صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

one, of two things, must be chosen, either to put all the adherents of the new religion to the sword; or to banish them entirely, allowing them to dispose of their effects; that the first point could not be executed, since that party was too strong both in leaders and partizans; and, tho' it could be done, yet as it was staining the king's youth with the blood of so many of his subjects, perhaps when he came of age he would demand it at the hands of his governors; with regard to the second point, it was as little feasible, and could it be effected, it would be raising as many desperate enemies as exiles; that to enforce conformity against conscience, as matters stood now, was to lead the people to atheism. The edict at last was passed, Jan. 1562, but the house registered it with this clause, in consideration of the present juncture of the times; but not approving of the new religion in any manner, and till the king shall otherwise appoint. So hard sat toleration on the minds of papists!

A minority was a period favourable to the views of the Guises, and this edict was a happy occasion of a pretence for commencing hostilities. The duke, instigated by his mother, went to Vassi, a town adjacent to one of his lord. ships, and, some of his retinue picking a quarrel with some protestants, who were hearing a sermon in a barn, he interested himself in it, wounded two hundred, and left sixty dead on the spot, March 1, 1562. This was the first protestant blood, that was shed in civil war.

The news of this affair flew like lightening, and, while the duke was marching to Paris with a thousand horse, the city, and the provinces rose in arms. The chancellor was extremely afflicted to see both sides preparing for war, and endeavoured to dissuade them from it. The constable told him, it did not belong to men of the long robe to give their judgment with relation to war. To which he answered, that tho' he did not bear arms, he knew when they ought to be used. After this they excluded him from the councils of war.

The queen-regent, alarmed at the duke's approach to Paris, threw herself into the hands of the protestants, and ordered Conde to take up arms, Aug. 1562. War began, and barbarities and cruelties were practised on both sides. The duke of Guise was assassinated, the king of Navarre was killed at a siege, fifty thousand protestants were slain, and, after a year had been spent in these confusions, a peace was concluded, 1563. All, that the protestants ob


tained, was an edict, which excluded the exercise of their religion from cities, and restrained it to their own families.

Peace did not continue long, for the protestants, having received intelligence, that the pope, the house of Austria, and the house of Guise, had conspired their ruin, and fearing that the king, and the court, were inclined to crush them, as their rights were every day infringed by new edicts, took up arms again in their own defence, 1567. The city. of Rochelle declared for them, and it served them for an asylum for sixty years. They were assisted by queen Elizabeth of England, and by the German princes, and they obtained, at the conclusion of this second war, 1568, the revocation of all penal edicts, the exercise of their religion in their families, and the grant of six cities for their security.

The pope, the king of Spain, and the Guises, finding that they could not prevail while the wise chancellor retained his influence, formed a cabal against him, and got him removed. He resigned very readily, June 1568, and retired to a country seat, where he spent the remainder of his days. A strange confusion followed in the direction of affairs, one edict allowed liberty, another forbad it, and it was plain to the protestants that their situation was very delicate and dangerous. The articles of the last peace had never been performed, and the papists every where insulted their liberties, so that, in three months time, two thousand Hugonots were murdered, and the murderers went unpunished. War broke out again, 1568, Queen Elizabeth assisted the protestants with money, the Count Palatine helped them with men, the queen of Navarre parted with her rings and jewels to support them, and, the prince of Conde being slain, she declared her son, prince Henry, the head, and protector of the protestant cause, and caused medals to be struck with these words, a sofe peace, a complete victory, a glorious death. Her majesty did every thing in her power for the advancement of the cause of religious liberty, and she used to say, that liberty of conscience ought to be preferred before honours, dignities, and life itself. She caused the new testament, the catechism, and the liturgy of Geneva, to be tians ated, and printed at Rocheile. abolished papery, and established protestantism in her own dominions. In her leisure hours, she expressed her zeal by working tapestries with her own hands, in which she represented the monuments of that liberty, which she procured by shaking off the yoke of the pope, One suit consisted of

[ocr errors]



twelve pieces. On each piece was represented some scripture history of deliverance; Israel coming out of Egypt, Joseph's release from prison, or something of the like kind. On the top of each piece were these words, where the spirit is there is liberty, and in the corners of each were broken chains, fetters, and gibbets. One piece represented a congregation at mass, and a fox, in a friar's habit, officiating as a priest, grinning horribly and saying, the Lord be with you. The pieces were fashionable patterns, and dexterously directed the needles of the ladies to help forward the reformation.

After many negociations a peace was concluded, 1570, and the free exercise of religion was allowed in all but walled cities, two cities in every province were assigned to the protestants, they were to be admitted into all universities, schools, hospitals, public offices, royal, seignioral, and corporate, and, to render the peace of everlasting duration, a match was proposed between Henry of Navarre and the sister of king Charles. These articles were accepted, the match was agreed to, every man's sword was put up in its sheath, and the queen of Navarre, her son, king Henry, the princes of the blood, and the principal protestