutions? was the community organised? Information is wanting on
these points. In the beginning of the sixteenth century the Genevese
claimed to have been free so long that _the memory of man runneth not
to the contrary_.[15] But this ‘memory of man’ might not embrace many

The pope having invited Charlemagne to march his Franks into Italy,
for the _love of God_, and to fight against his enemies, that prince
proceeded thither in 773 with a numerous army, part of which crossed
Mount St. Bernard, thus pointing the way to another Charlemagne who was
to appear a thousand years later, and whose empire, more brilliant but
still more ephemeral than the first, was also in its dissolution to
restore liberty to Geneva, which had been a second time absorbed into
France.[16] Charlemagne, while passing through with his army, halted at
Geneva and held _a council_.[17] This word has led to the belief that
the city possessed _liberties_ and _privileges_, and that he confirmed
them;[18] but the council was probably composed of the councillors
around the prince, and was not a city council. Be that as it may, the
origin of the liberties of Geneva seems to be hidden in the night of

Three powers in their turn threatened these liberties.

First came the counts of Geneva. They were originally, as it would
seem, merely officers of the Emperor;[19] but gradually became almost
independent princes.

As early as 1091, we meet with an Aymon, count of Genevois.[20]
The rule of these counts of Genevois soon extended over a wide and
magnificent territory. They resided not only at their hereditary
manor-seat in Geneva, which stood on the site of Gondebald’s palace,
but also in various castles scattered in distant parts of their
domain--at Annecy, Rumilly, La Roche, Lausanne, Moudon, Romont, Rue,
Les Clées, and other places.[21] In those days, the counts lived both a
solitary and turbulent life, such as characterised the feudal period.
At one time they were shut up in their castles, which were for the
most part surrounded by a few small houses, and begirt with fosses and
drawbridges, and on whose walls could be seen afar the arms of the
warders glittering in the rising sun. At other times, they would sally
forth, attended by a numerous escort of officers, with their seneschal,
marshal, cup-bearers, falconers, pages, and esquires, either in pursuit
of the chase on the heights of the Jura and the Alps; or it might be
with the pious motive of visiting some place of pilgrimage; or not
unfrequently indeed to wage harassing crusades against their neighbours
or their vassals. But during all these feudal agitations another power
was growing in Geneva--a power humble indeed at first--but whose mouth
was to _speak great things_.[22]

At the period of the Burgundian conquest Geneva possessed a bishop,
and the invasion of the Germans soon gave this prelate considerable
power. Gifted with intelligence far superior to that of the men by whom
they were surrounded, respected by the barbarians as the high-priests
of Rome, knowing how to acquire vast possessions by slow degrees, and
thus becoming the most important personages in the cities where they
resided, the bishops laboured to protect their city from abroad and to
govern it at home. Finally they confiscated without much ceremony the
independence of the people, and united the quality of prince with that
of bishop.

In 1124 Aymon, Count of Genevois, by an agreement made with Humbert
of Grammont, Bishop of Geneva, gave up the city to the latter,[23]
reserving only the old palace and part of the criminal jurisprudence,
but continuing to hold the secondary towns and the rural district.

The institution of bishop-princes, half religious and half political,
equally in disaccord with the Gospel of past ages and the liberty of
the future, may have been exceptionally beneficent; but generally
speaking it was a misfortune for the people of the middle ages, and
particularly for Geneva. If at that time the Church had possessed
humble but earnest ministers to hold up the light of the Gospel to the
world, why should not the same spiritual power, which in the first
century had vanquished Roman polytheism, have been able in later times
to dispel the darkness of feudalism? But what could be expected of
prelates who turned their croziers into swords, their flocks into
serfs, their pastoral dwellings into fortified castles? _Corruptio
optimi pessima._ The prince-bishop, that amphibious offspring of the
barbaric invasion, cannot be maintained in christendom. The petty
people of Geneva--and this is one of its titles to renown--was the
first who expelled him in modern times; and the manner in which it did
this is one of the pages of history we desire to transcribe. It needed
truly a powerful energy--the arm of God--to undertake and carry through
this first act which wrested from episcopal hands the temporal sceptre
they had usurped. Since then the example of Geneva has often been
followed; the feudal thrones of the bishops have fallen on the banks of
the Rhine, in Belgium, Bavaria, Austria, and elsewhere; but the first
throne that fell was that of Geneva, as the last will be that of Rome.

If the bishop, owing to the support of the emperors, succeeded in
ousting the count from the city of Geneva, leaving him only the
jurisdiction over his rural vassals, he succeeded also, in the natural
course of things, in suppressing the popular franchises. These
rights, however, still subsisted, the prince-bishop being elected
by the people--a fact recorded by Saint Bernard at the election of
Ardutius.[24] The prince even made oath of fidelity to the people.
Occasionally the citizens opposed the prelate’s encroachments, and
refused to be dragged before the court of Rome.[25]

Christianity was intended to be a power of liberty; Rome, by corrupting
it, made it a power of despotism; Calvin, by regenerating it, set it up
again and restored its first work.

But what threatened most the independence and liberty of Geneva, was
not the bishops and counts, but a power alien to it, that had begun by
robbing the counts of their towns and villages. The house of Savoy,
devoured by an insatiable ambition, strove to enlarge its dominions
with a skill and perseverance that were crowned with the most rapid
success. When the princes of Savoy had taken the place of the counts of
Genevois and the dukes of Zœhringen in the Pays de Vaud, Geneva, which
they looked upon as an _enclave_, became the constant object of their
desires. They hovered for centuries over the ancient city, like those
Alpine vultures which, spreading their wings aloft among the clouds,
explore the country beneath with their glance, swoop down upon the
prey, and return day after day until they have devoured each fragment.
Savoy had her eyes fixed upon Geneva,--first, through ambition, because
the possession of this important city would round off and strengthen
her territory; and second, through calculation, because she discovered
in this little state certain principles of right and liberty that
alarmed her. What would become of the absolute power of princes,
obtained at the cost of so many usurpations, if liberal theories should
make their way into European law? A nest built among the craggy rocks
of the Alps may perhaps contain a brood of inoffensive eaglets; but as
soon as their wings grow, they will soar into the air, and with their
piercing eyes discover the prey and seize it from afar. The safer
course, then, is for some strong hand to kill them in their nest while

The relations between Savoy and Geneva--one representing absolutism,
the other liberty--have been and are still frequently overlooked. They
are of importance, however, to the history of Geneva, and even of the
Reformation. For this reason we are desirous of sketching them.

The terrible struggle of which we have just spoken began in the first
half of the thirteenth century. The house of Savoy finding two powers
at Geneva and in Genevois, the bishop and the count, resolved to take
advantage of their dissensions to creep both into the province and into
the city, and to take their place. It declared first in favour of the
bishop against the count, the more powerful of the two, in order to
despoil him. Peter of Savoy, Canon of Lausanne, became in 1229, at the
age of twenty-six, Provost of the Canons of Geneva; and having thus an
opportunity of knowing the city, of appreciating the importance of its
situation, and discovering the beauties that lay around it, he took a
liking to it. Being a younger son of a Count of Savoy, he could easily
have become a bishop; but under his amice, the canon concealed the arm
of a soldier and the genius of a politician. On the death of his father
in 1232, he threw off his cassock, turned soldier, married Agnes whom
the Count of Faucigny made his heiress at the expense of her elder
sister, and then took to freebooting.[26] Somewhat later, being the
uncle of Elinor of Provence, Queen of England, he was created Earl of
Richmond by his nephew Henry III., and studied the art of government
in London. But the banks of the Thames could not make him forget those
of the Leman. The castle of Geneva remained, as we have seen above,
the private property of his enemy the Count of Geneva, and this he
made up his mind to seize. ‘A wise man,’ says an old chronicler, ‘of
lofty stature and athletic strength, proud, daring, terrible as a lion,
resembling the most famous paladins, so brave that he was called the
valiant (_preux_) Charlemagne’--possessing the organising genius that
founds states and the warlike disposition that conquers them--Peter
seized the castle of Geneva in 1250, and held it as a security for
35,000 silver marks which he pretended the count owed him. He was now
somebody in the city. Being a man of restless activity, enterprising
spirit, rare skill, and indefatigable perseverance, he used this
foundation on which to raise the edifice of his greatness in the
valley of the Leman.[27] The people of Geneva, beginning to grow weary
of ecclesiastical authority, desired to enjoy freely those communal
franchises which the clergy called ‘the worst of institutions.’[28]
When he became Count of Savoy, Peter, who had conceived the design of
annexing Geneva to his hereditary states, promised to give the citizens
all they wanted; and the latter, who already (two centuries and a half
before the Reformation) desired to shake off the temporal yoke of their
bishop, put themselves under his guardianship. But erelong they grew
alarmed, they feared the sword of the warrior more than the staff of
the shepherd, and were content with their clerical government

    De peur d’en rencontrer un pire.[29]

In 1267 the second Charlemagne was forced to declare by a public act
that he refused to take Geneva under his protection.[30] Disgusted
with this failure, weakened by age, and exhausted by his unceasing
activity, Peter retired to his castle at Chillon, where every day he
used to sail on that beautiful lake, luxuriously enjoying the charms
of nature that lay around; while the harmonious voice of a minstrel,
mingling with the rippling of the waters, celebrated before him the
lofty deeds of the illustrious paladin. He died in 1268.[31]

Twenty years later Amadeus V. boldly renewed the assault in which his
uncle had failed. A man full of ambition and genius, and surnamed
‘the Great,’ he possessed all the qualities of success. The standard
of the prince must float over the walls of that free city. Amadeus
already possessed a mansion in Geneva, the old palace of the counts
of Genevois, situated in the upper part of the city. He wished to
have more, and the canons gave him the opportunity which he sought of
beginning his conquest. During a vacancy of the episcopal see, these
reverend fathers were divided, and those who were hostile to Amadeus,
having been threatened by some of his party, took refuge in alarm in
the Château de l’Ile. This castle Amadeus seized, being determined to
show them that neither strong walls nor the two arms of the river which
encircle the island could protect them against his wrath. This conquest
gave him no authority in the city; but Savoy was able more than once to
use it for its ambitious projects. It was here in 1518, shortly after
the appearance of Luther, that the most intrepid martyr of modern
liberty was sacrificed by the bishop and the duke.

Amadeus could not rest satisfied with his two castles: in order to
be master in Geneva, he did not disdain to become a servant. As it
was unlawful for bishops, in their quality of churchmen, to shed
blood, there was an officer commissioned in all the ecclesiastical
principalities to inflict the punishment of death, _vice domini_, and
hence this lieutenant was called _vidomne_ or _vidame_. Amadeus claimed
this vidamy as the reward of his services. In vain did the citizens,
uneasy at the thought of so powerful a vidame, meet in the church of
St. Magdalen (November 1288); in vain did the bishop forbid Amadeus,
‘in the name of God, of the glorious Virgin Mary, of St. Peter, St.
Paul, and all the saints, to usurp the office of lieutenant,’[32] the
vulture held the vidamy in his talons and would not let it go. The
citizens jeered at this sovereign prince who turned himself into a
civil officer. ‘A pretty employment for a prince--it is a ministry
(_ministère_) not a magistry (_magistère_)--service not dominion.’
‘Well, well,’ replied the Savoyard, ‘I shall know how to turn the valet
into a master.’[33]

The princes of Savoy, who had combined with the bishop against the
Count of Geneva to oust the latter, having succeeded so well in their
first campaign, undertook a second, and joined the citizens against
the bishop in order to supplant him. Amadeus became a liberal. He
knew well that you cannot gain the hearts of a people better than by
becoming the defender of their liberties. He said to the citizens in
1285, ‘We will _maintain_, _guard_, and _defend_ your city and goods,
your _rights_ and _franchises_, and all that belongs to you.’[34] If
Amadeus was willing to _defend_ the liberties of Geneva, it is a proof
that they existed: his language is that of a conservative and not of
an innovator. The year 1285 did not, as some have thought, witness the
first origin of the franchises of Geneva but their revival. There was
however at that time an outgrowth of these liberties. The municipal
institutions became more perfect. The citizens, taking advantage of
Amadeus’s support, elected _rectors_ of the city, voted taxes, and
conferred the freedom of the city upon foreigners. But the ambitious
prince had calculated falsely. By aiding the citizens to form a
corporation strong enough to defend their ancient liberties, he raised
with imprudent hand a bulwark against which all the plans of his
successors were doomed to fail.

In the fifteenth century the counts of Savoy, having become dukes and
more eagerly desiring the conquest of Geneva, changed their tactics a
third time. They thought, that as there was a pope at Rome, the master
of the princes and principalities of the earth, a pontifical bull would
be more potent than their armies and intrigues to bring Geneva under
the power of Savoy.

It was Duke Amadeus VIII. who began this new campaign. Not satisfied
with having enlarged his states with the addition of Genevois, Bugey,
Verceil, and Piedmont, which had been separated from it for more than
a century, he petitioned Pope Martin V. to confer on him, for the
great advantage of the Church, the secular authority in Geneva. But
the syndics, councillors, and deputies of the city, became alarmed at
the news of this fresh manœuvre, and knowing that ‘Rome ought not to
_lay its paw_ upon kingdoms,’ determined to resist the pope himself,
if necessary, in the defence of their liberties, and placing their
hands upon the Gospels they exclaimed: ‘No alienation of the city or
of its territory--this we swear.’ Amadeus withdrew his petition; but
Pope Martin V., while staying three months at Geneva, on his return
in 1418 from the Council of Constance, began to sympathise with the
ideas of the dukes. There was something in the pontiff which told him
that liberty did not accord with the papal rule. He was alarmed at
witnessing the liberties of the city. ‘He feared those general councils
that spoil everything,’ says a manuscript chronicle in the Turin
library; ‘he felt uneasy about those turbulent folk, imbued with the
ideas of the Swiss, who were always whispering into the ears of the
Genevese the _license of popular government_.’[35] The liberties of the
Swiss were dear to the citizens a century before the Reformation.

The pope resolved to remedy this, but not in the way the dukes of
Savoy intended. These princes desired to secure the independence of
Geneva in order to increase their power; while the popes preferred
confiscating it to their own benefit. At the Council of Constance, from
which Martin was then returning, it had been decreed that episcopal
elections should take place according to the canonical forms, by the
_chapter_, unless for some _reasonable and manifest_ cause the pope
should think fit to name a person more useful to the Church.[36]
The pontiff thought that the necessity of resisting popular liberty
was a _reasonable_ motive; and accordingly as soon as he reached
Turin, he translated the Bishop of Geneva to the archiepiscopal see
of the Tarentaise, and heedless of the rights of the canons and
citizens, nominated Jean de Rochetaillée, Patriarch _in partibus_ of
Constantinople, Bishop and Prince of Geneva. Four years later Martin
repeated this usurpation. Henry V. of England, at that time master
of Paris, taking a dislike to Jean de Courte-Cuisse, bishop of that
capital, the pope, of his sovereign authority, placed Courte-Cuisse
on the episcopal throne of Geneva, and Rochetaillée on that of Paris.
Thus were elections wrested by popes from a christian people and their
representatives. This usurpation was to Geneva, as well as to many
other parts of christendom, an inexhaustible source of evils.

It followed, among other things, that with the connivance of Rome, the
princes of Savoy might become princes of Geneva. But could they insure
this connivance? From that moment the activity of the court of Turin
was employed in making interest with the popes in order to obtain the
grant of the bishopric of Geneva for one of the princes or creatures
of Savoy. A singular circumstance favoured this remarkable intrigue.
Duke Amadeus VIII., who had been rejected by the citizens a few years
before, succeeded in an unexpected manner. In 1434 having abdicated in
favour of his eldest son, he assumed the hermit’s frock at Ripaille
on the Lake of Geneva; and the Council of Basle having nominated him
pope, he took the name of Felix V. and made use of his pontifical
authority to create himself bishop and prince of Geneva. A pope making
himself a bishop ... strange thing indeed! Here is the key to the
enigma: the pope was a prince of Savoy: the see was the see of Geneva.
Savoy desired to have Geneva at any price: one might almost say that
Pope Felix thought it an advancement in dignity to become a Genevan
bishop. It is true that Felix was pope according to the episcopal, not
the papal, system; having been elected by a council, he was forced to
resign in consequence of the desertion of the majority of European
princes. Geneva and Ripaille consoled him for Rome.

As bishop and prince of Geneva, he respected the franchises of his
new acquisition; but the poor city was fated somewhat later to serve
as food to the offspring of this bird of prey. In 1451, Amadeus being
dead, Peter of Savoy, a child eight or ten years old, grandson of the
pope, hermit, and bishop, mounted the episcopal throne of Geneva; in
1460 came John Louis, another grandson, twelve years of age; and in
1482 Francis, a third grandson. To the Genevans the family of the
pope seemed inexhaustible. These bishops and their governors were as
leeches sucking Geneva even to the bones and marrow.

Their mother, Anne of Cyprus, had brought with her to Savoy a number of
‘Cypriote leeches’ as they were called, and after they had drained the
blood of her husband’s states, she launched them on the states of her
children. One Cypriote prelate, Thomas de Sur, whom she had appointed
governor to little Bishop Peter, particularly distinguished himself
in the art of robbing citizens of their money and their liberty. It
was Bishop John Louis, the least wicked of the three brothers, who
inflicted the most terrible blow on Geneva. We shall tell how that
happened; for this dramatic episode is a picture of manners, carrying
us back to Geneva with its bishops and its princes, and showing us
the family of that Charles III. who was in the sixteenth century the
constant enemy of the liberties and Reformation of the city.

Duke Louis of Savoy, son of the pope-duke Amadeus, was good-tempered,
inoffensive, weak, timid, and sometimes choleric; his wife, Anne of
Cyprus or Lusignan, was arrogant, ambitious, greedy, intriguing,
and domineering; the fifth of their sons, by name Philip-Monsieur,
was a passionate, debauched, and violent young man. Anne, who had
successively provided for three of her sons by placing them on the
episcopal throne of Geneva, and who had never met with any opposition
from the eldest Amadeus IX., a youth subject to epilepsy, had come into
collision with Philip. The altercations between them were frequent and
sharp, and she never missed an opportunity of injuring him in his
father’s affections; so that the duke, who always yielded to his wife’s
wishes, left the young prince without appanage. Philip Lackland (for
such was the name he went by) angry at finding himself thus deprived of
his rights, returned his mother hatred for hatred; and instead of that
family affection, which even the poets of heathen antiquity have often
celebrated, an implacable enmity existed between the mother and the
son. This Philip was destined to fill an important place in history;
he was one day to wear the crown, be the father of Charles III.
(brother-in-law to Charles V.) and grandfather of Francis I. through
his daughter Louisa of Savoy. But at this time nothing announced the
high destiny which he would afterwards attain. Constantly surrounded
by young profligates, he passed a merry life, wandering here and there
with his troop of scapegraces, establishing himself in castles or in
farms; and if the inhabitants objected, striking those who resisted,
killing one and wounding another, so that he lived in continual
quarrels. ‘As my father left me no fortune,’ he used to say, ‘I take my
property wherever I can find it.’--‘All Savoy was in discord,’ say the
old annals, ‘filled with murder, assault, and riot.’[37]

The companions of the young prince detested the _Cypriote_ (as they
called the duchess) quite as much as he did; and in their orgies over
their brimming bowls used the most insulting language towards her. One
day they insinuated that ‘if she plundered her husband and her son it
was to enrich her minions.’ Philip swore that he would have justice.
Duke Louis was then lying ill of the gout at Thonon, on the southern
shore of the Lake of Geneva. Lackland went thither with his companions,
and entering the chapel where mass was going on, killed his mother’s
steward, carried off his father’s chancellor, put him in a boat and
took him to Morges, ‘where he was drowned in the lake.’ Duke Louis was
terrified; but whither could he flee? In his own states there was no
place where he could feel himself safe; he could see no other refuge
but Geneva, and there he resolved to go.

John Louis, another of his sons, was then bishop, and he was strong
enough to resist Philip. Although destined from his infancy for the
ecclesiastical estate, he had acquired neither learning nor manners,
‘seeing that it is not the custom of princes to make their children
scholars,’ say the annals. But on the other hand he was a good
swordsman; dressed not as a churchman but as a soldier, and passed his
time in ‘dicing, hawking, drinking, and wenching.’ Haughty, blunt,
hot-headed, he was often magnanimous, and always forgave those who
had rightfully offended him. ‘As appears,’ says the old chronicle,
‘from the story of the carpenter, who having surprised him in a room
with his wife, cudgelled him so soundly, that he was left for dead.
Nevertheless, the bishop would not take vengeance, and went so far as
to give the carpenter the clothes he had on when he was cudgelled.’

John Louis listened favourably to his father’s proposals. The duke,
Anne of Cyprus, and all the Cypriote officers arrived at Geneva in July
1642, and were lodged at the Franciscan convent and elsewhere; but
none could venture outside Geneva without being exposed to the attacks
of the terrible Lackland.[38]

The arrogant duchess became a prey to alarm: being both greedy and
avaricious, she trembled lest Philip should succeed in laying hands
upon her treasures; and that she might put them beyond his reach, she
despatched them to Cyprus after this fashion. In the mountains near
Geneva the people used to make very excellent cheeses; of these she
bought a large number, wishing (she said) that her friends in Cyprus
should taste them. She scraped out the inside, carefully stored her
gold in the hollow, and therewith loaded some mules, which started
for the East. Philip having received information of this, stopped the
caravan near Friburg, unloaded the mules, and took away the gold.
Now that he held in his hands these striking proofs of the duchess’s
perfidy, he resolved to slake the hatred he felt towards her: he would
go to Geneva, denounce his mother to his father, obtain from the
exasperated prince the Cypriote’s dismissal, and receive at last the
appanage of which this woman had so long deprived him.

Philip, aware that the bishop would not let him enter the city,
resolved to get into it by stratagem. He repaired secretly to Nyon,
and thence despatched to Geneva the more skilful of his confidants.
They told the syndics and the young men of their acquaintance, that
their master desired to speak to his father the duke about a matter
of great importance. One of the syndics (the one, no doubt, who had
charge of the watch) seeing nothing but what was very natural in
this, gave instructions to the patrol; and on the 9th of October,
Philip presenting himself at the city gate--at midnight, according
to Savyon, who is contradicted by other authorities--entered and
proceeded straight to Rive, his Highness’s lodging, with a heart
full of bitterness and hatred against his cruel mother. We shall
quote literally the ancient annals which describe the interview in a
picturesque manner:--‘Philip knocks at the door; thereupon one of the
chamberlains coming up, asks who is there? He answers: “I am Philip
of Savoy, I want to speak to my father for his profit.” Whereupon the
servant having made a report, the duke said to him: “Open to him in
the name of all the devils, happen what may,” and immediately the man
opened the door. As soon as he was come in Philip bowed to his father,
saying: “Good day, father!” His father said: “God give thee bad day and
bad year! What devil brings thee here now?” To which Philip replied
meekly: “It is not the devil, my lord, but God who brings me here to
your profit, for I warn you that you are robbed and know it not. There
is my lady mother leaves you nothing, so that, if you take not good
heed, she will not only make your children after your death the poorest
princes in christendom, but yourself also during your life.”’

At these words Philip opened a casket which contained the gold intended
for Cyprus, and ‘showed him the wherewithal,’ say the annals. But the
duke, fearing the storm his wife would raise, took her part. Monsieur
then grew angry: ‘You may bear with it if you like,’ he said to his
father, ‘I will not. I will have justice of these thieves.’ With these
words he drew his sword and looked under his father’s bed, hoping to
find some Cypriotes beneath it, perhaps the Cypriote woman herself. He
found nothing there. He then searched all the lodging with his band,
and found nobody, for the Cypriotes had fled and hidden themselves in
various houses in the city. Monsieur did not dare venture further,
‘for the people were against him,’ say the annals, ‘and for this cause
he quitted his father’s lodging and the town also without doing other

The duchess gave way to a burst of passion, the duke felt very
indignant, and Bishop John Louis was angry. The people flocked
together, and as they prevented the Cypriotes from hanging the men who
had opened the gate to Monsieur, the duke chose another revenge. He
represented to the bishop that his son-in-law Louis XI., with whom he
was negotiating about certain towns in Dauphiny, detested the Genevans,
and coveted their large fairs to which people resorted from all the
country round. He begged him therefore to place in his hands the
charters which gave Geneva this important privilege. The bishop threw
open his archives to the duke; when the latter took the documents in
question, and carrying them to Lyons, where Louis XI. happened to be,
gave them to him. The king immediately transferred the fairs first to
Bourges and then to Lyons, forbidding the merchants to pass through
Geneva. This was a source of great distress to all the city. Was it
not to her fairs, whose privileges were of such old standing, that
Geneva owed her greatness? While Venice was the mart for the trade of
the East, and Cologne for that of the West, Geneva was in a fair way
to become the mart of the central trade. Now Lyons was to increase at
her expense, and the city would witness no longer in her thoroughfares
that busy, restless crowd of foreigners coming from Genoa, Florence,
Bologna, Lucca, Brittany, Gascony, Spain, Flanders, the banks of the
Rhine, and all Germany. Thus the catholic or episcopal power, which in
the eleventh century had stripped Geneva of her territory, stripped her
of her wealth in the fifteenth. It needed the influx of the persecuted
Huguenots and the industrial activity of Protestantism to recover it
from the blow that the Romish hierarchy had inflicted.[40]

This poor tormented city enjoyed however a momentary respite. In the
last year of the fifteenth century, after the scandals of Bishop
Francis of Savoy, and his clergy and monks, a priest, whom we may in
some respects regard as a precursor of the Reformation, obtained the
episcopal chair. This was Anthony Champion, an austere man who pardoned
nothing either in himself or others. ‘I desire,’ he said, ‘to sweep
the filth out of my diocese.’ He took some trouble to do so. On the
7th of May, 1493, five hundred priests convened by him met in synod
in the church of St. Pierre. ‘Men devoted to God’s service,’ said the
bishop with energy, ‘ought to be distinguished by purity of life; now
our priests are given to every vice, and lead more execrable lives than
their flocks. Some dress in open frocks, others assume the soldier’s
head-piece, others wear red cloaks or corslets, frequent fairs, haunt
taverns and houses of ill fame, behave like mountebanks or players,
take false oaths, lend upon pawn, and unworthily vend indulgences to
perjurers and homicides.’ Thus spoke Champion, but he died eighteen
months after the synod, and the priestly corruption increased.[41]

In proportion as Geneva grew weaker, Savoy grew stronger. The duke, by
circumstances which must have appeared to him providential, had lately
seen several provinces settled on different branches of his house,
reunited successively to his own states, and had thus become one of the
most powerful princes of Europe. La Bresse, Bugey, the Genevois, Gex,
and Vaud, replaced under his sceptre, surrounded and blockaded Geneva
on all sides. The poor little city was quite lost in the midst of these
wide provinces, bristling with castles; and its territory was so small
that, as they said, there were more Savoyards than Genevans who heard
the bells of St. Pierre. The states of Savoy enfolded Geneva as in a
net, and a bold stroke of the powerful duke would, it was thought, be
sufficient to crush it.

The dukes were not only around Geneva, they were within it. By means
of their intrigues with the bishops, who were their fathers, sons,
brothers, cousins, or subjects, they had crept into the city, and
increased their influence either by flattery and bribes, or by threats
and terror. The vulture had plumed the weak bird, and imagined that
to devour him would now be an easy task. The duke by means of some
sleight-of-hand trick, in which the prelate would be his accomplice,
might in the twinkling of an eye entirely change his position--rise
from the hospitable chair which My Lords of Geneva so courteously
offered him, and seat himself proudly on a throne. How was the feeble
city, so hunted down, gagged and fettered by its two oppressors, able
to resist and achieve its glorious liberties? We shall see.

New times were beginning in Europe, God was touching society with his
powerful hand; I say ‘society’ and not the State. Society is above
the State; it always preserves its right of priority, and in great
epochs makes its initiative felt. It is not the State that acts upon
society: the movements of the latter produce the transformations of
the State, just as it is the atmosphere which directs the course of
a ship, and not the ship which fixes the direction of the wind. But
if society is above the State, God is above both. At the beginning of
the sixteenth century God was breathing upon the human race, and this
divine breath worked strange revivals in religious belief, political
opinions, civilisation, letters, science, morals, and industry. A great
reformation was on the eve of taking place.

There are also transformations in the order of nature; but their
march is regulated by the creative power in an unchangeable manner.
The succession of seasons is always the same. The monsoons, which
periodically blow over the Indian seas, continue for six months in one
direction, and for the other six months in a contrary direction. In
mankind, on the contrary, the wind sometimes comes for centuries from
the same quarter. At the period we are describing the wind changed
after blowing for nearly a thousand years in the same direction; God
impressed on it a new, vivifying, and renovating course. There are
winds, we know, which, instead of urging the ship gently forward, tear
the sails, break the masts, and cast the vessel on the rocks, where it
goes to pieces. A school, whose seat is at Rome, pretends that such
was the nature of the movement worked out in the sixteenth century.
But whoever examines the question impartially, confesses that the wind
of the Reformation has wafted humanity towards the happy countries of
light and liberty, of faith and morality.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century there was a living force in
Geneva. The ostentatious mitre of the bishop, the cruel sword of the
duke appeared to command there; and yet a new birth was forming within
its bosom. The renovating principle was but a puny, shapeless germ,
concealed in the heroic souls of a few obscure citizens; but its future
developments were not doubtful. There was no power in Christendom able
to stem the outbreak of the human mind, awakening at the mighty voice
of the eternal Ruler. What was to be feared was not that the progress
of civilisation and liberty, guided by the Divine word, would fail to
attain its end; but that on the contrary, by abandoning the supreme
rule, the end would be overshot.

Let us enter upon the history of the preparations for Reform, and
contemplate the vigorous struggles that are about to begin at the foot
of the Alps between despotism and liberty, ultramontanism and the




On the 13th of April, 1513, there was great excitement in Geneva. Men
were dragging cannon through the streets, and placing them on the
walls. The gates were shut and sentries posted everywhere.[42] Charles
de Seyssel, bishop and prince of Geneva, had just died on his return
from a pilgrimage. He was a man of a mild and frank disposition, ‘a
right good person,’ says the chronicler, ‘and for a wonder a great
champion of both ecclesiastical and secular liberty.’ Duke Charles of
Savoy, who was less attached to liberty than this good prelate, had
recently had several sharp altercations with him. ‘It was I who made
you bishop,’ haughtily said the angry duke, ‘but I will unmake you,
and you shall be the poorest priest in the diocese.’[43] The bishop’s
crime was having wished to protect the liberties of the city against
Charles’s usurpations. The prince kept his word, and, if we may believe
the old annals, got rid of him by poison.[44]

When the news of this tragical and unexpected death reached Geneva, the
citizens were alarmed: they argued that no doubt the secret intention
of the duke was to place a member of his family on the episcopal
throne, in order thus to obtain the seigniory of the city. The excited
citizens gathered in groups in the streets, and impassioned orators,
among whom was Philibert Berthelier, addressed the people. The house
from which this great citizen sprang appears to have been of high
position, as early as the twelfth century; but he was one of those
noble natures who court glory by placing themselves at the service of
the weak. No man seemed better fitted to save Geneva. Just, generous,
proud, decided, he was above all firm, true, and attached to what was
right. His glorious ambition was not revolutionary: he wished to uphold
the right and not to combat it. The end he set before himself was not,
properly speaking, the emancipation of his country, but the restoration
of its franchises and liberties. He affected no great airs, used no
big words, was fond of pleasure and the noisy talk of his companions;
but there were always observable in him a seriousness of thought,
great energy, a strong will, and above all a supreme contempt of life.
Enamoured of the ancient liberties of his city, he was always prepared
to sacrifice himself for them.

‘The duke,’ said Berthelier and his friends in their animated meetings,
‘received immediate news of the death of the bishop, as did the pope
also. The messengers are galloping with the news, each wants to have
his share of the skin of the dead beast.’ The patriots argued that if
the pope had long since laid hands on the Church, the Duke of Savoy
now desired to lay his upon the State. Geneva would not be the first
place that had witnessed such usurpations. Other cities of Burgundy,
Grenoble, Gap, Valence, Die, and Lyons, had fallen one after the other
beneath a foreign power. ‘We ourselves,’ said the citizens in the
energetic and somewhat homely language of the day, ‘have had our wings
cut so short already, that we can hardly spit from our walls without
bespattering the duke. Having begun his conquest, he now wishes to
complete it. He has put his _snout_ into the city and is trying to get
in all his body. Let us resist him. Is there a people whose franchises
are older than ours? We have always been free, and there is no memory
of man to the contrary.’[45] The citizens were resolved accordingly to
close their gates against the influence of Savoy, and to elect a bishop
themselves. They called to mind that when Ardutius, descending from
his eyrie in the rocks of the Mole, was named bishop of Geneva, it was
by the accord of clergy and people.[46] ‘Come, you canons,’ said they,
‘choose us a bishop that will not let the duke put his nose into his
soup.’[47] This rather vulgar expression meant simply this: ‘Elect a
bishop who will defend our liberties.’ They had not far to seek.

There was among the canons of Geneva one Aimé de Gingins, abbot of
Bonmont and dean of the chapter, a man of noble house, and well
connected in the Swiss cantons. His father Jacques, seignior of
Gingins, Divonne, and other places, had been councillor, chamberlain,
and high steward to the Duke of Savoy, and even ambassador from him to
Pope Paul II. Aimé, who had been appointed canon of St. Pierre’s in
Geneva when very young, was forty-eight years old at this time. He was
‘the best boon-companion in the world, keeping open house and feasting
joyously the friends of pleasure,’ fond of hearing his companions laugh
and sing, and of rather free manners, after the custom of the Church;
but he excused himself with a smile, saying, without blush or shame:
‘It is a _slippery_ sin.’ M. de Bonmont was the most respected of the
priests in Geneva, for while his colleagues were devoted heart and soul
to the house of Savoy, the dean stood by Geneva, and was no stranger
to the aspirations which led so many generous minds to turn towards
the ancient liberties. The people named him bishop by acclamation, and
the chapter confirmed their choice; and forthwith the citizens made
every effort to uphold the election. They prayed the Swiss cantons to
support it before the pope, and sent to Rome ‘by post both letters and

If this election by the chapter had been sustained, it is probable
that M. de Gingins would have lived on good terms with the council
and citizens, and that harmony would have been preserved. But the
appointment of bishops, which had in olden times belonged to the clergy
and the people, had passed almost everywhere to the prince and the
pope. The election of a superior by the subordinates had given way to
the nomination of an inferior by a superior. This was a misfortune:
nothing secures a good election like the first of these two systems,
for the interest and honour of the governed is always to have good
governors. On the other hand, princes or popes generally choose
strangers or favourites, who win neither the affection nor esteem of
their flocks or of the inferior clergy. The last episcopal elections at
Geneva, by separating the episcopacy from the people and the clergy,
deprived the Church of the strength it so much needed, and facilitated
the Reformation.

Duke Charles understood the importance of the crisis. This prince who
filled for half a century the throne of Savoy and Piedmont, was all
his life the implacable enemy of Geneva. Weak but irritable, impatient
of all opposition yet undecided, proud, awkward, wilful, fond of pomp
but without grandeur, stiff but wanting firmness, not daring to face
the strong, but always ready to be avenged on the weak, he had but
one passion--one mania rather: to possess Geneva. For that he needed
a docile instrument to lend a hand to his ambitious designs--a bishop
with whom he could do what he pleased. Accordingly he looked around
him for some one to oppose to the people’s candidate, and he soon hit
upon the man. In every party of pleasure at court there was sure to be
found a little man, weak, slender, ill-made, awkward, vile in body but
still more so in mind, without regard for his honour, inclined rather
to do evil than good, and suffering under a disease the consequence
of his debauchery. This wretch was John, son of a wench of Angers
(_communis generis_, says Bonivard) whose house was open to everybody,
priests and laymen alike; sparely liberal with her money (for she had
not the means) ‘she was over-free with her venal affections.’ Francis
of Savoy, the third of the pope-duke’s grandsons, who had occupied in
turn the episcopal throne of Geneva, and who was also archbishop of
Aux and bishop of Angers, used to ‘junket with her like the rest.’
This woman was about to become a mother, ‘but she knew not,’ says the
chronicler, ‘whom to select as the father; the bishop being the richest
of all her lovers, she fathered the child upon him, and it was reared
at the expense of the putative parent.’ The Bishop of Angers not caring
to have this child in his diocese, sent it to his old episcopal city,
where there were people devoted to him.[49] The poor little sickly
child was accordingly brought to Geneva, and there he lived meanly
until being called to the court of Turin, he had a certain retinue
assigned him, three horses, a servant, a chaplain, and the title of
_bastard of Savoy_. He then began to hold up his head, and became the
greediest, the most intriguing, the most irregular priest of his day.
‘That’s the man to be bishop of Geneva,’ thought the duke: ‘he is so
much in my debt, he can refuse me nothing.’ There was no bargain the
bastard would not snap at, if he could gain either money or position:
to give up Geneva to the duke was an easy matter to him. Charles sent
for him. ‘Cousin,’ said he, ‘I will raise you to a bishopric, if in
return you will make over the temporality to me.’ The bastard promised
everything: it was an unexpected means of paying his debt to the duke,
which the latter talked about pretty loudly. ‘He has sold us not in the
ear but in the blade,’ said Bonivard, ‘for he has made a present of us
before we belonged to him.’[50]

The duke without loss of time despatched his cousin to Rome, under the
pretext of bearing his congratulations to Leo X. who had just succeeded
Julius II.[51] John the Bastard and his companions travelled so fast
that they arrived before the Swiss. At the same time the court of Turin
omitted nothing to secure the possession of a city so long coveted.
First, they began to canvass all the cardinals they could get at. On
the 24th February the Cardinal of St. Vital, and on the 1st March the
Cardinal of Flisco promised their services to procure the bishopric of
Geneva for John of Savoy.[52] On the 20th of April the Queen of Naples
wrote to the duke, that she had recommended John to her nephew, the
Cardinal of Aragon.[53] This was not enough. An unforeseen circumstance
favoured the designs of Savoy.

The illustrious Leo X. who had just been raised to the papal throne,
had formed the design of allying his family to one of the oldest
houses in Europe. With this intent he cast his eyes on the Princess
Philiberta of Savoy; a pure simple-hearted young girl, of an elevated
mind, a friend to the poor, younger sister to the duke and Louisa of
Savoy, aunt of Francis I. and Margaret of Valois. Leo X. determined to
ask her hand for his brother Julian the Magnificent, lieutenant-general
of the armies of the Church. Up to this time Julian had not lived a
very edifying life; he was deeply enamoured of a widow of Urbino, who
had borne him a son.

To tempt the duke to this marriage, which was very flattering to the
_parvenus_ of Florence, the pope made ‘many promises,’ say the Italian
documents.[54] He even sent an envoy to the court of Turin to tell
Charles that he might ‘expect from him all that the best of sons may
expect from the tenderest of fathers.’[55]

The affair could only be decided at Rome, and Leo X. took much trouble
about it. He received the bastard of Savoy with the greatest honour,
and this disagreeable person had the chief place at banquet, theatre,
and concert. Leo took pleasure in talking with him, and made him
describe Philiberta’s charms. As for making him bishop of Geneva,
that did not cause the least difficulty. The pope cared nothing for
Dean de Bonmont, the chapter, or the Genevans. ‘Let the duke give us
his sister, and we will give you Geneva,’ said he to the graceless
candidate. ‘You will then make over the temporal power to the duke....
The court of Rome will not oppose it; on the contrary, it will support
you.’ Everything was settled between the pope, the duke, and the
bastard. ‘John of Savoy,’ says a manuscript, ‘swore to hand over the
temporal jurisdiction of the city to the duke, and the pope swore he
would force the city to consent under pain of incurring the thunders of
the Vatican.’[56]

This business was hardly finished when the Swiss envoys arrived,
empowered to procure the confirmation of Dean de Bonmont in his office
of bishop. Simple and upright but far less skilful than the Romans and
the Piedmontese, they appeared before the pope. Alas! these Alpine
shepherds had no princess to offer to the Medici. ‘Nescio vos,’ said
Leo X. ‘Begone, I know you not.’ He had his reasons for this rebuff; he
had already nominated the bastard of Savoy bishop of Geneva.

It was impossible to do a greater injury to any church. For an
authority, and especially an elective authority, to be legitimate, it
ought to be in the hands of the best and most intelligent, and he who
exercises it, while administering with zeal, should not infringe the
liberties of those he governs. But these are ideas that never occurred
to the worthless man, appointed by the pope chief pastor of Geneva.
He immediately however found flatterers. They wrote to him (and the
letters are in the Archives of Geneva) that his election had been made
_by the flock_ ... ‘not by mortal favour, but by God’s aid alone.’ It
was however by the favour of the Queen of Naples, of Charles III.,
and by several other very mortal favours, that he had been nominated.
He was exhorted to govern his church with integrity, justice, and
diligence, as became his _singular gravity and virtue_.[57] The bastard
did not make much account of these exhortations; his reign was a
miserable farce, a long scandal. Leo X. was not a lucky man. By the
traffic in indulgences he provoked the Reformation of Wittemberg, and
by the election of the bastard he paved the way for the Reformation of
Geneva. These are two false steps for which Rome has paid dearly.

The news of this election filled the hearts of the Genevan patriots
with sorrow and indignation. They assembled in the public places,
murmuring and ‘complaining to one another,’ and the voices of
Berthelier and Hugues were heard above all the rest. They declared they
did not want the bastard, that they already had a bishop, honoured by
Geneva and all the league, and who had every right to the see because
he was dean of the chapter. They insinuated that if Leo X. presumed
to substitute this intrusive Savoyard for their legitimate bishop, it
was because the house of Savoy wished to lay hands upon Geneva. They
were especially exasperated at the well-known character of the Romish
candidate. ‘A fine election indeed his Holiness has honoured us with!’
said they. ‘For our bishop he gives us a disreputable clerk; for our
guide in the paths of virtue, a dissipated bastard; for the preserver
of our ancient and venerable liberties, a scoundrel ready to sell
them.’ ... Nor did they stop at murmurs; Berthelier and his friends
remarked that as the storm came from the South, they ought to seek a
shelter in the North; and though Savoy raised her foot against Geneva
to crush it, Switzerland stretched out her hand to save it. ‘Let us be
masters at home,’ they said, ‘and shut the gates against the pope’s

All did not think alike: timid men, servile priests, and interested
friends of Savoy trembled as they heard this bold language. They
thought, that if they rejected the bishop sent from Rome, the pope
would launch his thunders and the duke his soldiers against Geneva.
The canons of the cathedral and the richest merchants held lands in
the states of Charles, so that (says a manuscript) the prince could
at pleasure ‘starve them to death.’ These influential men carried the
majority with them, and it was resolved to accept the bishop nominated
at Rome. When the leaders of the independent party found themselves
beaten, they determined to carry out forthwith the plan they had
formed. On the 4th of July, 1513, Philibert Berthelier, Besançon
Hugues, Jean Taccon, Jean Baud, N. Tissot, and H. Pollier petitioned
Friburg for the right of citizenship _in order to secure their lives
and goods_; and it was granted. This energetic step might prove their
ruin; the duke might find the means of teaching them a bloody lesson.
That mattered not: a great step had been taken; the bark of Geneva was
made fast to the ship that would tow them into the waters of liberty.
As early as 1507 three patriots, Pierre Lévrier, Pierre Taccon, and
D. Fonte, had allied themselves to Switzerland. Now they were nine,
drawn up on the side of independence, a small number truly, and yet the
victory was destined to remain with them. History has often shown that
there is another majority besides the majority of numbers.[58]

While this little band of patriots was on its way to embrace the altar
of liberty in Switzerland, the ducal and clerical party was making
ready to prostrate itself slavishly before the Savoyard prince. The
more the patriots had opposed him, the more the episcopalians laboured
to give him a splendid reception. On the 31st of August, 1513, the new
prince-bishop entered the city under a magnificent canopy; the streets
and galleries were hung with garlands and tapestry, the trades walked
magnificently costumed to the sound of fife and drum, and theatres were
improvised for the representation of miracles, dramas, and farces. It
was to no purpose that a few citizens in bad humour shrugged their
shoulders and said: ‘He is truly as foul in body as in mind.’ The
servile worshipped him, some even excusing themselves humbly for having
appeared to oppose him. They represented that such opposition was not
to his lordship’s person, but simply because they desired to maintain
their right of election. John of Savoy, who had said to himself, ‘I
will not spur the horse before I am firm in the saddle,’ answered only
by a smile of his livid lips: both people and bishop were acting a
part. When he arrived in front of the cathedral, the new prelate met
the canons, dressed in their robes of silk and damask, with hoods and
crosses, each according to his rank. They had felt rather annoyed in
seeing the man of their choice, the abbot of Bonmont, unceremoniously
set aside by the pope; but the honour of having a prince of the
ducal family for their bishop was some compensation. These reverend
gentlemen, almost all of them partisans of Savoy, received the bastard
with great honour, bowing humbly before him. The bishop then entered
the church, and standing in front of the altar, with an open missal
before him, as was usual, made solemn oath to the syndics, in presence
of the people, to maintain the liberties and customs of Geneva. Certain
good souls took him at his word and appeared quite reassured; but the
more intelligent wore a look of incredulity, and placed but little
trust in his protestations. The bishop having been recognised and
proclaimed sovereign, quitted the church and entered the episcopal
palace to recruit himself after such unusual fatigue. There he took
his seat in the midst of a little circle of courtiers, and raising his
head, said to them: ‘Well, gentlemen, we have next to _savoyardise_
Geneva. The city has been quite long enough separated from Savoy only
by a ditch, without crossing it. I am commissioned to make her take
the leap.’ These were almost the first words the bastard uttered after
having sworn before God to maintain the independence of the city.[59]

The bishop, naturally crafty and surrounded by counsellors more
crafty still, was eager to know who were the most influential men
of the party opposed to him, being resolved to confer on them some
striking mark of his favour. First he met with one name which was in
every mouth--it was that of Philibert Berthelier. The bishop saw this
citizen mingling with the people, simple, cheerful, and overflowing
with cordiality, taking part in all the merry-makings of the young
folks of Geneva, winning them by the animated charm of his manners,
and by the important services he was always ready to do them. ‘Good!’
thought John of Savoy, ‘here is a man I must have. If I gain him, I
shall have nothing to fear for my power in Geneva.’ He resolved to give
him one of the most honourable charges at his disposal. Some persons
endeavoured to dissuade the bishop: they told him that under a trifling
exterior Berthelier concealed a rebellious, energetic, and unyielding
mind. ‘Fear nothing,’ answered John, ‘he sings gaily and drinks with
the young men of the town.’ It was true that Berthelier amused himself
with the _Enfans de Genève_,[60] but it was to kindle them at his fire.
He possessed the two qualities necessary for great things: a popular
spirit, and an heroic character; practical sense to act upon men, and
an elevated mind to conceive great ideas.

The bishop, to whom all noble thoughts were unknown, appeared quite
enchanted with the great citizen; being always ready to sell himself,
he doubted not that the proud Genevan was to be bought. The Castle of
Peney, situated two leagues from the city, and built in the thirteenth
century by a bishop of Geneva, happened at that time to be without
a commandant: ‘You shall have the governorship of Peney,’ said the
prelate to Berthelier. The latter was astonished, for it was, as we
have said, one of the most important posts in the State. ‘I understand
it all,’ said he, ‘Peney is the apple which the serpent gave to Eve.’
‘Or rather,’ added Bonivard, ‘the apple which the goddess of Discord
threw down at the marriage of Peleus.’ Berthelier refused; but the
bastard still persisted, making fine promises for the future of the
city. At last he accepted the charge, but with the firm intention of
resigning it as soon as his principles required it. The bishop could
not even dream of a resignation: such an act would be sheer madness
in his eyes; so believing that he had caught Berthelier, he thought
that Geneva could not now escape him. This was not all; the bishop
elect, M. de Gingins, whose place the bastard had taken, possessed
great influence in the city. John gave him a large pension. Believing
he had thus disposed of his two principal adversaries, he used to joke
about it with his courtiers. ‘It is a bone in their mouths,’ said
they, laughing and clapping their hands, ‘which will prevent their

The people had next to be won over. ‘Two features characterise the
Genevans,’ said the partisans of Savoy to the bishop, ‘the love of
liberty and the love of pleasure.’ Hence the counsellors of the
Savoyard prince concluded, that it would be necessary to manœuvre
so as to make one of these propensities destroy the other. The cue
was accordingly given. Parties, balls, banquets, and entertainments
were held at the palace and in all the houses of the Savoyard party.
There was one obstacle however. The bastard was naturally melancholy
and peevish, and his disease by no means tended to soften this morose
disposition. But John did violence to himself, and determined to keep
open house. ‘Nothing was seen at the palace but junketing, dicing,
dancing, and feasting.’ The prelate leaving his apartments, would
appear at these joyous entertainments, with his wan and gloomy face,
and strive to smile. Go where you would, you heard the sound of music
and the tinkling of glasses. The youth of Geneva was enchanted; but
the good citizens felt alarmed. ‘The bishop, the churchmen, and the
Savoyards,’ they said, ‘effeminate and _cowardise_ our young men by
toothsome meats, gambling, dancing, and other immoderate delights.’ Nor
did they rest satisfied with complaining; they took the young citizens
aside, and represented to them that if the bishop and his party were
lavish of their amusements, it was only to make them forget their love
for the common weal. ‘They are doing as Circe did with the companions
of Ulysses,’ said a man of wit, ‘and their enchanted draughts have
no other object than to change men into swine.’ But the bastard, the
canons, and the Savoyard nobles continued to put wine upon their tables
and to invite the most charming damsels to their balls. The youths
could not resist; they left the old men to their dotage; in their
intoxication they indulged with all the impetuosity of their age in
bewitching dances, captivating music, and degrading disorders. Some
of the young lords, as they danced or drank, whispered in their ears:
‘Fancy what it would be if the duke established his court with its
magnificent fêtes at Geneva.’ And these thoughtless youths forgot the
liberties and the mission of their country.[62]

Among the young men whom the courtiers of Savoy were leading into
vice, was the son of the bishop’s procurator-fiscal. One of the ablest
devices of the dukes who desired to annex Geneva to their states, had
been to induce a certain number of their subjects to settle in the
city. These Savoyards, being generally rich men and of good family,
were joyfully welcomed and often invested with some important office,
but they always remained devoted to the ducal interests. Of this number
were F. Cartelier of La Bresse, M. Guillet, seignior of Montbard, and
Pierre Navis of Rumilly in Genevois; all these played an important
part in the crisis we are about to describe. Navis, admitted citizen
in 1486, elected councillor in 1497, was a proud and able man, a good
lawyer, thoroughly devoted to the duke, and who thought he was serving
him faithfully by the unjust charges he brought against the patriots.
Andrew, the youngest of his sons, was a waggish, frolicsome, noisy boy
who, if sometimes showing a certain respect to his father, was often
obstinate and disobedient. When he passed from boyhood to youth, his
passions gained more warmth, his imagination more fire: family ties
sufficed him no longer, and he felt within him a certain longing which
urged him towards something unknown. The knowledge of God would have
satisfied the wants of his ardent soul; but he could find it nowhere.
It was at this period, he being twenty-three years old, that John of
Savoy arrived in Geneva, and his courtiers began to lay their toils.
The birth of Andrew Navis marked him out for their devices, and it was
his fate to be one of their earliest victims. He rushed into every
kind of enjoyment with all the impetuosity of youth, and pleasure held
the chief place in his heart. Rapidly did he descend the steps of
the moral scale: he soon wallowed in debauchery, and shrank not from
the most shameful acts. Sometimes his conscience awoke and respect
for his father gained the upper hand; but some artful seduction soon
drew him back again into vice. He spent in disorderly living his own
money and that of his family. ‘When I want money,’ he said, ‘I write
in my father’s office; when I have it, I spend it with my friends or
in roaming about.’ He was soon reduced to shifts to find the means of
keeping up his libertinism. One day his father sent him on horseback
to Chambery, where he had some business to transact. Andrew fell to
gambling on the road, lost his money, and sold his horse to have the
chance of winning it back. He did worse even than this: on two several
occasions, when he was short of money, he stole horses and sold them.
He was not however the only profligate in Geneva: the bishop and his
courtiers were training up others; the priests and monks whom John
found at Geneva, also gave cause for scandal. It was these immoralities
that induced the citizens to make early and earnest complaints to the




The opposition to the bishop was shown in various ways and came from
different quarters. The magistrates, the young and new defenders
of independence, and lastly (what was by no means expected) the
cardinals themselves thwarted the plan formed to deprive Geneva of its
independence. Opinion, ‘the queen of the world,’ as it has been called,
overlooked worldliness in priests but not libertinism. Debauchery
had entered into the manners of the papacy. The Church of the middle
ages, an external and formal institution, dispensed with morality
in its ministers and members. Dante and Michael Angelo place both
priests and popes in hell, whether libertines or poisoners. The crimes
of the priest (according to Rome) do not taint the divine character
with which he is invested. A man may be a holy father--nay, God upon
earth--and yet be a brigand. At the time when the Reformation began
there were certain articles of faith imposed in the Romish church,
certain hierarchies, ceremonies, and practices; but of morality
there was none; on the contrary, all this framework naturally tended
to encourage Christians to do without it. Religion (I reserve the
exceptions) was not the man: it was a corpse arrayed in magnificent
garments, and underneath all eaten with worms. The Reformation restored
life to the Church. If salvation is not to be found in adherence to the
pope and cardinals, but in an inward, living, personal communion with
God, a renewal of the heart is obligatory. It was within the sphere of
morality that the first reforming tendencies were shown at Geneva.

In the month of October 1513 the complaints in the council were very
loud: ‘Who ought to set the people an example of morality, if not the
priests?’ said many noble citizens; ‘but our canons and our priests are
gluttons and drunkards, they keep women unlawfully, and have bastard
children as all the world knows.’[64] Adjoining the Grey Friars’
convent at Rive stood a house that was in very bad repute. One day a
worthless fellow, named Morier, went and searched the convent for a
woman who lived in this house, whom these reverend monks had carried
off. The youth of the city followed him, found the poor wretch hidden
in a cell, and carried her away with great uproar. The monks attracted
by the noise appeared at their doors or in the corridors but did not
venture to detain her. Morier’s comrades escorted her back in triumph,
launching their jokes upon the friars.[65] The Augustines of our Lady
of Grace were no better than the Franciscans of Rive, and the monks of
St. Victor did no honour to their chief. All round their convents were
a number of low houses in which lived the men and women who profited by
their debauchery.[66]

The evil was still greater among the Dominicans of Plainpalais:
the syndics and council were forced to banish two of them, Brother
Marchepalu and Brother Nicolin, for indulging in abominable practices
in this monastery.[67] The monks even offered accommodation for the
debaucheries of the town; they threw open for an entrance-fee the
extensive gardens of their monastery, which lay between the Rhone and
the Arve, and whose deep shades served to conceal improper meetings
and midnight orgies.[68] Nobody in Geneva had so bad a reputation as
these monks: they were renowned for their vices. In the way of avarice,
impurity, and crime, there was nothing of which they were not thought
capable. ‘What an obstinate devil would fear to do,’ said some one, ‘a
reprobate and disobedient monk will do without hesitation.’[69]

What could be expected of a clergy at whose head were popes like
John XXIII., Alexander VI., or Innocent VIII., who having sixteen
illegitimate children when he assumed the tiara, was loudly proclaimed
‘the father of the Roman people?’[70] The separation between religion
and morality was complete; every attempt at reform, made for centuries
by pious ecclesiastics, had failed: there seemed to be nothing that
could cure this inveterate, epidemic, and frightful disease:--nothing
save God and his Word.

The magistrates of Geneva resolved however to attempt some reforms, and
at least to protest against insupportable abominations. On Tuesday,
10th October, the syndics appeared in a body before the episcopal
council, and made their complaints of the conduct of the priests.[71]
But what could be expected from the council of a prelate who bore in
his own person, visibly to all, the shameful traces of his infamous
debaucheries? They hushed up complaints that compromised the honour
of the clergy, the ambition of the duke, and the mitre of the bishop.
However the blow was struck, the moral effect remained. One thought
sank from that hour deep into the hearts of upright men: they saw that
something new was wanted to save religion, morality, and liberty. Some
even said that as reforms from below were impossible, there needed a
reform from heaven.

It was at this moment when the breeze was blowing towards independence,
and when the liberal party saw its defenders multiplying, that there
came to Geneva a brilliant young man, sparkling with wit, and full
of Livy, Cicero, and Virgil. The priests received him heartily on
account of his connection with several prelates, and the liberals did
the same on account of his good-humour; he soon became a favourite
with everybody and the hero of the moment. He had so much imagination:
he knew so well how to amuse his company! This young man was not a
superficial thinker: in our opinion he is one of the best French
writers of the beginning of the 16th century, but he is also one of
the least known. Francis Bonivard--such was the name of this agreeable
scholar--had, in the main, little faith and little morality; but he
was to play in Geneva by his liberalism, his information, and his
cutting satires, a part not very unlike that played by Erasmus in the
great Reformation. As you left the city by the Porte St. Antoine, you
came almost immediately to a round church, and by its side a monastery
inhabited by some monks of Clugny,[72] whose morals, as we have seen,
were not very exemplary. This was the priory of St. Victor, and within
its walls were held many of the conversations and conferences that
prepared the way for the Reformation. St. Victor was a small state
with a small territory, and its prior was a sovereign prince. On the
7th of December, 1514, the prior, John Aimé Bonivard, was on his
death-bed, and by his side sat his nephew Francis, then one-and-twenty.
He was born at Seyssel;[73] his father had occupied a certain rank
at the court of Duke Philibert of Savoy, and his mother was of the
noble family of Menthon. Francis belonged to that population of nobles
and churchmen whom the dukes of Savoy had transplanted to Geneva to
corrupt the citizens. He was educated at Turin, where he had become
the ringleader of the wild set at the university; and ever carrying
with him his jovial humour, he seemed made to be an excellent bait to
entice the youth of the city into the nets of Savoy. But it was far
otherwise, he chose the path of liberty.

For the moment he thought only of his uncle whose end seemed to have
arrived. He did not turn from him his anxious look, for the old prior
was seriously agitated on his dying bed. Formerly, in a moment of
irritation, he had ordered four large culverins to be cast at the
expense of the Church in order to besiege the seignior of Viry, one
of his neighbours, in his castle at the foot of Mount Saleve. Old
Bonivard had committed many other sins, but he troubled himself little
about them, compared with this. These large guns, purchased out of
the ecclesiastical revenues, with a view to kill men and batter down
the castle of an old friend, gave him a fearful pang.[74] In his
anguish he turned towards his nephew. He had found an expedient, a
meritorious work which seemed calculated to bring back peace to his
agitated conscience. ‘Francis,’ he said to his nephew, ‘listen to me;
you know those pieces of cannon ... they ought to be employed in God’s
service. I desire that immediately after my death they may be cast into
bells for the church.’ Francis gave his promise, and the prior expired
satisfied, leaving to his nephew the principality, the convent, and the

A close sympathy soon united Berthelier and Bonivard. The former had
more energy, the latter more grace; but they both belonged to the
new generation; they became brothers in arms, and promised to wage a
merciless war against superstition and arbitrary power. They gave each
other mutual marks of their affection, Bonivard standing godfather for
one of Berthelier’s sons. Berthelier, having paid his friend a visit of
condolence on the very day of his uncle’s death, heard from his lips
the story of the culverins. ‘What!’ said he, ‘cast cannons to make into
bells! We will give you as much metal as you require to make a peal
that shall ring loud enough to stun you; but the culverins ought to
remain culverins.’ Bonivard represented that, according to his uncle’s
orders, the cannon were to be employed in the service of the Church.
‘The Church will be doubly served,’ retorted Berthelier; ‘there will be
bells at St. Victor, which is the church, and artillery in the city,
which is the church land.’ He laid the matter before the council, who
voted all that Berthelier required.[75]

But the Duke of Savoy had no sooner heard of this than he claimed the
guns from the monastery. The Council of Fifty was convened to discuss
the affair, and Berthelier did not stand alone in supporting the rights
of the city. A young citizen of twenty-five, of mild yet intrepid
temper, calm and yet active, a friend to law and liberty, without
meanness and without arrogance, and who had within him deep-seated and
vigorous powers,--this man feared not to provoke a contest between
Geneva and the most formidable of his neighbours. He was Besançon
Hugues, who had just lost his father and was beginning to enter into
public life. One idea governed him: to maintain the independence of his
country and resist the usurpations of Savoy, even should it draw upon
him the duke’s hatred. ‘In the name of the people,’ he said, ‘I oppose
the surrender of this artillery to his Highness, the city cannot spare
them.’ The four guns remained at Geneva, but from that hour Charles
III. looked with an angry eye upon Berthelier, Hugues, and Bonivard. ‘I
will be even with them,’ said he.--‘When I paid him my respects after
the death of my uncle,’ said Bonivard, ‘his Highness turned up his nose
at me.’[76]

Charles III., son of Philip Lackland, was not much like that
adventurous prince. When Philip reached a certain age, he became
reformed; and after having several natural children, he married
Margaret of Bourbon, and on her death Claudine of Penthievre or
Brittany, and in 1496 ascended the throne of Piedmont and Savoy.
Charles III., his son by the second wife, rather took after his
grandfather Duke Louis; like him he was steady but weak, submissive to
his wife, and inherited from Monsieur only his bursts of passion. His
understanding was not large; but his councillors who were very able
made up for this. One single thought seemed to possess him: to annex
Geneva to Savoy. It was almost his whole policy. By grasping after
Geneva he lost his principalities. Æsop’s fable of the dog and the
shadow has never been better illustrated.

In 1515 everything seemed favourable to the plans of this prince. The
marriage of the Princess Philiberta, which had not been solemnised in
1513 in consequence of her youth, was about to take place. The Bishop
of Geneva, then at Rome for the Lateran Council, backed his cousin’s
demand touching the temporal sovereignty. The ministers of Charles,
the court, nobility, and priests, all of them pressed the annexation
of Geneva. Was not that city the market for the provinces neighbouring
on Savoy? Was it not necessary for the strategic defence of the duchy?
Claude de Seyssel, a skilful diplomatist, author of the _Monarchie de
France_, ‘a bitter despiser of every republic, and soon after made
archbishop of Turin, was continually repeating to the duke that if
Geneva remained _in_ his territory without being _of_ it, Savoy would
incur great danger.’ ‘Truly,’ said Bonivard, when he heard of Seyssel’s
arguments, ‘there is no need to push his Highness to make him run. He
has begun to beat the tabor, and is now going to open the dance.’[77]

But would the pope take part in the dance? Would he surrender up
Geneva to Savoy? That was the question. Leo X. loved wealth, the arts,
pleasure, and all the enjoyments of life; he was generous, liberal,
prodigal even, and did not care much for business. He had prepared
a magnificent palace in the city of the popes and of the Cæsars,
for Julian and his young wife. Entertainments of unusual splendour
celebrated the union of the Medici with the old family of Humbert of
the white hand. ‘I will spare no expense,’ Leo said, and in fact these
rejoicings cost him the enormous sum of 15,000 ducats.

How could a pontiff always occupied in plundering others to enrich and
exalt his own kindred, compromise so glorious an alliance in order to
maintain the independence of an unknown city in the wild country of
the Alps? Besides, the situation at Geneva was disquieting; the free
institutions of the city threatened the temporal power of the bishop,
and if that were destroyed, what would become of his spiritual power?
But if the Duke of Savoy should become sovereign prince there, he
would revoke the insolent liberties of the citizens, and thus save the
episcopal prerogative. Such had been the history of most cities in the
middle ages: was it also to be that of Geneva?[78] Lorenzo de’ Medici
had been accustomed to say: ‘My son Julian is good; my son John (Leo
X.) is crafty; my son Peter is mad.’ Leo thought he was displaying
considerable tact by sacrificing Geneva to the glory of the Medici and
the ambition of Savoy. ‘The Duke of Savoy,’ says a catholic historian,
‘took advantage of this circumstance (the marriage) to procure a
bull confirming the transfer of the temporal authority.’[79] Charles
III. triumphed. He had reached the end which his predecessors had
been aiming at for centuries: he had done more than Peter, surnamed
Charlemagne; more than Amadeus the Great; he fancied himself the hero
of his race. ‘I am sovereign lord of Geneva in temporal matters,’ he
told everybody. ‘I obtained it from our holy father the reigning pope.’
But what would they say at Geneva? Would the ancient republic meekly
bow its head beneath the Savoyard yoke?[80]

The whole city was in commotion when this important news arrived.
Berthelier, Bonivard, Hugues, Vandel, Bernard, even the most catholic
of the citizens, exasperated at such a usurpation, hurried to and fro,
conversing eagerly and especially blaming the pontiff. ‘The power of
the popes,’ they said, ‘is not over principalities but over sins--it
is for the purpose of correcting vices, and not to be masters of
sovereigns and peoples, that they have received the keys of the kingdom
of heaven.’ There was at Geneva a small number of scholars (Bonivard
was one) who opened the dusty tomes of their libraries in search of
arguments against the papal resolution. Did not St. Bernard say to Pope
Eugene: ‘To till the vineyard of the Lord, to root out the noxious
plants, is your task.... You need not a sceptre but a hoe.’[81]

On the 25th of May a deputation from the council waited on the
bishop. ‘My lord,’ said the first syndic, ‘we conjure you to leave
the community in the same state as your predecessors transmitted it
to you, enjoying its rightful customs and ancient franchises.’ The
bishop was embarrassed: on the one hand he feared to irritate men whose
energy was not unknown to him, and on the other to displease his cousin
whose slave he was; he contented himself with muttering a few words.
The syndics waited upon the chapter next: ‘Prevent this iniquity,’
they said to the canons, ‘seeing that it _touches_ you as much as the
city.’ But the reverend fathers, who possessed fat benefices in the
duke’s territory, and feared to have them confiscated, replied in such
complicated phrases that nobody could understand them. Both bishop and
canons surrendered Geneva to the man who claimed to be its master.

The report that the city was decidedly given to Savoy spread farther
and farther every day: people wrote about it from every quarter. The
syndics, moved by the letters they received, returned to the bishop.
‘It is now a general rumour,’ said they; ‘protest, my lord, against
these strange reports, so that the usurpation, although begun, may
not be completed.’ The bishop looked at them, then fixing his hollow,
sunken eyes upon the ground, preserved an obstinate silence. The
syndics withdrew without obtaining anything. What was to be done now?
The last hour of liberty seemed to have struck in the old republic. The
citizens met one another without exchanging a word; their pale faces
and dejected looks alone expressed their sorrow. One cry, however, was
heard among them: ‘Since justice is powerless,’ said the most spirited,
‘we will have recourse to force, and if the duke is resolved to enter
Geneva, he shall pass over our bodies.’ But the majority were uneasy;
knowing their own weakness and the power of Savoy, they considered
all resistance useless. Old Rome had destroyed the independence of
many a people; new Rome desired to imitate her.... The city was lost.
Salvation came from a quarter whence no one expected it.[82]

The sacred college had assembled, and the princes of the Church,
robed in purple, had examined the affair. To deprive a bishop of his
temporal principality ... what a dangerous example for the papacy
itself! Who knows whether princes will not some day desire to do as
much by his Holiness? To hear them, you would have fancied, that
catholicism would decline and disappear if it did not join the sceptre
of the Cæsars with the shepherd’s crook. The cardinals resolved that
for it to be lawful for a prince of the Church to alienate his temporal
jurisdiction, it was necessary, ‘first, that subjects be in rebellion
against their prince; second, that the prince be not strong enough
to reduce them; third, that he should have a better recompense.’ Was
this _recompense_ to be another _temporality_ or simply a pecuniary
compensation? This the documents do not say. In any case, the sacred
college refused its consent to the papal decision, and the bull was

The duke was surprised and irritated. His counsellors reassured
him: they pointed out to him that, according to the decision of the
cardinals, it only required a revolt in order to withdraw the temporal
jurisdiction from the bishop. ‘The Genevans, who are hot-headed and
big talkers,’ said they, ‘will commit some imprudence by means of
which we shall prove to the sacred college that it needs _a stronger
shepherd than a bishop_ to bring them back to their duty.’ To these
representations they proposed adding certain crafty devices. The
judicial officers of the ducal party would draw up long, obscure,
unintelligible indictments against the citizens; my lords the
cardinals at Rome, who are indolence itself, would waive the reading of
these tiresome documents, the matter would be explained to them _vivâ
voce_; they would be told that the only means of saving the bishop was
to give the duke the sovereignty over the city. Charles felt comforted
and sent his cousin fresh instructions. ‘Since I cannot have the tree,’
he said, ‘I wish at least to taste the fruit. Set about plundering
right and left (_ab hoc et ab hac_) to fill my treasury.’ By means of
this plundering, the Genevans would be irritated; they would be driven
to take up arms, and thus the duke would succeed in confiscating their
independence with the consent not only of the pope but of the cardinals




The bishop, the humble servant of the duke, prepared to act according
to his instructions. Charles had set a trustee over him, who allowed
him only what was absolutely necessary for his bare maintenance.
One day, when an eminent citizen asked him a favour, John of Savoy
exclaimed: ‘I have only my crozier and my mitre, the property belongs
to the duke. He is bishop and abbot.’ ... ‘For,’ adds the chronicler,
‘the duke being very rapacious, John was forced to give the rein to his
Highness’s extortioners.’ They imposed excessive fines; where in the
inferior courts the penalty should not exceed sixty sols, they exacted
fifty livres. No prince ever made such efforts to suppress revolt as
the bastard to foment it. He was almost brave in his devices for losing
his principality, but it was the result of servility. He deprived
the syndics of their judicial functions; he threw men into prison to
avenge private or imaginary offences. The people began to murmur: ‘A
singular shepherd this!’ they said. ‘He is not satisfied with shearing
his flock, but tears and worries them with his dogs.’ The partisans of
Savoy were delighted. By one of these exploits the bastard very nearly
revolutionised Geneva.[85]

Claude Vandel was one of the most respected citizens of Geneva. A
distinguished lawyer, a man of noble character and spotless integrity,
of retiring and respectful manners, but also of great courage, he
protected at his own expense the weak and poor against the violence
of the great. A citizen having been unjustly prosecuted by a bishop’s
officer, Vandel undertook his defence and so enraged the prelate that
he swore to be revenged on him. But how was he to begin? The people
respected Vandel; his ancestors had filled the highest offices in the
State; his wife, Mie du Fresnoir, belonged to a good family allied to
the Chatillons and other Savoyard houses of the best blood. Moreover
Vandel possessed four sons, united by the closest affection, full of
veneration for their father, and all destined one day to be called to
important duties. Robert, the eldest, was a syndic; Thomas, a canon,
procurator-fiscal, and one of the first priests that embraced the
Reformation; of the two youngest, who were still youths, Hugo was
afterwards the representative of the republic in Switzerland, and Peter
captain-general. It was known at the bishop’s palace that Vandel’s sons
would not permit a hand to be laid upon their father; and that even the
people would take up his defence. Nevertheless it was decided to make
the Genevans bend under the yoke of absolute authority. Thomas, who was
then incumbent of Morges, hurried to Geneva on hearing of the design
that threatened his father. He was a man of most decided character,
and ‘handled the sword better than his breviary.’ When they learned
what were the bishop’s intentions, his brothers and he had felt in
their hearts one of those sudden and unlooked-for impulses that proceed
from the noblest of affections, and they swore to make their bodies a
rampart for their father. The bishop and his courtiers had recourse to
stratagem. Vandel was in the country, Robert and Thomas keeping guard
beside him. A rumour was set afloat that the bishop’s bailiffs would
come at nightfall and seize the lawyer. Consequently, ‘before night
came on,’ Robert and Thomas went out to watch for the men who were to
carry off their father. But these, instead of leaving at the appointed
hour, had started earlier and hidden themselves near the house. As soon
as it was dark they left their hiding-place, and while Vandel’s sons
and friends were looking for them in another direction, they seized
the republican Claude, bound him, took him into the city by a secret
postern, and conducted him along a subterranean passage to the bishop’s

The next morning, Vandel’s sons ran in great distress to their friends
and appealed to the people whom they met. They represented that the
syndics alone had the right of trial in criminal matters, and that by
arresting their father the bishop had trampled the franchises of the
city under foot. The people were excited, the council assembled; the
syndics went to the bishop and called upon him to let Vandel go, or
else hand over to them, his lawful judges, the papers in his case.

‘My council,’ the bishop answered, ‘will examine whether this _arrest_
is contrary to your liberties, in which case I will amend what is to be
amended.’ Even the episcopal council decided for Vandel’s discharge;
but the bastard obstinately refused.

The anger of the people now grew fiercer against the citizens who had
accepted the bishop’s pensions.

‘The bishop knows very well,’ they said, ‘that some of them prefer his
money to the liberties of the city. Why should he fear to infringe
our rights, when traitors have sold them to him?’ Thomas Vandel,
the priest, the most ardent of the family, hastened to Berthelier.
‘The irritation is general,’ he said, ‘and yet they hesitate. Nobody
dares bell the cat.’ Berthelier joined Vandel’s sons, and their bold
representations, as well as the murmurs of the people, aroused the
syndics. The day (June 29) was already far advanced; but that mattered
not, and at the unusual hour of eight in the evening the council met,
and ‘all the most eminent in the city to the number of about three
hundred,’ joined the assembly. The people gathered in crowds and filled
the hall.

Berthelier was present. He was still governor of Peney, the bishop’s
gift; and the latter made merry with his courtiers at having put ‘a
bone in his mouth to prevent his barking.’ There were some Genevans
who looked frowningly upon him, as if that great citizen had betrayed
his country. But Berthelier was calm, his countenance determined:
he was prepared to strike the first blow. The syndics described the
illegal act of the bishop; the sons of the prisoner called upon them
to avenge their father; and Berthelier exclaimed: ‘To maintain the
liberties of the city, we must act without fear; let us rescue the
citizen whom traitors have seized.’ John Taccon, captain-general, and
at the same time a pensioner of the bishop’s, stopped him: ‘Gently,’
said he, ‘if we do as you advise, certain inconveniences may follow.’
Berthelier in great excitement exclaimed: ‘Now the pensioners are
showing themselves!’ At these words Taccon could not contain himself:
‘It was you,’ he said, ‘yes, you, who showed me the way to take a
pension.’ On hearing this reproach Berthelier pulled out the bishop’s
letters appointing him governor of Peney, and which he had brought with
him to the council, and tore them in pieces before the meeting, saying:
‘Since I showed you the way to take them, look, I now show you the way
to resign them.’ These words acted like an electric shock. A cry of ‘No
more pensions!’ was raised on all sides. All the pensioners declared
themselves ready to tear up their letters-patent like Berthelier. The
commotion was very great. ‘Toll the bell for the general council,’
cried some. ‘No, no,’ said the more prudent, ‘it would be the signal
for a general outbreak, and the people would right themselves.’[87]

Something however must be done. A portion of the assembly went off to
the bishop’s palace, and began to shout for the prelate: ‘Release the
prisoner!’ But the bishop did not appear; the doors and windows of
the palace remained closely barred. The irritation grew general. ‘As
the bishop will not show himself,’ they said, ‘we must assemble the
people.’ Upon this John Bernard, whose three sons played an important
part in the Reformation, ran off to the tower of St. Pierre to ring
the bell for the general council. But the priests, anticipating what
would happen, had fastened the belfry door. Bernard did not renounce
his purpose: he caught up a huge hammer and was beginning to batter
the door, when some citizens came up and stopped him. They had just
learned that the bastard did not appear because, dreading the fury of
the people, he had left Geneva in great haste. One thought consoled
the bishop in all his terror: ‘Surely here is an argument that will
convince the sacred college: my people are in revolt!’ But the
episcopal council thought differently: Vandel’s arrest was illegal, and
they restored him to liberty. From that hour the bishop’s hatred grew
more deadly against those who would not bend to his tyranny.[88]

The energy displayed by the citizens showed the bastard what he would
have to expect if he laid hands on their independence. His creatures
resolved therefore to set to work in another way: to enervate this
proud and resolute people, and with that view to encourage superstition
and profligacy in Geneva. Superstition would prevent the citizens from
thinking about truth and reform, while profligacy would make them
forget their dignity, their rights, and their dearest liberties.

At the commencement of 1517--the year when the Reformation began in
Germany--a bare-footed friar, named Thomas, came and preached at
Geneva in _Italian_, and the people who did not understand a word
listened to him with admiration. The Virgin Mary, the saints, and the
departed were his ordinary theme. Bonivard shrugged his shoulders,
saying: ‘He is a mere idiot with his cock-and-bull stories!’ The friar
proceeded next to work miracles; sick persons were brought to him
after service; he blessed them right and left, and many returned home
cured. ‘What do you say to that?’ triumphantly asked some bigots of
the sceptical prior. ‘Why, _imaginatio facit casum_, it is the effect
of imagination,’ he replied. ‘The fools believe so firmly that he will
heal them, that the cure follows; but it does not last long, and many
return worse than they came.’ The honourable councillors, befooled like
the rest, sent the friar ‘princely presents.’

As superstition did not suffice, entertainments and debauchery were
added. Duke Philibert the Fair, who visited Geneva in 1498 with his
bastard brother René, had already employed this means of subduing the
Genevans. ‘Go,’ said he to his noblest lords, ‘and win over all these
shopkeepers and mechanics by being on the most familiar footing with
them.’ The Savoyard nobles, affably accosting the Genevans, used to
sit down with them in the taverns, drink, laugh, and sing with them,
bewildering the simple by their high-flown language and ‘grand airs.’
They concealed their subtle treachery under fine phrases; and throwing
off all shame, they even permitted looks and gestures of abominable
lewdness, infecting the hearts with impurity, and corrupting the young.
The priests, far from opposing this depravity, were the first to give
way to it. A shameful wantonness engendered criminal excesses which
would have brought ruin on those who indulged in them and on the city
itself. Effrontery stalked in the streets. The strangers who stopped in
Geneva exclaimed:--‘It is indeed a city sunk to the eyes in pleasure.
Church, nobles, and people are devoted to every kind of excess. You
see nothing but sports, dances, masquerades, feasts, lewdness, and
consequently, strife and contention. Abundance has generated insolence,
and assuredly Geneva deserves to be visited with the scourge of

Philip Berthelier, a man of indomitable courage, untiring activity,
enthusiastic for independence and the ancient rights of liberty, but
infected with the general disease, now put the plan he had conceived
into execution, and resolved to turn against Savoy the dissolute habits
with which she had endowed his country. He took part in all their
feasts, banquets, and debaucheries; drank, laughed, and sang with the
youth of Geneva. There was not an entertainment at which he was not
present: ‘_Bonus civis, malus homo_, a good citizen, but a bad man,’
they said of him. ‘Yes, _malus homo_,’ he replied; ‘but since good
citizens will not risk their comforts in an enterprise of which they
despair, I must save liberty by means of madmen.’ He employed his
practical understanding and profound sagacity in winning men over,[90]
and he attained the end he had set before him. The assemblies of the
Genevan youth immediately changed in character. Philibert the Fair
had made them a school of slavery; Philibert Berthelier made them a
school of liberty. Those who opposed the usurpations of the Savoyard
princes, boldly held their meetings at these joyous and noisy feasts.
The great citizen, as if he had been invested with some magic charm,
had entirely changed the Genevan mind, and, holding it in his hand,
made it do whatever he pleased. Sarcasms were heaped upon the bishop
and the duke’s partisans, and every jest was greeted with loud bursts
of laughter and applause. If any episcopal officer committed an
illegality, information was given to these strange parliaments, and
these redressors of wrong undertook to see the victim righted. When the
Savoyard party put themselves without the law, the Genevan party did
the same, and the war began.

Had Berthelier taken the right course? Could the independence of Geneva
be established on such a foundation? Certainly not; true liberty
cannot exist without justice, and consequently without a moral change
that comes from God. So long as ‘young Geneva’ loved diversion above
everything, the bishop and the duke might yet lay hands upon her. Such
was the love of pleasure in the majority of these youths, that they
would seize the bait with eager impetuosity if it were only dropped
with sufficient skill. ‘They felt that the hook was killing them,’ said
a writer of the sixteenth century; but they had not strength to pull
it out. This strength was to come from on high. The human mind, so
inconstant and so weak, found in God’s Word the power it needed, and
which the light of the fifteenth century could never have given them.
The Reformation was necessary to liberty, because it was necessary to
morality. When the protestant idea declined in some countries, as in
France for instance, the human mind lost its energy also, profligacy
once more overran society; and that highly endowed nation, after having
caught a glimpse of a magnificent dawn, fell back into the thick night
of the traditional power of Rome and the despotism of the Valois and
Bourbons. Liberty has never been firmly established except among a
people where the Word of God reigns.[91]




As a new and powerful opposition was forming in Geneva, it became
necessary for the duke and the bishop to unite more closely. About
this time an incident of little importance was nearly setting them at
variance, and thus accelerating the emancipation of the city.

One day as the gouty bastard, stretched on a couch, was suffering
cruelly from his disease, he heard a noise in the street. ‘What is the
matter?’ he asked.--‘They are taking a thief to be hanged,’ replied
the old woman that tended him, who added: ‘If your Lordship would but
pardon him, he would pray for your health all the days of his life.’
The bishop, carried away by that fancy of sick people which makes them
try everything in the hope that it will cure them, said: ‘Be it so,
let them set him at liberty.’ It was the custom--a strange custom--in
Geneva for the syndics to hand over to the vidame the men they had
condemned; the vidame transferred them to the governor of Gaillard in
Savoy, and the governor to the executioner. The executioner, attended
by the governor, was about to hang the man when the bishop’s officers
brought an order to release him. ‘I am the servant of my most dread
lord the Duke of Savoy,’ said the governor, ‘and I shall discharge
the duty intrusted to me.’ It was agreed, however, that the execution
should be put off, and the bishop called his council together to
examine whether he had not the right to pardon a malefactor even when
he was already in the hands of the officer empowered to execute him.
There was among the members of the episcopal council a man of noble
character destined to take a place in the history of Geneva by the
side of Berthelier and even above him. Aimé Lévrier, judge in the
criminal court, son of a former syndic, knew no rule but the law, and
had no motive but duty. Serious, calm, full of dignity, endowed with
the wisdom of a Nestor, he was decided and energetic in carrying the
laws into execution, and as soon as his conscience spoke, he obeyed
it in his humble sphere with the impetuosity of an Achilles, if one
may compare small things with great. The turbulence of the people and
the self-will of princes found him equally unbending. He saw in this
little incident the great question between the legitimate authority of
the bishop and the usurpations of the duke. ‘The prince of Geneva,’
he said, ‘has the right to pardon a criminal, even if he is on the
territory of Savoy and at the foot of the scaffold.’ And then, wishing
to seize the opportunity of showing that the duke was servant in
Geneva and not master, he left the hall, went up to the culprit, cut
his bonds, took him by the hand, and, leading him to the bishop, said
to the poor wretch: ‘Give thanks to God and my lord;’ and after that,
boldly set him at liberty. But the bishop, who had never imagined the
existence of such power, began to tremble already.

They had not indeed long to wait for the duke’s anger. If he had
given his cousin the diocese of Geneva, it was that he might himself
acquire the supreme power; and here was the bishop seized with a fit of
independence and going so far as to contest his rights as vidame, his
functions as executioner!... He would take advantage of this strange
boldness to put the bastard in his right place, get rid of Lévrier,
destroy the remnant of liberty still to be found in the city, and
establish the ducal authority therein. The seignior of La Val d’Isère,
attended by two other commissioners, arrived at Geneva in order to
execute his Highness’s pleasure. Striding haughtily into the bishop’s
palace, he addressed the bastard rudely on the part of the angry duke.
The bishop was lavish of salutations, attentions, and respect, but all
to no purpose. La Val d’Isère, who had learnt his lesson well, raised
his voice still higher: Wretched bastard! (he said) what did he want
with pardoning a man they were going to hang? The poor prelate was
on the rack and more dead than alive; at last the ducal envoy having
finished his severe reprimand, the bishop tremblingly excused himself,
‘like our father Adam when he threw the blame on Eve,’ says Bonivard.
‘It was one Lévrier, a judge and doctor of laws, who did it,’ said
he. The seignior of La Val d’Isère gave the bishop to understand that
instead of indulging any longings for independence, he ought to unite
with the duke in combating the spirit of liberty in Geneva.

To a certain extent, however, the ducal envoy admitted the prelate’s
excuse; he knew his weakness, and saw that another will than his own
had acted in this business. He informed the duke of Lévrier’s misdeed,
and from that hour this intrepid judge became odious to the court
of Turin, and was doomed to destruction. The Savoyards said that as
he had rescued the thief from the gallows, he ought to be hanged
in his place. The duke and his ministers were convinced that every
attempt to enslave Geneva would fail, so long as it contained such
an energetic defender of the law. The evening of the day when La Val
d’Isère had reprimanded the bishop, the ducal envoy, with one of his
colleagues and the vidame, supped at the priory of St. Victor: the
ambassador was Bonivard’s cousin, and had purposely gone to visit him.
He desired to make his cousin a devoted agent of Savoy in Geneva, and
to employ him, by way of prelude, in the arrest of the recalcitrant
judge. After supper, La Val d’Isère took the prior aside, and began to
compliment him highly. ‘My dear cousin,’ said he, ‘the duke has not
in all his states a man better fitted than you to do him a service. I
know you; I observed you when you were studying beyond the mountains,
an intelligent fellow, a skilful swordsman, always ready to execute
any deed of daring if it would render your friends a service. Your
ancestors were loyal servants of the house of Savoy, and my lord
expects you will show yourself worthy of them.’ The astonished Bonivard
made no reply. Then La Val d’Isère explained to him how he could aid
the duke in his schemes against Geneva, adding that at this very moment
he might do him an important service. There was Aimé Lévrier, a
determined malcontent, a rebel like his father, whom it was necessary
to arrest.... La Val d’Isère communicated his plot to Bonivard. Aimé
Lévrier went ordinarily to pay his devotions at the church of Our
Lady of Grace, near the bridge of Arve. Bonivard would follow him,
seize him the moment he came near the church, and, holding him by the
throat, cross the bridge with him, and deliver him up to the ducal
soldiers, who would be on the other side ready to receive him. ‘This
will be an easy task for you, dear cousin,’ added the ambassador;
‘everybody knows your readiness and your prowess.’ ... La Val d’Isère
added that Bonivard would thus gain two advantages: first, he would be
revenged on the bishop whom he loved but little; and second, he would
receive a handsome reward from my lord of Savoy. It was a singular
idea to intrust this outrage to the prior of a monastery; yet it was
in accordance with the manners of the day. Bonivard’s interests and
family traditions would have induced him to serve Savoy; but he had an
enlightened understanding and an independent spirit. He belonged to
the new times. ‘Ever since I began to read history,’ he said, ‘I have
always preferred a republican to a monarchical state, and especially
to those where the throne is hereditary.’ The duke would have given
him honours and riches in abundance, whilst he received from the cause
which he embraced only poverty and a dungeon: still he never hesitated.
The love of liberty had taken possession of that distinguished man, and
he was always faithful to it: whatever may have been his weaknesses,
this is a glory which cannot be taken from him. Bonivard wished to
decline the proposal without however irritating the ambassador too
much. He pointed to his robes, his prayer-book, his monks, his priory,
and assigning these as a reason, he said: ‘Handling the sword is no
longer my business; I have changed it for the breviary.’ Upon this
La Val d’Isère in great disappointment became angry and said: ‘Well,
then, I swear I will go myself to-night and take Lévrier in his bed,
and carry him tied hand and foot into Savoy.’ Bonivard looked at him
with a smile: ‘Will you really make the attempt?’ he asked; ‘shake
hands then.’ The ambassador thinking he was won over gave him his hand.
‘Are you going to make preparation for the affair?’--‘No, cousin,’
replied Bonivard with a bow, ‘I know the people of Geneva; they are not
indulgent, I warn you, and I shall go and set aside thirty florins to
have a mass said for your soul to-morrow.’ The ambassador left him in
great anger.[92]

Bonivard perceived that Lévrier’s life was in danger. At that time
people supped early; the prior waited until nightfall, and then leaving
his monastery in disguise, he passed stealthily through the streets,
and entering the house of his friend the judge, told him everything.
Lévrier in his turn ran to Berthelier. ‘Oh, oh!’ said the latter, who
was captain of the city, ‘my lords of Savoy want to be masters here! we
will teach them it is not so easy.’

At this moment news was brought the syndics that some lansquenets
were at the Vengeron (half a league from the city on the right shore
of the lake) and preparing to enter the faubourg of St. Gervais:
it was clear that Savoy desired to carry off the judge. The syndics
ordered Berthelier to keep watch all night under arms. He assembled the
companies, and the men marched through the streets in close order with
drums beating, passing and repassing the house of the vidame, Aymon
Conseil, where the ambassadors were staying.

The seignior of La Val d’Isère, with his two colleagues the Sieur J. de
Crans and Peter Lambert, expected every moment to be attacked by these
armed men. They called to mind the mass for the dead of which Bonivard
had spoken, and altogether passed a horrible night. Towards the morning
the city grew calm, and it was scarcely light when the envoys of Savoy,
ordering their horses to be saddled, rode out by a secret door of which
the bishop had the key, and hastened to report to their master.[93]

Notwithstanding their precipitate retreat one of the objects of their
mission was attained. The deputies from Savoy did not quit Geneva
alone; the bastard was still more frightened than they; fear drove away
the gout, he left his bed, and taking with him the Count of Genevois,
the duke’s brother, he hurried over the mountains to Turin, in order
to pacify his terrible cousin. The latter was extremely irritated.
It was not enough to encroach on his rights, they also forced his
envoys to flee from Geneva. The bastard spared no means to justify
himself; he crouched at Charles’s feet. He was the most to be pitied,
he said; these Genevans frightened him day and night. ‘I will forget
everything,’ said the prince to him at last, ‘provided you assist me
in bringing these republicans to reason.’ It was what the prior of St.
Victor had foreseen. ‘Just as Herod and Pilate agreed in their dark
designs,’ he said, ‘so do the duke and the bishop agree for the ruin of
Geneva.’--‘Cousin,’ continued the duke, ‘let us understand one another:
in your fold there are certain _dogs_ that bark very loudly and defend
your sheep very stoutly; you must get rid of them.... I don’t mean
only Lévrier the son--there is Lévrier the father and Berthelier also,
against whom you must sharpen your teeth.’--‘The elder Lévrier,’
answered the bastard, ‘is a sly and cunning fox, who knows how to
keep himself out of the trap; as for Berthelier, he is hot, choleric,
and says outright what he thinks: we shall have a far better chance
of catching him; and when he is done for, it will be an easy matter
with the others.’ In this way the princes of Savoy, meeting in the
duke’s cabinet in the palace of Turin, conspired the ruin of Geneva,
and plotted the death of its best citizens. Charles the _Good_ was
the cruellest and most obstinate of the three. ‘Let us play the game
seriously,’ he repeated; ‘we must have them dead or alive.’ The duke,
the count, and the bishop arranged their parts, and then the _wolves_
(it was the name Bonivard gave them) waited a good opportunity for
falling on the _dogs_.[94]

While they were making these preparations at Turin to crush liberty,
others were preparing at Geneva to fight and to die for her. Both
parties took up arms: the contest could not fail to be severe, and the
issue important to Geneva and to society. Two friends especially did
not lose sight of the approaching struggle. Berthelier inclined to
the revival of Geneva from democratic motives; Bonivard, from a love
of learning, philosophy, and light. Seated opposite each other in the
priory of St. Victor, with the mild sparkling wine of the country on
the table, they discoursed about the new times. Bonivard possessed an
indescribable attraction for Berthelier. The young prior whose mind was
full of grace, simplicity, poetry, imagination, and also of humour,
was waking up with the sixteenth century, and casting an animated
glance upon nature and the world. His style indicates his character: he
always found the strongest, the most biting expressions, without either
the shades of delicacy or the circuitousness of subtlety. There were
however elevated parts in him: he could be enthusiastic for an idea.
A thought passing through his mind would call up high aspirations in
his soul and bring accents of eloquence to his lips. But, generally,
men displeased him. A well-bred gentleman, a keen and graceful wit,
a man of the world, he found the townspeople about him vulgar, and
did not spare them the sting of his satire. When Berthelier, in the
midst of the uproar of a tavern, shook the youths of Geneva warmly by
the hand, and enlisted them for the great campaign of independence,
Bonivard would draw back with embarrassment and put on his gloves.
‘These petty folks,’ he said with some contempt, ‘only like justice in
others; and as for the rich tradesmen, they prefer the feasts and the
money of the Savoyard nobles to the charms of independence.’ He was
inclined to suspect evil: this was one of the disagreeable features
in his character. Even Besançon Hugues was, in his eyes, nothing but
pride, hidden under the mask of a citizen. Bonivard, like Erasmus,
laughed at everybody and everything, except two: like him he was fond
of letters, and still more fond of liberty. At Geneva he was the man of
the Renaissance, as Calvin was the man of the Reformation. He overcame
his antipathies, sat down at table with the young Genevans, scattered
brilliant thoughts in their conversations, and kindled in their
understanding a light that was never to be extinguished. Frivolous
and grave, amiable and affectionate, studious and trifling, Bonivard
attacked the old society, but he did not love the new. He scourged the
enormities of the monks, but he was alarmed at the severe doctrines of
the Reformation. He desired to bury the past joyously, but he did not
know what future to set up in its place.

Berthelier, who fancied he knew, explained his plans to his friends
in their familiar colloquies. The liberty of the Italian republics--a
selfish liberty, full of discord and faction--had come to an end; a
more noble, more vital, more durable liberty was destined to appear.
But neither the politic Berthelier nor the æsthetic Bonivard thought
of the new element which in new times was to give life to modern
liberties: this element was a strong faith, it was the authority of
God, held up on high, that was destined to consolidate society after
the great earthquake it would have to go through. After Berthelier the
republican, after Bonivard the classic, another man was to appear,
_tertium genus_, a third kind, as they said at the time when paganism
and Judaism disappeared before the Gospel. A Christian hero, boldly
standing erect above the volcano of popular passions, was called in the
midst of the convulsions of popery to lay in Geneva the foundations of
enlightened society, inflexible morality, unyielding faith, and thus
to save the cause of liberty. The work of Calvin, thus coming after
that of Berthelier and Bonivard, no doubt presents a very strange
juxtaposition; but three centuries have shown its necessity. The
Reformation is indispensable to the emancipation of nations.

Berthelier, Bonivard, and their friends turned their eyes in another
direction. ‘Have done with banquets and dances,’ said Berthelier to
his friend; ‘we must organise young Geneva into a defensive league.’
‘Yes, let us march onwards,’ replied Bonivard, ‘and God will give a
good issue to our bold enterprise!’ ... Berthelier stretched out his
hand. ‘Comrade,’ he said, ‘your hand.’[95] Then, as he held Bonivard’s
hand in his, he was touched with deep emotion: a cloud passed over his
face, and he added: ‘But know that for the liberty of Geneva, you will
lose your benefice, and I ... I shall lose my head.’ ‘He told me that a
hundred times,’ added the prior of St. Victor, who has handed down this
conversation to us. The gloomy foreboding was but too amply fulfilled.




Without delay Berthelier entered upon the work to which he had sworn
to devote his life. Wishing to prepare it carefully, he invited the
most ardent of the young Genevans to confer with him on the salvation
of the country. He did not select for this meeting some lonely field,
above the shores of the lake, as the Grütli: he had to deal with the
inhabitants of a city and not with the children of the mountains. He
therefore took a hall in the principal square of the city, la Place du
Molard, then almost washed by the waters of the river, and appointed
a time for the meeting when the streets were most thronged. About
twilight one afternoon, probably in 1516 (it is difficult to fix
precisely the date of this important meeting[96]), Berthelier, and then
a few other patriots, set out for the Molard: they came from the Rue
du Rhone, la Rive, and from the Cité; those who came from the upper
part of the town passed down the Rue du Perron. As they walked, they
conversed of the tyranny of the bishop and the plots of the princes of
Savoy. One of those who appeared to have the most influence was Amadeus
de Joye, the son of distinguished, upright, and honourable parents,
who had brought him up virtuously. The public voice, while proclaiming
him ‘a merry fellow,’ added that he was honest and straightforward,
and connected with all the good men of the city: he exercised the
honourable vocation of druggist and apothecary, and had always enjoyed
a good reputation in his business. Not far from him was Andrew Navis: a
change had taken place in the son of the procurator-fiscal. The cause
of liberty had dawned upon his ardent soul in all its beauty: in it
he fancied he had found the unknown good he had sought so eagerly;
his imagination had been inflamed, his heart moved, and leaving the
Savoyard party, of which his father was one of the chiefs, he rushed
with all his natural impetuosity to the side of independence. One of
his friends, John Biderman, surnamed Blanchet, had accompanied him, a
young man about twenty-four years old. Full of natural wit, disliking
work, very fond of fun, Blanchet ‘trotted up and down,’ picked up all
the news, repeated it at random, and meddled in everybody’s business.
He had, however, at bottom a sensitive heart, and the tyranny of the
bishop provoked him. Berthelier, who was among the earliest arrivals,
scanned attentively the young people and the earnest men who had joined
them, and experienced a feeling of happiness at the sight. There was
in him a being superior to the follies of banquets. The daily routine,
the small passions, the vulgarity of mind, life such as he had hitherto
known it, wearied him. At last he had before him an assembly brought
together for the noble cause of independence; and for that reason he
affectionately pressed the hand of all comers. At this moment the bell
rang for vespers at Magdalen old church, and was distinctly heard at
the Molard. There were present with Berthelier about fifty citizens--a
small meeting, and yet more numerous than that of Walter Fürst and his
friends. Besides, did not all noble hearts in Geneva beat in harmony
with those of the fifty patriots?[97]

They gathered in a circle round Berthelier, and stood silent; the
heroic citizen reminded them that from the most remote times Geneva
had been free; but that for one or two centuries the princes of Savoy
had been trying to enslave it, and that the duke only waited for the
favourable opportunity to impose his usurped sovereignty upon their
country. Then fixing his noble look upon his audience, he asked them if
they wished to transmit to their children not liberty but ... slavery?
The citizens answered No, and demanded anxiously how the liberties of
the city could effectually be saved? ‘How!’ said Berthelier. ‘By being
united, by forgetting our private quarrels, by opposing with one mind
every violation of our rights. We have all the same franchises, let us
all have the same heart. If the bishop’s officers lay hands on one of
us, let all the others defend him with their swords, their nails, their
teeth!’[98] Then he exclaimed: ‘_Who touches one, touches all_.’ At
these words they all raised their hands and said: ‘Yes, yes! one heart,
one common cause! Who touches one, touches all!’--‘Good,’ resumed
Berthelier, ‘let this motto be the name of our alliance, but let us be
faithful to the noble device. If the bishop’s constables take one of
us to prison, let us rescue him from their hands. If they indulge in
criminal extortions, let us seek out the abominable plunder even in
their houses.’ And then he repeated in a loud voice: ‘_Who touches one,
touches all_!’ And yet in the midst of this enthusiasm, the marks of
fear could be seen on some faces. One citizen asked with considerable
uneasiness what they would do if my lord of Geneva, aided by his
Highness, should attack the city with a strong army? ‘Fear nothing,’
answered Berthelier sharply, ‘we have good friends;’ and he added soon
after: ‘I will go to the Swiss, I will bring back forces, and then ...
I will settle accounts with our adversaries.’[99]

From that time the consultations and debates became more and more
frequent: the discussions went on in private families, at St. Victor’s,
in the houses of the principal citizens, sometimes even in the public
places: men reminded each other of the customs and franchises of
Geneva, and promised to be mutually faithful.

One day Berthelier, Blanchet, and several other citizens meeting at
Mugnier’s to discourse round the table about the common interest,
unfortunately brought with them a vile and corrupt fellow, a creature
of the bishop’s, named Carmentrant. They sat down, the wine circulated,
and their heads soon became heated: ‘The bishop,’ said one of them,
‘has sold Geneva to the duke!’--‘If he breaks his oath,’ said another,
‘his treason does not free us from ours. When princes trample the law
under foot, the citizens ought to uphold it at any cost.’--‘We must let
the bishop know,’ added Berthelier, ‘the resolution we have adopted to
defend our independence.’--‘That is not easy,’ observed one; ‘how can
we approach my lord and dare tell him all the truth?’--‘Let us mask
ourselves,’ returned he; ‘we may say hard things under our masks....
Let us make a _momon_ at the palace.’ The _momon_ was a bet made by
maskers when playing at dice. Pécolat did not seem convinced. ‘Leave
that to me,’ said Berthelier, ‘I shall find a way of speaking to the
prelate.’ Carmentrant listened in silence; he engraved in his memory
every word of the great patriot, ready to add to them his private
interpretations. He asserted afterwards that Berthelier proposed
attacking the prelate’s life; but the contrary was proved, and even
the farce of the _momon_ was never carried out. That mattered not; the
smallest joke at that time was metamorphosed into the crime of high

Berthelier was not the only person the bishop caused to be watched;
Bonivard, ever sparkling with wit, gave opportunities to informers.
He had at that time a difference with the bishop about the right of
fishing in the Rhone. One day when walking with Berthelier and other
friends, he complained of the prelate’s avarice; and then indulging
in a joke, he said laughingly: ‘If ever I meet him near my fishery,
one or other of us will catch an ugly fish.’ This was made a principal
charge against him: he wished to _drown_ the bishop. They were
mistaken: Bonivard was not a violent character; but he was ambitious,
and, without wishing the bishop any harm, he secretly aspired to the
bishopric. ‘I will go to Rome,’ said he to one of his intimate friends,
‘and will not have my beard shaved until I am bishop of Geneva.’

The court of Turin had not forgotten the famous decision of the
cardinals. A few light words were not enough to prove to the sacred
college that the people of Geneva were in revolt; an _émeute_ (as the
Savoyards called it) furnished this party with the arms they sought.

On the 5th of June, 1517, the only talk throughout the city was about
Messire Gros’ mule, which was dead. This mule was well known, for the
judge rode it whenever he went on his judicial investigations. People
seriously discussed in the streets and at table the cause of the death
of this famous beast. ‘It is Adrian of Malvenda,’ said some, ‘that
Spaniard whose father came from Valence la Grande, who, having had a
quarrel with the judge at a dinner party, has hamstrung the beast.’
‘No,’ said others, ‘some young Genevans meeting the judge on his mule
and wishing to frighten him, shouted out and drew their swords: his
servants drew also, and one of them awkwardly wounded the mule, so that
it died.’[101]

Messire Claude Gros or Grossi, judge of the three castles (Peney,
Thiez, and Jussy) was one of those harsh magistrates who are hated
by a whole people. They coupled him in this respect with the
procurator-fiscal Peter Navis; and Berthelier, De Lunes, and De la Thoy
had often threatened both of them with the vengeance of the patriots.
Their hatred against these two magistrates was such that even Andrew
Navis suffered from it. In vain had he given himself up heart and soul
to the party of liberty; he was regarded with distrust; and men asked
if any good could come from the house of the procurator-fiscal. Quite
recently Andrew had had a dispute with John Conod on this subject. The
two young people were, however, reconciled, and the very evening of
the day when the mule died, Conod gave a supper to Navis and thirty
‘children of Geneva.’ This was the name they gave to the young men
of age to bear arms. That evening, however, some citizens of riper
years joined them: among whom were Berthelier, J. de Lunes, E. de la
Mare, J. de la Porte, J. de la Thoy, and J. Pécolat. ‘Gentlemen,’ said
Berthelier after supper, ‘it is a long time since this merry company
has had any fun.’ They were all agreed. Berthelier delighted in setting
his enemies at defiance without any regard for the consequences. ‘The
mule of the respectable Claude Grossi is dead,’ he continued; ‘that
judge is a wretch continually beating after us and our friends. Let
us play him a trick: let us sell his mule’s skin by auction to the
highest bidder.’ The proposal was adopted by acclamation. Two or three,
however, appeared to wish to withdraw: ‘Let every one follow the drum
on pain of being fined a gold crown,’ said Berthelier. ‘Agreed,
agreed!’ cried the giddiest of the company. At every Court and even in
the houses of many noblemen it was the custom to keep _fools_ who had
the privilege of telling the boldest truths with impunity. The Abbot
of Bonmont had one named Master Littlejohn Smallfoot. Berthelier,
desirous of carrying out the practical joke to the uttermost, sent for
Littlejohn. ‘Here,’ said he, ‘here’s a proclamation for you to cry
through the streets. Forward!’ All marched out with drawn swords, and,
with the drummer at their head, began to traverse the streets, stopping
at every place where the ordinary publications were made. After a roll
of the drum, Master Littlejohn blew a horn and cried with his squeaking
voice: ‘O yes, this is to give notice that whoever wishes to buy the
skin of a beast, of the _grossest_ ass in Geneva, and will call at the
house situate between the keeper’s and the Hôtel de Ville, it will be
sold to the highest bidder.’ ‘Is not that where Judge _Gros_ lives?’
asked a bystander. ‘Yes, it’s he that is the _gross_ ass,’ replied
another. A general burst of laughter followed this proclamation. Andrew
Navis in particular indulged in the most noisy demonstrations; he was
bent on showing that he was as good a patriot as the rest.

The oldest of the patriots were however uneasy: the elder Lévrier
thought they were going too fast. ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘these young folks
will play us a pretty game!’ ‘Certes,’ added others spitefully, ‘this
Berthelier has a singular talent for stirring up quarrels.’[102] The
joke was continued through great part of the night.

The next day the judge of the three castles hastened to lay his
complaint before the vidame and the episcopal council. The vidame
called for the arrest of the guilty parties, who disappeared.
Being summoned by sound of trumpet to appear at the Château de
l’Ile under pain of being fined a hundred crowns, they came out
of their hiding-places, and Berthelier brought an action against
the vidame for having threatened him and his friends with a fine
that was not authorised by the law. The partisans of Savoy were
still more exasperated. ‘There is a conspiracy against my lord the
bishop-prince of Geneva,’ they exclaimed; ‘he alone has the right of
making proclamations.’ They wrote letter after letter to Turin, and
metamorphosed a fool’s jest into the crime of high treason.[103]

The princes of Savoy thought that this was a disorder by which they
might profit. Charles had the reputation in his hereditary states of
being irresolute in deciding and feeble in executing; but whenever
Geneva was concerned, he ventured upon daring measures. He gave
the order of departure to his court; took with him one of the most
learned diplomatists of the age, Claude de Seyssel, whom he thought
he should require in the great matters that were to be transacted,
and arrived in Geneva. The vidame, still irritated by the story of
the mule, immediately presented his homage to the duke, and described
the situation in the gloomiest of colours. ‘You see,’ said Charles to
his councillors, ‘the citizens of Geneva are in revolt: it needs _a
stronger shepherd than a bishop_ to bring them back to their duty.’
But Seyssel was a man of great judgment; he was no novice either in
government or in history; he had studied Thucydides, Appian, Diodorus,
and Xenophon, and even rendered them into French. He inquired more
particularly into the matter, learned that the notice had been cried by
the Abbot of Bonmont’s fool, and that it was the same fellow who sang
habitually in the streets all the comic songs produced by the satiric
vein of the Genevans. The diplomatist smiled. ‘This business of the
mule is a mere practical joke,’ he said to the duke; ‘fools, you know,
have the privilege of saying and doing everything; and as for the band
of wags who surrounded the buffoon, do not let us make these young men
into Cethegi and Catilines. The cardinals will never consent to give
us the temporal sovereignty of Geneva for such foolery. It would be
too much, my lord, for the first stroke; we must mount to the pinnacle
of sovereignty by shorter steps. This story will not however be quite
useless to us; we will employ it to sow dissension among our enemies.’
In fine, the able Seyssel having come to an understanding with the
bishop, the latter summoned to his presence those of ‘the band,’ that
is to say, of the children of Geneva, whom he thought most pliable.
‘You will gain nothing,’ said Claude de Seyssel to them, ‘by following
a lot of rioters and rebels. In making this proclamation you committed
a wrongful action, and you might justly receive corporal punishment;
but the bishop is a good prince, inclined to mercy; he will pardon
all of you except Berthelier and his accomplices. He will even give
you office, places, and pensions ... only do not consort any more
with seditious people.’ Many, delighted at getting out of the scrape,
thanked Seyssel heartily, and promised that they should be seen no more
among the disaffected.[104] The bastard showed himself more difficult
with regard to the son of his procurator-fiscal: the bravadoes of
Andrew Navis, at the time of the proclamation about the mule, had
aroused all the prelate’s anger. It would seem that the poor father
dared not intercede for his prodigal son; one of his friends obtained
his pardon, but only after Navis had promised to reform. He returned to
his father’s office and might be seen constantly poring over the laws
and acts of the exchequer.

This manœuvre having succeeded, and the party of the independents
being thus weakened, the bishop, the duke, and their friends thought
that its head should be removed: that head was Berthelier. It was
not easy, however, to get rid of him: he was a member of council,
much looked up to in Geneva, and possessed a skill and energy that
baffled all their attempts. ‘To catch this big partridge,’ said the
bishop, ‘we must first trap a little decoy-bird.’ The advice appeared
excellent. The prince determined accordingly to catch some friend of
Berthelier’s, less formidable than himself, who by his depositions (for
the _question_ would not be spared) would compromise the best citizens
in Geneva. The decoy would by his song draw the large birds into the
nets spread to catch them.[105]




Among the best patriots of Geneva was John Pécolat, whom we have
already met at the mule supper. He had not Berthelier’s strength of
character, but he had spirit. A prey by turns to enthusiasm and fear,
at times indulging in the most courageous acts or the most culpable
weakness, subject to the blackest melancholy or to fits of the maddest
humour, Pécolat was at once a hero and a jester. His social position
offered the same contrasts. One of his ancestors had been syndic in
1409, another councillor in 1474; in 1508 his father had exercised the
highest functions in the State, and he was himself one of the Council
of Fifty; he was well instructed, understood Latin, and yet was a
hosier by trade. It is true that at this time we often find traders
invested with the highest offices; it is one of the peculiarities of
democratic manners; and we meet with examples of it in modern society.
An accident which deprived him of the use of his right arm, compelled
him to give up his business, reduced him to poverty, and plunged him
at first into great dejection. However, that did not last long, and
there was no man in Geneva that had such fits of gaiety. At a banquet,
nobody was louder than Pécolat; he laughed and joked; pun followed
pun, in rapid succession. ‘What happy things come into his head!’ said
everybody, and ‘it was these happy things,’ adds the chronicler, ‘that
gave him access to good tables.’[106] When he entered the room a frank
and hearty greeting, an enthusiasm mingled with laughter welcomed his
arrival. But Pécolat had hardly left his friends when dark thoughts
mounted to his brain. Sitting in his narrow chamber, he thought of his
maimed arm, his indigence, his dependent life; he thought frequently
too of the liberties of Geneva, which he saw sacrificed; and this
strange man who made all the city laugh, would burst into tears. It
was not long before Pécolat compromised himself in such a manner as to
furnish arms against the patriots of Geneva.

The Bishop of Maurienne, precentor of the cathedral and canon of
Geneva, who had a suit against the bishop, was then staying in the
city and ‘feasting’ the citizens. Having one day invited several of
his friends, and among others his colleague the Abbot of Bonmont,
who always had a grudge against the bishop for depriving him of the
diocese, he invited Pécolat also. During the dinner the two prelates
worked themselves into a passion against the bastard of Savoy: each
tried who could attack him the most bitterly, and indeed he gave them
a fair handle. Pécolat began to do as the others, and to let fly his
usual epigrams against the bastard. Maurienne had no end of complaints.
‘Pray, my lord,’ said Pécolat, ‘do not vex yourself about the bishop’s
injustice: _non videbit dies Petri_: he will not live as long as St.
Peter!’ This was a saying they were in the habit of applying to the
popes at the time of their coronation; and Pécolat meant to say that
the bishop, who, as everybody knew, was suffering under an incurable
disease, could not live long. Two Savoyards, creatures of the duke and
the bishop, who were of the party, went immediately and repeated these
words to the bastard. ‘At sumptuous tables,’ said the prior of St.
Victor, who was probably one of the guests, ‘there are always gluttons
picking up words that will get them another dinner.’ The episcopal
court concluded from the Latin proverb that the independents were
conspiring against the bishop, and that Pécolat announced the prelate’s
death as near at hand. This speech was not sufficient, however, to send
him to trial: they waited for some act that would serve as a pretence
for the charge of assassination.[107]

The opportunity soon occurred. Not long after, the duke having crossed
the mountains to present his homage to Queen Claude of Brittany,
whom Francis I. had just married, and who was then at Lyons, invited
the bishop to come and see him in this city. The bastard set off
immediately: his steward ordered some fish pasties as provision for
the journey, and the purveyor, whether from hurry or from desire to
make a large profit, used fish that had been kept too long. The bishop
did not touch them, but some of his people having eaten of them,
fell sick; it was asserted that one of them died. The bastard, whose
conscience was none of the easiest, saw an assassin everywhere; and
though in this matter of the pasties there was nothing but what was
very natural, he thought or seemed to think that it was an attempt at
poisoning. The idea occurred to certain Savoyards that they might make
use of this story to accuse Pécolat, and show the cardinals that the
prince-bishop’s subjects were conspiring against him.

Pécolat had so little to do with my lord’s kitchen that at first the
vidame refused to prosecute; but the affair of Messire Gros’ mule
having occurred, and greatly annoyed the judges, they hesitated no
longer. Pécolat was one of the band who had cried ‘The skin of the
gross beast!’ On the 27th of July, 1517, a warrant was issued against

It was necessary to arrest Pécolat; but that was no easy thing, for
the members of the society _Who touches one touches all_, would no
doubt rise and defend him. It was resolved to arrange the matter
carefully. First they would get the most determined of the young men
out of Geneva; then they would entice Pécolat into some lonely place;
and finally, as they knew not what might happen, the bishop should go
and stay in some castle beyond the reach of the Genevese. This triple
stratagem was immediately put into execution. The Count of Genevois,
who played the part of a jovial host, organised a grand hunt of wild
animals, the rendezvous being at Vouache, two leagues to the west of
Geneva; he invited the Abbot of Bonmont, Bonivard, and many young men
of the city, whose names were in the _black book_, that is, whom they
wished to get rid of. While this joyous company was hunting with hound
and horn at the foot of Mont Saleve, the bishop wishing to enjoy a
fresher air (it was said) had repaired, escorted by a few gentlemen,
to his castle of Thiez between the mountains of Mole, Voirons, and
Reposoir, on the road to Mont Blanc, a little above the point where
the Giffre torrent joins the Arve. At the same time one Maule, a
secret agent of the vidame, invited Pécolat to take a walk with him to
Pressinge, a village situated between the lake and the Voirons, where
one of them possessed some property. Ten horsemen setting out from the
castle of Thiez lay in ambush. They surrounded the two pedestrians,
bound and carried them to the castle, where the bishop having released
the tempter, threw Pécolat into prison. When the news of this treachery
reached Geneva, the irritation was directed against Maule still more
than against the bishop. The traitor, who seems to have been a man of
debauched life, was loaded with the people’s maledictions. ‘May the
cancer eat Maule up!’ they cried; and this saying became a proverb
applicable to traitors ever afterwards.[108]

He had however played his part so well that the imprisoned Pécolat
was exasperated not against him but against his most intimate friend
Berthelier. His black fit came over him. He said to himself that
although a man of the most inoffensive character, he seemed destined
to expiate the faults of all his party. With what had they to reproach
him? Mere jokes and laughter.... Berthelier was the real conspirator,
and he was at large.... On the 3rd of April Pécolat was removed from
the dungeon into which he had been thrown, and conducted to the top of
the castle, under the roof. The bishop had ordered him ‘to be examined
and forced to speak the truth;’ and the torture-room was at the top
of the castle. After the usual preliminaries the examination began.
The plot of the _non videbit_ and the salt fish was too absurd; M. de
Thoire, the examining judge, dwelt but little upon it, and endeavoured
particularly (for that was the object of the arrest) to obtain such
admissions as would ruin Geneva and her principal citizens. As Pécolat
deposed to nothing that would inculpate them, he was tied by one hand
to the rope, and, as he still refused to answer, was hoisted four
feet from the floor. The poor fellow groaned deeply and speaking with
difficulty[109] said: ‘Cursed be Berthelier for whom I am shut up!’ He
made no confession, however.

The next day they resorted to another expedient. The bishop gave
himself the pleasure of keeping the wretched man hanging to the cord
while he was at dinner. The servants, as they passed backwards and
forwards waiting on their master, said to Pécolat: ‘You are very
stupid to let yourself be put to such torture: confess everything.
What will your silence help you? Maule has told everything; he has
named So-and-so ... the Abbot of Bonmont, for instance, whom you want
to make your bishop after you have done for my lord.’ All these traps
were useless--he made no confession. It was next determined to expose
Pécolat to a more cruel torture: the executioners tied his hands behind
his back, and then pulled the rope so as to raise his arms above his
head; lastly they lifted him five or six feet from the floor, which was
enough to dislocate his shoulders. Pécolat suffered horribly, and he
was not a Regulus. ‘Let me down! let me down!’ he cried, ‘and I will
tell all.’ ... The judges, delighted at having vanquished the obstinate
rebel at last, ordered him to be lowered. Terror was in his heart, and
his features betrayed the trouble of his mind. The man, usually so
gay and so witty, was now pale, affrighted, his eyes wandered, and he
fancied himself surrounded by hungry dogs. He said all that they wanted
him to say. To the falsest imputations against the noblest of his
friends he answered ‘Yes, yes!’ and the satisfied judges sent him back
to his dungeon.[110]

This was no comfort to the unhappy Pécolat: more terrible anguish
awaited him there. The thought that he had deposed against his best
friends and even incurred the guilt of bearing false witness, alarmed
him seriously: the fear of God’s judgment surpassed all the terrors
which men had caused him. ‘Gentlemen,’ said he to the noble F. de
Thoire and others standing round him, ‘my declarations were extorted
from me only by the fear of torture. If I had died at that moment, I
should have been eternally damned for my lies.’[111]

The bastard, not liking to feel himself within the same walls as his
victim, had removed to St. Joire, two leagues from Thiez, and there
attentively watched the examination and the torture. He had acquired a
taste for it; and accordingly on the 5th of August he ordered another
prisoner to be put to the question. ‘I have some here who say plenty
of good things,’ he wrote to Geneva.[112] These ‘good things’ were the
false witness extorted by pain and which permitted the imprisonment of
the innocent. The terror increased in Geneva every day. People kept
themselves indoors, the streets were deserted: a few labourers only
could be seen in the fields. Bonivard, who feared, and not without
cause, that the bishop and the duke wished to carry him off also, did
not leave St. Victor’s. ‘Things are in such a state,’ he said, ‘that
no one dares venture into the country lest he should be treated like
Pécolat.’ Many of the citizens quitted Geneva. One day two friends
happened to meet in a room of the hostelry of St. Germain on the Jura.
‘Where are you going?’ asked one of them who had just come from Lyons.
‘I am leaving Geneva,’ answered the other, by name Du Bouchet. ‘They
have so tortured Pécolat that his arms remained hanging to the rope,
and he died upon the rack.’ Du Bouchet added: ‘The Church not having
the right of putting men to death, my lord of Geneva will have to send
somebody to Rome to get him absolved. He weeps greatly about it, they
say; but I place no trust in such crocodile’s tears!... I am going to

The bishop had no notion of excusing himself to the pope: on the
contrary, he thought only of pursuing his revenge. The _decoy_ was in
the cage and some small birds with him; he wished now at any cost to
catch the large one,--Berthelier. Most of the youth of Geneva were
either out of the way or disheartened; the league _Who touches one
touches all_ was nearly dissolved, at the moment when it ought to have
been ready to save its founder. The bishop thought it superfluous to
resort to stratagem or violence and simply required the syndics to
surrender the great agitator to him. At eight o’clock in the evening
of the 28th of July, 1517, the council was sitting, when the president
who was on the bishop’s side said: ‘It is my lord’s pleasure that
we take up one of his subjects against whom he possesses sufficient
informations which he will communicate in proper time and place; and
that when the said subject is in prison, the syndics shall execute
justice, if the affair requires it.’[114] At these words every one
looked at a seat which was empty for the first time. Berthelier’s
friends were uneasy; and as the bishop had adopted a lawful course,
the council answered the prelate that they would take up the accused,
provided that on his part he maintained the liberties of Geneva.

As the councillors left the Hôtel de Ville in the dark, they said to
one another: ‘It is Berthelier.’ The friends he had among them ran off
to tell him the news, conjuring him to escape the vengeance of the
prince by flight. Bonivard joined his entreaties to theirs: ‘The sword
is over your head,’ he said.--‘I know it,’ answered Berthelier, ‘yes,
I know that I shall die, and I do not grieve at it.’ ‘Really,’ said
Bonivard, ‘I never saw and never read of one who held life so cheap.’
The friends of the noble-minded citizen redoubled their entreaties.
They represented to him that there remained in Geneva only a small
number of civic guards, imperfectly trained to arms;[115] that one part
of the burgesses would assent through fear to the plots of the Savoyard
party, and that another part would aid them. Berthelier still resisted:
‘God,’ said he, ‘will miraculously take away their power.’[116] His
friends resorted to another argument. There happened to be just then
in Geneva some envoys from Friburg; Berthelier’s friends begged him to
depart with them. ‘Out of Geneva,’ they said, ‘you will serve the city
better than within.’ That consideration decided him. He went during the
night to the hostelry of the Friburgers. ‘We leave to-morrow,’ they
told him; ‘here is a livery cloak with the arms of Friburg; put it
on, and thus disguised you shall come with us, like one of the state
riders. If you are not recognised at the gates of Geneva or in the Pays
de Vaud, you are safe.’ The Friburgers left the city very early: the
guard looked at them for a moment as they passed the gate, but without
suspecting that the great republican was with them. He was safe.

The next day the syndic Nergaz having delivered the message of the
council to the bastard of Savoy, the latter was exasperated because
instead of seizing Berthelier, they simply told him that they intended
doing so. ‘Do you mean to give him time to escape?’ he asked. The
council immediately ordered a great display of force to arrest the
liberal leader. His friends the councillors, who knew him to be already
far away in the country, let his enemies go on. ‘Shut all the city
gates,’ said they. ‘Assemble the tithing men and the tens; summon
the vidame to assist in executing the law; let the syndics preside
in person over the search for the culprit.’[117] ‘Bravo!’ whispered
some aside, ‘shut the cage ... the bird has flown.’ The most zealous
of the bishop’s partisans hurried off to close the gates. The syndics
and tithing men set out, followed by a great number of citizens, and
all went towards Berthelier’s house. They searched every chamber, they
sounded every hiding-place, but found nobody. Some were angry, others
laughed in their sleeves; the most violent, supposing he had escaped
to one of his friends, put themselves at the head of the troop and
searched every house that Berthelier was in the habit of frequenting.
As a six days’ search led to nothing, they were forced to rest
satisfied with summoning the accused by sound of the trumpet. No one
had any more doubts about his escape: the liberals were delighted, but
anger and vexation prevailed at the castle.



Berthelier’s flight was more than a flight. He went to Switzerland; and
from that day Switzerland turned towards Geneva, and held out the hand
to her.

Disguised in the livery of an usher of the city of Friburg, the
faithful citizen arrived there without hindrance. No one there felt
more affection for Geneva than Councillor Marty, governor of the
hospital, who by his energy, rank, and intelligence, possessed great
influence in the city. Berthelier went to his house, sat down at his
hearth, and remained for some time sorrowful, silent, and motionless.
It was thus that an illustrious Roman had formerly sat with veiled head
at the hearth of a stranger; but Coriolanus sought among the Volsci
the means of destroying his country, Berthelier sought at Friburg the
means of saving his. A great idea, which had long since quickened
in the hearts of himself and some other patriots, had occupied his
mind while he was riding through the Vaudois territory. Times had
changed. The long conspiracy of Savoy against Geneva was on the point
of succeeding. The obstinate duke, the dishonoured bishop, the crafty
count--all united their forces to destroy the independence of the
city. Switzerland alone, after God, could save it from the hands of
the Savoyards. Geneva must become a canton, or at least an ally of
Switzerland. ‘For that,’ said Berthelier, ‘I would give my head.’ He
began to discourse familiarly with his host. He told him that he had
arrived in Friburg, poor, exiled, persecuted, and a suppliant; not to
save his life, but to save Geneva; that he had come to pray Friburg to
receive the Genevans into citizenship. At the same time he described
with eloquence the calamities of his country. Marty greatly moved held
out his hand, told him to take courage and to follow him into the
‘abbeys’ where the guilds assembled. ‘If you gain them,’ he said, ‘your
cause is won.’

The Genevan and the Friburger immediately set off together to the chief
of these ‘abbeys’ or clubs. They had scarcely entered the hall, when
Marty in some confusion whispered into his companion’s ear: ‘Some of
the duke’s pensioners are here; veil your meaning, for fear they should
stop our work.’ Berthelier took the hint, and, rendered cautious by the
presence of his enemies, spoke in ambiguous language, concealing his
thoughts, but in such a manner that they might be guessed. He spoke of
the wars that Burgundy had waged against Switzerland and of Charles the
Bold; he intended thus to remind them of the war Savoy was now making
upon Geneva and of Charles _the Good_. He hinted that the Swiss ought
to distrust the Duke of Savoy, however smiling the face he showed them.
Had they not spoiled his country during the Burgundian wars, and did
they not still occupy a part of it? ‘Your ancestors,’ said Berthelier,
‘have plundered and ravaged certain provinces--you know which--and in
any case _others_ do not forget it.... If _somebody_ should become
master of Geneva, he would fortify it against you ... but if Geneva
became your ally, you could make it your rampart against all princes
and potentates.’ Every one knew of whom Berthelier was speaking. But
if he saw the angry eye of some pensioner of Savoy fixed upon him, he
became more guarded, his language more figurative and interrupted; he
spoke lower, and ‘as if at random,’ said Bonivard. Then remembering
Geneva, his courage revived, and his energetic accents burst forth
again in the council of Friburg. He then forgot all prudence, and
made, says the chronicler, a great _lament_ of the oppression under
which the city groaned. This speech, which aroused violent storms,
was not to remain useless: Berthelier’s eloquent words were fruitful
thoughts, cast into the hearts of the people of Friburg. Like those
seeds which, borne by the tempest, fall here and there among the Alps,
they were destined one day to revive in Geneva the ancient tree of her

The exile desired that the Friburgers should see the misfortunes of
Geneva with their own eyes, and connect themselves with the principal
men there. If Geneva and Friburg come together, he thought, the flame
will break out and the union will be cemented. He attained his end.
Some citizens of Friburg set off, arrived at Geneva, and were welcomed
by Besançon Hugues, Vandel, and all the patriots. They dined sometimes
with one, sometimes with the other. They spoke of the liberties of the
Swiss; they described their heroic struggles, and in these animated
conversations, hearts were melted and united in such a way as to form
but one. The deputies, having been received by the council, complained
of the violation of the franchises of the city, and demanded a
safe-conduct for Berthelier. Three councillors immediately set off for
St. Joire, a village in the mountains, a few leagues from Geneva, where
the bastard happened to be staying at a castle he possessed there.
John did not like to be disturbed in his country retreats; he gave
orders, however, that the magistrates should be admitted, when they set
before him pretty plainly the complaints of the Friburgers. ‘What! _I_
violate the franchises!’ he exclaimed, with a look of astonishment,
‘I had never even thought of it. A safe-conduct for Berthelier ...
why, he does not require one. If he believes himself innocent, let
him come; I am a good prince.... No, no, no! No safe-conduct!’ On the
12th of August the syndics communicated this answer to the Friburgers.
The Swiss were indignant, and as if the syndics had some share in the
matter, they upbraided them: ‘Why even the Turks would not refuse a
safe-conduct, and yet a bishop dares do it! A safe-conduct useless?...
Was not Pécolat seized a few days ago beyond the bounds of the city?
Did they not expose him to such torture that pain extorted from him
all they wanted? Citizens have left the town in alarm; others are shut
up in their houses. Are they not always bringing one or another into
trouble? And yet the bishop refuses Berthelier a safe-conduct?... Very
well! we will get together all these grievances and see them remedied.
Rest assured of this ... we will risk our persons and our goods. We
will come in such force that we will take his Highness’s governor in
the Pays de Vaud, the friends of Savoy in your city, and then--we will
treat them as you have treated our friends.’--Upon this they departed
in great anger, say contemporary manuscripts.[119]

The language of the Friburgers, repeated from house to house, inflamed
all hearts. The union between Geneva and Switzerland was, so to
speak, accomplished before any public act had rendered it official
and authentic. Berthelier had foreseen that Geneva would find in the
Helvetic league a mightier protection than in that of the young men
enrolled beneath the flag of dissipation.[120] From that moment a
political party was slowly formed, a party calm but firm, which put
itself at the head of the movement and replaced the licentious band of
the ‘children of Geneva.’

The Friburg deputies had hardly left the city, when the duke’s party
accosting the independent Genevans, and gallicising each in his own
way the German word _Eidesgenossen_ (confederates) which they could
not pronounce, called after them _Eidguenots_, _Eignots_, _Eyguenots_,
_Huguenots_! This word is met with in the chronicles of the time
written in different ways;[121] Michel Roset, the most respectable of
these authorities of the sixteenth century, writes _Huguenots_; we
adopt that form, because it is the only one that has passed into our
language. It is possible that the name of the citizen, Besançon Hugues,
who became the principal leader of this party, may have contributed to
the preference of this form over all the others. In any case it must be
remembered that until after the Reformation this sobriquet had a purely
political meaning, in no respect religious, and designated simply
the friends of independence. Many years after, the enemies of the
protestants of France called them by this name, wishing to stigmatise
them, and impute to them a foreign, republican, and heretical origin.
Such is the true etymology of the word; it would be very strange if
these two denominations, which are really but one, had played so great
a part in the sixteenth century, at Geneva and in French protestantism,
without having had any connection with one another. A little later,
about Christmas, 1518, when the cause of the alliance was more
advanced, its use became more general. The adherents of the duke had
no sooner started the nickname than their opponents, repaying them
in their own coin, called out: ‘Hold your tongues, you Mamelukes!...
As the Mamelukes have denied Christ to follow Mahomet, so you deny
liberty and the public cause to put yourselves under a tyranny.’[122]
At the head of these Mamelukes were some forty rich tradesmen, men
good enough at heart despite their nickname, but they were men of
business who feared that disturbances would diminish their gains. The
term Mamelukes put them into a great passion: ‘Yes,’ continued the
Huguenots, ‘Sultan Selim conquered the Mamelukes last year in Egypt;
but it seems that these slaves, when expelled from Cairo, took refuge
at Geneva. However, if you do not like the name ... stay, since you
deliver up Geneva through avarice, we will call you Judases!’[123]

While the city was thus disturbed, the bishop, proud of having tortured
the wretched Pécolat, removed from St. Joire to Thonon. He had never
experienced to a like degree the pleasure of making his power felt,
and was delighted at it; for though servile before the duke, he had in
him some of the characteristics of the tyrant. He had made somebody
tremble! ... and he therefore regarded the trap laid for Pécolat as
a glorious deed, and desired to enjoy his triumph in the capital of
Chablais. At the same time he repeated to every one who would listen
to him that he would not return to Geneva: ‘They would murder me,’
he said. The Genevans, conscientiously submissive to the established
order, resolved to display their loyalty in a marked manner. There
lived at that time in Geneva an old man, Pierre d’Orsières, respected
by all parties, whose family possessed the lordship of that name in
Valais, on the way to the St. Bernard pass. Forty years before (in
1477) he had been one of the hostages given to the Swiss; since then
he had been six times elected chief magistrate of the State. His son
Hugonin had been made a canon out of respect to his father; but he was
a fanatical priest and in after days the most hostile of all the clergy
to the Reformation. The council resolved to send a solemn deputation to
the bishop, and placed the syndic D’Orsières at its head.

It was perhaps carrying rather far their desire to appear loyal
subjects, and these good people of Geneva were to learn what it costs
to flatter a tyrant. The bastard determined to gain fresh triumphs.
Tormented by disease he needed diversion; the sufferings of his enemies
made him feel a certain pleasure--it was sympathy after his fashion.
He bore a mortal hatred against all the Genevans, even against the
most catholic: an opportunity of gratifying it offered itself. The
deputation having appeared before him and made every demonstration of
respect, he fixed his bloodshot eyes upon the noble old man, whose
hoary head bent humbly before him, and ordered him to be seized, to
be taken out of his sight and thrown into a dungeon. If he had been
proud of his exploits against Pécolat the hosier, he was more so now at
having by one bold stroke put out of the way a man whose family shone
in the first rank, and whom his fellow-citizens had invested with the
sacred character of ambassador. When the news of this outrage reached
Geneva, all the city (Huguenot and Mameluke) cried out. The man most
respected in the whole State had been seized as a criminal at the very
moment when he was giving the bishop proofs of the most loyal fidelity.
They doubted not that this crime would be the signal of an attack upon
the city; the citizens immediately ran to arms, stretched the chains
across the streets, and shut the gates.[124]

The duke was displeased at these mistakes of the bishop, and they
came upon him at a difficult moment. Charles III., a weak and fickle
prince, inclined at that time to the emperor’s side, and displeased his
nephew Francis I., who seemed disposed to give him a roughish lesson.
Moreover, the proceedings of the Friburgers disquieted him, for Geneva
was lost to Savoy if the Swiss took up its cause. Liberty, hitherto
driven back to the German Alps, would plant her standard in that city
of the Leman, and raise a platform whence she would act upon all the
populations speaking the French tongue. The most skilful politicians
of Savoy--Seyssel who had just been appointed archbishop of Turin, and
Eustace Chappuis who understood thoroughly the mutual relations of
states, and whom Charles V. employed afterwards in his negotiations
with Henry VIII.--represented to the duke that he must take care at any
cost not to alienate the Swiss. The terrified Charles III. assented
to everything, and Chappuis was authorised to patch up the blunders
committed by the bishop.

This learned diplomatist saw clearly that the great business was, if
possible, to raise an insurmountable barrier between the Swiss and the
Genevans. He reflected on the means of effecting it: and resolving
to show himself kind and good-natured, he set out for Geneva. By the
duke’s intervention he had been made official of the episcopal court;
as such he was sworn in before the syndics; he then exerted all his
skill to alienate the Genevans from the Swiss and attach them to the
house of Savoy; but his fine words did not convert many. ‘The duke,’
said the prior of St. Victor, ‘seeing that his cats have caught no
rats, sends us the sleekest of mousers.’ Chappuis immediately set off
for Friburg, where he began to _practise_ on the pensioners. ‘Ha!’
said they, ‘Berthelier is an instance of what the princes of Savoy can
do.’ The diplomatist stuck at nothing: he called upon the fugitive and
entreated him to return to Geneva, promising him a pardon.--‘A pardon!’
exclaimed the haughty citizen, ‘pardon does not concern good men but
criminals. I demand absolution if I am innocent, and punishment if I am

Berthelier’s firmness paralysed all the diplomatist’s efforts; and it
was decided that the duke himself should visit Switzerland. Making a
pretence of business at Geneva and Lausanne, Charles III. arrived at
Friburg and Berne. He endeavoured to win over the cantons, induced
them to dissuade the king of France from making war upon him, renewed
his alliance with the League, and as they complained of the tyranny
of his cousin the bishop, of the illegal arrest of Pécolat, and of
Berthelier’s exile, he made them all the fairest promises.[126]

But he reckoned without his host: the bishop who had a meaner character
than the duke, had also a more obstinate temper. As his illustrious
cousin had visited Switzerland, it was his duty to be there to receive
him; he had accordingly returned to Geneva, and as some sensible men
had made him understand how deeply he was compromised in D’Orsières’
arrest, he set the good old man at liberty. If he consented to yield
on this point, he was determined not to give way on others. When the
syndics complained to him of the irregularities committed within the
city and without, representing to him that citizens were arrested
without cause, and that too, not by the officers of justice, but--a
thing unprecedented--by his own archers, the prelate was deaf; he
turned away his head, looked at what was going on around him, and
dismissed the magistrates as politely as he could. Accordingly when
the duke returned from Friburg, the syndics laid all their grievances
before him: ‘Our franchises are infringed by the bishop. A citizen
cannot be arrested beyond our boundaries, yet Pécolat was seized at
Pressinge. All criminal cases fall within the syndics’ jurisdiction,
yet Pécolat has been tried by the episcopal officers.’ Whereupon the
bishop and the duke, wishing to have the appearance of giving some
little satisfaction to the Swiss and the Genevans, transferred Pécolat
from his prison at Thiez to Geneva, and shut him up in the Château de
l’Ile. But neither the duke nor the bishop dreamt of letting him go;
would they ever have a better opportunity of showing the cardinals that
the bishop’s life was in danger? But if Pécolat should appear before
the syndics, his judges, would he be condemned? The duke’s friends
shook their heads. ‘One of them, the elder Lévrier, an incorrigible
dotard,’ they said, ‘would sooner be put in prison, as in 1506, than
give way; another, Richardet, a hot-headed fellow, would wax wroth,
and perhaps draw his sword; and Porral, a wag like his elder brother,
would turn his back and laugh at the Mamelukes!’



Pécolat’s condemnation became the chief business of the court of
Turin in its relations with Geneva. Archbishop Seyssel, who at that
time possessed great influence, was not for despotism: he approved
of moderating the royal authority, but hated republics, and wished
to take advantage of Pécolat’s trial to crush the spirit of liberty,
which was displaying so much energy in Geneva, and which might spread
farther. Feeling the importance of this case, in combating the Huguenot
influence, the archbishop determined to withdraw, if possible, the
Genevan from his natural judges, and resorted to a trick unworthy so
great a statesman. He represented that high treason, the crime of
which Pécolat was accused, was not one of those comprehended under the
constitutions of the city, and that the cognisance belonged therefore
to the prince; but he could not succeed. ‘We have the power,’ answered
the syndics, ‘to take cognisance of every criminal case.’ All that
Seyssel could obtain was that the bishop should appoint delegates who
would sit in court and give their opinion, but not vote.[127]

The judges met in the Château de l’Ile on the 10th of December,
1517; they were surrounded by the duke’s and the bishop’s attorneys,
the governor of Vaud, and other partisans of Savoy. Among the six
councillors who were to sit with the syndics (the judges being thus
ten in number), were some decided ducal partisans, upon whom the
bishop could rely for a sentence of condemnation. Poor Pécolat, still
suffering, was brought in by the vidame. The sight of the syndics--of
the elder Lévrier, Richardet, and Porral--revived his courage: he
knew that they were just men and enemies of episcopal despotism. ‘The
confessions I made at Thiez,’ he said, ‘were wrung from me by torture:
the judge dictated the words and I repeated them after him. I knew that
if I did not say what they wanted, they would break my arms, and maim
me for ever.’[128]

After this declaration, the examination began: the clearness of
Pécolat’s answers, his gentleness and candour, showed all present that
they had before them an innocent man, whom powerful princes desired to
destroy. The syndics having declared that they were bound to acquit
him, the bishop said: ‘Give him the question, and you will see clearly
that he is guilty.’ The syndics refused, whereupon the two princes
accused them of being partial and suspected men. The episcopal council,
therefore, decided, that the city and the bishop should each appoint
four judges--an illegal measure, to which the syndics submitted.

The new examination ought to have taken place on the 20th of January,
1518; but Pécolat, suffering from the torture past and terrified by the
torture to come, had fallen seriously ill, and it was necessary to send
the doctor to him. This man consented to his being carried before the
court. The four episcopal judges immediately called for the question,
but the syndics opposed it, and the episcopal delegates began to study
this living corpse. After examining him attentively they said: ‘He
still affords some hold for the torture; he may be examined with _a few
torments_’ (such is the expression in the report). Nergaz siding with
the Savoyard doctors, the torture was decided upon. Poor Pécolat began
to tremble from head to foot; he knew that he should denounce all his
friends, and cursed his own weakness. They tied his hands behind his
back, they showed him the rack, and interrogated him.... ‘However, they
did not torture him,’ continues the report, ‘considering the weakness
of his body and his long imprisonment.’ They thought that the fear
of the rack would suffice to make him speak; they were deceived; the
sick--we might almost call him the dying man, though tied up and bound,
having the instrument of torture before him, answered with simplicity
and frankness. Even the bishop’s judges were struck with his candour,
and two of them, ‘having the fear of God before their eyes,’ says
Bonivard, rather than the fear of men, declared _roundly_: ‘They have
done this poor man wrong. _Non invenimus in eo causam._ We find no
fault in him.’[129]

This honourable declaration embarrassed the duke all the more that
he had other anxieties on his mind. The news from Piedmont was bad:
every day he received letters urging him to return. ‘The Marquis of
Montferrat.’ they told him, ‘is committing serious depredations.’ But
the headstrong prince was ready to lose his own states, if he could but
get Geneva--and lose them he did not long after. Finding himself on the
point of discovering a conspiracy, calculated to satisfy the cardinals,
he resolved not to yield. His creatures and those of the prelate held
conference after conference; at last they found a means--a diabolical
means--of putting Pécolat to death. Seeing that lay judges were not to
be persuaded to condemn an innocent man, they resolved that he should
be tried by priests. To put this plan into execution, it was necessary
to change the layman--the ex-hosier, the merry fellow who was at every
banquet and every masquerade--into a churchman. They succeeded. ‘To
gratify their appetite,’ said Bonivard, ‘they produced a forged letter,
to the effect that Pécolat was an _ordained clerk_ ... and therefore
his case belonged not to the secular, but to the ecclesiastical judge.’
The fraud found, or seemed to find belief in the official world.
‘Accordingly,’ goes on the chronicle, ‘they transferred him from the
Château de l’Ile, which was the lay prison, to the bishop’s palace
which was the Church court, and he was placed once more in the hands
of the Pharisees.’ This was a stroke worthy of a celebrated religious
order not yet in existence, but which was about to be founded to
combat the Reformation. Henceforth we shall see none of that silly
consideration, of that delicate circumspection, which the laymen had
employed. The bishop, now become judge and party, ‘deliberated how to
handle him well.’ Some persons having asserted that Pécolat could not
endure the rack, the doctors again examined his poor body: some said
yes and others no, so the judges decided that the first were right,
and the instrument of torture was prepared. It was not only heroic men
like the Bertheliers and Lévriers, who, by their daring opposition
to arbitrary power, were then raising the edifice of liberty; but it
was also these wicked judges, these tyrannical princes, these cruel
executioners, who by their wheel and rack were preparing the new and
more equitable times of modern society.[130]

When Pécolat was informed of the fatal decision, his terrors
recommenced. The prospect of a new torture, the thought of the
accusations he would make against his friends, disturbed his conscience
and plunged him into despair.... His features were distorted by it,
his beard was in disorder, his eyes were haggard: all in him expressed
suffering and terror. His keepers, not understanding this state of his
mind, thought that he was possessed by a devil. ‘Berthelier,’ said
they, ‘is a great _charmer_, he has a familiar spirit. He has charmed
Pécolat to render him insensible to the torture; try as we may, he will
say nothing.’ It was the belief at that time that the _charmers_ lodged
certain devils in the patients’ hair. The prisoner’s long rough beard
disquieted the bishop’s officers. It was resolved that Pécolat should
be shaved in order to expel the demon.[131]

According to rule it should have been an exorcist and not a barber
that they should have sent for. Robed in surplice and stole, the
priest should have made the sign of the cross over Pécolat, sprinkled
him with holy water, and pronounced loud-sounding anathemas against
the evil spirit. But no, the bishop was contented to send a barber,
which was much more prosaic; it may be that, besides all his other
vices, the bastard was a freethinker. The barber came and got his
razor ready. The devil whom Pécolat feared, was his own cowardice. ‘I
shall inculpate my best friends,’ he said to himself; ‘I shall confess
that Berthelier wished to kill the bishop; I shall say all they want
me to say.... And then if I die on the rack (which was very possible,
considering the exhaustion of his strength) I shall be eternally
damned for having lied in the hour of death.’ This idea alarmed him;
a tempest agitated his soul; he was already in agony. ‘It is better,’
he thought, ‘to cut off an arm, a foot, or even the tongue, than fall
into everlasting perdition.’ At this moment the barber, who had wetted
the beard, quitted the room to throw the water out of the basin;
Pécolat caught up the razor which the man had left on the table by his
side and raised it to his tongue; but moral and physical force both
failing him, he made only a gash. He was trying again, when the barber
returned, sprang upon him in affright, snatched the razor from his
hand, and raised an alarm. The gaoler, his family, and the prince’s
surgeon rushed in and found Pécolat ‘coughing and spitting out blood
in large quantities.’ They seized him and began to stanch the blood,
which it was not difficult to do. His tongue was not cut off, as some
have asserted; there was only a deep wound. The officers of the duke
and the bishop took extraordinary pains to cure him, ‘not to do him
good,’ say the chronicles, ‘but to do him a greater ill another time,
and that he might use his tongue in singing whatever they pleased.’
All were greatly astounded at this mystery, of which there was great
talk throughout the city.[132] Pécolat’s wound having been dressed,
the bastard demanded that he should be put to the rack, but Lévrier,
feeling convinced that Pécolat was the innocent victim of an illegal
proceeding, opposed it. The bishop still persisted in the necessity
of obtaining a confession from him: ‘Confession!’ replied the judge,
‘he cannot speak.’--‘Well then,’ answered, not the executioner but,
the bishop, ‘let him _write_ his answer.’ Lévrier, as firm when it was
necessary to maintain the respect due to humanity as the obedience due
to the law, declared that such cruelty should not be practised before
his tribunal. The bishop was forced to give way, but he kept account of
this new offence on the part of the contumacious judge.[133]

All Geneva pitied the unhappy man, and asked if there was no one to
deliver him from this den of thieves? Bonivard, a man who afterwards
knew in his own person the horrors of a prison, never ceased thinking
of the means of saving him. He loved Pécolat; he had often admired that
simple nature of his, so impulsive, so strong and yet so weak, and
above all his devotion to the cause of the liberties of the city. He
felt that human and divine rights, the compassion due to the unhappy,
his duty towards Geneva, (‘although I am not a native,’ he said,)--all
bound him to make an effort. He left his monastery, called upon Aimé
Lévrier, and expressed his desire to save Pécolat. Lévrier explained
to him that the bishop had forbidden any further steps, and that the
judges could not act without his consent. ‘There is however one means,’
added he. ‘Let Pécolat’s relations demand justice of me; I shall
refuse, alleging the prince’s good pleasure. Then let them appeal, on
the ground of denial of justice,[134] to the metropolitan court of
Vienne.’ Bonivard, full of imagination, of invention, of resources,
heedless of precedents, and energetic, immediately resolved to try
this course. The Archbishop of Vienne (he argued) being always jealous
of the Bishop of Geneva, would be delighted to humble his powerful
colleague. ‘I have friends, relations, and influence in Savoy,’ said
he, ‘I will move heaven and earth, and we will teach the bastard a
pretty lesson.’ He returned to his monastery and sent for Pécolat’s
two brothers. One of them, Stephen, enjoyed the full confidence of his
fellow-citizens, and was afterwards raised to the highest offices;
but the tyranny of the princes alarmed everybody: ‘Demand that your
brother be brought to trial,’ said Bonivard to the two brothers.--‘No,’
they answered, ‘the risk is too serious.’ ... Bonivard’s eloquence
prevailed at last. Not wishing to leave them time for reflection, he
took them forthwith to Lévrier; the petition, answer, and legal appeal
were duly made; and Stephen Pécolat, who by contact with these two
generous souls had become brave, departed for Vienne in Dauphiny with
a warm recommendation from the prior. The Church of Vienne had enjoyed
from ancient times the title of holy, of _maxima sedes Galliarum_,
and its metropolitan was primate of all Gaul. This prelate, delighted
with the opportunity of making his authority felt by a bishop who was
then more powerful than himself, summoned the procurator-fiscal, the
episcopal council, and the bishop of Geneva to appear before his court
of Vienne within a certain term, to hear judgment. In the meanwhile
he forbade the bishop to proceed against the prisoner under pain of
excommunication. ‘We are in the right road now,’ said Bonivard to
Lévrier. But who would serve this daring summons upon the bishop?
These writs of Vienne were held in such slight esteem by the powerful
prelates of Geneva, that it was usual to cudgel the bearers of them.
It might be foreseen that the bishop and duke would try every means to
nullify the citation, or induce the archbishop to recall it. In short,
this was not an ordinary case. If Pécolat was declared innocent, if his
depositions against Berthelier were declared false, what would become
of the scheme of Charles III. and Leo X. at which the bishop himself
so basely connived? Geneva would remain free.... The difficulties which
started up did not dishearten Bonivard; he thought that the devices set
on foot to enslave the city were hateful, and that as he wished to live
and die there, he ought to defend it. ‘And then,’ adds a chronicler,
‘the commander of St. Victor was more bold than wise.’ Bonivard formed
his resolution. ‘Nobody,’ he said, ‘dares bell the cat ... then I will
attempt the deed.’ ... But his position did not permit him ‘to pass the
river alone.’ It was necessary that the metropolitan citation should
be served on the bishop by an episcopal bailiff. He began to search
for such a man; and recollecting a certain poor clerk who vegetated in
a wretched room in the city, he sent for him, put two crowns in his
hand, and said: ‘Here is a letter from the metropolitan that must be
delivered to the bishop. The duke and the prelate set out the day after
to-morrow for Turin; to-morrow morning they will go and hear mass at
St. Pierre; that will be the latest hour. There will be no time after
that. Hand this paper to my lord.’ The clerk was afraid, though the two
crowns tempted him strongly; Bonivard pressed him: ‘Well,’ said the
poor fellow, ‘I will promise to serve the writ, provided you assist me
personally.’ Bonivard agreed to do so.

The next day the prior and the clerk entered the cathedral. The
princes were present, surrounded with much pomp: it was high mass, a
farewell mass; nobody was absent. Bonivard in his quality of canon
had a place of honour in the cathedral which would have brought him
near the bishop; but he took care not to go there, and kept himself
at a distance behind the clerk in order to watch him; he feared lest
the poor man should get frightened and escape. The consecration, the
elevation, the chanting, all the sumptuous forms of Roman worship,
all the great people bending before the altar, acted upon the unlucky
bailiff’s imagination. He began to tremble, and when the mass was ended
and the moment for action arrived, ‘seeing,’ says Bonivard, ‘that the
game was to be played in earnest,’ he lost his courage, stealthily
crept backwards, and prepared to run away. But Bonivard, who was
watching him, suddenly stepped forward, seized him by the collar, and
placing the other hand upon a dagger, which he held beneath his robe,
whispered in his ear: ‘If you do not keep your promise, I swear I will
kill you.’ The clerk was almost frightened to death, and not without
cause, ‘for,’ adds Bonivard in his plain-spoken ‘Chronicles,’ ‘I should
have done it, which I do not say to my praise; I know now that I acted
foolishly. But youth and affection carried me away.’ He did not kill
the clerk, however; he was satisfied with holding him tightly by the
thumb, and with a firm hand held him by his side. The poor terrified
man wished in vain to fly: Bonivard’s dagger kept him motionless; he
was like a marble statue.[135]

Meanwhile the duke, his brother the count, and the bishop were leaving
the church, attended by their magnificent retinue, and returning to
the episcopal palace, where there was to be a grand reception. ‘Now,’
said Bonivard to the clerk, ‘no more delay, you must discharge your
commission;’ then he put the metropolitan citation into the hand that
was free, and still holding him by the thumb, led him thus to the

When he came near the bishop, the energetic prior letting go the thumb,
which he had held as if in a vice, and pointing to the prelate, said
to the clerk: ‘Do your duty.’ The bishop hearing these words, ‘was
much afraid,’ says Bonivard, ‘and turned pale, thinking I was ordering
him to be killed.’ The cowardly prelate turning with alarm towards the
supposed assassin cast a look of distress upon those around him. The
clerk trembled as much as he; but meeting the terrible eye of the prior
and seeing the dagger under his robes, he fell on his knees before the
bishop, and kissing the writ, presented it to him, saying: ‘My lord,
_inhibitur vobis, prout in copia_.’[136] He then put the document into
his hand and ran off: ‘Upon this,’ adds the prior, ‘I retired to my
priory of St. Victor. I felt such juvenile and silly arrogance, that I
feared neither bishop nor duke.’ Bonivard had his culverins no longer,
but he would yet have stood a siege if necessary to bring this matter
to a successful issue. The bishop never forgot the fright Bonivard had
caused him, and swore to be even with him.

This energetic action gave courage to others. Fourscore citizens more
or less implicated with Pécolat in the affair of the rotten fish--‘all
honest people’--appeared before the princes, and demanded that if they
and Pécolat were guilty, they should be punished; but if they were
innocent that it should be publicly acknowledged. The princes, whose
situation was growing difficult, were by no means eager to have eighty
cases in hand instead of one. ‘We are sure,’ they answered, ‘that
this poisoning is a thing invented by certain wicked men, and we look
upon all of you as honest people. But as for Pécolat, he was always a
naughty fellow; for which reason we wish to keep him a short time in
prison to correct him.’ Then fearing lest he should be liberated by
force during their absence, the princes of Savoy had him transferred to
the castle of Peney, which was contrary to the franchises of the city.
The transfer took place on the 29th of January, 1518.[137]

A division in the Church came to Pécolat’s assistance. Since the
struggles between Victor and Polycrat in the second century, between
Cyprian and Stephen in the third, dissensions between the catholic
bishops have never ceased; and in the middle ages particularly, there
were often severe contests between the bishops and their metropolitans.
The Archbishop of Vienne did not understand yielding to the Bishop of
Geneva, and at the very moment when Luther’s Theses were resounding
throughout Christendom--in 1517 and 1518--the Roman Church on the banks
of the Rhone was giving a poor illustration of its pretended unity.
The metropolitan, finding his citations useless, ordered the bishop to
liberate Pécolat, under pain of excommunication;[138] but the episcopal
officers who remained in Geneva, only laughed, like their master, at
the metropolitan and his threats.

Pécolat’s friends took the matter more seriously. They feared for his
life. Who could tell whether the bastard had not left orders to get rid
of the prisoner, and left Geneva in order to escape the people’s anger?
These apprehensions were not without cause, for more than one upright
man was afterwards to be sacrificed in the castle of Peney. Stephen
Pécolat and some of his brother’s friends waited on St. Victor; ‘The
superior metropolitan authority has ordered Pécolat to be released,’
they said; ‘we shall go off straight in search of him.’ The acute
Bonivard represented to them that the gaolers would not give him up,
that the castle was strong, and they would fail in the attack; that the
whole people should demand the liberation of the innocent man detained
by the bishop in his dungeons, in despite of the liberties of the city
and the orders of his metropolitan. ‘A little patience,’ he continued;
‘we are near the beginning of Lent, holy week is not far off; the
interdict will then be published by the metropolitan. The christians
finding themselves deprived of the sacrament will grow riotous, and
will compel the bishop’s officers to set our friend at liberty. Thus
the inhibition which we served upon the bishop in his palace, will
produce its effect in despite of him.’ The advice was thought sound,
they agreed to it, and everybody in Geneva waited with impatience for
Easter and the excommunication.

Anthony de la Colombière, official to the metropolitan of Vienne,
arrived to execute the orders of his superior, and having come to
an understanding with the prior of St. Victor and judge Lévrier, he
ordered, on the 18th of March, that Pécolat should be released within
twenty-four hours. He waited eight days, but waited in vain, for the
episcopal officers continued to disobey him. Then, on Good Friday, the
metropolitan officers, bearing the sentence of excommunication and
interdict, proceeded to the cathedral at two o’clock in the afternoon,
and there, in the presence of John Gallatin, notary, and three other
witnesses, they posted up the terrible monition; at four o’clock they
did the same at the churches of St. Gervais and St. Germain. This
was not indeed the thunder of the Vatican, but it was nevertheless
the excommunication of a prelate who, at Geneva, filled the first
place after the pope in the Roman hierarchy. The canons, priests,
and parishioners, as they went to evening prayers, walked up to the
placards and were quite aghast as they read them. ‘We excommunicate,’
they ran, ‘the episcopal officers, and order that this excommunication
be published in the churches, with bell, book, and candle. Moreover,
we command, under pain of the same excommunication, the syndics and
councillors to attack the castles and prisons wherein Pécolat is
detained, and to liberate him by force. Finally we pronounce the
interdict against all places wherein these excommunicates are found.
And if, like the deaf adder, they persist in their wickedness, we
interdict the celebration not only of the sacraments, but also of
divine service, in the churches of St. Pierre, Notre Dame la Neuve,
St. Germain, St. Gervais, St. Victor, St. Leger, and Holy Cross.’[139]
After the canons and priests had read this document, they halted in
consternation at the threshold of the church. They looked at one
another, and asked what was to be done. Having well considered, they
said: ‘Here’s a barrier we cannot get over,’ and they retired.

As the number of devout catholics was still pretty large in Geneva,
what Bonivard had foreseen came to pass; and the agitation was general.
No more services, no more masses, no baptisms, no marriages ... divine
worship suspended, the cross hidden, the altars stripped.[140] ...
What was to be done? The chapter was sitting, and several citizens
appeared before them in great irritation. ‘It is you,’ they said to the
terrified canons, ‘that are the cause of all this.’ ... Nor was this
all. The excommunicates of the Savoyard parishes of the diocese used
to come every year at the approach of Easter and petition the bishop’s
official for letters of _consentment_, in order that their parish
priests might give them the _communion_. ‘Now of such folks there
chanced to be a great number at Geneva. Heyday, they said, it is of no
use putting one obstacle aside, when another starts up immediately, all
owing to the fault of these episcopal officers!’ ... The exasperated
Savoyards united with the Genevans, and the agitated crowd assembled
in front of the cathedral gates; the men murmured, the women wept,
even priests joined the laity. Loud shouts were heard erelong. The
people’s patience was exhausted; they took part against their bishop.
‘To the Rhone,’ cried the devout, ‘to the Rhone with the traitors! the
villains who prevent us from receiving our Lord!’ The excommunicated
episcopal officers had a narrow escape from drowning. All the diocese
fancied itself excommunicated, and accordingly the confusion extended
beyond the city. The syndics came up and entreated the citizens to be
calm; and then, going to the episcopal council, the bishop being still
absent, they said: ‘Release Pécolat, or we cannot protect you against
the anger of the people.’ The episcopal officers seeing the bishop and
the duke on one side, the metropolitan and the people on the other, and
impelled in contrary directions, knew not whom to obey. It was reported
to them that all the city was in an uproar, that the most devout
catholics wished at any cost to communicate on Easter Sunday, and that
looking upon them as the only obstacle which prevented their receiving
the host, they had determined to throw them over the bridge. ‘The first
of you that comes out shall go over,’ cried the crowd. They were seized
with great alarm, and fancying themselves half drowned already, wrote
to the governor of Peney to release Pécolat forthwith. The messenger
departed, and the friends and relations of the prisoner, not trusting
to the episcopal court, accompanied him. During the three-quarters of
an hour that the walk occupied, the crowd kept saying:--suppose the
governor should refuse to give up his victim; suppose the bastard’s
agents have already carried him away--perhaps put him to death? None
of these suppositions was realised. Deep in a dungeon of the castle,
the poor man, heavily chained, in utter darkness, wrecked both in mind
and body, was giving way to the blackest melancholy. Suddenly he hears
a noise. He listens; he seems to recognise well-known voices: it was
his brothers and his friends arriving noisily under the walls of the
castle, and giving utterance to their joy.

Their success was, however, less certain than it appeared to them.
Strange things were, in fact, taking place at that moment in Geneva.
The bishop and the duke had not been so passive as had been imagined,
and at the very instant when the messenger bearing the order from the
episcopal court, and accompanied by a body of Genevans, was leaving by
the French gate, a courier, with an order from the Roman court, entered
by the Savoy gate. The latter went with all speed to the bishop’s
representatives, and handed them the pontifical letters which the
princes had obtained, and by which the pope _annulled the censures of
the metropolitan_. This Roman messenger brought in addition an order
from the bishop forbidding them _on their lives_ to release Pécolat.
The bastard had shuddered at the thought that the wretch whom he had so
successfully tortured, might escape him: he had moved heaven and earth
to keep him in prison. We may imagine the emotion and alarm which fell
upon the episcopal councillors when they read the letters handed to
them. The coincidence of the moment when these two contradictory orders
left Geneva and arrived there is so striking, that we may ask whether
these letters from Rome and Turin were not supposed--invented by the
episcopal officers themselves; but there is nothing in the narrative to
indicate a trick. ‘_Immediately_ on reading the letters, the episcopal
officers _with all diligence_ countermanded the release.’ These words
in the ‘Annals’ show the precipitation with which they endeavoured
to repair the mistake they had committed. There was not, in fact, a
moment to lose, if they wished to keep Pécolat. Several officers got on
horseback and set off full gallop.

The bearers of this order were hardly halfway, when they met a numerous
jubilant and noisy crowd returning from Peney. The friends of Pécolat,
preceded by the official letters addressed to the governor, had
appeared before that officer, who, after reading the despatch over
and over, had thought it his duty to obey. Pécolat’s friends hurried
after the gaoler, who, carrying a bunch of keys in his hand, went to
open the cell; they entered with him, shouting release! They broke the
prisoner’s chains; and, finding him so weak, carried him in their arms
and laid him in the sunshine in the castle yard. Without loss of time
they placed him in a peasant’s cart and all started for Geneva. This
was the crowd met by the episcopal officers. The Genevans were bringing
back their friend with shouts of joy. In vain did the episcopal
officers stop this joyous band, and require that the prisoner should
be led back to Peney; in vain did they speak of the bishop and even
of the pope; all was of no use. Despite the _rogations_ of the pope,
the prelate, and the messengers, the people carried Pécolat back in
triumph. This resistance offered to the Roman pontiff, at the moment
he was lending assistance to the bastard in his oppression of a poor
innocent man, was, as it were, an affair of outposts; and the Genevans
were thus training themselves for more notable battles. ‘Forward,’
they shouted, ‘to the city! to the city!’ and the crowd, leaving the
episcopal officers alone in the middle of the road, hastened to the

At last they approached Geneva, and there the excitement was not less
great than on the road. Pécolat’s return was the triumph of right over
injustice, of liberty over despotism; and accordingly it was celebrated
with enthusiasm. The poor man, dumb (for his wound was not yet healed),
shattered by the torture, and wasted away by his long captivity, looked
silently on all around him, and experienced an emotion he could hardly
contain. After such trials he was returning into the old city amid the
joyous cries of the population. However, his friends did not forget
the orders of the pope and the bishop; and fearing lest the vidame
should again seize the poor fellow, they took him to the convent of the
Grey Friars of Rive, an asylum reputed inviolable, and quartered him
in the cell of his brother, the monk Yvonnet. There the poor invalid
received all the affectionate attendance he required; he remained some
time without saying much; but at last he recovered his speech, ‘by the
intercession of _a saint_,’ said the priests and Pécolat himself, as
it would appear. Was it devoutly or jestingly that he spoke of this
pretended miraculous cure? We shall not decide. Bonivard, who perhaps
no longer believed in the miracles of saints, assigns another reason:
‘The surgeons dressed the wound in his tongue;’ and he adds: ‘He always
stuttered a little.’ If Bonivard had doubts about the saints, he
believed in the sovereign justice of God: ‘Then came to pass a thing,’
he said, ‘which should not be forgotten; all the judges who condemned
Pécolat to be tortured died this year, one after another, which we
cannot suppose to have happened except as a _divine punishment_.’

The remembrance of Pécolat’s torture long remained in the memory of
the citizens of Geneva, and contributed to make them reject the rule
of the Romish bishops.[141] In fact the interest felt for this victim
of episcopal cruelty was manifested in every way. The cell of brother
Yvonnet, in the Grey Friars’ convent, was never empty; everybody
wished to see the bishop’s victim. The prior of St. Victor was one of
the first to come, attended by several friends. The poor man, being
tongue-tied, told ‘the mystery of his sufferings with his fingers,’
says Bonivard. It was long since there had been such an interesting
sight in Geneva. The citizens, standing or sitting around him, could
not turn their eyes away from his thin pale face. By his gestures
and attitudes Pécolat described the scenes of the examination, the
torture, and the razor, and in the midst of these remembrances which
made the tears come to his eyes, he from time to time indulged in a
joke. The young men of Geneva looked at each other and trembled with
indignation ... and then sometimes they laughed, at which the episcopal
officers ‘were terribly enraged.’ The latter were in truth both vexed
and angry. What! they receive an order from the bishop, an order from
the pope, and only a few minutes before they have issued a contrary
order! Strange mishap! Not knowing whom to blame, they imprisoned the
governor, who had only released Pécolat by their command, and to cover
their responsibility were actually planning to put him to death.

Some timid and alarmed citizens dared not go and see Pécolat; one of
these was Blanchet, the friend of Andrew Navis, who had been present
at the famous meeting at the Molard and the _momon_ supper, and who,
falling not long after beneath the bishop’s violence, was doomed to
expiate his errors by a most cruel death. Blanchet is the type of a
character frequent at this epoch. Having learnt, shortly after the
famous _momon_ banquet, that a certain individual whose name even
he did not know, but who, he said, ‘had given him the lie to his
face,’ was in Burgundy, Blanchet set off after him, gave him a box on
the ears, and returned. He came back to Geneva, thence he went into
Faucigny, and afterwards to Italy; he took part in the war between
the pope and the Duke of Urbino (who so terribly frightened Leo X.);
returned to Pavia, thence to Turin, and finally to Geneva. His cousin
Peter, who lived in Turin, had told him that during his travels Pécolat
had been arrested for plotting against the bishop. ‘I shall not go
and see him,’ he said, ‘for fear of compromising myself.’ In spite of
his excessive precaution, he could not finally escape the barbarous
vengeance of the prelate.[142]




No one embraced Pécolat with so much joy as Berthelier, who had
returned to Geneva within these few days. In fact the duke, desirous
to please the Swiss by any means, had given him, and also made the
bishop give him, a safe-conduct which, bearing date February 24, 1518,
extended to Whitsunday, May 23, in the same year. The favour shown
the republican hero was not great, for permission was granted him to
return to Geneva _to stand his trial_; and the friends of the prelate
hoped that he would not only be tried, but condemned and put to death.
Notwithstanding these forebodings, Berthelier, a man of spirit and firm
in his designs, was returning to his city to accomplish the work he
had prepared in Switzerland: namely, the alliance of Geneva with the
cantons. He had taken great trouble about it during his residence among
the confederates. He was seen continually ‘visiting, eating, drinking
in the houses of his friends or at the guilds (called abbeys), talking
with the townsfolk, and proving to them that this alliance would be
of great use to all the country of the League.’ Berthelier was then
full of hope; Geneva was showing herself worthy of liberty; there was
an energetic movement towards independence; the people were wearied
of the tyranny of princes. Free voices were heard in the general
council. ‘No one can serve two masters,’ said some patriots. ‘The man
who holds any pension or employment from a prince, or has taken an
oath to other authorities than the republic, ought not to be elected
either syndic or councillor.’ This resolution was carried by a large
majority. And better still, the citizens chose for syndics three men
capable of guarding the franchises of the community; they were Ramel,
Vandel, and Besançon Hugues. A mameluke, ‘considering the great credit
of the party,’ had also been elected, but only one, Montyon; he was the
premier syndic.[143]

Whilst the patriots were thus making efforts to save the independence
of the city, the duke, the bishop, the count, Archbishop Seyssel, and
other councillors, meeting at Turin, were pursuing contrary schemes.
Would they succeed? Seyssel, the illustrious author of the _Grande
Monarchie_, might tell them that in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
in France, Burgundy, and Flanders, the bishop and the lay lord had
combined against the liberties of the towns, and aided by arms and
anathemas had maintained a war against the communes which had ended
in the destruction of the rights and franchises of the citizens. Then
the night was indeed dark in the social world. At Geneva, these rights
existed still: you could see a flickering light glimmering feebly
in the midst of the darkness. But would not the bishop and the duke
succeed in extinguishing it? If so, despotism would hold all Europe
under its cruel hand, as in the Mahometan and other countries of the
world. Why should the operation carried through at Cambray, Noyon,
St. Quentin, Laon, Amiens, Soissons, Sens, and Rheims, fail on the
shores of the Leman? There was indeed a reason for it, but they did
not take it into account. We do not find this reason--at least not
alone--in the fact that the heroes of liberty were more intrepid at
Geneva than elsewhere. The enfranchisement was to come from a higher
source: God then brought forth light and liberty. The middle ages were
ending, modern times were beginning. The princes and bishops of Roman
Catholicism, in close alliance, had everywhere reduced to ashes the
edifice of communal liberties. But in the midst of these ashes some
embers were found which, kindled again by fire from heaven, lighted
up once more in the world the torch of lawful liberty. Geneva was the
obstacle to the definite annihilation of the popular franchises, and in
Geneva the strength of the obstacle was Berthelier. No wonder then that
the Savoyard princes agreed that in order to check the triumph of the
spirit of independence, it was absolutely necessary to get rid of this
proud, energetic, and unyielding citizen. They began to prepare the
execution of their frightful project. A strange blindness is that which
imagines that by removing a man from the world it is possible to thwart
the designs of God!

Berthelier, calm because he was innocent, provided besides with
an episcopal safe-conduct, had appeared before the syndics to be
tried. The duke and the bishop had given orders to their agents, the
vidame Conseil and Peter Navis, the procurator-fiscal, to manage his
condemnation. The trial began: ‘You are charged,’ said these two
magistrates, ‘with having taken part in the riotous amusements of the
young men of Geneva.’--‘I desired,’ answered Berthelier frankly, ‘to
keep up the good-will of those who were contending for liberty against
the usurpations of tyrants.’ The justification was worse than the
charge. ‘Let us seize him by the throat, as if he were a wolf,’ said
the two judges. ‘You have conspired,’ they continued, ‘against the
life of the prince-bishop,’ and they handed in Pécolat’s depositions
as proof. ‘All lies,’ said Berthelier coldly, ‘lies extorted by the
rack and retracted afterwards.’ Navis then produced the declarations of
the traitor Carmentrant, who, as we have seen at the _momon_ supper,
undertook the office of informer. ‘Carmentrant!’ contemptuously
exclaimed the accused, ‘one of the bishop’s servants, coming and going
to the palace every day, eating, drinking, and making merry ... a
pretty witness indeed! The bishop has prevailed upon him, by paying
him well, to suffer himself to be sent to prison, so that he may sing
out against me whatever they prompt him with ... Carmentrant boasts of
it himself!’ When they sent the report to the bishop, he perceived,
on reading it, that this examination, instead of demonstrating the
guilt of the accused, only revealed the iniquity of the accuser; the
alarmed prelate therefore wrote to the vidame and Navis to ‘use every
imaginable precaution.’ It was necessary to destroy Berthelier without
compromising the bishop.

Navis was the man for that. Of a wily and malicious character, he
understood nothing about the liberties of Geneva; but he was a
skilful and a crafty lawyer. ‘He so mixes retail truth with wholesale
falsehood,’ people said, ‘that he makes you believe the whole lump
is true. If any iniquity of the bishop’s is discovered, straight he
cuts a plug to stop the hole. He is continually forging new counts,
and calling for adjournments.’ Navis, finding himself at the end of
his resources, began to turn and twist the safe-conduct every way: it
expressly forbade the detention of Berthelier’s person. That mattered
not. ‘I demand that Berthelier be arrested,’ he said, ‘and be examined
in custody; for the safe-conduct, if you weigh it well, is not opposed
to this.’[144]--‘The first of virtues,’ said Berthelier, ‘is to keep
your promise.’ Navis, little touched by this morality, resolved to
obtain his request by dint of importunity; the next day he required
that ‘Berthelier should be shut up closely in prison;’ on the 20th of
April, he moved that ‘he should be incarcerated;’ and on the following
day, he made the same request; about the end of May he demanded on
two different occasions, not only that ‘the noble citizen should be
arrested but tortured also.’ ... All these unjust prayers were refused
by the court.[145] Navis, being embarrassed and irritated, multiplied
his accusations; his plaint was like an overflowing torrent: ‘The
accused,’ he said, ‘is a brawler, fighter, promoter of quarrels,
illegal meetings, and seditions, rebellious to the prince and his
officers, accustomed to carry out his threats, a debaucher of the
young men of the city, and all without having ever been corrected of
his faults and excesses.’--‘I confess that I am not corrected of these
faults,’ answered Berthelier with disdain, ‘because I never was guilty
of them.’[146] It was determined to associate with the syndics some
commissioners devoted to the bishop; but the syndics replied that this
would be contrary to law. The vidame and Navis, not knowing what to do
next, wrote to the duke and the prelate to find some good grievances.
‘You shall have them,’ they answered; ‘we have certain witnesses to
examine here, this side the mountains.’ ... Who were these witnesses?
Navis little imagined that one of them was his own son, and that the
inquiry would end in a catastrophe that would extort from him a cry of
anguish. Let us now see what was going on at Turin.[147]

Blanchet, disgusted with his condition since he had been to the wars,
cared little for Geneva. During his sojourn at Turin, in the house of
the magnificent lord of Meximieux, the splendour of the establishment
had dazzled him. His love for liberty had cooled down, his taste for
the luxuries and comforts of life had increased. ‘I will seek patrons
and fortune,’ he often repeated. With this object he returned from
Geneva to Turin. It was the moment when the bishop was on the watch to
catch one of the ‘children of Geneva.’ Blanchet was seized and thrown
into prison; and that was not all.[148]

Andrew Navis, who, since the affair of the mule, had led a more regular
life, was dreadfully weary of his father’s office. One Sunday, M. de
Vernier gave his friends a splendid breakfast, to which Navis and
Blanchet had been invited. Andrew was never tired of hearing ‘the
wanderer’ talk about Italy, its delightful landscapes, the mildness
of its climate, its fruits, monuments, pictures, concerts, theatres,
beautiful women, and of the war between the pope and the Duke of
Urbino. A desire to cross the Alps took possession of Andrew. ‘As soon
as there is any rumour at Geneva of a foreign war,’ he said, ‘some of
my companions hasten to it: why should I not do the same?’ The Duke of
Urbino, proud of the secret support of France, was at that time a cause
of great alarm to Leo X. An open war against a pope tempted Navis. The
vices from which he suffered were not those base errors which nullify
a man; but those ardent faults, those energetic movements which leave
some hope of conversion. Leaning on his father’s desk, disgusted with
the pettifogging business, he felt the need of a more active life. An
opportunity presented itself. A woman named Georgia, with whom he had
formerly held guilty intercourse, having to go to Turin, to join a
man who was not her husband, asked Andrew to be her escort, promising
him ‘a merry time of it.’ Navis made up his mind, and without his
father’s knowledge left Geneva and his friends, and reached Turin
at noon of Saturday the 8th of May. One Gabriel Gervais, a Genevan,
was waiting for him: ‘Be on your guard,’ he said; ‘Blanchet has been
taken up for some misunderstandings with the bishop.’ The son of the
procurator-fiscal thought he had nothing to fear. But on the morrow,
about six o’clock in the evening, the same Gabriel Gervais came and
told him hastily: ‘They are going to arrest you: make your escape.’
Andrew started off directly, but was caught as he was about to leave
the city and taken to the castle.[149]

The bishop and the duke wished, by arresting these young Genevans, to
punish their independent spirit, and above all to extort from them
confessions of a nature to procure the condemnation of Berthelier and
other patriots. On the 26th of April the Bishop of Geneva had issued
his warrant to all the ducal officers, and, in his quality of peaceful
churchman, had concluded with these words: ‘We protest we have no
desire, so far as in us lies, that any penalty of blood or death should
result, or any mutilation of limbs, or other thing that may give rise
to any irregularity.’[150] We shall see with what care the bishop
avoided _mutilation of limbs_. The duke issued his warrant the same day.

Blanchet’s examination began on the 3rd of May in the court of the
castle of Turin. He believed himself accused of an attempt upon the
life of the bishop, and doubted not that torture and perhaps a cruel
death were reserved for him; accordingly this young man, of amiable
but weak disposition, became a prey to the blackest melancholy. On the
5th of May, having been brought back to the court of the castle, he
turned to the lieutenant De Bresse, who assisted the procurator-fiscal,
and without waiting to be interrogated, he said: ‘I am innocent of
the crime of which I am accused.’--‘And of what are you accused?’
said the lieutenant. Blanchet made no answer, but burst into tears.
The procurator-fiscal then commenced the examination, and Blanchet
began to cry again. On being skilfully questioned, he allowed himself
to be surprised, and made several depositions against Berthelier and
the other patriots; then perceiving his folly, he stopped short and
exclaimed with many groans: ‘I shall never dare return to Geneva! my
comrades would kill me.... I implore the mercy of my lord duke.’ Poor
Blanchet moved even his judges to pity. Navis, when led before the same
tribunal on the 10th of May, did not weep. ‘Who are you?’ they asked.
‘I am from Geneva,’ he replied, ‘scrivener, notary, a gentleman’s
son, and twenty-eight years old.’ The examination was not long. The
bishop, who was then at Pignerol, desired to have the prisoners in his
own hand, as he had once held Pécolat; they were accordingly removed

On the 14th, 15th,and 21st of May, Navis and Blanchet were brought into
the great hall of the castle before the magnificent John of Lucerne,
collateral of the council, and Messire d’Ancina. ‘Speak as we desire
you,’ said the collateral, ‘and then you will be in his Highness’s
good graces.’ As they did not utter a word, they were at first
threatened with two turns of the cord, and that not being sufficient,
they were put to the rack; they were fastened to the rope, and raised
an arm’s length from the floor. Navis was in agony; but instead of
inculpating Berthelier, he accused himself. The commandment which says:
‘Honour thy father and thy mother,’ was continually in his mind, and he
felt that it was in consequence of breaking it, that he had fallen into
dissipation and disgrace. ‘Alas!’ said he, when put to the question, ‘I
have been a vagabond, disobedient to my father, roaming here and there,
squandering my own and my father’s money in taverns.... Alas! I have
not been dutiful to my parents.... If I had been obedient, I should not
have suffered as I do to-day.’ On the 10th of June, says the report, he
was again put to the torture and pulled up the height of an ell. After
remaining there a moment, Navis begged to be let down, promising to
tell everything. Then sitting on a bench, he accused himself bitterly
of the crime of which he felt himself guilty; he confessed ... to
having _disobeyed his parents_.[152] Peter Navis was a passionate judge
in the opinion of many; Andrew saw only the father in him; and contempt
of paternal authority was the great sin that agonised the wretched
young man. Looking into himself, foreseeing the fatal issue of the
trial, he did not give way, like Blanchet, to the fear of death, but
bewailed his faults. Family recollections were aroused in his heart,
the most sacred of bonds recovered their strength, and the image of his
father followed him night and day.

The bishop had got thus far in his prosecutions when he learnt that
Bonivard had just passed through Turin on his way to Rome. Delighted
at seeing the prior of St. Victor fall into his net, the prelate gave
orders to seize him on his return. Was it not Bonivard who had caused
him such alarm in the palace on the occasion of the metropolitan
summons? Was it not this man who had robbed him of Pécolat, and who
even aspired to sit some day on his episcopal throne?... It is the
nature of certain animals to carry their prey into their dens to devour
it. The bastard of Savoy had already dragged Navis and Blanchet into
his dungeons, and was preparing to mutilate their limbs; but it would
be much better still if he could catch and rend the hated Bonivard with
his claws.[153]

The latter so little suspected the impending danger, that he had
come into Italy to solicit the prelate’s inheritance. It was evident
that the sickly bastard had not long to live. ‘I will go to Rome,’
said Bonivard to his friends, ‘to obtain the bishop’s benefices by
means of a _cardination_’ (an intrigue of cardinals).[154] He desired
eagerly to be bishop and prince of Geneva; had he succeeded, his
liberal catholicism would perhaps have sufficed for the citizens, and
prevented the Reformation. Bonivard reached Rome without any obstacle
six years after Luther, and like the reformer was at once struck
by the corruption which prevailed there. ‘The Church,’ he said, ‘is
so full of bad humours, that it has become dropsical.’[155] It was
in the pontificate of Leo X.; all that priests, monks, bishops, and
cardinals thought about was being present at farces and comedies, and
of going masked to courtesans’ houses.[156] Bonivard saw all this with
his own eyes, and has left us some stories into which he has admitted
expressions we must soften, and details we must suppress. ‘Having
business one day with the concubinary of the pope’s cubicular (we leave
these unusual expressions, the meaning of which is not very edifying),
I had to go and find him at a courtesan’s.... She wore smart feathers,
waving over a fine gold coif, and a silk dress with slashed sleeves;
you would have taken her for a princess.’[157] Another day, while
walking in the city, he met one of these ‘misses,’ disguised as a man,
and riding on a Spanish jennet; on the crupper behind her was a _janin_
wrapped in a Spanish cape, which he drew carefully over his nose so
that he might not be recognised. ‘Who is he?’ asked Bonivard. ‘It is
Cardinal So-and-so with his favourite,’ was the reply. ‘We say in my
country,’ he rejoined, ‘that all the madmen are not at Rome; and yet I
see you have them in abundance.’[158]

The prior of St. Victor did not lose sight of the object of his
journey, and canvassed unceasingly; but began to despair of success.
‘Do you wish to know,’ he was asked, ‘what you must do to obtain a
request from the pope and cardinals? Tell them that you will kill any
man whom they have a grudge against; or that you are ready to serve
them in their pleasures, to bring them _la donna_, to gamble, play
the ruffian, and rake with them--in short, that you are a libertine.’
Bonivard was not strict; yet he was surprised that things had come to
such a pass in the capital of catholicism. His mind, eager to learn,
asked what were the causes of this decline.... He ascribed it to the
disappearance of christian individualism from the Church, so that a
personal conversion, a new creature, was required no longer. ‘That in
the first place,’ he said, ‘because when princes became christians,
their whole people was baptised with them. Discipline has been since
then like a spider’s web which catches the small flies, but cannot hold
the large ones. And next it comes from the example of the popes....
I have lived to see three pontiffs. First, Alexander VI., a _sharp
fellow_,[159] a ne’er-do-well, an Italianised Spaniard,--and what
was worst of all,--at Rome! a man without conscience, without God,
who cared for nothing, provided he accomplished his desires. Next
came Julius II., proud, choleric, studying his bottle more than his
breviary; mad about his popedom, and having no thought but how he could
subdue not only the earth, but heaven and hell.[160] Last appeared Leo
X., the present pope, learned in Greek and Latin, but especially a good
musician, a great glutton, a deep drinker; possessing beautiful pages
whom the Italians style _ragazzi_; always surrounded by musicians,
buffoons, play-actors, and other jesters; accordingly when he was
informed of any new business, he would say: _Di grazia, lasciatemi
godere queste papate in pace; Domine mio me la ha date. Andate da
Monsignor di Medici_.[161] ... Everything is for sale at the court: red
hats, mitres, judgeships, croziers, abbeys, provostries, canonries....
Above all do not trust to Leo the Tenth’s word; for he maintains that
since he dispenses others from their oaths, he can surely dispense

Bonivard, astonished at the horrible state into which popes and
cardinals, priests and monks, had sunk the Church, asked whence could
salvation come.... It was not six months since Prierias, master of
the sacred palace, had published a book entitled: _Dialogue against
the Presumptuous Propositions of Martin Luther_.[163] ‘Leo X. and
his predecessors,’ said Bonivard, ‘have always taken the Germans for
beasts: _pecora campi_, they were called, and rightly too, for these
simple Saxons allowed themselves to be saddled and ridden like asses.
The popes threatened them with cudgelling (excommunication), enticed
them with thistles (indulgences), and so made them trot to the mill to
bring away the meal for them. But having one day loaded the ass too
heavily, Leo made him jib, so that the flour was spilt and the white
bread lost. That ass (he added) is called _Martin_, like all asses, and
his surname is _Luther_, which signifies _enlightener_.’[164]

They found at Rome that Bonivard had not the complaisance necessary
for a Roman bishop; and the prior, seeing that he had no chance
of success, shook the dust off his feet against the metropolis of
catholicism, and departed for Turin. His journey had not, however,
been useless: he had learnt a lesson which he never forgot, and
which he told all his life through to any one that would listen to
him. When he reached Turin, he went to visit his old friends of the
university, but they cried out with alarm: ‘Navis and Blanchet are
within a hair’s-breadth of death, and it has been decided to arrest
you. Fly without losing a moment.’ Bonivard remained. Ought he to leave
in the talons of the vulture those two young men with whom he had so
often laughed at the noisy banquets of ‘the children of Geneva?’ He
resolved to do what he could to interest his friends in their fate.
For a whole week he went from house to house, and walked through the
streets without any disguise. Nothing seemed easier than to lay hands
on him, and the ducal police would have attempted it, but he was
never alone. The scholars, charmed with his spirit and independence,
accompanied him everywhere, and these thoughtless headstrong youths
would have defended him at the cost of their blood. Bonivard, wishing
to employ every means, wrote by some secret channel to Blanchet and
Navis; the gaoler intercepted the letter, and took it to the bishop,
who, fancying he saw in it a conspiracy hatching against him, even in
Turin, pressed the condemnation of the prisoners, and ordered Bonivard
to be seized immediately. Informed of what awaited him, the intelligent
prior displayed great tranquillity. ‘I shall stay a month longer at
Turin,’ he told everybody, ‘to enjoy myself with my old friends.’ Many
invitations being given him, he accepted them all; but the next day,
before it was light, he took horse and galloped off for Geneva.[165]



(OCTOBER 1518.)

The bastard was staggered when he was informed that Bonivard had
escaped. He consoled himself, however, with the thought that he had
at hand the means of gratifying his tastes and his revenge, and
concentrated all his attention on Navis and Blanchet. What should he
do with these two young men who had so thoughtlessly fallen into his
net? How, in striking them, could he best strike the independent men
of Geneva? For he was not thinking merely of getting rid of these
two adventurers, but of filling all the city with terror by means of
their death. To no purpose was he reminded that the father of one of
the prisoners was the most zealous of his officers; the bastard cared
little for a father’s grief, and thought that Peter Navis would serve
him still better, when he had given him a striking example of the
manner in which he desired to be served. He pressed the court to hasten
on the trial. Ancina, judge in criminal matters; Caracci, seignior
of Farges, and attorney-general of Savoy; and Licia, his deputy,
constituted by ducal letters judges of Navis and Blanchet, declared
them solemnly convicted, first, of having been present at the meeting
at the Molard, and of having promised, they and their accomplices, to
be ‘unanimous against the bishop’s officers, to rescue out of their
hands any of their number whom these episcopal agents might take into
custody; second, of having proposed, in case the duke should take part
against them, to flee and place themselves under a foreign government
(Switzerland), abandoning thus the sovereignty of Savoy and the
splendour of the white cross.’ The two prisoners were condemned to be
beheaded, and then quartered, according to the bishop’s desire. They
prepared for execution immediately.[166]

Navis breathed not a murmur; the feeling of his disobedience to his
father closed his lips; it appears also that Blanchet recovered from
his terror, dried his tears, and acknowledged his folly. Nothing
indicates that the repentance of these two Genevan youths was truly
christian; but it would be unjust to overlook their noble confession
at the hour of death. The provost and his men, having received them
from the hands of the magistrates, led them to the place of execution.
Their appearance was becoming, and their look serious; they walked
between their guards, calm, but without weakness or alarm. When they
had mounted the scaffold, Navis spoke: ‘Wishing before all things to
make amends for the evil we have done, we retract all that we have
said touching certain of our countrymen, and declare that such avowals
were extorted from us by the fear of torture. After proclaiming the
innocence of others, we acknowledge ourselves guilty. Yes, we have
lived in such a way that we justly deserve death, and we pray God, in
this our last hour, to pardon our sins. Yet understand, that these sins
are not those of which we are accused; we have done nothing contrary to
the franchises and laws of Geneva: of that we are clean.... The sins
which condemn us are our debaucheries.’ Navis would have continued, but
the provost, vexed at what he had said already, ordered the executioner
to do his duty. The man set to work instantly: the two young men knelt
down, he raised his sword, and ‘thus they were beheaded, and then

At last the bishop saw his desires satisfied; he had in his possession
the heads and the quarters of two of the ‘children of Geneva.’ This
little man, so frail, livid, hideous, reduced almost to a shadow,
without genius and without will, had nevertheless the will and the
genius of evil. Notwithstanding his protest against _the mutilation of
limbs_, he decided that three of the quarters of the two bodies should
be exposed over the gates of Turin, and reserved for his own share a
quarter of Navis and of Blanchet, with the two heads. He had the flesh
pickled, for he intended to keep them as long as possible; and when
this savage operation, worthy of the Mohawks, was completed, he placed
the heads and limbs in two barrels on which were marked the arms of
the count, the duke’s brother. The bishop wished to show his flock a
sample of his cleverness; and as the execution did not take place at
Geneva, he intended at least to send the limbs of the victims ‘to stir
up and terrify the scoundrels.’ The bearers of these two pickle-tubs
started from Turin, crossed Mont Cenis, arrived in the basin of the
Leman on Saturday, October 2, 1518, and lodged on ‘the other side of
the Arve.’[168]

On the bank of this river, which then separated the ducal states from
those of Geneva, at the foot of the bridge on the Savoy side, stood a
fine walnut-tree, whose leafy branches spread opposite the church of
Our Lady of Grace on the Genevan side. The bishop’s agents, who had
received orders to make an exhibition of the mutilated limbs for the
benefit of the Genevans, proceeded to the bridge on Saturday night in
order to discharge their disgraceful commission under cover of the
darkness. They carried with them, in addition to their casks filled
with flesh, brine, and blood, a ladder, a hammer, some nails and cord.
On reaching the tree, they opened the barrels and found the features
well preserved and easily recognisable. The bastard’s agents climbed
the tree, and nailed the heads and arms to the branches in such a
manner as to be seen by all the passers-by. They fixed a placard
underneath, bearing these words: ‘These are the traitors of Geneva;’
and the white cross of Savoy above. They then withdrew, leaving the
empty casks at the foot of the tree. ‘It was done by order of your
bishop,’ said the duke in a letter written three days later (October 5)
to his very dear, beloved, and trusty citizens of Geneva, ‘your bishop,
whom we have in this supported and favoured, which ought to be to your

The day broke, the people arose, opened their windows, and went out of
their houses; some were going to the city. One man was about to cross
the bridge, when, fancying he saw something strange, he drew near, and
discovered with astonishment human limbs hanging from the tree. He
shuddered, supposing that this had been done by some murderers in mere
bravado; and, wishing to make the extraordinary occurrence known, he
quickened his steps. ‘The first who saw this mystery did not keep it
secret, but ran and told the news all through the city. “What’s the
matter?” people asked ... and then everybody hurried thither,’ adds
the chronicler. In truth, an immense crowd of citizens--men, women,
and children--soon gathered round the tree. It was Sunday, a day which
the bastard had probably selected for this edifying sight; every one
was free from his ordinary occupations, and during all that holy day
an agitated multitude pressed continually around the tree where the
blood-stained remains of the two victims were hanging. They looked
closely at them and examined the features: ‘It is Navis,’ they said;
‘it is Blanchet.’ ... ‘Ah!’ exclaimed a huguenot, ‘it is not difficult
to penetrate the mystery. It is one of my lord bishop’s messages
come to us by the Turin post!’ Bonivard, who had returned to Geneva,
thought himself fortunate that the swiftness of his horse had carried
him beyond the prelate’s reach, and rejoiced that his head was not
between those of Blanchet and Navis; but he was at the same time filled
with indignation and anger against the monster who had so treated his
two young friends. The Genevan youth indulged in bitter irony. ‘A fine
maypole they have raised us this morning on the city boundary!’ they
said; ‘they have put up a flag already; it only wants a few ribands
and flowers to make the show complete!’ But the sight of these bloody
fragments, swinging in the air, was no fit subject for jesting; there
was great mourning in the city; groans and weeping were heard in the
crowd; women gave vent to their horror, and men to their indignation.

Navis’s father, a man detested by the Genevans, was not the last to
be informed; some people ran to tell him of the tragic event that was
stirring up the whole city. ‘Come,’ said they, ‘come and see the reward
the bishop sends you for your faithful services. You are well paid;
the tyrants recompense you right royally for the disfavour you have
won from all of us; they have sent from Turin, as your pay, the head
of your son.’ ... Peter Navis might be an unjust judge, but he was a
father: at first he was overwhelmed. Andrew had been disobedient, but
the ingratitude of the child had not been able to extinguish the love
of the parent. The unhappy man, divided between affection for his son
and respect for his prince, shed tears and endeavoured to hide them.
Prostrated by grief and shame, pale and trembling, he bent his head in
sullen silence. It was not the same with the mother, who gave way to
the most violent affection and most extravagant despair. The grief of
Navis’s parents, which was expressed in such different ways, struck
all the spectators. Bonivard, who at this tragic moment mingled in
the agitated groups of the citizens, was heart-stricken by all he saw
and heard, and on returning to his priory exclaimed: ‘What horror and
indignation such a spectacle excites! even strangers, whom it does not
affect, are disgusted at it.... What will the poor citizens do now? the
poor relations and friends? their father and mother?’ ...

The Genevans did not confine themselves to useless lamentations; they
did not turn their eyes to the blow they had just received, they looked
to the hand that struck it; it was the hand of their bishop. Everybody
knew the failings of Navis and Blanchet, but at this moment no one
spoke of them; they could only see two young and unhappy martyrs of
liberty. The anger of the people rose impetuously, and poured itself
out on the prelate more than on the duke. ‘The bishop,’ they said,
‘is a wolf under a shepherd’s cloak. Would you know how he feeds his
lambs, go to the bridge of Arve!’ Their leaders thought the same:
they said, it was not enough for the prince-bishop to plunge families
and a whole city into mourning, but his imagination coldly calculated
the means of increasing their sorrow. These suspended heads and arms
were a notable instance of that cruel faculty of invention which has
always distinguished tyrants. To torture in Piedmont the bodies of
their young friends did not satisfy the prelate, but he must torture
all hearts in Geneva. What is the spirit that animates him? What
are the secret motives of these horrible executions?... Despotism,
self-interest, fanaticism, hatred, revenge, cruelty, ambition, folly,
madness.... It was indeed all these together. Think not that he will
stop in the midst of his success: these are only the first-fruits of
his tenderness. To draw up proscription lists, to butcher the friends
of liberty, to expose their dead bodies, to kill Geneva,--in one word,
to take pattern by Sylla in everything,[170]--such will henceforward be
the _cure of souls_ of this son of the pope.

The resistance of the citizens to the encroachments of the prelate
assumed from that hour a character that must necessarily lead to the
abolition of the Roman episcopacy in Geneva. There is a retributive
justice from which princes cannot escape, and it is often the innocent
successors who are hurled from their thrones by the crimes of their
guilty predecessors; of this we have seen numerous examples during the
past half-century. The penalty which has not fallen on the individual
falls on the family or the institution; but the penalty which strikes
the institution is the more terrible and instructive. The mangled
limbs hanging on the banks of the Arve left an indelible impression
on the minds of the Genevan people. If a mameluke and a huguenot
happened to pass the bridge together, the first, pointing to the
walnut-tree, would say to the second with a smile: ‘Do you recognise
Navis and Blanchet?’--the huguenot would coldly reply: ‘I recognise my
bishop.’[171] The institution of a bishop-prince, an imitation of that
of a bishop-king, became every day more hateful to the Genevans. Its
end was inevitable--its end at Geneva: hereafter the judgments of God
will overtake it in other places also.

The agitation was not confined to the people: the syndics had summoned
the council. ‘This morning,’ they said, ‘before daybreak, two heads and
two arms were fastened to a tree opposite the church of Our Lady of
Grace. We know not by whose order.’[172] Everybody guessed whose heads
they were and by whose order they had been exposed; but the explosion
was not so great in the council as in the crowd. They must have
understood that this cruel act betokened sinister designs; they heard
the thunder-clap that precedes the storm: yet each man drew a different
conclusion. Certain canons, monks, and other agents of the Roman
Church, accomplices of the tyrant, called for absolute submission.
Certain nobles thought that if they were freed from the civic councils,
they could display their aristocratic pretensions more at their ease.
Certain traders, Savoyards by birth, who loved better ‘large gains in
slavery than small gains in liberty,’ amused themselves by thinking
that if the duke became master of the city, he would reside there with
his court, and they would get a higher price for their goods. But the
true Genevans joyfully consented that their country should be small
and poor, provided it were the focus of light and liberty. As for
the huguenots, the two heads were the signal of resistance. ‘With an
adversary that keeps any measure,’ they said, ‘we may relax a little
of our rights; but there are no considerations to be observed with an
enemy who proceeds by murder.... Let us throw ourselves into the arms
of the Swiss.’

The bishop’s crime thus became one of the stages on the road to
liberty. No doubt the victims were culpable, but the murderers were
still more so. All that was noble in Geneva sighed for independence.
The mameluke magistrates strove in vain to excuse an act which injured
their cause; they were answered rudely; contrary opinions were bandied
to and fro in the council, and ‘there was a great disturbance.’ At last
they resolved to send an ambassador to the princes to inquire whether
this barbarous act had been perpetrated by their orders, and in that
case to make remonstrances. This resolution was very displeasing to the
mamelukes, who endeavoured to soften the harsh message by intrusting
it to pleasing messengers. ‘To obtain what you desire from princes,
you must send them people who are agreeable to them,’ said the first
syndic. The assembly accordingly named the vidame Aymon Conseil, an
unblushing agent of Savoy; the ex-syndic Nergaz, a bad man and personal
enemy of Berthelier; and Déléamont, governor of Peney, against whom the
huguenots had more than once drawn the sword. The duke, being at that
time in his Savoy provinces, received the deputation coldly at a public
audience, but made much of them in private. The ambassadors returned
in three days with an unmeaning answer.[173]

The bishop was at Pignerol, where he had presided over the terrible
butchery. The council were content to write to him, considering the
distance; and as he was still proud of his exploit, he replied by
extolling the mildness of his government: ‘You have never had prince
or prelate with such good intentions as myself,’ he wrote from Turin
on the 15th of October; ‘the execution done the other side the bridge
of Arve is to give those a lesson who desire to lead evil lives.’
Accordingly the bastard exhorted the Genevans to show themselves
sensible of his kindness by returning him a double share of love. These
executions, far from causing him any remorse, gave him a longing for
more; he invited the Genevans to acknowledge his tender favours by
granting him the head of Berthelier and a few others besides. Making
confession to the council of his most secret anguish, he expressed
a fear that if these heads did not fall before his return, it would
prevent his enjoying the pleasures of the table. ‘Discharge your duty,’
said he, ‘so that when I am with you, there may be nothing to do but
to make _good cheer_.’ To live merrily and to put his most illustrious
subjects to death were the two chief points of his episcopal cure of
souls. To be more sure of obtaining these heads, he threatened Geneva
with his vengeance: ‘If you should refuse,’ said he in conclusion,
‘understand clearly that I shall pray my lord (the duke) and his
brother (the count) to preserve my good rights; and I have confidence
in them, that they will not let me be trampled upon; besides this, I
will risk my life and my goods.’ This mild pastoral was signed: THE
BISHOP of Geneva.[174]

Thus everybody was leaguing against Geneva. Would it be crushed?
Was there in this small republic strength enough to resist the
twofold lay and clerical opposition, which had crushed so many free
cities in the dark ages? There were influences at work, as we have
seen, in the formation of modern liberties, and we find in Geneva
the representatives of the three great schools in which Europe has
learnt the principles of government. The characteristic of the German
liberties was an energetic love of independence; now Berthelier
and many of his friends were true Germans in this respect. The
characteristic of the Roman liberties was legality; we find this
strongly marked in Lévrier and other eminent men. The third element
of the independence of this people was to be that christian principle
which, subjecting the conscience to God, and thus giving man a firmness
more than human, makes him tread in the path of liberty and walk along
precipices without his head turning or his feet stumbling. Yet a few
years more, and a great number of Genevans will find this latter
element in the Gospel. To this Geneva owes principally the maintenance
of her existence.

After the murder of Blanchet and Navis, the passion of independence
became dominant. ‘From that time,’ said a magistrate of the seventeenth
century, ‘the duke and bishop were looked upon in Geneva as two tyrants
who sought only the desolation of the city.’[175]




The moment had come when men of decision were about to apply themselves
to the work. The patriots learnt that the encroaching designs of Savoy
were irrevocable, and that it was consequently necessary to oppose them
with an energetic and unbending resistance. Berthelier, ‘the great
despiser of death,’ smiled coldly at the bishop’s threats; magnanimous,
firm, and resolute, he fancied he saw the happy moment approaching
when his fondest dream would be realised--the giving his life to save
Geneva. If he wished to escape from the cruelties of the princes which
threatened him on every side, he must sink himself, retire, give up
his noblest plans: he shrank with horror from the thought. To resist
the conspiracy directed against the liberties of Geneva was his duty;
if he neglected to discharge it, he would degrade himself in his own
eyes, he would expose himself to remorse; while if he accomplished this
task, he would feel himself in his proper place; it seemed to him that
he would become better and more acceptable to God. But it was not only
imperious, invincible duty which impelled him: it was passion, the
noblest of passions; nothing could calm the tempests struggling in
his bosom. He therefore threw himself energetically into the midst of
dangers. In vain did Bonivard show symptoms of discouragement, and say
to his generous friend in their meetings at St. Victor: ‘You see the
pensions and threats of the prince are inducing many reputed sensible
men to _draw in their horns_.’ Bonivard could not check Berthelier’s
decision. Caring for nothing, not even for his life, provided he saved
the liberties of Geneva, the intrepid citizen went through the city,
visiting from house to house, remonstrating with the citizens ‘one by
one;’ exhorting them in private.[176]

His exhortations were not unavailing: a strong fermentation began to
stir men’s minds. They called to remembrance how these Swiss, from whom
they expected deliverance, had conquered their liberty. A hat set up in
Altorf on the top of a pole; an apple placed by a cruel order on the
head of a child: were, according to the old traditions of that people,
the signal of their independence. Was the bastard less tyrannous than
Gessler? Those two heads, those two arms,--were they not a still more
frightful signal? The remains of Navis and of Blanchet were long left
exposed: in vain did the unhappy father, judge Navis, address frequent
and earnest appeals to the bishop to have them removed; the prelate
took delight in this demonstration of his power.[177] It was a strange
blindness on his part. Those dead limbs, those closed eyes, those
blood-stained lips preached to the citizens that it was time to defend
their ancient liberties.... The great agitator took advantage of the
bastard’s cruelty, and employing the energetic language of the times,
he said: ‘The same pin hangs on the cloak of every one of us. We must
resist. Let us unite, let us give our hand to the League, and fear
nothing, for nobody dares touch their allies ... any more than St.
Anthony’s fire.[178] ... Let us help ourselves, and God will help us.’

The young, the poor, all generous hearts listened to Berthelier’s
words; ‘but the great and the rich,’ says Bonivard, ‘were afraid on
account of their riches which they preferred to their life.’[179] These
great and rich folk, Montyon and the ducal faction, seeing the dangers
that threatened the princes of Savoy in Geneva, resolved to send a
second embassy with orders to go this time even to Turin and Pignerol.
The same three mamelukes were intrusted with the mission. The patriots
were indignant: ‘What!’ they said, ‘you want to save the sheep, and yet
select wolves to do it?’--‘Do you not understand,’ replied Montyon,
‘that if you wish to _tame_ princes, you must take care not to send men
who are disagreeable to them?’ The deputation arrived at Turin, where
the duke then was. They demanded an audience to present their homage
to his Highness, and as their sentiments were known, their prayer was
easily granted. They timidly stated their grievances. ‘It was not I
who did it,’ said Charles; ‘it was my lord of Geneva; go to the bishop
at Pignerol.’ The deputation proceeded to this town, situated in the
neighbourhood of the schismatic Waldenses, whom the prelate hated as
much at least as he did the Genevans. Having obtained an audience,
they repeated the lesson they had been taught: ‘The city is much
astonished that you have put two of our citizens to death and sent
their quarters to the frontiers of Geneva. If any private individuals
had offended against you, say our citizens, you had only to accuse
them, they would have been punished at Geneva.’[180]--‘It was not I who
did that,’ said the bishop, ‘it was my lord the duke.’ The mameluke
deputies were strongly inclined to admit one half of the assertion of
the two princes, and to believe that probably the murder came neither
from John nor Charles. The official mission being ended, the prelate,
who knew well with whom he had to deal, gave directions for the
ambassadors to be entertained. The latter desired nothing better. The
bishop ‘accordingly entertained them,’ say the chronicles, ‘treated,
feasted, and made merry with them.’ Pleasure parties followed each
other rapidly, and the three mamelukes, forgetting their diplomatic
business, found the wines of Italy excellent, and the bastard and his
court quite captivating.[181]

All good cheer however comes to an end: the politicians of the court
of Turin wished to profit by the embassy, and, although it had been
directed against the usurpations of the princes of Savoy, to turn it
skilfully against the liberties of the people of Geneva. This was not
difficult, for their representatives were betraying them. The three
ambassadors, the bishop, his officers, and the ducal councillors
deliberated on the answer to be sent to the council of Geneva. The
princes, trusting in their pensioners, despised the liberal party;
but the three envoys, the vidame, Nergaz, and Déléamont, who had seen
the danger closely, far from doing the same, were alarmed at this
carelessness. ‘There are loyal subjects in Geneva,’ they said; ‘but
there are also rascals, rebels and plotters who, in order to escape the
punishment of their misdeeds, urge the people to contract an alliance
with Friburg. The evil is greater than you imagine; the Helvetic
republics will establish their accursed popular government in Geneva.
You must therefore punish very sharply the advisers of such matters,
and crush the rebels.’[182] The two cousins desired nothing better.
Charles had no wish to see liberal principles come nearer to Savoy and
perhaps to Turin; but he preferred making only a verbal answer to the
council. The deputies, alarmed at the responsibility thus laid upon
them, insisted on a written answer, and a letter was accordingly drawn
up. In it the duke and the bishop informed the council ‘that they
would hold them loyal subjects if they would assist in _unhesitatingly
putting to death Berthelier and ten or twelve others_,’ whom they
named. ‘We hand you this letter,’ said the duke and the bishop to the
deputies; ‘but you will not deliver it to the syndics and council
of Geneva unless they promise on their oaths (before reading it) to
execute without delay the orders it contains.’ Never had monarch put
forward such enormous pretensions. God first disorders in mind those
whom He intends to ruin. The servile ambassadors took care to make
no objections, and delighted with the success of their embassy and
particularly with the brilliant fêtes of the court of Turin, they
departed with the strange instructions which the two princes had given

While the mamelukes and Savoyards were conspiring at Turin and Pignerol
against the liberties of the city, Berthelier and his friends were
thinking how to preserve them. The iniquity of the duke and the bishop
showed them more and more every day the necessity of independence.
They resolved to take a decisive step. Berthelier, Bernard, Bonivard,
Lévrier, Vandel, De la Mare, Besançon Hugues, and some others met in
consultation. ‘Hitherto,’ said Berthelier, ‘it is only in parlours
and closets that we have advised an alliance with the Swiss; we must
now proclaim it on the house-tops; simple conversations are no longer
enough: it is time to come to a common decision. But alas! where, when,
and how?... The princes of Savoy have accustomed us to assemble only
for our pleasures. Who ever thinks in our meetings of the safety of the
city?’ Bonivard then began to speak: ‘The house of M. de Gingins and
mine at St. Victor have often seen us assembled in small numbers for
familiar conversation. We now require larger rooms and more numerous
meetings. This is my proposition. Let us employ to do good the same
means as we have hitherto used to do evil. Let us take advantage of
the meetings where until now nothing was thought of but pleasure,
to deliberate henceforth on the maintenance of our liberties.’ This
proposition met with a favourable reception.

Since the murder of Blanchet and Navis, it had become more difficult
to hold these huguenot meetings. The threats of Savoy were such that
men were afraid of everything that might give an excuse for violent
measures. ‘There was in former times at Geneva,’ observed one of the
company, ‘a brotherhood of St. George which is now degenerated but not
destroyed; let us revive it and make use of it; let us employ it to
save the franchises threatened by the Savoy princes.’[184]

Berthelier set to work as soon as the meeting broke up. When he desired
to assemble his friends, he used to pass whistling under their windows.
He began to saunter through the streets with a look of unconcern, but
with his eyes on the watch, and gave a whistle whenever he passed the
house of a devoted citizen. The huguenots listened, recognised the
signal of their chief, came out, and went up to him: a meeting was
appointed for a certain day and hour.

The day arrived. ‘We were about sixty,’ said Bonivard. It was not a
large number, but they were all men of spirit and enterprise. It was
no meeting of conspirators: the worthiest members of the republic had
assembled, who had no intention to go beyond the rights which the
constitution gave them. In fact Berthelier and Besançon Hugues proposed
simply an alliance with the Swiss. ‘This thought is not a fancy sprung
from an empty brain,’ they said; ‘the princes of Savoy force us to it.
By taking away our fairs, by trampling the laws under foot, by breaking
off our relations with other countries, they compel us to unite with
the Swiss.’ When they found Savoy violently breaking the branches of
the tree, and even trying to uproot it, these patriots were determined
to graft it on the old and more vigorous stock of Helvetic liberty.[185]

The rumour of this decision, which they tried however to keep secret,
reached Turin. Nothing in the world could cause more anger and alarm
to the bishop and the duke. They answered immediately, on the 13th
of October, by sending an order to bring Berthelier to trial in the
following month before the episcopal commissioners; this was delivering
him to death. Councillor Marti of Friburg, a blunt man, but also
intelligent, warm, devoted and ready, being informed of what was going
on, hastened to Geneva. The most sacred friendship had been formed
between him and Berthelier when, seated at the same hearth, they
had conversed together about Geneva and liberty. The thought that a
violent death might suddenly carry off a man so dear, disturbed Marti
seriously. He proceeded to the hôtel-de-ville, where the Council of
Fifty had met, and showed at once how full he was of tenderness for
Berthelier, and of anger for his enemies. ‘Sirs,’ he said bluntly,
‘this is the fifth time I have come here about the same business: I
beg that it may be the last. Protect Berthelier as the liberties of
your city require, or beware! Friburg has always desired your good;
do not oblige us to change our opinion.... Do not halt between two
sides: decide for one or the other. The duke and the bishop say one
thing, and they always do another: they think only of destroying your
liberties, and Friburg of defending them.’ The council, who found it
more convenient to give the right hand to one and the left to another,
to keep on good terms with Friburg and the bishop, thought this speech
a little rude. They thanked Marti all the same, but added that, before
giving a decisive answer, they must wait the return of the deputies
sent to the bishop and the duke. ‘Nevertheless,’ added the syndics, ‘as
regards Berthelier we will maintain the liberties of the city.’[186]

The deputies whom they expected from Turin--Nergaz, Déléamont, and the
vidame--soon arrived. When they returned to the free city, they were
still dazzled by the pomp of the Piedmontese court, and filled with the
ideas which the partisans of absolute power had instilled into them.
‘Everything is in the prince,’ they had said, ‘and the people ought
to have no other will but his.’ Thinking only of claiming absolute
authority for the bishop, they appeared on the 29th of November before
the Council of State, and said in an imperative tone: ‘We have orders
from my lord bishop not to discharge our mission until you have added
to your number twenty of the most eminent citizens.’ In this way
the princes of Savoy wished to make sure of a majority. The council
assented to this demand. ‘We require them,’ added Syndic Nergaz, ‘to
make oath in our presence that they will reveal nothing they may
hear.’--‘What means all this mystery?’ the councillors asked each
other; but the oath was taken. The ambassadors then advanced another
step: ‘Here is the letter in which my lord makes known his sovereign
will; but before it is opened, you must all swear to execute the orders
it contains.’ This strange demand was received in sullen silence; such
open despotism astonished not only the friends of liberty but even the
mamelukes. ‘Hand us the letter addressed to us, that we may read it,’
said Besançon Hugues and other independent members of the council.
‘No,’ replied Nergaz, ‘the oath first, and then the letter.’ Some
partisans of Savoy had the impudence to second this demand; but ‘the
friends of independence’ resisted firmly, and the meeting broke up.
‘There must be some secret in that letter dangerous to the people,’
they said. It was resolved to convene the general council in order that
the ambassadors might deliver their message in person. This appeal
to the people was very disagreeable to the three deputies; yet they
encouraged one another to carry out their mission to the end.[187]

On Sunday, December 5, the sound of a trumpet was heard, the great
bell of the cathedral tolled, the citizens put on their swords, and
the large hall of Rive was ‘quite filled with people.’ The deputies
were desired to ‘deliver their message.’--‘Our message is found in the
letter,’ said Nergaz, ‘and our only instructions are that before the
council of Geneva open it, they shall swear to carry out its orders.’
These words caused an immense agitation among the people. ‘We have so
good a leader,’ said they with irony, ‘that we ought to follow him
with our eyes shut and not fear to fall into the ditch with him! How
can we doubt that the secret contained in this mysterious paper is a
secret of justice and love?... If there are any sceptics among us, let
them go to the walnut-tree at the bridge of Arve, where the limbs of
our friends are still hanging.’--‘Gentlemen,’ said the more serious
men, ‘we return you the letter unopened, and beg you will send it back
to those who gave it you.’ Then Nergaz, feeling annoyed, exclaimed
bitterly: ‘I warn you that my lord of Savoy has many troops in the
field, and that if you do not execute the orders contained in this
letter, no citizen of Geneva will be safe in his states. I heard him
say so.’ The people on hearing this were much exasperated. ‘Indeed!’
they exclaimed, ‘if we do not swear beforehand to do a thing without
knowing it, all who possess lands in Savoy or who travel there, will
be treated like Navis and Blanchet.’ ... Thereupon several citizens
turned to the three deputies and said: ‘Have you remained five or six
weeks over the mountains, feasting, amusing yourselves, exulting, and
living merrily, in order to bring us such despatches? To the Rhone
with the traitors! to the Rhone! The three mamelukes trembled before
the anger of the people. Were they really to be flung into the river
to be cleansed from the impurities they had contracted in the fêtes at
Turin?... Lévrier, Besançon Hugues, and other men of condition quieted
the citizens, and the servile deputies got off with their fright. Calm
being restored, the councillors returned the prince’s letter to Nergaz
and his colleagues, saying: ‘We will not open it.’ They feared the
influence of the creatures of Savoy, of whom there were many in the
Great Council. We give this name to the body established in 1457, which
consisted at first of only fifty persons, and which being frequently
increased became somewhat later the Council of Two Hundred. The people
withdrew from this assembly a privilege they had given it in 1502, and
decreed that the general council alone should henceforward decide on
all that concerned the liberties of Geneva.[188]




The cruel butchery of Navis and Blanchet, and the insolent sealed
letter, were acts ruinous to those who had committed them. If the
bishop had possessed only the spiritual power, he would not have been
dragged into such measures; but by wishing to unite earthly dominion
with religious direction, he lost both: a just punishment of those
who forget the words of Christ: ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’
The bishop had torn the contract that bound him to the free citizens
of the ancient city. The struggle was growing fiercer every day, and
would infallibly end in the fall of the Roman episcopate in Geneva.
It was not the Reformation that was to overthrow the representative
of the pope: it was the breath of liberty and legality that was to
uproot that barren tree, and the reformers were to come afterwards to
cultivate the soil and scatter abroad the seeds of life. Two parties,
both strangers to the Gospel, stood then face to face. On the one
side were the bishop, the vicar and procurator-fiscal, the canons,
priests, monks, and all the agents of the popedom; on the other were
the friends of light, the friends of liberty, the partisans of law,
the representatives of the people. The battle was between clerical and
secular society. These struggles were not new; but while in the middle
ages clerical society had always gained the victory, at Geneva, on the
contrary, in the sixteenth century the series of its defeats was to
begin. It is easy to explain this phenomenon. Ecclesiastical society
had long been the most advanced as well as the strongest; but in the
sixteenth century secular society appeared in all the vigour of youth,
and was soon to gain the victories of a maturer age. It was all over
with the clerical power: the weapons it employed at Geneva (the letter
and the walnut-tree) indicated a thorough decline of human dignity. Out
of date, fallen into childishness, and decrepid, it could no longer
contend against the lay body. If the duel took place on open ground,
without secret understandings, without trickery, the dishonoured
clerical authority must necessarily fall. The Epicurean hog (if we may
be permitted to use an ancient phrase), at once filthy and cruel, who
from his episcopal throne trampled brutally under foot the holiest
rights, was unconsciously preparing in Geneva the glorious advent of
the Reformation.

The meeting of the 5th of December was no sooner dissolved than the
citizens dispersed through the town. The insolent request of the
princes and the refusal of the people were the subject of every
conversation: nothing else was talked of ‘in public or in private, at
feast or funeral.’ The letter which demanded on behalf of Geneva an
alliance with Friburg was not sealed like the bishop’s; it was openly
displayed in the streets, and carried from house to house; a large
number of citizens hastened to subscribe their names: there were three
hundred signatures. It was necessary to carry this petition to Friburg;
Berthelier, who was still under trial, could not leave the city;
besides, it would be better to have a new man, more calm perhaps, and
more diplomatic. They cast their eyes on the syndic Besançon Hugues,
who in character held a certain mean between Berthelier the man of
action, and Lévrier the man of law. ‘No one can be more welcome among
the confederates than you,’ they said; ‘Conrad Hugues, your father,
fought at Morat in the ranks of Zurich.’--‘I will go,’ he replied,
‘but as a mere citizen.’ They wished to give him a colleague of a
more genial nature, and chose De la Mare. He had resided for some
time on a property his wife possessed in Savoy; but the gentry of the
neighbourhood ‘playing him many tricks,’ because he was a Genevan,
he had returned to the city burning with hatred against the Savoyard

The two deputies met with a warm reception and great honour at Friburg.
The pensioners of Savoy opposed their demand in vain; the three hundred
Genevans who had signed the petition received the freedom of the city,
with an offer to make the alliance general if the community desired
it. On Tuesday, December 21, the two deputies returned to Geneva,
and on the following Thursday the proposal of alliance was brought
before the people in general council. It was to be a great day; and
accordingly the two parties went to the council determined, each of
them, to make a last effort. The partisans of absolutism and those of
the civic liberties, the citizens attached to Rome and those who were
inclined to throw off their chains, the old times and the new, met face
to face. At first there were several eloquent speeches on both sides:
‘We will not permit law and liberty to be driven out of Geneva,’ said
the citizens, ‘in order that arbitrary rule may be set up in their
place. God himself is the guarantee of our franchises.’ They soon came
to warmer language, and at last grew so excited that deliberation was
impossible. The deputy from Friburg, who had returned with Hugues
and De la Mare, strove in vain to calm their minds; the council was
compelled to separate without coming to any decision. Switzerland had
offered her alliance, and Geneva had not accepted it.[189]

The friends of independence were uneasy; most of them were deficient in
information and in arguments; they supplied the want by the instinct
of liberty, boldness, and enthusiasm; but these are qualities that
sometimes fail and fade away. Many of them accordingly feared that
the liberties of Geneva would be finally sacrificed to the bishop’s
good pleasure. The more enlightened thought, on the contrary, that the
rights of the citizens would remain secure; that neither privilege,
stratagem, nor violence would overthrow them; but that the struggle
might perhaps be long, and if, according to the proverb, Rome was
not built in a day, so it could not be thrown down in a day. These
notable men, whose motto was ‘Time brings everything,’ called upon the
people to be patient. This was not what the ardent Berthelier wanted.
He desired to act immediately, and seeing that the best-informed
men hesitated, he said: ‘When the wise will not, we make use of
fools.’ He had again recourse to the young Genevans, with whom he had
long associated, with a view of winning them over to his patriotic
plans. He was not alone. Another citizen now comes upon the scene, a
member of one of the most influential families in the city, by name
Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve, a man of noble and exalted character,
bold, welcome everywhere, braving without measure all the traditions
of old times, often turbulent, and the person who, more perhaps than
any other, served to clear in Geneva the way by which the Reformation
was to enter. These two patriots and some of their friends endeavoured
to revive in the people the remembrance of their ancient rights. At
the banquets where the young men of Geneva assembled, epigrams were
launched against the ducal party, civic and Helvetic songs were sung,
and among others one composed by Berthelier, the unpoetical but very
patriotic burden of which was:

    Vivent sur tous, Messieurs les alliés!

Every day this chorus was heard with fresh enthusiasm. The wind blew
in the direction of independence, and the popular waves continued
rising. ‘Most of the city are joining our brotherhood,’ said Bonivard;
‘decidedly the townsfolk are the strongest.’ The Christmas holidays
favoured the exultation of the citizens. The most hot-headed of the
Genevan youths paraded the streets; at night they kindled bonfires in
the squares (which they called _ardre des failles_), and the boys,
making torches of twisted straw, ran up and down the city, shouting:
‘Hurrah for the League! the huguenots for ever!’ Armed men kept watch
throughout the city, and as they passed the houses of the mamelukes,
they launched their gibes at them. ‘They were very merry,’ said
Bonivard, ‘and made more noise than was necessary.’ The two parties
became more distinct every day, the huguenots wearing a cross on their
doublets and a feather in their caps, like the Swiss; the mamelukes
carrying a sprig of holly on their head. ‘Whoever touches me will be
pricked,’ said they, insolently pointing to it. Quarrels were frequent.
When a band of the friends of Savoy happened to meet a number of
the friends of the League, the former would cry out: ‘Huguenots!’
and the latter would reply: ‘We hold that title in honour, for it
was taken by the first Swiss when they bound themselves by an oath
against the tyranny of their oppressors!... But you mamelukes have
always been slaves!’--‘Beware,’ said the vidame, ‘your proceedings
are seditious.’--‘The necessity of escaping from slavery makes them
lawful,’ replied Berthelier, Maison-Neuve, and their followers. The
mountain torrent was rushing impetuously down, and men asked whether
the dykes raised against it would be able to restrain its fury.[190]

The party of Savoy resolved to strike a decisive blow. No one was
more threatened than Berthelier. The two princes might perhaps have
spared the lives of the other citizens whose names were contained
in the letter; but as for Berthelier, they must have his head, and
that speedily. This was generally known: people feared to compromise
themselves by saluting him, and timid men turned aside when they
saw him coming, which made Bonivard, who remained faithful to him,
exclaim with uneasiness: ‘Alas! he is abandoned by almost everybody of
condition!’ But Berthelier did not abandon himself. He saw the sword
hanging over his head; he knew that the blow was coming, and yet he
was the most serene and animated of the citizens of Geneva; it was he
who ‘by word and by example always comforted the young men.’ He asked
simply that _right should be done_. ‘I am accused of being a marplot
because I ask for justice;--a good-for-nothing, because I defend
liberty against the enterprises of usurpers;--a conspirator against
the bishop’s life, because they conspire against mine.’ His case was
adjourned week after week. His friends, touched by the serenity of his
generous soul, loudly demanded a general council. The people assembled
on the 19th of January: ‘All that I ask,’ said Berthelier, ‘is to
be brought to trial; let them punish me if I am guilty; and if I am
innocent, let them declare it.’ The general council ordered the syndics
to do justice.[191]

They hesitated no longer: they carefully examined the indictment;
they summoned the vidame and the procurator-fiscal three times to
make out their charges. The vidame, knowing this to be impossible,
got out of the way: he could not be found. Navis appeared alone, but
only to declare that he would give no evidence. All the formalities
having been observed, the Grand Council, consisting at that time of 117
members, met on the 24th of January, 1519, and delivered a judgment
of acquittal. The syndics, bearing their rods of office and followed
by all the members of the council, took their station (according to
the ancient custom) on the platform in front of the hôtel-de-ville. An
immense crowd of citizens gathered round; many were clinging to the
walls; all fixed their eyes with enthusiasm on the accused who stood
calm and firm before his judges. Then Montyon, the premier syndic, a
mameluke yet a faithful observer of the law, said to him: ‘Philibert
Berthelier, the accusations brought against you proceeding, not from
probable evidence but from violent and extorted confessions, condemned
by all law human and divine. We, the syndics and judges in the criminal
courts of this city of Geneva, having God and the Holy Scriptures
before our eyes,--making the sign of the cross and speaking in the name
of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,--declare you, Philibert, by our
definitive sentence, to be in no degree attaint or guilty of the crime
of conspiring against our prince and yours, and declare the accusations
brought against you unreasonable and unjust. Wherefore you ought to
be absolved and acquitted of these, and you are hereby absolved and
acquitted.’ This judgment, delivered by a magistrate devoted to the
duke and the bishop, was a noble homage paid to the justice of the
cause defended by Berthelier. A solemn feeling, such as accompanies
a great and just deliverance, pervaded the assembly, and the joyful
patriots asked if Berthelier’s acquittal was not the pledge of the
liberation of Geneva.[192]

But if the joy among the huguenots was great, the consternation of
the mamelukes was greater still. This _mystery_--for such they called
the acquittal of an innocent man--terrified them. They had fancied
their affairs in a better position, and all of a sudden they appeared
desperate. That noble head, which they desired to bring low, now rose
calm and cheerful in the midst of an enthusiastic people. To complete
their misfortune, it was one of their own party that had delivered that
abominable verdict of acquittal. They sent the news to their friends in
Piedmont, adding that their affairs had never been in a worse position.
Berthelier’s acquittal created a deep sensation at the court of Turin.
It was a triumph of law and liberty that compromised all the plans of
Savoy. By seizing Berthelier, they had hoped to extinguish that fire
of independence and liberty, which they could discern afar on the
Genevan hills; and now the fire which they hoped had been stifled, was
shooting out a brighter and a higher flame.... The Archbishop of Turin,
who had sworn to destroy all republican independence, represented
to his sovereign the true meaning of the sentence that had just
been delivered. The feeble duke, who knew not how to carry out his
enterprises and feared spending money more than losing his dominions,
had remained until this moment in a state of foolish confidence. He
now awoke: he saw that the alliance with Switzerland would deprive
him of Geneva for ever, and considered Berthelier’s acquittal as an
outrage upon his honour. He determined to break the alliance, to quash
the judgment, and to employ, if necessary, all the force of Savoy. He
began, however, with diplomatic measures.[193]

On the 30th of January his ambassadors, the president of Landes, the
seignior of Balayson, Bernard of St. Germain, and the skilful and
energetic Saleneuve, arrived in Geneva, and, having been introduced to
the general council, made at first loud protestations of friendship.
But soon changing their tone and wishing to terrify by their threats,
they said: ‘Nevertheless his Highness learns that some of you are
conspiring against him.’ At these words there was a great commotion
in the assembly: ‘Who are the conspirators? name them,’ was the cry
from every side. The seignior of Landes, who had let the word escape
him, corrected himself, and assured them that the duke was delighted
to hear that the people had refused to favour those who were opposed
to him. But the ambassador changed his tone to no purpose--the Genevan
susceptibility was roused: that unlucky word _conspire_ spread through
the city. ‘To conspire against the duke he must first be our prince,’
said some. ‘Now, whatever he may say, he is only _vidame_, that is,
a civil officer, and as such subordinate to the supreme council. We
will make no reply to the ambassadors of Savoy so long as they do not
name the conspirators.’ The Savoyards increased their attentions, and
showed the tenderest regard for the purses of the Genevans. ‘We are
quite alarmed,’ they said, ‘at the quantity of gold florins you will
have to pay Friburg for its alliance.’ They carefully hid themselves
under sheep’s clothing; but do what they would, the wolf’s fangs peeped
out unexpectedly now and then; and while the chiefs were enshrouding
themselves in diplomacy, sharp disputes occurred between the citizens
and the ambassadors’ attendants. ‘All the Genevans are traitors!’
exclaimed a servant belonging to the treasury of Chambéry. The varlet
was reprimanded, but the ambassadors thought it prudent to leave the
city. They were exasperated, and on their return to Turin told the
duke: ‘You will gain nothing by reasoning with these citizens. If
you say you are their prince, they will maintain that you are their
vassal.’--‘Well, then,’ said the duke, ‘let us settle the matter not
with the pen but with the sword.’ That was just what the energetic
Saleneuve desired.[194]




The Genevans knew what sort of report would be made of them at Turin;
they therefore resolved to forestall the duke and to conclude as
soon as possible an alliance with the Swiss, which would permit them
vigorously to repel the Savoyards. Nothing could be more lawful.
Liberty was of old date in Geneva: the despotism of the princes was
an innovation. The people having met according to custom on Sunday,
February 6, 1519, to elect the four syndics for the year, Besançon
Hugues came forward. At first he seemed to be speaking in personal
explanation, but one only thought filled his heart--he wished to
see Geneva united to Switzerland. To propose this openly would
endanger his life, and perhaps give an advantage to the enemy; he
therefore proceeded artfully to work. ‘Sovereign lords,’ said he,
‘the ambassadors of Savoy spoke of conspirators; I think they meant
me, and had my journey to Friburg in their mind. Now, I declare that
I have done nothing contrary to the duty of a citizen.... Besides,’
added he, as if parenthetically, ‘if you desire to know all about it,
you will find it explained at length in a letter from the council of
Friburg.’--‘The letter, read the letter,’ they cried out. This was
just what Hugues wanted: Friburg would thus make the proposal which he
dared not bring forward himself. The letter was read before all the
assembly. ‘When it shall please the entire community of Geneva to join
in friendship and citizenship with the people of Friburg,’ said the
writer, ‘the latter will agree cheerfully, without prejudice either to
the rights of the bishop and prince of Geneva, or to the liberties and
franchises of the city, and neither of the parties shall pay tribute to
the other.’[195]

When they heard this loyal and generous letter, the people were
enraptured. The Swiss themselves were stretching out their hands to
them. The joy was universal; there was a cry for the offer of these
noble confederates to be put to the vote. Montyon, the mameluke syndic,
was alarmed; he was taken unawares; that immense affair against which
the bishop and Savoy were uniting their forces was about to be carried
as if by storm. Even the patriotic Vandel was intimidated, and proposed
that they should proceed immediately to the election of the syndics
conformably to the order of the day. It was too late. Since the 22nd of
December, Berthelier and his friends had displayed unwearied activity:
in six weeks the huguenot party had made immense progress. Desire,
hope, and joy animated the citizens. Another feeling, however, was
mingled with this enthusiasm, and it was indignation. The ambassadors
of Savoy had insinuated, it will be remembered, that Geneva would
have to pay tribute to Friburg. ‘Where are those famous gold florins,
with which they frightened us?’ said the citizens. ‘The duke who
is only a civil officer among us, in his desire to become prince,
condescends to vile falsehoods in order that he may succeed!’ ... From
every quarter rose the cry: ‘A poll, a poll! citizenship with Friburg!
A poll, a poll!’ As the two first syndics obstinately refused, Hugues
remembered that there are moments when audacity alone can save a
people. He laid aside his habitual scruples, and acting solely on his
own responsibility, he proposed the alliance. ‘Yes, yes,’ replied
the majority of the assembly with uplifted hands. A few mamelukes,
surprised, disconcerted, and disheartened, remained silent and

Thus, at the very moment when the court of Turin was expressing its
discontent at the acquittal of Berthelier, the people replied by a
resolution which threatened still more the ambitious designs of Savoy.
The citizens of Geneva opened their gates to the Swiss. By turning
their backs on the south, they forsook despotism and popery; by turning
towards the north, they invited liberty and truth.

The nomination of the syndics, which came next, seemed to confirm this
solemn vote: it was the most huguenot election ever known. Three of the
new syndics were devoted partisans of independence, namely, Stephen
de la Mare, a connection of the Gingins, who had accompanied Hugues
to Friburg; John Baud, Hugues’ brother-in-law; and Louis Plongeon,
seignior of Bellerive. Guiges Prévost, the premier syndic, had indeed
very close relations with the ducal party, but he was a man of good
intentions. Many old councillors had to make way for devoted patriots.
Geneva was beginning to soar: it desired to be free. Ambassadors set
off immediately to announce to Friburg that the people had voted the

Then burst forth one of those great transports that come over a whole
nation, when after many struggles it catches a glimpse of liberty.
In all the city there were bonfires, cheering, songs, processions,
and banquets. But here and there, in the midst of this great joy,
there were gloomy faces to be seen; the mamelukes strove in vain to
keep down their anger; it broke out suddenly in insults and riots.
The reaction was indeed prompt: in the presence of the simple joy of
the people, the duke’s friends drew closer together, and their party
was organised. The house of Savoy had still many adherents in Geneva,
capable of opposing the desire for independence and truth. There were
old Savoyard families devoted to the duke; persons who were sold to
him; young men of birth, enthusiasts of absolute power; priests and
laymen enamoured of Rome; traders averse to a war that would injure
their business; weak men, trembling at the least commotion, and many
low people without occupation, who are easily excited to riot. The
party felt the necessity of calculating their strength and coming
to some understanding; but it was not its most prominent leaders
who placed themselves in the front. Francis Cartelier, a native of
Bresse, and syndic in 1516, a lettered, prudent, and cunning but
mean man, convened its principal members in a room at the convent of
Rive, which was called ‘the little stove.’ Thither came in succession,
besides Montyon and Nergaz, whom we know already, other mamelukes
young and full of zeal: Messieurs de Brandis, who were at the head
of Genevan society; the two De Fernex, who derived their name from a
lordship which became famous in after years; Marin de Versonex, whose
family was distinguished by its good works, a young man of limited
understanding but ardent imagination, of a disposition easily led away,
and passionately devoted to the Church of Rome, which alone he thought
able to save him; by his side was his cousin Percival de Pesmes, united
to him by a sincere friendship, and whose ancestors had been among
the crusading barons who followed St. Louis; lastly, many other noble
mamelukes, determined to oppose even to death the triumph of the party
of liberty and Switzerland. These old magistrates and these young
nobles found themselves out of their element in Geneva. Sincere for the
most part in their convictions, they believed they saw in the new day
that was rising over the world, a day of tempest which destroying what
existed would put nothing in its place. What must be done to avert so
dire a misfortune? They resolved to inform the duke of the alliance
which had just been voted, and urge him to make every exertion to
prevent its being carried out.[198]

All these efforts were to prove useless. Liberty was beginning to raise
her head in one of the smallest but most ancient cities of the Empire
and the Church. It is a strange thing that the city bearing on its
flag the symbols of these two absolute powers--the key of the popes
and the eagle of the emperors--raised this very significant banner,
and thus proclaimed, as if in a spirit of contradiction, liberty in
Church and State. While other nations (if we except the Swiss League)
were sleeping under the feudal sceptre of their masters, this little
republic in the centre of Europe was awaking. Like a dead man lying in
a vast cemetery, it began to stir and alone came forth triumphant from
its tomb. In all the neighbouring countries, in Switzerland, Savoy,
France, and places more remote, people talked of the strange movements
taking place at Geneva, and of the daring resistance opposed by a
few energetic citizens to a prince who was brother-in-law to Charles
V. and uncle to Francis I. Men of the old times grew alarmed. True,
it was but a cloud, small as a man’s hand, but it might grow into a
fierce tempest in which the two ancient buttresses of feudal and Roman
society--absolute power in spiritual and in temporal matters--might be
shattered. What would happen then? Might not this emancipatory movement
extend through Europe? At Geneva men talked of political liberty; at
Wittemberg of religious reform: if these two streams should chance to
unite, they would make a formidable torrent which would throw down
the edifice of the dark ages and sweep away its ruins into the great
abyss. ‘People spoke everywhere,’ Bonivard tells us, ‘of huguenots and
mamelukes, as they once did of Guelfs and Ghibelines.’ The prior of
St. Victor, to whom these things were reported, reflected on them and
said in his musings: ‘Geneva is beginning to be a member in the body
of christendom of which strange things are said.’ In examining them,
however, he thought there was room for abatement both of hopes and
fears:--‘Fame, as Virgil sings, is a goddess who makes things greater
than they are.’[199] These things were greater than Bonivard thought.
Geneva, by setting out in search of liberty, was to find the Gospel.

The duke, the count, and the bishop, informed successively by their
ambassadors, the vidame, and lastly by the mamelukes of ‘the little
stove,’ ‘drank of these bitter waters’ and asked themselves if they
were going to lose that city from which the house of Savoy had
derived such great profit for centuries. They began to understand the
imprudence of their rough policy; they began to regret the arrests and
the murders; they would have liked that ‘the work was to be done over
again.’ That seemed difficult; yet after many conferences, the three
princes agreed upon certain plans, one or other of which they thought
must succeed.

First: They sought to break the alliance by means of their pensioners
at Friburg. The latter wishing to earn their money began to intrigue,
to declaim, and to discuss. But the Friburgers, devoted to the cause
of Geneva and liberty, resisted them, and the people, discovering
the intrigues of the pensioners, rose against them. There were great
disturbances in the streets, and blows were exchanged. ‘What! does even
Friburg take side with the new ideas?’ people said at the court of
Turin. It was not because they were new, but because they were old,
that Friburg adopted them. The pensioners of Savoy were obliged to
strike their sails, and they wrote to the duke: ‘All who do not dance
to the tune the people play, incur the risk of a beating.[200] ... Will
your Highness pray excuse us?’

This attempt having failed, the court of Turin passed to another,
and endeavoured to win over the leaders of the opposition in Geneva.
‘They open their mouths very wide,’ said the Savoyards; ‘stuff them
with gold.’ Much skill was required to carry out this new manœuvre.
The Bishop of Maurienne, precentor of the cathedral of Geneva, a
supple, able, insinuating man, and tolerably esteemed by the friends
of liberty, was selected by the duke for this delicate mission. The
prince declared to him with the strongest oaths (in order that it
might be repeated) that he had nothing to do with the deaths of Navis
and Blanchet. ‘It was done by my lord of Geneva alone without my
knowledge,’ said he. ‘Ah, I should be very glad it had never happened,
let it cost me ever so much. Repeat all I say to Berthelier. Offer him
gold and silver; in a word, do anything to attach him to my service.’
Maurienne arrived in Geneva. Nobody doubted at that time that every
man had his price. ‘His Highness,’ said the bishop to Berthelier, ‘is
aware that the crimes of which you are accused are the inventions
of your enemies.’ Then came promises of gold and silver. ‘Only,’
added Maurienne, ‘let Geneva renounce her alliance with the Swiss.’
Berthelier, who awaited with unflinching heart the hour when he would
pour out his life for the independence of Geneva, smiled disdainfully
at these words; then he shuddered, and putting aside the gilded yet
poisoned cup which Maurienne presented to him, he answered coldly:
‘A vile interest will never make us render up an innocent people to
the vengeance of your prince.’ Maurienne, rejected by Berthelier,
‘frequented every place of meeting,’ says a manuscript, ‘in order to
prevail upon the chief supporters of the alliance to give it up; but he
only lost his pains.’ All whom he tried to seduce wished to be free and
to join hands with Switzerland.[201]

The duke, seeing that he was labouring in vain, made one more heroic
effort. ‘Well, then,’ he said, ‘let us raise all Switzerland.’ The
energetic Saleneuve, the able Chappuis, and the diplomatic Lambert
were sent as ambassadors from Savoy to the deputies of the cantons
then sitting in diet, and complained bitterly of Geneva. Would that
little city weigh as much in the balance as the powerful house whose
states enclosed the two sides of the Alps? ‘Friburg,’ said president
Lambert, ‘treats with _enclavés_, without the consent of the most
serene prince in whose states they are placed.’ This new name given to
the Genevans amused Bonivard greatly. ‘Oh, oh!’ he said; ‘no longer
daring to call us his subjects, for the word is used up, the duke
styles us his _enclavés_!’ This time Charles III. and his government
had taken the right course. The cantons, offended that Friburg had
acted alone in this matter, desiring to humour the duke, and not being
acquainted with the facts, promised to exhort ‘certain headstrong and
rebellious Genevans to desist from their enterprise.’[202] This little
republic, at the moment of her awakening, found ranged against her
both the neighbouring princes and a large majority of the cantons. The
diet declared in favour of the duke, and sent the Sieur d’Erlach to
Geneva to support the ducal protest. What could little Geneva do, when
pressed at once by Savoy and Switzerland? It was as if two ships in
full sail should come up in opposite directions, threatening to crush a
frail boat that floated between them. But the poor little bark carried
a ballast which was its salvation, namely, liberty and the protection
of God. Such vessels, even if they are run down, come to the surface
again sooner or later. The Friburgers did not desert the cause of
independence, but sent John Fabri to Geneva on their behalf. The two
deputies met almost about the same time on the shores of the Leman, one
bringing peace, the other war.

The general council having met on the 1st of March, 1519, the generous
Fabri, faithful to a desperate cause, spoke first, and did not conceal
from the assembly the large majority that had declared against Geneva.
‘Consider the matter and see for yourselves what ought to be done,’ he
said. ‘As for us, we will preserve the alliance to the last drop of
our blood.’ These words electrified the audience. ‘And we too!’ they
shouted all around. The citizens were stirred: they shook hands, they
blessed Friburg and embraced Fabri: everybody swore to be true to the
alliance. The Friburgers quitted the hall touched with the noble sight
of a nation ready to brave the greatest dangers in the maintenance of
its rights.

The deputy from the League was admitted next. Cold and diplomatic,
a stiff patrician and inflexible magistrate, D’Erlach spoke with
an imperious voice: ‘Obey the duke,’ he said. ‘Be henceforward his
faithful subjects; break off your alliance with Friburg. The League
require it from you under pain of their deep resentment; and as for
Friburg, they command it.’ This short and rough speech amazed the
Genevans. How long had they been the subjects of Savoy?... Had the
Swiss League broken their own yoke only to impose it on others? Had
they lighted the torch of liberty on their own mountains only to
extinguish it elsewhere?... What! shall the representatives of the
ancient liberties draw up in battle array against the new liberty? The
proudest of the Genevans, with heads upraised, said haughtily that even
the Swiss could not make them bend. Yet all the citizens were not so
brave. Could Geneva be saved if Switzerland forsook her? Many became
uneasy, some were grieved: the mamelukes alone rejoiced and triumphed.
The place of assembly reechoed with weeping, groans, and curses. The
confusion continued to increase.

When the deputy from Berne had withdrawn, the deputy from Friburg,
animated with the most heroic sentiments, returned to reassure
the people; and notwithstanding the declarations of the Bernese
commissioner he affirmed stoutly that Berne would not abandon Geneva.
‘Fear nothing,’ he said; ‘my lords of Berne and Friburg are brothers;
they will not quarrel with each other for the love of Savoy. And
though Berne should forsake you, we are strong enough with God’s help,
and we will not permit either you or ourselves to be trampled on....
Declare frankly whether you desire the alliance: say Yes or No.’ Then
with a loud shout the people exclaimed: ‘Yes! yes! Better see our wives
and children slain, better die a thousand deaths ourselves, than cancel
the alliance with Friburg!’ The general council desiring to give an
energetic proof of its will, and to make the resolution irrevocable,
decreed that if any should propose the rupture of the alliance, he
should be forthwith beheaded. The syndics returned to the inn where
D’Erlach coldly awaited their answer. It was as becoming and proud as
D’Erlach’s speech had been imperious. ‘We will send a deputation to the
next diet,’ they said, ‘when we will prove that we are not the duke’s
subjects, and that we have done nothing to his prejudice.’[203]

The greatness of a people does not depend upon the extent of its
territory. There was a soul in this little nation, and in that soul
dwelt lofty aspirations. Had all the powers of the earth risen
against Berthelier, Lévrier, and Hugues, these energetic men would
not have quailed. At the meeting of the general council on the
following day (March 2, 1519) the alliance was confirmed; Hugues
and Malbuisson started immediately for Friburg with instructions to
sign the engagement, which the Helvetic diet had just ordered to
be cancelled. Such was the answer made by Geneva to the Swiss. The
faithful devotedness of Friburg should be for ever inscribed as an
example in the records of history. But it is not to the Swiss in
general, as is commonly believed, that the Genevans substantially owe
their independence, but to God and to the strong will that God gave



(MARCH 1519.)

The duke hesitated no longer. Pacific and diplomatic means were
exhausted; he must now draw the sword and with its trenchant edge hew
down the pride of Geneva. Nevertheless, to save appearances, he desired
that some influential body would declare against the alliance; for it
would then seem as if he were supporting a Genevese party, and his
intervention with an armed force would look less odious. To attain
his end he turned his eyes on the chapter of St. Pierre, the bishop’s
natural council, and in his absence representing the catholic church.
Its members being all noble or graduates in law (which at that time
amounted almost to nobility), this body might be considered as the
house of lords in the Genevan constitution.[205] The duke instructed
his agents to work upon the canons, and they might have been seen
going from door to door in the street that still bears their name.
They advised the canons to be on their guard; that this alliance with
the Swiss compromised everything, and particularly their functions
and benefices. They were conjured to write to my lords of the League,
stating that the chapter did not assent to the alliance in question.
The canons, flattered by the importance which his Highness of Savoy
attached to their opinion, hastily put on scapulary and amice and
assembled in chapter. The success of this ducal manœuvre could not be
doubtful. Only one canon was a native of Geneva; and this was Michael
Navis, brother of him whom the bishop had murdered--a man as servile as
his brother was independent. Two only were liberals: De Gingins, abbot
of Bonmont, and Bonivard, prior of St. Victor, who was the youngest of
the chapter, and who had no vote because he was not in holy orders.
All the other canons were devoted to the duke--all worthy gentlemen,
much impressed with their own dignity, like those canons of St. John
of Lyons who, having produced their quarterings of nobility, demanded
the privilege of not kneeling at the elevation of the host. The chapter
opened their deliberations; and ‘the stout master-courtiers who had the
right to speak first began to say _amen_.’ Bonivard, who saw these fat
canons one after another bending low their bloated faces, grew alarmed
at the turn matters were taking. What would be the consequence if the
Church said No, while the people said Yes? What disorders at home,
what weakness abroad! He saw that the opposition in the chapter fell
to his share; he performed his duty valiantly and paid dearly for it.
He had not been asked for his vote, and the secretary was preparing to
commit the resolution to writing, when the prior rose and said: ‘Stop
a little, Mr. Secretary, although I am not _in sacris_ (in orders)
and have no vote in the chapter, I have a duty here. Now it seems to
me that before granting the illustrious duke his request, you should
consider the purport of it a little better.[206] It tends to break off
that alliance with Friburg which the people of this city have so much
at heart that they would lose their wives and children sooner than
renounce it. Think of what you are doing.... Very reverend sirs, you
cannot return an answer to the duke without that answer being known to
our people with whom you have promised to live and die. What will they
say of you? With your permission I will tell you. They will say that
you are playing the scorpion’s trick--that you pretend to be friends in
front, and behind you inflict a mortal wound with your tail.... Fear
their anger. Rest assured that if they say nothing at the moment, they
will bear you in mind another day.’ The ‘stout masters,’ who were far
from brave, began to feel uneasy and to turn in their stalls. They were
in an awkward dilemma. ‘There is one way of satisfying both parties,’
continued Bonivard; ‘that is, reply to my lord of Savoy, and to the
people also, that your business does not extend to alliances and other
like civil matters, but to spiritual things only; that it does not
concern you to make or unmake treaties; and that your function is only
to pray to God and to pray principally for peace among all men. If you
do this, no one will have reason to be dissatisfied with you.’

Thus did Bonivard at the beginning of the sixteenth century lay down
a categorical distinction between the spiritual and the temporal
government, and maintain that the Church and the State had each its own
sphere. The canons thought this theory very strange, and stranger still
that a young man of twenty-five should presume to teach it them.

The Bishop of Maurienne, who fancied himself a great diplomatist, was
seriously offended. ‘Do you think, M. de St. Victor,’ he said, ‘that
we do not know how to write a letter?’ ... The Savoyard canons were
exasperated that one of their countrymen should desire anything but
what the duke wished. ‘The house of Savoy,’ said M. de Monthoux, ‘has
conferred many favours on your predecessors, and is it thus you show
your gratitude?’ ... ‘I would willingly render service to the duke,’
answered Bonivard, ‘but before all I will observe my oath to Geneva and
the Church.’ At these words, which resembled a reproach, murmurs arose
from all quarters. Bonivard was not intimidated. Upright in heart,
noble in intention, wise in counsel, of extraordinary intelligence
and superior talent, he was far above the anger of his venerable
colleagues. ‘Very well, then, gentlemen,’ said he, ‘do as you please,
but I protest that I do not agree.’ Then turning to the clerk, he said:
‘Write down that, Mr. Secretary,’ and left the chapter. The canons were
too full of the sense of their own importance to heed the protest.
Persuaded that it was their duty to check a political movement,
which might besides lead to a religious revolution, these churchmen,
desirous of displaying a courage similar to that of the Roman senators,
peremptorily drew up their declaration against the Swiss alliance,
without regard to the resistance of the people which Bonivard had

At the dawn of the canonical institution, when the scattered priests
of a church were assembled by the bishop into one body, these priests
or canons led at first a life so regular and so strict that the people
were enraptured with them. But that did not last long, and the lives
of these ecclesiastics too often became so disorderly that the laity
turned away from them with disgust and hatred. It had been so at
Geneva. The decision of the canons was soon known in the city, and the
people immediately assembled in great numbers in the Place Molard.
They described the scene in the chapter, of which Bonivard may perhaps
have given some hints; and complained that lazy priests should dare
to declare their opinions on public matters and take side with the
enemies of Geneva. They said that churchmen were always wanting to
meddle with politics, and striving, by flattering authority, to gratify
their avarice and increase their power. It was proposed to pay these
reverend men a visit, and request them to mind their own affairs and
leave state matters alone. In fact, the patriots were stirring, and
ready, says Bonivard, ‘to proceed in great rage to assault the canons.’
Aimé de Gingins, abbot of Bonmont and episcopal vicar, who lived with
his colleagues in the street still known as the Rue des Chanoines,[207]
sent in all haste for his friend the prior of St. Victor, that he might
stop the people. Would he consent? As the canons had rejected his
advice, might he not leave them to get out as they could from the evil
strait into which they had fallen? Bonivard in truth hated despotism,
and was one of the most honestly liberal men of the sixteenth century.
‘Monarchical princes are always enemies of the liberty of the people,’
he said, ‘and the servants whom they keep are the same, because they
can live in greater licence under king than under law. This nearly
caused the ruin of Rome, when the young men conspired to restore the
kings, as Livy bears witness in his second book.’[208]

But if Bonivard was opposed to the despotism of princes, he was equally
so to the disorders of the people. Accordingly he did not hesitate, but
hurried to the episcopal vicar’s. De Gingins, who was waiting for the
return of his messenger in the keenest anxiety, flew to meet the prior,
exclaiming: ‘Ah, St. Victor, if you do not give orders, some disaster
will happen to the canons. Our folks have done a foolish thing, and the
people have heard of it: see if you can quiet them.’[209]

Bonivard hastily lighted a torch (for it was night) and ran to meet
the people. He found them at the top of the Perron, a steep street,
which opens between the cathedral and the Rue des Chanoines. Berthelier
and the ex-syndic Hugues ‘were in front,’ he tells us. The former of
the two, seeing his friend Bonivard at the top of the street, with
a furred amice upon his head, holding a torch in one hand, and with
the other making eager signs for them to stop, exclaimed with an
oath: ‘Ah! you _Bouche-Coppons_, you make a fair show in front with
treachery behind.’--‘Bouche-Coppon (or hooded friar) was a name they
gave us,’ says the prior, ‘because we carried the amice on our heads in

The moment was critical: the trembling canons expected to see the
people fall upon them; some of their servants, peering anxiously down
the Perron, from the top of the street watched the movements of the
crowd, and of a sudden shrank back with terror on hearing the shouts
of the advancing huguenots. In fact the people were exasperated and
demanded that the priests should be brought to account for meddling
with politics. Bonivard did not flinch: ‘Gently, good sirs,’ he said
to the citizens, ‘do not be vexed at trifles; there is not so much
harm done as you think.’ Then ascribing to the canons his own ideas,
he continued: ‘These reverend gentlemen have written, that they will
not live under other protection than that of God and St. Peter, and
that as for the alliance with Friburg, they do not mean either to
accept or refuse it.... The letter is not sent yet ... you shall see
it!’ Upon this Besançon Hugues motioned the people to halt, and the
crowd obeyed a magistrate so respected. On his side Bonivard hastily
despatched a messenger to the Bishop of Maurienne, the most intelligent
of the canons, instructing him to ‘change promptly the purport of the
letter.’ Maurienne privately sent for the secretary and dictated to
him a new despatch such as Bonivard required. Berthelier, Hugues, and
Pécolat, deputed by the people, arrived shortly after, conducted by
Bonivard, when Maurienne showed them the new document. They suspected
the trick. ‘Oh no! the ink is still quite wet,’ they said. However,
as the contents satisfied them, they would not examine the letter
too narrowly, and the people, unwilling to make a disturbance to no
purpose, were satisfied also. ‘Let the business be settled this once,’
they said; ‘but let us keep a kick in store for the other courtiers.’
They meant, no doubt, that having given a smart lesson to the canons,
they reserved the honour of giving another to the mamelukes. ‘I have
inserted this,’ says Bonivard, concluding his account of this incident,
‘to caution all republics never to give credit or authority to people
bred in the courts of princes.’[211]




The duke was at the end of his resources, and the affair of the chapter
had raised his indignation to its utmost. There had been comedy
enough--it was time now to come to the tragedy. Everything must be
prepared to crush Geneva and liberty.

The duke raised an army ‘this side the mountains (that is, in Savoy)
as secretly as he could.’ Then fearing lest the Friburgers, if they
were warned, should hasten to the support of the city, and wishing
‘to catch the fish without wetting his paws,’ he sent M. de Lambert
into Switzerland to amuse the cantons with fine speeches. While the
ambassador was thus occupying the attention of Messieurs de Friburg,
the Savoyard nobles hastily summoned their vassals to arms. The duke
placed his forces under the command of the Sieur de Montrotier,
Bonivard’s cousin and an excellent captain. The latter marched off his
troops during the night and assembled them in silence round Geneva; so
that the duke reached St. Jullien, a league from the city, with seven
thousand soldiers, before anything was known of his enterprise. The
Savoyards had never done so well before. In a short time the people of
the neighbourhood, hurrying in crowds to his standard, raised the ducal
army to ten thousand men.[212]

Then the duke no longer concealed his intentions. He kept his court at
St. Jullien, and there gathered round the prince an ever-increasing
number of nobles in rich dresses and splendid armour; and especially
of young gentlemen brimful of insolence, who longed to make a campaign
against the noisy shopkeepers. Never before had this little town
witnessed so much display, or heard so many boasts. ‘We must put them
down with our riding-whips,’ said some. No sooner said than done. On
the 15th of March, 1519, fifteen of these cavaliers started from St.
Jullien to carry out their plan of campaign; they arrived in Geneva,
proceeded straight to the hôtel-de-ville, leaving their horses with
their servants in the street, and with a swaggering air entered the
council-room, all booted and splashed with mud. Not waiting to be
offered chairs, they rudely sat down, and without any preface said:
‘My lord, desiring to enter this city, orders you to lay down your
arms and to open the gates.’ The Genevan senators, seated in their
curule chairs, looked with astonishment at this singular embassy;
they restrained themselves, however, and replied at once firmly and
moderately that the duke would be welcome at Geneva provided he came
with his ordinary retinue, and only to enjoy himself as he had often
done before. ‘In that case,’ added the syndics, ‘the arms we carry
will be used only to guard him.’ This seemed to imply that another
use might be made of them; and accordingly the gentlemen answered
haughtily: ‘My lord will enter your city with whom he pleases and do
in it as he pleases.’--‘Then,’ answered the syndics bluntly, ‘we will
not let him enter.’ At these words the fifteen cavaliers rose up like
one man: ‘We will enter in spite of your teeth,’ they said, ‘and we
will do in your city whatever we please.’ Then striding noisily across
the flagstones with their spurred boots, they left the hall, remounted
their horses, and galloped off along the St. Jullien road.[213]

As they were seen riding hastily along, fear came over the population.
In truth the moment was critical. Geneva was from that time for more
than a century under arms, and on repeated occasions, especially at
the epoch of the famous escalade in 1602, repelled the attacks of
Savoy. But the Reform gave it a strength afterwards which it did not
now possess. The Swiss diet ordered them to receive the duke; there
were only from ten to twelve thousand souls in the city, including
women and children; and the prince of Piedmont, duke of Savoy, was at
their gates with ten thousand soldiers. They fancied that Charles was
going to enter, to burn and massacre everything: many families fled in
alarm with the most valuable of their property. But their flight was
useless, for the armed men of Savoy occupied the roads, so that the
fugitives came upon them everywhere. Some returned to the city: ‘All
the country of Savoy is in arms,’ said they; ‘and many of our people
have been taken and put to the torture.’ It was then three o’clock
in the afternoon.[214] The patriots assembled: Berthelier, Hugues,
Bonivard, and many others met in order to come to some understanding.
They resolved that it was expedient to send an embassy to Friburg to
inform their allies of this incident, and to ask for a garrison, as the
duke would not dare to fire a gun at the walls guarded by the League.
But whom should they send? Many reasons,--the question of expense
being one,--restrained the citizens, for they were poor. Bonivard grew
warm: ‘You have exasperated the wolf; he is at your gates ready to
devour you,’ he said, ‘and you prefer to let him eat up your milk, your
butter, and your cheese--what am I saying? you would sooner let him eat
yourselves up than give a share of your pittance to the mastiff that
would guard you.’ There was one man in the meeting who never calculated
when the object was to save his country: this was Besançon Hugues. He
was ill, he had already incurred debt in the cause of Geneva; but that
mattered not! ‘I will go,’ said he, and he departed.[215]

During this time the fifteen gentlemen had returned to St. Jullien and
made a report of their visit to the council. Charles and his advisers
did not consider their proceedings very diplomatic, and resolved to
act more officially but more insolently. The next day, Friday, April
1, the king-at-arms, Provena de Chablais (he derived this name from
the province where he was born) arrived in Geneva, and was introduced
to the council with the usual ceremony. A cuirass covered him down to
the waist; on his left arm he wore his casaque or coat of arms, and
his right hand held a rod,--a _gaule_, says a manuscript. He entered
with head erect, without uncovering or making any bow to the council.
‘Sit down by my side,’ politely said the premier syndic to him, ‘and
unfold your message.’ Chablais remained standing, with sneering lip and
silent, although the invitation was repeated thrice. This mute embassy
considerably astonished the Genevan senate. At last, the king-at-arms
quitted his fixed posture and took a seat of his own accord, not by
the side of, but above the syndics who remained impassive. Then he
said: ‘Worshipful syndics and councillors, do not marvel if I did not
sit down when you desired me, and if I sit down now without being
invited; I will tell you the reason. I am here in behalf of my most
dread prince and lord, the Duke of Savoy, my master and _yours_. It
does not become you to tell him to sit down--it is his privilege to
do so when and where he pleases:--not beside you but _above_ you, as
your sovereign prince; and as representing his person, I have done so
myself. Now from my seat I unfold my commission, and it is this. My
lord and yours charges and _commands_ you to prepare his lodging in
your hôtel-de-ville with the sumptuousness and magnificence that belong
to such a prince. Likewise he orders that you will get ready provisions
for him and his company, which will be ten thousand infantry without
including cavalry; for his intention is to lodge here with this retinue
to administer justice in Geneva.’[216]

The king-at-arms was desired to retire, the council wishing to
deliberate on the answer to be returned. The discussion was not a
long one, all being unanimous to maintain firmly the liberties of
Geneva. The herald was called in again, and the first syndic said to
him: ‘Sir Chablais, we are equally surprised at what you _do_ and at
what you _say_. At what you do; for after we offered you a seat, you
refused it; and when you had refused it, you took it.... At what you
say; for you say that my lord of Savoy is your prince and _ours_ ...
a thing unheard of until this time. He may be your prince--that we
believe; but ours ... no! We are his very humble servants, but we are
neither his subjects nor his vassals.... It therefore does not belong
either to you or to him to sit in the place where you are.... As for
what you say respecting our hôtel-de-ville, we know not what you mean;
the duke may choose any lodging he pleases except our hôtel-de-ville,
which we cannot spare. He will be treated as in former times--better
if possible. He desires to administer justice; it is the place of the
bishop and council to do so, according to the franchises which he
himself has sworn. If any one among us has offended him, let him inform
us. Lastly, as to the large train with which he desires to be attended,
it is a singular company for the administration of justice! Let him
please to come with his usual retinue, nay, with five hundred men; but
ten thousand men and cavalry besides.... We have not supplies for so

Chablais listened coldly and disdainfully. ‘Will you or will you
not obey the orders of my lord?’ he said. The first syndic answered
bluntly: ‘No.’ The herald then rose, put on his coat of arms, and with
a loud voice said: ‘On his behalf then I pronounce you rebellious to
_your_ prince--and I declare war against you with fire and sword.’ Then
flinging his rod into the middle of the hall, he continued: ‘I defy you
on the part of my lord, in sign of which I throw down this rod (gaule);
let him take it up who pleases.’ So saying, he left the hall.[218]

The news of this singular challenge was immediately carried to the
people, who were dismayed at it. The huguenots, seeing that they must
die or be slaves (say the annals), chose the first alternative and
prepared for death, resolving, however, to sell their lives and not to
throw them away. Feeling themselves the strongest body in the city,
they called the people together. ‘Let every one take up arms!’ they
said. They even forced the mamelukes to do so. The gates were shut, the
chains stretched across the streets, the artillery manned, the watch
set: ‘they made all the preparations for war according to the skill and
experience they had in that business.’[219]

The duke, knowing that right was not on his side, resolved to draw
the sword. Advised by Montrotier, a daring officer, he had a fit of
courage, and, closing all the roads, sent out his troops in every
direction. It was Saturday, April 2, and market day at Geneva. The
market was held ‘without a word said;’ they allowed everybody to go
in and out who wished;[220] but about noon a report of the duke’s
manœuvre having reached the city, the inhabitants took up arms. The
peasants, returning from market, described to the Savoyards, with
some exaggeration perhaps, the war preparations made by the Genevans.
Immediately the duke’s fit of courage was succeeded by one of fear.
Bonivard had expected this, and on hearing that the prince was at the
head of an army had shrugged his shoulders. ‘The duke knows as much of
war,’ he said, ‘as a monk bred in a convent since he was seven years
old.’ This display of ten thousand men, assembled a league from Geneva,
these troops sent out in every direction--all ended in a pitiful
retractation. M. de Lucinge, appearing before the council, said: ‘His
Highness has ordered me to inform you, most honoured lords, that he
desires to come and sup with you in a friendly way. If he cannot lodge
in the hôtel-de-ville, be so good as to prepare a lodging elsewhere for
him, his great suite,[221] and two or three hundred infantry only....
He desires to do violence to nobody.’ The mamelukes proposed that
the gates should be opened to the duke immediately, but the syndics
replied that they would consult the general council on the morrow. The
mameluke councillors, who thought that the duke did Geneva a great
honour by coming to it, looked around with astonishment at the answer:
their greatest happiness was to approach a prince and pay court to
his Highness, and these inflexible huguenots turned their backs upon
him. ‘Well,’ said they, ‘if they will not let the duke come to us, we
will go to him.’ Accordingly Montyon and several others of his party
left the council-room. The court-yard of the hôtel-de-ville was full
of citizens waiting to learn the result of the meeting: they saw the
mamelukes pass with astonishment. The spectators whispered in each
other’s ears: ‘They are going to join the Savoyards.’ ... Presently a
loud shout was raised, and several huguenots, catching up some spears
that were resting against the wall, ran after the mamelukes to seize
them; they were almost overtaken when the councillors, deputed by the
syndics, entreated them, for the safety of the city, to avoid a strife
between citizens. The angry patriots returned to the hôtel-de-ville.
Every one was distressed at knowing that there were among them men
capable of forsaking Geneva for the Duke of Savoy.[222]

The disloyalists (as they were called) hastened along the St. Jullien
road. Besides Montyon, there were Cartelier, Déléamont, Nergaz, Ray,
the two De Fernex, and others, making in all between thirty and forty.
‘Our interview with the duke must be private,’ said the cunning
Cartelier, who felt how criminal was the step they were taking. The
duke let them know that at a certain hour of the night he would be
under a particular tree in the Falcon orchard. Thither they resorted
one by one, and were all soon gathered round the tree without being
able to recognise each other except by the voice. The intriguing
Cartelier was spokesman. Political views influenced Montyon, De
Versonex, and others; but in him, it was the hatred he bore against
the huguenots and the desire to be revenged on them. He assured the
duke that the majority of the people were ready to acknowledge him for
their sovereign. ‘But,’ he added, ‘the bad ones have shut the gates,
stretched the chains, placed guards.... Enter Geneva, my lord, sword
in hand.’ They then discussed their guilty projects, and it was agreed
in whispers what the mamelukes should do in order to facilitate the
entrance of the Savoyards into the city. ‘The traitors,’ says Bonivard,
‘entered into a plot with the duke.’[223]

Early on Sunday Charles took up a better position and went to his
strong castle of Gaillard on the Arve, three-quarters of a league
from Geneva. The report of his intentions having spread through all
the valley of the Leman, the gentlemen and the companies of the Pays
de Vaud, Chablais, and Faucigny came thronging in. Nay, more: the
canons and priests of the city, quickly forgetting the lesson they had
received, hurried off to Gaillard. Bonivard, who was almost the only
cleric remaining in Geneva, saw all his theories confirmed. It was his
maxim that ‘people bred up in the courts of princes always remember
their first food.’--‘And now,’ said he, ‘of all the canons and folks of
the long robe, there are left in Geneva only De la Biolée, Navis, and
myself. All are gone to visit the duke at Gaillard, even M. de Bonmont
who was considered the principal friend of the public weal.’[224]
Erelong the castle was filled with an imposing crowd, more numerous
than at St. Jullien.

The storm was approaching, the danger increasing from hour to hour:
the little band of patriots was still full of courage; but alas! it
was an ant-hill on which a rock from the Alps was about to fall. They
had watched the priests with anxious eye, but without desiring to stop
them. ‘These birds have so keen a scent,’ it was said, ‘that they
hasten wherever there is any flesh.’ If Friburg would only send a few
valiant warriors to assist those of Geneva, that Savoyard army would
soon be dispersed; but Friburg remained dumb. The uneasiness spread
from one to another; desponding faces were met in the streets.... On
a sudden two horsemen are seen on the Swiss road.... O joy! they wear
the Friburg colours!... At eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Sunday,
April 3, 1519, Berthelier’s friend, Councillor Marti, accompanied by
a herald, entered Geneva. ‘And your armed men?’ they said to him, and
were informed in answer that, for the present at least, there were
none. The general council happening to be assembled in order to reply
to M. de Lucinge, Marti instantly proceeded thither, but was not
received so well as he had expected. ‘We want ambassadors in doublets
and not in long robes,’ said the huguenots to him; ‘not diplomatists,
but soldiers.’ Marti started for Gaillard, but the Genevans saw him
depart without hope; in their opinion, arquebuses should be the only
answer for the Savoyards.[225]

The Friburger, as he drew near Gaillard, was struck with the large
number of troops around the castle. At this moment the duke was giving
audience to the canons, who were making all the bows and compliments
learnt in former days at court; he hoped to be able to draw them into
the plot, and was therefore much annoyed at seeing this mediator
arrive. Turning impatiently towards his officers, he vented in an under
tone some contemptuous words against him. Nevertheless, a few minutes
later, when he had examined him more closely, Charles took courage,
doubting not that his political skill would easily manage this shepherd
of the Alps. ‘He seems a good plain man, easy to be deceived,’ said the
duke, who, commencing his manœuvres, added: ‘Sit down, Mr. Ambassador,’
and thereupon feasted him liberally, and gave him all kinds of good
words. But the plain man, who was in reality a bold and crafty
Friburger, replied in his Romane tongue: ‘My lord, you have already
told my friends so many lies, that I do not know if they will believe
you any more.’[226] The duke, offended at this rude language, spoke
more sharply: ‘I shall enter Geneva as a friend,’ he said; ‘or, if they
do not like it, as an enemy. My artillery is all ready to _lather_
(savonner) the city in case of refusal.’ Marti in alarm demanded a
truce, at least for the night, so that he might speak to the people of
Geneva and settle the matter, which the duke granted.[227]

All the citizens were afoot: the guards at the gates, the cannon on the
walls, the watch day and night in the streets. At ten o’clock Marti
arrived, and went straight to the council, whose sittings were declared
permanent. ‘Gentlemen,’ said he to the syndics, ‘I think you must trust
the duke and let him enter the city.’--‘And the assistance of Friburg?’
asked some; to which Marti replied: ‘My lords are far away!’[228] He
seemed to have lost all hope. He added, however: ‘There is a truce
until to-morrow morning.’ It was agreed to convene the Great Council
the next morning before daybreak in order to deliberate on the course
to be taken in this terrible crisis; and as the citizens had been on
foot for three nights, they were permitted in consideration of the
truce to go and take some repose. It was then eleven o’clock.

It struck twelve. No sound was heard but the measured steps of the
sentinels; a dark night covered the city with its curtain, and all were
asleep. Suddenly the flash of a torch gleamed from the top of one of
the three towers of St. Pierre; it was the signal agreed upon between
Cartelier and the duke at the nocturnal conference held under the tree
in the Falcon orchard: that flash announced that the Swiss could enter
without resistance. The noise of horses was heard almost immediately
without the city, in the direction of St. Antoine, and a loud blow
was struck on the gate. It was Philip, count of Genevois, the duke’s
brother, at the head of his cavalry: having knocked, he waited for the
mamelukes to open according to their promise. But the sentry at the St.
Antoine gate, who had seen the torch and heard the knock, suspecting
treachery, fired his arquebus and gave the alarm. Immediately the
tocsin sounded; the citizens awoke, grasped their arms, and hurried
in the direction of the attack. ‘All were much frightened and vexed,
and great uproar was made in the city.’ Everybody was running about
shouting and ordering. The count, who was listening, began to fear that
the plot had failed. In the midst of the confusion, a clap of thunder
was heard, which terrified both sides. The count and his followers
hesitated no longer, but retired; the Genevans did the same, and a few
angry patriots, as they passed Marti’s house on their way home, went in
and asked him angrily: ‘Is this the fine truce you brought us?’[229]

The Grand Council met before daybreak on Monday, April 4. The mamelukes
made an excuse for the night affair: it was no doubt a patrol of
cavalry which had advanced too far. But Marti did not conceal the
danger: ‘The duke is at your gates with his whole army,’ he said:
‘if you comply with his demands, he told me you would be satisfied
with him; if not, he will enter by force this very afternoon. Make a
virtue of necessity; or, at the least, send him a deputation.’ The
syndics started for Gaillard immediately. The duke received them most
graciously and affectionately. ‘I will enter Geneva with none but my
ordinary retinue,’ he told them; ‘I will take only five hundred footmen
for my guard and dismiss all the rest of my army. I will do no injury
either to the community or to individuals, and my stay shall not be
long.’ His Highness made so many promises and oaths that entrance was
at last yielded to him.

When this resolution of the council was known, the indignant patriots
threw away their arquebuses; all laid down their arms, and a profound
dejection came over men’s minds. Cries of vexation and of sorrow were
heard, but there still lingered here and there a hope that God would
finally deliver the city.[230]

On the morning of Tuesday, April 5, the duke set all his army in
motion. _All!_... When they heard of this, the Genevans hastened to
remonstrate with him. ‘My people will only pass through Geneva,’ he
answered; ‘fear nothing, but open your gates.’--‘Certainly,’ added
some mamelukes; ‘be easy; they will come in at one gate and go out at
another.’ The triumph of violence and craft was about to be achieved.
A people, too simple and confiding, were now to be crushed under the
feet of a powerful prince and of his numerous satellites. All the gates
were opened, and those which had been walled up were broken down.
The huguenots, who had voted unhesitatingly against the admission of
Charles into the city, looked on with indignation at this sad sight;
but they were determined to be present to the end at the humiliation
of Geneva. Bonivard was the most provident; he took the alarm: he had
no culverins now in his priory, and he could not have resisted the
Savoy army with his ten monks. ‘Consent to the duke’s entrance ... what
madness!’ he exclaimed. ‘Certainly those who know _his honesty_, of
whom I am one, are aware of what will happen.’ And this, in Bonivard’s
opinion, was, that he would be the first victim sacrificed by the duke,
and that there would be many others. ‘Wishing,’ he tells us, ‘to be
wiser and cleverer than the rest,’ he hastily escaped into the Pays de
Vaud. Berthelier, who was more exposed than his friend, and who saw
clearly his end approaching, was not frightened. He knew that the
defenders of law and liberty serve their cause by their deaths as well
as by their lives, and determined to await the attacks of Charles and
the bastard.[231]




The army of Savoy approached the St. Antoine gate: it was like a
triumphal progress. Monarchy, according to politicians, was about to
gain the victory over republicanism. ‘In front marched the Count of
Genevois, in complete steel armour,’ say the chronicles, ‘wearing
a long plume, and riding on a stout stallion, who curvetted about
so that it was pleasant to see.’ He was followed by the cavalry in
breast-plates. Then came the main body, to the number of about eight
thousand infantry, headed by six Genevan mamelukes. Last appeared
the duke, followed by all his guard; he had laid aside his gracious
humour, and desired that his entrance should have something warlike
and alarming. ‘Montrotier,’ he said to his principal captain, ‘I have
sworn that I will only enter Geneva _over_ the gates.’ Montrotier
understood him, and, going forward with a body of men, knocked down
the St. Antoine gate and the adjoining wall. The satisfied duke now
resumed his triumphal march. He was armed from head to foot and rode
a handsome hackney: two pages carried before him his lance and his
helmet. One of these was J. J. de Watteville, afterwards _avoyer_ of
Berne. The weak-minded Charles, inflated with his success, pulled
up his courser, and made him paw the rebellious stones. ‘A true Don
Quixote,’ says a catholic historian, ‘he showed the same pride as a
conqueror loaded with glory who at the cost of much blood and fatigue
had reduced a fortress after a long and dangerous siege.’ And if we may
believe contemporary documents, ‘Charles advanced more like a Jupiter
surrounded with his thunders than a conqueror; his head was bare in
order, said his courtiers, that his eyes, flashing with wrath, should
blast the audacity of the Genevans who should be rash enough to look
in his face.’ All the army having passed the gate after him marched
through the city in order to parade its triumph in the streets and defy
the citizens.[232]

In conformity with the engagements made by the duke, his soldiers
entering by one gate ought, after crossing the city, to have gone
out by the other. Bonivard on hearing of this had shaken his head.
‘It will be with Geneva as with Troy,’ said the classical prior;
‘the Savoyards, entering by stratagem like the Greeks of Sinon, will
afterwards remain by force.’ And so it happened, for the whole army
took up its quarters immediately in the city. The bands of Faucigny,
which were the most terrible, established themselves at St. Gervais
by order of the duke; those of the Pays de Vaud at St. Leger, up to
the Arve; those of Chablais at the Molard and along the Rhone; those
of Savoy and Genevois in the Bourg de Four and the upper part of the
city. The nobles were lodged in the best houses situated principally
between Rive and the Molard. The duke took up his quarters also on
the left bank, near the lake, in the Maison de Nice which belonged to
Bonivard. The count, appointed by his brother governor of the city,
fixed his head-quarters at the hôtel-de-ville. Geneva was taken; the
Duke of Savoy had made himself master of it by perjury, and there
he intended to remain. Many citizens thought their country for ever
lost. The plans formed during so many years and even centuries, were
realised at last; despotism, triumphant in Geneva, was about to trample
under foot law, constitution, and liberty. The Savoyards had seen from
their mountain-tops a fire in this city which disquieted them--a fire
whose flames might extend and consume the time-worn edifices their
fathers had raised. They were now going to stifle these flames, to
extinguish the embers, and scatter the ashes; the duke, the emperor his
brother-in-law, and his nephew Francis I. might henceforth at their
pleasure oppress their subjects, put martyrs to death, wink at the
disorders of nobles and monks, and sleep quietly on their pillows.

The Savoyard princes behaved as in a city taken by assault. The very
evening of the 5th of April, the Count of Genevois removed the cannon
from the ramparts, placed them round his quarters, and had them loaded
that they might be ready to fire upon the people, the hôtel-de-ville
thus becoming a citadel to keep Geneva in obedience. Notwithstanding
these precautions the count was uneasy; he had violated his oaths, and
knew that he had to deal with men of energy. He did not lie down, and
at two in the morning his officers went by his orders and knocked at
the doors of the four syndics, commanding them to proceed immediately
to the hôtel-de-ville. ‘Hand me the keys of the gates,’ said the
count, ‘the ramparts, the arsenal, and the provision magazines.’ If
the magistrates had really fancied that the Savoyards would come as
friends, their foolish delusion must now have ceased and the bandage
have fallen from their eyes. But how could they resist? The army filled
all the city, and the citizens were divided: the syndics did what was
required of them. The fanaticism of the disloyal mamelukes was not yet
satisfied. Cartelier, Pierre Joly, Thomas Moyne, and others, taking
a lesson from the terrible Montrotier, who desired to _muzzle_ the
Genevans completely, visited all the streets, squares, and churches,
and began to wrench off the staples and locks from the city chains and
gates, and even the clappers from the bells. The syndics strove in vain
to stop this violence. The wretches did not forget a street, and having
thus disarmed Geneva, they carried all these trophies to the duke. ‘It
is a sign,’ said they, laying them before him, ‘of the real transfer of
the jurisdiction of the city, to intimidate the rebels and deprive them
of all hope of succour. Geneva lies at the feet of your Highness.’ This
occurred before daybreak.[233]

At length Wednesday, 6th April, dawned, and that day was not less
mournful than its predecessor. The Savoyard soldiers, forgetting
that they owed their success to the scandalous violation of the most
sacred promises, intoxicated alike with hatred and pride, began to
show the insolence of conquerors. We know the disorders in which the
undisciplined armies of that period were accustomed to indulge in
cities taken by storm. The ducal soldiers, not less cruel but more
fantastical, exhibited in the sack of Geneva some of those farces
which the imperialists played eight years later at the sack of Rome.
The citizens, taking refuge in the garrets, had given up their feather
beds to the soldiers. The latter slept soundly, and next morning, to
make up for the battle which had not been fought, indulged in one of
a different kind. Instead of balls they flung the bolsters at each
other’s heads; taking the beds for enemies, they thrust their swords
up to the hilt in the feathers:--these were the hardest blows struck
in this war by the soldiers of Charles III.--Then, eager to prolong
their coarse jests, they shook the beds out of the windows, watching,
with roars of laughter, the evolutions made by the feathers in the air.
They next called for the keys of the cellars, and forming a circle
round the casks, tapped them in various places, singing their loudest
as they drank their fill. ‘Lastly,’ says a chronicle, ‘they pulled out
the spigots, so that the cellar was filled with wine; and stumbling
upstairs again into the house, they insulted everybody they met, ran
shouting through the streets, made boasting speeches, and committed
a thousand acts of violence.’ At Rome, the imperialists made a jest
of the papacy; at Geneva, the ducal soldiers, drunk with wine and
joy, trampled independence under foot and exulted over liberty. But
on a sudden, an alarm was sounded: the braggarts imagined that the
Genevans were going to defend themselves, and, the noisiest talkers
being generally the greatest cowards, they all scampered away--some
ran to the right, others to the left; many fled towards the river
and hid themselves under the mills; the more cunning sought other
retreats.[234] It was only a false alarm; the Count of Genevois, being
displeased at their behaviour, had given it that it might serve as a
lesson to the marauders.

During this time the mamelukes were sitting night and day in ‘the
little stove,’ consulting on the best means of repressing for ever
the spirit of national independence in Geneva. They believed the
city could never belong to Savoy whilst those who had voted for the
alliance with Friburg were alive. A king of Rome, while walking in his
garden, struck off with his stick the heads of the tallest poppies.
The conspirators, resolving to profit by the lessons of history, began
to draw up a proscription list, and placed on it the four syndics, the
twenty-one councillors, and other notable citizens so as to make up
forty. Wishing to end the affair promptly, certain mamelukes went to
the executioner and asked him ‘how much he would take for forty heads?’
It seems that he required more than the heads were worth, according
to the value which had been set upon them, for contemporary documents
tell us that they ‘haggled’ about it. Three chronicles of the time, all
worthy of trust, describe this disgusting visit to the headsman.[235]
The rumour got abroad, and all Geneva trembled. Some who knew they
were on the list, hid themselves. ‘A very foolish thing,’ said others.
‘Without God, the most secret hiding-places are but as the fancies of
children, who put their hands before their eyes and think nobody can
see them.’ The boldest huguenots were filled with indignation: instead
of concealing themselves, they girded on their swords, raised their
heads, and walked proudly in the streets. ‘But they were made to _feel
the cord_ (sentir la corde).’ We do not know whether this means that
they were beaten or only threatened. ‘After this,’ continues Savyon,
‘there was no other resource but to commend ourselves to God.’[236]

Berthelier and his friends hurried to Marti. They represented to him
that at the moment when the duke had made such fine promises, he was
thinking only of breaking them; they added that assuredly this perjured
prince would have to answer for his crime. The Friburger, at once
ashamed and indignant, went to the duke and said: ‘What do you mean,
my lord? Do you wish me to be accounted a traitor? I have your word.
You bade me give the people of Geneva assurance of your good will; they
consequently opened their gates in good faith; otherwise you would not
have entered without hard knocks. But now you break your promise....
My lord, you will certainly suffer by it.’ The duke, embarrassed and
annoyed and unable to justify himself, got into a passion, and offered
the Friburg ambassador the grossest insult: ‘Go,’ said he, addressing
Marti with an epithet so filthy that history cannot transcribe his
words, ‘get out of my presence.’[237]

This incident, however, made Charles reflect, and resolve to give
a colour to his violence. Having drawn out all his men-at-arms, he
summoned a general council. Only the mamelukes attended, and not all of
them; but notwithstanding their small number, these ducal partisans,
surrounded by an armed force, did not scruple to renounce, in the name
of Geneva, the alliance with Friburg.

The duke immediately followed up his victory; and, wishing to make the
hand of the master felt, ordered, in the morning of Thursday, April
7, that the ushers and men-at-arms should attend the city herald and
make proclamation with an increased display of force. ‘O yes! O yes! O
yes!’ said the herald, ‘in the name of our most dread prince and lord,
Monseigneur the Duke of Savoy. No one, under pain of three blows of
the strappado, shall carry any offensive or defensive weapon. No one
shall leave his house, whatever noise there may be, or even put his
head out of the window, under pain of his life. Whoever resists the
order of Monseigneur shall be hanged at the windows of his own house.’
Such were the order and justice established by Duke Charles.[238] It
might be said that, with a view to frighten the Genevans, he wished
that they might not be able to leave their houses without walking in
the midst of his victims. The proclamation was repeated from place
to place, and the crowd gradually increased. On a sudden, a certain
movement was observed among the people. A few men appeared here and
there, whose look had something mysterious; they spoke to their
friends, but it was in whispers. The agitation soon increased; it
spread from one to another: here a man made signs of joy, there of
terror. At last the mystery was explained. ‘Friburg!’ exclaimed several
voices; ‘the Friburg army is coming!’ At these words the city herald,
the men-at-arms, the mamelukes, and the Savoyards who accompanied him,
stopped, and, on learning that a courier had just arrived from the Pays
de Vaud, they dispersed.... Huguenots and mamelukes spread through the
city and circulated the good news: ‘The Swiss! the Swiss!’ and the cry
was answered from all quarters with ‘Long live the huguenots!’ ‘Thus
the said proclamation could not be finished throughout the city,’ says
a contemporary manuscript.[239]

Besançon Hugues, having escaped all the perils of the road, had arrived
at Friburg, and, without giving himself time to take breath, appeared
immediately before the council. He described the perfidy and violence
of Charles, the dangers and desolation of Geneva; he showed that the
city was on the point of being annexed to Savoy, and the chiefs of the
republic about to be put to death. If Friburg did not make haste, it
would find nothing but their heads hanging at the gates, like those of
Navis and Blanchet.

The look of the generous citizen, the animation of his whole person,
the eloquence of his appeal, inflamed every heart. Their eyes were
filled with tears, and the men of Friburg laid their hands upon their
swords.[240] A regiment, fully armed, marched out immediately for
Geneva: and that was not all; the flower of the young men flocked
in from every quarter, and the army soon amounted to 5,000 or 6,000
men. Having entered the Pays de Vaud, they seized his Highness’s
governor, the Sire de Lullins. ‘Write to your master,’ said the chiefs
of Friburg, ‘that he do no harm to our fellow-citizens; your head
shall answer for theirs: besides, we are going to give him a treat at
Geneva.’ Their liberating flags soon floated on the hills above the
lake. A great number of the young men of the Pays de Vaud joined them,
and the army mustered before Morges 13,000 to 14,000 strong. At their
approach, the terrified inhabitants of that town, who were devoted to
the duke, threw themselves into their boats, and fled to Savoy. The
Friburgers entered their deserted houses, and waited for his Highness’s

Governor de Lullins failed not to warn his master, and it was this
message that had interrupted the proclamation. The duke, at once
violent and pusillanimous, was frightened, and suddenly became as
humble as he had been insolent before. Sending for the ambassador of
Friburg, he spoke to him as to a dear friend: ‘Haste to the camp at
Morges,’ he said, ‘and stop this: prevail upon your lords to return.’
Marti, who had not forgotten Charles’s gross insult, answered him
bitterly: ‘Do you think that a ---- like me can make an army retreat?
Commission your own people to carry your lies.’[242] Then the duke,
still more terrified, sent M. de Maglian, a captain of cavalry, to
guard the pass at Nyon, and, ‘changing his song,’ he had it cried
through all the city ‘that no one should dare do harm or displeasure
to any person of Geneva, under pain of the gallows.’ At the same time,
the Sieur de Saleneuve and another of his Highness’s councillors went
to the general council, but this time without riding-whips or wands,
and with a benevolent smile upon their faces. There, after assuring
the people of the love the duke bore them, they were asked to send
two citizens to Morges to declare to the Friburgers that the duke
would do no injury to Geneva. Two mamelukes, Taccon and De Lestilley,

Everything was changed in Geneva. The proposal to cut off forty heads
was abandoned, to the great regret of Cartelier, who afterwards
said: ‘What a pity! but for these ---- Friburgers it would have been
done.’[244] The huguenots, regaining their courage, ‘mocked at the
Faucignerans and the other men-at-arms.’[245] The inhabitants of the
Faubourg St. Gervais, strongly inclined to raillery, attacked their
guests with songs, epigrams, and sarcasms. The huguenots imposed on
their visitors a strict fast (it was the season of Lent), and gave them
for rations only some small fish called _bésolles_ (now _féras_). ‘You
are too good christians,’ they said ironically to the Savoyards, ‘to
eat meat now.’ And hence they derisively called the expedition ‘the
Bésolles war,’ a name recorded in contemporaneous chronicles.

They could not come to an understanding at Morges. Besançon Hugues and
Malbuisson were urging the Friburg troops to advance; Taccon and De
Lestilley were urging them to retire. And while the leaders hesitated,
the deputies of the cantons arrived and proposed a middle course:
that Savoy should withdraw her troops, and Friburg her alliance. It
was Zurich, Berne, and Soleure that sought thus to take advantage of
the opportunity to withdraw from Geneva the only help which, after
God, could save her. The huguenots, abandoned by the cantons, stood
stupefied. ‘Renounce your alliance with Friburg,’ repeated the League,
‘_without prejudice to your liberties_.’ ‘But they would not,’ said
Bonivard, ‘for they had the majority of votes.’ The real majority did
not therefore consent to this fatal proposition; but it seems that it
was again carried by the phantom of a general council, at which none
but mamelukes were present. When that was done, the duke hastened to
leave Geneva, but with less pomp than when he entered; and the plague
took his place.[246]

When Charles quitted the city, he left behind him sad forebodings. The
Swiss accused the Genevans of violence and insults, declaring them
guilty of disgraceful conduct to the duke, their most illustrious
ally.[247] The bishop, who was at Pignerol, wrote to the citizens:
‘Having recovered from my serious illness, I am thinking of passing
the mountains, for the benefit and good of my city.’[248] Now every
one remembered that he had made use of the same words when he had
put Navis and Blanchet to death. The signs were threatening: the sky
was thick with storm. The citizens trembled for those who were most
precious to them, and frightful deeds were about to increase and
prolong their terror. ‘From the war of 1519 until 1525,’ says the
learned Secretary of State Chouet, ‘the people of Geneva was in great




Neither the duke nor the bishop had exhausted their plans. The heads of
Blanchet and Navis, suspended seven months before on the walnut-tree,
were there still, tossed by every wind, and telling the passers-by
that the wrath of the princes was not yet appeased. The bishop asked
himself whether these commoners, who claimed liberty in the State,
would delay much longer before demanding liberty in the Church....
People spoke of extraordinary things that were happening in Germany. A
Wittemberg doctor had appealed from the pope to a general council, and
was preparing to maintain certain propositions at Leipsic in which the
primacy of the Roman Church was denied as being opposed to the history
of eleven centuries and to the text of Scripture. Would these strange
notions, worthy of the Germans, spread to countries nearer Rome? Would
Wittemberg and Geneva, those two little corners of the earth, be two
volcanoes to shake the ground around them? A remedy must be applied
at any cost, and those principles of civil and religious liberty be
stifled, which, if not seen to in time, might work strange revolutions
in the world.

The bishop on his return from Turin had merely passed through Geneva;
and fleeing from the plague, had taken refuge at Ripaille, near Thonon,
whence he made the most serious complaints to the Genevans. ‘You are
always conspiring,’ he wrote, ‘in order that you may satisfy the
appetites of a _heap_ of individuals who are plotting against their
honour and against me.’[250] About the end of June he removed to the
château of Troches, near Dovaine. The principal mamelukes hastened
to this ancient manorial house.[251] They had no very clear ideas
of what was going on in Germany, and of the consequences that might
result to Europe; their attachment to the ducal and episcopal cause
depended rather upon motives of interest and family tradition; but
they instinctively felt that a struggle had begun in Geneva between
the old and the new times, and that the partisans of the former must
combine all their strength against the latter. They made the halls of
the château reecho with their loud voices; they entered into cowardly
conspiracies; these supporters of feudalism, however honourable they
might be in other matters, shrank not from any crime to check the
advent of liberty. There was one citizen in particular whom they
hated--one life that must be sacrificed. ‘First,’ said they to the
bishop, ‘we require Berthelier’s death, and pray, my lord, let the
blow be prompt. Second, the rebellious councillors must be dismissed.
Third, your grace must come into the city ... with _good swords_!’ The
mamelukes undertook to find employment for these swords, and the bishop
said ‘Amen.’

The cruelties of the princes of Savoy had already fallen upon Bonivard.
The very day when the duke entered the city, the prior of St. Victor
left it, ‘disguised as a monk,’ accompanied by two friends of the
Pays de Vaud with whom he was very familiar, the Sieur de Voruz and
the Abbot of Montheron. ‘Fear nothing,’ said the latter to him; ‘we
will go first to my abbey; then we will conduct you to Echallens, a
town dependent on Berne, where you will be in safety.’ But they were
leading him to a very different place of safety. The priest and the
gentleman had made their account together. They had said that no one in
Geneva was more hated by the bishop and the duke than Bonivard, that
in their eyes he was not a Genevese, but a Savoyard who had betrayed
his prince; so that, to get him into their power, these princes would
give his weight in gold. The priory of St. Victor was a good benefice;
the two perfidious friends had therefore determined to propose an
exchange: they would put the duke in possession of the prior, while the
duke should put them in possession of the priory. This establishment
would naturally fall to the abbot; but the latter engaged to pay the
Sieur de Voruz an annual pension of two hundred florins out of the
stipend. The flashing of the gold dazzled these wretches, and they
concluded their infamous bargain. The gentleman and the abbot appeared
to redouble their vigilance lest any harm should befall the prior.
When the three travellers reached Montheron, in the forest of Jorat,
between Lausanne and Echallens, the prior was courteously conducted
into a room, which, without his suspecting it, was to be his prison.
The next morning Voruz, whom Bonivard trusted like a brother, entered
the chamber, sat down opposite him, and, laying a sheet of paper on
the table, said: ‘Resign your priory of St. Victor in favour of the
abbot.’--‘What!’ exclaimed the startled Bonivard, ‘is it under a show
of friendship that you lay these plots?’--‘You are our prisoner,’ Voruz
answered coldly; ‘all attempts to escape will be useless.’ Bonivard
now understood into what hands he had fallen. ‘So, then, instead of
taking me to Echallens,’ he said, ‘you will prevent my going there.’
He declared that he would set his hand to no such robbery, and bluntly
refused to resign his priory. ‘The duke is going to put Berthelier and
his companions to death,’ resumed Voruz coldly; ‘be careful. If you
will not do what we tell you, we will deliver you into his hands, and
there will be one huguenot the more for the scaffold. You are free;
make your choice--resignation or death!’ Bonivard had no wish to die.
Could he leave so soon this world that he loved so passionately? Could
he see rudely interrupted that beautiful dream of liberty, philosophy,
and poetry, in whose chimeras he had so long indulged? He consented
to everything. ‘Good!’ said Voruz, as he took away with him the
renunciation the prior had signed, and locked the door behind him.

Bonivard, who thought himself free now that he had become poor, had
to learn that the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. He was
immediately given up by Voruz and the abbot to the duke, who had him
conveyed to Gex by the captain of his guards. He asserted in vain
that his only fault was being a friend of the huguenots and of the
Swiss; Charles, in whose eyes that was a great crime, imprisoned him
in the castle of Grolée, on the banks of the Rhone, two leagues from
Belley.[252] This first imprisonment, which lasted two years, was a
foretaste of his harsher and longer captivity in the castle of Chillon.
The duke put the abbot in possession of the priory of St. Victor; Voruz
received his two hundred florins; the wicked triumphed, and Bonivard in
his solitude gave way to gloomy thoughts. Was it at the bottom of an
obscure dungeon that the new times of light and liberty were to begin?

The duke having struck the first blow, it was now the bishop’s turn.
He was taking his holiday, travelling from Ripaille to Troches, from
Troches to the castle of Bonne, thence to other adjoining places, and
employing all his episcopal zeal in raising soldiers. On the 16th
of August the peasants of these districts, who came to the market
at Geneva, mentioned that the bishop was assembling armed men for
his entrance into the city. The syndic De la Mare and one of his
colleagues, alarmed for the future of the republic, set out immediately
for Bonne, and commended the city to John’s episcopal tenderness.
‘Alas!’ they said, ‘it is stricken with the double scourge of the
plague and the sword.’ The prelate, as false as his cousin, replied:
‘You have been deceived, gentlemen; I shall certainly enter Geneva
to-morrow, but only with a hundred or a hundred and fifty footmen for
my guard. I desire to live there merrily with the citizens and protect
each one in his rights.’[253] De la Mare and his friend believed what
John of Savoy told them, and made their report. The people of the city
were somewhat reassured: that little weak and starveling bishop, who
looked so like a corpse, seemed not a very formidable appearance to
them. They resolved at least to hide the discontent and fears that they
felt at heart. ‘The shops will be closed, as on a holiday,’ said the
council, ‘and those who have horses will go out to meet his lordship.’

On Saturday, April 20, 1519, the syndics and a great part of the
city were afoot. At four in the afternoon the bishop’s escort came
in sight; the perfidious prelate, who was coming for the purpose of
putting the noblest of the citizens to death, noted with a cunning look
the handsome reception made him. Six hundred soldiers, stout rough
men, surrounded the pastor of Geneva; ‘the bishop had thought that
number necessary,’ say the annals, ‘to take Berthelier.’ The Genevans,
remembering that John was only to bring with him one hundred or one
hundred and fifty men-at-arms, counted ... and found six hundred. They
saw that the prelate’s entrance was only a second edition of that
of the duke. The bastard, satisfied with the welcome he received,
proceeded immediately to his palace and without delay convened the
general council for the next day. Sadness was in all men’s hearts.

On Sunday morning, when the people were assembled, the bishop appeared,
surrounded by his councillors and courtiers. He seemed scarcely alive,
but his sullen fierce look announced severe measures. ‘My lord not
having many days to live,’ said the official, ‘desires that all things
be put in order before his decease. He has therefore brought some
soldiers with him that he may correct any who shall be mad enough to
resist him.’[254]

After delivering this threatening message, the bishop returned hastily
to his palace, where he remained shut up for two days without giving
any signs of life. He had selected his first victim and was ruminating
in silence on the means of sacrificing him. ‘He kept still,’ said
Bonivard, ‘watching for Berthelier, whom he considered the leader of
the flock.’ During this time his satellites, however, did not keep
quiet. Being quartered on the huguenots, they stole all they could
carry off; if resistance was made, they used insulting language; they
went about marauding. But the bishop still gave no word or sign. This
silence alarmed all the city, and every one expected what was going to

One man alone in Geneva preserved a tranquil heart and serene look; it
was Berthelier. He had not wished to escape either when Charles or when
the bastard entered; he was vainly entreated to withdraw to Friburg;
all was useless. He waited for death; the ‘cheat’ of hope (to use the
common expression) did not deceive him. ‘The wolf is in the fold,’ said
his friends, ‘and you will be the first victim.’ Berthelier listened,
smiled, and passed on. In his opinion there could be no evil in life
to him who has learnt that the privation of life is not an evil. He
awaited calmly that tragical end which he had himself foretold, every
day exposing himself to the attacks of his enemies. After the bishop’s
arrival, ‘he went and came just as before; one would have said that,
instead of fleeing death, he was running after it.’[256]

Without the city, in a solitary place then called Gervasa (now
corrupted into _Savoises_), was a quiet meadow, which the Rhone bathed
with its swift waters: this was Berthelier’s favourite retreat. Remote
from the noise of the city, seated on the picturesque bank of the
river, watching its blue waves gliding rapidly past, he dwelt on the
swiftness of time, and casting a serious glance into the future, he
asked himself when would Geneva be free? ‘Every day he was in the habit
of taking his pleasure there,’ say the annals, ‘and never omitted doing
so, although at the time he had so many enemies in Geneva.’[257]

On Tuesday, August 23, he went out between six and seven to breathe
the morning air in his favourite retreat.[258] Berthelier was now
forty years of age; everything foretold him that his end was near; but
he preferred, without passion and without fear, to make the passage
from life to death. This active and much-dreaded citizen began to
sport, but with a serious gentleness, upon the brink of the grave. He
had a little weasel which he was very fond of, and ‘for the greater
contempt of his enemies,’ he had taken the tame ‘creature in his bosom,
and thus walked out to his garden, playing with it.’ The vidame, who
knew of these morning walks, had given orders for a certain number of
soldiers to be posted outside the walls of the city, whilst he remained
within, in order to take Berthelier from behind. Just as the latter
was about to pass the gates, the troop that awaited him came forward.
Berthelier, ‘always _booted_ and ready to depart for the unknown shores
of eternity,’ had no thought of returning to the city and arousing the
youth of Geneva; he did not turn aside from the road, but continued
gently caressing his weasel, and ‘walked straight towards the armed
men, as proudly as if he was going to take them.’[259]

‘They met,’ says a manuscript, ‘under the trellis in front of the
hostelry of the Goose,’[260] and the vidame, who was descending the
hill on his mule, coming up with him at the same time, laid his hand
upon his shoulder, saying: ‘In the name of my lord of Geneva, I arrest
you,’ and prepared to take away his sword. Berthelier, who had only to
sound his terrible whistle to collect enthusiastic defenders, stood
calm, without a thought of resistance, and quietly handed his sword to
the vidame, contenting himself with the words: ‘Take care what you do
with this sword, for you will have to answer for it.’

The vidame placed him in the middle of his soldiers, and Berthelier
marched off quietly, still carrying the weasel with him. The little
timid animal thrust its pretty head into its master’s bosom, while the
latter encouraged it by gentle caresses. In this way he arrived at the
Château de l’Ile, and the vidame, stationing guards everywhere, even in
the prisoner’s chamber,[261] shut him up in Cæsar’s tower. On the spot
where walls had formerly been erected by the destroyer of the liberties
of Rome, a humble and almost unknown citizen, one of the founders of
modern liberty, was to find a bloody prison.[262]

Berthelier, shut up in the fortress, and surrounded by guards pacing
up and down his chamber and round the castle, felt more free than all
of them. We do not say that he possessed the freedom that christianity
gives; perhaps it was rather from the _Tusculans_ of Cicero than from
the Gospel that he had derived the calm with which his soul was filled;
yet it is almost impossible not to recognise a noble, serious--we could
almost say christian sentiment in him. As he saw death approaching, he
said that all it had to do was to remove its mask, for underneath was
the face of a friend. To die ... what was that? Does not the meanest
soldier expose himself to it on the battle-field? Was not the death
he was about to suffer for the independence of his country a thousand
times sweeter and more glorious than that of a mercenary?

    Dulce et decorum pro patria mori.[263]

Yet his soul was agitated. Those smiling fields he loved so well,
those graceful banks of the lake and river, those mountains where
the setting sun fired the everlasting snows, those friends whose idol
he was, his country above all, and the liberty which he desired to
win for her ... all these images rose before him in his prison, and
deeply stirred his heart. But he soon returned to calmer thoughts.
He hoped that his death would lead to the deliverance of Geneva,
and then his courage returned. Yet he was without bravado, and to
the soldiers around him he showed only a simple and candid soul.
His little favourite animal still played in his bosom; surprised at
everything about it, the weasel at the least noise would prick up its
short wide ears. Berthelier smiled and caressed it. ‘The better to
mock his guards,’ says the prior of St. Victor, ‘he played with his
weasel.’[264] Bonivard, inclined to take things by the wrong side, saw
mockery where there was only good-nature. In fact, the guards, rough
and violent men, touched by so much patience and courage, said to
Berthelier: ‘Ask my lord’s pardon.’--‘What lord’s?’--‘My lord duke of
Savoy, your prince and ours.’--‘He is not my prince,’ he said, ‘and if
he were, I would not ask for pardon, because I have done no wrong. It
is the wicked who should beg for pardon, and not the good.’--‘He will
put you to death, then,’ said the guards. Berthelier made no reply. But
a few minutes after, he went up to the wall and wrote: ‘_Non moriar sed
vivam et narrabo opera Domini_--I shall not die but live and declare
the works of the Lord.’ This quotation from the hundred and eighteenth
Psalm, where the Messiah speaks by the mouth of David, shows that
Berthelier possessed a certain knowledge of Scripture; perhaps it
shows us, too, that his soul had cast all its burdens on the Lord.[265]

At that time (1519), when christians, trusting in the Bible, were
rising at Wittemberg against absolute power in spiritual things,
citizens trusting in the ancient charters of liberty were rising at
Geneva against absolute power in temporal things. At that time there
was no fusion of these two principles. Perhaps Luther did not become
liberal; Berthelier certainly did not become protestant. But in the
presence of death this great citizen sought consolation in the Word
of God and not in the ceremonies of the priest, which is the essence
of protestantism. The passage he wrote on the wall has reference to
the Saviour’s resurrection. Did Berthelier find in this transformation
of the King of believers a solid reason for expecting for himself a
resurrection, a glorious transformation? Did he hope, after this world,
for a glorified world of imperishable felicity, the everlasting abode
of the children of God?--We believe so.




The prisoner was soon diverted from these wholesome thoughts by the
arrival of the officers of justice. According to the privileges
of Geneva, he could only be tried by the syndics; but the bastard
suspected this lawful tribunal, and finding no honest man that would
undertake to act against the law, he issued a provost’s commission to
Jean Desbois, a man of Chambéry, then living at Geneva, and ‘formerly
a tooth-drawer,’ say contemporary documents. This extemporised judge,
vain of his functions, wished to begin the examination. ‘When the
syndics, who are my judges, question me, I will answer them,’ said
Berthelier, ‘but not you, who have no right to do so.’--‘I shall come
again,’ said Desbois after this futile attempt, ‘and shall compel you
to answer me then.’ The provost went and reported to the bishop the
unsatisfactory commencement of his high functions.[266]

The emotion was universal in Geneva. The friend of its liberties, the
founder of the league _Who touches one touches all_, was about to pay
with his life for his enthusiasm in the cause of independence. The
bold spirits, who braved the papal tyrant, proposed that they should
consider this act of the bishop’s as mere brigandage (which it was in
fact), and that they should support the laws by rescuing Berthelier.
But the magistrates preferred a more moderate course. The Great
Council was hastily assembled, and at their order the syndics waited
upon the bishop. ‘My lord,’ said they, ‘Berthelier has been acquitted
according to law; and now he is arrested without accuser, and without a
preliminary information. If he is innocent, let him be set at liberty;
if he is guilty, let him be tried by us; do not permit an infringement
of the franchises in your city.’--‘It is true there is no accuser,’
said the bishop, ‘but common rumour stands in his stead; there is no
preliminary information, but the notoriety of the deed supplies its
place; as for what judges it concerns, the injury having been committed
against the prince, it is the business of his officers to prosecute.’
Having thus dragged the sheep into his den, the wolf would not let it

When they were informed of this denial of justice, the more energetic
party protested loudly. They asked if there was any duty more sacred
than to deliver innocence? Could the people see with indifference
the rights which belonged to them from time immemorial trodden under
foot by a prince who had sworn to defend them? The bishop and his
creatures, fearing lest the storm should burst, resolved to put the
rebel speedily out of the way. The proceedings did not last two days,
as Bonivard writes; all was done in one (August 23) between six and
seven in the morning and four in the afternoon.[268] Berthelier saw
what was preparing, but his calmness never failed him. He remembered
that, according to the sages of antiquity, the voluntary sacrifice
which men make of their lives, out of love for their fellow-countrymen,
has a mysterious power to save them. Had this not been seen among the
Greeks and the Romans? And among those very leaguers whom Berthelier
had so loved, was it not by thrusting the lances of the enemy into
his bosom that Arnold of Winkelried delivered Switzerland?... But if
Berthelier desired to save Geneva, Geneva desired to save him. Good
men, the friends of right and maintainers of the sworn franchises of
the citizens, felt that the ancient laws of the State deserved more
respect than the despotic will of a perjured and cruel prince. The
castle where the liberator was confined (a private possession of the
house of Savoy) had long since been put into a condition to resist
surprise; but Champel, the usual place of execution, was at a little
distance from the city; the moment when Berthelier was conducted there
would be the favourable opportunity. He will hardly have taken a
hundred steps beyond the bridge when the huguenots, rising like one man
and issuing from every quarter, will rescue him from the executioners
who are nothing but murderers before the laws of men and the justice of

These rumours reached the ears of the bastard, who took his measures
accordingly. Six hundred men-at-arms were drawn out, and all the
mamelukes joined them. The vidame posted a detachment on the side of
St. Gervais (right bank) to cut off the inhabitants of the faubourg
from all access to the island; he stationed the greater part ‘under
arms and in line of battle’ along the left bank, so as to occupy the
bridge, the Rue du Rhone, and the cross streets. Among the Savoyard
captains who gave the sanction of their presence to this legal murder
was François de Ternier, seignior of Pontverre, a violent and energetic
man and yet of a generous disposition. The blood of Berthelier, which
was about to be shed, excited a thirst in his heart which the blood
of the huguenots alone could quench; from that hour Pontverre was the
deadliest enemy of Geneva and the Genevans. But (as pagan antiquity
would have said) the terrible Nemesis, daughter of Jupiter and Night,
goddess of vengeance and retribution, holding a sword in one hand and a
torch in the other, was one day to overtake him, a few steps only from
the spot where the blood of Berthelier was about to flow, and divine
justice commissioned to punish crime would avenge this unjust death in
his own blood.[269]

All was ready. Desbois entered the prison with a confessor and
the headsman. ‘I summon you a second time to answer,’ said he to
Berthelier. The noble citizen refused. ‘I summon you a third time,’
repeated the ex-dentist, ‘under pain of losing your head.’ Berthelier
answered not a word: he would reply only to his lawful judges, the
syndics. He knew, besides, that these appeals were empty forms, that
he was not a defendant but a victim. Then, without other formality,
the provost pronounced sentence: ‘Philibert Berthelier, seeing that
thou hast always been rebellious against our most dread lord and thine,
we condemn thee to have thy head cut off to the separation of the
soul from the body; thy body to be hung to the gibbet at Champel, thy
head to be nailed to the gallows near the river Arve, and thy goods
confiscated to the prince.’ The provost then introduced the confessor,
‘with whom Berthelier did not hold long discourse.’ After that the
third personage, the headsman, came forward and pinioned him.[270]

In every quarter of Geneva men’s eyes were fixed on the Château de
l’Ile. Its old gates fell back, the guards marched out first, the
provost came next, followed by the headsman holding Berthelier. The
martyr’s countenance proclaimed the greatness of his soul. There
was and still is, between the castle and the river, a narrow space
so protected by the Rhone and the fortress, that fifty men could
hold it against all the inhabitants of Geneva. The prince-bishop, so
learned in the art of tyranny, was not ignorant that if the victim to
be sacrificed is loved by the people, the death-blow must be given
in prison, in a court-yard, on a narrow beach, or in a castle moat.
Berthelier having advanced a few steps found himself between the
château and the river. ‘Say thy prayers,’ said the provost. The hero
knew he was about to be murdered: he made ‘a short prayer,’ and,
rising from his knees, was preparing ‘to utter a few words before
dying,’ to give a last testimony to the liberties of Geneva; but the
provost would not permit him. Turning to the executioner, he said:
‘Make haste with your work.’--‘Kneel down,’ said the man to his victim.
Then Berthelier, whether he desired to express his sorrow at the
gloomy future of his fellow-citizens, or was moved at seeing himself
sacrificed and none of his friends appearing to defend him, exclaimed
as he fell on his knees: ‘Ah!... Messieurs of Geneva’ .... It was all
he said; he had no sooner uttered the words ‘than the executioner cut
off his head: it was the 23rd of August, 1519.’ The bishop had managed
matters well. That cruel man was more like the wild beast that devours
the flock than the shepherd who protects them; he had shown himself
truly _tremendæ velocitatis animal_, ‘an animal of terrible swiftness,’
as Pliny says of the tiger; but unlike that animal, he was cowardly as
well as cruel. The Genevans, whose father he should have been, turned
from him with horror, and the avenging angel of the innocent prepared
to visit him with a terrible retribution at his death. Vainly would the
waters of the Rhone flow for ages over this narrow space--there are
stains of blood that no waters can ever wash out.[271]

The bishop intended, however, that Berthelier should be conveyed to
the place of execution for criminals; he only found it more prudent to
have him taken thither dead than alive, being sure that in this way
the ‘youths of Geneva’ could not restore him to liberty. The lifeless
body of the martyr was placed on a waggon; the executioner got in and
stood beside it, holding the victim’s head in his hand. A universal
horror fell upon the people, and many, heartbroken at being unable to
save their friend, shut themselves up in their houses to veil their
hatred and their shame. The long procession, starting from the castle,
moved forward, preceded and closed by foreign soldiers; in the middle
was the waggon bearing the dead body, and close behind followed many
mamelukes, ‘not the least of their party, in great insolence, mocking
at their own calamity; but good men dared not breathe, seeing that when
force reigns, the good cause must keep still.’[272] A few huguenots,
however, mournful and indignant, appeared in the streets or at their
doors. Meanwhile the executioner, parading in his triumphal car,
swung derisively to and fro the martyr’s bleeding head, and cried:
‘This is the head of the traitor Berthelier: let all take warning by
it.’ The procession continued its march as far as Champel, where the
executioner suspended the body of the father of Genevese liberty to the
gibbet. Thence, by a singular refinement of cruelty, they proceeded
to the bridge of Arve, and the head of the dead man, who had so
often terrified the bishop, was fastened up in the place where those
of Blanchet and Navis had hung so long. The prelate seemed to take
pleasure in reviving the recollection of his former butcheries.

Thus that kind-hearted man whom everybody loved, that heroic citizen
around whom were concentrated all the hopes of the friends of liberty,
had been sacrificed by his bishop. That death so hurried, so illegal,
so tragical, filled the Genevans with horror. The fate of his widow
and children moved them; but that of Geneva moved them more profoundly
still. Berthelier had fallen a victim to his passion for his country;
and that passion, which made many other hearts beat high, drew tears
even from the most selfish. The body hanging from the gibbet, the head
nailed up near the bridge of Arve, the memory of that sad procession,
did not speak to the senses only; men’s hearts were rent as if by a
violent blow, and many refused all consolation. There were also some
proud firm spirits who, unable to weep, gave vent to maledictions.
They might be met silent and frowning in the streets, and their
air, the tone of their voice, their gait, their ironical and bitter
words, expressed an indescribable contempt for the murderers. They
retraced in their minds that strange struggle, between cruel princes
and a generous, simple-minded, poor but free man. On one side were
the splendours of the throne, the majesty of the priesthood, armies,
executioners, tortures, scaffolds, and all the terrors of power; on
the other, a humble man, opposing his enemies by the nobleness of his
character and the unshrinking firmness of his courage.... The combat
was unequal, and the head of the great citizen had fallen. A bishop
looked with an ecstasy of joy on the blood of one of his flock, in
which he bathed his feet while impudently violating all the laws of the
country. But--and it was the consolation of these proud citizens--the
blood that had been shed would awaken a terrible voice. Outraged
justice and bleeding liberty would utter a long and mournful cry, which
would reach the ears of the Swiss League. Then would mountain and
valley, castle and cottage, city and hamlet, and every echo of the Alps
repeat it one to another, and thousands of arms would one day unite to
defend that little city so unworthily oppressed.[273]

Berthelier’s death was to have still more serious consequences. His
enemies had hoped to stifle liberty by killing him. Perhaps ... but it
was one of those deaths which are followed by a glorious resurrection.
In the battle which had just been fought noble blood had been spilt,
but it was blood that leads to victory at last. _Except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it
bringeth forth much fruit._ Religious liberty had many victims three
centuries ago in all the countries of the Reformation; but the noblest
martyrs of political liberty, in modern times, have fallen at Geneva
(if my judgment does not mislead me), and their death has not been
useless to the universal cause of civilisation. _Cruciate, torquete,
damnate ... sanguis christianorum, semen._ The blood of the martyrs is
a seed--a seed which takes root and bears fruit, not only in the spot
where it has been sown, but in many other parts of the world.

Berthelier’s friends were struck by his contempt of death and assurance
of eternal life. They still seemed to hear the noble testimony he had
borne to immortality. Hence one of them wrote this noble epitaph for

    Quid mihi mors nocuit? Virtus post fata virescit;
    Nec cruce nec gladio sævi perit illa tyranni.[274]

As we see, the idea of a resurrection, of a life after death, over
which man has no power, seems to have been uppermost in the mind of
Berthelier as well as of his friends. This man was not a common martyr
of liberty.

‘Verily,’ said some, ‘the maxim lately set forth is a true one: Heroes
and the founders of republics and empires have, next to God, the
greatest right to the adoration of men.’[275]

The bishop hastened to take advantage of his victory. ‘Berthelier’s
death,’ said his friend Bonivard, ‘gives the tyrant great comfort,
for the watch-dog being killed, he can easily manage the scattered
sheep.’ The bishop began, therefore, to move onwards, and undertook to
revolutionise Geneva. At first he resolved to change the magistrature.
Four days after the execution he assembled the general council, and,
assuming the airs of a conqueror, appeared at it with a numerous train.
‘We John of Savoy,’ said he in the document which has been preserved,
‘bishop and prince of Geneva, being informed of the dissensions of this
city, have not feared to come hither at great expense to administer by
force of arms the most effectual remedy; and we have behaved like a
good shepherd. My lord the Duke of Savoy, who singularly loves this
city, having desired to enter it, the syndics and the seditious have
with incredible annoyance rebelled against a prince so gentle;[276] and
if this illustrious prince had not been touched with compassion, if
he had not surpassed by his clemency the charity of the Redeemer[277]
... we should all have been destroyed.’ After these strange words from
a bishop, who placed the duke above Jesus Christ, at the very time
when this prince had made himself the accomplice in a murder, Master
Chappuis, the official, called out: ‘Say is it not so?’ None but
mamelukes were present at the assembly, and among them several persons
who had no right to be there. Many voices shouted, ‘Yes, yes!’ for it
was then the reign of terror. The syndics, ‘more ready to yield the
bishop their maces than their heads,’ says Bonivard, laid down before
him the insignia of their office. The next day another general council
elected four mameluke syndics: P. Versonay, P. Montyon, P. de Fernex,
and G. Danel, ‘who everywhere and in everything did what the bishop and
the duke desired.’ The same day, all huguenots were excluded from the
two councils; and the bishop forbade the citizens to carry arms or to
assemble by night, under penalty of a fine of twenty-five livres and
ten stripes of the cord.

Sorrow and dismay filled men’s hearts. Geneva lay as it were under
one of those funeral palls which are stretched over the dead. No
one stirred out, no one spoke; all was motionless and silent; the
air of despotism could be felt, as it hung over and benumbed the
soul. Besançon Hugues, A. Lévrier, and the other patriots retired
to their homes; but they had not lost hope; they waited in silence
until God should make the cause of liberty to triumph again in their
country.[278] Erelong, however, a few courageous spirits awoke and
began to stir. The patriots felt the need of pouring out their sorrows
together; and it was told the bishop ‘that several persons of the
huguenot sect[279] were in the habit of meeting secretly in various
places.’ Then the persecutions began afresh: ‘They spared the good as
little as the bad,’ says Bonivard, ‘and accused them of false crimes to
be revenged on them.’

A short time before the period we are describing, Amadeus de Joye, one
of Berthelier’s friends, had committed an act of little importance in
itself, but which was the first sign of opposition in Geneva to the
Romish superstitions. Two years earlier Luther had written to Spenlein
his beautiful letter on justification by faith; he had expounded the
epistle to the Galatians, and probably posted up his theses. Zwingle,
who had been appointed preacher at Einsiedeln, was declaiming against
pilgrimages, offerings, images, and the invocation of the Virgin and
the saints. Had the report of these sermons reached Geneva? It is
possible, for, as we have seen, there was constant intercourse between
this city and the German cantons. However that may be, many Genevans
were already asking if the glory of God ‘was not defiled by so foolish
and lifeless a thing as an image?’ Amadeus de Joye, whom we have met
before at the Molard assembly, and whom his enemies accused of being
the friend of Berthelier, Pécolat, ‘and many other villains,’ felt
little respect for the bishop’s _dolls_. Now there was at Geneva a
famous black image of wood, between two and three feet high, called
St. Babolin. Certain catholics held it in great devotion, carrying it
in long processions, and rendering it every sort of honour. One night
when the worshippers of St. Babolin had assembled in the house of Ami
Motey, one of their number, De Joye, indignant at their idolatry and
thinking the ugly figure was more like a devil than a god, carried it
off, and, with the intention of giving a lesson to the partisans of the
idol, took it to Motey’s house. The window was open; he listened to the
conversation of this devout little circle, and taking courage raised
the image as high as the casement and flung it into the midst of its
worshippers. It must be acknowledged that this was not controversy of
the right sort; but it was the sixteenth century, and the Genevans were
of a bold and scoffing humour. The startled followers of Babolin looked
with astonishment at their saint, which appeared to have fallen from
heaven. All of a sudden the door was opened and a loud voice called
out: ‘It is the devil ... he will eat you all!’ At these words, Motey
jumped up, caught hold of a javelin and prepared to hurl it at the
intruder; but De Joye hastily retired. There were no blows given, and
no blood was shed.[280]

This incident had been almost forgotten, when the bishop’s agents, who
were resolved to be severe upon the friends of liberty, shut up De Joye
in the Château de l’Ile, where Berthelier had been imprisoned, and
asked the syndics’ permission to question and to torture him in order
to get at the truth (7th September, 1519). Besides this affair of the
image, he was charged with ‘having been present at illegal meetings
where the citizens bound themselves by oath to resist any infringement
of their liberties by word or by deed.’[281] The syndics ordered that
De Joye should be examined in prison, _pede ligato_, with the feet
bound. The proceedings commenced.

‘I was born of worthy, upright, and distinguished parents,’ said De
Joye when he appeared before the syndics, ‘and by them trained up
virtuously until the age of manhood. Since then I have associated with
all the good men of the city, and in the profession which I follow I
have always borne a good reputation. Far from picking quarrels, I have
carefully avoided them, and have reconciled many. Finally, I have been
all my life faithful and obedient to my lord the bishop.’[282] These
words, which we transcribe from the documents in the trial, were of a
nature to inspire the judges with a certain respect; but they did not.
First Claude du Bois, the vidame’s lieutenant, and next the governor
of the castle, proposed that De Joye should be put to the torture to
force him to confess the crimes imputed to him;[283] but it was decided
to begin by examining the witnesses, who told what they had _heard
say_ by persons _whose names they could not remember_. Fine evidence on
which to put a man to the torture![284] The governor did not abandon
his project; the vidame came in person to urge the syndics to _do him
this pleasure_.[285] Could they be denied, when it concerned only a
contemner of St. Babolin? Amadeus knew not the Gospel; his opposition
to the black image proceeded merely from the disgust which superstition
inspires in intelligent minds, and there was in his character more fire
than firmness, more impetuosity than perseverance. The mild, weak, and
infirm man, who was scared by the idea of torture, fancied his limbs
already dislocated, and beginning to weep he offered to make oath of
his innocence on the relics of St. Anthony. To all the questions put
to him he replied only by groans and tears. The vidame, whose heart
was hardened, again demanded that he should be put to the torture. ‘My
right arm is crippled,’ exclaimed the poor wretch; ‘the sinews are
contracted.’ Two surgeons declared, after examination, that he might be
able to bear the strappado, but could not support the torture of the
_chatte_ without fainting.[286] There were in the executioner’s list
punishments for all temperaments, for the sick and crippled as well
as for the strong. De Joye, who, after he had sown his wild oats, had
become a respectable citizen, was neither a hero nor a revolutionist.
The embarrassed judges, not finding sufficient cause in the Babolin
joke to put a man to death, helped him to escape during the night, and
so saved appearances. The persecutions of the bishop were not limited
to a single individual. John of Savoy took delight in power, and
wished to show the cardinals that he was strong enough to put down
revolt. ‘They imprisoned,’ says Bonivard, ‘they beat, they tortured,
they beheaded and hanged, so that it was quite pitiful.’[287] Geneva
was crushed.

As it was not enough to lay their hands upon men, the princes of Savoy
laid their hands upon the constitution. War was made against principles
still more than against persons. It was necessary to stifle those
strange aspirations which carried men’s minds towards new ideas, and
to put an end to imaginations which denied the lawfulness of absolute
power. The duke, in accord with the bishop, published, although he
was a foreign prince, an act restricting the liberties of Geneva,
which banished from the general council all young men (for they were
suspected of independence), and deprived the people of the direct
election of syndics. On the 3rd of September, the general council,
at which few but mamelukes were present, accepted these articles in
silence. Thus did the Duke of Savoy, with the bishop’s help, triumph
over principles, rights, and liberties, and think he had strangled in
their nest the young eagles whom he had once feared to see soaring into
the heavens. Geneva, humbled and silenced by a bad prince and a maimed
constitution, was no longer to be feared.

The sorrow was general, and it might have been supposed that the
community only possessed strength enough to yield its last breath. But
as was seen formerly in Israel, in moments of crisis, how prophets and
prophetesses arose, so voices were heard in Geneva--voices of the
weakest creatures--proclaiming the ruin of the people and denouncing
the awful judgments of God. A poor girl for three days walked up and
down the city, neither eating nor drinking, but crying everywhere as
she went: _Le maz mugnier! le maz molin! le maz molu! ... tout est
perdu._ ‘Wicked miller! wicked mill! wicked meal!.... All is lost!’
The miller was the prince, the mill was the constitution, the meal
was the people.... It seems that this monotonous and doleful voice
affected everybody, even the mamelukes; the world readily believed
in the marvellous in those days; and the vidame dared not arrest the
prophetess. Syndic Balard, one of the most enlightened men in Geneva at
that time, saw a deep meaning in the poor girl’s mission.[288]




The prophetess was mistaken: the _meal_ was good. On a sudden the sky
hitherto so dark cleared up, and there was a gleam of sunshine. The
duke, who was thinking of marriage, returned to Turin; the bishop, who
was seriously ill and needed a warmer air, withdrew to his abbey of
Pignerol, and the huguenots, freed from their two oppressors, raised
their heads. Ramel, Hugues, Taccon, Baudichon de la Maison-Neuve,
and two others, waited upon the episcopal vicar, prothonotary of the
holy see, and demanded the revocation of the decrees contrary to the
liberties of the city, and the liberation of all citizens imprisoned
by the bishop. ‘In case of refusal,’ they said, ‘we shall appeal to
the metropolitan see of Vienne.’[289] The vicar, remembering the
excommunication incurred in the affair of Pécolat, was alarmed, and
granted all they demanded. This concession raised the courage of the
most timid, and the patriots immediately held meetings to provide
for the safety of the city. Aimé Lévrier, the judge, was especially
prominent. Berthelier had been the man of action, Lévrier was the man
of right: he had seen with sorrow force substituted for law. In his
opinion, every idea hostile to right ought to be combated; and the
government of the bishop was not that of the laws, but of arbitrary
power and terrorism. Lévrier had examples in his own family: the
prelate had caused his brother-in-law (the procurator Chambet) to be
thrown into prison because he was a huguenot, and to be tortured so
severely that his limbs remained out of joint. ‘God made man free,’
said Lévrier, ‘ages have made Geneva free; no prince has the right
to make us slaves.’ Despairing of ever seeing the bishop reign with
justice, he proposed an effectual remedy: ‘Let us petition the pope
for the prelate’s destitution.’ The daring motion was agreed to, and
Lévrier was commissioned to go to Rome to see to its execution. The
princes of Savoy succeeded in stopping him, and parried the blow, in
part at least. Leo X., however, acknowledging how shameful the bishop’s
conduct had been, ordered the bastard never to return to Geneva, and
to select a coadjutor to replace him. This was a cruel disgrace to the

Nor was this all: the people reasserted their ancient rights. The
time had come for electing the syndics for the year; the duke and the
bishop, as it will be remembered, had deprived the citizens of the
right to elect, and accordingly the Great Council nominated these
magistrates; but immediately loud protests were heard. The aged John
Favre[290] and his two sons, with De la Mare, Malbuisson, Vandel,
Richardet, and others, protested vigorously against this illegal act,
and declared that the election ought to take place according to the
ancient franchises. The people were at that time assembled in general
council. The mamelukes, unwilling to restore the liberties which their
chiefs had taken away from the citizens, resisted stoutly; and there
was an immense uproar in the assembly. The huguenots, ever prompt,
immediately organised the bureau, not troubling themselves about the
protests of their adversaries, and the popular elections began. At
this news the ministers of the bishop and the duke hurried to the
council, exclaiming: ‘Stop! it is a great scandal; the Great Council
has already named the syndics!’ The huguenots resisted; they declared
they would resume the ancient privileges of which a foreign prince had
deprived them; and the ministers of the two cousins (Charles and John),
finding their only resource was to gain time, demanded and obtained
the adjournment of the election until the morrow. The huguenots felt
themselves too strong not to wait. The next day, which was Monday,
the citizens poured from every quarter towards St. Pierre’s, full
of enthusiasm for the constitutions handed down by their ancestors.
Violence could not annul right; the election was made by the people
in conformity with the liberties of Geneva. But the huguenots, having
recovered their liberties, gave a proof of a moderation still more
surprising than their energy. They knew that by being patient they
would be strong; they thought that the election of huguenot syndics
might, under present circumstances, cause the storm to burst, and
bring down incalculable disasters upon the city; they therefore
returned the same syndics as the Great Council had done. After having
conquered absolutism, they conquered themselves. To construct with
haste a scaffolding that might afterwards be easily thrown down was not
their object; they desired to lay a solid foundation for the temple of

They did more: they attempted a reconciliation. Three of them, headed
by Robert Vandel (who was syndic in 1529), called upon the mameluke
syndic Danel, and said: ‘Let us forget our mutual offences and make
peace; let us drop the names mameluke and huguenot, and let there be
none but Genevans in Geneva. Bring the matter before the council.’ The
huguenots, like true citizens, desired union in their country; not
so the mamelukes, who were sold to the foreigner. They referred the
proposition to the vicar and episcopal council, and then to the bishop
and the duke--a sure means of insuring its failure.[292] Moderation,
concord, respect for the rights of all, were on the side of liberty.
The only thought of the priests and mamelukes was how to separate
themselves from the public cause. Of this a striking proof was seen at
that time.

Money to pay the expenses of the war (known as the war _des Bésolles_)
had to be raised. The clergy, notwithstanding their wealth, refused
to pay their quota, little suspecting that by their avarice they were
preparing the way for the Reformation.[293] To no purpose did the
huguenots, who had shown themselves so magnanimous in the election of
the syndics, make an earnest movement to reconcile all parties; the
priests, thinking only of their purses, replied by one of those violent
measures customary with the papacy. A citation from Rome fell suddenly
into the midst of Geneva; the pope summoned the chief magistrates of
the republic to appear before him, to render an account of the tax they
had dared to levy upon the priests; and on the 30th of April the agents
of the court of Rome posted the citation on the gates of the church
of St. Pierre. The citizens ran up to read it. What! the priests must
always keep themselves apart! Poor men who gain their living painfully
by the sweat of their brow, must stint their children’s bread in order
to pay this debt; and these debauched monks, these indolent priests,
still abundantly enjoy the delights of the flesh, and are not willing
to make the smallest sacrifice? The public conscience was stirred,
the city thrilled with indignation, ‘everybody was much vexed;’ the
next day the anger excited by this new act of meanness, this crying
selfishness, burst out, and ‘there was some rioting.’

Had the Reformation anything to do with this opposition to the
selfishness of the priests and the despotism of Rome? It is possible,
nay, probable; but it is a mistake to mix up the Reformer of Wittemberg
with it. ‘Luther,’ says Bonivard, ‘had already given instruction at
this time to many in Geneva and elsewhere.’[294] The _instruction_,
mentioned by the prior of St. Victor, clearly refers to christian
truth in general, and not to the conduct of the Genevese under present
circumstances. Had Luther done more? Had he addressed to Geneva any
of his evangelical teachings, as Bonivard seems to indicate? Had
he begun in this city the work that Calvin completed, as one of
Bonivard’s editors thinks?[295] This seems to us more than doubtful.
The influence exercised by Luther over Geneva is indisputable; but it
proceeded solely from his writings; it was the general influence of the
evangelical ideas scattered through the world by the great Reformer.

It was the year 1520. Luther was known at Geneva. A few huguenots,
indignant at the bull from Rome, asked whether this monk, who was
already spoken of throughout christendom, had not shown that the pope
had been often mistaken, and was mistaken every day? When the pope
had condemned him, had not Luther appealed from the pope? Had he not
said that the power of the sovereign pastor ought not to be employed
in murdering ‘Christ’s lambs and throwing them into the jaws of the
wolf?’ ... When the pope had launched a bull against this bold doctor,
as he now launched a citation against Geneva, had not Luther asked how
it was that you could not find in all the Bible one word about the
papacy, and that while the Scriptures often mention little things,
they positively say nothing of what we are assured are the greatest
in the church?[296] ... ‘We are no longer so frightened at the pope’s
bells,’ said the Genevans, ‘and will not let ourselves be caught in his
nets.’[297] Such was the first echo in Geneva of the cry uttered at
Wittemberg. On those hills which rise so gracefully at the extremity of
that beautiful lake, there was a soil ready to receive the seed which
Luther was scattering in the air. It came borne on the winds from the
banks of the Elbe even to the banks of the Rhone. Geneva and Wittemberg
began to shake hands.

The Genevan priests, hearing the name of Luther, were alarmed; they
fancied they already saw the dreaded face of the arch-heretic in
Geneva, and began to make long processions to avert the wrath of
heaven. One day, wishing at any cost to save their purses and their
faith, they organised a procession on a greater scale than usual.
Issuing from the city they proceeded with loud chants towards Our
Lady of Grace on the bank of the impetuous torrent of Arve, whose
turbid waters descend from the glaciers. All were there--canons,
priests, monks, scholars in white surplices, while clerks, proud of
their office, bore in front the image of St. Peter, the symbol of the
papacy. The spectacle was very displeasing to the townspeople. If, they
thought, we can do without the pope, like Luther, may we not also do
without these canons, monks, and priests? Has not Luther said that ‘a
christian elected by christians to preach the Gospel is more truly a
priest than if all the bishops and popes had consecrated him?’[298]
It is scarcely probable that the Genevans would have had the idea of
putting into practice this theory of the Reformer; but some of them
desired to get quit of this army of Rome, in the pay of the Duke of
Savoy. ‘All the priests have gone out,’ said they; ‘let us profit by
the opportunity to shut the gates of the city, and prevent them from
returning!’ As the priests placed their interests in opposition to
those of the city, it seemed logical to put them quietly out of Geneva.
‘All those black coats,’ says Syndic Roset, ‘were very nearly shut out,
through separating themselves from the republic.’[299] We may imagine
the fright of the priests when they learnt what had been proposed.
There was nothing, they thought, of which these huguenots were not
capable, and such an off-hand way of getting rid of the clergy at one
stroke was very much in keeping with their character. The citizens were
not however bold enough for this. ‘The prudent averted that,’ says
Bonivard. The startled monks and priests returned hastily and without
opposition to their nests, and lived once more at their ease: they
escaped with a good fright. This strange proposal, made by a few men of
decision, has been considered a prelude to the Reformation in Geneva.
That is saying too much; it required the Gospel to be first preached in
the city: and that was the real prelude. The hour of the Reformation
had not yet come; still the lesson was not lost, and an arrangement was
made with the clergy, who paid a portion of the expenses of the war.

Other events gave some hope to the Genevans, whose franchises were so
rudely trodden under foot; their greatest friend came out of prison,
and their greatest enemy quitted this world. Bonivard was still in
confinement, but his relations, who had great influence at court,
solicited the duke to restore him to liberty. ‘I dare not,’ said
Charles, ‘for fear of offending the pope.’ They then applied to Rome:
Leo X. commissioned the Bishop of Belley to investigate the matter, and
the friends of the prior entreated this prelate to set the prisoner
at large: ‘I dare not,’ he replied, ‘for fear of offending the duke.’
At last the duke consented, and Bonivard recovered his liberty but
not his priory. The Abbot of Montheron, to whom Charles had given it,
having gone to Rome to arrange his affairs, was invited by certain
ecclesiastics who coveted his benefice to a banquet ‘after the Roman
manner, and there,’ says Bonivard, ‘they gave him some cardinals’
powder, which purged the soul out of his body.’[300] It was by having
recourse to this ‘romanesque’ fashion that the guilty soul of Pope
Alexander VI. had been hurried from the world. A deed was found by
which the repentant Montheron resigned to Bonivard whatever rights he
had over the priory;[301] but Leo X. gave St. Victor to one of his
cousins, who leased the revenue for 640 gold crowns; and Bonivard,
the amiable and brilliant gentleman, brought up in abundance, at one
time prior and even prince, was left in poverty. It is true that he
succeeded for a time in being put in possession of his priory; but the
duke soon made him regret in a horrible dungeon the liberty and goods
that had been restored to him. Geneva’s day of agony was not yet ended,
and at the very time when the citizens hoped to be able to breathe a
purer air, oppression once more came and stifled them.

Another event which seemed likely to be favourable to Geneva was
approaching. The pope, as we have said, had forced a coadjutor upon the
bishop, and the latter had chosen Pierre de la Baume, an ecclesiastic
of high family, a scion of the illustrious house of the counts of
Montrevel, whom he looked upon as a son. Pierre, who was abbot of Suze
and St. Claude, and bishop of Tarsus _in partibus_, came to Geneva
about the time of Bonivard’s liberation in 1521 to take possession
of his charge. On the 25th of January a _Te Deum_ was sung for that
purpose at St. Pierre’s by the Bishop of Maurienne. Everybody knew that
the coadjutor would soon be bishop and prince; accordingly all passions
were aroused, and after mass, the mamelukes endeavoured to gain over
the future bishop to their side. Besançon Hugues, who desired to see
Geneva catholic and episcopal, but free, waited upon the prelate;
reminded him, to pave the way for a good reception, that one Hugues,
his great-uncle, had been cardinal, and perceiving that he had to deal
with a frivolous, vain, pleasure-seeking man, and who, as a younger
son, was ambitious to rise at least as high as his elder brothers, he
strove to make him understand that, far from submitting to the duke, he
should remember that the Bishop of Geneva was _prince_, while the duke
was only vassal. Pierre de la Baume, a weak man, ever halting between
two opinions, carried away by the honesty and eloquence of the Genevan
citizen, gave him his confidence. Besançon Hugues remained ever after
his most confidential adviser.[302]

Erelong another scene was enacted beyond the Alps. The miserable John
of Savoy lay at Pignerol on his death-bed. Given during his life to
the pleasures of the table and of debauchery, he was now paying the
penalty of his misdeeds. He suffered from the gout, he was covered
with filthy ulcers, he was little more than skin and bone. He had
thought only of enjoying life and oppressing others; he had plotted
the ruin of a city of which he should have been the pastor; he now
received the wages of his iniquity. Near the bed where this prelate
lay languishing stood his coadjutor, who had hastened from Geneva to
Pignerol. With eyes fixed upon the dying man, Pierre sought to buoy him
up with false hopes; but John was not to be deceived. Soon the dreaded
moment approached; an historian, whom Romish writers quote habitually
with favour,[303] describes all that was horrible in the end of this
great sinner. Hirelings surrounded the dying bishop, and turned their
eyes from time to time on him and on the objects they might be able to
carry off as soon as he was insensible. Pierre de la Baume contemplated
the progress of the disease with ill-dissembled satisfaction, eagerly
anticipating the moment when, relieved from his hypocritical cares,
he would enter into possession of all that he had coveted for so many
years. Jean Portier, the dying man’s secretary, the confidant of his
successor, watched that criminal impatience, that sordid cupidity,
and that perverse meanness, which he already hoped to turn to his
advantage. The shadows of the victims of the expiring man were traced
on the walls of the room by an avenging hand, and when at last the
priests desired to administer extreme unction, he imagined they were
covering him with blood. They presented him the crucifix; he seemed to
recognise the features of Berthelier, and asked with a wild look: ‘Who
has done that?’ Far from embracing with respect and submission this
emblem of eternal salvation, he rejected it with horror, heaping foul
abuses on it. Blasphemy and insult mingled with the foam that whitened
his trembling lips. Thus wrote an author less Romanist, we perceive,
than is imagined.[304] Repentance succeeded despair in the guilty soul
of the prelate before his death. Turning a last look on his adopted
son, he said to him: ‘I wished to give the principality of Geneva to
Savoy ... and to attain my object, I have put many innocent persons to
death.’ The blood that he had shed cried in his ears: Navis, Blanchet,
and Berthelier rose up before him. Pursued by remorse, weighed down
by the fear of a Judge, he would have desired to save La Baume from
the faults he had committed himself. ‘If you obtain this bishopric,’
continued he, ‘I entreat you not to tread in my footsteps. On the
contrary, defend the franchises of the city.... In the sufferings I
endure, I recognise the vengeance of the Almighty.... I pray to God
for pardon from the bottom of my heart.... In purgatory ... God will
pardon me!’[305] It is gratifying to hear this cry of an awakening
conscience at the termination of a criminal life. Unfortunately Pierre
de la Baume did not profit by this solemn advice. The bastard died
after horrible sufferings, ‘inflicted by the divine judgment,’ says
Bonivard, ‘and he went into the presence of the Sovereign to plead with
those whose blood he had shed.’--‘At the time of his death, he was so
withered,’ adds the prior of St. Victor, ‘that he did not weigh five
and twenty pounds.’ The prophecy of Pécolat was fulfilled: _Non videbit
dies Petri._ Instead of twenty-five years the episcopacy of John of
Savoy had only lasted nine.

Geneva was about to change masters. The struggle which had
characterised the episcopacy of John of Savoy could not fail to be
renewed if, instead of a shepherd, the Genevese received a hireling.
Who would come off victorious in this new combat? Would the old times
be maintained; or, thanks to a prelate who understood the wants of the
age and the nature of the Gospel, should we witness the commencement
of a new era? There was little hope that it would be so. The episcopal
see of Geneva, which gave the rank of temporal prince, was much coveted
by nobles, and even, as we have seen, by members of the sovereign
families. These worldly bishops thought only of getting rich and of
living in pomp and pleasure, careless of the good government of the
Church or of feeding their flock. The thrones of such princes could
not but totter and fall erelong. Pierre de la Baume, certain good
qualities notwithstanding, could not prevent this catastrophe; on the
contrary, he accelerated it. He had wit and imagination; but was weak,
vain, and inclined to the same habits of servility as his predecessor,
‘incapable,’ says an historian, ‘of comprehending any other happiness
than sleeping well, after he had eaten and drunk well.’[306]

The bastard having breathed his last, Pierre, kneeling by the side of
his bed, rose up a bishop. He took immediate steps to secure his new
property from pillage, and on the 7th of February, 1522, wrote a letter
to ‘his dearly beloved and trusty syndics, councillors, citizens, and
community of Geneva,’ which gave no promise that the reign of truth
would be witnessed during his episcopacy. He began with the falsehoods
usual in such cases, and informed the Genevans that his predecessor had
‘made as holy an end as ever prelate did, calling upon his Creator and
the Virgin Mary with his latest breath.’ He reminded them at the same
time ‘of the great love and affection which John had felt while alive
for them and for all his good subjects.’ ... ‘Witness the chestnut-tree
at the bridge of Arve,’ said some.[307]

A year elapsed before the new bishop came to Geneva. Was it from fear;
or did his temporal occupations keep him away? It was probably the
latter motive. He had to come to an understanding with the duke and the
pope touching his episcopacy, and he visited Rome in order to obtain
his briefs. At last, on the 11th of April, 1523, his solemn entry took
place.[308] A great multitude flocked together from all the surrounding
districts. The syndics, the councillors, and the people went as far
as the bridge of Arve to meet the bishop, who, accompanied by his
gentlemen, priests and friends, and having by his side the Countess
of Montrevel his sister-in-law, the Marquis of St. Sorlin his second
brother, and two of his nephews, advanced ‘riding on a mule beautifully
harnessed and gilt, and wearing a green hat, after the fashion of the
bishops of Rome.’ The four syndics carried a handsome canopy over
his head, which a pelting rain rendered very necessary. ‘More than a
hundred horses crept at a snail’s pace before him.’ Four companies
of archers, arquebusiers, bowmen, and spearmen marched by with firm
steps. In every street of the city ‘young men well mounted, equipped,
and accoutred, rode à l’albanaise.’ Dramas, farces, mysteries, games
and pastimes were given in the open air in spite of the rain, and the
Genevans were full of hope. It might have been said that this branch,
so severely shaken and almost separated from the Roman papacy, was
about to be restored. Geneva, by welcoming the bishop so cordially,
seemed to be welcoming the pope who sent him. This was however in the
year 1523. Luther had burnt the bull from Rome; he had said before
the Diet of Worms, _I cannot do otherwise_. The Reformation was
advancing with great strides at Wittemberg, and was spreading over all
Germany. And yet it was just at this time that Geneva received a Roman
bishop almost with enthusiasm; but if the energetic city should be
disappointed in its expectations, we shall see it rise up against all
the framework of Rome and overthrow it without leaving a single piece
in its place.

For the moment men indulged in the most flattering hopes. La Baume bore
a tree (in German _baum_) on his shield; the Genevese presented him a
poem, the first lines of which ran thus:

    But for this tree which God has planted,
      Geneva would have had no gladness;
    No branch and no support had I
      To lean upon in time of sadness.
    But God be praised for his good work
      In planting here this goodly tree,
    Beneath whose shade the poor shall dwell
      In peace and unity.[309]

These verses are a proof of the pacific intentions which the patriots
then entertained; for they were written by Ami Porral, a most decided
huguenot, who afterwards became one of the first supporters of the
Reformation. The Roman episcopacy did not correspond to their hopes;
Porral and his friends soon discovered that they must plant _another
tree in the orchard_, the tree of the Gospel, in whose branches the
birds of the air might come and lodge. A priest representing St. Peter,
and dressed as a pope, presented to the bishop the golden key of his
cathedral, and the prelate, standing in the church in front of the high
altar, swore to observe the franchises of the city.[310] But he had
scarcely taken this oath before he imprisoned a citizen unlawfully; and
when the syndics humbly reminded him of their liberties, he exclaimed
petulantly: ‘You always smell of the Swiss.’[311] However, he set the
prisoner at large.

Between 1519 and 1525 there were few days of energy and enthusiasm
in Geneva; her liberty was expiring, tyranny hovered over the city,
a funeral pall seemed to hang upon its walls. This was a time of
bitter trial and depression in the city. In the midst of citizens who
slumbered, of some who paid court to an illegitimate power, and of
others who thought of nothing but amusement, there were many who shed
tears over the loss of their glorious hopes. We feel ill at ease in
Geneva now, and still more ill in the midst of merrymakings than in
the midst of trials. Would the duke and the bishop really succeed in
stifling the new life which animated this little state? A great event
will arise to give strength to liberty. She descended to the tomb with
Berthelier, though still young; she will come forth again when, the
gates of Switzerland opening wide, Geneva shall grasp the hand of the
ancient champions of independence, and receive the words of Him who
said: _The truth shall make you free_.



(AUGUST 1523.)

The duke, seeing that the Genevese commune was seriously weakened,
had formed new plans for definitively seizing the sovereignty, and of
expelling both liberty and the tendencies towards the Reformation,
with which, according to Charles III. and Charles V., this restless
city was infected. Magnificence, fêtes, grandeur, flattery, seduction,
and perfidy were all to be brought into play, and for that end Charles
possessed new resources. He had just married Beatrice of Portugal,
whose sister was about to be united to the Emperor Charles V. Beatrice,
a woman of great beauty, proud, ambitious, and domineering, required
everything to bend before her; Charles, a man of no will, found one in
this princess; and the conspiracy of Savoy against Genevan independence
entered into a new phase, which threatened to be marked by great
reverses. After a few months of wedlock, the duke expressed a desire to
present the beautiful duchess to his good friends of Geneva, and made
preparations for displaying all the pomps and seductions of a court in
order to win them over. And more than this: the duchess expected to be
brought to bed in December: it was now August (1523); if she had a boy
in Geneva, would not these worthy burgesses be happy, nay proud, to
have for their prince a son of Savoy born within their walls? And would
not the child’s uncle, the mighty emperor, have a word to say then in
his favour in that ancient imperial city which still bore the eagle
on its shield? Every means was set to work to carry out this court

The duke had calculated rightly when reckoning on republican vanity.
Every one was busied in preparing to receive the prince, with his wife
and courtiers, for the Genevese desired that the pomps of this fête
should infinitely surpass those of the bishop’s reception. There were
(so to say) two men in these citizens: one, full of lofty aspirations,
longed for truth and liberty; but the other, full of vanity and fond of
pleasure, allowed himself to be seduced by luxury and the diversions of
a court. The duke and the bishop would never have succeeded in ruining
Geneva; but if Geneva united with them, her ruin seemed inevitable.
All heads were turned. ‘I shall be dressed more expensively than you
on the day of the duchess’s entrance,’ said Jean de Malbuisson to
Jean Philippe, afterwards first syndic. Upon which, Philippe, one
of the proudest huguenots, ordered a magnificent dress of satin,
taffeta, velvet, and silver, which cost him forty-eight crowns of the
sun. Malbuisson was filled with jealousy and anger, and the syndics
were compelled to interfere to appease this strife of vanity.[312]
These vain republicans, charmed at the honour to be done them by the
daughter of the king of Portugal, wished to strew her path with roses.
Portugal, governed by the famous dynasty of Aviz, renowned by the
expeditions of Diaz, Vasco de Gama, and Cabral, and by the conquests of
Albuquerque, was then overflowing with riches, was a naval power of the
first order, and was at the height of its greatness. It was no small
thing in the eyes of the burgesses of the city of the Leman that the
glory, which filled the most distant seas with its splendour, should
shed a few sparks of its brilliancy on the shores of an unknown lake.
The duke had no doubt that these citizens, so fond of pleasure, would
quietly submit to the claims which beauty laid upon them, and that
Geneva would be his.

At last the 4th of August arrived, and all the city hastened to the
banks of the Arve to meet the young and charming duchess; the women had
the foremost place in this Genevese procession. A battalion of amazons,
composed of three hundred of the youngest and most beautiful persons
in Geneva, appeared first. They wore the colours of the duchess, blue
and white; their skirts, as was the fashion with the warlike damsels
of antiquity, were tucked up to the knee; and each one carried in her
right hand a javelin, and in her left a small shield. At the head as
captain was the wife of the Seignior d’Avully, who, being a Spaniard,
could speak to the duchess in her own language: in the middle was the
standard-bearer, ‘a tall and beautiful woman, waving the colours like a
soldier who had done nothing else all his life.’

The duchess appeared, seated in a triumphal chariot drawn by four
horses, and so covered with cloth of gold and jewels that all eyes
were dazzled. The duke rode by her side on a mule richly caparisoned,
and a multitude of noblemen followed them in magnificent attire,
smiling and talking to one another: the good-humoured simplicity of
these republicans charmed them. They said that if they had failed with
the sword, they would succeed with jewellery, feathers, and display;
and that this rebellious city would be too happy, in exchange for the
amusements they would give, to receive the duke and pay court to the
pope. Everything had been arranged to make the poison enter their
hearts by mild and subtle means. The triumphal car having halted at
Plainpalais, the queen of the amazons approached the duchess and said:

    En ce pays soyez la bienvenue!...

with other verses which we spare the reader. When the princess arrived
before the chapel of the Rhone, where stood an image of the Virgin with
the child Jesus in her arms, a sibyl appeared and said:

    For thee I have obtained a boon divine:--
    The Son of God before thine eyes shall shine....
    Look up ... see him to Mary’s bosom pressed,
    The Virgin who hath borne him for our rest;
    With great devotion Mary’s son adore,
    And he shall open wide to thee heaven’s door.

The procession passed successively under six triumphal arches,
dedicated to illustrious princesses, before each of which Beatrice
had to stop and hear a new compliment. But it was labour lost: the
haughty Portuguese woman, far from thanking the ladies, did not even
look at them; and when the men came forward in their turn in those
magnificent dresses which had cost them so much money and contention,
the duchess received the _shopkeepers_ with still greater contempt. A
deep feeling of discontent immediately replaced the general enthusiasm:
‘She takes us for her slaves, in Portugal fashion,’ exclaimed one of
the proudest of the huguenots. ‘Let us show her that we are free men.
Come, ladies, I advise you to return to your spinning; and as for us,
my friends, we will pull down the galleries and destroy the theatres.’
And then he whispered to one of his neighbours: ‘Better employ our
money in fortifying the city, and compelling these Savoyards to keep
outside. You entice them in ... take care they do not burn you in
your own straw.’ The duke’s counsellors began to feel alarmed. The
mine which they fancied had been so skilfully dug, threatened to blow
them all into the air. Yet a few more mistakes of this kind and all
was lost.... Some of the courtiers endeavoured to excuse the haughty
manners of Beatrice by telling the citizens: _Che eran los costumbres
de Portugal._ ‘They were the fashions of Portugal.’ The duke conjured
his wife to make an effort to win back their hearts.[313]

Doubts were beginning at that time to be circulated concerning the
attachment of Geneva to the papacy. Charles and his courtiers had heard
something of this; and the desire to keep the city in the fold of Rome
for ever had a great share, as we have remarked, in their chivalrous
enterprise. The mamelukes and the canons, ashamed of these rumours,
had prepared a mystery-play calculated to make the duke and duchess
believe that the Genevans thought much more of seeking crosses and
other relics than of finding that New Testament so long unknown and
about which they were talking so much in Germany. Accordingly, when
the procession arrived at the Place du Bourg de Four, they saw a large
scaffold, a kind of house, open on the side next the spectators, and
divided into several stories. The triumphal car halted, and the people
of Geneva who were afterwards to show the world another spectacle,
began to perform the ‘Invention of the Cross.’

The first scene represents Jerusalem, where the Emperor Constantine and
Helena, his mother, have arrived to make search for the precious relic.

    CONSTANTINE _to the Jews_.

    Come tell me, Jews, what did you do
    With the cross whereon by you
    Christ was hanged so cruelly?

    THE JEWS, _trembling_.

    Dear emperor, assuredly
    We do not know.


                    You lie.
    You shall suffer for this by-and-by.

    (_To his guards._)

    Shut them in prison instantly.

The Jews are put into prison; and this is a lesson to show what ought
to be done to those who pay no respect to the wood that Helena had come
to worship.

    A JEW _from the window_.

    Judas the president am I,
    And if you will let me go
    I by signs most clear will show
    Where my father saw it hid.


    Out then; we the cross will seek,
    And they shall linger here the while.

The next scene represents Golgotha. The emperor, Helena, and their
train follow the Jew.


    Mighty emperor, here’s the spot
    Where the cross by stealth was put
    With other two.


    Let the earth be dug around,
    And the cross be quickly found.

    A LABOURER _digs up three crosses_.

    This is all.

    CONSTANTINE, _puzzled to know which is the true cross_.

                 To prove the story true
    Still remains.... What shall we do?


    My dear son, pray hold your tongue.

    (_She orders a dead body to be brought._)

    To this corpse we will apply
    These three crosses carefully,
    And, if I be not mistaken,
    At the touch it will awaken.

    (_The three crosses are applied, and when the third touches the body it is
    restored to life._)


    O wonderful!

    (_Helena takes the true cross in her arms._)

    CONSTANTINE _kneels and worships it_.

    O cross of Christ, how great thy power!
    In this place I thee adore;
    May my soul be saved by thee!


    The cross hath brought to us God’s grace,
    The cross doth every sin efface.
    Here’s the proof....

Thus, therefore, the Genevese believed in the miracles worked by the
wood of the cross. How, after such manifest proof, should not the world
see that Geneva was free from heresy?[314]

The procession and the princess resumed their march. They stopped
before the hôtel-de-ville, and there the syndics made Beatrice a
present from the city, which she received _pleasantly_ according to the
lesson the duke had given her. However, she could hold up no longer:
exhausted with fatigue, she begged to be conducted to her lodging. They
proceeded accordingly towards the Dominican convent, where apartments
had been prepared for the duke and duchess. This monastery, situated
without the city, on the banks of the Rhone, was one of the most
corrupt but also one of the richest in the diocese. Here they arrived
at last, Charles as delighted as Beatrice was wearied. ‘The flies are
caught by the honey,’ said the duke; ‘yet a few more fêtes, and these
proud Genevans will become our slaves.’

He lost no time, and, full of confidence in the _prestige_ of Portugal,
the brilliancy of his court, and the graces of his duchess, he began
to give ‘great banquets, balls, and fêtes.’ Beatrice, having learnt
that it was necessary to win hearts in order to win Geneva, showed
herself agreeable to the ladies, and entertained them with ‘exquisite
viands,’ followed by ballets, masquerades, and plays. On his part the
duke organised tournaments with a great concourse of noble cavaliers,
assembled from all the castles of the neighbouring provinces, and in
which the youth of Geneva contended with the lords of the court. ‘We
have never been so well amused since the time of Duke Philibert,’
said the young Genevans. To the allurements of pleasure Savoy added
those of gain. The court, which was ‘large and numerous,’ spent a
great deal of money in the city, and thus induced all those to love
it who had given up their minds to the desire for riches. Finally the
attractions of ambition were added to all the rest. To souls thirsting
for distinction Geneva could offer only a paltry magistracy, whilst,
by yielding themselves to Savoy, they might aspire to the greatest
honours; accordingly the notables and even the syndics laid themselves
at the feet of the duke and duchess. ‘The prince was better obeyed at
Geneva than at Chambéry,’ says Bonivard. Everything led the politicians
to expect complete success. That bold soaring towards independence and
the Gospel, so displeasing to the duke, the king of France, and the
emperor, was about to be checked; and those alarming liberties, which
had slept for ages, but which now aspired after emancipation, would be
kept in restraint and subjection.[315]

The calculations of the princes of Savoy were not, however, so correct
as they imagined. A circumstance almost imperceptible might foil them.
Whilst the cabinet of Turin had plotted the ruin of Geneva, God was
watching over its destinies. Shortly before the entry of the bishop
and the duke, another power had arrived in Geneva; that power was the
Gospel. Towards the end of the preceding year, in October and November
1522, Lefèvre published his French translation of the New Testament.
At the same time the friends of the Word of God, being persecuted
at Paris, had taken refuge in different provinces. A merchant named
Vaugris, and a gentleman named Du Blet, were at Lyons, despatching
thence missionaries and New Testaments into Burgundy and Dauphiny,
to Grenoble and Vienne.[316] In the sixteenth century as in the
second, the Gospel ascended the Rhone. From Lyons and Vienne came
in 1523 to the shores of Lake Leman that Word of God which had once
destroyed the superstitions of paganism, and which was now to destroy
the excrescences of Rome. ‘Some people called evangelicals came from
France,’ says a _Memoir to the Pope on the Rebellion of Geneva_ in
the archives of Turin. The names of the pious men who first brought
the Holy Scriptures to the people of Geneva, have been no better
preserved than the names of the missionaries of the second century: it
is generally in the darkness of night that beacon fires are kindled.
Some Genevans ‘talked with them and bought their books,’ adds the
MS. Thus, while the canons were assisting in the representation of
time-worn fables, and holding up as an example the piety of those who
had sought for the cross in the bowels of the earth, more elevated
souls in Geneva were seeking for the cross in the Scriptures. One
of the first to welcome these biblical colporteurs was Baudichon de
la Maison-Neuve, a man bold and ardent even to imprudence, but true,
upright, and generous. He was enraptured to find in the Gospel the
strength he needed to attack the superstitions of old times, which
filled him with instinctive disgust. Robert Vandel did the same. Syndic
in 1529, and employed in all the important affairs of the time, he
found in these works which had come from Lyons a means of realising
his ideal, which was to make Geneva a republic independent in religion
as well as in politics. These noble-hearted men and many besides them
read the Scriptures with astonishment. They sought, but they could
find no Roman religion there--no images, no mass, no pope; but they
found an authority and power above prelates and councils and pontiffs,
and even princes themselves--a new authority, new doctrine, new life,
new church ... and all these new things were the old things which the
apostles had founded. It was as if the quickening breath of spring had
begun to be felt in the valley after the rigours of a long winter.
They went out into the open air; they basked in the rays of the sun;
they exercised their benumbed limbs. Priests and bigot laymen looked
with astonishment at this new spectacle. What! they had hoped that the
pompous entrance of Charles and Beatrice would secure their triumph,
and now an unknown book, entering mysteriously into the city, without
pomp, without display, without cloth of gold, borne humbly on the back
of some poor pedlar, seemed destined to produce a greater effect than
the presence of the brother-in-law of Charles V. and of the daughter of
the kings of Portugal.... Was the victory to slip from their hands in
the very hour of success? Was Geneva destined to be anything more than
a little city in Savoy and a parish of the pope’s?... Disturbed at this
movement of men’s minds, some of the papal agents hastened to write to
Rome: ‘What a singular thing! a new hope has come to these dejected
rebels.... And to those books which have been brought from France
and which they buy of the evangelicals, the Genevans look for their

In fact, the triumph of the duke, the duchess, and their court, who had
succeeded in leading certain Genevans into dissipation and servility,
exasperated the huguenots: they never met without giving vent, as they
grasped each other’s hands, to some expression of scorn or sorrow.
Among them was Jean Philippe, several times elected captain-general.
He was not one of those whom the Holy Scriptures had converted: he was
a rich and generous citizen, full of courage and a great friend of
liberty; but loving better to pull down than to build up, and carrying
boldness even to rashness. He proposed that they should give a lesson
to the mamelukes and priests, ‘and undertook to bear all the expenses.’
Other huguenots, more moderate, and above all more pious, held it of
importance to make known the impressions they had received from the
Gospel. The Word of God having touched their hearts, they desired to
show that it was a remedy for all the ills of humanity. Seeing that
everybody was eager to entertain the duke and duchess, they resolved
to add their dish also to the banquet, seasoning it however with a
few grains of salt. Instead of the discovery of the cross by Helena,
they will celebrate the discovery of the Bible by the Reformation. The
subject was not ill-chosen, as it brought out strongly the contrast
between the old and the new times. The huguenots therefore informed
the duke that they were desirous of performing a mystery-play in his
honour in the open air on the Sunday after a certain holiday called Les
Bordes. Jean Philippe having generously provided for all the expenses,
the young men learnt their parts, and everything was ready for the

It was fair-time at Geneva, and consequently a great crowd of Genevans
and strangers soon gathered round the theatre: the Bishop of Maurienne
arrived; lords and ladies of high descent took their seats; but they
waited in vain for the duke, who did not appear. ‘We shall not go,
neither the duchess nor myself,’ he said, ‘because the performers are
huguenots.’ Charles, knowing his men well, feared some snake in the
grass. The huguenot who had composed the piece represented the state
of the world under the image of a _disease_, and the Reformation as
the _remedy_ by which God desired to cure it; the subject and title of
his drama was _Le Monde Malade_, the Sick World, and everything was to
appear--priests, masses, the Bible and its followers. The principal
character, _Le Monde_ (the World), had heard certain monks, terrified
at the books which had lately come from France, announce that the last
days were at hand, and that the World would soon perish. It was to be
burnt by fire and drowned by water.... This was too much for him; he
trembled, his health declined, and he pined away. The people about him
grew uneasy, and one of them exclaimed:

    The World grows weaker every day;
    What he will come to, who can say?

He had however some friends, and each of them brought him a new remedy;
but all was useless--the World grew worse and worse. He decided then to
resort to the sovereign universal remedy, by which even the dead are
saved, namely, masses. The Romish worship, assailed by the reformers,
was now on its trial in the streets of Geneva.


    Come, Sir Priest, pull out your wares--
    Your masses, let me see them all.

    PRIEST, _delighted to see the World apply to him_.

    May God give you joy! but how
    You like them I should wish to know.


    I like them just as others do.




           Yes, short.

    PRIEST, _showing him some masses_.

                       Then here’s the thing for you.

    THE WORLD, _rejecting them with alarm_.

    Than these no sermon can be longer.

    PRIEST, _showing others_.

    Here are others.

    THE WORLD, _refusing them_.

                     No! no! no!

    PRIEST, _finding that the World wants neither long nor short masses_.

    What you want you do not know.

Then _Le Conseiller_ (the Counsellor), a wise and enlightened man,
recommends a new remedy, one both harmless and effectual, which is
beginning to make a great noise.

    What is it, say?

asks the World; the Counsellor answers:

    A thing which no man dares gainsay ...

The World does not know what this new medicine means: another character
strives in vain to inspire him with confidence:

    Believe me, Mr. World, there’s not a fool
    But knows it.

The World will not have it at any price. It was known already at Geneva
in 1523 that the world was giving a bad reception to the Gospel: ‘They
shall say all manner of evil against you, and shall persecute you.’ As
he could not be cured by the priests, and would not be cured by the
Bible, the World called in the Doctor (_le Médecin_), and carefully
described his disease:

    I am so troubled, and teased, and tormented,
    With all the rubbish that they have invented ...
    That flat here on my bed I lie.


    What rubbish?


                  That a _deluge_ by-and-by
    Will come, and that a _fire_ to boot
    Will burn us all both branch and root.

But the Doctor happens to be (as was often the case in the sixteenth
century) one of those who believe the text of the Bible to be
infallible; he begins to paint the liveliest picture of the disorders
of the clergy, in order to induce his patient to take the remedy
prescribed for him:

    Why are you troubled, Sir World, at that?
    Do not vex yourself any more
    At seeing these rogues and thieves by the score
      Buying and selling the cure of souls ...
    Children still in their nurses’ arms
    Made abbots and bishops and priors...

           *       *       *       *       *

    For their pleasure they kill their brothers,
    Squander their own goods and seize another’s;
      To flattering tongues they lend their ear;
    For the merest trifle they kindle the flame
    Of war, to the shame of the christian name.[318]

The World, astonished at a description so far from catholic, becomes
suspicious, thinks the language heretical, and exclaims:

                ... Mere fables these:
    From the land of LUTHER they came.


    Upon Luther’s back men lay the blame,
    If you speak of sin....

At Geneva, therefore, as well as in all the catholic world, Luther was
already known as the man who laid bare sins. The Doctor did not allow
himself to be disconcerted by this charge of Lutheranism:

    World, would you like to be well once more?

    THE WORLD, _with firmness_.



         Then think of abuses what a store
    Are daily committed by great and small,
    And _according to law_ reform them all.

This was demanding a Reformation. The huguenots (_Eidguenots_)
applauded; the foreign merchants were astonished; the courtiers
of Savoy, and even Maurienne himself, smiled. Still Maison-Neuve,
Vandel, Bernard, and all those who had ‘talked with’ the evangelicals,
and especially the author of the drama, knew the difficulties the
Reformation would have to encounter in Geneva.

The World, irritated against these laymen who turn preachers, exclaims:

    This impudent doctor so mild of speech,
    I asked him to cure me, not to _preach_.
    The fool!

Another personage, alarmed at so unprecedented a thing:

              Good heavens! it can’t be true.


    True enough; but as for his preaching now,
    I’d rather be led by a fool, I vow,
    Than a preacher.


                     That’s quite right;
    Live by the rule of your appetite.


    That will I!...

Whereupon the World puts on a fool’s dress, and the burlesque ends.

It is too true that the world, after the Reformation, put on a fool’s
dress in various places, particularly in France. What was the house
of Valois but a house of fools? And yet a divine wisdom had then
entered the world, and remains in it still, for the healing of nations.
From the beginning of 1523, the great principle of protestantism
which declares Scripture to be the only source and rule of truth,
in opposition to that of Roman Catholicism, which substitutes the
authority of the Church, was recognised in Geneva. The ‘text of the
Bible’ was publicly declared ‘an irreproachable thing’ and the only
remedy for the cure of diseased humanity. And what, at bottom, was this
burlesque of the huguenots but a lay sermon on the text: _The law of
the Lord converteth the soul_? It is good to observe the date, as it is
generally thought that the Reformation did not begin till much later in
the city of Calvin. This ‘mystery’ of a new kind did not remain without
effect; the evangelicals had taken up their position; the ram, armed
with its head of brass, that was to batter and throw down the walls of
Rome--the infallible Bible, had appeared. Jean Philippe felt that the
piece had not cost him too dear.

The stage of the _Monde Malade_ had scarcely been pulled down, when the
citizens had to think of something else besides plays. The Savoyards,
who did not like the dish served up to them, and thought they smelt
the poison of heresy in it, resolved to avenge themselves by making
the weight of their yoke felt. Two words comprehend the whole policy
of these soldiers and courtiers: despotism of the prince, servility of
the people. They undertook to mould the Genevans to their system. With
haughty mien and arrogant tone they were continually picking quarrels
with the citizens; they called everything too dear that was sold them,
they got into a passion and struck the shopkeepers, and the latter,
who had no arms, were obliged at first to put up with these insults.
But erelong every one armed himself, and the tradesmen, raising their
heads, crossed swords with these insolent lords. There was a great
uproar in the city. Irritated at this resistance, the grand-master
of the court hastened to the council: ‘The duke and duchess came
here,’ he said, ‘thinking to be with friends.’ The council ordered
the citizens to be arrested who had struck the gentlemen, and the
Savoyard quarter-master undertook to lock them up, which the Genevan
quarter-master resisted. The duke, in a passion, threatened to bring
in his subjects ‘to pillage the place.’ There was some reason, it must
be confessed, to desire a little tranquillity. ‘The duchess is willing
to do us the honour of being brought to bed in this city,’ said Syndic
Baud to the people; ‘please do not make any disturbance; and as soon
as you hear the bells and trumpets, go in procession with tapers and
torches, and pray to God for her.’

The ‘honour’ which the duchess was about to confer on Geneva did not
affect the Genevans. The most courageous citizens, Aimé Lévrier, John
Lullin, and others, were superior to all such seductions. Faithful
interpreter of the law, calm but intrepid guardian of the customs and
constitutions, Lévrier continually reminded the council that Charles
was not sovereign in Geneva. While avoiding a noisy opposition, he
displayed unshrinking firmness; and accordingly the duke began to
think that he could only become prince of the city by passing over his
body. Lullin was not a jurist like Lévrier, but active, practical, and
energetic; at every opportunity he manifested his love of liberty, and
sometimes did so with rudeness. Although prior of the confraternity of
St. Loup, he was at the same time landlord of the _Bear_ inn, which,
according to the manners of those days, was not incompatible with a
high position in the city. One day when his stables were full of horses
belonging to a poor Swiss carrier, some richly-dressed gentlemen of
Savoy alighted noisily before the inn and prepared to put up their
horses. ‘There is no room, gentlemen!’ said Lullin roughly. ‘They are
the duke’s horses,’ replied the courtiers. ‘No matter,’ returned the
energetic huguenot. ‘First come, first served. I would rather lodge
carriers than princes.’ At that time Charles was raising six thousand
men, to be present in Geneva at his child’s christening, and the
cavaliers probably belonged to this body. But the huguenots thought it
too much to have six thousand godfathers armed from head to foot, and
it was probably this that put Lullin in bad humour. Charles was weak
but violent; he stamped his foot when told of the insult offered to
his servants, cast a furious glance over the city, and exclaimed with
an oath: ‘I will make this city of Geneva smaller than the smallest
village in Savoy.’[319] Many trembled when they heard of the threat,
and the council, to pacify the prince, sent Lullin to prison for three

At length the great event arrived on which the hopes of Savoy reposed.
On the 2nd December one of the duke’s officers informed the syndics
that the duchess had been delivered at noon of a prince. Immediately
the bells were rung, the trumpets sounded: bishop, canons, priests,
monks, confraternities, boys and girls dressed in white and carrying
tapers in their hands, all walked in long procession. Bonfires were
lighted in every open place, and the cannons on the esplanade (La
Treille) which looks towards Savoy announced to that faithful country
that the duke had a son.[320] ‘As he was born in Geneva,’ said the
courtiers to one another, ‘the citizens cannot refuse him for their
prince.’[321] The duchess had the matter very much at heart, and
erelong, richly apparelled and seated in her bed, as was the custom,
she would say in the frivolous conversations she had with the persons
admitted to pay their court to her: ‘This city is a _buena posada_’ (a
very good inn). The delighted duke replied: ‘Geneva shall be yours,’
which she was very pleased to hear.[322]

Everything in Geneva and even in Europe seemed to favour the designs
of Savoy. Charles V. the duke’s brother-in-law, and Francis I. his
nephew, were preparing for the war in Lombardy. The struggle between
the pope and Luther occupied men’s minds. The Swiss were ‘in great
care and discord, city divided against city, and one against another
in the same city.’ Bishop Pierre de la Baume was fickle, worldly,
fond of gambling, of feasting, of waiting upon the ladies, and of
pursuing other pleasures which diverted him from better occupations.
Timid and even fearful, changing like a weathercock with every wind,
he dreaded above all things to lose the benefices he possessed in the
territory of his Highness. All this permitted Charles--at least he
thought so--quietly to invade Geneva and unite it to Savoy without
Europe’s saying a word. To have his hands still freer, he persuaded De
la Baume that his presence in Italy was necessary for the emperor’s
service.[323] That done, and thinking the fruit ripe and ready to fall,
the duke and duchess made preparations for striking the final blow.
They clearly saw the hostile disposition of many of the Genevans;
but that was only an additional reason for increased exertions. If,
now that a prince of Savoy was born in Geneva, the duke failed in
his projects, everything would be lost for many a day. The cue was
therefore given to all the Savoyard nobility. The beauty of their gold
pieces dazzled the shopkeepers; sports, dinners, balls, masquerades,
plays, tournaments, pomp, finery, pleasures, luxuries, and all the
allurements which seduce men (say contemporary writers), captivated the
worldly and particularly the youth. Some few huguenots talked loudly
of independence; some old Genevans still strove to retain their sons;
some venerable mothers, seeing their children setting out for the court
dressed in their gayest clothes, asked them if they did not blush for
the old manners of their fathers,--if they desired to sell their free
souls and become the servants of princes?... But all was useless. ‘It
is like throwing water on a ball,’ said the afflicted parents; ‘not a
drop stays there.’--‘What would you have?’ replied these giddy youths.
‘It is stronger than us. As soon as the charms of the world appear, our
appetites carry us away, like runaway horses.’

The monks did not remain behind in this work of corruption. On the
20th of May the Dominicans celebrated the Feast of St. Ives, and
invited the youth to one of those notorious vigils where all sorts
of abominations were practised. The syndics complained ineffectually
to the vicar-general of the scandalous lives (_sceleratæ vitæ_) of
these friars. ‘Go to the convent and remonstrate with them,’ said this
ecclesiastic. And when the syndics went there, the prior acknowledged
that the monks led a dissolute life, but, he added, ‘it is to no
purpose that I speak to them of correction; they answer that, if I do
not hold my tongue, they will turn me out of the monastery.’[324] By
their vices the clergy were digging a gulf beneath their feet, into
which they would drag everything--doctrine, worship, and Church. All
appeared to combine for the enslavement of Geneva. Neither the emperor,
nor the king, nor the pope, nor the bishop, nor the Swiss, nor even the
Genevese themselves, watched over the independence of the city. The
living waters of the Gospel alone could purify these Augean stables.
‘God only remained,’ said Bonivard; ‘but while Geneva slept, He kept
watch for her.’[325]

Geneva was indeed about to wake up. The enervating dreams of the
‘golden youth’ were beginning to fade away. Not only those to whom the
New Testament had been brought, not only the friends of independence,
but thoughtful men of order and of law were going to oppose the duke. A
new martyr was to fertilise a generous soil with his blood, and prepare
the final victory of right and liberty.



(MARCH 1524.)

There was one citizen in Geneva who greatly embarrassed the duke, and
this was Lévrier. It was neither from pride, resentment, nor envy
that he resisted the usurpations of the prince, but from an ardent
love of justice and respect for the old charters of liberty. He had
less spirit than Berthelier, but more gravity; less popularity, but
severer manners; more prudence, and quite as much courage. He was
not a declaimer; he did not, like the energetic Philibert or the
impetuous Maison-Neuve, make his voice heard in the streets: it was in
the councils where he calmly put forward his inflexible _veto_. The
more violent huguenots reproached him with his moderation; they said
that ‘when men are too stiff to yield to the breath of persuasion,
we must strike them heavily with the hammer; and when flaming brands
are kindling a conflagration everywhere, we must rush upon them like
a torrent and extinguish them.’ But Lévrier, firm in regard to right,
was mild in regard to men. An intrepid preserver of the law, he upheld
it without clamour, but without hesitation or fear. Never has there
lived, in ancient or in modern republics, a citizen of whom it could
be better said than of him:

    Non vultus instantis tyranni,
    Mente quatit solida.[326]

The moment approached when Lévrier would say in Geneva for liberty what
Luther had lately said in Worms for truth: ‘I can do no otherwise.’
But, less fortunate than the monk of Wittemberg, he will hardly have
uttered these words before he will receive his death-blow. These
martyrs of liberty at the foot of the Alps, who were to be followed
in so many different places by the martyrs of the Gospel, lit up a
new flame upon the earth. And hence it is that a grateful posterity,
represented by the pious christians of the New World, places a
triumphal garland on the humble tombs of Berthelier and of Lévrier, as
well as of Luther and of Calvin.[327]

As the office of vidame belonged to the duke, it was always through
the vidamy that the princes of Savoy interfered with the affairs of
Geneva; and accordingly they nominated to this post only such men as
were well known for the servility of their character. The duke had
replaced the wretched Aymon Conseil by the Sieur de Salagine; and when
the latter died, he nominated Verneau, sire of Rougemont and one of his
chamberlains, in his place.[328] ‘Oh, oh!’ said the citizens, ‘the duke
knows his men. If Conseil knew so well the sound of his tabor, this
man knows it better still, and we shall have a pretty dance.’[329]
Charles, dissatisfied with the inferior jurisdiction that belonged to
him, proposed to make the conquest of Geneva, and to accomplish it in
two movements. By the first, he would take possession of all the courts
of law; by the second, of the sovereignty. And then his sojourn in
Geneva would have attained its end.

By way of beginning, Charles desired that the vidame should make oath
to him and not to the bishop--a pretension opposed to the constitution,
for in Geneva the prince of Savoy was only an inferior officer of the
bishop; and the duke in this way substituted himself for the prince
of the city. They were nearly giving way, for the Marquis of St.
Sorlin, the prelate’s brother, intrusted with the bishop’s temporal
interests while he was in Italy, and even the episcopal council,
desired to please the duke and grant something to so mighty a lord.
But that vigilant sentinel Lévrier immediately placed himself in the
breach. He represented to the episcopal council that the bishop was
not free to sacrifice the rights of the state; that he was only the
simple administrator, and had to render an account ‘to the empire,
the chapter, the republic, and posterity.’ The vidame was forced to
make oath to the bishop’s representatives, whereupon the irritated
duke ordered his chamberlain to give an account of his office to none
but him. Lévrier saw that Savoy was planting her batteries against
Geneva--that the war was beginning; and determining to save the
independence of his country, he resolved to oppose, even at the risk
of his life, the criminal usurpations of the foreign prince.[330]

The struggle between the duke and the judge threatened to become
terrible, and could only be ended by the death of one of the combatants
or the expulsion of the other. Everything was favourable to the duke.
‘Who can hinder him,’ said his courtiers, ‘from becoming sovereign of
Geneva?--The bishop? Although he may make a great fuss, he will easily
be quieted, for he has benefices without number in his Highness’s
states.--Pope Clement? The duke is in alliance with him.--The emperor?
His marriage with the duchess’s sister is in progress.--The Swiss
League? They are in great anxiety about the house of Austria, and
they too are divided city against city on account of religion.--The
people of Geneva? The court, by spending its money freely, has gained
them.--Berthelier? He is dead.--The other huguenots? They were so
roughly handled at the time of the former enterprise, that they are
afraid of getting into hot water again.... What remains to prevent the
duke from accomplishing his undertaking?’--‘There remains but God,’
said the patriots.[331]

It was Charles’s disposition to seek to triumph by stratagem rather
than by force. In that age princes imagined that no one could resist
them; he therefore attempted to win over Lévrier by means of those
favours of which courtiers are so greedy. But in order to succeed, it
was necessary to have a little private talk with him away from Geneva
and the Genevans. ‘What glorious sunshine!’ said they one morning at
the ducal court: ‘let us take advantage of this fine winter weather
to visit the castle of Bonne and spend a few days at the foot of
the soft and smiling slopes of the Voirons mountain.’ The duke, the
duchess, and the court made their preparations, and, as a special mark
of his good-will, Charles invited Lévrier to accompany him. Arrived
at this charming retreat, surrounded by snow-clad mountains gilded by
the bright sunshine, the duke led the worthy man aside, addressed him
in friendly language, and as Lévrier answered with respect, Charles
profited by what he thought to be a favourable moment, and said to him
in an insinuating tone: ‘You know that I am sovereign lord of Geneva,
and that you are my subject.’--‘No, my lord,’ immediately replied the
judge, ‘I am not your subject, and you are not sovereign of Geneva.’
The duke dissembled his anger, but Lévrier seeming impatient to return
to Geneva, Charles allowed him to depart, and as he saw that inflexible
man disappear, he swore that he should pay dearly for his boldness ...
at the foot of that very mountain, in that very castle where he had
dared tell the Duke of Savoy that he was not his sovereign.[332]

The duke returned, and being resolved to put his hand to the task, he
communicated to the episcopal council, with all suitable precautions,
his firm intention to assume henceforward the rights of sovereignty.
Charles knew the weakness, the venality even of the prince-bishop’s
councillors, who were unwilling at any price to displease Savoy. As
soon as the report of this demand was known in the city, everybody
exclaimed against it; they said that the superior jurisdiction belonged
only to the sovereign, and that if the duke should obtain it, he would
have to take but one step more to be recognised as lord of Geneva. The
weakest thought their independence lost. ‘Be easy,’ said wiser men,
‘there is a certain “child of Geneva” in the council, who will shut
all their mouths.’ They were not deceived; determined to oppose an
inflexible resistance to Charles’s demand, Lévrier began to strengthen
the weak, to win over the cowards, and to intimidate the traitors.
‘Neither the duke nor the senate of Savoy,’ he said, ‘has any authority
in Geneva. The jurisdiction belongs to the city and to its head,
the bishop: the duke, when within our walls, is a vassal, and not a
sovereign.’[333] These bold but true words made a deep impression;
Gruet, the vicar-episcopal, resolved to join Lévrier in defending the
rights of his master. The opposition was not less energetic among the
citizens. It was the time for nominating syndics; the alarmed huguenots
resolved to place one of the warmest friends of independence among
the chief magistrates. They elected Claude Richardet, a man of steady
principles and decided character, ‘tall, handsome, powerful, and very
choleric,’ says a chronicle.

When Charles and his counsellors saw the episcopal and the popular
authorities uniting against them, they did not lose heart, but
preached openly in Geneva the system which the dukes of Savoy had
long adopted--the necessity of separating Church and State. What did
it matter if Lévrier, and even Gruet, the vicar-episcopal, made a
show of defending the bishop’s temporal rights?--the duke believed
that Pierre de la Baume would be found tractable. The most advanced
huguenots desired to have a free church in a free state; but the duke
wanted a church enslaved by the pope in a state enslaved by the duke.
‘Let the bishop keep his clerical authority,’ said the ducal officers,
who were irritated by the opposition of the episcopal officers;
‘let him keep his amulets, chaplets, and all such wares; let his
parishioners indulge, some in sensuality, others in mortifications;
let them, with all the monks, black, white, and grey, debauchees,
gamblers, inquisitors, mountebanks, flagellants, women of lewd life,
and indulgence-sellers, go on a pilgrimage to Loretto, to St. James
of Compostella, to Mecca if the bishop likes ... well and good ...
that is the priests’ department, and we abandon it to them. But the
civil power belongs to the laity; the courts of secular justice, the
municipal liberties, and the command of the troops ought to be in the
hands of a secular prince. Souls to the bishop, body and goods to my
lord of Savoy!’ This great zeal for the separation of the religious
from the political order had no other object than to satisfy the
ambition of Savoy. But Geneva profited by these interested homilies,
and emancipated herself even beyond Charles’s wishes. Yet a few more
years, and this city will be enfranchised from both kinds of despotism.
The temporal and spiritual power will be taken from the hands of the
bishop nominated by Rome; and while the former will be restored to the
hands of the citizens, the latter will be in the hands of the Head of
the Church and of his Word of truth.

The day after the election, the duke held a grand reception. The new
syndics came to pay their respects to him; Gruet, the vicar, and other
episcopal officers were present. Charles on a sudden unmasked his
battery: ‘Mr. Vicar, I have heard that the episcopal officers of this
city interfere in profane matters; I mean to reform this abuse; the
State and the Church are two distinct spheres. Hitherto my officers,
the vidames, have not had sufficient power.[334] Having recently
nominated one of my chamberlains to this post, a man much esteemed and
of good repute, the noble Hugh de Rougemont, I shall no longer permit
the bishop to interfere in civil causes.’ The vicar, who had been
prepared by Lévrier for this attack and remembered the lesson well,
made answer: ‘Your Highness is aware that my lord of Geneva is both
bishop and prince; he possesses the two jurisdictions in this city.’
The irascible duke, who did not expect any opposition from a vicar,
grew angry: ‘I intend that it shall be so no longer,’ he continued;
‘and if the bishop pardons when my vidame has condemned, I will hang
up with their letters of grace all to whom he grants them.’ Everybody
trembled. The pusillanimous vicar held his tongue, while the syndics
endeavoured to pacify the prince, although at the same time backing
up Gruet’s remarks. Then the courtiers of Savoy came forward, and,
playing the part that had been assigned them in this wretched comedy,
magnified the favours which the duke would heap on the city. There
would be signal advantages for commerce, merchandise at half price,
great rejoicings, magnificent feasts, fête after fête for the ladies
of the city,[335] graceful and friendly combats in presence of their
highnesses, dances and tournaments.[336] Geneva would become a little
paradise. The duke was such a good prince, what folly to reject him!
Notwithstanding all this coaxing, the huguenots thought to themselves
that the prince’s mule, be he ever so richly harnessed, none the less
carries a saddle that galls him.

The duke took counsel again. He thought he had made an important
step at the time of the syndics’ reception. He had now resided eight
months in Geneva, as if he had no other capital; now or never he must
realise the hereditary schemes of his family. He must hurry on the
conclusion, and with that view get rid of the obstacle. That obstacle
was Lévrier. This Mordecai, who refused to bow before him, thwarted
the projects of Turin and exasperated the weak Charles and the haughty
Beatrice. All the courtiers rose against him: they hesitated no longer.
Sometimes bold strokes are necessary, and Machiavelli had taught the
princes of Italy what was to be done in such cases. They thought that
the annexation of Geneva to Savoy was of too great importance not to
require the sacrifice of a victim. This man was as a rock in their
path, obstructing their advance: it was necessary to remove it.
Lévrier’s death was decided upon.

The bishop’s council, which was regarded by the episcopalians as the
sovereign council, was summoned to appear before the duke; all the
members, except Lévrier, attended. The episcopal councillors had hardly
entered Charles’s presence, ‘when, unable to contain himself, he waxed
very wroth.’ ‘Do you presume,’ he exclaimed, ‘to disobey my orders?’
Then by his gestures, indicating his cruel intentions, he addressed
them in such savage language ‘as to put them in fear of their lives.’
The councillors, who were almost frightened to death, ‘then did like
the stag, which (says a chronicle) casts his horns to the dogs in order
to save himself.’[337] ‘My lord,’ they said, ‘it is not our fault; it
is Lévrier that has done it all; he maintains stoutly that Monsieur
of Savoy has no authority in Geneva.’ Whereupon the duke, pretending
not to know him, exclaimed: ‘What! another Lévrier in my path! Why
his father opposed the surrender of the artillery of Geneva to me in
1507! Bring the son here!’ The judge’s colleagues consented, provided
the duke would engage on his side to do him no injury, which Charles

Lévrier knew that his life was at stake, and everybody advised him
to leave Geneva; but he resolved not to go out of his way. Two days
after the first conference, the episcopal council, accompanied by
Lévrier, appeared again before the duke, who had scarcely caught sight
of him, when, fiercely scowling at them, he said: ‘There are some of
you who say that I am not sovereign of Geneva.’ ... He stopped short,
but finding that they all remained silent, he continued: ‘It is one
Lévrier.’ ... Then fixing his angry eyes upon him, he called out with a
threatening voice: ‘Is that fellow Lévrier here?’ Consternation fell
upon all the spectators: ‘they huddled together, but said not a word.’
Charles, who knew Lévrier very well, observing that terror had so far
answered, repeated in a still louder tone: ‘Is that fellow Lévrier
here?’--The judge modestly stepped forward and said calmly: ‘Here I am,
my lord.’ The duke, whom such calmness irritated still more, burst out:
‘Have you not said that I am not sovereign of Geneva?’--‘My lord,’ he
answered, ‘if I have said anything, it was in the council, where every
one has the right to speak freely. You ought not to know of it, and I
ought not to be molested about it.’--‘Go,’ said the duke, not heeding
this just remark, ‘prepare to prove to me within three days that what
you say is true. Otherwise I will not answer for your life ... wherever
I may be. Leave my presence!’[338] And they all went out.

‘Lévrier departed in great trouble,’ said Bonivard. The death with
which he was threatened was inevitable. There were plenty of authentic
acts, the _Franchises_ in particular, by which he could prove that the
duke possessed no authority in Geneva; but many of these documents
were in the hands of the canons, devoted to the duke; and the syndics
refused to lay before the prince such as were in their care, for fear
he should throw them into the fire. It is not improbable that such
was Charles’s intention when he called for them.[339] ‘He has set a
condition upon my life,’ said Lévrier, ‘which it is impossible to
fulfil.... Do what I may, there is nothing left for me but to die.’

His friends wished to save him at all hazards. Bonivard, who was less
courageous than Lévrier, and under similar circumstances had taken to
flight, continually reverted to the subject: ‘There is no escape,’ he
said, ‘except you leave the country.’ But Lévrier was not to be moved.
Faithful preserver of the ancient customs, he was determined to oppose
the usurpations of Savoy to the very last. According to the Genevese,
St. Peter--they did not mean the pope--was the prince of their city.
Had they not the key of this apostle in their escutcheon? Lévrier
replied to the entreaties of his friends, and especially of Bonivard:
‘I would rather die for the liberty of the city and for the authority
of St. Peter, than confess myself guilty by deserting my post.’ The
prior of St. Victor was greatly distressed at the answer. He insisted,
he conjured his friend, but all to no purpose. ‘Is it imprudence on
his part?’ said he then. ‘Is it envy that urges him to be the rival of
Berthelier? Is it that he desires to be a champion of the commonwealth
at the price of his blood? I know not what motive impels him; but be it
what it may, he will no longer confide in our advice.’ Lévrier, indeed,
went about just as before, even after the term (three days) prescribed
by the duke; he waited tranquilly for the blow to fall upon him.[340]

Charles the Good--such is the name he bears in the history of
Savoy--was plotting the death of this just man. His steward and
favourite, the Sieur de Bellegarde, was an enemy of Lévrier’s, and all
the more violent because he had long been his friend. The prince and
his steward deliberated over the means best calculated to make away
with him. At Geneva it seemed impossible; and as a second edition of
Berthelier’s death was out of the question, it became necessary to draw
Lévrier into some lonely spot, where he might easily be put to death.
Bellegarde undertook to carry him off, and the duke ordered him to be
brought to the castle of Bonne, where Lévrier had dared to say him
_No!_ Bellegarde came to an understanding with some Savoyard gentlemen,
and being informed that on Saturday, the 12th of March, the judge
would attend mass as usual in the cathedral of St. Pierre, the steward
arranged with these infamous courtiers that they should lie in ambush
near the church, and seize him as he came out.

Everything was prepared for the ambuscade. The person who should have
prevented it, and the person who commanded it, both left the city. The
cowardly Marquis of St. Sorlin, who, as representative of the bishop,
ought to have defended Lévrier, having ‘smelt the wind,’ went out
to Rumilly, where he amused himself with some ladies while men were
preparing to kill the defender of his brother’s rights. Charles did
pretty nearly the same. The appointed day having arrived (it was the
eve of the Sunday before Easter 1524), this prince, poor in courage,
trembling at the idea of the daring deed about to be attempted, fearing
lest the people should rise and come to his residence and demand the
just man about to be torn from them, stealthily quitted his apartments
in the lower part of the city near the Rhone, ‘went out by a back
door,’ crossed the lonely meadows which the Arve bathes with its swift
waters, and ‘retired with his family to Our Lady of Grace, pretending
that he was going there to hear mass.’ This church being near the
bridge of Arve, the duke, in case a riot should break out, would only
have to cross the bridge to be in his own territory. Having thus
provided for his own safety, he waited in great agitation for the news
of his victim.

Mass was over in the cathedral, the priest had elevated the host,
the chants had ceased, and Lévrier quitted the church. He wore a
long camlet robe, probably his judicial gown, and a beautiful velvet
cassock. He had hardly set foot outside the cemetery (the site is
now occupied by the hall of the Consistory) when Bellegarde and
his friends, surrounding him with drawn swords, ‘laid their hands
roughly upon him; and Bressieu, the most violent of them, struck him
so severely on the head with the pommel of his sword,’ that he was
stunned. There was not a moment to lose, lest the people should rise.
Some of the gentlemen armed cap-à-pie went in front, others came
behind, and they dragged the prisoner rapidly to Plainpalais, where
all had been got ready to complete the abduction. Lévrier was put upon
a wretched horse, his hands were tied behind his back, his legs were
fastened below the belly of his steed; and the escort set off full
gallop for the castle of Bonne, where he had formerly dared to deny
that the duke was sovereign of Geneva.

On they went, the horsemen loading Lévrier with abuse: ‘Huguenot,
rebel, traitor!’ But in the midst of these insults the judge, pinioned
like a murderer, remained calm and firm, and endured their indignities
without uttering a word. He was grieved at the injustice of his
enemies, but as he thought of the cause for which he suffered, joy
prevailed over sorrow. He had been accustomed all his life to struggle
with affliction, and now that ‘the cross was laid on his shoulders,’
it was easier for him to bear it. ‘To give his life for right and
liberty,’ said a contemporary, ‘afforded him such great matter for joy
as to counterbalance all sadness.’ The ferocious, cruel, and passionate
Bellegarde, who hated this just man more than he had loved him when
both were young, kept his eyes fixed on him: an obstacle appeared, his
horse reared, and Bellegarde fell; it was thought that he had broken
his leg. There was great confusion; they all stopped. Some men-at-arms
alighted, picked up the steward, and placing him on his horse, the
escort continued their way, but at a foot-pace. They still went on,
and as they advanced, the magnificent amphitheatre formed to the south
by the Alps spread out more grandly before them. To the left eastward
the graceful slopes of the Voirons extended as far as Bonne; a little
further on was seen the opening of the valley of Boëge, and further
still the Aiguille Verte and other glaciers, and then much nearer
the Mole proudly raised its pyramidal form; immediately after, but
in the distance, Mont Blanc rose majestically above the clouds, and
the mountains of the Bornes, running towards the west, completed the
picture. Lévrier’s escort, after descending into a valley, came in
sight of the castle of Bonne, seated on a lofty crest and commanding
the landscape; they climbed the steep road leading to it, and drew near
the castle, leaving below them a narrow ravine, at the bottom of which
rolls the torrent of Menoge. At last the old gates were thrown back,
they entered the court, and Lévrier was handed over to the governor,
who shut him up in a dark cell. As soon as Charles learnt that all had
passed off well, he quitted his retreat and returned joyful to his
lodging. He was confident that no human power could now deprive him of
his victim.[341]

During this time the city was in great agitation. Men described with
consternation the kidnapping of the heroic defender of Genevese
independence, and all good citizens gave vent to their indignation.
The deed was an insult to the laws of the state--it was an act of
brigandage; and hence two sentiments equally strong--love for Lévrier
and respect for right--moved them to their inmost souls. The council
assembled immediately. ‘About an hour ago,’ said Syndic La Fontaine, a
zealous mameluke, ‘Aimé Lévrier was seized by the duke’s orders, and
carried to Plainpalais.’ ‘Yes,’ exclaimed several patriots, ‘the duke
is keeping him in the Dominican convent; but we know how to get him
out of that den.’ ‘Resolved,’ say the Minutes, ‘to consider what steps
are best to be taken under the circumstances.’ When they heard that
Lévrier had been carried from Plainpalais to Savoy, the syndics went in
a body to the bishop’s vicar, and required him to convene the episcopal
council, and to lay before it this unprecedented act of violence.
Nobody doubted that the duke would yield to the remonstrances made
to him. Gruet promptly summoned the members of the bishop’s council;
but these venal men, devoted to the duke, refused to appear. The next
day, the syndics made another attempt. ‘Since your colleagues forsake
you,’ said they to the vicar-episcopal, ‘go to his Highness yourself,
and make him understand that he is trampling under foot both the
sovereignty of the bishop and the liberties of the citizens.’ Gruet was
timid, and to appear alone before this powerful noble terrified him; he
applied to two of his colleagues, De Veigy and Grossi, begging them to
accompany him; but they refused. ‘I will not go alone,’ exclaimed the
frightened man, ‘no ... not at any price! The duke would kidnap me like
Lévrier.’ Charles’s violent proceeding struck terror into all those who
enjoyed the privilege of free access to him. Nevertheless Geneva was
in danger. If the most respected of its citizens were put to death and
no one took up their defence, there would be nothing sacred from the
Savoyard tyrant. Lévrier’s death might be the death of the republic.
What was to be done? They remembered one person, the bishop of
Maurienne, who was both a friend of the city and a friend of the duke.
The cold La Fontaine and the impetuous Richardet hastened to him: ‘Save
Lévrier, or we are all lost!’ they said. The prelate, who was fond of
mediating, and knew very well that he had nothing to fear, immediately
waited upon his Highness.[342]

Charles was not a hero; the emotion of the people disturbed him,
the energy of the patriots startled him. He determined to make an
advantageous use of his perfidy by proposing an exchange: he would
spare Lévrier’s blood, but Geneva must yield up her liberties. ‘Go,’
he said to Maurienne, ‘and tell the syndics and councillors of Geneva
that, full of clemency towards them, I ask for one thing only: let them
acknowledge themselves my subjects, and I will give up Lévrier.’[343]
The Savoyard bishop carried this answer to the syndics, the syndics
laid it before the council, and Charles calmly awaited the result of
his Machiavellian plot.

The deliberations were opened in the council of Geneva. When there
are two dangers, it is generally the nearest that affects us most:
every day has its work, and the work of the day was to save Lévrier.
The ducal courtiers flattered themselves with the success of this
well-laid plot. But the citizens, in this supreme hour, saw nothing
but their country. They loved Charles’s victim, but they loved liberty
more; they would have given their lives for Lévrier, but they could
not give Geneva. ‘What! acknowledge ourselves the duke’s subjects!’
they exclaimed; ‘if we do so, the duke will destroy our liberties for
ever.[344] Lévrier himself would reject the proposal with horror.’--‘To
save the life of a man,’ they said one to another in the council,
‘we cannot sacrifice the rights of a people.’ They remembered how
Curtius, to save his country, had leapt into the gulf; how Berthelier,
to maintain the rights of Geneva, had given his life on the banks of
the Rhone; and one of the citizens, quoting the words of Scripture,
exclaimed in Latin: ‘_Expedit ut unus moriatur homo pro populo, et non
tota gens pereat._’[345] ‘The duke calls for blood,’ they added: ‘let
him have it; but that blood will cry out for vengeance before God, and
Charles will pay for his crime.’ The council resolved to represent to
the duke, that by laying hands on Lévrier he robbed the citizens of
their franchises and the prince of his attributes. Maurienne carried
this answer to his Highness, who persisted in his cruel decision: ‘I
must have the liberties of Geneva or Lévrier’s life.’

During these official proceedings, certain noble-hearted women were
greatly agitated. They said to themselves that when it is necessary to
touch the heart, the weaker sex is the stronger. It was well known that
the haughty Beatrice governed her husband; that she loved the city,
its lake and mountains; that everything delighted her in this ‘_buena
posada_.’ The ladies who had danced at her balls, and found her all
condescension, went on Sunday morning to the ducal residence, and, with
tears in their eyes, said to her: ‘Appease his Highness’s wrath, Madam,
and save this good man.’ But the Portuguese princess, faithful to her
policy as to her pride, refused her mediation. She had hardly done so,
when her conscience reproached her; after that refusal, Beatrice found
no pleasure in Geneva; and before long, leaving the duke behind her,
she went all alone ‘beyond the mountains.’[346]

Moreover it would have been too late. On Sunday morning, the 11th of
March, three men were in consultation at the castle of Bonne, and
preparing to despatch Lévrier. They were Bellegarde, sufficiently
recovered from his fall to discharge his commission and simulate a
trial; a confessor intrusted to set the accused at peace with the
Church; and the executioner commissioned to cut off his head. His
Highness’s steward, who had received instructions to have it over ‘in
a few hours,’ ordered the prisoner to suffer the cord--‘nine stripes,’
says Michel Roset: ‘not so much from the necessity of questioning him,’
adds Bonivard, ‘as from revenge.’ This ducal groom (we mean Bellegarde)
felt a certain pleasure in treating unworthily a magistrate the very
representative of justice. ‘Have you no accomplices who conspired
with you against my lord’s authority?’ said he to Lévrier, after the
scourging. ‘There are no accomplices where there is no crime,’ replied
the noble citizen with simplicity. Thereupon the Savoyard provost
condemned him to be beheaded, ‘not because he had committed any
offence,’ say the judicial documents, but because he was ‘a lettered
and learned man, able to prevent the success of the enterprise of
Savoy.’[347] After delivering the sentence, Bellegarde left Lévrier

He had long been looking death in the face. He did not despise life,
like Berthelier; he would have liked to consecrate his strength to the
defence of right in Geneva; but he was ready to seal with his blood
the cause he had defended. ‘Death will do me no evil,’ he said. He
called Berthelier to mind, and the lines written on that martyr of
liberty being engraved in his memory, Lévrier repeated them aloud in
his gloomy dungeon, and then approaching the wall, he wrote with a firm

    Quid mihi mors nocuit?...

‘Yes,’ said he, ‘death will kill my body and stretch it lifeless on the
ground; but I shall live again; and the life that awaits me beyond the
grave cannot be taken from me by the sword of the cruellest tyrant.’ He
finished the inscription he had begun, and wrote on the prison wall:

                        ... Virtus post fata virescit;
    Nec cruce nec sævi gladio perit illa tyranni.

But he thought not of himself alone; he thought upon Geneva; he
reflected that the death of the defenders of liberty secured its
victory, and that it was by this means the holiest causes triumphed,

    Et qu’un sang précieux, par martyre espandu,
    A la cause de Dieu servira de semence.

Shortly after Bellegarde’s departure the confessor entered, discharged
his duty mechanically, uttered the sentence: _Ego te absolvo_--and
withdrew, showing no more sympathy for his victim than the provost
had done. Then appeared a man with a cord: it was the executioner.
It was then ten o’clock at night. The inhabitants of the little town
and of the adjacent country were sleeping soundly, and no one dreamt
of the cruel deed that was about to cut short the life of a man who
might have shone in the first rank in a great monarchy. Bellegarde
had no cause to fear that he would be disturbed in the accomplishment
of his crime; still he dreaded the light; there was in his hardened
conscience a certain uneasiness which alarmed him. The headsman bound
the noble Lévrier, armed men surrounded him, and the martyr of law
was conducted slowly to the castle yard. All nature was dumb, nothing
broke the silence of that funereal procession; Charles’s agents moved
like shadows beneath the ancient walls of the castle. The moon, which
had not reached its first quarter, was near setting, and shed only a
feeble gleam. It was too dark to distinguish the beautiful mountains
in the midst of which stood the towers whence they had dragged their
victim; the trees and houses of Bonne were scarcely visible; one or
two torches, carried by the provost’s men, alone threw light upon this
cruel scene. On reaching the middle of the castle yard, the headsman
stopped and the victim also. The ducal satellites silently formed
a circle round them, and the executioner prepared to discharge his
office. Lévrier was calm: the peace of a good conscience supported him
in this dread hour. He thought of God, of law, of duty, of Geneva, of
liberty, and of the legitimate authority of St. Peter, whom, in the
simplicity of his heart, he regarded as the sovereign of the city. It
was really the prince-bishop whom he thus designated, but not wishing
to utter the name of a prelate whom he despised, he substituted that
of the apostle. Alone in the night, in those sublime regions of the
Alps, surrounded by the barbarous figures of the Savoyard mercenaries,
standing in that feudal court-yard, which the torches illumined with
a sinister glare, the heroic champion of the law raised his eyes to
heaven and said: ‘By God’s grace I die without anxiety, for the liberty
of my country and the authority of St. Peter.’ The grace of God,
liberty, authority--these main principles of the greatness of nations
were his last confession. The words had hardly been uttered when the
executioner swung round his sword, and the head of the citizen rolled
in the castle yard. Immediately, as if struck with fear, the murderers
respectfully gathered up his remains, and placed them in a coffin.
‘And his body was laid in earth in the parish church of Bonne, with
the head separate.’ At that moment the moon set, and black darkness
hid the stains of blood which Lévrier had left on the pavement of the
court-yard.[348] ‘Calamitous death,’ exclaims the old _Citadin de
Genève_, ‘which cost upwards of a million of Savoyard lives in the
cruel wars that followed, in which no one received quarter, because
the unjust death of Lévrier was always brought forward.’[349] There is
considerable exaggeration in the number of Savoyards who, according to
this writer, expiated Lévrier’s murder by their death. The crime had
other consequences--and nobler ones.

Moral victories secure success more than material victories. Over the
corpses of Berthelier and Lévrier we might give a christian turn to
the celebrated saying: ‘It is the defeated cause that is pleasing to
God.’ The triumph of brute force in the castle of Bonne and in front
of Cæsar’s tower agitated, scandalised, and terrified men’s minds.
Tears were everywhere shed over these two murders.... But patience!
These bloody ‘stations’ will be found glorious ‘stations’ leading
to the summit of right and liberty. A book has been written telling
the history of the founders of religious liberty. I may be deceived,
but it appears to me that the narrative of the struggles of the first
huguenots might be entitled: _History of the founders of modern
liberty_. My consolation when I find myself called upon to describe
events hitherto unknown, relating to persons unnoticed until this hour,
and taking place in a little city or obscure castle, is, that these
facts have, in my opinion, a European, a universal interest, and belong
to the fundamental principles of existing civilisation. Berthelier,
Lévrier, and others have hitherto been only Genevese heroes; they are
worthy of being placed on a loftier pedestal, and of being hailed by
society as heroes of the human race.

The haste with which the victim had been sacrificed, the remote theatre
of the crime, the hour of night that had been chosen, all show that
Charles had an uneasy conscience. He soon discovered that he had not
been mistaken in his fears. The indignation was general. The men of
independence took advantage of the crime that had been committed to
magnify the price of liberty. ‘A fine return,’ they said, ‘for the
honours we have paid Monsieur of Savoy and his wife!’ Though their
anger broke out against the duke, the bishop had his share of their
contempt. The reflection that he had permitted his friends to be
sacrificed on one side of the Alps while he was amusing himself on
the other, shocked these upright souls. ‘A pretty shepherd,’ they
said, ‘who not only abandons his flock to the wolves, but the faithful
dogs also that watch over it!’ They were disgusted with priestly
government: some citizens even went so far as to say: ‘We had better
grant Monsieur of Savoy his request, than let ourselves be murdered
for a prelate who gives us no credit for it. If the duke takes away
certain things, he will at least guarantee the rest; while the bishop
devours us on one side and lets us be devoured on the other.’[350] They
concluded that ecclesiastical principalities only served to ruin their
subjects--at Geneva as well as at Rome. Liberals and ducals held almost
the same language. The temporal power of the bishop was a worm-eaten
building that would tumble down at the first shock.

When the news of the murder at Bonne was heard among the young
worldlings who frequented the court, they were aghast, and a change
came over them. All that the duke had done to win them, the splendid
entertainments, the graces of the duchess, the charms of her ladies,
were forgotten. In the ball-room they could see nothing but Death
leaning on his scythe and with hollow eyes looking round for some new
victim. Their past pleasures seemed a mockery to them. A brilliant
representation had taken place: on a sudden the curtain fell, the
lights were extinguished, and the most enthusiastic spectators, seized
with terror, hastened to escape far from a place which appeared to run
with blood. That murder, ‘in the night by torchlight, put all the city
in great alarm,’ says a chronicler.

Amid all these cries of indignation, of contempt, of terror, there
was a small group of firm men who saw the dawn of liberty piercing
through the darkness of crime. The generous spirits who had received
the Divine Word from France--Porral, Maison-Neuve, Vandel, Bernard,
even Bonivard--took courage in their tears. ‘One single obstacle will
check the duke,’ they said, ‘and that obstacle is God! God desires by
means of the duke to chastise Geneva, not destroy it. The stripes that
he inflicts are not for its death, but for its improvement. Yes! God,
after punishing us with the rod of a father, will rise with the sword
in his hand against those whose crimes he appears to permit.’[351]

Charles, perceiving the effect produced by the outrage he had
committed, felt ill at ease at Geneva. Nor was that all; for, learning
that a numerous French army was entering his states on one side, while
the imperial army was advancing on the other, and that a terrible
meeting might ensue, he alleged this motive for returning to Turin.
Wishing, however, to secure his authority in Geneva, he sent for
Hugues, whose patriotism he feared, reminded him of the scene just
enacted at Bonne, and required him to promise, upon oath, that he would
not take part in the affairs of the city. Hugues entered into the
required engagement.[352] Then Charles hastened to depart, and Bonivard
said, with a meaning smile: ‘The duchess having crossed the Alps, the
duke hastens after her--like a good little canary.’[353]

The Genevans breathed at last: the city was without either duke or
bishop. Lévrier’s martyrdom, which had at first crushed them, now
inflamed their courage. As a steel blade long bent returns back with a
spring, so Geneva, suffering under a blow that seemed as if it would
destroy her, rose up with energy. More than this; the empty place was
soon filled. Help would come from heaven. The ancient imperial and
episcopal city, not content with having set aside bishops and dukes,
would within a few years place on the throne Him who exalteth nations.
Then, ‘dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty,’ and sitting tranquilly
at the foot of her beautiful mountains, Geneva will raise her head,
crowned with a twofold liberty.[354]




The duke had no sooner departed than there was a general burst of
indignation against him, and against the mamelukes who had delivered
up the greatest of the citizens to his sword. Bernard Boulet, the
city treasurer, was one of the proudest of these ducal partisans.
He had built a fine house, where he gave splendid entertainments to
his party and kept a good table, by which means he soon squandered
away all his property. But unwilling to renounce his gay life, he
clandestinely appropriated the property of the State, and still
continued to entertain magnificently. ‘Boulet,’ said the huguenots,
‘thinks only of indulging with his friends in all kinds of pleasure,
in drunkenness, and in voluptuousness. Foppish in dress, dainty at
table, he has no thought for the hunger and nakedness of the poor.
Dissipation, bad management, fraud, robbery make up his whole life.’
Boulet, who furnished no accounts, owed the city ‘at least 6,400
florins’[355]--a very large sum for those days. But they feared his
influence and malice; and nobody was willing ‘to bell the cat.’ Syndic
Richardet, a good patriot, courageous but hot-headed, entered the
council one day determined to put an end to these manifest peculations.
‘I call upon the treasurer,’ he said, ‘to produce the accounts of
his office.’ The embarrassed Boulet attempted to evade the question;
but, being determined to make him give an account of his conduct,
the syndic persisted. The mameluke, driven into a corner, exclaimed:
‘Are we to be governed by these _huguenots_?’--‘He spoke thus from
contempt,’ says Bonivard. The fiery Richardet could not restrain
himself; exasperated because the treasurer insulted him at the very
moment he was discharging the duties of his office, he acted after
the style of Homer’s heroes, and, raising his syndic’s staff above
the dishonest mameluke, dealt him such a blow that the staff flew to
pieces. It must be remembered that in the middle ages deeds of violence
were sometimes reckoned lawful. For instance, an old charter bore that
if a respectable man or woman were insulted, every prud’homme who
came up was permitted to punish such misconduct by one, two, or three
blows; only the prud’homme was required to make oath afterwards that he
had given the blows for the sake of peace.[356] There was instantly a
great commotion in the hall; the mameluke councillors uttered cries of
anger; the huguenots protested that Richardet had acted without their
approval; and the syndic, who was sincere and good at heart, frankly
apologised. Throughout all the disturbance Boulet did not utter a word;
he was secretly calculating the advantages he could derive from this
assault, and was delighted to have suffered it. ‘He swallowed it as
mild as milk,’ says Bonivard.[357] Chance, he thought, favoured him,
and had opportunely extricated him from a desperate position. What a
providence in this violent act of the syndic! The greedy dishonest
treasurer would put on the airs of a martyr; his fidelity to the duke,
he would say, had drawn upon him this savage assault. He would excite
Charles III. against Geneva; he would urge him to take the city by
storm; and in the midst of all these agitations his accounts would be
forgotten--which was the essential thing for him.

Boulet did not rejoice alone. His friends the mamelukes having met,
agreed to work this assault in such a way as to make the blow which
had severed Lévrier’s head be forgotten. ‘Good!’ said they; ‘we have
now an opportunity of beginning the old dance again;[358] that is, to
surrender Geneva to Savoy. Go to Chambéry,’ they continued; ‘make your
complaint; say that you are not safe in this huguenot city, and entreat
his Highness’s council to summon the syndic who offended you to appear
before them--even at Chambéry.’

Boulet did all he could to exaggerate his injury. He bandaged his head,
he carried his arm in a sling. In vain the surgeon assured him that his
left arm was but slightly bruised, and that he had no other wound; no
matter: ‘I will make my complaint to the bishop,’ he said; ‘I will make
it to the duke!’[359] He would have gone even to the emperor. The wrath
of Achilles, after he had been robbed of Briseis, hardly equalled the
wrath of this wretch, and, in his opinion, Geneva deserved to receive
a punishment as severe as that under which Troy fell. He had retired
across the Arve, like Pelides to his tent. Some of his friends, his
father-in-law and the judge of Gex in particular, called upon him and
sought to pacify him; but he remembered the affront that had been done
him, and was implacable. ‘Geneva shall pay dearly for it,’ he repeated
to his friends.

He set out for Chambéry, asked an audience of the ducal council, and
reported the syndic’s violence. People were very uneasy at Geneva.
‘These Savoyards,’ said the prior of St. Victor, ‘would like nothing
better than to plunder the huguenots.’ The Savoy bailiffs soon
appeared; they set up posts at the bridge of Arve, at Les Grottes, and
at the Mint--all round the city--and fastened letters of citation to
them. The council of Geneva was summoned to appear before the council
of Savoy. That was not all: the macers (massarii) of the Savoyard
council declared the possessions of the Genevans in Savoy confiscated,
and consequently forbade the farmers and vine-dressers to till the land
or to grind at the mill. Meadows, fields, vineyards, all were to remain
uncultivated. Hitherto it had pertained to God alone to send years of
famine; now Messieurs of Chambéry claimed to have the same privilege;
and some Genevese farmers, who had begun to till the earth with the
permission of the local magistrates, were put in prison by the superior
authority. Almost at the same time other citizens were arrested on
frivolous pretexts and thrown into one of the dungeons of Château
Gaillard. These poor creatures climbed by turns to the loophole, by
means of a beam placed against the wall, in order to breathe the fresh
air and speak to their wives and children. One day when they were
indulging in this consolation, the beam was taken away by the duke’s
order, and the unhappy wretches were compelled to crouch at the bottom
of their filthy prison.

Boulet wished, however, to enjoy his triumph; he longed to set the
magistrates at defiance and ask them whether a blow might not cost them
too dear. A bailiff of Chambéry arrived at Geneva, just as if that city
had been within his jurisdiction, and posted a ‘protection’ on the
door of Boulet’s house. This was a daring usurpation, an insult; but
if the treasurer suffered the least harm, the duke would consider it
as if done to himself. Boulet reappeared, and had the audacity to show
himself at a general council. This was a little too much: the wretch
who had brought so many calamities upon the citizens, dared appear
among them! Did he hope to receive another blow? Who can say? The
Genevans restrained themselves; no one raised a hand against him; but
he overheard some persons speaking of his peculations: ‘I will produce
my books and accounts,’ he said. He met with looks that alarmed him.
Suppose they were to put him in prison, as they had the right, for he
was accused of malversation towards the State. Fearing some mischance,
he disappeared again, and went to beseech the ducal council to ‘vex’
the Genevans. All this was threatening. The syndics gave orders that
prayers should be offered up and masses sung for the safety of the

During this time, the bishop was beginning one of his frequent
evolutions; his rule being to go with the wind, he turned his prow
more to the southward, that is, towards Savoy. He feared lest the
Genevans should offend the duke, and wrote to them from Piedmont: ‘So
conduct yourselves that _God and the world_ may have reason to be
satisfied.’[361] He returned to Geneva, but did not stay there. He
ought to have intervened between the duke and his own subjects, exposed
the serious crimes of the dishonest treasurer, and prevailed upon the
council of Chambéry to withdraw their violent threats; but though he
was both bishop and prince of the Genevans, he took care not to do
them justice. He escaped to St. Claude, more sensible to the charms of
a worldly life and of the wine of Arbois, than to the misfortunes of
the city. In his eyes the epitome of wisdom was to satisfy _God and
the world_, but the seductions of the world were so attractive that he
forgot to be the friend of God. Some Genevans even asserted that ‘he
cared no more for the life to come than a brute beast.’ Pierre de la
Baume had noticed that since the accession of Clement VII. the house
of Savoy had been in greater favour than ever at the court of Rome; it
was his policy to keep on good terms with it, to flatter it, in order
to obtain a cardinal’s hat through its influence, as he did a little
later. For a red hat it was worth while abandoning his sheep to the

But if the bishop turned to every wind, the duke did not. The council
of Savoy increased its severity towards Geneva. Richardet had raised
his staff against one man; Charles raised his against a whole people.
All Geneva was agitated. The citizens besieged the syndics with their
complaints; the syndics assembled the council. They described the
scenes that were taking place in the country, and all the violence of
Savoy. Two of the noblest magistrates, Syndic Dumont and Aimé Girard,
hastened to St. Claude to inform the bishop of the oppressions of the
Savoyards. Girard possessed a lofty soul and impetuous disposition; he
described with such spirit the outrages heaped upon Geneva, that De
la Baume seemed touched, and promised the Genevans his support. ‘If
needs be,’ he exclaimed, ‘I will go to the pope myself.... I will go
to the emperor.... I will beseech them to protect my good right and
the franchises of your city.’ The deputation was delighted. But the
bishop hastened to restrain himself: the duke, the duke’s power, and
the red hat recurred to his mind. ‘Do not let us be in a hurry,’ he
said more coldly; ‘I shall first send the noble Albalesta to the duke.’
A month having elapsed, while Albalesta had obtained nothing, the
Genevese resolved to take their cause into their own hands. This was
what the bishop desired to avoid at any cost. He swore that he would
cite the officers of Savoy before the pope, under a penalty of 10,000
ducats.[362] But Geneva, which placed little trust in the bishop,
resolved to maintain its independence, and to resist that foreign
Pharaoh who had dared to punish with barrenness that earth which God
waters with the rain from heaven.

The new campaign required a new leader. Berthelier, Lévrier, those
noble-hearted men, were no more.... But there was a third, and he the
very man they required. Besançon Hugues had neither the impulsiveness
of Berthelier nor the firmness of Lévrier; but, mild and tender, he
felt a love for his country, the fire of which never ceased to animate
him. Moderate, friendly, and of insinuating manners, he was able to win
over even his enemies, and often exercised great influence over Pierre
de la Baume. Possessing great physical strength, bold, devoted, never
sparing himself, he braved the most inclement seasons, and rushed,
sword in hand, into the midst of the most furious enemies. Gifted with
a rare discernment, which permitted him to see clearly into the most
complicated questions, a keen diplomatist, a wise politician, a warm
patriot, he was able by his consummate wisdom to remove obstacles,
by his powerful eloquence to convince the most obstinate, even the
senators of Berne, and to draw tears from those iron hearts. He bore
in his person a _prestige_ that secured him an irresistible influence
in the councils, and with a few lines, a few words, he could still the
popular waves ere they came into collision. He has been called the
Nestor, the Sully, the Washington, of Geneva. This is perhaps saying
too much: this Nestor was only twenty-five when he began his struggles
with the duke, thirty-four at this period of our narrative, and when he
died, two or three years before the final Reformation of Geneva, he
was under forty. Yet Hugues was, on a small scale and on a small stage,
what these great men were on a large one.

The period for electing the syndics having arrived, it was determined
to raise to the chief magistracy citizens fitted to maintain the
rights of the country; and the name of Hugues was in every mouth. He
was returned, as well as Montyon, Pensabin, and Balard. With Hugues
for their chief, Geneva feared nothing. But the honest citizen refused
the office to which he had been elected. His friends came round him
and entreated him to accept: he seemed the only pilot able to steer
the ship of the State through the numerous shoals. ‘The bishop is your
friend; he will protect you,’ they said.--‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘as he
protected Lévrier.’--‘If you refuse,’ said Balard, ‘we shall refuse
also.’--‘The duke,’ replied Hugues, ‘has forbidden me personally to
meddle in city affairs; I have given him my promise. Lévrier’s death
has taught us what the duke’s wrath can do. I would rather be a
confessor than a martyr.’ Did Hugues give way to a momentary weakness?
We may be allowed to doubt it. He desired to keep the promise he had
made, and had other motives besides. Thinking that he would be of
little use in the council, and that Geneva must be saved by other
means, he wished to remain free in his movements. But many could not
understand him, and their anger broke through all restraint. ‘Hugues is
wanting in his most sacred duties,’ they said. These proud republicans
spared nobody. His friend and brother-in-law, the ex-syndic Baud,
captain of the artillery, proposed to the council-general to deprive
him of his citizenship for one year. Strange contradiction! almost at
the same moment this man was raised to the head of the republic and
in danger of being expelled from it. But the people seemed to have an
instinctive sentiment that Hugues would not be wanting at last: ‘He
gives way now,’ they said, ‘only to succeed better hereafter.’ Baud’s
proposition was rejected.[363]

Geneva began by a singular measure. The general council having
assembled in the church of St. Pierre on the 10th of January, 1525, it
was resolved to appeal to the pope against the attacks of Savoy, and
delegates were despatched to lay the appeal before him. The Genevans
were men of precedent: they desired to have recourse to a tribunal
recognised for ages. ‘The popes,’ observed some of them, ‘are the
defenders of the liberties of the people.’ But others, like Bonivard,
well read in history, shook their heads, and argued that if princes
had been excommunicated by popes, it was not for having violated the
liberties of their people, but for resisting the ambition of pontiffs.
They mentioned Philip Augustus and Philip the Fair. The appeal to
the pope would serve to show that he took part with oppressors only.
However, the deputies of Geneva started on their journey. It was ten
years before the day when the Reformation was proclaimed within its
walls. This measure is a remarkable indication of the peaceful and
loyal sentiments by which the magistrates were animated.

At the same time the syndics waited upon the bishop’s official; they
would have liked for the bishop himself to plead their cause before the
pope. ‘If my lord consents to pass the mountains and support us at
Rome,’ said they, ‘we will give him a hundred gold crowns, and will add
five-and-twenty for you.’ The official smiled: ‘A hundred crowns!’ he
said, ‘that will not be enough to shoe his horses.’--‘We will give him
two hundred, then,’ answered the syndics. The bishop, who was always
short of money, put this sum into his purse, and then endeavoured to
arrange the matter without disturbing himself, by merely sending a
deputy to Chambéry.

Never was deputy worse received. The president of the ducal council,
annoyed that so small a city should dare resist a prince so mighty
as his master, looked contemptuously at the deputy and exclaimed:
‘The duke is sovereign prince of Geneva. What was Geneva a hundred
years ago? a paltry town. Who is it that made this town into a city?
The duke’s subjects who owe him toll and service.[364] The Genevans
desire us to cancel the penalties pronounced against them.... Ha,
ha! Messieurs of Geneva, we will increase them. If within a month
from this you do not make your submission, we will send you so many
soldiers, that you must e’en take the trouble to obey his Highness.’
The destruction of the liberties of Geneva seemed to be at hand.

The Genevans now had recourse to the bishop a second time, and conjured
him to pass the Alps. Between this second demand and the first, many
events had occurred in the political world. Pierre de la Baume was a
zealous agent of the imperialist party, and the emperor had informed
him that he wanted him for certain matters. Flattered that Charles V.
should send for him, he appeared to grant the Genevese their prayer.
‘I will go,’ he said, and immediately quitted Geneva. Bonivard, who
knew La Baume well, smiled as he saw the simple burgesses giving
their prince-bishop two hundred crowns to defend them. ‘He is a great
spendthrift,’ said the prior, ‘and in his eyes the sovereign virtue of
a prelate consists in keeping a good table and good wine; he indulges
beyond measure. Besides, he is very liberal to women, and strives to
show the nobility of his descent by great pomp and not by virtue....
You have given him two hundred crowns ... what will he do with the
money? He will gamble or squander it away in some other manner.’[365]
And in fact he had hardly arrived at Turin, when, without pleading the
cause of Geneva, without visiting Rome to defend it before the pope, he
set off instantly for Milan, where, as agent of Charles V., he plotted
against Francis I. But of the pope and of Geneva, not a word.

Such was the episcopal tenderness of Pierre de la Baume. To deliver
from foreign and tyrannical oppression the country of which he was both
prince and bishop was not in his opinion worth the trouble of taking a
single step; but if it were required to go and intrigue in Lombardy for
the potentate whom he looked upon as the arbiter of the world, a nod
was sufficient to make him hasten thither.

As for the Genevese delegates, Rome saw no more of them than of their
bishop: the court of Turin had found the means of stopping them on
the road. Besides, had they reached the banks of the Tiber, there was
no danger that Clement VII. would have taken up their cause; he would
have laughed at such strange ambassadors. All was going on well for
the duke; he had succeeded in completely isolating the weak and proud

This prince resolved to bring matters to an end with a restless people
who gave him more trouble than his own states. He quitted Turin,
crossed the mountains, and ‘lodged at Annecy,’ says Bonivard. In order
to succeed, he resolved to employ a smiling lip and a strong hand; the
use of such contrary means was as natural as it was politic in him:
Charles was always blowing hot and cold. If Geneva sent him deputies,
he said: ‘Upon the honour of a gentleman, I desire that the letters I
have granted in your favour should be observed.’ But another day, the
same man who had appeared as gentle as a lamb became as fierce as a
wolf; he had the deputies seized and thrown into dungeons, as well as
any Genevans who ventured into his territories. The soldiers ransacked
the country-houses lying round Geneva, carried away the furniture, and
drank the wine; they also cut off the supplies of the city, which was a
scandalous violation of the most positive treaties.[367]

Still the appeal to Rome made the duke uneasy. The prince of Rome was
a priest, the prince of Geneva was a priest also: Charles feared that
the two priests would play him some ugly trick behind his back. He
determined, therefore, to employ intrigue rather than force, to induce
the people to confer on him the superior jurisdiction, which would
put him in a position to monopolise the other rights of sovereignty;
he resolved to ask for it as if he were doing the Genevese a great
favour. Accordingly on the 8th of September the vidame appeared before
the council as if he had come to make the most generous proposition
in behalf of his Highness. ‘On the one hand,’ he said, ‘you will
withdraw the appeal from Rome; and on the other, the duke will put an
end to all the annoyances of which you complain.’ And then he demanded
the superior jurisdiction in Geneva for the duke, as if it were mere
surplusage. Charles expected this time to attain his end. Indeed,
his numerous partisans in the city, seeing that the decisive moment
had arrived, everywhere took up the matter warmly. ‘Let us accept,’
said the mameluke Nergaz. ‘If we refuse these generous proposals,
our property and our fellow-citizens will never be restored, and
none of us will be able to leave our narrow territory without being
shut up in his Highness’s prisons.’--‘Let us accept,’ answered all
the ducal partisans. Geneva was about to become Savoyard; and the
humble but real part reserved for her in history would never have
existed. Then the most courageous patriots--Besançon Hugues, Jean
Philippe, the two Bauds, Michael Sept, Syndic Bouvier, who had been
named in place of Hugues, Ami Bandière, the two Rosets, John Pécolat,
and John Lullin--exclaimed: ‘If we love the good things of this life
so much, our only gain will be to lose them and our liberty with
them. The duke entices us to-day, only to enslave us to-morrow. Let
us fear neither exile, nor imprisonment, nor the axe. Let us secure
the independence of Geneva, though it be at the price of our blood.’
Even Bouvier, a weak and wavering character, was electrified by these
noble words, and added: ‘Rather than consent to this demand, I will
leave the city and go to Turkey!’ ... ‘No compromise with the duke!’
repeated all the independents. The mamelukes persisted: they pointed
to the fields lying fallow, to the Genevans in prison ... and without
touching upon the question of the superior jurisdiction (for that was
inadmissible) they demanded that the appeal of Geneva against the duke
should be withdrawn. There was a majority of eleven in favour of this
proposition; forty-two votes were given against it, and fifty-three for
it. It was strange that the huguenots supported the appeal to the pope.
The pope (very innocently, it must be confessed) seemed to be on the
side of liberty.... The party of independence was vanquished.[368]

Charles was not satisfied, however. He hated these majorities and
minorities, and all these republican votes; he wanted a passive and
unanimous obedience; he attended only to the votes of the minority,
and meditated setting every engine to work to get rid of the forty-two
huguenots who opposed his designs. At court they were delighted with
the result; they made a jest of the forty-two independents who had
had the simplicity to give their names, and thus point themselves out
to the court of Turin as persons to be despatched first of all. The
list was read over and over again: they picked it to pieces--a sarcasm
against this man, an insult against that. All necessary measures were
taken for the great act of purification which was to be accomplished.
The duke gave orders to move up the army that was to enter the city and
free it from the rebels.

The enemies of Geneva were not less active within than without. The
vidame, a servile agent of Charles, assembled the chiefs of the
mamelukes in his house. As all the citizens whose deaths they desired
were not included among the forty-two, they occupied themselves at
these meetings in drawing up proscription lists. Vidame, mamelukes,
Savoyards, congratulated each other on ‘cutting off the heads of
their adversaries,’ and wrote down the names of many of the best
citizens.[369] The disease, according to these conspirators, had spread
widely; it was necessary to get rid of the friends of independence at
one blow and not singly. They prepared to seize the patriots in the
city, and to slay them outside the city; the parts were distributed;
this man will arrest, that man will try, and the other will put to
death. At the same time, to prevent the free Genevans from escaping,
the duke stationed soldiers on every road. Geneva will be very
fortunate if it escapes the plot this time, and if it does not see its
old liberties and its new hopes of the Gospel and of reformation perish
under the sword of Savoy.

Charles III., leading the way to Charles IX., began his persecution of
the huguenots. He commenced with his own territories, where he could
do as he pleased; Pierre de Malbuisson was seized at Seyssel; Beffant
at Annecy; Bullon was arrested on Sunday (frightful sacrilege in the
eyes of the catholics!) in the church of Our Lady of Grace, during high
mass. ‘That matters not,’ said the ducal party; ‘there are cases where
the privileges of the Church must give way to the interests of the
State.’ During this time, the patriots remaining at Geneva went up and
down the city, showing themselves brave even to imprudence, and boldly
demanded the convocation of a general council of the people to annul
the division which by a majority of eleven had given such satisfaction
to the duke. This inflamed Charles’s anger to the highest degree; he
swore to be avenged of such an insult, and everything was prepared to
crush these audacious citizens. The sky grew dark; a dull murmur was
heard in the city; there was a general uneasiness; every man asked his
neighbour what was going to happen ... alarm was everywhere.

At last the storm burst. It was the 15th of September. One, two,
three--several persons not known in Geneva, peasants, or tradespeople,
and men of little importance, appeared at the gates: they were
messengers sent to the patriots by their friends and relations settled
in Savoy. One message succeeded another. The ducal army is in motion,
they were told; it is preparing to quit the villages where it was
stationed. Leaders and soldiers declare loudly that they are going to
Geneva to put the duke’s enemies to death. Nothing else can be heard
but threats, boasts, and shouts of joy.... A few minutes later the
people of the neighbourhood ran up and announced that the army was
only a quarter of a league distant. The people hastened to the higher
parts of the city: they saw the arquebusiers, halberdiers, and flags;
they heard the drums and fifes, the tramp of the march, and the hurrahs
of the soldiers. The Savoyards were in the fields and the mamelukes
in the streets. It was not even possible for the citizens to expose
themselves to death on the ramparts. The ducal faction would not
permit them to approach. ‘Make your escape,’ said some to the huguenot
leaders; ‘if you delay an instant, you are lost.’ The mamelukes lifted
their heads and exclaimed: ‘Now is the day of vengeance!’

The noble citizens threatened by the sword of Charles, or rather by
the axe of his executioners, wished to come to some understanding with
each other, but they had not the time to confer together. They knew
the fate that awaited them, and the alarm of their friends and wives,
of those who had nothing to fear, drove them out like a blast of wind.
Some would have sold their lives dearly; others said that their task
was not yet completed, that if the duke attacked them perfidiously,
if the bishop basely abandoned them, they must retire elsewhere, pray
for the hour of justice, and procure powerful defenders for Geneva.
Their resolution was hardly formed when the field-sergeants approached
the gates. The huguenots pursued by the sword of Savoy could neither
carry away what would be necessary during their exile, nor take leave
of their friends; people in the streets had hardly time to enter their
houses. All departed amid the tears of their wives and the cries of
their children.

The exodus began, not the exodus of a whole people, but of the flower
of the citizens. Many were seen leaving the gates of the city. There
was Jean Baud, captain of the artillery, with his brother Claude, a
zealous episcopalian, but a friend of independence; Girard, who had
succeeded Boulet as treasurer of the city; Jean Philippe, afterwards
first syndic; the intrepid Jean Lullin, Hudriot du Molard, and Ami
Bandière, who were syndics in the year of the Reformation; Jean
d’Arloz, afterwards one of the Council of Two Hundred; Michael Sept,
a frequent deputy to Switzerland; G. Peter, Claude Roset, father of
the celebrated syndic and chronicler; J. L. Ramel, Pierre de la Thoy,
Chabot, and Pécolat. Others quitted Geneva secretly; some by day, some
by night, in disguise, on foot or on horseback, ‘in great haste, by
different roads, without consulting one another.’ Some crept along the
edge of the lake, others hastened towards the mountains. Melancholy
dispersion, sad calamity![370] And yet as they departed, these generous
men kept up the hope of seeing liberty victorious. In this dread and
critical hour, they cast their eyes over the walls of the old city,
and swore that they left it not to escape death, but to save it from
oppression. They were going in search of help--not towards the enslaved
banks of the Tiber, as they did once in their folly; but towards
those noble mountains of Switzerland, which had thrown off the yoke
of foreign tyrants. The sword of Savoy pursues them; but, wonderful
providence of God! it drives them towards those countries where a new
light has dawned, and where they will meet at nearly every step the
friends of Zwingle and of the Reformation. It is a prince, a friend of
the pope, that is sending them to the school of the Gospel.

The most threatened of all was Besançon Hugues: if he had been taken,
his head would have been the first to fall. At that time he happened
to be at a farm he possessed at Chatelaine, a short distance from
Geneva, in the direction of Gex. He was serious, but calm, for he
felt the importance of the crisis, and was tranquilly preparing to
gather his grapes, for it was vintage time. On the evening of the 15th
of September he received a visit from his friend Messire Vuillet,
commandant of Gex, who rode up on horseback, and asked him, with an air
of frankness, to give him a bed for the night. Hugues had no suspicion;
the horse was put into the stable; a room was prepared for Vuillet,
and the two friends, sitting down at table, talked a long while over
their supper. The commandant of Gex, commissioned by the duke to arrest
Hugues, had ordered his officers to be at Chatelaine early in the
morning of the 16th; and to make sure of not losing his victim, he had
thought the cleverest way was to come and sup as a friend with the man
whom he was to deliver up to the death of Berthelier and of Lévrier, to
sleep under his roof, to arrest him next morning, and hand him over to
the executioners. Hugues as yet knew nothing of what was going on at

The flight had already become general: the huguenots hurried away, some
in the direction of Friburg by way of Lausanne; others to St. Claude,
by the Jura. The bishop, as we have said, had gone into Italy, probably
in March, six months before; but he had devoted partisans at St.
Claude. Accordingly the fugitives, who still hoped something from the
episcopal power, took the latter road. Let us follow the first of these
two companies.

At the head of those who had taken the road to Switzerland were De
la Thoy and Chabod. They galloped their horses full speed along the
Lausanne road; on reaching Versoix, they fell unexpectedly into the
midst of the soldiers posted there with orders to stop the Genevans
in their flight. De la Thoy, who was well mounted, gave his horse the
spur, and escaped; but Chabod was taken and carried to Gex. The news
of this arrest spread immediately, and caused great trouble among the
fugitives who followed them. They threw themselves into the by-roads,
they skirted the foot of the mountains, and in vain did Charles’s
men-at-arms follow in their track: many of them arrived at Lausanne.
Yet it was Friburg they wished to reach, and to do that they had to
cross difficult passes where the duke had stationed his soldiers
in order to seize them. The Sieur d’Englisberg, avoyer of Friburg,
possessed vineyards on the shores of the Lake of Geneva, and was
gathering his grapes at La Vaux. While busy with his vats and presses,
he learnt what was going on, and, full of compassion for the unhappy
men, he sent off a courier to his colleagues. The Friburg council
immediately despatched an officer with thirty horsemen, with orders to
protect the fugitive huguenots.

During this time, those who had taken the road to Franche-Comté (the
bishop’s followers) crossed the Jura mountains and ‘made a thousand
windings to escape,’ says Bonivard. They walked but little during the
day, much during the night; they flung themselves into the woods and
scaled the rocks. These worthy episcopalians fancied that it would be
sufficient to see their pastor’s face and be saved. And even if he
had not returned to St. Claude, that city would afford them a secure
asylum. But, cruel disappointment! not only was there no bishop, but
his officers repulsed his persecuted subjects. Nobody in the city would
give shelter even to the most catholic of the fugitives.

The Genevans, disappointed in their expectations and disconcerted in
their plans, determined to continue their flight. It was indeed time:
just as they were leaving St. Claude by one gate, the Savoyard soldiers
entered by another. Terror added wings to their feet; they hurried
along, the rain beating upon them, the horsemen following them hard, at
every moment on the brink of falling into the hands of their enemies,
and the dangers of their country adding to the wretchedness of their
flight. At last they arrived at Besançon, then at Neufchatel, and
finally at Friburg, where they met their friends who had come by way of
Lausanne. They embraced and grasped each other’s hands. But Besançon
Hugues ... they sought him everywhere ... he could not be found. The
anxiety was general. It was known what zeal the ducal archers would
have employed to seize him; it was besides so easy to surprise him in
his quiet retreat at Chatelaine. Alas! the murderers of Cæsar’s tower
and of the castle of Bonne might perhaps already have shed the blood of
a third martyr!

Hugues and the governor of Gex had passed the evening together;
and as the Genevan had, says a manuscript, ‘a keener scent than
his treacherous friend,’ he had led on Vuillet to speak of the
circumstances of the times, and had guessed the object of his visit.
He had learnt that the only means of saving Geneva was to claim the
support of the Swiss. The hour for retiring had come; Hugues with
a cheerful look conducted the commandant to the room prepared for
him, and bade him good night. The latter had hardly fallen asleep
when, saddling his guest’s horse, Hugues galloped off with one or two
companions; they took the direction of St. Claude, intending to go from
thence to Friburg. At daybreak he found himself on the summit of the
mountain of Gex, and at the pass of La Faucille bade farewell to the
beautiful valley of the Leman, on which the rays of the rising sun were
beginning to fall.

At this moment Messire Vuillet awoke, got up noiselessly, and, seeing
from the window that his soldiers were posted round the house,
stealthily advanced to seize his prey.... The bed was empty, the bird
had flown. The commandant of Gex immediately ordered the door to be
opened, summoned the provost-marshal, and directed him to pursue the
fugitive with the duke’s cavalry. The squadron set off at a gallop.
Some hours earlier, the archers of Gex had started in pursuit of the
other fugitives, making sure of catching them. The road across the
mountains wound about in consequence of the valleys and precipices, so
that pursuers and pursued, being sometimes on opposite slopes, might
see and even hear one another, although there was an abyss between
them. When the flight of Hugues was made known, the zeal of the
soldiers increased; and the former, knowing his danger, threw himself
into impassable roads in order to escape his enemies. ‘Ah!’ said he
afterwards, ‘it was not pleasant; for the archers of Monsieur of Savoy
followed us as far as St. Claude, then from St. Claude to Besançon and
beyond.... We were forced to journey day and night, through the woods,
through the rain, not knowing where to find a place of safety.’ At
length he reached Friburg, six days after the arrival of his friends
who had gone by Lausanne. Friburgers and Genevese, all welcomed him
with transport.[371]




A Striking sight was that presented by the city founded by the
Zœhringens. Strange men were wandering round the old cathedral and on
the steep and picturesque banks of the Sarine. The people of Friburg
looked at them with respect, for they knew that these citizens, the
victims of the tyranny of a foreign power, had come to seek an asylum
within their walls. They went to the windows to see them pass, and
approached them with cordial affection. The Friburgers wished to hear
them, and Besançon Hugues, accompanied by a number of the fugitives,
was introduced into the council-hall. They gave him a seat on the right
of the avoyer, which was the place of honour, and the sitting being
opened, the Genevan rose and said: ‘Most honoured lords, there is a
town situated at the natural limits of Switzerland--a town entirely
devoted to you, where you can come and go just as at home, where you
can bargain, sell, and buy whatever you require, and which would be
able to stop your enemies, if ever the League should be attacked from
the south. This town, the complement of Helvetia, ought to be allied
to the cantons. Did not the Swiss in the time of Cæsar extend as far
as L’Ecluse?[372] ... If Geneva should fall into the hands of Savoy,
the cannon that ought to defend you will be turned against you....
Gentlemen, time presses, the fatal moment is at hand.... Long, unjust,
and violent persecutions have placed our liberties on the brink of the
abyss. The heroic Berthelier murdered at the foot of Cæsar’s tower; the
wise Lévrier beheaded in the castle yard of Bonne; Malbuisson, Chabod,
and many others recently flung into gloomy dungeons; all our friends
remaining at Geneva in danger of losing their lives ... and we, most
honoured lords, who are before you, obliged to abandon our property,
our business, our families, our country, that we may not fall into the
hands of a prince who has sworn our death: to such a state is our free
and ancient city reduced.... One thing alone can save it ... the strong
hand of the Swiss League.... Most honoured lords, hear our cries,
behold our tears, and have compassion on our misery. For God’s honour,
give us aid and counsel.’

The fugitives who stood around Hugues--Lullin, Girard, the two Bauds,
Bandière, Sept, Pécolat, and about twelve other citizens--were deeply
moved. These men, men of great energy, appeared as suppliants before
the senate of Friburg. Their countenance, their words, entreated this
powerful city, and yet a noble pride was visible in their looks. They
felt at once their independence and their misery; they had the air of
dethroned kings. Some wrung their hands, others shed tears; all prayed
with tones of sorrow that the Swiss would come to their assistance. The
Friburgers, touched with pity for Geneva and its exiles, and filled
with indignation against Charles and his partisans, replied: ‘No,
we will not desert you.’ Words full of kindness, which consoled men
overwhelmed with sorrows, and shed a ray of light upon their gloomy

The moment was favourable for gaining the Swiss: they were exasperated
at seeing Savoy, after the battle of Pavia, basely embrace the cause
of the conqueror. In going to the support of Geneva, Switzerland the
faithful would give a wholesome lesson to that power which always took
the strongest side. Friburg immediately despatched deputies to Berne
and Soleure, and some of the fugitives accompanied them. In these two
cities the unfortunate Genevans renewed their touching supplications.
At Berne, says a chronicler, ‘they found a bad beginning but a good
end;’ at Soleure, the contrary, ‘a good beginning but a bad end.’
Soleure, however, joined the two other cities in notifying to the duke,
that if he valued their friendship he must cease injuring Geneva. But
Berne in particular showed great zeal. There were already in that city
a number of devoted friends of Zwingle and the Reformation; among
others one of the chief magistrates, Thomas ab Hofen, an intelligent
and moderate man, of a temper inclined to melancholy, much employed
in the public business of his country, and who for two years had been
corresponding with the reformer of Zurich. These evangelical Bernese
soon perceived that there was a hidden but real relationship between
the reformation of Zurich and the emancipation of Geneva; and they
influenced their countrymen in favour of the Genevans. At the same
time they spoke of the Gospel to the fugitives, and some of those
men who had come to Switzerland in search of liberty only, found the
truth. This movement of the powerful republic towards Geneva preluded
new times. Savoy had desired to crush that liberty which was of such
old standing in Geneva, and the Reformation which was soon to begin;
but, by the wonderful providence of God, the blow intended to kill both
secured their existence and gave them a wider development. The word of
the reformers, well received by the Bernese people, was to arrive even
at Geneva, and that city would thus, by God’s counsel, receive from
Switzerland not only national independence, but blessings that extend
far beyond the destinies of nations.[373]

Meanwhile the duke had been told of the departure of the fugitives:
just as he was going to lay his hand upon the nest, the birds
disappeared. Charles and his counsellors were staggered. These
energetic citizens would in truth be no longer in Geneva to combat
his designs; but it would have been surer, he thought, to put them
out of the way either by the sword of the executioner or by a long
imprisonment. Charles the Good had often practised both these means
with success. In vain did his partisans say, to comfort him, that at
least the patriots would not offend him by their presence. Yes, but if
they should return--if they should not return alone--if the Swiss....
There were in the Helvetic League confused noises, distant sounds of
Reformation and of liberty, which alarmed the Savoyards. Yet they said,
if we profit skilfully by the absence of the huguenots, if we properly
muzzle the other Genevans, if we establish ourselves firmly in the
city, nobody will be able to turn us out.

And now, as there was no need to hurry, the duke resolved to put off
his entrance for a while. The appeal to Rome had wounded him deeply.
To see himself, a sovereign prince, head of the most glorious house in
Europe, uncle of the king of France, brother-in-law of the emperor,
summoned before the pope by a band of nobodies, greatly incensed the
vain and haughty Charles III. Before he enters Geneva, the appeal must
be withdrawn. The duke sent orders on this subject to M. de Balleyson,
his representative in the city. Then, as if to pass away the time, he
urged on the persecution of all the Genevans around him. The Sieur
of Bonebouges, brother to the Sieur of Montrotier, at the head of
the troops of Faucigny, good soldiers but violent men, plundered the
country, seized many respectable people in the environs of the city,
and shut them up in the castles of Savoy, where they were grossly

De Balleyson lost no time in executing his master’s orders. He
represented to the principal friends of Savoy at Geneva of what an
offence the city had been guilty towards the duke by daring to accuse
him before the pope. On the 20th of September the general council was
convoked. Alas! those energetic men who had so often been its glory,
Hugues and his companions in misfortune, were absent, and nearly all
the friends they still possessed in Geneva refused to attend. M. de
Balleyson appeared before this shadow of a general council and said:
‘Our lord the duke wishes to learn from the people of this city of
Geneva whether they intend to prosecute a certain appeal before the
court of Rome.’[374] The mamelukes, who were almost alone in the
council, shouted out as if with one voice: ‘It is not our wish to
prosecute the said appeal.’[375]

This matter being ended, the duke prepared to make his entrance into
the city, which he did in the last days of September with a part of the
troops which he had ‘beyond the Arve.’ He found Geneva very different
from what he had desired. He had hoped to seize the rebels there,
and he found none but slaves. The servile mamelukes cared little for
liberty, and were proud to have a master. They called him their ‘most
dread lord,’ approached him with base adulation, and, kissing the
chains he brought them, assured him that his coming filled them with
joy and comfort.

The duke, who set little store by such cringing men, thought only how
he could become prince of the city, and intrigued to get the sovereign
authority handed over to him. His ministers had conceived a plan which
promised fairly, and the necessary manœuvres were immediately resorted
to. The syndics having appeared before his Highness on the 29th of
September (1525), the duke said to them rather abruptly: ‘The expenses
and fines imposed on Geneva by my council of Chambéry amount to twenty
thousand gold crowns.’ He desired to frighten the Genevans, and induce
them to sacrifice their independence in exchange for this debt. But
the syndics contented themselves with answering: ‘Monseigneur, the city
is poor, and we can only offer you ... our hearts.’ This was not what
Charles wanted. The duke’s chancellor, taking the syndics aside, said
to them: ‘Come, gentlemen, put yourselves straight, do _something_ to
satisfy his Highness.’ The syndics reflected for two or three days,
and unable or unwilling to guess what that ‘something’ could be, they
said to the vidame, the lawful channel between them and the prince:
‘What does the duke mean?’ The vidame conferred with his master, and
appearing before the council on the 10th of October, he said: ‘The
duke is vicar-imperial and sovereign of the cities included within his
states; Geneva is so included. Why do you not then acknowledge him as
your master? Do not be afraid; he is a kind prince; he will respect the
authority of the bishop and the franchises of the city, and you will
enjoy a prosperity hitherto unknown.’ This was clearer: the Savoyard
prince said plainly that he wanted Geneva. The vidame, observing that
his hint had been received without enthusiasm, added: ‘If you do not
accept the duke willingly, you will be made to accept him by force.’
The servile mamelukes, magnifying the advantages of annexation to so
powerful a state, would have granted everything on the spot. The moment
was critical: the syndics were uneasy and wavering. On the one hand
was the ancient independence of their country; on the other, superior
and brute force, which none of them could resist. They referred his
Highness’s demand to the episcopal council, which in turn referred it
to the prince-bishop in person. Such a reply was already a concession;
the politicians of Savoy fancied themselves near their object....
Geneva consents, they will say to the bishop; you cannot answer us by a
refusal. The city was on the verge of ruin when an unexpected and noble
succour preserved it.[376]

What Charles had so much dreaded came to pass. Towards the end of
October, several stout men of warlike mien and proud look were seen
entering by the Swiss gate: they were ambassadors from Berne, Friburg,
and Soleure, with Gaspard de Mullinen of Berne at their head. This
energetic man was a good catholic; in 1517 he had made a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, and had been created knight of the Holy Sepulchre. A blind
conservative, he was conscientiously and steadfastly opposed to every
change, religious or political. ‘Confederates,’ said he continually in
the diets, ‘resist the doctrine of Luther, or we shall soon be overrun
by it.’[377] It would seem as if Mullinen ought to have supported the
prince’s pretensions with his iron hand; but in his sight the attempt
of Savoy was contrary to treaty, and consequently a revolutionary
work. Seeing, therefore, that the Genevese council were wavering, the
indignant Bernese went to their place of meeting, and said: ‘Stand firm
and fear nothing; our lords will support you in all your rights.’[378]

This intervention on the part of the Swiss disconcerted the duke. He
must change his plan, and have recourse to stratagem in order to free
himself from this knight of the Holy Sepulchre. Never were diplomatists
more successful in deceiving rude warriors and honest citizens. First,
Charles’s ministers put the mamelukes forward, who began telling the
ambassadors: ‘We desire to live under the protection of the duke and
the bishop.’ Next, Charles declared to the Swiss that he was full of
love for all the citizens of Geneva, and ready to grant everything
the cantons required. ‘The fugitives may return,’ he added. ‘Here is
a safe-conduct for them: take it to them.’ The document was placed
in Mullinen’s hands. He was astonished at the rapid success of his
embassy. He turned the paper over and over, without reading it however,
and for a good reason. The safe-conduct was in Latin, and the knight
of Mullinen with his noble colleagues did not pretend to any knowledge
of that language; but how could they suppose that the duke had not
given them, as he assured them, complete satisfaction? They imagined
that the document, while it secured life and liberty to the fugitives,
would open to them the gates of Geneva; and doubting not that Besançon
Hugues, Lullin, Girard, and their friends, on their return to the city,
would be able to preserve its independence, they thanked the duke and
departed satisfied for their homes.[379]

But Hugues was a better Latin scholar and knew his man better than
Mullinen. As soon as the ambassador returned, he handed to the
Genevese, with an air of triumph, the important paper that was the
reward of his journey, and Hugues read it eagerly. On coming to the
last phrase he smiled bitterly: _Dummodo non intrent civitatem, nec
suburbia ejus_, said the safe-conduct; ‘which means,’ said Hugues to
the deputies, ‘that we can return to Geneva provided we do not enter
the city or the suburbs.... The duke will be within and we without....
What services can we render the city? You know the smallness of our
territory. If we are neither in the city nor in the suburbs, we are
on the lands of Savoy.... Now if Berthelier was arrested close under
the walls (at La Treille), if Lévrier was seized at the very gate of
St. Pierre, what would befall us on the ducal territory?... The duke
is laying a snare: it is a condition which nullifies the act.--The
bird which the duke has sent us,’ he added, ‘has a fine head and
beautiful plumage; but there is a tail at the end which spoils all the
rest.’--‘This grace is a mere trap,’ said the indignant exiles. The
knight of Mullinen was offended and annoyed at the manner in which the
Duke of Savoy had befooled him, and perhaps began to imagine that a
knowledge of Latin might be of use. ‘My lords,’ said the fugitives to
the councils of Berne and Friburg, ‘the duke is a great traitor. He
fears not God, but he fears men the more. For this reason, make us free
of your cities; for if he knows that we are your allies, then only will
he leave us in peace.’[380] At the same time the Genevans, wishing to
show the duke what confidence they placed in his safe-conduct, sent for
their wives and children. This was making an energetic answer to Savoy.

The poor Genevese women with hearts full of bitterness began their
journey. Women did not travel much at the beginning of the sixteenth
century; and these, who had hardly been out of Geneva, thought, as they
went to Friburg and Berne, that they were going almost to the end of
the world. What a sad journey was theirs! Frightened at the real or
supposed dangers of the road, surprised at the strange language whose
unintelligible sounds began to echo in their ears, bathed in tears,
and broken-hearted, they folded the poor children in their arms; for
they were terrified at the strange scenes and new faces, and clung
with their weak hands round their mothers’ necks. At length this troop
of afflicted women entered Friburg; but their arrival at first only
increased the distress, and when these loving wives embraced their
husbands, their tears of joy were mingled abundantly with tears of
sorrow. The ‘foreigners,’ as they were called, although of respectable
families, were at that time destitute of everything, and were almost
like beggars at the doors of their friends. At the first moment they
were compelled to leave their families in the street, not knowing where
to shelter them. It was a heart-rending time. What! not a room, not
even a stable where these exhausted women and children could lie upon
the straw! The afflicted mothers pressed the little creatures to their
bosom--kissed their pale lips ... and then regretted Geneva.

At length the foreigners took courage and went before the council.
‘We sent for our families,’ they said, ‘but we can neither lodge them
nor feed them.... Permit them to enter the hospital.’ The prayer was
granted, and these well-born women who not long ago were robed in silk
and dancing with Beatrice of Portugal, were seen exchanging the palace
for a hospital. ‘The people were moved to pity,’ says Bonivard. It must
be remembered, however, that in those times staying in a hospital was
not degrading: travellers often lodged in such places.[381]

The arrival of the women and children at first increased the distress
of the citizens; they were discouraged and seemed to have reached the
depths of misery. The sight of these beloved beings reminded them
of Geneva and softened their hearts. But on a sudden they roused
themselves; they went from Friburg to Berne; they spoke in private
houses, in the halls of the tribes, in the public places, and appealed
to the sympathy of the Swiss. They represented that the duke had put
their leaders to death; that he had forced them to forsake their homes
and their business, and to fly to a foreign land; that, being reduced
to the greatest poverty, they had been compelled to place their wives
in a position which they would once have rejected with contempt, and
that, to put a climax to this misery, the city which they loved, and
for whose independence they were ready to sacrifice everything, was
invaded and enslaved.... These great souls were troubled; these proud
citizens, so resolute before the face of a cruel prince, were depressed
in the presence of their afflicted families, of their exile, of the
ruin of Geneva, and tears betrayed their weakness. The Bernese looked
with admiration on these noble citizens, whose tattered garments bore
witness to their wretched condition. Many of the tribes of the city of
Berne and the majority of the Council of Two Hundred declared for the
vanquished cause, and the conclusion of an alliance with Geneva seemed
near at hand.

The bishop, already alarmed by Charles’s intrigues, was startled when
he heard of this. If Berne accepted the reformed doctrine like Zurich,
if Geneva should follow the example of Berne, the prelate seated in
the chair of the bishops and on the throne of princes, would see them
both taken from under him. Pierre de la Baume, like many ecclesiastical
sovereigns, cared nothing for the welfare of those whom he called his
subjects; but he cared a great deal for the title of prince, and would
not suffer either the duke or the Swiss to deprive him of it. In order
to preserve it, he would have convoked the whole world, had that been
possible. Accordingly, even when at table, he felt uneasy and would
pause frequently, musing with himself and saying: ‘The duke is at
Geneva; the fox in the poultry-yard.... Let the fowls look out!... And
then, on the other hand, they are playing tricks in the cantons....
The bears look as if they wished to descend from the mountains....
Unhappy shepherd!... I will do anything,’ he said, ‘to preserve
the jurisdiction of the Church.’ He began at once, and endeavoured
first to coax his flock:[382] ‘We are very glad to hear of your good
disposition,’ he wrote to them; ‘and you will do us great pleasure
by informing us of all that is necessary for the welfare of our dear
city.... Do you, on your part, so conduct yourselves that God and the
world may have cause to be satisfied.’[383] In 1525, as in 1523, the
prelate’s device was still _God and the world_.

These efforts came to nothing. The government of bishops and princes,
established in different parts of christendom, was at first mild and
paternal, compared with the government of certain lay lords; but long
ago, the bishops had lost the superiority which could legitimatise
their authority, and the lay power had, on the contrary, gained great
influence in the world. In France, especially since the thirteenth
century, royalty, by displaying a character of kindness, had favoured
the progress of the people in things material, intellectual, and
even moral; and if Francis I., notwithstanding a personal character
by no means estimable, holds a brilliant place in history, it must
be ascribed to this quality in French royalty. But almost all the
bishop-princes of Geneva who preceded the Reformation, cared little
for the development of the nation, except it were to thwart it. John
of Savoy and Pierre de la Baume were nothing but selfish dissolute
priests. No halo was seen on their brows; and thus they found one
day that there was no firm ground under their feet. Ecclesiastical
authorities, even when honest, are apt to despise the temporal
interests of their subjects; and as unhappily spiritual interests do
not much affect ambitious prelates, the immortal souls and the earthly
liberties of their flocks are equally oppressed by them.

The duke, who knew better than anybody the weakness of the episcopal
power (which he had mainly caused), felt his ambition increase, and
resolved to put an end to it. With this intent he would take a step
which, by giving him what Savoy had coveted for centuries, would
fortify him with a title calculated to impose silence on the complaints
of the prelate, the accusations of the fugitives, and the demands of
the Swiss. He determined to convene a general council, composed almost
exclusively of his creatures, from which he would obtain, either
by persuasion or by a great display of force, the homage due to a
sovereign. To attain his object he began by toning down his insolent
conduct and his unjust pretensions. Treasurer Boulet, first cause
of all these disturbances, being obliged to furnish his accounts at
the hôtel-de-ville, was condemned. The citizens imprisoned or fined
received the promise of an early amnesty; and imagining he had thus
gained every heart, Charles desired the people to be called together,
that all the community might know of the good-will he entertained
towards them. The syndics and the bishop’s vicar, perceiving that the
fatal hour had arrived, refused his demand. They were not strong,
but fear came upon them in that solemn moment when they saw Geneva
suspended over the abyss. Gruet, the vicar, stammered out some excuses:
‘Nobody would come to the council,’ he said, ‘but rabble and ruffians.’
It was precisely what the duke wanted. Being already master of Geneva
and claiming to make everything bend under his absolute will, he would
not allow Gruet to finish his speech: ‘It is my council’s advice,’ he
said, ‘that the people should assemble to-morrow, Sunday, at eight in
the forenoon, in the cloister of St. Pierre. Have this published by
sound of trumpet, and let the heads of families be informed by sending
from door to door.’ Then turning to the vicar, he added: ‘You will
be present with all the episcopal council.’ He informed them that he
would visit the assembly on his way to mass, and would then tell them
his pleasure; so that the council might prepare their answer during
service-time, and he would receive it on his way back. The ducal
partisans ran from street to street and from house to house in order to
muster all their forces at an assembly called in the name of a prince
whose subjects lived at Chambéry and Turin.[384] The liberals, who were
still numerous in Geneva, pretty generally kept away: they did not
consider a council assembled by the duke to be legitimate.

The next day, Sunday, December 10, the great bell of the cathedral
having summoned the citizens, men whose names are for the most part
unknown appeared to form a council. The most important portion in this
_popular_ assembly was not the people, but the duke, who appeared
between nine and ten o’clock, accompanied by the Bishop of Maurienne,
the episcopal council, the chancellor of Savoy, and his chamberlains,
esquires, officers, and many gentlemen from his states; before and
behind came the archers of Savoy. Carrying their halberds with a
threatening air, and impatient to reduce this herd of shopkeepers
under their prince, these mercenaries gave the meeting the appearance
of a battle-field rather than of a council. Nothing like it had ever
been witnessed in the city. Resolved that day to make the conquest
of Geneva, Charles proudly mounted to the place reserved for the
sovereign; his courtiers drew up to the right and left, and his
soldiers formed in a circle round the assembly, while above their heads
flashed the broad-pointed bills at the end of the long staves, as if
to frighten the citizens. The duke reclining upon the throne, which
was covered with rich tapestry, ordered his chancellor to explain his
sovereign intentions. The latter, making a low bow, read: ‘About three
months ago, as the duke was preparing to cross the mountains on Italian
business, he learnt that certain seditious people, who have fled to
the country of the League, were sowing dissension between him and
the bishop, between Geneva and the Swiss.... Whereupon his Highness,
who has always been a mild and gentle prince to this city, seeing
it threatened by a frightful calamity, neglected his own interests,
hastened to you, and has spared neither money nor pains to restore
peace among you. In return for so many benefits, this magnanimous
prince asks but one thing ... that you should recognise him as your
sovereign protector.’ The protection was evidently a mere veil to hide
dominion and despotism; accordingly the few honest citizens there
present were dispirited and silent. It was necessary to make haste,
for the duke wished to avert all opposition. Having read the paper,
the chancellor stepped forward, and cried as loud as he could, for his
voice was weak: ‘Are you willing to live in obedience to your bishop
and prince, and under the protection of my lord duke?’ ... The question
should now have been put to the vote; but the impatient mamelukes
carried it by acclamation, shouting out with all their might: ‘Yes,
yes!’ The chancellor resumed: ‘My lord, seeing the great love this city
feels towards him, cancels all the penalties it has incurred, takes
off all sequestrations, remits all fines, which amount to twenty-two
thousand crowns, and pardons all rebels--those excepted who have fled
to Switzerland.’ Such are usually the amnesties of tyrants; those are
excepted who ought to be included, and those included who do not need
it. ‘Thanks, thanks!’ replied the mamelukes. ‘As my chancellor may not
have been distinctly heard,’ said Charles to Syndic Montyon, ‘have
the goodness to repeat what he has said in my name.’ After this, his
Highness, with his chancellor, courtiers, gentlemen, and halberdiers,
left the assembly and went to mass. It looked like a triumphal
procession. As for those left behind, if there were venal citizens who
dared to raise their heads, there were others whose uneasy consciences
bowed them down.[385]

As soon as the Genevese were left to themselves, Montyon, a fanatical
partisan of Savoy, got on a bench and repeated, not without
embarrassment, the chancellor’s address. The halberdiers being away,
the assent was no longer unanimous. There were still many honest men
in Geneva who clung to the ancient institutions of the State and held
a Savoyard usurpation in horror. Some, at the very moment when the
liberty of their country was about to be thrown into the abyss, were
smitten with a last love for her. ‘The address is full of guile,’ they
said. Many, however, acceded to the ‘protection,’ but added, ‘saving
the authority of the prince-bishop and the liberties of the city,’
which nullified the vote.[386]

Such was the _Council of Halberds_. It had given Geneva the Duke of
Savoy for her _protector_, and had imposed on the citizens _obedience_
towards that prince. An encroaching, powerful, able court, like that
of Turin, could easily make an hereditary sovereignty out of such
a concession. But a course of violence and stratagem provokes the
resistance of noble minds. After the action of despotism, the reaction
of liberty was to begin; the bow too violently bent by the duke was to
break in his hand.

The next day, in fact, Charles, who fancied himself already prince of
the city, wishing to enter upon his new career, requested the city
to hand over to him the jurisdiction in criminal matters, which was
refused. Nor was this the only check; the procurator-fiscal having,
by his Highness’s orders, sent from house to house to collect votes
against the alliance with the Swiss, many flatly refused to give them.
At this moment the duke appeared as if he were stunned. He had matters
on his mind which troubled and disturbed him; they made him mistrustful
and anxious. The assembled people had just taken the oath of obedience
to him ... and to his first two requests (such legitimate requests
as he thought them) they had replied by a No! After having given an
example of his extreme violence, Charles gave another of his extreme
weakness. He thought Geneva crushed; but Geneva, even when crushed,
alarmed him. He pressed his foot upon her neck, but he felt the corpse
moving under him. Even the mamelukes he began to consider as obstinate
republicans, secretly defending their independence. His head began to
reel, his heart to fail him. The essential trait of his character, it
will be remembered, was to begin everything and finish nothing. This
union of violence and folly, of which several Roman emperors have
furnished examples, was found also in Charles. At the moment he had
gained an important victory, and just as it was necessary for him to
remain on the field of battle to profit by it, he turned his back and
fled precipitately into Piedmont. It was asserted that Beatrice had
recalled him. ‘Venus overcame Pallas,’ says Bonivard. The prior of St.
Victor is always inclined to be sarcastic. But if (as is possible) it
was the desire to join the duchess which induced Charles III. to let
that city of Geneva slip from his hands, which the house of Savoy had
coveted for ages, it is a proof that if he was violent enough to take
it, he was too weak to keep it. However that may be, on the 12th of
December, 1525, the duke quitted the city, and from that day neither
he nor his successors entered it again. If Charles had remained,
and followed the advice of his ministers, he would probably have
established his authority, and bound Geneva to Rome. The triumph of the
power of Savoy at the extremity of Lake Leman would have had serious
consequences. But the victory he was about to win--which he had even
gained ... was lost by his cowardly desertion, and lost for ever.[387]

So did not think the syndic Montyon and fifty of the most servile
mamelukes. Proud of the decision of the Council of Halberds, they
resolved to make it known to the Swiss. The horseman intrusted with
the message departed, and, on his arrival at Friburg, delivered the
letters to the avoyer. ‘The fugitives are deceiving you,’ said the
writers; ‘the entire community desires to live under the protection of
our most dread lord the Duke of Savoy.’ This accusation revived all
the energy of the huguenots. The mamelukes charged them with lying....
From that hour they feared neither the dungeon nor the sword. Imprison
them in Cæsar’s tower, in the castle of Bonne, or elsewhere, it matters
not: they are ready to expose themselves to the violence of the enemy.
‘Appoint a commissioner,’ said some of them; ‘let him come with us
to Geneva, and he will tell you which of the two has lied, we or the
mamelukes.’ John Lullin and two or three of his friends departed
without a safe-conduct, accompanied by De Sergine, a Friburg notary,
resolved to prove that Geneva desired to be free. The unexpected news
of Lullin’s arrival spread through the city; numbers of citizens
immediately crowded round the bold and imprudent huguenot, gazed upon
him with tenderness, and anxiously asked for news of the exiles.
Fathers, brothers, sons, friends came in great anxiety of mind to hear
the tidings of those they loved dearest. ‘Alas!’ said Lullin, ‘how can
I tell of their misery and sorrow?’ ... He described them as exiled,
oppressed with fears for their country, despised by some, ill-treated
by others, destitute, ‘reduced to Job’s dunghill,’ obliged in order
to support their families to receive alms from such strangers as had
compassion on their wretchedness. But here the generous huguenot,
whose wounded heart was bursting with tears and full of bitterness,
could contain himself no longer: ‘It is you,’ he exclaimed, ‘it is you
that increase our sorrow--yes, you!’ He indignantly complained that
the Genevans remaining in Geneva disavowed those who had left it to
save her independence, and made them pass for liars. He asked them how
it was that, as the foreign prince had fled beyond the Alps, Geneva
did not reclaim the liberty which he had taken away. ‘Is it thus that
citizens defend the ancient rights handed down by their fathers?’
This touching language, the presence of him who uttered it and of
the two or three fugitives at his side, the sight of their poverty,
their distress, their patriotism, and their heroic courage, stirred
the citizens. The Savoyard agents, Balleyson, Saleneuve, and their
soldiers, remained in the city to no purpose: Geneva awoke from her
slumbers. ‘Friburg desires to know the real state of this city?’ said a
few patriots to Sergine; ‘come, then, with us to the council--come and
see for yourself.’ The most energetic men were still in Switzerland;
but by degrees all in Geneva who loved liberty were seen to shake off
the silence to which they had been reduced. They encouraged one another
to make an imposing demonstration. Erelong the justification of the
_foreigners_ took place, and it was conducted with all the solemnity
that a simple people could give it.[388]




On the 22nd of December, ten days after Charles’s departure, crowds
of citizens poured from every quarter towards the hôtel-de-ville. The
syndics and the council, who were then sitting, were informed that
certain persons desired to be admitted; the doors were opened, and the
petitioners entered. At their head walked John Bandière, a man about
sixty years old, whose son Ami (syndic in the Reformation year) was
among the fugitives. This venerable man advanced, surrounded by the
children of his son and of other exiles.[389] With him came several
citizens who, though they had remained in the background during recent
events, might yet with good right appear in the front line. There was
the amiable Ami Porral, afterwards syndic, who zealously embraced
the evangelical faith; Pierre de Joye, cousin of that De Joye whom
Bishop John had desired to put to death; the bold Robert Vandel,
syndic in 1529, his brother Peter, Sept, De Chapeaurouge, Falquet,
Lect, Delapalud, Malbuisson, Favre, Lullin, Denis Hugues, son of the
estimable Besançon: in short, says a document of the time, about 100
citizens, the flower of Geneva. These men desired not only to bear
testimony in favour of men unjustly accused; but observing that those
to whom the reins of the State had been confided were slumbering, that
the chariot was leaving the track and about to fall into the ditch,
they thought it their duty to set the drivers on the right road.
Bandière, his face wet with tears (says a manuscript), spoke first:
‘Most honourable lords,’ he said, ‘you see these children; do you not
know their fathers? Are not these poor little ones orphans already,
though their fathers are still alive?’[390]--‘Yes,’ exclaimed the
councillors.--‘Those citizens,’ continued Bandière, ‘who, for having
defended the liberties of Geneva, were compelled, through a thousand
dangers, to seek refuge in Germany yonder,[391]--are not they good
men?’ ... ‘They are,’ was the answer. ‘Are they not citizens of this
city--the good men whose fathers, sons, and connections you have before
you?’--It was cheerfully acknowledged.

Having thus the testimony of the council in favour of the refugees--a
testimony of which the Friburg deputy made a note--the venerable
Bandière continued: ‘These refugees, whom you acknowledge to be good
men, are surprised that you should have disavowed them in letters
sent to the League. For this reason, we who are here present declare
boldly that we approve them, both in their words and in their acts, and
count them to be faithful and devoted citizens. At the same time, most
honourable lords, we protest against every encroachment attempted by
a foreign power on the rights of our prince and the liberties of the

Thus the slumbering Geneva, whom Charles had thought dead, cast off
the bonds with which that prince had bound her, and, rejecting the
duke with one hand, called the fugitives back with the other. Bandière
handed in his declaration in writing, and demanded letters-testimonial.
Syndic Montyon, in great embarrassment, said that it was necessary to
deliberate before answering. ‘Where is the necessity?’ exclaimed the
energetic Robert Vandel.--‘It is not the custom to give testimonials
here,’ was the reply. The huguenot, astonished at this refusal of
a simple receipt, grew impatient, and, turning towards De Sergine,
desired him to draw up the act himself.

The syndics and councillors had not yet remarked this person. ‘Not
imagining they had such a visitor in their house,’ says Bonivard,
‘they looked at him with astonishment.’ Their astonishment increased
when they saw the Friburger rise and say, addressing the whole
assembly: ‘Sirs, do you acknowledge those who are in the country of
the Helvetians to be men worthy of all honour; and do you ratify all
that may be done by them for the welfare of this illustrious city?’ The
syndics and councillors, surprised at this extraordinary question, kept
silent; but all the other citizens present, voting as if in general
council, answered ‘Yes!’ De Sergine, calling the council to witness the
complete approval that had been given the fugitives, withdrew, followed
by the hundred citizens, proud of having made the voice of the people
heard in the very bosom of an enslaved senate.[392]

De Sergine, unwilling to lose a moment, sat down without ceremony on
the steps of the hôtel-de-ville, as might have been done, perhaps,
in the simple republics of antiquity, and prepared to draw up the
letters-testimonial that were required of him. A certain number of
patriots stood around him; others went through the city reporting what
had just taken place. Men rejoiced everywhere; they directed their
steps towards the hôtel-de-ville, remembering that God never forsakes a
people that does not forsake itself. Every minute fresh citizens came
and increased the strange assembly gathered round the notary, and every
new-comer was eager to have his name at the foot of the declaration.
All were speaking and arguing at once; some wept, others laughed;
they felt that a new breath was passing over the city, and that its
ancient liberties were recovering their vitality. All voices united
in proclaiming the praises of the fugitives. ‘Yes, certainly they are
better than us,’ said the crowd, ‘for they have forsaken everything
that our liberties might be preserved.’ For a long time no such
enthusiasm and joy had been witnessed in Geneva; and comparisons were
drawn between this noble assembly, where every one gave his name at
the peril of his life, and that gloomy Council of the Halberds, held
in the duke’s presence: on one side pomp and tyranny; on the other,
simplicity and liberty. Forsaken by the bishop, threatened by the duke,
watched by the Count of Genevois, surrounded by the armed soldiers of
Saleneuve and Balleyson, ever prompt to acts of violence, the citizens
followed each other, from noon until five o’clock, to sign the document
which was to secure their alliance with Switzerland and the triumph of
their liberties.

The mamelukes, however, wishing to stop a movement which threatened
to rob the duke of all his recent advantages, had recourse to secret
practices. Creeping up to some of the patriots of their acquaintance
whom they saw approaching, they would say: ‘Beware! when the duke
returns with his army, he will lay his hand on these testimonials,
he will count the names, he will mark the most guilty with a cross,
and send them to rejoin the shades of Berthelier and Lévrier.’ The
duke had, in truth, his revenge in reserve; but the citizens heeded
it not, and replied to this manœuvre by giving in their names with
greater enthusiasm. The approach of the festivals of Christmas and
of the New Year compelled many to stay in their shops, who were thus
prevented from signing; to provide against which, men went from house
to house, asking who would vote for the alliance with Switzerland.
There were not a hundred persons in Geneva who refused. The protest
of the hôtel-de-ville decided the fate of the city. Many of the first
subscribers were in the number of those who received the Gospel most
gladly. The dawn of the emancipation which was then beginning to
appear, was to be followed by the full light of the Reformation. But
before that glorious day arrived, what struggles, what wars, what
dangers, Geneva would still have to go through![393]

Erelong the movement descended, spreading from the hôtel-de-ville
through all the streets of the city; and to the noble protest of the
principal citizens were added the rejoicings of the young folks and of
the people. The holidays of Christmas and of the New Year had arrived.
The ‘children of Geneva,’ masked or with blackened faces, paraded
the streets to the sound of the drum, singing and shouting all over
the city: ‘Long live the huguenots!’ During this time the citizens
held frequent meetings both by day and by night, at which they boldly
called for the return of the patriots, though they saw the dangers that
would accompany them. Some of the independents visited Switzerland
by stealth, to report all that had taken place and bring back the
fugitives in triumph.

The Savoyard party, who still had the power in their hands, were firmly
resolved not to give it up. The episcopal council sat all night. The
syndics, the vicar, and the vidame in particular, were losing their
heads. To prevent the movement from succeeding, they took useless and
contradictory steps, calculated rather to increase the irritation in
men’s minds: nothing prospered with them. ‘Fancy how surprised they
are,’ wrote the worthy Porral to Hugues. ‘They will go mad, please
God. The vidame is always indoors with the gout; may God keep him
there! They have forbidden the boatmen to ferry anybody over the
water at night.... They are afraid that God will give them what they
deserve.’ The procurator-fiscal issued writs against all who had signed
the protest. ‘If you will not answer according to my pleasure,’ he
said to them, ‘I will force you to speak.’--‘Really,’ said Porral,
who already felt the need of another liberty than political liberty,
‘really, I think that after they have compelled us to deny our parents,
neighbours, and friends, they will constrain us next to deny God

Yet, if the party of Savoy appeared ‘sick,’ that of liberty was
still very weak. Both portions of the community turned at the same
time towards the bishop. ‘His authority is in question,’ said
certain patriots; ‘he will side with us against Savoy. Let us summon
him.’--‘The bishop cannot side with rebels,’ said the episcopal council
and the mamelukes; ‘let us hasten his return.’ As the prelate was still
beyond the Alps, the two parties wrote to him, each for itself: ‘Return
speedily; without you we can do nothing.’[394]

This was embarrassing to Pierre de la Baume. On the one hand, he clung
to his principality, and at certain moments he would have withstood
the duke; but on the other hand, he felt himself unable to resist that
prince, and thus he fluctuated perpetually between duty and fear. He
started for Geneva, not knowing what he would do there.

On Thursday, February 1, 1526, one hundred and sixty mounted citizens
rode out of the city to meet the prelate: ‘Why, they are all
huguenots,’ said Biolley, an ardent mameluke and secretary to the
council, as he saw them pass. There was however something else. On
each side of the bishop rode Saleneuve and Balleyson, both devoted
servants of the duke, and Charles, distrusting La Baume, expected that
he would obey them as if they were his guardians. The prelate loved
neither his Highness nor the citizens of Geneva, ‘but only to fill
his purse, that he might empty it afterwards in playing _gaudeamus_,’
says a contemporary. The two chamberlains, however, kept so close to
him that he could not speak freely to anybody. He behaved politely
towards them, and seemed to be their very humble servant; but as soon
as he arrived at the bridge of Arve, where Savoy ended and the Genevese
territory began, the bishop spurred his horse, and rode in front of
his ‘guardians,’ as a sign that he was lord and master. Then assuming
his right position, he obliged them from that moment to speak to him

The Savoyard nobles were determined, however, not to lose their
prey. The next day (February 2), after dinner, as the two guardians
were keeping the bishop ‘at a gaming-table,’ it was whispered him
that Robert Vandel wanted him. Vandel, one of the Genevese liberals,
possessed all his confidence, and the bishop desired much to see
him; but Saleneuve and Balleyson continued their game, and Pierre de
la Baume knew not what to do to escape them. Unable to hold out any
longer, he rose, alleging some very natural pretext, and hastened to
a little room at the back of the house, where Vandel was. ‘Well,
Robert,’ said the prelate rather sharply, ‘they tell me that you
have made a declaration in the city contrary to my authority.’--‘You
have been deceived,’ replied Vandel, who read him the protest of the
hôtel-de-ville. ‘Well, well,’ said the prelate, ‘there is no great harm
in that.’ Vandel then represented to him that if Geneva owed a double
obedience, one to the duke, another to the bishop, as the Council of
Halberds had determined, the first would certainly swallow up the
second. Pierre de la Baume had no doubt of it.--‘There is somebody,’ he
said, lowering his voice, ‘very glad of my coming, but he will be vexed
afterwards.... I will not lose an inch of my jurisdiction, were I to
spend all my property in defending it. I will have no alliance with the
Swiss, however; this I promised the duke.’ Vandel represented to him
that the Genevans sought this alliance only to protect the episcopal
sovereignty against the usurpations of Savoy; and then, knowing the
prelate’s avarice, he added shrewdly: ‘When the alliance with the
Swiss is concluded, we will proceed against the duke’s creatures, we
will confiscate their property, and, my lord ... that will do you no
harm.’--‘What are you saying, Robert?’ Vandel explained his meaning
more fully. Such language moved the bishop to turn round.--‘Really,’
he answered. ‘Well, we will talk more fully about it another time;
for the moment, farewell.’ The converted prelate went back to his two

The bishop, won over by Vandel, made many reflections during the night,
and the next day he desired to see the syndics and the council, who
had greatly irritated him by their concessions to the duke. ‘Tell me
how you have been going on since my departure,’ he said mildly, and
then continued sharply: ‘You asked me to join in your appeal to Rome,
and then you withdrew from it without my consent.... This is bad; you
should have done your duty without fear, whatever wrong might be done
you.... I will not give up the appeal; I would rather convene the
people.... God and the world shall be satisfied with me.’ La Baume had
seen the duke in Piedmont. ‘His Highness,’ said he, turning towards
his episcopal council, ‘told me that he meant to have the sovereignty
of Geneva, and asked me for a day to come to an understanding about
it; but I answered immediately that although Pierre de la Baume is
his humble subject, his Highness has no business in my city.... I am
determined to maintain the rights of my church and the liberties of my
city--until death.’ Then turning again to the syndics: ‘As for those
who have retired into Switzerland,’ he said, ‘I hold them to be honest
people, and, saving the alliance, I approve of all they may do.’

On a sudden the bishop asked himself what he should say to the duke
if such language was reported to him.... Startled at his own courage,
he became confused, hesitated, and, speaking low to the first syndic,
he said: ‘I wish you did as they do at Venice. Your council is not
secret; it ought to be so. Understand clearly that I embrace the city
party; but the benefices I possess in his Highness’s states compel me
to do so secretly.... If in any circumstance I seem opposed to your
interests, remember that it is in appearance only.’ At the same time,
the bishop wrote and told the fugitives of his intention to pay all the
expenses which the independence of the city necessitated; but he added:
‘If I write you the contrary, pay no attention to it; I shall do so
only through fear of the duke, and not to make him angry.’ The spirit
of his policy was deception. Such was the last bishop of Geneva.[397]

The annual nomination of the syndics was about to take place, and the
city was in great commotion. Both parties counted on this election:
the mamelukes to establish the duke in Geneva, and the huguenots to
expel him. The great patriots were in exile; victory seemed assured to
the ducals. Yet the timidest even of the huguenots took courage, and
swore to elect ‘honest men who would secure the liberty of the city.’
The general council having assembled on the 4th of February, 1526, the
mameluke syndic Montyon proposed eight candidates, from whom, according
to the order prescribed by the duke, they must elect four syndics. Then
Robert Vandel stood up: ‘I am authorised by the citizens,’ he said to
Montyon, ‘to inform you that they will not be muzzled (_brigidari_).’
Then, turning to the people, he asked: ‘Is it not true?’ All replied:
‘Yes, yes!’ many at the same time calling out ‘Jean Philippe.’ Philippe
was not only not one of the eight, but he was one of the exiles. ‘We
will make Jean Philippe syndic,’ repeated the huguenots, ‘and thus show
that he and the others in Switzerland are good citizens.’ If Besançon
Hugues was not the popular choice, it was probably because the people
were still angry with that noble exile for his refusal in the preceding

At this moment the bishop’s procurator-fiscal Mandalla appeared. La
Baume’s courage was not heroic; he trembled at the idea of a purely
huguenot election, and desired to get a moderate list--half servile,
half liberal--passed. In his name, Mandalla proposed four candidates,
among whom was the traitor Cartelier. ‘That will quiet all angry
feelings,’ said the procurator. It was not a clever manœuvre, for
Cartelier’s name was sufficient to discredit the others.

The polling began. Each man went up to the secretary and gave in his
vote. The most energetic of the two parties counted the votes received.
The procurator-fiscal watched the election with anxiety. Soon, vexed
and dispirited, he ran and told the bishop that the people took no
account of his message.... Pierre de la Baume was frightened. The
zealous fiscal ran again to the polling-place: ‘My lord conjures you,’
he said, ‘at least not to elect Jean Philippe, considering that he is
not in the city.’--‘We will make no choice that will be disagreeable
to the bishop,’ they answered politely, and at the same time continued
giving their votes to the exile. The people of Geneva were determined
to show, in a striking manner, that they were breaking with Savoy and
uniting with Switzerland, and treading boldly in the path of liberty.
The bishop, still more alarmed, finding that his procurator obtained
nothing, sent his vicar to protest, in his name, against so dangerous
an election. ‘It shall be done as our prince pleases,’ said they
courteously; and then, ‘without noise or murmur, were elected four
huguenots. Sire Jean Philippe (they said in the city) received more
votes than any of the others.’ The citizens cared no more for the
bishop than for the duke, when the reestablishment of their liberties
was concerned. The people had never been more united; the opposition
counted only eleven, and after the election everybody declared that
they sided with the majority. They said one to another that a free and
courageous people, if God comes to their aid, can never perish.

Confusion was in the bishop’s palace. As soon as opposition is
made to the duke, said some, revolution breaks its bounds ... this
election must be annulled. The bishop ordered that another general
council should be held on the morrow, and, calculating on his personal
influence, he appeared at it, attended by his councillors and officers;
but the people were deaf, and confirmed Philippe’s election; only they
appointed his brother-in-law (D. Franc) to take his place during his
absence. Not satisfied with this, the people repealed all statutes
contrary to the liberties of Geneva passed under fear of Charles of
Savoy. The bishop, alarmed at these republican proceedings, exclaimed:
‘Is there nobody that wishes to maintain these ordinances?’ No one
answered. Everything fell, and the ancient constitution was restored.
After having changed the laws, they set about changing the persons.
They would have no partisans of Savoy to preserve the liberties of
Geneva. Huguenot councillors were elected in the place of mamelukes.
The restoration of Genevese liberties had been so promptly accomplished
that the ducal faction could not believe their eyes. ‘Our _brewers_
were never more astounded,’ said the huguenots. (The _brewers_ were the
men who _brewed_ or plotted treason.) There were men in the ducal party
who changed their opinions as the wind changes; they were now seen
accosting the patriots and shaking hands with them.... ‘See,’ said the
huguenots, ‘how well they counterfeit the air of good fellowship!’ ...
Then all true friends of their country exclaimed: ‘Let us praise God!
_Laus Deo!_’[398]

Thus did liberty triumph. The Genevese people had restored their
franchises, dismissed the mamelukes, rejected the cruel protectorate of
Charles III., sought the alliance of Switzerland; and after all that,
they gave God the glory.[399]

As the cause of Savoy was lost, the bishop, so long wavering, made a
show of placing himself on the side of the free and the bold. He sent
Pierre Bertholo to carry this important news to Jean Philippe and all
those exiles of whom he was so afraid. The latter had not lost their
time; they endeavoured to enlighten the Swiss, and Hugues continually
argued and repeated that Geneva was not under subjection to the duke.
At this time Bertholo arrived. ‘The ordinances of Savoy are repealed,’
he told the refugees; ‘patriots replace the serviles everywhere, and
one of you has been elected syndic--Jean Philippe!’ They could hardly
believe this news. What! one of these wretched fugitives, of these
_mendicants_ (as their enemies called them), raised by the people
of Geneva to the head of the State!... What a refutation of the
ducal calumnies! But the ‘foreigners’ did not forget themselves in
the joy which this message caused them. Taking Bertholo with them,
they proceeded to the Bernese council, and reported the unexpected
intelligence brought by the messenger. ‘Up to the present time,’ said
the avoyer, ‘I have invited Besançon Hugues alone, as your chief, to
sit down at my side; now, Messire Jean Philippe, take your seat above
Besançon, as syndic of Geneva.’ The alliance would no longer meet with
obstacles. ‘We accept you as fellow-freemen,’ continued the avoyer,
‘without heed to those growlers and their threats, which do not last
long now-a-days.’[400]

The people of Geneva were about to rise, if we may so speak, from the
grave. They had acted with decision, with energy, with unwavering
firmness. They desired to have for their magistrates none but men able
to maintain their laws and independence, and had boldly erased from
the code of the republic all ordinances contrary to the liberties of
Geneva. Accordingly, ‘a person of mark,’ who lived at the beginning
of the seventeenth century, exclaimed, after studying these facts:
‘This history is a marvellous one, and calls to my mind a tract in the
_Philetes_ of Plato, touching the moral good comprised in the three
ideas: _Reality_, _Proportion_, and _Truth_. It is full of the special
marks of the wise and merciful providence of God, who has guided, up
to this present hour, this _ship of his miracles_ through an infinity
of shoals. The more thoroughly we contemplate human action, so much
the deeper appear the counsels of God.’[401] What we are about to see
appears to confirm these words.




Then a step was taken without which the Reformation would never have
been established in Geneva. In the morning of the 20th of February the
representatives of Berne, Friburg, and Geneva resolved to conclude
solemnly the alliance between the three cities, for which the people
had sighed during so many years. They met, they gave their hands,
affection and confidence were in every feature. ‘In the name of the
most holy and most high Trinity,’ said the three free states, ‘in the
name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we reciprocally promise
mutual friendship and intercourse in order that we may be able to
preserve the good that God has given us in justice, repose, and true
peace.... And if hereafter one or many should wish to molest the
syndics, councils, or freemen of the city of Geneva in their persons,
honour, goods, or estate, we, the avoyers, councils, and freemen of the
cities of Berne and Friburg--by virtue of our oath made and sworn--are
bound to give the said city favour, aid, and succour, and to march
out our armies ... at their charge, however.’[402] The required
formalities having been fulfilled: ‘Gentlemen,’ said Jean Philippe, ‘we
will depart and carry this good news ourselves to our country.’ The
councils of Berne and Friburg ordered that a number of deputies from
each canton equal to that of the fugitives should accompany them, with
power to seal the alliance at Geneva. All the exiles left on the same
day; but how different was the return from that breathless flight which
had not long ago brought them to Friburg! ‘They went, not in fear and
dread as they had come, but taking the high road through the Pays de
Vaud, where all strove to do them honour; for,’ says Bonivard, ‘they
still smelt the reek of the roast meat of Morat.’

On the 23rd of February the news of the speedy arrival of the exiles
and delegates of the cantons spread through Geneva; citizen told it
to citizen, great was the joy, and arrangements were made for their
reception. The syndics on horseback, carrying their batons, followed
by all who had horses, went out to meet them, and the people collected
near the Swiss gate to receive them. A salute of guns announced their
approach. They walked three abreast: in the middle was a Genevan
fugitive, on his right and left a deputy of Berne and of Friburg: this
order, continued through the whole line, announced more clearly than
all the rest the close union of the three cities. Geneva, allied to the
Swiss, might be able to preserve its independence; Geneva was saved. A
conversion had been wrought in its people. Hitherto they had turned to
the south; now they turned towards the north: they began to cast off
Rome and to catch a glimpse of Wittemberg. There are certain movements
in nations that transform their destinies. The citizens could not
take their eyes off those unhappy men who had had such difficulty in
escaping the archers of Savoy, and who, strange to say, were returning
holding Berne and Friburg by the hand. They had gone away, still
disposed to appeal to Rome; but having heard much talk in Switzerland
of the Reformation, they were to be the first to welcome Farel and the
Gospel to Geneva.... Relations and friends pressed in their arms these
fugitives, whom they had thought they should never see again. ‘They
were sumptuously entertained at the hôtel-de-ville. A _morality on the
said alliance_ was performed, and a bonfire was lighted on the Place
Molard.’[403] The Council of Two Hundred was convened.

This important council assembled, but instead of two hundred citizens,
three hundred and twenty met together. This sitting was to be a
festival; everybody desired to be present. It was known that Hugues
would speak: the respect they felt for the great citizen and his
companions in misfortune, the adventures he had to relate, mixed up
(it was reported) with strange facts, excited interest and curiosity.
Hugues rose to speak: there was deep silence: ‘You know, sirs,’ he
began, ‘that five or six months ago, on the morrow of Holy Cross
(September 15, 1525), we left here in great haste by different roads;
without communicating with one another, not knowing where to go to
escape the rage of the most illustrious duke, Monseigneur of Savoy. We
were warned by friends that, on the demand of certain persons in this
city, the prince was resolved to take us and put us ignominiously to
death, because we had resisted innovations opposed to our liberties.
Ah! sirs, that was no child’s play, believe me. The archers and agents
of my lord of Savoy pursued us as far as St. Claude, from St. Claude to
Besançon, and beyond.... We had to travel day and night in the woods,
through wind and rain, not knowing where to go in quest of safety....
At last we considered that we had friends at Friburg, and thither we

The citizens, riveting their eyes on Hugues, did not lose a word of
his narrative and of the details which he added. They seemed to bear
him company through those woods and mountains, among the ravines and
snow; they fancied they heard behind them the tramp of the armed men in
pursuit of them.... What struck them was not only the epic element in
the flight and return of these free men, of which ancient Greece would
doubtless have made one of the finest myths in her history; it was in
an especial manner the sovereign importance which these acts had for
them. During those sacred days, Geneva and her destinies had turned on
their axis; her gates were opened on the side of light and liberty; the
flight, the residence at Berne and Friburg, and the return of Hugues
and his companions, are one of the most important pages in the annals
of the city.

Hugues continued: he told them how Friburg and Berne had seen no other
means of securing their liberties than by receiving them into their
alliance.... ‘Here are the letters duly sealed with their great seals,’
said the noble orator, presenting a parchment. ‘They are written in
German; but I will tell you their substance, article by article,
without deceiving you in any--on my life.’ He read the act of alliance,
and added: ‘Sirs, my comrades and I here present promise you, on our
lives and goods, that the said citizenship is such. Consider, sirs, if
you will ratify and accept it.’ The assembly testified its approbation
with thanks to God, and resolved to convoke a general council for the
next day.[404]

The catholic party and the ducal party were aroused. The Swiss
alliance, an immense innovation, threatened all the conquests they had
made with so much trouble in Geneva during so many generations. The
bishop, full of uneasiness, consulted with the canons and some others
on whom he thought he could rely. All told him that if Berne had its
way in Geneva, there would be no more bishop, no more prince. To work
then! All the powers of feudalism and the papacy conspired against an
alliance which first gave Geneva liberty and afterwards the Gospel. At
first they wished to prevent the general council from meeting. It was
customary to summon it by tolling the great bell; now Canon Lutry had
the key of the tower where this bell hung. In the evening the reverend
father, followed by some armed men, climbed step by step up the narrow
stairs which led to the bell-loft, and placed the men in garrison
there. ‘You are here,’ he said, ‘to defend the bell and not to give it
up;’ he then went down, double-locked the door, and carried away the
key. In the morning the door was found to be locked, and Lutry refused
to open it. ‘The canons,’ it was said in the city, ‘are opposed to
the assembling of the people.’ The irritated citizens ran together.
‘Whereupon there was a great uproar and alarm in the church of St.
Pierre, so that De Lutry was constrained to open the door and give up
the bell.’[405]

It was all over; they resolved still to fight a last battle, even
with the certainty of being defeated. The general council met; the
bishop went thither in person, attended by his episcopal followers,
in the hope that his presence might intimidate the huguenots. ‘I am
head, pastor, and prince of the community,’ he said. ‘It concerns my
affairs, and I wish to know what will be laid before you.’--‘It is
not the custom for my lord to be present,’ said Hugues; ‘the citizens
transact none but political matters here[406] which concern them
wholly. His presence, however, is always pleasing to us, provided
nothing be deduced from it prejudicial to our liberties.’ Thereupon
Hugues proposed the alliance. Then Stephen de la Mare got up. In 1519
he had shone in the foremost rank of the patriots; but, an ardent
Roman Catholic, he had since then placed liberty in the second rank
and the Church in the first. It was he who had undertaken to oppose
the proposition. ‘It is sufficient for us to live under the protection
of God, St. Peter, and the bishop.... I oppose the alliance.’ De la
Mare could not proceed, so great was the confusion that broke out
in the assembly; the indignation was general, yet order and quiet
were restored at last, and the treaty was read. ‘Will you ratify this
alliance?’ said first syndic G. Bergeron. ‘Yes, yes!’ they shouted on
every side. The syndic continued: ‘Let those who approve of it hold up
their hands!’ There was a forest of hands, every man holding up both at
once. ‘We desire it, we approve of it,’ they shouted again. ‘Those of
the contrary opinion?’ added the syndic. Six hands only were raised in
opposition. Pierre de la Baume from his episcopal throne looked down
upon this spectacle with anxiety. Even to the last he had reckoned upon
success. By selecting De la Mare, the old leader of the patriots, and
placing him at the head of the movement against the alliance with the
Swiss, he fancied he had hit upon an admirable combination; but his
hopes were disappointed. Alarmed and irritated, seeing what this vote
would lead to, and determined to keep his principality at any cost,
the bishop-prince exclaimed: ‘I do not consent to this alliance; I
appeal to our holy father the pope and to his majesty the emperor.’
But to no purpose did the Bishop of Geneva, on the eve of losing his
states, appeal to powers the most dreaded--no one paid any attention to
his protest. Joy beamed on every face, and the words ‘pope, emperor,’
were drowned by enthusiastic shouts of ‘The Swiss ... the Swiss and
liberty!’ Besançon Hugues, who, although on the side of independence,
was attached to the bishop, exerted all his influence with him. ‘Very
well, then,’ said the versatile prelate, ‘if your franchises permit
you to contract an alliance without your prince, do so.’--‘I take note
of this declaration,’ said Hugues; and then he added: ‘More than once
the citizens have concluded such alliances without their prince--with
Venice, Cologne, and other cities.’ The Register mentions that after
this the prince went away satisfied. We rather doubt it; but however
that may be, the bishop by his presence had helped to sanction the
measure which he had so much at heart to prevent.[407]

What comforted Pierre de la Baume was the sight of Besançon Hugues at
the head of the movement. That great citizen assured the bishop that
the alliance with Switzerland was not opposed to his authority; and he
did so with perfect honesty.[408] Hugues was simply a conservative.
He desired an alliance with Switzerland in order to preserve Geneva
in her present position. He desired to maintain the prelate not only
as bishop, but also as prince: all his opposition was aimed at the
usurpations of Savoy. But there were minds in Geneva already wishing
for more. Certain citizens, in whom the new aspirations of modern times
were beginning to show themselves, said that the municipal liberties
of the city were continually fettered, and often crushed, by the
princely authority of the bishop. Had he not been seen to favour the
cruel murders which the Savoyard power had committed in Geneva? ‘The
liberties of the people and the temporal lordship of the bishop cannot
exist together; one or other of the two powers must succumb,’ they
said. The history of succeeding ages has shown but too plainly the
reasonableness of these fears. Wherever the bishop has remained king,
he has trampled the liberties of the people under foot. There we find
no representative government, no liberty of the press, no religious
liberty. In the eyes of the bishop-prince these great blessings of
modern society are monsters to be promptly stifled. Some Genevans
comprehended the danger that threatened them, and, wishing to preserve
the liberties they had received from their ancestors, saw no other
means than by withdrawing from the ministers of religion a worldly
power which Jesus Christ had refused them beforehand. Some--but their
number was very small then--went further, and began to ask whether the
authority of a bishop in religious matters was not still more contrary
to the precepts of the Gospel, which acknowledged no other authority
than that of the word of God; and whether liberty could ever exist in
the State so long as there was a despot in the Church. Such were the
great questions beginning to be discussed in Geneva more than three
hundred years ago: the present time seems destined to solve them.

In spite of the loyal assurances of Besançon Hugues, the bishop was
disturbed. Sitting with liberty at his side, he felt ill at ease;
and the terror spreading through the ranks of the clergy could not
fail to reach him. If the Bishop of Geneva should be deprived of his
principality, who can tell if men will not one day deprive the pope
of his kingship? The alarm of the canons, priests, and friends of the
papacy continued to increase. Did they not know that the Reformation
was daily gaining ground in many of the confederated states? Friburg,
indeed, was still catholic; but Zurich was no longer so, and everything
announced that Berne would soon secede. The great light was to come
from another country, from a country that spoke the language of Geneva;
but Geneva was then receiving from Switzerland the first gleams that
precede the day. Some Genevans were already beginning to profess,
rather undisguisedly, their new religious tendencies; Robert Vandel,
the bishop’s friend, openly defended the Reformation. ‘Sire Robert is
not very good for Friburg,’ said some; ‘but he is good for Berne, _very
good_!’ which meant that he preferred Holy Scripture to the pope. The
priests said that if Geneva was united to Switzerland, there was an end
of the privileges of the clergy; that simple christians would begin
to occupy themselves with religion; and that in Geneva, as in Basle,
Schaffhausen, and Berne, laymen would talk about the faith of the
Church. Now there was nothing of which the clergy were more afraid. The
ministers of the Romish religion, instead of examining the Scriptures,
of finding in them doctrines capable of satisfying the wants of man,
and of propagating them by mild persuasion, were occupied with very
different matters, and would not suffer any one but themselves to think
even of the Bible and its contents. Never was a calling made a more
thorough fiction. It was said of them: _They have taken away the key of
knowledge; they enter not in themselves, and them that were entering in
they hindered_.

These ideas became stronger every day, and the attachment of the
priests to their old customs was more stubborn than ever. It was
difficult to avoid an outbreak; but it should be observed that it
was provoked by the canons. These rich and powerful clerics, who
were determined to oppose the alliance with all their power, and,
if necessary, to defend their clerical privileges with swords and
arquebuses, got together a quantity of arms in the house of De
Lutry, the most fanatical of their number, in order to make use of
them ‘against the city.’ On the night of the 26th of February, these
reverend seigniors, as well as the principal mamelukes, crept one after
another into this house, and held a consultation. A rumour spread
through the city, and the citizens told one another ‘that M. de Lutry
and M. de Vausier had brought together a number of people secretly to
get up a riot.’ The patriots, prompt and resolute in character, were
determined not to give the mamelukes the least chance of recovering
their power. ‘The people rose in arms,’ the house was surrounded; it
would appear that some of the chiefs of the ducal party came out, and
that swords were crossed. ‘A few were wounded,’ says the chronicler.
However, ‘proclamation was made to the sound of the trumpet through the
city,’ and order was restored.[409]

The conspiracy of the canons having thus failed, the members of the
feudal and papal party thought everything lost. They fancied they saw
an irrevocable fatality dragging them violently to their destruction.
The principal supporters of the old order of things, engrossed by
the care of their compromised security, thought only of escaping,
like birds of night, before the first beams of day. They disguised
themselves and slipped out unobserved, some by one gate, some by
another. It was almost a universal panic. The impetuous Lutry escaped
first, with one of his colleagues; the bishop-prince’s turn came next.
Bitterly upbraided by the Count of Genevois for not having prevented
the alliance, Pierre de la Baume took alarm both at the huguenots and
the duke, and escaped to St. Claude. The agents of his Highness of
Savoy trembled in their castles; the vidame hastened to depart on the
one side, and the gaoler of the Château de l’Ile, who was nick-named
the _sultan_, did the same on the other.

The most terrified were the clerics and the mamelukes who had been
present at the meeting at Canon de Lutry’s. They had taken good care
not to stop after the alarm that had been given them, and when the
order was made by sound of trumpet for every man to retire to his own
house, they had hastened to escape in disguise, trembling and hopeless.
The next morning the city watch, followed by the sergeants, forcibly
entered De Lutry’s house, and seized the arms, which had been carefully
hidden; but they found the nest empty, for all the birds had flown. ‘If
they had not escaped,’ said Syndic Balard, ‘they would have been in
danger of death.’ The canons who had not taken flight sent two of their
number to the hôtel-de-ville to say to the syndics: ‘Will you keep us
safe and sure in the city? if not, will you give us a safe-conduct,
that we may leave it?’ They thought only of following their colleagues.

The flight of the 26th of February was the counterpart of that of
the 15th of September. In September the new times had disappeared in
Geneva for a few weeks only; in February the old times were departing
for ever. The Genevese rejoiced as they saw these leeches disappear,
who had bled them so long, even to the very marrow. ‘The priests and
the Savoyards,’ they said, ‘are like wolves driven from the woods by
hunger: there is nothing left for them to take, and they are compelled
to go elsewhere for their prey.’ Nothing could be more favourable
to the Swiss alliance and to liberty than this general flight. The
partisans of the duke and of the bishop having evacuated the city, the
senate and the people remained masters. The grateful citizens ascribed
all the glory to God, and exclaimed: ‘The sovereignty is now in the
hands of the council, without the interference of either magistrates or
people. _Everything was done by the grace of God._’[410]

At the very time when the men of feudalism were quitting Geneva, those
of liberty were arriving, and the great transition was effected. On the
11th of March eight Swiss ambassadors entered the city in the midst of
a numerous crowd and under a salute of artillery: they were the envoys
from the cantons who had come to receive the oaths of Geneva and give
theirs in return. The next day these freemen, sons of the conquerors
of Charles the Bold, all glowing with desire to protect Geneva from
the attacks of Charles the Good, appeared before the general council.
At their head was Sebastian de Diesbach, an energetic man, devout
catholic, great captain, and skilful diplomatist. ‘Magnificent lords
and very dear fellow-freemen,’ he said, ‘Friburg and Berne acquaint
you that they are willing to live and die with you.... Will you swear
to observe the alliance that has been drawn up?’--‘Yes,’ exclaimed all
the Genevans, without one dissentient voice. Then the Swiss ambassadors
stood up and raised their hands towards heaven to make the oath. Every
one looked with emotion on those eight Helvetians of lofty stature and
martial bearing, the representatives of the energetic populations whose
military glory at this time surpassed that of all other nations. The
noble Sebastian having pronounced the oath of alliance, his companions
raised their hands also, and repeated his words aloud. The citizens
exclaimed with transport: ‘We desire it, we desire it!’ Then with deep
emotion said some: ‘Those men were born in a happy hour, who have
brought about so good a business.’ Eight deputies of Geneva, among
whom were Francis Favre and G. Hugues, brother of Besançon, proceeded
to Berne and Friburg to make the same oath on the part of their

The men of the old times were not discouraged: if they had been beaten
at Geneva, might they not conquer at Friburg and Berne? Indefatigable
in their exertions, they resolved to set every engine to work in order
to succeed. Stephen de la Mare, three other deputies of the duke,
Michael Nergaz, and forty-two mamelukes went into Switzerland to
break off the alliance. But Friburg and Berne replied: ‘For nothing
in the world will we depart from what we have sworn.’ The hand of God
was manifest, and accordingly when Hugues heard of this answer, he
exclaimed: ‘God himself is conducting our affairs.’

Then was Geneva intoxicated with joy. On the morrow after the taking of
the oath in the general council, the delight of the people broke out
all over the city. Bonfires were lighted in the public places; there
was much dancing, masquerading, and shouting; patriotic and satirical
songs reechoed through the streets; there was an outburst of happiness
and liberty. ‘When a people have been kept so long in the leash,’ said
Bonivard, ‘as soon as they are let loose, they are apt to indulge in
dangerous gambols.’[412]

While the people were rejoicing after their fashion, the wise men of
the council resolved to show their gratitude to God in another manner.
The councils issued a general pardon. Then an indulgence and concord
were proclaimed, and all bound themselves to live in harmony. They
went further: they desired to repair the injustice of the old régime.
‘Bonivard,’ said some, ‘has been unjustly deprived of his priory of
St. Victor because of his patriotism.’--‘What would you have us do?’
they answered; ‘the pope has given the benefice to another.’--‘I should
not make it a serious matter of conscience to disobey the pope,’ said
Bonivard slily.--‘And as for us,’ said the syndics, ‘we do not care
much about him.’ In later years the magistrates of Geneva gave the most
palpable proofs of this declaration; for the moment, they confined
themselves to resettling the ex-prior in the house of which the pope
had robbed him. Another more important reparation had still to be

In this solemn hour, when the cause of liberty was triumphing, amid
the joyful shouts of a whole people, two names were pronounced with
sighs and even with tears: ‘Berthelier! Lévrier!’ said the noblest
of the citizens. ‘We have reached the goal, but it was they who
traced out the road with their blood.’ An enfranchised people ought
not to be ungrateful to their liberators. By a singular coincidence
the anniversary of Berthelier’s death revived more keenly the memory
of that disastrous event. On the 23rd of August a hundred citizens
appeared before the council: ‘Seven years ago this very day,’ they
said, ‘Philibert Berthelier was beheaded in the cause of the republic;
we pray that his memory be honoured, and that, for such end, a solemn
procession shall march to the ringing of bells from the church of
St. Pierre to that of Our Lady of Grace, where the hero’s head was
buried.’ That was not without danger: Our Lady’s was on the Savoy
frontier, and his Highness’s soldiers might easily have disturbed
the ceremony. The council preferred ordering a solemn service in
memory of Berthelier, Lévrier, and others who died for the republic.
The Genevans, acknowledging the great blessings with which the hand
of God had enriched them, wished to repair all wrongs, honour all
self-sacrifice, and walk with a firm step in the paths of justice and
of liberty. It was by such sacrifices that they meant to celebrate
their deliverance.[413]

Geneva did not stand alone in feeling these aspirations towards modern
times. It was doubtless in the sixteenth century a great example of
liberty; but the movement tending towards new things was felt among all
those nations whom the Bible compares to a troubled sea: the tide was
rising over the whole surface. During the first half of the sixteenth
century Europe was awaking; the love of ancient learning enlightened
the mind, and the brilliant rays of christian truth, so long
intercepted, were beginning to pierce the clouds. A world till then
unknown was opening before man’s astonished eyes, and everything seemed
to announce a civilisation, independence, and life as yet unknown to
the human race. The mind of Europe awoke, and moving forward took its
station in the light, insatiable of life, of knowledge, and of liberty.

The great question was to know whether the new world, which seemed to
be issuing from the abyss, would repose on a solid foundation. More
than once already awakened society had appeared to break its bonds, to
throw off its shroud, and uplift the stone from the sepulchre. It had
happened thus in the ninth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, when the
most eminent minds began to ask the reason of things;[414] but each
time humanity had wanted the necessary strength, the new birth was not
completed, the tomb closed over it again, and it fell once more into a
heavy slumber.

Would it be the same now? Would this awakening of the sixteenth century
be also like a watch in the night?

Certain men, elect of God, were to give this new movement the strength
it needed. Let us turn towards that country whence Geneva would receive
those heroes baptised with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The scene of our history is about to change. ‘A man of mark’ whom we
have already quoted, said, when speaking of Geneva: ‘On this platform
appear actors who do not speak so loud as great kings and emperors on
the spacious theatre of their states; but what matters how the speaker
is dressed, if he says what he ought?’[415] We are leaving for a time
this modest platform. We shall no longer have to speak of a little
nation whose greatest heroes are obscure citizens. We are entering a
mighty empire where we shall be in the company of kings and queens, of
great personages and famous courtiers. Yet the dissimilarity between
the two theatres is not so wide as one might expect. In that vast
country of France, where historians usually describe nothing but the
great stream formed by the numerous combinations of policy, a few
springs are seen welling forth, at first unnoticed, but they swell
by degrees, and their waters will one day have more influence on the
destiny of the world than the floods of that mighty river. One of these
springs appeared at Etaples, close upon the shores of the Channel;
another at Gap in Dauphiny; and others in other places. But the most
important, that which was to unite them all and spread a new life even
to the most distant countries, welled up at Noyon, an ancient and
once illustrious town of Picardy. It was France who gave Lefèvre and
Farel--France, too, gave Calvin. That French people, who (as some say)
cared for nothing but war and diplomacy; that home of a philosophy
often sceptical and sometimes incredulous and mocking; that nation
which proclaimed and still proclaims itself the eldest daughter of
Rome, gave to the world the Reformation of Calvin and of Geneva--the
great Reformation, that which is the strength of the most influential
nations, and which reaches even to the ends of the world. France has
no nobler title of renown: we do not forget it. Perhaps she will not
always disdain it, and after having enriched others she will enrich
herself. It will be a great epoch for her future development, when her
dearest children drink at those living fountains that burst from her
bosom in the sixteenth century, or rather at that eternal fountain of
the Word of God, whose waters are for the healing of nations.






The Reformation was concerned both with God and man: its aim was to
restore the paths by which God and man unite, by which the Creator
enters again into the creature. This path, opened by Jesus Christ with
power, had been blocked up in ages of superstition. The Reformation
cleared the road, and reopened the door.

We willingly acknowledge that the middle ages had not ignored the
wonderful work of redemption: truth was then covered with a veil
rather than destroyed, and if the noxious weeds be plucked up with
which the field had gradually been filled, the primitive soil is laid
bare. Take away the worship paid to the Virgin, the saints, and the
host; take away meritorious, magical, and supererogatory works, and
other errors besides, and we arrive at simple faith in the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost. It is not the same when we come to the manner in
which God enters again into man. Roman catholicism had gone astray in
this respect; there were a few mystics in her fold who pretended to
tread this mysterious way; but their heated imaginations misled them,
while in the place of this inward worship the Roman doctors substituted
certain ecclesiastical formalities mechanically executed. The only
means of recovering this royal road was to return to the apostolical
times and seek for it in the Gospel. Three acts are necessary to unite
man again with God. Religion penetrates into man by the depths of his
conscience; thence it rises to the height of his knowledge, and finally
pervades the activity of his whole life.

The conscience of man had been seared not only by the sin which clings
to our nature, but also by the indulgences and mortifications imposed
by the Church. It required to be vivified by faith in the atoning blood
of Christ.

Tradition, scholasticism, papal infallibility, mingling their confused
questions and numerous superstitions with the natural darkness of the
heart, man’s understanding had been completely obscured. It needed to
be enlightened by the torch of God’s word.

A society of priests, exercising absolute dominion, had enslaved
christendom. For this theocratic and clerical society it was necessary
to substitute a living society of the children of God.

With Luther began the awakening of the human conscience. Terrified at
the sin he discovered in himself, he found no other means of peace but
faith in the grace of Christ Jesus. This starting-point of the German
reformer was also that of every Reformation.

To Zwingle belongs in an especial manner the work of the understanding.
The first want of the Swiss reformer was to know God. He inquired into
_the false and the true, the reason of faith_. Formed by the study of
the Greek classics, he had the gift of understanding and interpreting
Scripture, and as soon as he reached Zurich he began his career as a
reformer by explaining the New Testament.

Calvin perfected the third work necessary for the Reformation. His
characteristic is not, as the world imagines, the teaching of the
doctrines to which he has given his name; his great idea was to unite
all believers into one body, having the same life, and acting under the
same Chief. The Reform was essentially, in his eyes, the renovation of
the individual, of the human mind, of christendom. To the Church of
Rome, powerful as a government, but otherwise enslaved and dead, he
wished to oppose a regenerated Church whose members had found through
faith the liberty of the children of God, and which should be not only
a pillar of truth, but a principle of moral purification for all the
human race. He conceived the bold design of forming for these modern
times a society in which the individual liberty and equality of its
members should be combined with adhesion to an immutable truth, because
it came from God, and to a holy and strict, but freely accepted law.
An energetic effort towards moral perfection was one of the devices
written on his standard. Not only did he conceive the grand idea we
have pointed out; he realised it. He gave movement and life to that
enlightened and sanctified society which was the object of his noble
desires. And now wherever churches are founded on the twofold basis of
truth and morality--even should they be at the antipodes--we may affirm
that Calvin’s sublime idea is extended and carried out.

It resulted from the very nature of this society that the democratic
element would be introduced into the nations where it was established.
By the very act of giving truth and morality to the members of this
body, he gave them liberty. All were called to search for light in the
Bible; all were to be taught immediately of God, and not by priests
only; all were called to give to others the truth they had found. ‘Each
one of you,’ said Calvin, ‘is consecrated to Christ, in order that you
may be associated with him in his kingdom, and be partakers of his
priesthood.’[416] How could the citizens of this spiritual republic
be thought otherwise than worthy to have a share in its government?
The fifteenth chapter of the Acts shows us the _brethren_ united with
the apostles and elders in the proceedings of the Church, and such is
the order that Calvin desired to reestablish. We have already pointed
out some of the reasons by virtue of which constitutional liberty was
introduced into the bosom of the nations who received the Reform of
Geneva. To these must be added the reason just mentioned.

Disunited from each other, the three great principles of Luther,
Zwingle, and Calvin would have been insufficient. Faith, if it had not
possessed for its foundation the knowledge of the Word of God, would
have easily degenerated into a mystical enthusiasm. The abstract
authority of Scripture, separated from a living faith, would have
ended in a dead orthodoxy; and the social principle, deprived of these
two foundations, would have succeeded only in raising one of those
artificial edifices in the air which fall down as soon as built.

God, by giving in the sixteenth century a man who to the lively faith
of Luther and the scriptural understanding of Zwingle joined an
organising faculty and a creative mind, gave the complete reformer. If
Luther laid the foundations, if Zwingle and others built the walls,
Calvin completed the temple of God.

We shall have to see how this doctor arrived at a knowledge of the
truth; we shall have to study his labours and his struggles until the
moment when, quitting for ever a country whose soil trembled under
his feet and threatened to swallow him up, he went to plant upon a
lowly Alpine hill that standard around which he meditated rallying the
scattered members of Jesus Christ. But we must first see what was the
state of France at the time when the reformer was brought to the Gospel.

The history of the Reformation in France, prior to the establishment
of Calvin at Geneva, is divided into two parts: the first includes
the favourable times, the second the unfavourable. We confess that
the favourable times were occasionally the reverse, and that the
unfavourable times were often favourable; and yet we believe that,
generally speaking, this distinction may be justified. This subject has
been frequently treated of; we shall, however, have to describe some
phases of the French Reformation which have not always been set forth
by those who have written its history.

Two persons, a man and a woman, whose social position and character
present the most striking contrasts, laboured with particular zeal to
propagate the Gospel in France at the epoch of the Reformation.

The woman appears first. She is the most beautiful and intelligent,
the wittiest, most amiable and influential, and, with the exception
of her daughter, the greatest of her age. Sister, mother of kings,
herself a queen, grandmother of the monarch whom France (right or
wrong) has extolled the most, namely, Henry IV., she lived much in the
great world, in great ceremonials, with great personages, among the
magnificence of the Louvre, St. Germain, and Fontainebleau. This woman
is Margaret of Angoulême, Duchess of Alençon, Queen of Navarre, and
sister of Francis I.

The man who appears next (he was younger than her by seventeen years)
contrasts with all these grandeurs by the lowness of his origin. He
is a man of the people, a Picardin; his grandfather was a cooper at
Pont l’Evêque; his father was secretary to the bishop, and, in the
day of his greatest influence in the world, he apprenticed his own
brother Anthony to a bookbinder. Simple, frugal, poor, of a disposition
‘rather morose and bashful’[417]--such is the humble veil that hides
the greatness of his genius and the strength of his will. This man is

This man and this woman, so opposite as regards their condition in
the world, resemble each other in their principal features. They both
possess faith in the great truths of the Gospel; they love Jesus
Christ; they have the same zeal for spreading with unwearied activity
the truths so dear to them; they have the same compassion for the
miserable, and especially for the victims of religious persecution.
But while the man sometimes presumes upon his manly strength, the
woman truly belongs to the weaker sex. She possesses indeed a moral
virtue which resists the seductions of the age; she keeps herself
pure in the midst of a depraved court; but she has also that weakness
which disposes one to be too indulgent, and permits herself to be led
away by certain peculiarities of contemporary society. We see her
writing tales whose origin may be explained and even justified, since
their object was to unveil the immorality of priests and monks, but
they are nevertheless a lamentable tribute paid to the spirit of her
age. While Calvin sets up against the papacy _a forehead harder than
adamant_, Margaret, even in the days of her greatest zeal, is careful
not to break with Rome. At last she yields, outwardly at least, to
the sovereign commands of her brother, the persevering hostility of
the court, clergy, and parliament, and though cherishing in her heart
faith in the Saviour who has redeemed her, conceals that faith under
the cloak of Romish devotion; while Calvin propagates the Gospel, in
opposition to the powers of the world, saying: ‘Such as the warfare
is, such are the arms. If our warfare is spiritual, we ought to be
furnished with spiritual armour.’[418] Margaret doubtless says the
same thing; but she is the king’s sister, summoned to his council,
accustomed to diplomacy, respected by foreign princes; she hopes that
a union with the evangelical rulers of Germany may hasten on the
Reformation of France. Finally, while Calvin desires _truth_ in the
Church above all things, Margaret clings to the preservation of its
_unity_, and thus becomes the noble representative of a system still
lauded by some protestants--_to reform the Church without breaking
it up_: a specious system, impossible to be realised. And yet this
illustrious lady, in spite of her errors, plays a great part in the
history of the Reformation: she was respected by the most pious
reformers. An impartial historian should brave hostile prejudices, and
assign her the place which is her due.

Let us enter upon the French Reformation at the moment when, after
great but isolated preparations, it is beginning to occupy a place in
the affairs of the nation.[419]

       *       *       *       *       *

The defeat at Pavia had plunged France into mourning. There was not a
house where they did not weep for a son, a husband, or a father; and
the whole kingdom was plunged in sorrow at seeing its king a prisoner.
The recoil of this great disaster had not long to be waited for. ‘The
gods chastise us: let us fall upon the christians,’ said the Romans of
the first centuries; the persecuting spirit of Rome woke up in France.
‘It is our tenderness towards the Lutherans that has drawn upon us the
vengeance of heaven,’ said the zealous catholics, who conceived the
idea of appeasing heaven by hecatombs.

The great news of Pavia which saddened all France was received in Spain
with transports of joy. At the time when the battle was fought, the
young emperor was in Castile, anxiously expecting news from Italy.
On the 10th of March, 1525, he was discussing, in one of the halls of
the palace at Madrid, the advantages of Francis I. and the critical
situation of the imperial army.[420] ‘We shall conquer,’ Pescara had
written to him, ‘or else we shall die.’ At this moment a courier
from Lombardy appeared at the gate of the palace: he was introduced
immediately. ‘Sire,’ said he, bending the knee before the emperor
in the midst of his court, ‘the French army is annihilated, and the
King of France in your Majesty’s hands.’ Charles, startled by the
unexpected news, stood pale and motionless; it seemed as if the blood
had stagnated in his veins. For some moments he did not utter a word,
and all around him, affected like himself, looked at him in silence. At
last the ambitious prince said slowly, as if speaking to himself: ‘The
king of France is my prisoner.... I have won the battle.’ Then, without
a word to any one, he entered his bed-room and fell on his knees
before an image of the Virgin, to whom he gave thanks for the victory.
He meditated before this image on the great exploits to which he now
thought himself called. To become the master of Europe, to reestablish
everywhere the tottering catholicism, to take Constantinople, and even
to recover Jerusalem--such was the task which Charles prayed the Virgin
to put him in a condition to carry through. If these ambitious projects
had been realised, the revival of learning would have been compromised,
the Reformation ruined, the new ideas rooted out, and the whole world
would have bowed helplessly beneath two swords--that of the emperor
first, and then that of the pope. At length Charles rose from his
knees; he read the humble letters of the King of France, gave orders
for processions to be made, and attended mass next day with every mark
of the greatest devotion.[421]

All christendom thought as this potentate did: a shudder ran through
Europe, and every man said to himself as he bent his head: ‘Behold the
master whom the fates assign us!’ At Naples a devout voice was heard to
exclaim: ‘Thou hast laid the world at his feet!’

It has been said that if in our day a king should be made prisoner, the
heir to the throne or a regent would succeed to all his rights; but in
the sixteenth century, omnipotence dwelt in the monarch’s person, and
from the depths of his dungeon he could bind his country by the most
disastrous treaties.[422] Charles V. determined to profit by this state
of things. He assembled his council. The cruel Duke of Alva eloquently
conjured him not to release his rival until he had deprived him of all
power to injure him. ‘In whom is insolence more natural,’ he said, ‘in
whom is fickleness more instinctive than in the French? What can we
expect from a king of France?... Invincible emperor, do not miss the
opportunity of increasing the authority of the empire, not for your own
glory, but for the service of God.’[423] Charles V. appeared to yield
to the duke’s advice, but it was advice according to his own heart;
and while repeating that a christian prince ought not to triumph in his
victory over another, he resolved to crush his rival. M. de Beaurain,
viceroy of Naples, Lannoy, and the Constable of Bourbon, so detested by
Francis I., waited all three upon the royal captive.

Francis had overplayed the part of a suppliant, a character so new for
him. ‘Instead of a useless prisoner,’ he had written to Charles, ‘set
at liberty a king who will be your slave for ever.’ Charles proposed
to him a dismemberment of France on three sides. The Constable of
Bourbon was to have Provence and Dauphiny, and these provinces, united
with the Bourbonnais which he possessed already, were to be raised
into an independent kingdom. The King of England was to have Normandy
and Guienne; and the emperor would be satisfied with French Flanders,
Picardy, and Burgundy.... When he heard these monstrous propositions,
Francis uttered a cry and caught up his sword, which his attendants
took from his hands. Turning towards the envoys he said: ‘I would
rather die in prison than consent to such demands.’ Thinking that he
could make better terms with the emperor, he soon after embarked at
Genoa and sailed to Spain. The delighted Charles gave up to him the
palace of Madrid, and employed every means to constrain him to accept
his disastrous conditions.[424] Who will succeed in baffling the
emperor’s pernicious designs? A woman, Margaret of Valois, undertook
the task.[425] The statesmen of her age considered her the best head
in Europe; the friends of the Reformation respected her as their
mother. Her dearest wish was to substitute a living christianity for
the dead forms of popery, and she hoped to prevail upon her brother,
‘the father of letters,’ to labour with her in this admirable work. It
was not in France only that she desired the triumph of the Gospel, but
in Germany, England, Italy, and even Spain. As Charles’s projects would
ruin all that she loved--the king, France, and the Gospel--she feared
not to go and beard the lion even in his den.

The duchess as she entered Spain felt her heart deeply agitated. The
very day she had heard of the battle of Pavia, she had courageously
taken this heavy cross upon her shoulders; but at times she fainted
under the burden. Impatient to reach her brother, burning with desire
to save him, fearing lest she should find him dying, trembling lest the
persecutors should take advantage of her absence to crush the Gospel
and religious liberty in France, she found no rest but at the feet of
the Saviour. Many evangelical men wept and prayed with her; they sought
to raise her drooping courage under the great trial which threatened
to weigh her down, and bore a noble testimony to her piety. ‘There are
various _stations_ in the christian life,’ said one of these reformers,
Capito. ‘You have now entered upon that commonly called _the Way of the
Cross_.[426] ... Despising the theology of men, you desire to know only
Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’[427]

Margaret crossing in her litter (September 1525) the plains of
Catalonia, Arragon, and Castile, exclaimed:

    I cast my eyes around,
      I look and look in vain ...
    The loved one cometh not;
      And on my knees again
    I pray unceasing to my God
    To heal the king--to spare the rod.

    The loved one cometh not ...
      Tears on my eyelids sit:
    Then to this virgin page
      My sorrows I commit:--
    Such is to wretched me
    Each day of misery.[428]

She sometimes fancied that she could see in the distance a messenger
riding hastily from Madrid and bringing her news of her brother.... But
alas! her imagination had deceived her, no one appeared. She then wrote:

    O Lord, awake, arise!
        And let thine eyes in mercy fall
        Upon the king--upon us all.

Once or twice a day she halted at some inn on the road to Madrid, but
it was not to eat. ‘I have supped only once since my departure from
Aigues-Mortes,’ she said.[429] As soon as she entered the wretched
chamber, she began to write to her brother at the table or on her
knees. ‘Nothing to do you service,’ she wrote: ‘nothing, even to
casting the ashes of my bones to the wind, will be strange or painful
to me; but rather consolation, repose, and honour.’[430]

The defeat of Pavia and the excessive demands of Charles V. had given
the king such shocks that he had fallen seriously ill; the emperor had
therefore gone to Madrid to be near him. On Wednesday, September 19,
1525, Margaret arrived in that capital. Charles received her surrounded
by a numerous court, and respectfully approaching her, this politic
and phlegmatic prince kissed her on the forehead and offered her his
hand. Margaret, followed by the noble dames and lords of France who had
accompanied her, and wearing a plain dress of black velvet without any
ornament, passed between two lines of admiring courtiers. The emperor
conducted her as far as the door of her brother’s apartments, and then

Margaret rushed in; but alas! what did she find? a dying man, pale,
worn, helpless. Francis was on the brink of the grave, and his
attendants seemed to be waiting for his last breath. The duchess
approached the bed softly, so as not to be heard by the sick man;
unobserved she fixed on him a look of the tenderest solicitude, and
her soul, strengthened by an unwavering faith, did not hesitate; she
believed in her brother’s cure, she had prayed so fervently. She seemed
to hear in the depths of her heart an answer from God to her prayers;
and while all around the prince, who was almost a corpse, bowed their
heads in dark despair, Margaret raised hers with hope towards heaven.

Prudent, skilful, decided, active, a Martha as well as a Mary, she
established herself at once in the king’s chamber, and took the
supreme direction. ‘If she had not come he would have died,’ said
Brantôme.[431] ‘I know my brother’s temperament,’ she said, ‘better
than the doctors.’ In spite of their resistance, she had the treatment
changed; then she sat down at the patient’s bedside, and left him no
more. While the king slept, she prayed; when he awoke, she spoke to him
in encouraging language. The faith of the sister gradually dispelled
the brother’s dejection. She spoke to him of the love of Christ; she
proposed to him to commemorate his atoning death by celebrating the
holy eucharist. Francis consented. He had hardly communicated when he
appeared to wake up as if from a deep sleep; he sat up in his bed,
fixed his eyes on his sister, and said: ‘God will heal me body and
soul.’ Margaret in great emotion answered: ‘Yes, God will raise you up
again and make you free.’ From that hour the king gradually recovered
his strength, and he would often say: ‘But for her, I was a dead

Margaret, seeing her brother restored to life, thought only of
restoring him to liberty. She departed for Toledo, where Charles V.
was staying; the seneschal and seneschaless of Poitou, the Bishop of
Senlis, the Archbishop of Embrun, the president De Selves, and several
other nobles, accompanied her. What a journey! Will she succeed in
touching her brother’s gaoler, or will she fail? This question was
continually before her mind. Hope, fear, indignation moved her by
turns; at every step her agitation increased. The emperor went out
courteously to meet her; he helped her to descend from her litter,
and had his first conversation with her in the Alcazar, that old and
magnificent palace of the Moorish kings. Charles V. was determined to
take advantage of his victory. Notwithstanding the outward marks of
politeness, exacted by the etiquette of courts, he wrapped himself up
in imperturbable dignity, and was cold, nay, almost harsh. Margaret,
seeing that her brother’s conqueror kept the foot upon his neck, and
was determined not to remove it, could no longer contain herself. ‘She
broke out into great anger:’[433] like a lioness robbed of her cubs,
full of majesty and fury, she startled the cold and formal Charles,
says Brantôme. Yet he restrained himself, preserved his icy mien,
made no answer to the duchess, and busying himself with showing her
the honours due to her rank, he conducted her, accompanied by the
Archbishop of Toledo and several Spanish noblemen, to the palace of Don
Diego de Mendoza, which had been prepared for her.

Alone in her chamber the princess gave free vent to her tears; she
wrote to Francis: ‘I found him very cold.’[434] She reminded him that
the King of heaven ‘has placed on his throne _an ensign of grace_;
that we have no reason to fear the majesty of heaven will reject us;
and that he stretches out his hand to us, even before we seek for it.’
And being thus strengthened, she prepared for the solemn sitting at
which she was to plead her brother’s cause. She quitted the palace
with emotion to appear before the council extraordinary, at which
the emperor and his ministers sat with all the grandeur and pride
of Castile. Margaret was not intimidated, and though she could not
perceive the least mark of interest on the severe and motionless faces
of her judges, ‘she was triumphant in speaking and pleading.’ But she
returned bowed down with sorrow: the immovable severity of the emperor
and of his councillors dismayed her. ‘The thing is worsened,’ she said,
‘far more than I had imagined.’[435]

The Duchess of Alençon, firmer than her brother, would not agree to the
cession of Burgundy. The emperor replied with irritation: ‘It is my
patrimonial estate--I still bear the name and the arms.’ The duchess,
confounded by Charles’s harshness, threw herself into the arms of God.
‘When men fail, God does not forget,’ she said. She clung to the rock;
‘she leant,’ says Erasmus, ‘upon the unchangeable rock which is called

She soon regained her courage, asked for another audience, returned
to the attack, and her agitated soul spoke with new eloquence to the
emperor and his ministers. Never had the Escurial or the Alcazar seen a
petitioner so ardent and so persevering. She returned to her apartments
in alternations of sorrow and joy. ‘Sometimes I get a kind word,’ she
wrote, ‘and then suddenly all is changed. I have to deal with the
greatest of dissemblers.’[437] This beautiful and eloquent ambassadress
filled the Spaniards with admiration. They talked at court of nothing
but the sister of Francis I. Letters received in France and Germany
from Madrid and Toledo extolled her sweetness, energy, and virtues.
The scholars of Europe felt their love and respect for her increase,
and were proud of a princess whom they looked upon as their Mæcenas.
What charmed them was something more than that inquiring spirit which
had led Margaret in her earliest years towards literature and divinity,
and had made her learn Latin and Hebrew;[438] Erasmus enthusiastically
exclaimed when he heard of the wonders she was doing in Spain: ‘How
can we help loving, in God, such a heroine, such an amazon?’[439] The
courage with which the Duchess of Alençon had gone to Spain to save her
brother led some christians to imagine that she would display the same
heroism in delivering the Church from her long captivity.




The captive Francis was not Margaret’s only sorrow. If her brother was
a prisoner to the emperor, her brethren in the faith were prisoners
to her mother. The parliament of Paris having issued a decree against
the Lutherans, and the pope having on the 17th of March invested with
apostolical authority the councillors authorised to proceed against
them,[440] the persecutors set vigorously to work. The regent Louisa
of Savoy, mother of Francis I. and of Margaret, inquired of the
Sorbonne: ‘By what means the _damnable doctrine_ of Luther could be
extirpated?’ The fanatic Beda, syndic of that corporation, enchanted
with such a demand, replied without hesitation on the part of the
Faculties: ‘It must be punished with the utmost severity.’ Accordingly
Louisa published letters-patent, ‘_to extinguish the damnable heresy of

France began to seek in persecution an atonement for the faults which
had led to the defeat of Pavia. Many evangelical christians were
either seized or banished. Marot, valet-de-chambre to the Duchess of
Alençon, the best poet of his age, who never spared the priests, and
translated the Psalms of David into verse, was arrested; Lefèvre,
Roussel, and others had to flee; Caroli and Mazurier recanted the faith
they had professed.[442] ‘Alas!’ said Roussel, ‘no one can confess
Jesus any longer except at the risk of his life.’[443]--‘It is the hour
of triumph,’[444] proudly said Beda and the men of the Roman party. A
blow more grievous still was about to reach Margaret.

A gentleman, a friend of Erasmus, of letters, and especially of
Scripture, who had free access to the court of the duchess, and with
whom that princess loved to converse about the Gospel and the new
times--Berquin had been arrested on a charge of heresy; then set at
liberty in 1523 by the intercession of Margaret and the king’s orders.
Leaving Paris, he had gone to his native province of Artois. A man of
upright heart, generous soul, and intrepid zeal, ‘in whom you could
see depicted the marks of a great mind,’ says the chronicler, he
worthily represented by his character that nobility of France, and
especially of Artois, so distinguished at all times by its devotedness
and valour. Happy in the liberty which God had given him, Berquin
had sworn to consecrate it to him, and was zealously propagating
in the cottages on his estate the doctrine of salvation by _Christ
alone_.[445] The ancient country of the Atrebates, wonderfully fertile
as regards the fruits of the earth, was equally fertile as regards
the seed from heaven. Berquin attacked the priesthood such as Rome
had made it. He said: ‘You will often meet with these words in Holy
Scripture: _honourable marriage_, _undefiled bed_, but of _celibacy_
you will not find a syllable.’ Another time he said: ‘I have not yet
known a monastery which was not infected with hatred and dissension.’
Such language, repeated in the refectories and long galleries of
the convents, filled the monks with anger against this noble friend
of learning. But he did not stop there: ‘We must teach the Lord’s
flock,’ he said, ‘to pray with understanding, that they may no longer
be content to gabble with their lips like ducks with their bills,
without comprehending what they say.’--‘He is attacking us,’ said the
chaplains. Berquin did not, however, always indulge in this caustic
humour; he was a pious christian, and desired to see a holy and living
unity succeed the parties that divided the Roman Church. He said: ‘We
ought not to hear these words among christians; I am of the Sorbonne,
I am of Luther; or, I am a Grey-friar, or Dominican, or Bernardite....
Would it be too much then to say: _I am a christian_?... Jesus who came
for us all ought not to be divided by us.’[446]

But this language aroused still greater hatred. The priests and nobles,
who were firmly attached to ancient usages, rose up against him; they
attacked him in the parishes and châteaux, and even went to him and
strove to detach him from the new ideas which alarmed them. ‘Stop!’
they said with a sincerity which we cannot doubt, ‘stop, or it is all
over with the Roman hierarchy.’ Berquin smiled, but moderated his
language; he sought to make men understand that God loves those whom he
calls to believe in Jesus Christ, and applied himself ‘to scattering
the divine seed’ with unwearied courage. With the Testament in his
hand, he perambulated the neighbourhood of Abbeville, the banks of the
Somme, the towns, manors, and fields of Artois and Picardy, filling
them with the Word of God.

These districts were in the see of Amiens, and every day some noble,
priest, or peasant went to the palace and reported some evangelical
speech or act of this christian gentleman. The bishop, his vicars and
canons met and consulted together. On a sudden the bishop started
for Paris, eager to get rid of the evangelist who was creating a
disturbance throughout the north of France. He waited upon the
archbishop and the doctors of the Sorbonne; he described to them
the heretical exertions of the gentleman, the irritation of the
priests, and the scandal of the faithful. The Sorbonne assembled
and went to work: unable to seize Berquin, they seized his books,
examined them, and ‘after the _manner of spiders_ sucked from them
certain articles,’ says Crespin, ‘to make poison and bring about the
death of a person who, with integrity and simplicity of mind, was
endeavouring to advance the doctrine of God.’[447] Beda especially took
a violent part against the evangelist. This suspicious and arbitrary
doctor, a thorough inquisitor, who possessed a remarkable talent
for discovering in a book everything that could ruin a man by the
help of forced interpretations, was seen poring night and day over
Berquin’s volumes. He read in them: ‘The Virgin Mary is improperly
invoked instead of the Holy Ghost.’--‘Point against the accused,’ said
Beda.--He continued: ‘There are no grounds for calling her a treasury
of grace, our hope, our life: qualities which belong essentially to
our Saviour alone.’--Confirmation!--‘Faith alone justifies.’--Deadly
heresy!--‘Neither the gates of hell, nor Satan, nor sin can do anything
against him who has faith in God.’--What insolence![448] Beda made his
report: ‘Of a truth,’ said his colleagues, ‘that is enough to bring any
man to the stake.’

Berquin’s death being decided upon, the Sorbonne applied to the
parliament, who raised no objections in the matter. A man was put to
death in those times for an offensive passage in his writings; it was
the censorship of a period just emerging from the barbarism of the
middle ages. Demailly, an officer of the court, started for Abbeville,
proceeded to the gentleman’s estate, and arrested him in the name of
the law. His vassals, who were devoted to him, murmured and would have
risen to defend him; but Berquin thought himself strong in his right;
he remembered besides these words of the Son of God: ‘_Whosoever shall
compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain_;’ he entreated his friends
to let him depart, and was taken to the prison of the Conciergerie,
which he entered with a firm countenance and unbending head.[449]

This sad news which reached the Duchess of Alençon in Spain moved her
deeply, and while she was hurrying from Madrid to Toledo, Alcala,
and Guadalaxara, soliciting everybody, ‘plotting’ her brother’s
marriage with the sister of Charles V., and thus paving the way to
the reconciliation of the two potentates, she resolved to save her
brethren exiled or imprisoned for the Gospel. She applied to the king,
attacking him on his better side. Francis I., Brantôme tells us, was
called the father of letters. He had sought for learned men all over
Europe and collected a fine library at Fontainebleau.[450] ‘What!’
said his sister to him, ‘you are founding a college at Paris intended
to receive the enlightened men of foreign countries; and at this very
time illustrious French scholars, Lefèvre of Etaples and others, are
compelled to seek an asylum out of the kingdom.... You wish to be a
propagator of learning, while musty hypocrites, black, white, and grey,
are endeavouring to stifle it at home.’[451] Margaret was not content
to love with word and tongue; she showed her love by her works. The
thought of the poor starving exiles, who knew not where to lay their
heads, haunted her in the magnificent palaces of Spain; she distributed
four thousand gold pieces among them, says one of the enemies of the

She did more: she undertook to win over her brother to the Gospel,
and endeavoured, she tells us, to rekindle _the true fire_ in his
heart; but alas! that fire had never burnt there. Touched, however,
by an affection so lively and so pure, by a devotedness so complete,
which would have gone, if necessary, even to the sacrifice of her
life, Francis, desirous of giving Margaret a token of his gratitude,
commanded the parliament to adjourn until his return all proceedings
against the evangelicals. ‘I intend,’ he added, ‘to give the men of
letters special marks of my favour.’ These words greatly astonished
the Sorbonne and the parliament, the city and the court. They looked
at each other with an uneasy air; grief, they said, had affected the
king’s judgment. ‘Accordingly they paid no great attention to his
letter, and on the 24th of November, 1525, twelve days after its
receipt, orders were given to the bishop to supply the money necessary
for the prosecution of the heretics.’[453]

Margaret had no time to sympathise any longer with the fate of her
friends. Charles V., who spoke with admiration of this princess,
thought, not without reason, that she encouraged the king to resist
him; he proposed, therefore, to make her a prisoner, as soon as her
safe-conduct had expired. It appears that it was Montmorency who,
being warned of the emperor’s intention by the secret agents of the
regent, gave information to the duchess. Her task in Spain seemed
finished; it was from France now that the emperor must be worked upon.
Indeed, Francis, disgusted with the claims of that prince, had signed
his abdication and given it to his sister. The French government with
this document in their hands might give a new force to their demands.
Margaret quitted Madrid, and on the 19th of November she was at
Alcala.[454] But as she fled, she looked behind and asked herself
continually how she could save Francis from the ‘purgatory of Spain.’
Yet the safe-conduct was about to expire, the fatal moment had arrived;
the alguazils of Charles were close at hand. Getting on horseback at
six in the morning, the duchess made a four days’ journey in one, and
reentered France just one hour before the termination of the truce.

Everything changed at Madrid. Charles, alarmed at the abdication of
Francis, softened by the approaching marriage of this monarch with his
sister, obtaining in fine the main part of his demands, consented to
restore the King of France to liberty. It was Burgundy that had delayed
the arrangement. The king was not more inclined than the duchess to
detach this important province from France; the only difference between
the brother and the sister was, that the religion of the one looked
upon oaths as sacred, while the religion of the other made no account
of breaking them; and this Francis soon showed. On the 14th of January,
1526, some of his courtiers, officers, and domestics gathered round
their master for an act which in their simplicity they called sacred.
The king swore in their presence that he would not keep one of the
articles which Charles wished to force upon him. When that was done
Francis bound himself an hour after by an oath, with his hand upon the
Scriptures, to do what Charles demanded. According to the tenor of the
treaty, he renounced all claim to Italy; surrendered Burgundy to the
emperor, to whom it was stated to belong; restored Provence, which
Charles ceded to the Constable of Bourbon; and thus France was laid
prostrate.[455] The treaty was communicated to the pope: ‘Excellent,’
he said, after reading it; ‘provided the king does not observe
it.’ That was a point on which Clement and Francis were in perfect

Margaret had had no hand in this disgraceful trick; her only thought
had been to save the king and the evangelicals.




Margaret, who returned from Spain full of hope in her brother’s
deliverance, was determined to do all in her power for the triumph
of the Gospel. While the men of the ultramontane party, calling to
mind the defeat of Pavia, demanded that heaven should be appeased by
persecutions, Margaret thought, on the contrary, that humiliated France
ought to turn towards Jesus Christ, in order to obtain from him a
glorious deliverance.

But would Francis tread in his sister’s steps? History presents few
characters more inconsistent than the character of this prince. He
yielded at one time to Margaret, at another to the Sorbonne. He
imprisoned and set free, he riveted the chains and broke them. All his
actions were contradictory; all his projects seemed to exclude each
other: on his bright side, he was the father of letters; on his dark
side, the enemy of all liberty, especially of that which the Gospel
gives; and he passed with ease from one of these characters to the
other. Yet the influence which Margaret exercised over him in favour
of the reformed seemed strongest during the eight or nine years that
followed his captivity; Francis showed himself not unfavourable to
the evangelicals during this period, except at times when irritated
by certain excesses. Like a capricious and fiery steed, he sometimes
felt a fly stinging him, when he would rear and throw his rider; but
he soon grew calm and resumed his quiet pace. Accordingly many persons
thought during the years 1525-1534 that the country of St. Bernard and
Waldo would not remain behind Germany, Switzerland, and England. If
the Reform had been completed, France would have been saved from the
abominations of the Valois, the despotism of the Bourbons, and the
enslaving superstitions of the popes.

Nine years before, the Reformation had begun in Germany: would it not
cross the Rhine?... Strasburg is the main bridge by which German ideas
enter France, and French ideas make their way into Germany. Many have
already passed, both good and bad, from the right bank to the left, and
from the left to the right; and will still pass as long as the Rhine
continues to flow. In 1521 the movement had been very active. There had
been an invasion at Strasburg of the doctrines and writings of Luther:
his name was in every mouth. His noble conduct at the diet of Worms
had enraptured Germany, and the news spread in every direction. Men
repeated his words, they devoured his writings. Zell, priest of St.
Lawrence and episcopal penitentiary, was one of the first awakened. He
began to seek truth in the Scriptures, to preach that man is saved by
grace; and his sermons made an immense impression.

A nobleman of this city, Count Sigismond of Haute-Flamme (in German
Hohenlohe), a friend and ally of the duchess, who called him her
_good cousin_, was touched with Luther’s heroism and the preaching of
Zell. His conscience was aroused; he endeavoured to live according to
the will of God; and feeling within him the sin that prevented it,
he experienced the need of a Saviour, and found one in Jesus Christ.
Sigismond was not one of those nobles, rather numerous then, who
spoke in secret of the Saviour, but, before the world, seemed not
to know him; Lambert of Avignon[457] admired his frankness and his
courage.[458] Although a dignitary of the Church and dean of the great
chapter, the count laboured to spread evangelical truth around him,
and conceived at the same time a great idea. Finding himself placed
between the two countries and speaking both languages, he resolved
to set himself the task of bringing into France the great principles
of the Reformation. As soon as he received any new work of Luther’s,
he had it translated into French and printed, and forwarded it to
the king’s sister.[459] He did more than that; he wrote to Luther,
begging him to send a letter to the duchess, or even compose some work
calculated to encourage her in her holy undertakings.[460] The count,
who knew Margaret’s spirit and piety, and her influence over the king,
doubted not that she was the door by which the new ideas which were
to renovate the world, would penetrate into France. He composed and
published himself a work entitled the _Book of the Cross_, in which he
set forth the death of Christ as the essence of the Gospel.

Sigismond’s labours with the priests and nobles around him were
not crowned with success. The monks especially looked at him with
astonishment, and replied that they would take good care not to change
the easy life they were leading. Lambert, who had a keen eye, perceived
this, and said to the count with a smile: ‘You will not succeed; these
folks are afraid of damaging their wallets, their kitchens, their
stables, and their bellies.’[461]

But he succeeded better with Margaret. He had no sooner heard of the
defeat at Pavia than he wrote her a letter full of sympathy. ‘May
God reward you,’ she answered, ‘for the kindness you have done us in
visiting with such tender love the mother and the daughter, both poor
afflicted widows! You show that you are not only a cousin according to
flesh and blood, but also according to the spirit. We have resolved to
follow your advice, so far as the Father of all men is propitious to
us.’[462] Sigismond wrote again to the duchess while she was in Spain;
and when he heard of her return to France, manifested a desire to go
to Paris to advance the work of the Reformation. He was at the same
time full of confidence in Margaret’s zeal. ‘You think me more advanced
than I am,’ she replied; ‘but I hope that He who, in despite of my
unworthiness, inspires you with this opinion of me, will deign also to
perfect his work in me.’[463]

The Duchess of Alençon did not however desire, as we have said, a
reformation like that of Luther or Calvin. She wished to see in the
Church a sincere and living piety, preserving at the same time the
bishops and the hierarchy. To change the inside, but to leave the
outside standing--such was her system. If they left the Church, two
evils would in her opinion result which she wished to avoid: first, it
would excite an insurmountable opposition; and second, it would create
divisions and lead to the rupture of unity. She hoped to attain her
ends by a union between France and Germany. If Germany excited France,
if France moderated Germany, would they not attain to a universal
Reformation of the Church? She had not drawn up her plan beforehand,
but circumstances gradually led her to this idea, which was not her own
only, but that of her brother’s most influential advisers, and which
was sometimes that of her brother himself. Would she succeed?... Truth
is proud and will not walk in concert with error. Besides, Rome is
proud also, and, if this system had prevailed, she would no doubt have
profited by the moderation of the reformers to maintain all her abuses.

The great event which Margaret was waiting for magnified her hopes.
Whenever Francis I. passed the Pyrenees, it would be in her eyes like
the sun rising in the gates of the east to inundate our hemisphere with
its light. Margaret doubted not that her brother would immediately
gather round him all the friends of the Gospel, like planets round the
orb of day. ‘Come in the middle of April,’ she wrote to Hohenlohe, who
was in her eyes a star of the first magnitude; ‘you will find all your
friends assembled.... The spirit, which by a living faith unites you to
your only Chief (Jesus Christ), will make you diligently communicate
your assistance to all who need it, especially to those who are united
to you in spirit and in faith. As soon as the king returns to France,
he will send to them and seek them in his turn.’ Margaret imagined
herself already at the court of France, with the count at her side,
and around her the exiles, the prisoners, the doctors.... What an
effect this mass of light would have upon the French! All the ice of
scholastic catholicism would melt before the rays of the sun. ‘There
will indeed be some trouble at first,’ she said; ‘but the Word of truth
will be heard.... _God is God_. He is what he is, not less invisible
than incomprehensible. His glory and his victory are spiritual. He is
conqueror when the world thinks him conquered.’[464]

The king was still a prisoner; the regent and Duprat, who were opposed
to the Reformation, wielded supreme power; the priests, seeing the
importance of the moment, united all their efforts to combat the
evangelical influences, and obtained a brilliant triumph. On Monday,
the 5th of February, 1526, a month before the return of Francis I.,
the sound of the trumpet was heard in all the public places of Paris,
and a little later in those of Sens, Orleans, Auxerre, Meaux, Tours,
Bourges, Angers, Poitiers, Troyes, Lyons, and Macon, and ‘in all the
bailiwicks, seneschallies, provostries, viscounties, and estates of
the realm.’ When the trumpet ceased, the herald cried by order of
parliament:--‘All persons are forbidden to put up to sale or translate
from Latin into French the epistles of St. Paul, the Apocalypse, and
_other books_. Henceforward no printer shall print any of the books
of Luther. No one shall speak of the ordinances of the Church or of
images, otherwise than Holy Church ordains. All books of the Holy
Bible, translated into French, shall be given up by those who possess
them, and carried within a week to the clerks of the court. All
prelates, priests, and their curates shall forbid their parishioners
to have _the least doubt_ of the catholic faith.’[465] Translations,
books, explanations, and even doubts were prohibited.

This proclamation afflicted Margaret very seriously. Will her brother
ratify these fierce monastic prohibitions, or will he cooperate in the
victory of truth? Will he permit the Reformation to pass from Germany
into France? One circumstance filled the Duchess of Alençon with hope:
the king declared in favour of Berquin. It will be recollected that
this gentleman had been imprisoned in the Conciergerie. Three monks,
his judges, entered his prison, and reproached him with having said
that ‘the gates of hell can do nothing against him who has faith.’
This notion of a salvation entirely independent of priests exasperated
the clergy.--‘Yes,’ answered Berquin, ‘when the eternal Son of God
receives the sinner who believes in his death and makes him a child
of God, this divine adoption cannot be forfeited.’ The monks, however,
could see nothing but a culpable enthusiasm in this joyful confidence.
Berquin sent Erasmus the propositions censured by his judges. ‘I find
nothing impious in them,’ replied the prince of the schools.

The Sorbonne did not think the same. The prior of the Carthusians, the
prior of the Celestines, monks of all colours, ‘imps of antichrist,’
says the chronicler, ‘gave help to the band of the Sorbonne in order
to destroy by numbers the firmness of Berquin.’--‘Your books will be
burnt,’ said the pope’s delegates to the accused, ‘you will make an
apology, and then only will you escape. But if you refuse what is
demanded of you, you will be led to the stake.’--‘I will not yield a
single point,’ he answered. Whereupon the Sorbonnists, the Carthusians,
and the Celestines exclaimed: ‘Then it is all over with you!’ Berquin
waited calmly for the fulfilment of these threats.

When the Duchess of Alençon heard of all this, she immediately wrote to
her brother, and fell at her mother’s knees. Louisa of Savoy was not
inaccessible to compassion, in the solemn hour that was to decide her
son’s liberty. That princess was one of those profane characters who
think little of God in ordinary times, but cry to him when the sea in
its rage is about to swallow them up. Shut in her closet with Margaret,
she prayed with her that God would restore the king to France. The
duchess, full of charity and a woman of great tact, took advantage
of one of these moments to attempt to soften her mother in favour of
Berquin. She succeeded: the regent was seized with a sudden zeal, and
ordered the pope’s delegates to suspend matters until after the king’s

The delegates, in great surprise, read the letter over and over again:
it seemed very strange to them. They deliberated upon it, and, thinking
themselves of more consequence than this woman, quietly pursued their
work. The haughty and resolute Louisa of Savoy, having heard of their
insolence, was exasperated beyond measure, and ordered a second letter
to be written to the pontiff’s agents,[467] who contented themselves
with saying ‘_Non possumus_,’ and made the more haste, for fear their
victim should escape them. The king’s mother, still more irritated,
applied to the parliament, who held Berquin in respect, and who said
boldly that the whole thing was nothing but a monkish conspiracy. At
this the members of the Roman party made a still greater disturbance.
Many of them (we must acknowledge) thought they were doing the
public a service. ‘Erasmus is an apostate,’ they said, ‘and Berquin
is his follower.[468] ... Their opinions are heretical, schismatic,
scandalous.... We must burn Erasmus’s books ... and Berquin with

But Margaret did not lose courage. She recollected that the widow in
the Gospel had obtained her request by her importunity. She entreated
her mother, she wrote to her brother: ‘If you do not interfere,
Berquin is a dead man.’[470] Francis I. yielded to her prayer,
and wrote to the first president that he, the king, would make him
answerable for Berquin’s life if he dared to condemn him. The president
stopped all proceedings; the monks hung their heads, and Beda and his
friends, says the chronicler, ‘were nigh bursting with vexation.’[471]

Yet Margaret did not hide from herself that she had still a hard
struggle before her, which would require strength and perseverance.
She felt the need of support to bring to a successful end in France a
transformation similar to that which was then renewing Germany. The
Count of Hohenlohe, at Strasburg, was not enough: she wanted at her
side a staff that would enable her to bear with her brother’s rebukes.
God appeared willing to give her what she wished.

There was at court a prince, young, lively, witty, handsome, brave
and gay, though somewhat harsh at times: he had already gone through
surprising adventures, and, what was no small recommendation in
Margaret’s eyes, had been the companion of Francis in the field and
in prison. He was Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre--king by right, if
not in fact--and at that time twenty-four years old. Community of
misfortune had united Francis and Henry in close friendship, and young
d’Albret soon conceived a deep affection for his friend’s sister.
Henry loved learning, possessed great vivacity of temper, and spoke
with facility and even with eloquence. It was a pleasant thing to hear
him gracefully narrating to the court circles the manner in which he
had escaped from the fort of Pizzighitone, where he had been confined
after the battle of Pavia. ‘In vain,’ he said, ‘did I offer the emperor
a large ransom; he was deaf. Determined to escape from my gaolers,
I bribed two of my guards; I procured a rope-ladder, and Vivis and
I--(Vivis was his page)--let ourselves down from the window during the
night. My room was at a great height, situated in the main tower above
the moat. But, resolved to sacrifice my life rather than the states of
my fathers, I put on the clothes of one of my attendants, who took my
place in my bed. I opened the window; it was a dark night; I glided
slowly down the high walls; I reached the ground, crossed the ditches,
quitted the castle of Pavia, and, by God’s help, managed so well that I
got to St. Just on Christmas Eve’ (1525).[472]

Henry d’Albret, having thus escaped from his enemies, hastened to
Lyons, where he found Madame, and where Margaret arrived soon after,
on her return from Spain. Smitten with her beauty, wit, and grace, the
King of Navarre courted her hand. Everything about him charmed all who
saw him; but Margaret’s hand was not easy to be obtained. She had been
first asked in marriage for the youthful Charles, King of Spain; and
such a union, if it had been carried out, might not perhaps have been
without influence upon the destinies of Europe. But the age of the
monarch (he was then but eight years old) had caused the negotiation to
fail, and the sister of the King of France married the Duke of Alençon,
a prince of the blood, but a man without understanding, amiability, or
courage. Chief cause of the disasters of Pavia, he had fled from the
field of battle and died of shame.

Margaret did not at first accept the homage of the young King of
Navarre. She was not to find in him all the support she needed; but
that was not the only motive of her refusal; she could not think
of marriage so long as her brother was a prisoner. Henry was not
discouraged; he did all he could to please the duchess, and, knowing
her attachment for the Gospel, he never failed, when present in the
council, to take up the defence of the pious men whom Cardinal Duprat
wished to put to death. This intervention was not a mere idle task. The
persecution became such, that Margaret, withdrawing from the attentions
of the prince, thought only of the dangers to which the humble
christians were exposed whose faith she shared.

We shall see that the pope and the Sorbonne had more influence in
France than the regent and the king.




At the very moment when the duchess, the Count of Hohenlohe, and
others were indulging in the sweetest hopes, the darkest future opened
before their eyes. Margaret had dreamt of a new day, illumined by the
brightest sunshine, but all of a sudden the clouds gathered, the light
was obscured, the winds rose, and the tempest burst forth.

There was a young man, about twenty-eight years of age, a licentiate
of laws, William Joubert by name, whom his father, king’s advocate at
La Rochelle, had sent to Paris to study the practice of the courts.
Notwithstanding the prohibition of the parliament, William, who was of
a serious disposition, ventured to inquire into the catholic faith.
Conceiving doubts about it, he said in the presence of some friends,
that ‘neither Genevieve nor even Mary could save him, but the Son
of God alone.’ Shortly after the issuing of the proclamation, the
licentiate was thrown into prison. The alarmed father immediately
hurried to Paris: his son, his hope ... a heretic! and on the point
of being burnt! He gave himself no rest: he went from one judge to
another: ‘Ask what you please,’ said the unhappy father; ‘I am ready
to give any money to save his life.’[473] Vainly did he repeat
his entreaties day after day; on Saturday, February 17, 1526, the
executioner came to fetch William; he helped him to get into the
tumbrel, and led him to the front of Notre Dame: ‘Beg Our Lady’s
pardon,’ he said. He next took him to the front of St. Genevieve’s
church: ‘Ask pardon of St. Genevieve.’ The Rocheller was firm in his
faith, and would ask pardon of none but God. He was then taken to
the Place Maubert, where the people, seeing his youth and handsome
appearance, deeply commiserated his fate; but the tender souls received
but rough treatment from the guards. ‘Do not pity him,’ they said;
‘he has spoken evil of Our Lady and the saints in paradise, and holds
to the doctrine of Luther.’ The hangman then took up his instruments,
approached William, made him open his mouth, and pierced his tongue.
He then strangled him and afterwards burnt his body. The poor father
returned alone to Rochelle. But the parliament was not satisfied with
one victim; erelong it made an assault upon the inhabitants of a city
which the enemies of the Gospel detested in an especial manner.

A well-educated young man of Meaux had come to Paris; he had translated
‘certain books’ from Latin into French: he took Luther’s part and spoke
out boldly: ‘We need not take holy water to wash away our sins,’ he
said; ‘the blood of Christ alone can cleanse us from them. We need not
pray for the dead, for immediately after death their souls are either
in paradise or in hell; there is no purgatory; I do not believe in
it.’[474] ‘Ah!’ said the angry monks, ‘we see how it is; Meaux is
thoroughly infected with false doctrine; one _Falry_,[475] a priest,
with some others, is the cause of these perversions.’ The young man
was denounced to the parliament. ‘If you do not recant, you will be
burned,’ they said. The poor youth was terrified; he was afraid of
death. They led him to the front of the cathedral of Notre Dame; there
he mounted a ladder, bareheaded, with lighted taper in his hand, and
cried out for: ‘Pardon of God and of Our Lady!’ Then the priests put
in his hands the books he had translated; he read them ‘every word’
(the titles doubtless), and afterwards pronounced them to be false and
damnable. The books were burnt before his face; and as for him, ‘he was
taken to the Celestines’ prison and put upon bread and water.’

He was not the only man of his native city who had to make expiation
for the zeal with which he had received the Reform. A fuller, also a
native of Meaux, who followed like him the ‘sect of Luther,’ suffered a
similar punishment about the same time.[476] ‘This Lutheran,’ said the
burghers of Paris, ‘has the presumption to say that the Virgin and the
saints have no power, and such like nonsense.’

Picardy next furnished its tribute. Picardy in the north and Dauphiny
in the south were the two provinces of France best prepared to receive
the Gospel. During the fifteenth century many Picardins, as the
story ran, went to _Vaudery_. Seated round the fire during the long
nights, simple catholics used to tell one another how these _Vaudois_
(Waldenses) met in horrible assembly in solitary places, where they
found tables spread with numerous and dainty viands. These poor
christians loved indeed to meet together from districts often very
remote. They went to the rendezvous by night and along by-roads. The
most learned of them used to recite some passages of Scripture, after
which they conversed together and prayed. But such humble conventicles
were ridiculously travestied. ‘Do you know what they do to get there,’
said the people, ‘so that the officers may not stop them? The devil has
given them a certain ointment, and when they want to go to _Vaudery_,
they smear a little stick with it. As soon as they get astride it, they
are carried up through the air, and arrive at their _sabbath_ without
meeting anybody. In the midst of them sits a goat with a monkey’s tail:
this is Satan, who receives their adoration!’ ... These stupid stories
were not peculiar to the people: they were circulated particularly by
the monks. It was thus that the inquisitor Jean de Broussart spoke in
1460 from a pulpit erected in the great square at Arras. An immense
multitude surrounded him; a scaffold was erected in front of the
pulpit, and a number of men and women, kneeling and wearing caps with
the figure of the devil painted on them, awaited their punishment.
Perhaps the faith of these poor people was mingled with error. But be
that as it may, they were all burnt alive after the sermon.[477]

A young student, who already held a living, though not yet in priest’s
orders, had believed in the Gospel, and had boldly declared that there
was no other saviour but Jesus Christ, and that the Virgin Mary
had no more power than other saints.[478] This youthful cleric of
Thérouanne in Picardy had been imprisoned in 1525, and terrified by
the punishment. On Christmas-eve, with a lighted torch in his hand
and stripped to his shirt, he had ‘asked pardon of God and of Mary
before the church of Notre Dame.’ In consideration of his ‘very great
penitence,’ it was thought sufficient to confine him for seven years on
bread and water in the prison of St. Martin des Champs. Alone in his
dungeon, the scholar heard the voice of God in the depths of his heart;
he began to weep hot tears, and ‘forthwith,’ says the chronicler, ‘he
returned to his folly.’ Whenever a monk entered his prison, the young
cleric proclaimed the Gospel to him; the monks were astonished at such
raving; all the convent was in a ferment and confusion. Dr. Merlin,
the grand penitentiary, went to the prisoner in person, preached to
him, advised and entreated him, but all to no effect. By order of the
court, the young evangelist ‘was burnt at the Grève in Paris,’ and
others underwent the same punishment. Such was the method employed in
that cruel age to force the doctrine of the Church back into the hearts
of those who rejected it: they made use of scourges to beat them, and
cords to strangle them.

It was not only in Paris that severity was used against the Lutherans:
the same was done in the provinces. Young Pierre Toussaint, prebendary
of Metz, who had taken refuge at Basle after the death of Leclerc,[479]
having regained his courage, returned to France and proclaimed the
Gospel. His enemies seized him, and gave him up to the Abbot of St.
Antoine. This abbot, a well-known character, was a violent, cruel,
and merciless man.[480] Neither Toussaint’s youth, nor his candour,
nor his weak health could touch him; he threw his victim into a
horrible dungeon full of stagnant water and other filth,[481] where
the young evangelist could hardly stand. With his back against the
wall, and his feet on the only spot in the dungeon which the water
did not reach, stifled by the poisonous vapours emitted around him,
the young man remembered the cheerful house of his uncle the Dean of
Metz and the magnificent palace of the Cardinal of Lorraine, where he
had been received so kindly while he still believed in the pope. What
a contrast now! Toussaint’s health declined, his cheeks grew pale,
and his trembling legs could hardly support him. Alas! where were
those days when still a child he ran joyously round the room riding
on a stick,[482] and when his mother seriously uttered this prophecy:
‘Antichrist will soon come and destroy all who are converted.’ The
wretched Toussaint thought the moment had arrived.... His imagination
became excited, he fancied he saw the terrible antichrist foretold by
his mother, seizing him and dragging him to punishment; he screamed
aloud, and was near dying of fright.[483] He interested every one who
saw him; he was so mild; harmless as a new-born child, they said, so
that the cruel abbot knew not how to justify his death. He thought
that if he had Toussaint’s books and papers, he could find an excuse
for burning him. One day the monks came to the wretched young man,
took him out of the unwholesome pit, and led him into the abbot’s
room. ‘Write to your host at Basle,’ said the latter; ‘tell him that
you want your books to amuse your leisure, and beg him to send them to
you.’ Toussaint, who understood the meaning of this order, hesitated.
The abbot gave utterance to terrible threats. The affrighted Toussaint
wrote the letter, and was sent back to his pestilential den.

Thus the very moment when the evangelical christians were hoping
to have some relief was marked by an increase of severity. The
Reform--Margaret was its representative at that time in the eyes of
many--the afflicted Reform saw her children around her, some put to
death, others in chains, all threatened with the fatal blow. The sister
of Francis I., heartbroken and despairing, would have shielded with her
body those whom the sword appeared ready to strike; but her exertions
seemed useless.

Suddenly a cry of joy was heard, which, uttered in the Pyrenees, was
reechoed even to Calais. The _Sun_ (for thus, it will be remembered,
Margaret called her brother) appeared in the south to reanimate the
kingdom of France. On the 21st of March Francis quitted Spain, crossed
the Bidassoa, and once more set his foot on French ground. He had
recovered his spirits; an overflowing current of life had returned to
every part of his existence. It seemed that, delivered from a prison,
he was the master of the world. He mounted an Arab horse, and, waving
his cap and plume in the air, exclaimed as he galloped along the road
to St. Jean de Luz: ‘Once more I am a king!’ Thence he proceeded to
Bayonne, where his court awaited him, with a great number of his
subjects who had not been permitted to approach nearer to the frontier.

Nowhere was the joy so great as with Margaret and the friends of the
Gospel. Some of them determined to go and meet the king and petition
him on behalf of the exiles and the prisoners, feeling persuaded that
he would put himself at the head of the party which the detested
Charles V. was persecuting. These _most pious Gauls_, as Zwingle calls
them,[484] petitioned the monarch; Margaret uttered a cry in favour of
the miserable;[485] but Francis, though full of regard for his sister,
could not hide a secret irritation against Luther and the Lutherans.
His profane character, his sensual temperament, made him hate the
evangelicals, and policy demanded great reserve.

Margaret had never ceased to entertain in her heart a hope of seeing
the Count of Hohenlohe come to Paris and labour at spreading the Gospel
in France. Sigismond, a man of the world and at the same time a man
of God, an evangelical christian and yet a church dignitary, knowing
Germany well, and considered at the court of France as belonging to
it, appeared to the Duchess of Alençon the fittest instrument to work
among the French that transformation equally demanded by the wants of
the age and the Word of God. One day she took courage and presented
her request to her brother: Francis did not receive her petition
favourably. He knew Hohenlohe well, and thought his evangelical
principles exaggerated; besides, if any change were to be made in
France, the king meant to carry it out alone. He did not, however, open
his heart entirely to his sister: he simply gave her to understand that
the time was not yet come. If the count came to Paris; if he gathered
round him all the friends of the Gospel; if he preached at court, in
the churches, in the open air perhaps, what would the emperor say, and
what the pope?--‘Not yet,’ said the king.

The Duchess of Alençon, bitterly disappointed, could hardly make up
her mind to communicate this sad news to the count. Yet it must be
done. ‘The desire I have to see you is increased by what I hear of your
virtue and of the perseverance of the divine grace in you. But ... my
dear cousin, all your friends have arrived at the conclusion that, _for
certain reasons_, it is not yet time for you to come here. As soon as
we have _done something_, with God’s grace, I will let you know.’

Hohenlohe was distressed at this delay, and Margaret endeavoured to
comfort him. ‘Erelong,’ she said, ‘the Almighty will do us the grace
to perfect what he has done us the grace to _begin_. You will then be
consoled in this company, where you are _present_ though _absent_ in
body. May the peace of our Lord, which passeth all understanding, and
which the world knoweth not, be given to your heart so abundantly that
no cross can afflict it!’[486]

At the same time she increased her importunity with her brother; she
conjured the king to inaugurate a new era; she once more urged the
propriety of inviting the count. ‘I do not care for that man,’ answered
Francis sharply. He cared for him, however, when he wanted him. There
is a letter from the king ‘to his very dear and beloved cousin of
Hohenlohe,’ in which he tells him that, desiring to raise a large army,
and knowing ‘his loyalty and valour, his nearness of lineage, love,
and charity,’ he begs him most affectionately to raise three thousand
foot-soldiers.[487] But where the Gospel was concerned, it was quite
another matter. To put an end to his sister’s solicitation, Francis
replied to her one day: ‘Do you wish, then, for my sons to remain in
Spain?’ He had given them as hostages to the emperor. Margaret was
silent: she had not a word to say where the fate of her nephews was
concerned. She wrote to the count: ‘I cannot tell you, my friend,
all the vexation I suffer: _the king would not see you willingly_;
the reason is the liberation of his children, which he cares for
quite as much as for his own.’ She added: ‘I am of good courage
towards you, rather on account of our fraternal affection than by the
perishable ties of flesh and blood. For the _other_ birth, the _second_
delivery--there lies true and perfect union.’ The Count of Hohenlohe,
Luther’s disciple, did not come to France.

This refusal was not the only grief which Francis caused his sister.
The love of the King of Navarre had grown stronger, and she began to
return it. But the king opposed her following the inclination of her
heart. Margaret, thwarted in all her wishes, drinking of the bitter
cup, revolting sometimes against the despotic will to which she was
forced to bend, and feeling the wounds of sin in her heart, retired to
her closet and laid bare her sorrows to Christ.

    O thou, my priest, my advocate, my king,
    On whom depends my life--my everything;
    O Lord, who first didst drain the bitter cup of woe
    And know’st its poison (if man e’er did know),
    These thorns how sharp, these wounds of sin how deep--
    Saviour, friend, king, oh! plead my cause, I pray:
    Speak, help, and save me, lest I fall away.[488]

The religious poems of Margaret, which are deficient neither in grace,
sensibility, nor affection, belong (it must not be forgotten) to the
early productions of the French muse; and what particularly leads us
to quote them is that they express the christian sentiments of this
princess. This is the period at which it seems to us that Margaret’s
christianity was purest. At an earlier date, at the time of her
connection with Briçonnet, her faith was clouded with the vapours of
mysticism. At a later date, when the fierce will of Francis I. alarmed
her tender and shrinking soul, a veil of catholicism appeared to cover
the purity of her faith. But from 1526 to 1532 Margaret was herself.
The evidences of the piety of the evangelical christians of this period
are so few, that we could not permit ourselves to suppress those we
find in the writings of the king’s sister.

The Duchess of Alençon resorted to poetry to divert her thoughts; and
it was now, I think, that she wrote her poem of the _Prisoner_. She
loved to recall the time when the King of Navarre had been captured
along with Francis I.; she transported herself to the days immediately
following the battle of Pavia; she imagined she could hear young Henry
d’Albret expressing his confidence in God, and exclaiming from the
lofty tower of Pizzighitone:

    Vainly the winds o’er the ocean blow,
    Scattering the ships as they proudly go;
    But not a leaf of the wood can they shake,
    Until at the sound of thy voice they awake.

The captive, after describing in a mournful strain the sorrows of his
prison, laid before Christ the sorrow which sprang from a feeling of
his sins:

    Not _one_ hell but many million
    I’ve deserved for my rebellion.

           *       *       *       *       *

    But my sin in thee was scourged,
    And my guilt in thee was purged.[489]

The noble prisoner does not seek the salvation of God for himself
alone; he earnestly desires that the Gospel may be brought to that
Italy where he is a captive--one of the earliest aspirations for
Italian reformation.

    Can you tell why from your home--
      Home so peaceful--you were torn?
    ’Twas that over stream and mountain
      The precious treasure should be borne
    By thee, in thy vessel frail,
    To God’s elect[490] ....

On a sudden the prisoner remembers his friend; he believes in his
tender commiseration and thus invokes him:

    O Francis, my king, of my soul the best part,
    Thou model of friendship, so dear to my heart,
    A Jonathan, Orestes, and Pollux in one,
    As thou seest me in sorrow and anguish cast down,
    My Achates, my brother, oh! what sayest thou?[491]

But Henry d’Albret called Francis I. his Jonathan to no purpose;
Jonathan would not give him his sister. The king had other thoughts.
During his captivity the emperor had demanded Margaret’s hand of the
regent.[492] But Francis, whom they were going to unite, contrary to
his wishes, to Charles’s sister, thought that one marriage with the
house of Austria was enough, and hoping that Henry VIII. might aid him
in taking vengeance on Charles, was seized with a strong liking for
him. ‘If my body is the emperor’s prisoner,’ he said, ‘my heart is a
prisoner to the King of England!’[493] He gained over Cardinal Wolsey,
who told his master that there was not in all Europe a woman worthier
of the crown of England than Margaret of France.[494] But the christian
heart of the Duchess of Alençon revolted at the idea of taking the
place of Catherine of Arragon, whose virtues she honoured;[495]
and Henry VIII. himself soon entered on a different course. It was
necessary to give up the design of placing Margaret on the throne
of England by the side of Henry Tudor ... a fortunate thing for the
princess, but a misfortune perhaps for the kingdom over which she would
have reigned.

Yet the Duchess of Alençon did not see all her prayers refused. On
leaving his prison, the sight of Francis I. was confused. By degrees
he saw more clearly into the state of things in Europe, and took a few
steps towards that religious liberty which Margaret had so ardently
desired of him. It would even seem that, guided by his sister, he rose
to considerations of a loftier range.




There was an instinctive feeling in christendom that up to this time
its society had been but fragmentary, a great disorder, an immense
chaos.[496] It felt an earnest want of that social unity, of that
supreme order, and of that all-ruling idea which the papacy had not
been able to give. By proclaiming a new creation, the Reformation was
about to accomplish this task. The isolation of nations was to cease;
all would touch each other; reciprocal influences would multiply from
generation to generation.... The Reformation prepared the way for the
great unity in the midst of the world.

Evangelical christians felt a consciousness, indistinct perhaps,
though deep, of this new movement in human affairs, and many would
have wished that France should not yield to Germany or England the
privilege of marching in the van of the new order of things. They said
that since the emperor had put himself at the head of the enemies of
the Reformation, the king ought to place himself in the front rank of
its defenders. The Duchess of Alençon in particular was constantly
soliciting the king, and praying him to recall to France the men who
would bring into it the true light. But Francis received her proposals
coldly, sometimes rudely, and cut short every attempt to answer; still
the duchess was indefatigable, and when the king shut the door against
her, ‘she got in through the keyhole.’ At last Francis, who loved his
sister, esteemed learning, and despised the monks, yielded to her
pressing entreaties, and above all to the new ideas and the exigencies
of his political plans. The gates of the prisons were opened.

Berquin was still a prisoner, sorrowful but comforted by his faith,
unable to see clearly into the future, but immovable in his loyalty to
the Gospel. The king determined to save him from ‘the claws of Beda’s
faction.’ ‘I will not suffer the person or the goods of this gentleman
to be injured,’ he said to the parliament on the 1st of April; ‘I will
inquire into the matter myself.’ The officers sent by the king took the
christian captive from his prison, and, though still keeping watch over
him, placed him in a commodious chamber. Berquin immediately set about
forming plans for the triumph of truth.

Clement Marot had paid dearly for the privilege of being Margaret’s
secretary; he was in prison, and consoled himself by composing his
little poems. Margaret obtained his full release, and Marot hastened to
his friends, exclaiming in a transport of joy:

    In narrow cell without a cause,
    Shut up in foul despite of laws
    By wicked men, the king’s decree
    In this New Year has set me free.[497]

Michael of Aranda, who, in 1524, had preached the Gospel with such
power at Lyons, had been removed from Margaret, whose almoner he
was. She sent for him and imparted to him her plan for introducing
the Gospel into the Catholic Church of France, by renewing without
destroying it. ‘I have procured your nomination to the bishopric of
Trois-Châteaux in Dauphiny,’[498] she said. ‘Go, and evangelise your
diocese.’ He accepted; the truth had already been scattered in Dauphiny
by Farel and others. Did Aranda share Margaret’s views, or had ambition
anything to do with his acceptance? It is hard to say.

A fourth victim of the persecution was soon saved. The young prebendary
of Metz, the amiable Pierre Toussaint, was still in the frightful den
into which the abbot of St. Antoine had thrust him. His host at Basle
had not sent the books which the treacherous priest had constrained
him to write for; no doubt the worthy citizen, knowing in whose
hands his friend was lying, had foreseen the danger to which their
receipt would expose him. Several evangelical christians of France,
Switzerland, and Lorraine, particularly the merchant Vaugris, had
successively interceded in his favour, but to no purpose. Finding all
their exertions useless, they applied at last to Margaret, who warmly
pleaded the cause of the young evangelist before the king. In July
1526, the order for his release arrived. The officers charged with
this pleasing task descended to the gloomy dungeon selected by the
abbot of St. Antoine, and rescued the lamb from the fangs of that wild
beast. Toussaint, thin, weak, pale as a faded flower, came out slowly
from his fearful den. His weakened eyes could hardly support the light
of day, and he knew not where to go. At first he went to some old
acquaintances; but they were all afraid of harbouring a heretic escaped
from the scaffold. The young prebendary did not possess Berquin’s
energy; he was one of those sensitive and delicate natures that need a
support, and he found himself in the world, in the free air, almost as
much alone as in his dungeon. ‘Ah!’ he said, ‘God our heavenly Father,
who has fixed bounds to the wrath of man which it cannot pass, has
delivered me in a wonderful manner from the hands of the tyrants; but,
alas! what will become of me? The world is mad and spurns the rising
Gospel of Jesus Christ.’[499] A few timid but well-meaning friends
said to him: ‘The Duchess of Alençon alone can protect you; there is
no asylum for you but at her court. Make application to a princess who
welcomes with so much generosity all the friends of learning and of the
Gospel, and profit by your residence to investigate closely the wind
that blows in those elevated regions.’ Toussaint did what they told
him; he began his journey, and, despite his natural timidity, arrived
at Paris, where we shall meet with him again.

More important deliverances still were in preparation. Strasburg was to
rejoice. There was no city out of France where the king’s return had
been hailed with so much enthusiasm. Many evangelical christians had
sought refuge there from the cruelties of Duprat, and were sighing for
the moment that would restore them to their country. Among the number
of the refugees was the famous Cornelius Agrippa. His reputation was
not unblemished; a book on the ‘Vanity of Science’ does him little
credit; but he seems at this time to have been occupied with the
Gospel. Having received a letter from the excellent Papillon, who
told him how favourable the king appeared to the new light, Agrippa,
who, surrounded by pious men, took their tone and tuned his voice in
harmony with theirs, exclaimed: ‘All the Church of the saints with us,
hearing of the triumphs of the Word at the court and in the most part
of France, rejoiced with exceeding great joy.[500] I bless the Lord
for the glory with which the Word is crowned among you. Would to God
that we were permitted, as well as you, to return to France!’ Another
country was equally attractive to this scholar: ‘Write to me what they
are doing at Geneva ... tell me if the Word is loved there, and if they
care for learning.’[501]

Men more decided than Cornelius Agrippa were to be found at Strasburg.
During all the winter the hospitable house of Capito had often
witnessed the meetings of those christians who had raised highest the
standard of the Gospel in France. There assembled the aged Lefèvre,
the first translator of the Bible, who had escaped the stake only by
flight; the pious Roussel, Vedastes, Simon, and Farel who had arrived
from Montbéliard. These friends of the Reformation concealed themselves
under assumed names: Lefèvre passed as Anthony Peregrin; Roussel as
Tolnin; but they were known by everybody, even by the children in the
streets.[502] They often met Bucer, Zell, and the Count of Hohenlohe,
and edified one another. Margaret undertook to bring them all back
to France. The court was then in the south; the king was at Cognac,
his birthplace, where he often resided; the duchesses (his mother
and sister) at Angoulême. One day when they met, Margaret entreated
her brother to put an end to the cruel exile of her friends: Francis
granted everything.

What joy! the aged Lefèvre, the fervent Roussel, are recalled _with
honour_, says Erasmus.[503] The Strasburgers embraced them with tears;
the old man felt happy that he was going to die in the country where
he was born. He immediately took the road to France in company with
Roussel; others followed them; all believed that the new times were
come. In their meetings the evangelicals called to mind these words of
the prophet: _The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy
and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away_.[504] Lefèvre
and Roussel hastened to their protectress. Margaret received them
kindly, lodged them in the castle of Angoulême, where she was born, on
that smiling hill which she loved so much, near that ‘softly-flowing’
Charente, as she describes it. Lefèvre and Roussel had many precious
conversations with her. They loved to speak of their life at Strasburg,
of the new views they had found there, and of the brotherly communion
they had enjoyed. ‘We were there,’ they said, ‘with William Farel,
Michael of Aranda, Francis Lambert, John Vedastes, the Chevalier
d’Esch, and many other evangelicals ... scattered members of a torn
body, but one in Christ Jesus. We carefully put out of sight all that
might interrupt the harmony between brethren; the peace that we tasted,
far from being without savour, like that of the world, was perfumed
with the sweet odour of God’s service.’

This meeting at Strasburg had borne fruit. The energetic Farel, the
learned Lefèvre, the spiritual Roussel, gifted with such opposite
natures, had reacted upon each other. Farel had become more gentle,
Roussel more strong; contact with iron had given an unusual hardness
to a metal by nature inclined to be soft. The sermons they heard,
their frequent conversations, the trials of exile, and the consolation
of the Spirit of God, had tempered the souls which had been not a
little discouraged by persecution. Roussel had taken advantage of his
leisure to study Hebrew, and the Word of God had acquired a sovereign
importance in his eyes. Struck by the virtues of which the early
christians had given an example, he had found that we must seek for
the secret of their lives in the history of the primitive Church, in
the inspired Scripture of God. ‘The purity of religion will never be
restored,’ he used to say, ‘unless we drink at the springs which the
Holy Ghost has given us.’[505]

It was not enough for the refugees to have returned; their christian
activity must be employed to the advantage of France. At the beginning
of June, Roussel went to Blois. Margaret wished to make this city--the
favourite residence of the Valois, and notorious for the crimes
perpetrated there in after years--a refuge for the persecuted, a
caravanserai for the saints, a stronghold of the Gospel. On the 29th
of June Lefèvre also went there.[506] The king intrusted him with
the education of his third son and the care of the castle library.
Chapelain, physician to the Duchess of Angoulême, and Cop, another
doctor, of whom we shall see more hereafter, were also in that city;
and all of them, filled with gratitude towards Francis I., were
contriving the means of imparting ‘something of Christianity to the
Most Christian King’[507]--which was, in truth, very necessary.

Thus things were advancing. It seemed as if learning and the Gospel
had returned with the king from banishment. Macrin, whose name Zwingle
placed side by side with that of Berquin, was set at liberty.[508]
Cornelius Agrippa returned to Lyons. Sprung from an ancient family of
Cologne, he had served seven years in the imperial army; he then became
a great _savant_ (and not a great magician, as was supposed), doctor
of theology, law, and medicine. He published a book on Marriage and
against celibacy, which excited much clamour. Agrippa was astonished
at this, and not without reason. ‘What!’ he exclaimed, ‘the tales
of Boccaccio, the jests of Poggio, the adulteries of Euryalus and
Lucretia, the loves of Tristan and of Lancelot, are read greedily,
even by young girls[509] ... and yet they cry out against my book on
Marriage!’--This explains an incident in history: the youthful readers
of Boccaccio became the famous ‘squadron’ of Catherine de’ Medici, by
whose means that impure woman obtained so many victories over the lords
of the court.

When men heard of these deliverances, they thought that Francis I.,
seeing Charles V. at the head of the Roman party, would certainly
put himself at the head of the evangelical cause, and that the two
champions would decide on the battle-field the great controversy of the
age. ‘The king,’ wrote the excellent Capito to the energetic Zwingle,
‘is favourable to the Word of God.’[510] Margaret already saw the Holy
Ghost reviving in France the _one_, _holy_, and _universal Church_. She
resolved to hasten on these happy times, and, leaving Angoulême and
Blois in the month of July, arrived in Paris.

Toussaint was waiting for her. Having reached the capital under
an assumed name, the young evangelist at first kept himself in
concealment. On hearing of the arrival of the sister of Francis, he
asked permission to see her in private; and the princess, as was her
custom, received him with great kindness. What a contrast for this
poor man, just rescued from the cruel talons of the abbot of St.
Antoine, to find himself in the palace of St. Germain, where Margaret’s
person, her urbanity, wit, lively piety, indefatigable zeal, love of
letters, and elegance, charmed all who came near her! Toussaint, like
the poet, was never tired of admiring

    A sweetness living in her beauteous face
      Which does the fairest of her sex eclipse,
      A lively wit, of learning ample store,
    And over all a captivating grace,
      Whether she speaks, or silent are her lips.[511]

One thing, however, charmed Toussaint still more: it was the true piety
which he found in Margaret. She treated him with the kindness of a
christian woman, and soon put him at his ease. ‘The most illustrious
Duchess of Alençon,’ he wrote, ‘has received me with as much kindness
as if I had been a prince or the person who was dearest to her.[512]
I hope,’ he added, ‘that the Gospel of Christ will soon reign in
France.’[513] The duchess, on her part, touched with the faith of the
young evangelist, invited him to come again and see her the next day.
He went and he went again; he had long and frequent conversations with
Margaret on the means of propagating the Gospel everywhere.[514] ‘God,
by the light of his Word,’ he said, ‘must illumine the world, and by
the breath of his Spirit must transform all hearts. The Gospel alone,
Madame, will bring into regular order all that is confused.’--‘It is
the only thing that I desire,’ replied Margaret.[515] She believed in
the victory of truth; it seemed to her that the men of light could not
be conquered by the men of darkness. The new life was about to rise
like the tide, and erelong cover with its wide waves the arid _landes_
of France. Margaret espied tongues of fire, she heard eloquent voices,
she felt swelling hearts throbbing around her. Everything was stirring
in that new and mysterious world which enraptured her imagination. It
was to inaugurate this new era, so full of light, of faith, of liberty,
that her brother had been delivered from the prisons of Charles V.
‘Ah!’ she said to Toussaint in their evangelical conversations, ‘it is
not only myself that desires the triumph of the Gospel; even the king
wishes for it.[516] And, believe me, our mother (Louisa of Savoy!) will
not oppose our efforts.[517] The king,’ she protested to the young man,
‘is coming to Paris to secure the progress of the Gospel--if, at least,
the war does not prevent him.’[518] Noble illusions! Certain ideas on
this subject, in accord with his policy, were running, no doubt, in
the king’s mind; but at that time Francis was thinking of nothing but
compensating himself for the privations of captivity by indulging in

The young prebendary of Metz was under the spell; he indulged in
the greatest hopes, and joyfully hailed the new firmament in which
Margaret would shine as one of the brightest stars. He wrote to
Œcolampadius: ‘This illustrious princess is so taught of God, and
so familiar with Holy Scripture, that no one can ever separate her
from Jesus Christ.’[519] Some have asked whether this prediction was
verified. Margaret of Navarre, terrified by her brother’s threats,
certainly made a lamentable concession in after years, and this is
proved by a letter Calvin addressed to her; but she was, nevertheless,
a tree planted by the rivers of water. The storm broke off a few
branches; still the roots were deep, and the tree did not perish.

Toussaint often found the halls of the palace of St. Germain filled
with the most distinguished personages of the kingdom, eager to present
their homage to the sister of Francis I. Side by side with ambassadors
and nobles dressed in the most costly garments, and soldiers with their
glittering arms, were cardinals robed in scarlet and ermine, bishops
with their satin copes, ecclesiastics of every order, with long gowns
and tonsured heads.[520] These clerics, all desirous of attaining to
the highest offices of the Church, approached the illustrious princess,
spoke to her of the Gospel, of Christ, of _inextinguishable love_; and
Toussaint listened with astonishment to such strange court language.
His former patron, the Cardinal of Lorraine, archbishop of Rheims and
of Lyons, whom we must not confound with his infamous nephew, one of
the butchers of the St. Bartholomew massacre, gave the young prebendary
a most affable reception, never ceasing to repeat that he loved the
Gospel extremely.... Margaret, who permitted herself to be easily
persuaded, took the religious prattle of this troop of flatterers
for sound piety, and inspired the young christian with her own blind

Yet the latter sometimes asked himself whether all these fine speeches
were not mere court compliments. One day he heard Briçonnet, Bishop
of Meaux, in whom the most credulous still placed some hope, rank the
Roman Church very high and the Word of God very low: ‘Hypocritical
priest!’ said Toussaint aside, ‘you desire more to please men than to
please God!’ If these sycophant priests chanced to meet with any noble
scoffers or atheists, in some apartment far from that of the princess
or on the terrace of St. Germain, they fearlessly threw aside the
mask, and turned into ridicule the evangelical faith they had cried up
before the sister of Francis I. When they had obtained the benefices
they coveted, they changed sides; they were the foremost in attacking
the Lutherans;[521] and if they observed any evangelicals coming, they
turned their backs upon them. Then would Toussaint exclaim: ‘Alas! they
speak well of Jesus Christ with those who speak well of him; but with
those who blaspheme, they blaspheme also.’[522]

Lefèvre and Roussel having come to Paris from Blois, about the end
of July 1526, the young and impetuous Toussaint, full of respect for
them, hastened to tell them of his vexations, and demanded that they
should unmask these hypocrites and boldly preach the Gospel in the
midst of that perverse court. ‘Patience,’ said the two scholars, both
rather temporising in disposition, and whom the air of the court had
perhaps already weakened, ‘patience! do not let us spoil anything; the
time is not yet come.’[523] Then Toussaint, upright, generous, and
full of affection, burst into tears. ‘I cannot restrain my tears,’ he
said.[524] ‘Yes; be wise after your fashion; wait, put off, dissemble
as much as you please; you will acknowledge, however, at last, that it
is impossible to preach the Gospel without bearing the cross.[525] The
banner of divine mercy is now raised, the gate of the kingdom of heaven
is open. God does not mean us to receive his summons with supineness.
We must make haste, for fear the opportunity should escape us and the
door be shut.’

Toussaint, grieved and oppressed by the tone of the court, told all his
sorrows to the reformer of Basle: ‘Dear Œcolampadius,’ he said, ‘when
I think that the king and the duchess are as well disposed as possible
to promote the Gospel of Christ, and when I see at the same time those
who are called to labour the foremost at this excellent work having
continual recourse to delay, I cannot restrain my grief. What would
not you do in Germany, if the emperor and his brother Ferdinand looked
favourably on your efforts?’ Toussaint did not hide from Margaret
herself how his hopes had been disappointed. ‘Lefèvre,’ he said, ‘is
wanting in courage; may God strengthen and support him!’ The duchess
did all she could to keep the young evangelist at her court; she sought
for men who, while having a christian heart and a christian life,
would not, however, break with the Church; she accordingly offered the
ex-prebendary great advantages, but begging him at the same time to be
moderate. Toussaint, a man of susceptible and somewhat hard character,
haughtily repelled these advances. He was stifled at the court; the air
he breathed there made him sick; admiration had yielded to disgust. ‘I
despise these magnificent offers,’ he said, ‘I detest the court more
than any one has done.[526] Farewell to the court ... it is the most
dangerous of harlots.’[527] Margaret conjured him at least not to quit
France, and sent him to one of her friends, Madame de Contraigues,
who, abounding in charity for the persecuted evangelists, received
them in her chateau of Malesherbes in the Orléanais. Before leaving,
the young Metzer, foreseeing that a terrible struggle was approaching,
recommended the friends he left behind him to pray to God that France
would show herself worthy of the Word.[528] He then departed, praying
the Lord to send to this people the teacher, the apostle, who, being
himself a model of truth and devotedness, would lead it in the new
paths of life.




Many evangelical christians thought as Toussaint did. They felt that
France had need of a reformer, but could see no one who answered to
their ideal. A man of God was wanted, who, possessing the fundamental
truths of the Gospel, could set them forth in their living harmony;
who, while exalting the divine essence of Christianity, could present
it in its relations to human nature; who was fitted not only to
establish sound doctrine, but also by God’s grace to shed abroad a
new life in the Church; a servant of God, full of courage, full of
activity, as skilful in governing as in leading. A Paul was wanted, but
where could he be found?

Would it be Lefèvre? He had taught plainly the doctrine of
justification by faith, even before Luther; this we have stated
elsewhere,[529] and many have repeated it since. It is a truth gained
to history. But Lefèvre was old and courted repose; pious but timid, a
scholar of the closet rather than the reformer of a people.

Would it be Roussel? Possessing an impressionable and wavering heart,
he longed for the good, but did not always dare to do it. He preached
frequently at the duchess’s court before the most distinguished men of
the kingdom; but he did not proclaim the whole counsel of God. He knew
it, he was angry with himself, and yet he was continually falling into
the same error. ‘Alas!’ he wrote to Farel, ‘there are many evangelical
truths one half of which I am obliged to conceal. If the Lord does not
rekindle my zeal by his presence, I shall be very inferior to what I
ought to be.’[530] The pious but weak Roussel was just the man the
duchess required--fitted to advance christian life without touching
the institutions of the Church. Sometimes, however, dissatisfied with
his position, and longing to preach the Gospel without any respect
to persons, he wished to go to Italy ... and then he fell again into

The most decided christians saw his incompetence. In their eyes the
men round the Duchess of Alençon who stopped halfway were incapable
of reforming France. It needed, they thought, a man of simple soul,
intrepid heart, and powerful eloquence, who, walking with a firm
foot, would give a new impulse to the work too feebly commenced by
Lefèvre and his friends; and then these christians, going to the other
extreme, thought of Farel. At that time this reformer was the greatest
light of France. What love he had for Jesus Christ! What eloquence in
preaching! What boldness in pressing onwards and surmounting obstacles!
What perseverance in the midst of dangers! But neither Francis nor
Margaret would have anything to do with him: they were afraid of him.
When the king recalled the other exiles, Farel was left behind. He was
then at Strasburg with one foot on the frontier, waiting the order for
his return, but the order did not come. The court had no taste for
his aggressive preaching and his heroic firmness; they wished for a
softened and a perfumed Gospel in France. The noble Dauphinese, when he
saw all his friends returning to their country while he remained alone
in exile, was overwhelmed with sorrow and cried to God in his distress.

Roussel understood Margaret’s fears; Farel, he knew, was not a
courtier, and would never agree with the duchess. Yet, knowing the
value of such a servant of God, the noble and pious Roussel tried
whether they could not profit in some other way by his great activity,
and if there was not some province that could be opened to his mighty
labours. ‘I will obtain the means of providing for all your wants,’ he
wrote to him on the 27th of August from the castle of Amboise, ‘until
the Lord gives you at last an entrance and brings you to us.’[532]
That was also Farel’s earnest desire; he was not then thinking of
Switzerland; his country possessed all his love; his eyes were turned
night and day towards those gates of France so obstinately closed
against him; he went up to them and knocked. They still remained shut,
and returning disheartened he exclaimed: ‘Oh! if the Lord would but
open a way for me to return and labour in France!’ On a sudden the
dearest of his wishes seemed about to be realised.

One day, when there was a grand reception at court, the two sons of
Prince Robert de la Marche came to pay their respects to the king’s
sister. Since the eighth century La Marche had formed a principality,
which afterwards became an appanage of the Armagnacs and Bourbons.[533]
The Gospel had found its way there. Margaret, who possessed in a
high degree the spirit of proselytism, said to Roussel, indicating
with her eyes those whose conversion she desired: ‘Speak to those
two young princes; seize, I pray, this opportunity of advancing the
cause of Jesus Christ.’--‘I will do so,’ replied the chaplain eagerly.
Approaching the young noblemen, Roussel began to converse about the
Gospel. De Saucy and De Giminetz (for such were their names) showed no
signs of astonishment, but listened with the liveliest interest. The
evangelist grew bolder, and explained his wishes to them freely.[534]
‘It is not for yourselves alone,’ he said, ‘that God has given you
life, but for the good of the members of Jesus Christ. It is not
enough for you to embrace Christ as your Saviour; you must communicate
the same grace to your subjects.’[535] Roussel warmed at the idea of
seeing the Gospel preached among the green pastures which the Vienne,
the Creuse, and the Cher bathe with their waters; through Guéret,
Bellac, and the ancient territory of the Lemovices and Bituriges. The
two young princes on their part listened attentively to the reformer,
and gave the fullest assent to his words.[536] Margaret’s chaplain
made another step; he thought he had found what he was seeking for
the zealous Farel; and when the sons of Robert de la Marche told him
they felt too weak for the task set before them, he said: ‘I know but
one man fitted for such a great work; it is William Farel; Christ has
given him an extraordinary talent for making known the riches of his
glory. Invite him.’ The proposition delighted the young princes. ‘We
desire it still more than you,’ they said; ‘our father and we will
open our arms to him. He shall be to us as a son, a brother, and a
father.[537] Let him fear nothing: he shall live with us. Yes, in our
own palace. All whom he will meet there are friends of Jesus Christ.
Our physician, Master Henry, a truly christian man; the son of the
late Count Francis; the lord of Château-Rouge, and his children, and
many others, will rejoice at his arrival. We ourselves,’ they added,
‘will be there to receive him. Only bid him make haste; let him come
before next Lent.’--‘I promise you he shall,’ replied Roussel. The two
princes undertook to set up a printing establishment in order that
Farel might by means of the press circulate evangelical truth, not only
in La Marche, but throughout the kingdom. Roussel wrote immediately to
his friend; Toussaint added his entreaties to those of the chaplain.
‘Never has any news caused me more joy,’ he said; ‘hasten thither as
fast as you can.’[538]

The young princes of La Marche were not the only nobles of the court
whom the Duchess of Alençon’s influence attracted into the paths of the
Gospel. Margaret was not one of ‘those who cry aloud,’ says a christian
of her time, ‘but of those whose every word is accompanied with
teaching and imbued with gentleness.’ Her eye was always on the watch
to discover souls whom she could attract to her Master. Lords, ladies,
and damsels of distinction, men of letters, of the robe, of the sword,
and even of the Church, heard, either from her lips, or from those of
Roussel or of some other of her friends, the Word of life. The nobility
entertained a secret but very old dislike to the priests, who had so
often infringed their privileges; and they would have liked nothing
better than to be emancipated from their yoke. Margaret feared that
the young nobles would be only half converted--that there would be no
renewal of the heart and life in them; and the history of the wars of
religion shows but too plainly how well her fears were founded. Knowing
how difficult it is ‘to tread the path to heaven,’ she insisted on the
necessity of a real and moral christianity, and said to the gay youths
attracted by the charms of her person and the splendour of her rank:

    Who would be a christian true
      Must his Lord’s example follow;
    Every worldly good resign
      And earthly glory count but hollow;

    Honour, wealth, and friends so sweet
    He must trample under feet:--
    But, alas! to few ’tis given
    Thus to tread the path to heaven!

    With a willing joyful heart
      His goods among the poor divide;
    Others’ trespasses forgive;
      Revenge and anger lay aside.
    Be good to those who work you ill;
    If any hate you, love them still:--
    But, alas! to few ’tis given
    Thus to tread the path to heaven!

    He must hold death beautiful,
      And over it in triumph sing;
    Love it with a warmer heart
      Than he loveth mortal thing.
    In the pain that wrings the flesh
      Find a pleasure, and in sadness;
    Love death as he loveth life,
      With a more than mortal gladness:--
    But, alas! to few ’tis given
    Thus to tread the path to heaven![539]

Would Margaret succeed? A queen with all the splendours of her station
is not a good reformer; the work needs poor and humble men. There is
always danger when princes turn missionaries; some of the persons
around them easily become hypocrites. Margaret attracted men to the
Gospel; but the greater part of those who were called by her did not
go far; their christianity remained superficial. There were, indeed,
many enlightened understandings in the upper ranks of French society,
but there were few consciences smitten by the Word of God. Many--and
this is a common error in every age--could see nothing but intellectual
truths in the doctrine of Jesus Christ: a fatal error that may
decompose the religious life of a Church and destroy the national life
of a people. No tendency is more opposed to evangelical protestantism,
which depends not upon the intellectual, but upon the moral faculty.
When Luther experienced those terrible struggles in the convent at
Erfurth, it was because his troubled conscience sought for peace; and
we may say of the Reformation, that it always began with the awakening
of the conscience. Conscience is the palladium of protestantism, far
more than the statue of Pallas was the pledge of the preservation of
Troy. If the nobility compromised the Reformation in France, it was
because their consciences had not been powerfully awakened.

Farel would have been the man fitted for this work. He was one of those
whose simple, serious, earnest tones carry away the masses. His voice
of thunder made his hearers tremble. The strength of his convictions
created faith in their souls, the fervour of his prayers raised them
to heaven. When they listened to him, ‘they felt,’ as Calvin says,
‘not merely a few light pricks and stings, but were wounded and
pierced to the heart; and hypocrisy was dragged from those wonderful
and _more than tortuous_ hiding-places which lie deep in the heart
of man.’ He pulled down and built up with equal energy. Even his
life--an apostle-ship full of self-sacrifice, danger, and triumph--was
as effectual as his sermons. He was not only a minister of the Word;
he was a bishop also. He was able to discern the young men fitted to
wield the weapons of the Gospel, and to direct them in the great war
of the age. Farel never attacked a place, however difficult of access,
which he did not take. Such was the man then called into France, and
who seemed destined to be its reformer. The letters of Roussel and
Toussaint inviting Farel were conveyed to Strasburg, and arrived there
in the month of December 1526.

Farel, who had remained alone in that city after the departure of his
friends, kept, as we have already mentioned, his eyes turned towards
France. He waited and waited still, hesitating to go to Switzerland,
whither he was invited; but those gates of France, from which he could
not turn away his eyes, still remained closed. He reflected; he asked
himself what place God had reserved for him. His piercing glance
would have desired to penetrate the future.... Should he not return
into Dauphiny? At Gap and Manosque he had relatives favourable to the
Gospel: his brother Walter, clerk of the episcopal court; his brother
Jean-Jacques, who expounded the Bible with as much boldness as himself;
Antoine Aloat, the notary, who had married one of his nieces; his
brother-in-law, the noble Honorat Riquetti, ‘one of the ancestors of
Mirabeau,’ as the record-keeper of the Hautes Alpes informs us.[540]
There are certainly few names we might be more surprised at seeing
brought together than those of Farel and Mirabeau; and yet between
these two Frenchmen there are at least two points of contact: the power
of their eloquence, and the boldness of their reforms.

Farel did not return to Gap; had he done so, we may suppose how he
would have been received, from the reception given to him some years
later the particulars of which an archæologist has discovered in the
‘Annals of the Capuchins’ of Gap. Farel, already an old man, wishing
to preach the Gospel in his native country before God summoned him
from the world, went and took up his quarters in a corn-mill at the
gates of his native town, where he ‘dogmatised’ the peasants from a
French Bible, which he explained ‘in his fashion’--to use the words
of the Roman-catholic author. Erelong he began to preach in the very
heart of the town, in a chapel dedicated to St. Colomba. The magistrate
forbade his speaking, and the parliament of Grenoble desired ‘to have
him burnt,’ say the Capuchins. Farel replied by a formal refusal of
obedience; upon which the vice-bailiff, Benedict Olier, a zealous
catholic, escorted by several sergeants and police officers, proceeded
to the chapel where Farel was preaching. The door was shut; they
knocked, but nobody answered; they broke in, and found a considerable
throng; no one turned his head, all were listening greedily to the
reformer’s words. The officers of justice went straight to the pulpit;
Farel was seized, and with ‘the crime’ (the Bible) in his hand,
according to the forcible expression of the Capuchins, was led through
the crowd and shut up in prison. But the followers of the new doctrine
were already to be found in every class--in the workman’s garret,
in the tradesman’s shop, in the fortified mansion of the noble, and
sometimes even in the bishop’s palace. During the night the reformers,
either by force or stratagem, took the brave old man out of prison,
carried him to the ramparts, and let him down into the fields in a
basket. ‘Accomplices’ were waiting for him, and the preacher escaped
along with them.[541] Now let us return to the year 1526.

Berthold Haller, the reformer of Berne, invited Farel to Switzerland.
The Bernese possessed certain districts in Roman Switzerland where a
missionary speaking the French language was necessary. The invitations
of the pious Haller were repeated. If France is shut, Switzerland is
opening; Farel can hesitate no longer; God removes him from one of
these countries and calls him to the other; he will obey.

Farel, sadly grieved at the thought that his native country rejected
him, modestly departed from Strasburg, on foot, one day in the month
of December 1526; and, journeying up the Rhine, directed his steps
towards those Alpine districts of which he became one of the greatest
reformers.[542] He was on the road when the messenger of Toussaint and
Roussel arrived at Strasburg.... It was too late. His friends, knowing
that he was going to Berne, sent the letters after him, and it was
at Aigle, where Farel had set up as a schoolmaster, that he received
the invitation of the lords of La Marche. What shall he do? He might
return. Shall he put aside the call of God and of the lords of Berne
to follow that which the princes have sent him? There was a fierce
struggle in his soul. Was not France his birthplace? It was; but ...
it is too late! God has spoken, he said to himself; and though invited
by princes, Farel remained at the humble desk in his little school in
the small town of Aigle, situated between the majestic Dent du Midi
and the rugged glaciers of the Diablerets. Thus the reformer whom many
christians thought of for France was lost to her.

France was not, however, without resources; she still possessed
Berquin, whom some called her _Luther_; but while the exiles and the
prisoners had heard the hour of their deliverance strike, Berquin,
though treated with more consideration, was still deprived of his
liberty. Margaret was unwearied in her petitions to the king. She even
attempted to soften Montmorency; but the Romish theologians made every
attempt to counteract her influence. Friends and enemies were equally
of opinion that if Berquin were free, he would deal many a hard blow
at the hierarchy. At length, after an eight months’ struggle, Margaret
triumphed; Berquin left his prison in November 1526, just at the time
when Farel was leaving France.

The Duchess of Alençon’s gratitude immediately burst forth. Calling
Montmorency by a tenderer name than usual, she said: ‘I thank you, my
son, for the pleasure you have done me in the cause of poor Berquin.
You may say that you have taken me from prison, for I value it as a
favour done to myself.’[543] ... ‘My lord,’ she wrote to the king, ‘my
desire to obey your commands was already very great, but you have
doubled it by the charity you have been pleased to show towards poor
Berquin. He for whom he suffered will take pleasure in the mercy you
have shown his servant and yours for your honour; and the confusion of
those who have forgotten God will not be less than the perpetual glory
which God will give you.’[544]

As soon as Berquin was free he began to meditate on his great work,
which was to destroy the power of error. His liberation was not in his
eyes a simple deliverance from prison--it was a call. He cared little
(as Erasmus entreated him) to indulge in sweet repose on the banks of
the Somme; his earnest desire was to fight. He held that the life of a
christian man should be a continual warfare. No truce with Satan! Now,
to him, Satan was the Sorbonne, and he had no more doubts about the
victory than if the war were ended already. Berquin was universally
known, loved, and respected. To Farel’s decision and zeal he added a
knowledge of the world, which was then most necessary. Margaret clung
to him at least as much as to Roussel. It was generally thought among
christians that God had brought him forth from prison in order to set
him at the head of the Reform in France: Berquin himself thought so.
The friends of the Reformation rejoiced, and an important circumstance
increased their hopes.

Another joy was in store for Margaret. Francis perceived at last that
Henry VIII. preferred Anne Boleyn to his illustrious sister, whose maid
of honour she had formerly been. From that hour he no longer opposed
the wishes of the King of Navarre, and in November consented to his
union with Madame of Alençon.

On the 24th of January, 1527, a brilliant throng filled the chapel of
the palace of St. Germain, where the marriage of the king’s sister
was to be solemnised, and every mouth extolled the genius, grace,
and virtues of the princess. Margaret of France and Henry d’Albret
were united, and for a week there were magnificent tournaments.
Francis made very fine promises to the married pair. ‘Make your mind
easy,’ he said to Henry; ‘I will summon the emperor to restore your
kingdom of Navarre, and if he refuses, I will give you an army to
recover it.’[545] But not long after, this prince, when drawing up a
diplomatic paper by which he bound Charles V. to restore his two sons,
then hostages at Madrid, inserted this clause: ‘_Item_, the said king
promises not to assist or favour the King of Navarre in recovering his
kingdom, although he has married his beloved and only sister.’[546]

At that time Margaret was thinking of other things than earthly
kingdoms. At this solemn moment she turned her eyes towards eternity,
and poured out her heart on the bosom of a friend. ‘A thousand
chances may separate us from this world,’ she said to Madame de la
Rochefoucauld. ‘Whether we be near or far, in peace or in war, on
horseback or in our bed ... God takes and leaves whom he pleases.’[547]
The queen soon found that her lot was not all sunshine, and that Henry
d’Albret’s humour was not always the same. Her husband’s weakness urged
her to seek more earnestly ‘the heavenly lover,’ as she said to Madame
de la Rochefoucauld; and the splendid wedding, which was long talked
of, made her desire the better marriage. It was then she wrote:

    Would that the day were come, O Lord,
      So much desired by me,
    When by the cords of heavenly love
      I shall be drawn to thee!
    United in eternal life,
    The husband thou, and I the wife.

    That wedding-day, O Lord,
      My heart so longs to see,
    That neither wealth, nor fame, nor rank
      Can pleasure give to me.
    To me the world no more
      Can yield delight.
    Unless thou, Lord, be with me there ...
      Lo! all is dark as night.[548]

Prayer did not constitute the sole happiness of the new queen:
activity, charity, an eagerness to help others, did not bring her less
pleasure. By her marriage she acquired more liberty to protect the
Reform. ‘All eyes are fixed on you,’ Capito wrote to her.[549] She
thought that Roussel her confessor, and Michael of Aranda her bishop,
were about to advance notably the kingdom of God, and rejoiced at
seeing these men of learning and morality pronounce daily more strongly
in favour of the truth.[550]

The world was at one of the great turning-points of its history; and
the friends of letters and of the Gospel said to themselves that
France, which had always been in the van of society during the middle
ages, would not now fall to the rear. Pure faith, they thought, would
penetrate every class, would renew the fountains of moral life, and
teach the people at once obedience and liberty. Placed between the
middle and the modern age, Francis I. would make the new times replace
the old in everything. All, in fact, was changing. Gothic architecture
gave way to the creations of the Renaissance; the study of the classic
authors took the place of the scholasticism of the universities; and
in the halls of the palace, mingled with nobles and priests, was seen
a crowd of new persons--philologers, archæologists, poets, painters,
and doctors of the Roman law. When the light was thus making its way
everywhere, would the Church alone remain closed against it? The
Renaissance had opened the gates to a new era; and the Reformation
would give the new generation the strength necessary to enter them.

But where was the man who could give to the world, and especially
wherever the French language was spoken, that strong and salutary
impulse? It was not Lefèvre, Roussel, Farel, or Berquin.... Who was it

It is time that we should learn to know him.




The tendencies of an epoch are generally personified in some man whom
it produces, but who soon overrules these tendencies and leads them to
the goal which they could not otherwise have reached. To the category
of these eminent personages, of these great men, at once the children
and the masters of their age, the reformers have belonged. But whilst
the heroes of the world make the forces of their epoch the pedestal of
their own greatness, the men of God think only how they may be made
to subserve the greatness of their Master. The Reformation existed
in France, but the reformer was still unknown. Farel would have been
a powerful evangelist; but his country had rejected him, and, being
besides a man of battle, he was neither the doctor nor the guide which
the work of the sixteenth century required. A greater than Farel was
about to appear, and we shall proceed to watch his first steps in the
path along which he was afterwards to be the guide of many nations.

In the classes of the college of La Marche in Paris there were, in the
year 1526, a professor of about fifty, and a scholar of seventeen:
they were often seen together. The scholar, instead of playing with
his class-fellows, attached himself to his master during the hours of
recreation, and listened eagerly to his conversation. They were united
as a distinguished teacher and a pupil destined to become a great man
sometimes are. Their names were Mathurin Cordier and John Calvin.[551]
Mathurin was one of those men of ancient mould, who always prefer
the public good to their own interests and glory; and accordingly,
neglecting the brilliant career which lay before him, he devoted his
whole life to the education of children. Prior to Calvin’s arrival
at Paris, he had the head class in the college and taught it with
credit; but he was not satisfied; he would often pause in the middle
of his lessons, finding that his pupils possessed a mere superficial
knowledge of what they should have known thoroughly. Teaching, instead
of yielding him the pleasure for which he thirsted, caused him only
sorrow and disgust. ‘Alas!’ he said, ‘the other masters teach the
children from ambition and vain-glory, and that is why they are not
well grounded in their studies.’ He complained to the director of the
college. ‘The scholars who join the first class,’ he said, ‘bring up
nothing solid: they are puffed out only to make a show, so that I have
to begin teaching them all over again.’[552] Cordier therefore desired
to resign the first class and descend to the fourth, in order to lay
the foundations well.

He had just taken this humble department upon himself, when one day, in
the year 1523, he saw a boy entering his school, thin, pale, diffident
but serious, and with a look of great intelligence. This was John
Calvin, then only fourteen years old. At first he was shy and timid
in the presence of the learned professor; but the latter discovering
in him a scholar of a new kind, immediately became attached to him,
and took delight in developing his young and comprehensive intellect.
Gradually the apprehensions of the Noyon boy were dissipated, and
during the whole time he spent at college he enjoyed the instructions
of the master, ‘as a singular blessing from God.’ Accordingly, when
both of them, in after years, had been driven from France, and had
taken up their abode among the mountains of Switzerland, Calvin, then
one of the great doctors of Europe, loved to turn back with humility
to these days of his boyhood, and publicly displaying his gratitude,
he said to Cordier: ‘O Master Mathurin, O man gifted with learning
and great fear of God! when my father sent me to Paris, while still
a child, and possessing only a few rudiments of the Latin language,
it was God’s will that I should have you for my teacher, in order
that I might be directed in the true path and right mode of learning;
and having first commenced the course of study under your guidance,
I advanced so far that I can now in some degree profit the Church of

At the time of Calvin’s admission to college, both master and pupil,
equally strangers to evangelical doctrine, devoutly followed the
exercises of the Romish worship. Doubtless Cordier was not satisfied
with teaching his favourite pupil Latin and Greek; he initiated him
also in that more general culture which characterised the Renaissance;
he imparted to him a certain knowledge of antiquity and of ancient
civilisation, and inspired him early with the ardour which animated
the classical school; but when Calvin says he was directed by Cordier
‘in the true path,’ he means the path of science, and not that of the

Some time after the scholar’s arrival, the director of the college,
perceiving him to be more advanced than his class-mates, determined
to remove him to a higher form. When Calvin heard of this, he could
not repress his sorrow, and gave way to one of those fits of anger
and ill-humour of which he never entirely cured himself. Never did
promotion cause such grief to a scholar. ‘Dear Master Mathurin,’ he
said, ‘this man, so thoughtless and void of judgment, who arranges my
studies at his will, or rather according to his silly fancy, will not
permit me to enjoy your instructions any longer; he is putting me too
soon into a higher class.... What a misfortune!’[554]

It was only a question of removing him, however, from one class to
another, and not, as some have supposed, to another college. Calvin,
while pursuing higher studies, still remained under the same roof
as Cordier. He ran to him in the intervals of his lessons; he hung
upon his lips, and during the whole time of his stay at La Marche, he
continued to profit by Cordier’s exquisite taste, pure latinity, vast
erudition, and admirable gifts in forming youth.

Yet the moment came when it was necessary to part. John Calvin had
told his professor that he was intended for a priest, according to the
arrangement of his father, who hoped that, thanks to the protection
of his powerful friends, his son would attain to high dignity in the
Church. The scholar must therefore enter one of the colleges appointed
for the training of learned priests. There were two of these in Paris:
the Sorbonne and the Montaigu,[555] and the last was chosen. One day,
therefore, in 1526, the moment arrived when the young man had to take
leave of the excellent Cordier. He was greatly distressed: he would be
separated from him, not only during the hours of study, but for long
days together. All through life his affectionate nature clung to those
who showed sympathy to him. He left his master with a heart overflowing
with gratitude. ‘The instruction and the training that you gave me,’
he said in after years, ‘have served me so well, that I declare with
truth, that I owe to you all the advancement which has followed. I
wish to render testimony of this to those who come after us, in order
that if they derive any profit from my writings, they may know that it
proceeds in part from you.’[556] God has often great masters in reserve
for great men. Cordier, the teacher, subsequently became the disciple
of his scholar, and in his turn thanked him, but it was for a divine
teaching of inestimable value.

When Calvin entered Montaigu College he was distressed, for he could
not hope to find there the master he had lost; yet he was eager and
happy at having a wider field of studies opening before him.

One of the first professors he noticed was a Spaniard,[557] who, under
a cold exterior, hid a loving heart, and whose grave and silent air
concealed deep affections. Calvin felt attracted towards him. The fame
of the young scholar had preceded him at Montaigu; and accordingly the
doctor from the Iberian peninsula fixed on him an attentive eye. Slow,
calm, and deliberate, as Spaniards generally are, he carefully studied
young Calvin, had several intimate conversations with him, and soon
passed from the greatest coldness to the liveliest affection. ‘What a
wonderful genius!’ he exclaimed.[558]

The professor had brought from Spain the fervent catholicism, the
minute observances, the blind zeal that characterise his nation.

The scholar of Noyon could not, therefore, receive from him any
evangelical knowledge; on the contrary, the Spaniard, delighted
at seeing his pupil ‘obstinately given to the superstitions of
popery,’[559] hoped that the young man would be a shining light in the

Calvin, full of admiration for the poets, orators, and philosophers
of antiquity, studied them eagerly and enriched his mind with their
treasures; in his writings we often meet with quotations from Seneca,
Virgil, and Cicero. He soon left all his comrades far behind. The
professor, who looked on him with surprise, promoted him to the
class of philosophy, although he had not attained the required
age.[560] Then a new world, the world of thought, opened before
his fine understanding; he traversed it with indefatigable ardour.
Logic, dialectics, and philosophy possessed for him an indescribable

Calvin made many friends among his fellow-collegians; yet he soared
high above them all by the morality of his character. There was no
pedantry, no affectation about him; but when he was walking in the
courts of the college, or in the halls where the pupils assembled,
he could not witness their quarrels, their follies, their levity
of manner, and not reprove them faithfully. ‘He finds fault with
everything,’ complained a scholar of equivocal conduct. ‘Profit rather
by the advice of so young and conscientious a censor,’ answered the
wiser ones.[562] ‘Roman catholics whose testimony was beyond reproach,’
says Theodore Beza, ‘told me of this many years after, when his name
had become famous.’[563] ‘It is not the act alone,’ said Calvin
subsequently, ‘but the look, and even the secret longing, which make
men guilty.’--‘No man,’ says one of his adversaries, ‘ever felt so
great a hatred of adultery.’[564] In his opinion, chastity was the
crown of youth, and the centre of every virtue.

The heads of Montaigu College were enthusiastic supporters of
popery. Beda, so notorious for his violent declamations against the
Reformation, for his factious intrigues, and for his tyrannical
authority, was principal.[565] He watched with satisfaction young
Calvin, who, a strict observer of the practices of the Church, never
missed a fast, a retreat, a mass, or a procession. ‘It is a long time,’
it was said, ‘since Sorbonne or Montaigu had so pious a seminarist.’
As long as Luther, Calvin, and Farel were in the Papal Church, they
belonged to its strictest sect. The austere exercises of a devotee’s
life were the schoolmaster that brought them to Christ. ‘I was at that
time so obstinately given to the superstitions of popery,’ said Calvin,
‘that it seemed impossible that I should ever be pulled out of the deep

He surprised his tutors no less by his application to study. Absorbed
in his books, he often forgot the hours for his meals and even for
sleep. The people who lived in the neighbourhood used to show each
other, as they returned home in the evening, a tiny and solitary gleam,
a window lit up nearly all the night through: they long talked of it
in that quarter. John Calvin outstripped his companions in philosophy,
as he had done in grammar. He then applied to the study of theology,
and, strange to say, was enraptured with Scotus, Bonaventure, and
Thomas Aquinas. The last-mentioned writer had especial charms for him.
If Calvin had not been a reformer, he would have become a Thomist.
Scholastics appeared to him the queen of sciences; but he was the
impassioned lover at first, only that he might be afterwards its
terrible adversary.

His father, secretary to the diocese of Noyon, always entertained the
hope of making his son a dignitary of the Church. With this object he
cultivated the favour of the bishop, and spoke humbly to the canons.
John had been for some years chaplain of La Gesine, but this did not
satisfy the father; and, accordingly, when the living of St. Martin of
Marteville became vacant, Gerard Cauvin solicited and, to his great
delight, obtained that church for the student of Montaigu, who, as
yet, had only received the tonsure. This was in the year 1527. Calvin,
taking advantage probably of vacation time, went to see his family and
his new parish. It has been supposed that he preached there. ‘Although
he had not yet taken orders,’ says Beda, ‘he delivered several sermons
before the people.’ Did he really go into the pulpits of his native
country at the time when his inward struggles were beginning? To have
heard him would have been a great satisfaction to his father, and his
age was no obstacle to his preaching; some great preachers have begun
still earlier. But it seems to us, after examining the passage, that
he did not speak in his own church until later, when the Gospel had
completely triumphed in his heart. But, however that may be, Calvin had
a parish at eighteen: he was not, however, in holy orders.

A new light, which had but little resemblance to the false radiance
of scholasticism, began to shine around him. At that time there was a
breath of the Gospel in the air, and that reviving breeze reached the
scholar within the walls of his college, and the monk in the recesses
of his convent; no one was protected against its influence. Calvin
heard people talking of the Holy Scriptures, of Lefèvre, of Luther, of
Melanchthon, and of what was passing in Germany. When the rays of the
sun rise in the Alps, it is the highest peaks that catch them first; in
like manner, the most eminent minds were enlightened first. But what
some accepted, others rejected. In the colleges there were sharp and
frequent altercations, and Calvin was at first in the number of the
most inflexible adversaries of the Reformation.

A young man of Noyon, his cousin, and a little older than him, often
went to see him at college. Pierre Robert Olivétan, without possessing
the transcendant genius of his young relation, was gifted with a solid
mind, great perseverance in the discharge of his duties, unshaken
fidelity to his convictions, and a holy boldness when it became
necessary to combat error. This he showed at Geneva, where his was
one of the first voices raised in favour of the Gospel. When Calvin
discovered that the friend of his childhood was tainted with heresy,
he felt the keenest sorrow. What a pity! he thought; for Olivétan was
acquainted not only with Latin, but with Greek and even Hebrew. He
read the Old and New Testaments in their original languages, and was
familiar with the Septuagint. The study of the Holy Scriptures, of
which Picardy seems to have been the birthplace in France (Lefèvre,
Olivétan, and Calvin were all three Picardins), had increased
considerably since Lefèvre’s translation was published. It is true that
most of those who engaged in it ‘looked at the Scriptures in a cursory
manner,’ says Calvin; ‘but others dug deep for the treasure that lay
hidden there.’ Of this number was Olivétan, and he it was who one day
gave to the people speaking the French tongue a translation of the
Scriptures that became famous in the history of the Bible.

The chronology of Calvin’s life during the period of his studies is
less easily settled than that of Luther. We have been able to point
out almost the very days when the most striking transformations of his
faith were completed in the reformer of Germany. It is not so with the
reformer of Geneva. The exact moment when this struggle, this defeat,
or that victory took place in Calvin’s soul, cannot be determined.
Must we therefore suppress the history of his spiritual combats? To
pass them over in silence would be to fail in the first duty of an

Olivétan, who was then in all the fervour of proselytism, felt great
interest in his catholic cousin, while the latter would have wished
at any cost to bring back his friend into the bosom of the Church.
The two youthful Picardins had many long and animated conversations
together, in which each strove to convert the other.[567] ‘There are
many false religions,’ said Olivétan, ‘and only one true.’ Calvin
assented. ‘The false are those which men have invented, according to
which we are saved by our own works; the true is that which comes from
God, according to which salvation is given freely from on high....
Choose the true.’[568] Calvin made a sign of dissent. ‘True religion,’
continued Olivétan, ‘is not that infinite mass of ceremonies and
observances which the Church imposes upon its followers, and which
separate souls from Christ. O my dear friend! leave off shouting out
with the papists: “The fathers! the doctors! the Church!” and listen
instead to the prophets and apostles. Study the Scriptures.’[569] ‘I
will have none of your doctrines,’ answered Calvin; ‘their novelty
offends me. I cannot listen to you. Do you imagine that I have been
trained all my life in error?... No! I will strenuously resist your
attacks.’[570] In after years Calvin said: ‘My heart, hardened by
superstition, remained insensible to all these appeals.’ The two
cousins parted, little satisfied with each other. Calvin, terrified at
his friend’s innovations, fell on his knees in the chapels, and prayed
the saints to intercede for this misguided soul.[571] Olivétan shut
himself up in his chamber and prayed to Christ.

Yet Calvin, whose mind was essentially one of observation, could not
be present in the midst of the great movement going on in the world
without reflecting on truth, on error, and on himself. Oftentimes
when alone, and when the voices of men had ceased to be heard, a more
powerful voice spoke to his soul, and his chamber became the theatre
of struggles as fierce as those in the cell at Erfurth. Through the
same tempests both these great reformers reached the same haven. Calvin
arrived at faith by the same practical way which had led Farel and
Augustine, Luther and St. Paul.

The student of Montaigu, uneasy and troubled after his controversies
with his young relative, shut himself up in his little room and
examined himself; he asked himself what he was, and where he was
going.... ‘O Lord,’ he said, ‘thou knowest that I profess the christian
faith such as I learnt it in my youth.[572] ... And yet there is
something wanting.... I have been taught to worship thee as my only
God; but I am ignorant of the true worship I ought to give.[573] ... I
have been taught that thy Son has ransomed me by his death; ... but I
have never felt in my heart the virtue of this redemption.[574] I have
been taught that some day there will be a resurrection; but I dread it,
as the most terrible of days.[575] ... Where shall I find the light that
I need?... Alas! thy Word, which should enlighten thy people like a
lamp, has been taken from us.[576] ... Men talk in its place of a hidden
knowledge, and of a small number of initiates whose oracles we must
receive.... O God, illumine me with thy light!’

The superiors of Montaigu College began to feel some uneasiness about
their student. The Spanish professor, inclined, like his countrymen,
to the spirit of intolerance, saw with horror the young man, whose
devotion had charmed him at first, discontented with the traditional
religion, and ready perhaps to forsake it. Could the best of their
pupils fall into heresy?... The tutors entered into conversation with
Calvin, and, as yet full of affection for the young man, sought to
strengthen him in the Roman faith. ‘The highest wisdom of christians,’
they said, ‘is to submit blindly to the Church,[577] and their
highest dignity is the righteousness of their works.’[578]--‘Alas!’
replied Calvin, who was conscious of the guilt within him, ‘I am a
miserable sinner!’--‘That is true,’ answered the professors, ‘but
there is a means of obtaining mercy: it is by satisfying the justice
of God.[579] ... Confess your sins to a priest, and ask humbly for
absolution.... Blot out the memory of your offences by your good works,
and, if anything should still be wanting, supply it by the addition of
solemn sacrifices and purifications.’

When he heard these words, Calvin reflected that he who listens to a
priest listens to Christ himself. Being subdued, he went to church,
entered the confessional, fell on his knees, and confessed his sins
to God’s minister, asking for absolution and humbly accepting every
penance imposed upon him. And immediately, with all the energy of
his character, he endeavoured to acquire the merits demanded by his
confessor. ‘O God!’ he said, ‘I desire by my good works to blot out the
remembrance of my trespasses.[580] He performed the ‘satisfactions’
prescribed by the priest; he even went beyond the task imposed upon
him, and hoped that after so much labour he would be saved.... But,
alas! his peace was not of long duration. A few days, a few hours
perhaps, had not passed, when, having given way to a movement of
impatience or anger, his heart was again troubled: he thought he saw
God’s eye piercing to the depths of his soul and discovering its
impurities. ‘O God!’ he exclaimed in alarm, ‘thy glance freezes me
with terror.’[581] ... He hurried again to the confessional.--‘God is a
strict judge,’ the priest told him, ‘who severely punishes iniquity.
Address your prayers to the saints first.’[582] And Calvin, who,
in after years, branded as blasphemers those who invented ‘false
intercessors,’ invoked the saints and prayed them by their intercession
to appease a God who appeared to him so inexorable.

Having thus found a few moments of relief, he applied again to his
studies; he was absorbed in his books; he grew pale over Scotus and
Thomas Aquinas; but in the midst of his labours a sudden trouble took
possession of his mind, and pushing away from him the volumes that
lay before him, he exclaimed: ‘Alas! my conscience is still very far
from true tranquillity.’[583] His heart was troubled, his imagination
excited, he saw nothing but abysses on every side, and with a cry of
alarm he said: ‘Every time that I descend into the depths of my heart;
every time, O God, that I lift up my soul to thy throne, extreme terror
comes over me.[584] ... I see that no purification, no satisfaction can
heal my disease.[585] My conscience is pierced with sharp stings.’[586]

Thus step by step did Calvin descend to the lowest depths of despair;
and quite heartbroken, and looking like one dead, he resolved to
take no further pains about his salvation. He lived more with his
fellow-pupils, he even shared in their amusements; he visited his
friends in the city, sought such conversation as would divert his
thoughts, and desired, with the Athenians of old, either to tell or to
hear some new thing. Will the work of God, begun in his heart, remain

This year an event took place which could not fail to stir the depths
of Calvin’s soul.




‘The kingdom of Christ is strengthened and established more by the
blood of martyrs than by force of arms,’ said the doctor of Noyon one
day.[587] At this period he had occasion to experience the truth of the

One day in the year 1527, a man thirty-six years old, of good
family--he was related to M. de Lude--of ecclesiastical rank,
prothonotary, and holding several benefices, Nicholas Doullon by name,
having been accused of heresy, stood in front of the cathedral of Notre
Dame, while an immense crowd of citizens, priests, and common people
were looking on. The executioner had gone in the morning to the prison,
stripped the prothonotary of his official robes, and having passed a
rope round his neck and put a taper in his hand, had conducted him in
this guise to the front of the church of the Virgin. The poor fellow
had seen better days: he had often gone to the palaces of the Louvre,
St. Germain, and Fontainebleau, and mingled with the nobles, in the
presence of the king, his mother, and his sister; he had also been
one of the officers of Clement VII. The good folks of Paris, whom this
execution had drawn together, said to one another as they witnessed the
sad spectacle: ‘He frequented the king’s court, and has lived at Rome
in the pope’s service.’[588]

Doullon was accused of having uttered a great blasphemy against the
glorious mother of our Lord and against our Lord himself: he had
denied that the host was very Christ. The clergy had taken advantage
of the king’s absence, and had used unprecedented haste in the trial.
‘He was taken the Thursday before,’ and four days later was standing
bareheaded and barefooted, with the rope about his neck, in front of
the metropolitan church of Paris. Everybody was listening to hear the
apology he would make to the Virgin; but they listened in vain: Doullon
remained firm in his faith to the last. Accordingly, the hangman again
laid hands on him, and the prothonotary, guarded by the sergeants, and
preceded and followed by the crowd, was led to the Grève, where he was
fastened to the stake and burnt alive.[589] The execution of a priest
of some dignity in the Church made a sensation in Paris, especially in
the schools and among the disciples of the Reform. ‘Ah!’ said Calvin
subsequently, ‘the torments of the saints whom the hand of the Lord
makes invincible, should give us boldness; for thus we have beforehand
the pledge of our victory in the persons of our brethren.’

While death was thinning the ranks of the evangelical army, new
soldiers were taking the place of those who had disappeared. Calvin
had been wandering for some time in darkness, despairing of salvation
by the path of the pope, and not knowing that of Jesus Christ. One day
(we cannot say when) he saw light breaking through the obscurity, and a
consoling thought suddenly entered his heart. ‘A new form of doctrine
has risen up,’ he said.[590] ‘If I have been mistaken ... if Olivétan,
if my other friends, if those who give their lives to preserve their
faith are right ... if they have found in that path the peace which
the doctrines of the priests refuse me?’ ... He began to pay attention
to the things that were told him; he began to examine into the state
of his soul. A ray of light shone into it and exposed his sin. His
heart was troubled: it seemed to him that every word of God he found in
Scripture tore off the veil and reproached him with his trespasses. He
shed floods of tears. ‘Of a surety,’ he said, ‘these new preachers know
how to prick the conscience.[591] Now that I am prepared to be really
attentive, I begin to see, thanks to the light that has been brought
me, in what a slough of error I have hitherto been wallowing;[592]
with how many stains I am disfigured ... and above all, what is the
eternal death that threatens me.’[593] A great trembling came over
him; he paced his room as Luther had once paced his cell at Erfurth.
He uttered (he tells us) deep groans and shed floods of tears.[594]
He was crushed beneath the weight of his sin. Terrified at the divine
holiness, like a leaf tossed by the wind, like a man frightened by a
violent thunderstorm, he exclaimed: ‘O God! thou keepest me bowed down,
as if thy bolts were falling on my head.’[595] ... Then he fell at the
feet of the Almighty, exclaiming: ‘I condemn with tears my past manner
of life, and transfer myself to thine. Poor and wretched, I throw
myself on the mercy which thou hast shown us in Jesus Christ: I enter
that only harbour of salvation.[596] ... O God, reckon not up against
me that terrible desertion and disgust of thy Word, from which thy
marvellous bounty has rescued me.’[597]

Following Olivétan’s advice, Calvin applied to the study of Scripture,
and everywhere he found Christ. ‘O Father!’ he said, ‘his sacrifice
has appeased thy wrath; his blood has washed away my impurities; his
cross has borne my curse; his death has atoned for me[598] .... We had
devised for ourselves many useless follies[599] ... but thou hast
placed thy Word before me like a torch, and thou hast touched my heart,
in order that I should hold in abomination all other merits save that
of Jesus.’[600]

Calvin had, however, the final struggle to go through. To him, as to
Luther, the great objection was the question of the Church. He had
always respected the authority of a Church which he believed to have
been founded by the apostles and commissioned to gather mankind round
Jesus Christ; and these thoughts often disturbed him. ‘There is one
thing,’ he told the evangelicals, ‘which prevents my believing you:
that is, the respect due to the Church.[601] The majesty of the Church
must not be diminished.[602] ... I cannot separate from it.’

Calvin’s friends at Paris, and afterwards perhaps Wolmar and others
at Orleans and Bourges, did not hesitate to reply to him.[603] ‘There
is a great difference between separating from the Church and trying
to correct the vices with which it is stained.[604] ... How many
antichrists have held the place in its bosom which belongs to the
pastors only!’

Calvin understood at last that the unity of the Church cannot and
ought not to exist except in the truth. His friends, perceiving this,
spoke openly to him against the Pope of Rome.--‘Men take him for
Christ’s vicar, Peter’s successor, and the head of the Church....
But these titles are empty scarecrows.[605] Far from permitting
themselves to be dazzled by these big words, the faithful ought to
discriminate the matter truly. If the pope has risen to such height
and magnificence, it is because the world was plunged in ignorance
and smitten with blindness.[606] Neither by the voice of God, nor by
a lawful call of the Church, has the pope been constituted its prince
and head; it is by his own authority and by his own will alone.... He
elected himself.[607] In order that the kingdom of Christ may stand,
the tyranny with which the pope oppresses the nations must come to an
end.’[608] Calvin’s friends, as he tells us, ‘demolished by the Word of
God the princedom of the pope and his exceeding elevation.’[609]

Calvin, not content with hearing the arguments of his friends,
‘searched the Scriptures thoroughly,’ and found numerous evidences
corroborating the things that had been told him. He was convinced.
‘I see quite clearly,’ he said, ‘that the true order of the Church
has been lost;[610] that the keys which should preserve discipline
have been counterfeited;[611] that christian liberty has been
overthrown;[612] and that when the princedom of the pope was set up,
the kingdom of Christ was thrown down.’[613] Thus fell the papacy in
the mind of the future reformer; and Christ became to him the only
king and almighty head of the Church.

What did Calvin then? The converted often believed themselves called
to remain in the Church that they might labour at its purification;
did he separate himself from Rome? Theodore Beza, his most intimate
friend, says: ‘Calvin, having been taught the true religion by one
of his relations named Pierre Robert Olivétan, and having carefully
read the holy books, began to hold the teaching of the Roman Church in
horror, and had the intention of renouncing its communion.’[614] This
testimony is positive; and yet Beza only says in this extract that he
‘had the intention.’ The separation was not yet decided and absolute.
Calvin felt the immense importance of the step. However, he resolved to
break with Catholicism, if necessary, in order to possess the truth.
‘I desire concord and unity, O Lord,’ he said; ‘but the unity of the
Church I long for is that which has its beginning and its ending in
thee.[615] If, to have peace with those who boast of being the first in
the Church, I must purchase it by denying the truth ... then I would
rather submit to everything than condescend to such an abominable
compact!’ The reformer’s character, his faith, his decision, his whole
life are found in these words. He will endeavour to remain in the
Church, but ... with the truth.

Calvin’s conversion had been long and slowly ripening; and yet, in one
sense, the change was instantaneous. ‘When I was the obstinate slave
of the superstitions of popery,’ he says, ‘and it seemed impossible to
drag me out of the deep mire, God by a sudden conversion subdued me,
and made my heart obedient to his Word.’[616] When a city is taken,
it is in one day and by a single assault that the conqueror enters
and plants his flag upon the ramparts; and yet for months, for years
perhaps, he has been battering at the walls.

Thus was this memorable conversion accomplished, which by saving one
soul became for the Church, and we may even say for the human race,
the principle of a great transformation. Then, it was only a poor
student converted in a college; now, the light which this scholar set
on a candlestick has spread to the ends of the world, and elect souls,
scattered among every nation, acknowledge in his conversion the origin
of their own.

It was in Paris, as we have seen, that Calvin received a new birth;
it cannot be placed later, as some have wished to do, without
contradicting the most positive testimony. Calvin, according to
Theodore Beza, was instructed in the true religion by Olivétan,
_before_ he went to Orleans;[617] we know, moreover, that Calvin,
either at Bourges or at Orleans, ‘wonderfully advanced the kingdom of
God.’[618] How could he have done so if he had not known that kingdom?
Calvin at the age of nineteen, gifted with a deep and conscientious
soul, surrounded by relations and friends zealous for the Gospel,
living at Paris in the midst of a religious movement of great power,
was himself touched by the Spirit of God. Most certainly everything
was not done then; some of the traits, which we have indicated after
the reformer himself, may, as we have already remarked, belong to his
residence at Orleans or at Bourges; but the essential work was done in
1527. Such is the conclusion at which we have arrived after careful

There are men in our days who look upon conversion as an imaginary act,
and say simply that a man has changed his opinion. They freely grant
that God can create a moral being once, but do not concede him the
liberty of creating it a second time--of transforming it. Conversion is
always the work of God. There are forces working in nature which cause
the earth to bring forth its fruit; and yet some would maintain that
God cannot work in the heart of man to create a new fruit!... Human
will is not sufficient to explain the changes manifested in man; there,
if anywhere, is found something mysterious and divine.

The young man did not immediately make his conversion publicly known;
it was only one or two of his superiors that had any knowledge of his
struggles, and they endeavoured to hide them from the pupils. They
fancied it was a mere passing attack of that _fever_ under which so
many people were suffering, and believed that the son of the episcopal
secretary would once more obediently place himself under the crook
of the Church. The Spanish professor, who came from a country where
fiery passions break out under a burning sky, and where religious
fanaticism demands its victims, had doubtless waged an implacable war
against the student’s new convictions; but information in this respect
is wanting. Calvin carefully hid his treasure; he stole away from his
companions, retired to some corner, and sought for communion with God
alone. ‘Being naturally rather wild and shy,’ he tells us,[619] ‘I have
always loved peace and tranquillity; accordingly I began then to seek
for a hiding-place and the means of withdrawing from notice into some
out-of-the-way spot.’ This reserve on Calvin’s part may have led to the
belief that his conversion did not take place until later.

The news of what was passing in Paris reached the little town in
Picardy where Calvin was born. It would be invaluable to possess the
letters which he wrote to his father during this time of struggle, and
even those of Olivétan; but we have neither. John’s relations with
Olivétan were known at Noyon; there was no longer any doubt about the
heretical opinions of the young curé of St. Martin of Motteville....
What trouble for his family, and especially for the episcopal notary!
To renounce the hope of one day seeing his son vicar-general, bishop,
and perhaps cardinal, was distressing to the ambitious father. Yet
he decided promptly, and as it was all-important for him that Calvin
should be something, he gave another direction to his immoderate thirst
for honours. He said to himself that by making his son study the law,
he would perhaps be helping him to shake off these new ideas; and that,
in any case, the pursuit of the law was quite as sure a road, and
even surer, to wealth and high station.[620] Duprat, at first a plain
lawyer, and afterwards president of the parliament, is now (he thought)
high chancellor of France, and the first personage in the realm after
the king. Gerard, whose mind was fertile in schemes of success for
himself and for others, continued to build his castles in the air in
honour of his son; only he changed his sphere, and instead of placing
them in the domain of the Church, he erected them in the domain of the

Thus, while the son had a new faith and a new life, the father had
a new plan. Theodore Beza has pointed out this coincidence. After
speaking of Calvin’s vocation to the ecclesiastical profession, he
adds that a double change, which took place at that time in the minds
of both father and son, led to the setting aside of this resolution
in favour of another.[621] The coincidence struck Calvin himself, and
it was he no doubt who pointed it out to his friend at Geneva. It was
not therefore the resolution of Gerard Cauvin that decided his son’s
calling, as some have supposed. At the first glance the two decisions
seem independent of each other; but it appears probable to me that it
was the change in the son which led to that of the father, and not
the change in the father which led to that of the son. The young man
submitted with joy to the order he received. Gerard, by taking his son
from his theological studies, wished to withdraw him from heresy; but
he was mistaken. Had not Luther first studied the law at Erfurth? Did
not Calvin by this same study prepare himself better for the career of
a reformer, than by the priesthood?

Conversion is the fundamental act of the Gospel and of the Reformation.
From the transformation effected in the individual the transformation
of the world is destined to result. This act, which in some is of very
short duration and leads readily to faith, is a long operation in
others; the power of sin is continually renewed in them, neither the
new man nor the old man being able, for a time, to obtain a decisive
victory. We have here an image of christianity. It is a struggle of
the new man against the old man--a struggle that has lasted more than
eighteen hundred years. The new man is continually gaining ground;
the old man grows weaker and retires; but the hour of triumph has not
yet come. Yet that hour is certain. The Reformation of the sixteenth
century, like the Gospel of the first (to employ the words of Christ),
‘is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of
meal, _until the whole was leavened_.’[622] The three great nations on
earth have already tasted of this heavenly leaven. It is fermenting,
and soon all the ‘lump’ will be leavened.




Will the reformer whom God is now preparing for France find in Francis
I. the support which Luther found in Frederick the Wise? Since his
return from captivity in Spain, the king, as we have seen, appeared
to yield to the influence of his sister and to the movement of the
age. Slightly touched by the new breath, he sometimes listened to the
sermons of the evangelicals, and read fragments of the Holy Scriptures
with Margaret. One day, when the beauty of the Gospel had spoken to his
heart, he exclaimed: ‘It is infamous that the monks should dare to call
that _heresy_ which is the very doctrine of God!’ But the Reformation
could not please him; liberty, which was one of its elements, clashed
with the despotism of the prince; and holiness, another principle,
condemned his irregularities.

Opposition to popery had, however, a certain charm for Francis,
whose supreme rule it was to lower everything that encroached upon
his greatness. He well remembered that the popes had more than once
humbled the kings of France, and that Clement VII. was habitually in
the interest of the emperor. But political motives will never cause a
real Reformation; and hence there are few princes who have contributed
so much as Francis I. to propagate superstition instead of truth,
servility instead of liberty, licentiousness instead of morality. If
the Word of God does not exercise its invisible power on the nations,
they are by that very defect deprived of the conditions necessary
to the maintenance of order and liberty. They may shine forth with
great brilliancy, but they pass easily from disorder to tyranny. They
are like a stately ship, decorated with the most glorious banners,
and armed with the heaviest artillery; but as it wants the necessary
ballast, it drives between two extreme dangers, now dashing against
Scylla, and now tossed upon Charybdis.

While Francis I. was trifling with the Reform, other powers in France
remained its irreconcilable enemies. The members of the parliament,
honourable men for the most part, but lawyers still, unable to
recognise the truth (and few could in those days) that spiritual
matters were not within their jurisdiction, did not confine themselves
to judging temporal offences, but made themselves the champions of the
law of the realm against the law of God. The doctors of the Sorbonne,
on their part, seeing that the twofold authority of Holy Scripture and
of conscience would ruin theirs, opposed with all their strength the
substitution of the religious for the clerical element. ‘They inveighed
against the reformers,’ says Roussel, ‘and endeavoured to stir up
the whole world against them.’[623] The more the king inclined to
peace, the more the Sorbonne called for war, counting its battalions
and preparing for the fight. The general placed at its head was,
Erasmus tells us, ‘a many-headed monster, breathing poison from every
mouth.’[624] Beda--for he was the monster--taking note of the age of
Lefèvre, the weakness of Roussel, the absence of Farel, and not knowing
Calvin’s power, said to himself that Berquin would be the Luther of
France, and against him he directed all his attacks.

Louis de Berquin, who was liberated by the king, in November 1526,
from the prison into which the Bedists had thrown him, had formed the
daring plan of rescuing France from the hands of the pope. He was then
thirty years of age, and possessed a charm in his character, a purity
in his life, which even his enemies admired, unwearied application in
study, indomitable energy, obstinate zeal, and firm perseverance for
the accomplishment of his work. Yet there was one fault in him. Calvin,
like Luther, proceeded by the positive method, putting the truth in
front, and in this way seeking to effect the conversion of souls; but
Berquin inclined too much at times to the negative method. Yet he was
full of love, and having found in God a father, and in Jesus a saviour,
he never contended with theologians, except to impart to souls that
peace and joy which constituted his own happiness.

Berquin did not move forward at hazard; he had calculated everything.
He had said to himself that in a country like France the Reformation
could not be carried through against the king’s will; but he thought
that Francis would allow the work to be done, if he did not do it
himself. When he had been thrust into prison in 1523, had not the king,
then on his way to Italy, sent the captain of the guards to fetch him,
in order to save his life?[625] When in 1526 he had been transferred as
a heretic by the clerical judges to lay judges, had not Francis once
more set him at liberty?[626]

But Berquin’s noble soul did not suffer the triumph of truth to depend
upon the support of princes. A new era was then beginning. God was
reanimating society which had lain torpid during the night of the
middle ages, and Berquin thought that God would not be wanting to the
work. It is a saying of Calvin’s ‘that the brightness of the divine
power alone scatters all silly enchantments and vain imaginations.’
Berquin did not distinguish this truth so clearly, but he was not
ignorant of it. At the same time, knowing that an army never gains a
victory unless it is bought with the deaths of many of its soldiers, he
was ready to lay down his life.

At the moment when he was advancing almost alone to attack the
colossus, he thought it his duty to inform his friends: ‘Under the
cloak of religion,’ he wrote to Erasmus, ‘the priests hide the vilest
passions, the most corrupt manners, the most scandalous unbelief. We
must tear off the veil that conceals this hideous mystery, and boldly
brand the Sorbonne, Rome, and all their hirelings, with impiety.’

At these words his friends were troubled and alarmed; they endeavoured
to check his impetuosity. ‘The greater the success you promise
yourself,’ wrote Erasmus, ‘the more afraid I am.... O my friend! live
in retirement; taste the sweets of study, and let the priests rage at
their leisure. Or, if you think they are plotting your ruin, employ
stratagem. Let your friends at court obtain some embassy for you
from the king, and under that pretext leave France.[627] Think, dear
Berquin, think constantly what a hydra you are attacking, and by how
many mouths it spits its venom. Your enemy is immortal, for a faculty
never dies. You will begin by attacking three monks only; but you will
raise up against you numerous legions, rich, mighty, and perverse. Just
now the princes are for you; but backbiters will contrive to alienate
their affection. As for me, I declare I will have nothing to do with
the Sorbonne and its armies of monks.’

This letter disturbed Berquin. He read it again and again, and each
time his trouble increased. He an ambassador ... he the representative
of the king at foreign courts! Ah! when Satan tempted Christ he offered
him the kingdoms of this world. Better be a martyr on the Grève for
the love of the Saviour! Berquin separated from Erasmus. ‘His spirit,’
said his friends, ‘resembles a palm-tree; the more you desire to bend
it, the straighter it grows.’ A trifling circumstance contributed to
strengthen his decision.

One day Beda, syndic of the Sorbonne, went to court, where he had
some business to transact with the king on behalf of that body. Some
time before, he had published a refutation of the ‘Paraphrases and
Annotations’ of Erasmus, and Francis I., who boasted of being a pupil
of this king of letters, having heard of Beda’s attack, had given way
to a fit of passion. As soon, therefore, as he heard that Beda was
in the palace, he gave orders that he should be arrested and kept
prisoner. Accordingly the syndic was seized, shut up in a chamber, and
closely watched. Beda was exasperated, and the hatred he felt against
the Reformation was turned against the king. Some of his friends, on
hearing of this strange adventure, conjured Francis to set him at
liberty. He consented on the following day, but on condition that the
syndic should appear when called for.[628]

The Sorbonne, said Berquin to himself, represents the papacy. It must
be overthrown in order that Christ may triumph. He began first to
study the writings of Beda, who had so bitterly censured those of his
adversaries, and extracted from them twelve propositions ‘manifestly
impious and blasphemous’ in the opinion of Erasmus. Then, taking
his manuscript, he proceeded to court and presented it to the king,
who said: ‘I will interdict Beda’s polemical writings.’ As Francis
smiled upon him, Berquin resolved to go further, namely, to attack
the Sorbonne and popery, as equally dangerous to the State and to the
Church, and to make public certain doctrines of theirs which struck at
the power of the throne. He approached the king, and said to him in
a lower tone: ‘Sire, I have discovered in the acts and papers of the
Sorbonne certain secrets of importance to the State ... some mysteries
of iniquity.’[629] Nothing was better calculated to exasperate Francis
I. ‘Show me those passages,’ he exclaimed. Meantime he told the
reformer that the twelve propositions of the syndic of the Sorbonne
should be examined. Berquin left the palace full of hope. ‘I will
follow these redoubtable hornets into their holes,’ he said to his
friends. ‘I will fall upon these insensate babblers, and scourge them
on their own dunghill.’ Some people who heard him thought him out of
his mind. ‘This gentleman will certainly get himself put to death,’
they said, ‘and he will richly deserve it.’[630]

Everything seemed to favour Berquin’s design. Francis I. was acting
the part of Frederick the Wise: he seemed even more ardent than that
moderate protector of Luther. On the 12th of July, 1527, the Bishop
of Bazas appeared at court, whither he had been summoned by the king.
Francis gave him the twelve famous propositions he had received
from Berquin, and commanded him to take them to the rector of the
university, with orders to have them examined, not only by doctors of
divinity, of whom he had suspicions in such a matter,[631] but by the
four assembled faculties. Berquin hastened to report this to Erasmus,
still hoping to gain him over by the good news.

Erasmus had never before felt so alarmed; he tried to stop Berquin
in his ‘mad’ undertaking. The eulogies which this faithful christian
lavished upon him particularly filled him with terror; he would a
thousand times rather they had been insults. ‘The love which you show
for me,’ he wrote to Berquin, ‘stirs up unspeakable hatred against me
everywhere. The step you have taken with the king will only serve
to irritate the hornets. You wish for a striking victory rather than
a sure one; your expectations will be disappointed; the Bedists are
contriving some atrocious plot.[632] ... Beware!... Even should your
cause be holier than that of Christ himself, your enemies have resolved
to put you to death. You say that the king protects you ... do not
trust to that; the favour of princes is short-lived. You do not care
for your life, you add; good! but think at least of learning, and of
our friends who, alas! will perish with you.’

Berquin was grieved at this letter. In his opinion the moment was
unparalleled. If Erasmus, Francis I., and Berquin act in harmony, no
one can resist them; France, and perhaps Europe, will be reformed. And
it is just when the King of France is stretching out his hand that
the scholar of Rotterdam draws his back!... What can be done without
Erasmus?... A circumstance occurred, however, which gave some hope to
the evangelist.

The Sorbonne, little heeding the king’s opposition, persevered in their
attacks upon learning. They forbade the professors in the colleges to
read the ‘Colloquies’ of Erasmus with their pupils, and excommunicated
the king of the schools in the schools themselves.... Erasmus, who
was a vain, susceptible, choleric man, will now unite with Berquin:
the latter had no doubt of it. ‘The time is come,’ wrote Berquin to
the illustrious scholar; ‘let us pull off the mask behind which these
theologians hide themselves.’ But the more Berquin urged Erasmus, the
more Erasmus shrank back; he wished for peace at any cost. It was of
no use to point to the blows which the Sorbonne were aiming at him;
it pleased him to be beaten, not from meekness, but from fear of the
world. The wary man, who was now growing old, became impatient, not
against his slanderers, but against his friend. His ‘son’ wanted to
lead him as if he were his master. He replied with sadness, almost
with bitterness: ‘Truly I admire you, my dear Berquin. You imagine,
then, that I have nothing else to do than spend my days in battling
with theologians.... I would rather see all my books condemned to the
flames than go fighting at my age.’ Unhappily, Erasmus did not abandon
his books only, he abandoned truth; and there he was wrong. Berquin did
not despair of victory, and undertook to win it unaided. He thought
to himself: ‘Erasmus admires in the Gospel a certain harmony with the
wisdom of antiquity, but he does not adore in it the foolishness of the
cross; he is a theorist, not a reformer.’ From that hour Berquin wrote
more rarely and more coldly to his illustrious master, and employed
all his strength to carry by main force the place he was attacking. If
Erasmus, like Achilles, had retired to his tent, were not Margaret and
Francis, and Truth especially, fighting by his side?

The catholic party grew alarmed, and resolved to oppose a vigorous
resistance to these attacks. The watchword was given. Many libels
were circulated; men were threatened with the gaol and the stake;
even ghosts were conjured up; all means were lawful. One sister Alice
quitted the fires of purgatory and appeared on the banks of the Rhone
and Saone to confound ‘the damnable sect of heretics.’ Any one might
read of this prodigy in the ‘Marvellous History of the Ghost of Lyons,’
written by one of the king’s almoners. The Sorbonne knew, however, that
phantoms were not sufficient; but they had on their side something more
than phantoms. They could oppose Berquin with adversaries who had flesh
and blood like himself, and whose power seemed irresistible. These
adversaries were a princess and a statesman.




A woman reigned in the councils of the king. Inclined at first to
ridicule the monks, she had after the defeat of Pavia gone over to the
side of the priests. At the moment when the kingly authority received
such a blow, she had seen that their power remained, and had made them
her auxiliaries. This woman was Louisa of Savoy, Duchess of Angoulême,
mother of Francis I., worthy predecessor of Catherine de’ Medici. A
clever woman, ‘an absolute lady in her wishes both good and bad,’
says Pasquier; a freethinker, who could study the new doctrine as a
curiosity, but who despised it; a dissolute woman, of whom Beaucaire,
Brantôme, and others relate many scandalous anecdotes; a fond and
absolute mother, who all her life preserved an almost sovereign
authority over her son,--Louisa held in her hand two armies which she
managed at will. One of these was composed of her maids of honour, by
whose means she introduced into the court of France gallantry, scandal,
and even indecency of language; the other was formed of intelligent,
crafty men, who had no religion, no morality, no scruples; and at their
head was Duprat.

The latter was the patron upon whom the Sorbonne thought they could
rely. Enterprising and systematic, at once supple and firm, slavish
and tyrannical, an intriguer and debauchee, often exasperated, never
discouraged, ‘very clever, knowing, and subtle,’ says the _Bourgeois de
Paris_; ‘one of the most pernicious men that ever lived,’ says another
historian:[633] Duprat sold offices, ground the people down, and if any
of them remonstrated against his disorders, he sent the remonstrants to
the Bastille.[634] This man, who was archbishop of Sens and cardinal,
and who aspired to be made legate _a latere_, having become a prince of
the Roman Church, placed at its service his influence, his iron will,
and even his cruelty.

But nothing could be done without the king. Louisa of Savoy and the
cardinal, knowing his fickleness and his love of pleasure, and knowing
also that in religious matters he cared only for pomp and ceremony,
hoped to induce him easily to oppose the Reformation. Yet Francis
hesitated and even resisted. He pretended to have a great taste for
letters, of which the Gospel, in his eyes, formed part. He yielded
willingly to his sister, who pleaded warmly the cause of the friends of
the Gospel. He detested the arrogance of the priests. The boldness with
which they put forward ultramontane ideas; set another power (the power
of the pope) above his; attacked his ideas in conversations, pamphlets,
and even in the pulpit; their restless character, their presumptuous
confidence in the triumph of their cause,--all this irritated one of
the most susceptible monarchs that ever reigned; and he was pleased at
seeing a man like Berquin take down the boasting of the clergy.

Yet it may well be that the king was influenced by higher motives. He
saw the human mind displaying a fresh activity in every direction.
The literary, the philosophical, the political, the religious world
were all undergoing important transformations in the first half of
the sixteenth century. In the midst of all these different movements,
Francis I. may have sometimes had a confused feeling that there was one
which was the mainspring, the dominant fact, the generating principle,
and, if I may use the words, the _fiat lux_ of the new creation. He saw
that the Reformation was the great force then acting in the world; that
all others were subordinate to it; that to it belonged, according to
an ancient prophecy, _the gathering of the people_;[635] and in these
moments, when his sight was clear, he wished to join himself to that
invisible power which was effecting more than all the other powers.
Unfortunately his passions soon disturbed his sight, and after having
caught a glimpse of the day, he plunged back again into night.

As for Duprat he felt no hesitation; he resolutely put himself on the
side of darkness, impelled by ambition and covetousness: he was always
with the ultramontanists. The struggle was about to begin between the
better aspirations of the king and the plots of the court of Rome.
It was hard to say with which of these two powers the victory would
ultimately remain. The chancellor-cardinal had, however, no doubt about
it; he arranged the attack with skill, and thought he had hit upon a
way, as vile as it was sure, of checking the Reform.

The king had to provide for the heavy charges which the treaty of
Madrid imposed upon him, and he had no money. He applied to the clergy.
‘Good!’ said they; ‘let us take advantage of the opportunity given us.’
They furnished 1,300,000 livres, but demanded in return, according to
Duprat’s suggestion, that his Majesty ‘should extirpate the damnable
and insupportable Lutheran sect which some time since had secretly
crept into the kingdom.’[636] The king, who wanted money, would be
ready to grant everything in order to fill his coffers; it seemed,
then, that all was over not only with Berquin, but with the Reformation.

Margaret, who was then at Fontainebleau with the King of Navarre,
heard of the demand the clergy had made to the king, and trembled
lest Francis should deliver up her friends to the persecutions of the
cardinal. She immediately endeavoured to exercise over her brother that
influence to which in those days he yielded readily. She succeeded:
the king, although putting the contribution of the clergy into his
treasury, did not order ‘the extirpation of the Lutheran heresy.’

Yet Margaret did not feel secure. She experienced the keenest anguish
at the thought of the danger which threatened the Gospel.

    True God of heaven, give comfort to my soul!

she said in one of her poems. Her soul was comforted. The aged Lefèvre,
who was at that time translating the Bible and the homilies of
St. Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles, and teaching his young
pupil, the Duke of Angoulême, to learn the Psalms of David by heart,
rekindled her fire, and with his failing voice strengthened her in
the faith. ‘Do not be afraid,’ he said; ‘the election of God is very
mighty.’[637]--‘Let us pray in faith,’ said Roussel; ‘the main thing
is that faith should accompany our prayers.’ The friends at Strasburg
entreated Luther to strengthen her by some good letter. As soon as
Erasmus heard of the danger which the Gospel ran, he was moved, and,
with the very pen with which he had discouraged Berquin, he wrote:

‘O queen, still more illustrious by the purity of your life than by the
splendour of your race and of your crown, do not fear! He who works
everything for the good of those whom he loves, knows what is good for
us, and, when he shall judge fit, will suddenly give a happy issue
to our affairs.[638] It is when human reason despairs of everything
that the impenetrable wisdom of God is made manifest in all its glory.
Nothing but what is happy can befall the man who has fixed the anchor
of his hopes on God. Let us place ourselves wholly in his hands. But
what am I doing?... I know, Madame, that it is not necessary to excite
you by powerful incentives, and that we ought rather to thank you for
having protected from the malice of wicked men sound learning and all
those who sincerely love Jesus Christ.’[639]

The queen’s condition tended erelong to give a new direction to her
thoughts. She hoped for a daughter, and often spoke about it in her
letters. This daughter was indeed given her, and she became the most
remarkable woman of her age. Calm and somewhat dejected, Margaret,
who was then living alone in the magnificent palace of Fontainebleau,
sought diversion in the enjoyment of the beauties of nature, during her
daily walks in the park and the forest. ‘My condition,’ she wrote on
the 27th of September, 1527, ‘does not prevent my visiting the gardens
twice a day, where I am wonderfully at my ease.’ She walked slowly,
thinking of the child about to be given her, and rejoicing in the light
of the sun. Then reverting to him who held the chief place in her
heart, she called to mind the true sun (Jesus Christ), and, grieving
that his rays did not enlighten the whole of France, exclaimed:

    O truth, unknown save to a few,
    No longer hide thyself from view
    Behind the cloud, but bursting forth
    Show to the nations all thy worth.
    Good men thy coming long to see,
    And sigh in sad expectancy.
    Descend, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
    And brighten up this darkling gloom;
    Show us how vile and poor we are,
    And take us, Saviour, to thy care.[640]

It seems that Margaret’s presence near the king checked the
persecutors; but she was soon compelled to leave the field open. The
time of her confinement drew near. Henry d’Albret had not visited Bearn
since his marriage; perhaps he desired that his child should be born in
the castle of Pau. In October 1527 the King and Queen of Navarre set
out for their possessions in the Pyrenees.[641] On the 7th of January,
two months later, Jeanne d’Albret was born; the statement that she was
born at Fontainebleau or at Blois is a mistake.

The Queen of Navarre had hardly left for Bearn, when Duprat and the
Sorbonne endeavoured to carry their cruel plans into execution. Among
the number of the gentlemen of John Stuart, Duke of Albany, was a
nobleman of Poitou named De la Tour. The Duke of Albany, a member of
the royal family of Scotland, had been regent of that kingdom, and De
la Tour had lived with him in Edinburgh, where he had made the most of
his time. ‘When the lord duke was regent of Scotland,’ people said,
‘the Sieur de la Tour sowed many Lutheran errors there.’[642] This
French gentleman must therefore have been one of the earliest reformers
in Scotland. He showed no less zeal at Paris than at Edinburgh, which
greatly displeased the priests. Moreover, the Duke of Albany, who
was in high favour with the king, was much disliked by the ambitious
chancellor. An indictment was drawn up; Francis I., whose good genius
was no longer by his side, shut his eyes; De la Tour and his servant,
an evangelical like himself, were condemned by the parliament for
heresy. On the 27th of October these two pious christians were bound in
the same cart and led slowly to the pig-market to be burnt alive. When
the cart stopped, the executioners ordered the servant to get down. He
did so and stood at the cart’s tail. They stripped off his clothes,
and flogged him so long and so severely that the poor wretch declared
that he ‘repented.’ Some little mercy was consequently shown him, and
they were content to cut out his tongue. They hoped by this means to
shake De la Tour’s firmness; but though deeply moved, he raised his
eyes to heaven, vowed to God that he would remain true to him, and
immediately an ineffable joy replaced the anguish by which he had been
racked. He was burnt alive.

Margaret must have heard at Pau of the death of the pious De la Tour;
but however that may be, she left for Paris immediately after her
delivery, giving her people orders to make haste. What was it that
recalled her so promptly to the capital? Was it the news of some danger
threatening the Gospel? A council was about to assemble at Paris; did
she desire to be at hand to ward off the blows aimed at her friends?
That is the reason given by one historian.[643] ‘She had determined to
make haste,’ and, her confinement scarcely over, this weak and delicate
princess, urging her courier to press on, crossed the sands and marshes
of the Landes. In a letter from Barbezieux, she complains of the bad
roads by which her carriage was so roughly jolted. ‘I can find nothing
difficult, nor any stage wearisome. I hope to be at Blois in ten

It was time. De la Tour’s death had satisfied neither the chancellor
nor the Sorbonne. They desired ‘the extirpation of heresy,’ and not
merely the death of a single heretic. Not having succeeded by means
of the clergy tax, they were determined to strive for it in another
manner. Duprat listened to the reports, and took note of what he
observed in the streets. Nothing annoyed him so much as hearing of
laymen, and even women, who turned away their heads as they passed the
churches, slipped into lonely streets, met in cellars or in garrets,
where persons who had not received holy orders prayed aloud and read
the Holy Scriptures. Had he not in 1516 abrogated the pragmatic
sanction and stripped the Gallican Church of its liberties? Would he
not, therefore, succeed with far less trouble in sacrificing this new
and free Church, a poor and contemptible flock? As a provincial council
was to be held at Paris, Duprat resolved to take advantage of it to
strike a decisive blow.

On the 28th of February, 1528, the council was opened. The
cardinal-archbishop having gone thither in great pomp, rose and spoke
amid dead silence: ‘Sirs, a terrible pestilence, stirred up by Martin
Luther, has destroyed the orthodox faith. A tempest has burst upon
the bark of St. Peter, which, tossed by the winds, is threatened with
dreadful shipwreck.[645] ... There is no difference between Luther and
Manichæus.... And yet, reverend fathers, his adherents multiply in our
province; they hold secret conventicles in many places; they unite with
laymen in the most private chambers of the houses;[646] they discuss
the catholic faith with women and fools.’ ...

It will be seen that it was not heresy, properly so called, that the
chancellor condemned in the Reformation, but liberty. A religion which
was not exclusively in the hands of priests was, in his eyes, more
alarming than heresy. If such practices were tolerated, would they not
one day see gentlemen, shopkeepers, and even men sprung from the ranks
of the people, presuming to have something to say in matters of state?
The germ of the constitutional liberties of modern times lay hid in the
bosom of the Reformation. The chancellor was not mistaken. He wished
at one blow to destroy both religious and political liberty. He found
enthusiastic accomplices in the priests assembled at Paris. The council
drew up a decree ordering the bishops and even the inhabitants of the
dioceses to denounce all the Lutherans of their acquaintance.

Would the king sanction this decree? Duprat was uneasy. He collected
his thoughts, arranged his arguments, and proceeded to the palace with
the hope of gaining his master. ‘Sire,’ he said to Francis, ‘God is
able without your help to exterminate all this heretical band;[647]
but, in his great goodness, he condescends to call men to his aid. Who
can tell of the glory and happiness of the many princes who, in past
ages, have treated heretics as the greatest enemies of their crowns,
and have given them over to death? If you wish to obtain salvation;
if you wish to preserve your sovereign rights intact; if you wish to
keep the nations submitted to you in tranquillity: manfully defend the
catholic faith, and subdue all its enemies by your arms.’[648] Thus
spoke Duprat; but the king thought to himself that if his ‘sovereign
rights’ were menaced at all, it might well be by the power of Rome. He
remained deaf as before.

‘Let us go further,’ said the chancellor to his creatures; ‘let the
whole Church call for the extirpation of heresy.’ Councils were held at
Lyons, Rouen, Tours, Rheims, and Bourges, and the priests restrained
themselves less in the provinces than in the capital. ‘These heretics,’
said the fiery orators, ‘worship the devil, whom they raise by means
of certain herbs and sacrilegious forms.’[649] But all was useless;
Francis took pleasure in resisting the priests, and Duprat soon
encountered an obstacle not less formidable.

If it was the duty of the priests to denounce the ‘enchanters,’ it was
the business of the parliament to condemn them; but parliament and
the chancellor were at variance. On the death of his wife, Duprat,
then a layman and first president of parliament, had calculated that
this loss might be a gain, and he entered the Church in order to get
possession of the richest benefices in the kingdom. First, he laid his
hands on the archbishopric of Sens, although at the election there were
twenty-two votes against him and only one for him.[650] Shortly after
that, he seized the rich abbey of St. Benedict. ‘To us alone,’ said
the monks, ‘belongs the choice of our abbot;’ and they boldly refused
to recognise the chancellor. Duprat’s only answer was to lock them all
up. The indignant parliament sent an apparitor to the archbishop’s
officers, and ordered them to appear before it; but the officers fell
upon the messenger, and beat him so cruelly that he died. The king
decided in favour of his first minister, and the difference between the
parliament and the chancellor grew wider.

Duprat, who desired to become reconciled with this court, whose
influence was often necessary to him, fancied he could gain it over
by means of the Lutheran heresy, which they both detested equally. On
their side the parliament desired nothing better than to recover the
first minister’s favour. These intrigues succeeded. ‘The chancellor and
the counsellors mutually gave up the truth, which they looked upon as a
mere nothing, like a crust of bread which one throws to a dog,’ to use
the words of a reformer. Great was the exultation then in sacristy and
in convent.

As chancellor, Sorbonne, and parliament were agreed, it seemed
impossible that the Reformation should not succumb under their combined
attacks. They said to one another: ‘We must pluck up all these _ill
weeds_;’ but they did not require, however, that it should be done
in one day. ‘If the king will only grant us some little isolated
persecution,’ said the enemies of the Reform, ‘we will so work the
matter that all the grist shall come to the mill at last.’

But even that they could not obtain from the king; the terrible
mill remained idle and useless. The agitation of the clergy was, in
the opinion of Francis, mere monkish clamour; he desired to protect
learning against the attacks of the ultramontanists. Besides, he
felt that the greatest danger which threatened his authority was the
theocratic power, and he feared still more these restless and noisy
priests. The Reformation appeared to be saved, when an unexpected
circumstance delivered it over to its enemies.




Everything appeared in France to incline towards peace and joy.
The court was at Fontainebleau, where Francis I. and the Duchess
of Angoulême, the King and Queen of Navarre, and all the most
illustrious of the nobility, had assembled to receive the young
Duke of Ferrara, who had just arrived (20th of May, 1528) to marry
Madame Renée, daughter of Louis XII. and Anne of Brittany. It was
a time of rejoicing. Francis I., whose favourite residence was
Fontainebleau, had erected a splendid palace there, and laid out
‘beautiful gardens, shrubberies, fountains, and all things pleasant
and recreative.’--‘Really,’ said the courtiers, ‘the king has turned
a wilderness into the most beautiful residence in christendom--so
spacious that you might lodge a little world in it.’[651] Foreigners
were struck with the magnificence of the palace and the brilliancy of
the court. The marriage of the daughter of Louis XII. was approaching:
there was nothing but concerts and amusements. There were excursions
in the forest, and sumptuous banquets in the palace, and learned
men (says Brantôme) discoursed at table on ‘the higher and the lower
sciences.’ But nothing attracted the attention of the foreign visitors
so much as the Queen of Navarre. ‘I observed her,’ says a bishop, a
papal legate, ‘while she was speaking to Cardinal d’Este, and I admired
in her features, her expression, and in every movement, an harmonious
union of majesty, modesty, and kindness.’[652] Such was Margaret in the
midst of the court; the goodness of her heart, the purity of her life,
and the abundance of her works spoke eloquently to those about her of
the beauty of the Gospel.

The princess, who was compelled to take part in every court
entertainment, never let an opportunity pass of calling a soul to Jesus
Christ. In the sixteenth century there was no evangelist, among women
at least, more active than her; this is a trait too important in the
French Reformation to be passed by unnoticed. The maids of honour of
the Duchess of Angoulême were no longer the virtuous damsels of Queen
Claude. Margaret, feeling the tenderest compassion for these young
women, called now one and now another to Christ; she conjured her
‘dears’ (as she styled them) not to be ‘caught by pleasure,’ which
would render them hateful to God.

    Farewell, my dear!
      The court I flee
    To seek for life
      Beneath the tree.

    If that my prayer
      Could influence thee,
    Thou shouldst not linger
      After me.

    Stay not, my dear,
      But come with me,
    And seek for life
      Beneath the tree.[653]

Francis I., who loved the chase, would often go into the forest,
attended by his young lords, and hunt the boar and deer for days
together. These youths took great pleasure in talking of their skill
to the ladies of the court, or in challenging one another who could
kill the finest stag.... The Queen of Navarre sometimes joined
good-naturedly in these conversations; she would smilingly call these
gay young lords ‘bad sportsmen,’ and exhort them ‘to go a-hunting after
better game.’

Here is one of these conversations of Fontainebleau, which she herself

    As a youth was riding one day to the wood,
    He asked of a lady so wise and good
    If the game he sought for could be found
    In the forest that spread so thickly round;
    For the young man’s heart with desire beat high
    To kill the deer. The dame, with a sigh,
    Replied: ‘It’s the season for hunters, ’tis true,
    But alas! no hunter true are you.

    ‘In the wood where none but believers go
    Is the game you seek, but do not know;
    It is in that bitter wood of the cross
    Which by the wicked is counted dross;
    But to huntsmen good its taste is sweet,
    And the pain it costs is the best of meat.

    If that your mind were firmly set
    Every honour but this to forget,
    No other game would be sought by you....
    But ... you are not a hunter true.’

    As he heard these words, the hunter blushed.
    And with anger his countenance flushed:
    ‘You speak at random, dame,’ he cried;
    ‘The stag will I have, and nought beside.’


    ‘The stag you seek is close in view,
    But ... you are not a hunter true.

    ‘Sit you down by the fountain’s brim,
    And in patience wait for him;
    There, with soul and body at rest,
    Drink of that spring so pure and blest:
    All other means but this are nought.
    For eager in the toils of your heart to be caught,
    The stag will come running up to you;
    But ... you are not a hunter true.’


    ‘Dame, ’tis an idle tale you tell;
    Wealth and glory, I know full well,
    Are not to be won without toil and care.
    Of your water so pure not a drop will I share.


    Then the stag will never be caught by you,
    For ... you are not a hunter true.’

The young hunter understands at last what is wanted of him, and, after
some further conversation with the lady, he exclaims:

    ‘With earnest faith my heart is filled;
    All my worldly thoughts I yield
    At the voice of my Saviour Christ Jesu!’


    ‘Yes, now you are a hunter true!’[654]

This narrative, and others of a like nature contained in the
_Marguerites_, were in all probability facts before they became poems.
The little ballads were circulated at court; everybody wished to
read the queen’s ‘tracts,’ and many of the nobility of France, who
afterwards embraced the cause of the Reform, owed their first religious
sentiments to Margaret.

For the moment, the great thought that occupied every mind at
Fontainebleau was the marriage of the ‘very prudent and magnificent
Madame Renée.’ The gentlemen of France and of Ferrara appeared at
court in sumptuous costumes; the princes and princesses glittered with
jewels; the halls and galleries were hung with rich tapestry.

    Dance and rejoice, make holiday
    For her whose love fills every heart.[655]

All of a sudden, on the morrow of Pentecost, a message fell into the
midst of this brilliant and joyous company which excited the deepest
emotion. A letter was handed to the king, and the effect it produced
was like that occasioned by a clap of thunder in a cloudless sky.
Francis, who held the letter in his hand, was pale, agitated, almost
quivering, as if he had just received a mortal insult. His anger
exploded in an instant, like a mountain pouring out torrents of lava.
He gave way to the most violent passion, and swore to take a cruel
revenge. Margaret, terrified by her brother’s anger, did not say a
word, but withdrew, in alarm, to silence and prayer: she scarcely
ventured an attempt to calm her brother’s emotion. ‘The incensed king,’
says the chronicler, ‘wept hard with vexation and anger.’[656] The
court fêtes were interrupted: the courtiers, joining in unison with
their master, called loudly for violent measures, and Francis departed
suddenly for Paris. What had caused all this commotion?

The festival of Pentecost (Whitsunday) had been celebrated with great
pomp on the 30th of May, 1528; but the devotionists, neglecting the
Father, the Son, and above all the Holy Ghost, had thought of nothing
all the day long but of worshipping the Virgin and her images. In the
quarter of St. Antoine, and at the angle still formed by the streets
Des Rosiers and Des Juifs, at the corner of the house belonging to the
Sire Loys de Harlay, stood an image of the Virgin holding the infant
Jesus in her arms. Numbers of devout persons of both sexes went every
day to kneel before this figure. During the festival the crowd was more
numerous than ever, and, bowing before the image, they lavished on it
the loftiest of titles: ‘O holy Virgin! O mediatress of mankind! O
pardon of sinners! Author of the righteousness which cleanses away our
sins! Refuge of all who return unto God!’[657] These observances had
bitterly grieved those who remembered the old commandment: _Thou shalt
worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve_.

On the Monday morning, the morrow after the festival, some passers-by
fancied they observed something wrong in the place where the image
stood: they could not see either the head of the Virgin or of the
child. The men approached, and found that both the heads had been
cut off; they looked about for them, and discovered them hidden
behind a heap of stones close by; they picked up in the gutter the
Virgin’s robe, which was torn and appeared to have been trampled under
foot. These persons, who were devout catholics, felt alarmed; they
respectfully took up the two heads and carried them to the magistrate.
The news of the strange event quickly spread through the quarter.
Monks and priests mingled with the crowd, and described the injury
done to the image. Men, women, and children surrounded the mutilated
figure--some weeping, others groaning, all cursing the sacrilege. A
‘complaint’ of the times has handed down to us the groans of the people:

    Alas! how great the woe,
      And crime that cannot pardoned be!...
    To have hurt Our Lady so,
      Lady full of charity,
    And to sinners ever kind![658] ...

Such were the sentiments of the good catholics who, with tearful eyes
and troubled hearts, looked upon the mutilated image.

Who were the authors of this mutilation? It was never known. It has
been said that the priests, alarmed at the progress of the Reformation
and the disposition of the king, had perpetrated the act, in order
to use it as a weapon against the Lutherans. That is possible, for
such things have been done. I am, however, more inclined to believe
that some hot-headed member of the evangelical party, exasperated at
hearing that attributed to the Virgin which belongs only to Christ, had
broken the idol. Be that as it may, the fanatical party resolved to
profit by the sacrilege, and they succeeded.

Francis I., the most susceptible and most irritable of princes,
considered this act of violence as an outrage upon his dignity and
authority. As soon as he reached Paris, he did everything in his power
to discover the guilty party. For two whole days heralds paraded the
streets, and stopping at the crossways summoned the people by sound
of trumpet and proclaimed: ‘If any one knows who has done this, let
him declare it to the magistrates and the king; the provost of Paris
will pay him a thousand gold crowns, and if the informer has committed
any crime, the king will pardon him.’ The crowd listened and then
dispersed; but all was of no use. Nothing could be learnt about it.
‘Very well, then,’ said the king, ‘I will order commissioners to go
and make inquiry at every house.’ The commissioners went and knocked
at every door, examining one after another all the inhabitants of the
quarter; but the result was still the same: ‘No one knew anything about

The priests were not satisfied with these proclamations. On Tuesday the
2nd of June, and during the rest of the week, the clergy of Paris set
themselves in motion, and constant processions from all the churches in
the city marched to the scene of the outrage. A week after, on Tuesday
the 9th of June, five hundred students, each carrying a lighted taper,
with all the doctors, licentiates, and bachelors of the university,
proceeded from the Sorbonne. In front of them marched the four
mendicant orders.

    Beautiful it was to see
    Such a goodly company;
    Monks grey, black, of every hue,
    Walking for an hour or two.

The reaction was complete. Learning and the Gospel were forgotten;
men thought only of honouring the holy Virgin. The king, the Dukes
of Ferrara, Longueville, and Vendôme, and even the King of Navarre,
desired to pay the greatest honour to Mary; and accordingly on Thursday
the 11th of June, being Corpus Christi Day, a long procession left the
palace of the Tournelles.

    In the front, with lighted tapers,
      There walked a goodly show;
    Then followed next the children,
      Sweetly singing, in a row.

    A crowd of priests came chanting,
      And next marched him who bore[659]
    The body of our Jesus ...

    The canopy was carried
      By the good King of Navarre,
    And by Vendôme, and by Longueville,
      And the proud Duke of Ferrare.

    Then last of all there followed
      The king with head all bare;
    The taper in his hand was wrapped
      In velvet rich and rare.

The different guilds, supreme courts, bishops, ambassadors, high
officers of the crown, and princes of the blood, were all present.
They walked to the sound of hautboys, clarions, and trumpets, playing
with great state. When the procession arrived at the ill-omened spot,
the king devoutly went up to it, and fell on his knees and prayed.
On rising, he received from the hands of his grand almoner a small
silver-gilt statue of the Virgin, which he piously set up in the room
of the former one, and placed his taper before the image as a testimony
of his faith. All the members of the procession did the same, as they
marched past to the sound of the trumpets. The people manifested their
joy by acclamations:

    Long live the king of fleur-de-lys
    And all his noble family!

Erelong the mutilated image, removed to the church of St. Germain,
began to work miracles. Four days afterwards, a child having been
brought into the world still-born,

    The mother writhed and wept,
      And bitterly groaned she;
    And loudly prayed that death
      Would take her suddenly.

    She tossed and tumbled so,
      That all the gossips there
    Shed floods of bitter tears
      And wildly tore their hair.

    Then one who counselled wisely,
      Said: ‘Take the child that’s dead,
    And bear him to the Queen of Heaven!’ ...
      Which they devoutly did.

The infant changed colour, adds the chronicle; it was baptised, and,
after it had returned its soul to God, was buried. The miracle, it is
clear, did not last long.

Notwithstanding all these tapers, miracles, and trumpet sounds, the
king was still excited. Neither he nor the fanatics were satisfied.
The flush which some fancied they saw on the cheeks of the poor little
still-born child, was not sufficient; they wanted a deeper red--red
blood. Duprat, the Sorbonne, and the parliament said that their master
had at last come to his senses, and that they must take advantage of
the change. Francis, who held the reins firmly, had hitherto restrained
the coursers bound to his chariot. But now, irritated and inflamed,
he leant forward, slackened the bit, and even urged them on with his
voice. These fiery wild horses were about to trample under foot all who
came in their way, and the wheels of his chariot, crushing the unhappy
victims, would sprinkle their blood even upon the garments of the

The persecution began.




There lived in Paris one of those poor christians of Meaux known as
_christaudins_, or disciples of Christ. This man, full of admiration
for the Son of God and of horror for images, had been driven from his
native city by persecution, and had become a waterman on the Seine. One
day a stranger entered his boat, and as the Virgin was everywhere the
subject of conversation, since the affair of the Rue des Rosiers, the
passenger began to extol the power of the ‘mother of God,’ and pulling
out a picture of Mary, offered it to his conductor. The boatman, who
was rowing vigorously, stopped; he could not contain himself, and,
taking the picture, said sharply: ‘The Virgin Mary has no more power
than this bit of paper,’ which he tore in pieces and threw into the
river. The exasperated catholic did not say a word; but as soon as he
landed, he ran off to denounce the heretic. This time at least they
knew the author of the sacrilege. Who could tell but it was he who
committed the outrage in the Rue des Rosiers? The poor _christaudin_
was burnt on the Grève at Paris.[660]

All the evangelical christians of Meaux had not, like him, quitted La
Brie. In the fields around that city might often be seen a pious man
named Denis, a native of Rieux. He had heard the divine summons one
day, and, filled with desire to know God, he had come to Jesus. Deeply
impressed with the pangs which the Saviour had endured in order to
save sinners, he had from that hour turned his eyes unceasingly upon
the Crucified One. Denis was filled with astonishment when he saw
christians putting their trust in ceremonies, instead of placing it
wholly in Christ. When, in the course of his many journeys, he passed
near a church at the time they were saying mass, it seemed to him that
he was witnessing a theatrical representation[661] and not a religious
act. His tortured soul uttered a cry of anguish. ‘To desire to be
reconciled with God by means of a mass,’ he said one day, ‘is to deny
my Saviour’s passion.’[662] The parliament gave orders to confine Denis
in the prison at Meaux.

As Briçonnet was still at the head of the diocese, the judges requested
him to do all in his power to bring back Denis to the fold. One day
the doors of the prison opened, and the bishop, at the summit of
honour but a backslider from the faith, stood in the presence of the
christian under the cross, but still faithful. Embarrassed at the part
he had to play, Briçonnet hung his head, hesitated, and blushed; this
visit was a punishment imposed upon his cowardice. ‘If you retract,’
he said to Denis at last, ‘we will set you at liberty, and you shall
receive a yearly pension.’ But Denis had marvellously engraven in his
heart, says the chronicler, that sentence delivered by Jesus Christ:
‘Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven.’ Turning therefore an indignant look upon
Briçonnet, he exclaimed: ‘Would you be so base as to urge me to deny my
God?’ The unhappy prelate, terrified at this address, fancied he heard
his own condemnation, and without saying a word fled hastily from the
dungeon. Denis was condemned to be burnt alive.

On the 3rd of July, the town sergeants came to the prison; they took
Denis from his cell and bound him to the hurdle they had brought with
them. Then, as if to add insult to torture, they pinioned his arms
and placed a wooden cross in his hands. Drawing up on each side of
him, they said: ‘See now how he worships the wood of the cross!’ and
dragged the poor sufferer on his hurdle through the streets. Some of
the spectators, when they saw him holding the piece of wood, exclaimed:
‘Truly, he is converted!’ but the humble believer replied: ‘O my
friends! ... be converted to the true cross!’ The procession advanced
slowly on account of the crowd, and as they were passing near a pond
from which the water, swollen by the rains, was rushing rapidly, Denis
gave a struggle, the cross fell, and ‘went sailing down the stream.’
When the bigots (as the chronicler terms them) saw the cross dancing
and floating upon the water, they rushed forward to pull it out, but
could not reach it. They came back and avenged themselves ‘by insulting
the poor sufferer lying on the hurdle.’ The stake was reached at last.
‘Gently,’ said the priests, ‘kindle only a small fire, a very small
fire, in order that it may last the longer.’ They bound Denis to a
balanced pole and placed him on the fire, and when the heat had almost
killed him, they hoisted him into the air. As soon as he had recovered
his senses, they let him down again. Three times was he thus lifted up
and lowered, the flames each time beginning their work anew. ‘Yet all
the time,’ says the chronicler, ‘he called upon the name of God.’[663]
At last he died.

Not at Paris only did the Roman party show itself without mercy. The
wishes of Duprat, of the Sorbonne, and of the parliament were carried
out in the provinces; and wherever truth raised her head, persecution
appeared. In the principal church of the small town of Annonay, there
hung from the arched roof a precious shrine, which the devout used
to contemplate every day with pious looks. ‘It contains _the holy
virtues_,’ said the priests. ‘The shrine is full of mysterious relics
which no one is allowed to see.’ On Ascension Day, however, the _holy
virtues_ were borne in great ceremony through the city. Men, women, and
children were eager to walk in the procession, with their heads and
feet bare, and in their shirts. Some of them approached the shrine, and
kissed it, passing backwards and forwards beneath it, almost as the
Hindoos do when the idol of Juggernaut is dragged through the midst of
its worshippers. At the moment when the _holy virtues_ passed through
the castle, the gates turned of themselves on their hinges, and all the
prisoners were set at liberty, with the exception of the Lutherans.

These silly superstitions were about to be disturbed. A battle began
around this mysterious shrine, and as soon as one combatant fell,
another sprang up in his place.

The first was a grey friar, a doctor of divinity, whom Crespin calls
Stephen Machopolis: the latter appears to be one of those names which
the reformers sometimes assumed. Stephen, attracted by the rumours
of the Reformation, had gone to Saxony and heard Luther.[664] Having
profited by his teaching, the grey friar determined to go back to
France, and Luther recommended him to the counts of Mansfeld, who
supplied him with the means of returning to his native country.[665]

Stephen had scarcely arrived at Annonay before he began to proclaim
warmly the virtues of the Saviour and of the Holy Ghost, and to inveigh
against the _holy virtues_ hanging in the church. The priests tried to
seize him, but he escaped. In the meanwhile he had talked much about
the Gospel with one of his friends, a cordelier like himself, Stephen
Rénier by name. The latter undertook, with still more courage than his
predecessor, to convert all these ignorant people from their faith in
‘dead men’s bones’ to the living and true God. The priests surprised
the poor man, cast him into prison, and conveyed him to Vienne in
Dauphiny, where the archbishop resided. Rénier preferred being burnt
alive to making any concession.[666]

A pious and learned schoolmaster, named Jonas, had already taken his
place in Annonay, and spoke still more boldly than the two Franciscans.
He was sent to prison in his turn, and made before the magistrates
‘a good and complete’ profession of faith. As the priests and the
archbishop now had Jonas locked up, they hoped to be quiet at last.

But very different was the result: the two friars and the schoolmaster
having disappeared, all those who had received the Word of life rose
up and proclaimed it. The Archbishop of Vienne could contain himself
no longer; it seemed to him as if evangelicals sprang ready-armed
from the soil, like the followers of Cadmus in days of yore.--‘They
are headstrong and furious,’ said the good folks of Vienne.--‘Bring
them all before me,’ cried the archbishop. Twenty-five evangelical
christians were taken from Annonay to the archiepiscopal city, and many
of them, being left indefinitely in prison, died of weakness and bad

The death of a few obscure men did not satisfy the ultramontanes:
they desired a more illustrious victim, the most learned among the
nobles. Wherever Berquin or other evangelicals turned their steps,
they encountered fierce glances and heard cries of indignation. ‘What
tyrannical madness! what plutonic rage!’ called out the mob as they
passed. Rascally youths! imps of Satan! brands of hell! _vilenaille_
brimful of Leviathans! venomous serpents! servants of Lucifer!’[667]
This was the usual vocabulary.

Berquin, as he heard this torrent of insult, answered not a word:
he thought it his duty to let the storm blow over, and kept himself
tranquil and solitary before God. Sometimes, however, his zeal caught
fire; there were sudden movements in his heart, as of a wind tossing
up the waves with their foamy heads; but he struggled against these
‘gusts’ of the flesh; he ordered his soul to be still, and erelong
nothing was left but some little ‘fluttering.’

While Berquin was silent before the tempest, Beda and his party did
all in their power to bring down the bolt upon that haughty head which
refused to bend before them. ‘See!’ they said, as they described the
mutilation of Our Lady, ‘see to what our toleration of heresy leads!...
Unless we root it up entirely, it will soon multiply and cover the
whole country.’

The doctors of the Sorbonne and other priests went out of their
houses in crowds; they spread right and left, buzzing in the streets,
buzzing in the houses, buzzing in the palaces. ‘These hornets,’ says a
chronicler, ‘make their tedious noise heard by all they meet, and urge
them on with repeated stings.’ ‘Away with Berquin!’ was their cry.

His friends grew alarmed. ‘Make your escape!’ wrote Erasmus to him.
‘Make your escape!’ repeated the friends of learning and of the Gospel
around him.[668] But Berquin thought that by keeping quiet he did all
that he ought to do. Flight he would have considered a disgrace, a
crime. ‘With God’s help,’ he said, ‘I shall conquer the monks, the
university, and the parliament itself.’[669]

Such confidence exasperated the Sorbonne. Beda and his followers
stirred university and parliament, city, court, and Church, heaven
and earth.... Francis I. was puzzled, staggered, and annoyed. At
last, being beset on every side, and hearing it continually repeated
that Berquin’s doctrines were the cause of the outrage in the Rue des
Rosiers, the king yielded, believing, however, that he yielded but
little: he consented only that an inquiry should be opened against
Berquin. The wild beast leapt with joy. His prey was not yet given to
him; but he already foresaw the hour when he would quench his thirst in

A strange blindness is that of popery! The lessons of history are
lost upon it. So long as events are in progress, men mistake both
their causes and consequences. The smoke that covers the battle-field,
during the struggle, does not permit us to distinguish and appreciate
the movements of the different armies. But once the battle ended, the
events accomplished, intelligent minds discover the principles of
the movements and order of battle. Now, if there is any truth which
history proclaims, it is that christianity was established in the
world by pouring out the blood of its martyrs. One of the greatest
fathers of the West has enunciated this mysterious law.[670] But the
Rome of the popes--and in this respect she paid her tribute to human
weakness--overlooked this great law. She took no heed of the facts
that ought to have enlightened her. She did not understand that the
blood of these friends of the Gospel, which she was so eager to spill,
would be for modern times, as it had been for ancient times, a seed
of transformation. Imprudently resuming the part played by the Rome of
the emperors, she put to death, one after another, those who professed
the everlasting Truth. But at the very moment when the enemies of the
Reform imagined they had crushed it by getting rid of Berquin; at the
moment when the irritation of the king allowed the servants of Christ
to be dragged on hurdles, and when he authorised torture, imprisonment,
and the stake; at the moment when all seemed destined to remain mute
and trembling--the true Reformer of France issued unnoticed from a
college of priests, and was about to begin, in an important city of the
kingdom, that work which we have undertaken to narrate--a work which
for three centuries has not ceased, and never will cease, to grow.

We shall attempt to describe the small beginnings of this great work in
the next volume.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


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  _Acton’s_ Cookery-Book, 200

  Afternoon of Life, 139

  _Agassiz_ on Classification, 102

  _Alcock’s_ Japan, 1

  _Arago’s_ Scientific Biographies, 34

  _Arago’s_ Meteorological Essays, 34

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  _Burn’s_ Agricultural Tour in Belgium, 85

  _Burton’s_ Lake Regions of Central Africa, 82

  _Burton’s_ Footsteps in East Africa, 82

  _Burton’s_ Medina and Mecca, 82

  _Burton’s_ City of the Saints, 82

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  Calderon’s Dramas, by _MacCarthy_, 183

  _Calvert’s_ Wife’s Manual, 168

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  _Clough’s_ Lives from Plutarch, 39

  _Colenso_ on the Pentateuch, 4

  _Collyns_ on Stag-Hunting, 127

  _Comyn_ Ellice, a Tale, 137

  _Conington’s_ Chemical Analysis, 99

  _Contanseau’s_ French Dictionaries, 58

  _Conybeare_ and _Howson’s_ St Paul, 49

  _Copland’s_ Dictionary of Medicine, 93

  _Cotton’s_ Instructions in Christianity, 171

  _Cox’s_ Tales from Greek Mythology, 40

  _Cox’s_ Tale of the Great Persian War, 40

  _Cox’s_ Tales of the Gods and Heroes, 40

  _Cresy’s_ Encyclop. of Civil Engineering, 192

  Cricket Field (The), 135

  Cricket Tutor (The), 135

  _Crowe’s_ History of France, 14

  _D’Aubigné’s_ Calvin, 3

  Dead Shot (The), 125

  _De la Rive’s_ Reminiscences of Cavour, 6

  _De la Rive’s_ Electricity, 101

  _De Tocqueville_ on Democracy, 8

  _De Witt’s_ Jefferson, 7

  _Döllinger’s_ Gentile and Jew, 50

  _Dove’s_ Law of Storms, 112

  _Eastlake_ on Oil Painting, 29

  Eclipse of Faith (The), 148

  Defence of ditto, 148

  Essays _and_ Reviews, 149

  _Fairbairn’s_ Information for Engineers, 194

  _Fairbairn’s_ Treatise on Millwork, 194

  _Fitzroy’s_ Weather Book, 113

  _Folkard’s_ Sailing Boat, 132

  _Forster’s_ Life of Eliot, 2

  _Fowler’s_ Collieries, 209

  _Freshfield’s_ Alpine Byways, 68

  _Freshfield’s_ Tour in the Grisons, 68

  _Garratt’s_ Marvels of Instinct, 119

  _Goldsmith’s_ Poems, illustrated, 174

  _Goodeve’s_ Elements of Mechanism, 197

  _Green’s_ English Princesses, 21

  _Greene’s_ Manual of Cœlenterata, 115

  _Greene’s_ Manual of Protozoa, 115

  _Greyson’s_ Correspondence   148

  _Grove_ on Physical Forces   104

  _Gwilt’s_ Encyclopædia of Architecture   195

  _Hartwig’s_ Sea, 116

  _Hartwig’s_ Tropical World, 116

  _Hassall’s_ Freshwater Algæ, 223

  _Hassall’s_ Adulterations Detected, 223

  Havelock’s Life, by _Marshman_, 36

  _Hawker_ on Guns and Shooting, 124

  _Herschel’s_ Outlines of Astronomy, 109

  _Herschel’s_ Essays, 109

  _Hind’s_ American Exploring Expeditions, 77

  _Hind’s_ Labrador, 77

  Hints on Etiquette, 129

  _Hole’s_ Gardeners’ Annual, 227

  _Holland’s_ Essays, 88

  _Holland’s_ Medical Notes, 88

  _Holland_ on Mental Physiology, 88

  _Hooker’s_ British Flora, 221

  _Hopkins’s_ Hawaii, 78

  _Horne’s_ Introduction to the Scriptures, 169

  _Horne’s_ Compendium of ditto, 170

  _Hoskyns’_ Talpa, 131

  _Howard’s_ Athletic Exercises, 133

  _Howitt’s_ History of the Supernatural, 151

  _Howitt’s_ Remarkable Places, 87

  _Howitt’s_ Rural Life of England, 87

  _Howson’s_ Deaconesses, 143

  _Hudson’s_ Directions for Making Wills, 220

  _Hudson’s_ Executor’s Guide, 220

  _Hughes’s_ Geography of History, 189

  _Hughes’s_ Manual of Geography, 189

  _Jameson’s_ Saints and Martyrs, 158

  _Jameson’s_ Monastic Orders, 158

  _Jameson’s_ Legends of the Madonna, 158

  _Jameson’s_ Legends of the Saviour, 158

  Johnson’s Dictionary, by _Latham_, 56

  _Johnson’s_ Patentee’s Manual, 205

  _Johnson’s_ Book of Industrial Designs, 206

  _Johnston’s_ Geographical Dictionary, 191

  _Kennedy’s_ Hymnologia, 165

  _Kirby_ and _Spence’s_ Entomology, 120

  _L. E. L.’s_ Poetical Works, 179

  Lady’s Tour round Monte Rosa, 69

  _Latham’s_ Comparative Philology, 62

  _Latham’s_ English Language, 62

  _Latham’s_ Handbook of ditto, 62

  _Lempriere’s_ Notes on Mexico, 76

  _Liddell_ and _Scott’s_ Greek Lexicons, 54

  _Lindley’s_ Horticulture, 225

  _Lindley’s_ Introduction to Botany, 225

  _Lindley’s_ Treasury of Botany, 228

  _Lister’s_ Physico-Prophetical Essays, 153

  _Lewin’s_ Jerusalem, 65

  _Loudon’s_ Encyclo. of Cottage Architecture, 196

  _Loudon’s_ Encyclo. of Agriculture, 218

  _Loudon’s_ Encyclo. of Gardening, 218

  _Loudon’s_ Encyclo. of Trees and Shrubs, 218

  _Loudon’s_ Encyclo. of Plants, 218

  _Lowndes’s_ Engineer’s Handbook, 193

  Lyra Domestica, 167

  Lyra Germanica, 162, 163

  Lyra Sacra, 166

  _Macaulay’s_ England, 13

  _Macaulay’s_ Essays, 145

  _Macaulay’s_ Miscellaneous Writings, 146

  _Macaulay’s_ Lays of Ancient Rome, 180

  _Macaulay’s_ Speeches, 45

  _MacBrair’s_ Africans, 83

  _MacDougall’s_ Theory of War, 210

  _M’Culloch’s_ Commercial Dictionary, 188

  _M’Culloch’s_ Geographical Dictionary, 188

  _Marcet’s_ Land and Water, 216

  _Marcet’s_ Political Economy, 216

  _Marcet’s_ Conversat. on Natural Philosophy, 216

  _Marcet’s_ Conversations on Chemistry, 216

  _Maunder’s_ Biographical Treasury, 228

  _Maunder’s_ Geographical Treasury, 228

  _Maunder’s_ Historical Treasury, 228

  _Maunder’s_ Natural History, 228

  _Maunder’s_ Scientific and Literary Treasury, 228

  _Maunder’s_ Treasury of Knowledge, 228

  _May’s_ England, 11

  Memoir of Sydney Smith, 43

  Memoirs, &c. of Thomas Moore, 44

  _Mendelssohn’s_ Letters, 72

  _Merivale’s_ Romans under the Empire, 15

  _Merivale’s_ Fall of the Roman Republic, 15

  _Merivale’s_ (H.) Lectures on Colonisation, 185

  _Meryon’s_ History of Medicine, 28

  _Miles_ on Horse’s Foot, 128

  _Miles_ on Shoeing Horses, 128

  _Moore’s_ Lalla Rookh, 175, 176

  _Moore’s_ Irish Melodies, 177

  _Moore’s_ Poetical Works, 178

  _Morell’s_ Mental Philosophy, 90

  _Morell’s_ Elements of Psychology, 90

  Morning Clouds, 139

  _Morton’s_ Royal Farms, 12

  _Morton’s_ Dairy Husbandry, 215

  _Morton’s_ Farm Labour, 215

  _Mosheim’s_ Ecclesiastical History, 155

  _Müller’s_ Lectures on Language, 59

  _Munk’s_ College of Physicians, 27

  _Mure’s_ Language and Literature of Greece, 16

  My Life, and What shall I do with it?, 142

  _Neale’s_ Sunsets and Sunshine, 141

  _Odling’s_ Chemistry, 97

  _Packe’s_ Guide to the Pyrenees, 73

  Parry’s Memoirs, 37

  Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers, 66

  _Pereira’s_ Materia Medica, 108

  _Peschel’s_ Elements of Physics, 105

  _Phillips’s_ Guide to Geology, 111

  _Phillips’s_ Introduction to Mineralogy, 106

  _Piesse’s_ Art of Perfumery, 134

  _Piesse’s_ Chemical Wonders, 134

  _Piesse’s_ Chemical and Natural Magic, 134

  _Pietrowski’s_ Siberian Exile, 5

  Porson’s Life, by _Watson_, 33

  Practical Mechanic’s Journal, 207

  Problems in Human Nature, 139

  _Pycroft’s_ English Reading, 156

  _Ranken’s_ Canada and the Crimea, 75

  Record of International Exhibition, 208

  _Rhind’s_ Thebes, 71

  _Rich’s_ Roman and Greek Antiquities, 41

  _Rivers’s_ Rose Amateur’s Guide, 226

  _Rogers’s_ Essays, 148

  _Roget’s_ English Thesaurus, 57

  Romance of a Dull Life, 139

  _Ronalds’s_ Fly-Fisher, 126

  _Rowton’s_ Debater, 61

  _Sandby’s_ Royal Academy, 30

  _Sandford’s_ Bampton Lectures, 152

  _Savile_ on Revelation and Science, 150

  _Saxby_ on Projection of Sphere, 213

  _Saxby_ on Study of Steam, 213

  _Scoffern_ on Projectiles, 211

  _Scott’s_ Lectures on the Fine Arts, 31

  _Scott’s_ Volumetrical Analysis, 100

  _Scrope_ on Volcanoes, 96

  _Sewell’s_ Ancient History, 42

  _Sewell’s_ Early Church, 42

  _Sewell’s_ Passing Thoughts on Religion, 157

  _Sewell’s_ Self-Examination for Confirmation, 157

  _Sewell’s_ Readings for Confirmation, 157

  _Sewell’s_ Readings for Lent, 157

  _Sewell’s_ Impressions of Rome, &c., 81

  _Sewell’s_ Stories and Tales, 140

  _Sharp’s_ British Gazetteer, 190

  Short Whist, 130

  Sidney’s (Sir P.) Life, by _Lloyd_, 26

  _Smith’s_ (J.) St. Paul’s Shipwreck, 48

  _Smith’s_ (G.) Wesleyan Methodism, 47

  Social Life in Australia, 80

  _Southey’s_ Poetical Works, 182

  _Southey’s_ Doctor, 182

  _Stephen’s_ Essays, 144

  _Stephen’s_ Lectures on the History of France, 144

  Stephenson’s Life, by _Jeaffreson_ and _Pole_, 25

  ‘Stonehenge’ on the Dog, 122

  ‘Stonehenge’ on the Greyhound, 122

  _Strickland’s_ Queens of England, 20

  _Sydney Smith’s_ Works, 147

  _Sydney Smith’s_ Moral Philosophy, 147

  _Tate_ on Strength of Materials, 114

  _Taylor’s_ (_Jeremy_) Works, 154

  _Tennent’s_ Ceylon, 118

  _Tennent’s_ Natural History of Ceylon, 118

  Theologia Germanica, 161

  _Thirlwall’s_ Greece, 17

  _Thomson’s_ Interest Tables, 187

  _Thomson’s_ Laws of Thought, 91

  _Thrupp’s_ Anglo-Saxon Home, 19

  _Todd’s_ Cyclopædia of Anat. and Physiology, 92

  _Trollope’s_ Warden, 136

  _Trollope’s_ Barchester Towers, 136

  _Twiss’s_ Law of Nations, 10

  _Tyndall_ on Heat, 94

  _Tyndall’s_ Mountaineering, 67

  _Ure’s_ Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines, 198

  _Villari’s_ History of Savonarola, 32

  Warburton’s Life, by _Watson_, 33

  _Warter’s_ Last of the Old Squires, 138

  _Watts’s_ Dictionary of Chemistry, 98

  _Webb’s_ Celestial Objects, 110

  _Webster_ and _Parkes’s_ Domestic Economy, 199

  Wellington’s Life, by _Gleig_, 35

  Wesley’s Life, by _Southey_, 46

  _West_ on Children’s Diseases, 204

  _White_ and _Riddle’s_ Latin Dictionary, 53

  _Wilson’s_ Bryologia Britannica, 222

  _Willich’s_ Popular Tables, 186

  Wit and Wisdom of Sydney Smith, 147

  _Woodward’s_ Chronological and Historical Encyclopædia, 18

  _Worms_ on the Earth’s Motion, 95

  _Wyndham’s_ Norway, 79

  _Yonge’s_ English-Greek Lexicon, 55

  _Youatt’s_ work on the Horse, 121

  _Youatt’s_ work on the Dog, 121


[1] John viii. 32.

[2] James iv. 14, 15.

[3] M. de Remusat.

[4] Calvin, _Harmonie évangélique_, Matt. xx. 21.

[5] Among other political writings of Calvin’s disciples see _La Gaule
franke, Le Réveille-matin des Français et de leurs voisins, &c._

[6] ‘Pœnæ vero atrocitatem remitti cupio.’ (_Calvin to Farel_, Aug. 26,
1553.) Calvin appears afterwards to have prevailed on his colleagues
to join him: ‘Genus mortis conati sumus mutare, sed frustra.’ ‘We
endeavoured to change the manner of his death, but in vain; why did
we not succeed? I shall defer telling you until I see you.’ (_Same to
same_, Oct. 26, 1553.) Farel replied to Calvin, ‘By desiring to soften
the severity of his punishment you acted as a friend towards a man who
is your greatest enemy.’

[7] La Henriade.

[8] ‘Hic enim liber professione pietatis, aut laudatus erit, aut
excusatus.’--Tacitus, _Agricola_, iii.

[9] ‘Extremum oppidum Allobrogum.’--_De Bello Gallico_, i. 6.

[10] Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, livre i.

[11] _Inscription de Gondebaud à Genève_, by Ed. Mallet, in the
_Mémoires d’Archéologie_, t. iv. p. 305. Professor A. de la Rive,
having built a house in 1840 on the site of the old castle, the gate or
arcade was pulled down, and the stone with the inscription placed in
the Museum of the Academy.

[12] ‘Ordinum Consilium Genevæ habitum est in quo novæ leges ab illo
rege (Gondebald) latæ....’--Fragment quoted by Godefroy.

[13] List of the Bishops of Geneva, according to Bonivard. Gaberel,
_Hist. de l’Église de Genève_, Pièces justificatives, p. 4.

[14] M. Baulacre (_Œuvres_, i. p. 37) is of opinion that this Diogenes
was a _Genoese_ bishop.

[15] ‘Tanto tempore, quod de contrario memoria hominis non
extitit.’--_Libertates Gebennenses, Mém. d’Archéologie_, ii. p. 312.

[16] ‘Cum toto Francorum exercitu . . . . . . Gebennam venit. . . . . .
et copiarum partem per montem Jovis ire jussit.’--Eginhardi _Annales_.
These words of the ancient annals may be applied to Napoleon I. as well
as to Charlemagne. The First Consul Bonaparte passed through Geneva on
his way to Marengo, May 1800.

[17] ‘Genevamque civitatem veniens synodum tenuit.’ (See the _Monumenta
Historiæ Germanicæ_ of Pertz, tom. i. ann. 773; the Chronicle of
_Regino_, pp. 557, 558; Eginhardi _Annales_, p. 150.)

[18] Spon states this positively, i. p. 59.

[19] ‘In Burgundia in pago Genevensi, ubi pater ejus _comes_ fuit.
Beneficium non grande.’--Eginhardi _Epistolæ_, pp. 26, 27.

[20] Comes Genevensium. Guichenon, _Bibl. Geb._ cent. ii.--See also
(circa 1140) Peter the Venerable, _de Miraculis_, lib. ii.

[21] Spon’s _Histoire de Genève_, i. p. 71. Galiffe, jun. _Introduction
à l’Armorial genevois_, p. 9. Hiseli, _Les Comtes de Genève et de
Vaud_, pp. 4, 18.

[22] Daniel, vii. 8.

[23] ‘Totas Gebennas episcopo in pace dimisit.’ (The document will be
found in the _Pièces Justificatives_ of Spon, No. 1.)

[24] ‘Tanto cleri populique consensu.’--Bernardi _Epist._ xxvii.

[25] ‘Si vos in curia Romana in causam traheret.’--_Conventiones an.

[26] ‘Faisait le _gart_,’ in the language of the chroniclers.
Wustemberger, _Peter der Zweyte_, i. p. 123.

[27] ‘L’animo irrequieto ed intraprendente del Principe
Pietro.’--Datta, _Hist. dei Principi_, i. p. 5.

[28] ‘Communio, novum ac pessimum nomen.’--_Script. Rev. Franc._ xii.
p. 250.

[29] ‘For fear of finding a worse.’

[30] ‘Communitatem de Gebennis in gardam non recipiemus.’--Treaty
between the count and the bishop; _Mém. d’Archéologie_, vii. pp.
196-258, and 318, 319.

[31] _Monumenta Hist. Patriæ_, iii. p. 174. Mr. Ed. Mallet thinks, but
without authority, that Peter died at Pierre-Chatel in Bugey. See also
_Pierre de Savoie d’après M. Cibrario_, by F. de Gingins.

[32] ‘Quod ullus alius princeps, baro, vel comes habeat in eadem
(civitate) aliquam jurisdictionem.’--_Mém. d’Archéologie_, viii.
_Pièces Justificatives_, p. 241.

[33] Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 16-18.

[34] ‘Villam vestram, nec non bona et jura vestra et franchisias
vestras . . . . manutenebimus, gardabimus; et defendemus.’--Spon,
_Preuves pour l’Histoire de Genève_, iii. p. 108.

[35] Turin Library, manuscript H. Gaberel, _Hist. de l’Église de
Genève_, i. p. 45.

[36] Harduin, _Concil._ viii. p. 887.

[37] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 23.

[38] Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 22, 32. Galiffe, i. p. 222, _Chronique
Latine de Savoie_.

[39] Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 24, 25. According to other documents he
made some stay in Geneva.

[40] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 30. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 199.
Pictet de Sergy, _Hist. de Genève_, ii. pp. 175-242. Weiss, _Hist. des
Réfugiés_ pp. 217, 218.

[41] _Constitutiones synodales, eccl. Genev._ Register of canons, May
1493. Gaberel, _Hist. de l’Église de Genève_, i. p. 56.

[42] Manuscript registers of the Council of Geneva, under 13th April,

[43] Savyon, _Annales de Genève_, p. 44.

[44] Ibid.

[45] ‘De libertatibus, franchisiis et immunitatibus sumus cum maxima
diligentia informati.’--_Libertates Gebennenses_, _Mém. d’Archéol._ ii.
p. 312.

[46] ‘Credimus electionem tuam, etc.’--Bernardi _Epist._ xxvii.

[47] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ i. p. 22; ii. p. 230.

[48] Manuscript archives of the Gingins family. Froment, _Gestes de
Genève_, p. 157. Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 44, 45.

[49] It has been supposed that he was brought up at Angers, but I
found in the Archives of Geneva a letter addressed to John, dated 2nd
September, 1513, by J. A. Vérard, a jurisconsult of Nice, wherein the
latter congratulates the new bishop ‘_inclitæ civitatis Gebennanum in
qua cunabulis ab usque nutritus et educatus es_.’ _Archives de Genève_,
No. 870.

[50] Bonivard, _Chronique_, i. p. 25; ii. pp. 227, 228. Ibid. _Police
de Genève_, _Mém. d’Archéologie_, p. 380. Savyon, _Annales de Genève_,
p. 45.

[51] ‘Misso legato Johanne de Sabaudia, episcopo postea Gebennensi.’
_Monumenta Historiæ Patriæ_, Script. i. p. 848, Turin. The instructions
given by the duke to his cousin may be seen in the MSS. of the Archives
of Geneva, No. 875.

[52] See the letters in the Archives of Geneva, Nos. 872 and 873.

[53] Ibid, No. 876.

[54] ‘Leo X. Sabaudianum ducem ad affinitatem ineundam _multis
pollicitis_ invitavit.’--_Monumenta Historiæ Patriæ_, Script. i. p.
814. Turin, 1840.

[55] ‘Omnia expectare quæ ab optimo filio de patre amantissimo sunt
expectanda.’--_Letter of Bembo in the pope’s name_, 3rd April, 1513.

[56] I found this MS. in the library at Berne (_Histoire Helvétique_,
v. 12). It is entitled, _Histoire de la Ville de Genève_, by J.
Bonivard. The history is not by Bonivard: it was copied at Berne in
1705 from an old MS. in the possession of Ami Favre, first syndic.
Although not known at Geneva, it contains many important circumstances
that Spon and Gautier have omitted either from timidity or by order,
says Haller. I shall call it the Berne MS. v. 12.

[57] ‘Pro tua singulari gravitate atque virtute.’--_Arch. de Gen._ No.

[58] Michel Roset, _Histoire manuscrite de Genève_, liv. i. chap.
lxix. (Roset was syndic fourteen times during the sixteenth century.)
Lévrier, _Chronologie des Comtes de Genevois_, p. 102. Bonivard,
_Police de Genève_ (_Mém. d’Archéologie_), v. p. 380. Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 46.

[59] Roset MS. liv. i. ch. lxix. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 46. Registers of
the Council, MS. 25-30th August, 1513. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 235.

[60] _Enfans de Genève_ is a term applied to the youths of the town
capable of bearing arms.

[61] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 236, 259. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 46.
Gautier and Roset MSS. Galiffe, _Notices Généalogiques_, i. p. 8.

[62] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 235, &c.

[63] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_. Interrogatory of
Navis, pp. 168-181.

[64] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. vii.

[65] Registers of Geneva (MS.), 2nd September, 1483; 13th June, 11th
and 25th July, 28th November, 1486; 24th June, 1491.

[66] Registers of Geneva, _ad ann._ 1534.

[67] ‘De iis quæ gesta fuere occasione nefandi criminis Sodomye, de quo
diffamantur et nonnulli alii.’--Registers of the Council, 22nd July,

[68] Registers of 22nd May, 1522 et sqq.

[69] ‘Quod agere veretur obstinatus diabolus, intrepide agit reprobus
et contumax monachus.’

[70] ‘Hunc merito poterit dicere Roma patrem.’

[71] ‘De putanis sacerdotum.’ Public Registers of Geneva, MS. _ad ann._

[72] Near the present Observatory.

[73] Now in the department of Ain.

[74] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 246.

[75] Registers of Geneva, 8th and 9th December, 1514.

[76] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 247.

[77] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 250-253.

[78] Thierry, _Lettres sur l’Histoire de France_, passim.

[79] _Chronique des Comtes des Genevois_, by M. Lévrier,
lieutenant-general of the bailiwick of Meullant, ii. p. 110.

[80] _Archives of Geneva_, 9th June, 1515. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 49.
Roset and Gautier MSS. Muratori, _Annali d’Italia_, x. p. 110. Roscoe,
_Leo X._ iii. p. 9.

[81] ‘Disce sarculo tibi opus esse, non sceptro.’--Bernardus, _de
Consideratione, ad Eugenium papam_, lib. ii. cap. vi.

[82] MS. Registers of Geneva, 22nd and 25th May, 19th June, 1515. Roset
MS. bk. i. ch. 72. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 49, &c.

[83] Roset MSS. bk. i. ch. 72. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 50. Spon, i. p.
261. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 268. Lévrier, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 110.

[84] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 253. Roset and Savyon MSS. Galiffe
fils, B. Hugues, p. 226.

[85] Lévrier, _Chron. des Comtes de Savoye_, ii. p. 112. Galiffe,
_Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. pp. 20, 176. Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 50.

[86] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 257. Registers of Geneva, 29th June,
1515. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 51. Roset and Gautier MSS.

[87] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 258.

[88] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 271. Galiffe, _Matériaux pour
l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. p. 122. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 52.

[89] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 318 and _passim_.

[90] ‘Ad alliciendum homines ad se.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux pour
l’Histoire, de Genève_. Interrogations de Pécolat, ii. p. 42.

[91] _Bonivard, Chroniq._ ii. pp. 265, 271. _Police de Genève_, Mém.
d’Archéol. v. p. 381. Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_,
pp. 201, 207, 216. Calvin, _passim_.

[92] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 277, 278.

[93] _Chronique du Pays de Vaud_, Bibl. Imp. No. 16720. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. pp. 276-279.

[94] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 279, 383. Roset MSS. liv. i. ch.
xxvi. _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. pp. 111, 119, 136.

[95] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ i. pp. 28, 29, and 238.

[96] Pécolat, in his examination of 5th of August, 1517, says: ‘_About
a year ago_.’--Galiffe, ii. p. 41. Blanchet, in his examination of 5th
of May, 1518, at Turin, says: ‘_About two years ago_.’--Ibid. p. 99.
Then on 21st of May, he says: ‘_About a year ago_.’--Ibid. p. 205.

[97] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. pp. 199, 206,
210, _passim_.

[98] ‘Armis, unguibus, et rostris.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Joye’s
Exam. ii. p. 215.

[99] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Exam. of Pécolat, ii. p. 42. Exam. of
Blanchet, ib. p. 206.

[100] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Exam. of Pécolat and Blanchet.
_Chroniq. des Comtes de Genève_, ii. p. 141.

[101] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 265. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii.
pp. 50, 174.

[102] ‘Ingeniosus suscitando quam plurima debata.’--Galiffe,
_Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 50, 61, 171, 174. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 64.

[103] Reg. du Conseil _ad annum_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 267,
268. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 55.

[104] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 285. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 51.
Mignet’s memoir on the _Réformation de Genève_, p. 28.

[105] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 285.

[106] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 53.

[107] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 53. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ Roset MSS. Spon,
i. p. 267.

[108] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 57. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ p. 284. Spon, i.
p. 278. Roset and Gautier MSS.

[109] ‘Suspirans et ab imo trahens pectore vocem.’--Galiffe,
_Matériaux_, &c. Interrog. ii. p. 40.

[110] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Interrog. de Pécolat, ii. pp. 29-49.

[111] Ibid. ii. pp. 77, 80.

[112] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Interrog. ii. p. 275. Letters of Jean
of Savoy.

[113] Ibid, p. 81.

[114] Public Registers of Geneva, MSS. _ad diem_.

[115] _Bonivard_, Chroniq. ii. p. 289.

[116] _Ibid._ p. 286.

[117] Registers of the Council of Geneva, MSS. 29th July, 1517.

[118] _Histoire de Genève_, by Pictet de Sergy, ii. p. 313. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ Spon, i. p. 287. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 58.

[119] Public Registers of Geneva, _ad diem_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii.
p. 294.

[120] M. Mignet’s Mémoire, p. 23.

[121] Bonivard places its origin in 1518, and writes _Eiguenots_.
(_Chroniq._ ii. p. 331.) The Registers of the Council have it under the
date of 3rd of May, 1520, and read _Eyguenots_. In 1521 we find in the
trial of B. Toquet, _Ayguinocticæ sectæ_. (Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c.
ii. p. 164.) We come upon it later in 1526: _Traitre Eyguenot_. (Ibid.
p. 506.) In the same year: _Tu es Eguenot_. (Ibid. p. 508.) Lastly,
Michel Roset in his Chronicle (liv. i. ch. lxxxix.) generally writes
_Huguenot_. In the sixteenth century as well as in the nineteenth
nicknames have often passed from Geneva to France.

[122] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 287. (Some MSS. of the sixteenth
century read _Mamelus_, _Maumelus_.)

[123] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 288.

[124] MS. Registers of the Council, 8th September, 1517.

[125] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 294, 295. Registers of the Council
of Geneva, 21st August, 1517. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 278.

[126] Ibid.

[127] Registers of the Council, 25th Sept., 30th Oct., 5th, 6th, 9th,
10th. November, 1517. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 279. Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 59. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 299.

[128] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Interrog. ii. pp. 75, 77, 88.

[129] MS. Registers of the Council, 24th December, 1517; 8th, 9th,
15th, 20th January, 1518. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 60. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 300.

[130] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 300. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 60. MS.
Archives of Geneva.

[131] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 202. Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 61, 62.

[132] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 301, 304. Roset, _Hist. de Genève_,
MS. liv. i. ch. lxxxi. The testimony of these two contemporary authors
leaves no doubt as to the reality of Pécolat’s attempt. (See also
Savyon, _Annales_, p. 61.) This circumstance has been the subject of a
long archæological controversy, whose solution is simply this: Pécolat
did not cut off, he only cut, his tongue.

[133] Lévrier, _Chronologie des Comtes de Genevois_, ii. p. 131.

[134] ‘A denegata justitia.’--Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 306.

[135] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ pp. 307, 308.

[136] ‘You are inhibited, as in the copy.’--Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.

[137] Galiffe, Bonivard, Council Registers.

[138] ‘Mandamus relaxari sub pœna excommunicationis.’--Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 63.

[139] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. 91.

[140] ‘Altaria nudentur, cruces abscondantur.’

[141] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 310, 315, 316. Savyon, _Annates_, p.
65. Spon, _Hist, de Genève_, i. p. 286. Roset MSS.

[142] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 316, 317. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c.
ii. pp. 196, 197.

[143] Council Registers of 7th February, 1518. Savyon, _Annales_, p.
66. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 311.

[144] ‘Si bene ruminetur.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Berthelier
documents, ii. p. 105.

[145] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Berthelier papers, ii. pp. 113, 114,
116, 125, 132.

[146] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Berthelier papers, ii. pp. 124, 125.

[147] Ibid. p. 133. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 311-318.

[148] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Blanchet’s Exam. ii. p. 197, &c.

[149] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 169, 171, 177, 179. Savyon,
_Annales_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 320. Roset and Gautier MSS.

[150] ‘Ex qua possit contrahi irregularitas.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux_,
&c. ii. p. 166.

[151] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 95; 168, 196, 199, 202.

[152] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. Interrog. ii. pp. 162, 168, 179, 180,
185, 186, 205.

[153] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 320.

[154] ‘Cardinationis.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. 184.

[155] _Advis et Devis de la Source de l’Idolatrie Papale_, published by
M. Revillod, p. 134.

[156] Ibid. p. 78.

[157] Ibid. p. 79.

[158] Ibid. p. 80.

[159] _Advis et Devis_, p. 34.

[160] Ibid. p. 42.

[161] ‘Pray let me enjoy the papacy in peace. The Lord has given it me.
Go to my Lord of Medici.’

[162] _Advis et Devis_, pp. 67-74.

[163] ‘Dialogus in præsomptuosas M. Lutheri conclusiones de potestate
papæ.’ December 1517.

[164] _Advis et Devis_, p. 80.

[165] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 320, 321. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c.
ii. p. 184. _Mém. d’Archéol._ iv. pp. 152, 153.

[166] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 189-195.

[167] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 72. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 26,
145. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. pp. 293, 294. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii.
p. 323.

[168] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. (Instructions pour les réponses à faire
à Soleure), ii. p. 135. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 72. Registers of the
Council of Geneva, Oct. 3, 1518. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_. Roset and
Gautier MSS.

[169] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. 151. Registers of the Council of
Geneva, Oct. 3, 1518. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 72. Bonivard, _Chroniq._
ii. p. 325. Roset and Gautier MSS.

[170] ‘Si fut exercé lors une cruauté presque _Sylleine_,’ says
Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 324.

[171] MS. Registers of the Council, Oct. 3 and Nov. 26, 1518. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 326. Roset and Gautier MSS., _Les Maumelus_
(Mamelukes) _de Genève_. The latter MS., as well as many others
collected by M. Mallet-Romilly, are now in the possession of Professor
Cellérier, to whose kindness I am indebted for their perusal.

[172] Registers of the Council, Oct. 3, 1518.

[173] MS. Registers of the Council, Oct. 3, 6, and 22, 1518. Roset and
Gautier MSS., _Les Maumelus de Genève_.

[174] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 270-273.

[175] Document addressed to Lord Townsend by M. Chouet, Secretary of
State. Berne MSS.

[176] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 328.

[177] Council Registers, May 3, 1519.

[178] A contagious carbuncle. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 327.

[179] Ibid. p. 328.

[180] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 74.

[181] Ibid. p. 75. _Archives de Genève_, No. 888.

[182] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 75.

[183] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 75. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 332. Roset
and Gautier MSS. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. pp. 296, 298.

[184] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 328, 330.

[185] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 330. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p.
xxxii. Spon, _Hist._ i. p. 299.

[186] Registers of the Council, Nov. 10 and 11, 1518.

[187] Council Registers, Nov. 29 and Dec. 2, 1518. Savyon, _Annales_,
p. 78. Roset and Gautier MSS.

[188] Council Registers, Dec. 5, 1518. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 77. Berne
MSS. v. 12.

[189] Registers of the Council, Dec. 7, 21, 23, 1518; Feb. 6, 1519.
Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. 217.

[190] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 330, 331. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 79,
Roset and Gautier MSS.

[191] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 344. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 91. Spon,
_Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 303.

[192] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 137-139. Registers of the
Council for January 11, 19, and 24, 1519. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 82.
Roset and Gautier MSS. Archives of Geneva, No. 998.

[193] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 332. M. Mignet’s _Mémoire_, p. 24.

[194] MS. Registers of Geneva, Jan. 30 and 31, 1519. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 333. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 82.

[195] Council Registers, Feb. 6, 1519.

[196] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 333. Registers of the Council, Feb.
6, 1519.

[197] See the letter from the council in the Registers, Feb. 6, 1519,
and in the fragments of Grenus, p. 109.

[198] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp. 246, 262, 264.

[199] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 344.

[200] ‘S’exposent à recevoir de la pantoufle.’--Bonivard, _Chroniq._
ii. p. 335.

[201] Council Registers, March 1, 1519. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.
336. Berne MSS. v. 12. Gautier MS.

[202] ‘Exhortamur obstinatos et rebelles, pacis corruptores, ab incepto
ut desistant.’--Archives of Geneva, No. 912.

[203] Registers of the Council _ad diem_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.

[204] Registers of the Council _ad diem_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.
338. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 314. Berne MSS. v. p. 12. Roset and
Gautier MSS.

[205] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_.

[206] ‘Vous devriez un peu mieux en mâcher la teneur.’ (Bonivard has
preserved his speech, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 339, 340.)

[207] In the house afterwards occupied by Calvin, where the Maison
Naville now stands.

[208] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 343.

[209] Ibid. p. 342.

[210] The amice was a furred hood with which the canons sometimes
covered their head, but generally carried on the arm. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 342.

[211] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 339-343. Gautier, _Hist._ MSS.

[212] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 343, 346. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 82.
Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 311. Gautier MSS.

[213] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 348, 349.

[214] Registers of the Council, April 2, 1519.

[215] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 347. Galiffe, _Notices
Généalogiques_, i. p. 4.

[216] For this speech see Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 349. MS.
_Mamelouks de Genève_. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. pp. 314-320.

[217] ‘Nous n’avons pas mis cuire pour tant de gens.’--Bonivard,

[218] See note, p. 224.

[219] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 350. Savyon, _Annales_.

[220] _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS.

[221] ‘_Magnus status_,’ his court. Registers of the Council, April 2.

[222] ‘Obviaverunt ne irent alicubi.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux pour
l’Histoire de Genève_, Exam. of De Joye, ii. p. 218.

[223] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 346. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, Exam. of
Cartelier, ii. pp. 234, 246, 262, 264.

[224] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 354. _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS.

[225] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 87. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 351, &c.

[226] ‘Monseigneu, vos avi ja dict à Messieurs tant de iangles, que je
ne say si vo vudront ple crerre.’--Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 351.

[227] Ibid. p. 352.

[228] Ibid.

[229] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 352. _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS.
Savyon, _Annales_, p. 88.

[230] See preceding note.

[231] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 353. Savyon, _Annales_.

[232] Lévrier, _Hist. Chronol. des Comtes de Genevois_, ii. p. 166.
_Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 553. Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 89.

[233] _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. pp.
234, 264. Spon, _Hist. Genève_, i. p. 327.

[234] ‘Jusque dans les lieux privés qui étaient sur le Rhone.’--Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 90.

[235] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 356. Michel Roset, _Chron._ MS. liv.
i. ch. xcix. _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. p. 140.

[236] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 356. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 90.

[237] Ibid.

[238] _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. p. 142. _Chronique de Roset_, MS.
liv. i. chap. xcix. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, Interrogatoire de Cartelier,
ii. p. 255.

[239] _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. p. 143. Michael Roset says the
same, MS. liv. i. chap. c.

[240] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 294. Spon, _Hist. Genève_, i. p. 328.

[241] _Les Mamelouks_, p. 143. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 91.

[242] ‘Manda li de votre gen, qui porton votre jangle,’ he said in his
Friburg _patois_. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 91.

[243] _Les Mamelouks_, MS. p. 143. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 91. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 357. Gautier MSS. _Le Citadin de Genève_.

[244] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, Interrogatoire de Cartelier, ii. p. 247.
Savyon, _Annales_, p. 92.

[245] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 357.

[246] Registers of the Council, April 11, 1519. Bonivard, _Chroniq._
ii. p. 360. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 93. Archives de Genève, Nos. 913 and

[247] ‘Insultus et tumultuationes . . . . auctoritati ducis damnum
nobis extraneum et indignum apparet.’--_Archives de Genève_, MS. No.

[248] Ibid. No. 886.

[249] Document addressed to Lord Townsend (seventeenth century). Berne
MS. H. vi. 57.

[250] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 274. M. Galiffe refers this letter
to the year 1517, at the time of Pécolat’s trial; but it is clear from
the contents and from the Council Registers of May 24, 1519, that it
belongs to the time of which we are speaking.

[251] This château still exists, and is inhabited, I believe, by the
Marquis de Dovaine.

[252] Grolée is now in the department of Ain. Savyon, _Annales_, p.
89. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 353. ‘Notice’ by Chaponnière, _Mém.
d’Archéol._ iv. p. 54. Bonivard MSS.

[253] MS. Registers of the Council, Aug. 19, 1519.

[254] _Les Mamelouks de Genève_, MS. p. 149.

[255] Ibid.

[256] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 362. Galiffe, _Notices
Biographiques_, i. p. 10. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 96.

[257] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 97, where this place is called Pericua.

[258] The Registers of the Council state, under the date of _Tuesday_,
Aug. 23, that the arrest was made on this day; Bonivard speaks of
_Monday_, at six o’clock. The arrest may have taken place on Monday
night, but we have followed the Registers, whose accuracy should be
superior to Bonivard’s, who was absent from Geneva.

[259] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 369.

[260] _Les Maumelus de Genève_, MS. p. 149.

[261] Registers of the Council, Aug. 23. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.

[262] ‘A lacu Lemano, qui in flumen Rhodanum influit . . . . præsidia
disponit, castella communit.’--Cæsar, _De Bello Gallico_, lib. i.

[263] Horatius, _Carm._ lib. iii.

[264] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 369.

[265] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 363. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 97. Spon,
_Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 343.

[266] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 363. Spon, _Hist. de Genève_, i. p.
344. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 98.

[267] MS. Registers of the Council, Aug. 23, 1519. Galiffe,
_Matériaux_, i. p. 146.

[268] Compare the Council Registers of Aug. 23, 1519, and 1526. M.
Galiffe junior had already pointed out this mistake of Bonivard’s.
_Besançon Hugues_, p. 245.

[269] Bonivard, _Chroniq_. ii, p. 365. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 98. Spon,
_Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 344.

[270] Savyon, _Annales_, p. 98. Bonivard, _Chroniq_. ii. p. 366.

[271] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. p. 297.
Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ viii. p. 18. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 366.
Savyon, _Annales_, p. 99. A plain inscription on Cæsar’s tower (in the
island) marks the place of Berthelier’s death.

[272] ‘Il faut que le bon droit tienne chambre.’--Bonivard, _Chroniq._
ii. p. 368.

[273] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. pp. 297, 298.

[274] ‘What harm has death done me? Virtue flourishes beyond the grave;
it perishes neither by the cross nor the sword of the cruel tyrant.’

[275] Machiavelli.

[276] ‘Tam mansuetum principem.’

[277] ‘Nisi fuisset princeps ipse illustrissimus misericordia plenus,
suaque clementia vicisset pietatem Redemptoris.’ The document will be
found entire among the _Pièces Justificatives_, appended to _Besançon
Hugues_, by M. Galiffe jun.

[278] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 270, 273. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 101.
Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 277.

[279] ‘Ayguinocticæ sectæ.’--Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de
Genève_, ii. p. 164.

[280] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. pp. 225-228.

[281] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 214.

[282] Ibid., Interrog. de De Joye, ii. p. 224.

[283] ‘Ut veritas ex ore delati eruatur.’--Ibid. ii. pp. 221, 224.

[284] Galiffe, _Matériaux_. ii. p. 227.

[285] Ibid.

[286] Ibid.

[287] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 374.

[288] _Journal_ (contemporain) _de Balard_, p. 309. Gautier MS.

[289] ‘Ad sanctam sedem metropolitanam Viennensem.’--_Pièces
Justificatives de Besançon Hugues_, par M. Galiffe fils.

[290] The Registers of the Council say John Fabri; the words _Favre_
and _Fabri_, being both derived from _Faber_, are frequently confounded.

[291] Registres du Conseil des 3, 5 et 6 février 1520. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 377.

[292] Ibid. 3 mai 1520.

[293] Registers of the Council, Feb. 25 and Oct. 5, 1520.

[294] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 382. The words _donné des
instructions_ are not legible in the MS., but the context requires them.

[295] ‘Luther, qui avait déjà de ce temps travaillé les esprits à
Genève, fit preuve d’une grande sagacité en fécondant, dans l’intérêt
de sa cause, un terrain aussi bien préparé que l’était cette ville pour
adopter la Réformation.’--Note 3, p. 383, vol. ii. of the _Chroniques_,
Genève, 1831.

[296] Luther’s Works: _Against the Bull of Antichrist_--_Appeal to a
Free Council_--_Foundation of the Articles condemned by the Bull_. 1520.

[297] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 382.

[298] Luther to the German nobles, 1520.

[299] Roset, _Chroniq._ liv. i. chap. cvi. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p.

[300] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 180.

[301] Dr. Chaponnière has printed the deed. _Mém. d’Archéologie_, iv.
p. 156.

[302] Registres du Conseil du 25 Janvier 1521. _Besançon Hugues_, par
Galiffe fils, p. 253.

[303] M. Galiffe. I do not know what documents justify the picture
drawn by this vigorous writer.

[304] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. 303. Galiffe’s work is often
quoted with approbation by Roman catholics.

[305] ‘Si perveneris huic episcopatui, noli, oro te, gressus meos
insequi.’--_Mém. du Diocèse de Genève_, par Besson, p. 61. Savyon,
_Annales_, p. 108.

[306] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, &c. ii. p. xxvi.

[307] Ibid. pp. 304, 305.

[308] Registres MS. du Conseil, mars et avril 1523.

[309] Gaberel, _Hist. de l’Eglise de Genève_. _Pièces Justificatives_,
p. 28.

[310] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 388. Registres du Conseil des 27
février; 17 mars; 9, 10, 11 avril.

[311] ‘Vos semper sentitis Allemanos.’--Gautier MS.

[312] Registres du Conseil du 2 août.

[313] _Mém. d’Archéol. de Genève_, i. p. 191. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii.
p. 391. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 111. Spon, _Hist. Genève_.

[314] This mystery-play will be found at length in the _Mémoires
d’Archéologie de Genève_, i. pp. 196-203.

[315] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 395. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 113.
Gautier MS.

[316] See my _Hist. of the Ref_. vol. iii. bk. xii. chaps. 7 and 11.

[317] Archives de Turin, paquet 14, 1^{re} catégorie. _Mémoire au Pape
sur la Rébellion de Genève._ M. Gaberel, who has examined this memoir,
assigns it (_Hist. de l’Eglise de Genève_, i. p. 84) to the year 1520;
but it seems to me more probable that it relates to 1523.

[318] The original of this _sottie_ will be found in the _Mémoires
d’Archéologie de Genève_, pp. 164-180.

[319] ‘Minimum villagium suæ patriæ.’--Reg. du Conseil, 18 décembre.
Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 392.

[320] ‘Debandata fuit artilleria in porta Baudet.’--Registers of the
Council, Dec. 2.

[321] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 392.

[322] Bonivard, _Police de Genève_. _Mém. d’Archéol._ iv. p. 382.

[323] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 395. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 114.

[324] Council Registers, May 20; June 30 and 23, 1522; and July 22,

[325] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 395. Gautier MS.

[326] Horace, _Odes_, bk. iii. 3.

[327] ‘The Swiss republics first came forward; and to the spirit of
the Reformation, as the remote cause, is the American Revolution to be
itself attributed.’--Smyth, _Eccl. Republicanism_, p. 102, Boston.

[328] Council Registers, Feb. 19, 1524.

[329] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 353.

[330] Council Registers, Feb. 19, 1524. Lévrier, _Chronologie des
Comtes de Genevois_, ii. p. 198.

[331] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 395.

[332] Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 242.

[333] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 395.

[334] ‘Cum non essent magnæ facultatis.’--Registres du Conseil du 9
février 1524.

[335] ‘De festinationibus factis dominabus civitatis.’--Council
Registers, Feb. 9, 1524.

[336] ‘De recolluctione graciosa et amicabili sodalium in

[337] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 401.

[338] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 402. Gautier MS. Spon, _Hist. de
Genève_, &c.

[339] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 403. Gautier MS.

[340] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 403.

[341] Gautier MS. _in loco_. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 406. Spon,
_Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 367. Savyon, _Annales_, pp. 117, 118.

[342] Registres du Conseil du 13 mars 1524, MS.

[343] Registres du Conseil du 13 mars 1524, MS.

[344] Ibid.

[345] John xi. 50: ‘It is expedient for us that one man should die for
the people, and that the whole nation perish not.’

[346] Bonivard, _Police de Genève_. _Mém. d’Archéol._ v. p. 382. Spon,
_Hist. de Genève_, i. p. 367. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 118.

[347] Galiffe, _Matériaux pour l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. p. 243.

[348] The castle of Bonne is only an hour and a half’s drive from
Geneva. To enter the ruins you must pass through the rooms of a peasant
who lives within the walls.

[349] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 408-412. Michel Roset, _Chron._ MS.
liv. ii. ch. ii. Spon, _Hist, de Genève_, ii. p. 368. _Le Citadin de
Genève_, pp. 313, 314. Gautier MS.

[350] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 410. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 119.

[351] Roset MS. _Chroniq._ liv. ii. ch. ii. Gautier MS. Bonivard,
_Chroniq._ ii. p. 411.

[352] Registres du Conseil des 7, 8 et 12 février.

[353] ‘Un bon tarin (serin).’ Bonivard, _Police de Genève_. _Mém.
d’Archéol._ v. p. 383.

[354] Berenger, _Hist. de Genève_. Lévrier, _Chron. des Comtes de
Savoie_, ii. p. 214.

[355] Registres du Conseil du 5 février.

[356] Guizot, _Hist. de la Civilisation_.

[357] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 414. Gautier MS. Spon, _Hist. de

[358] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 414.

[359] Registres du Conseil du 28 octobre 1524.

[360] Registres du Conseil des 2 et 8 décembre 1524; 8, 15, 18, 27,
29 janvier et 5 février 1525. _Journal du Syndic Balard_ (_Mém.
d’Archéol._ v. p. 2). _Besançon Hugues_, par M. Galiffe fils, p. 268.

[361] Archives de Genève, lettre de Turin, 1 avril 1525.

[362] Registres du Conseil des 2 et 3 février 1525. _Journal de
Balard_, p. 2. Lettre de La Baume, dans les Archives de Genève, sous le
n^o 930.

[363] Registres du Conseil du 2 janvier, 3 février, 1525. _Besançon
Hugues_, par M. Galiffe fils, p. 219.

[364] ‘Unum villagium . . . qui tenentur ei ad angaria et
porangaria.’--Registres du Conseil des 25 mars et 10 mai 1525.

[365] Bonivard, _Mém. d’Archéol._ v. p. 382.

[366] Lettres de La Baume, Archives de Genève, n^o 930. _Journal du
Syndic Balard_, p. 3.

[367] Registres du Conseil des 4, 25 mai; 29 juin; 10 juillet; 7, 16,
17 et 20 septembre, 1525. Manuscrit Roset, liv. ii. ch. iii.

[368] Registres du Conseil des 7 et 8 septembre. Savyon, _Annales_, p.

[369] Bonivard, _Police de Genève_. _Mém. d’Archéol._ v. p. 384.

[370] Registres du Conseil du 23 février 1526. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii.
p. 416. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 123.

[371] The account given by Hugues himself is in the Registres de
l’Etat. The narrative written by the author of the _Promenades
Historiques dans le Canton de Genève_ is embellished after the manner
of Sir Walter Scott. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 416. Spon, _Hist. de
Genève_, ii. p. 374. Gautier MS. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 123.

[372] Fort de l’Ecluse, between Geneva and Bourg (Ain).

[373] Gautier MS. La Corbière MS. Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 417.

[374] ‘Noster dux ... vult scire et intelligere a populo hujus
civitatis Gebennensis ... si velit et intendat persequi quamdam
appellationem ... in curia Romana.’

[375] ‘Responderunt ... una voce ... quod non erat ipsorum voluntas ...
dictas appellationes prosequi.’

[376] Registres du Conseil des 22, 23, 25, 28 septembre; 3, 6, 8, 10
octobre. Manuscrit de Gautier. _Journal du Syndic Balard_, pp. 14-17.
Manuscrit de Roset, liv. ii. ch. v.

[377] ‘Wehret bei Zeiten dass die lutherische Sache nicht die Oberhand
gewinne.’--H. Hottinger, _Kirchengesch._ v. p. 103.

[378] Registres du Conseil du 27 octobre. _Journal de Balard_, pp. 18,
19. Manuscrit de Gautier.

[379] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 418-421. Gautier MS.

[380] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 418, 421. Gautier MS.

[381] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. p. 421.

[382] ‘Il s’efforça d’abord d’_apigeonner_ ses ouailles.’ _Apigeonner_,
to entice pigeons by offering them corn.

[383] Lettre de La Baume, Archives de Genève sous le n^o 934. _Mém.
d’Archéol._ ii. pp. 8, 9.

[384] Registres du Conseil du 9 novembre 1525. _Journal de Balard_, p.
28. Savyon, _Annales_, p. 127. _Besançon Hugues_, par Galiffe fils, p.

[385] Bonivard, _Chroniq._ ii. pp. 424-427. Galiffe, _Matériaux pour
l’Histoire de Genève_, ii. pp. 318-323. _Journal de Balard_, pp. 28-30.
Gautier MS. The conclusion of this council is wanting in the Registers:
it was probably suppressed as an infringement of the liberties of

[386] See preceding note. Roset MS. liv. ii. ch. vi.

[387] Registres du Conseil, décembre 1525. _Journal de Balard_, p. 33.
Gautier MS.

[388] Gautier MS. Galiffe, _Matériaux_, ii. p. 333. Spon, _Hist. de
Genève_, ii. p. 385.

[389] The official Registers of the Council (Dec. 22) say: ‘Bandière
leading three or four boys.’ Syndic Balard, an eye-witness, says:
‘Bandière, accompanied by the children of some of those who have
retired to Germany.’ (_Journal_, p. 34.) Bonivard says the same,
_Chroniq._ i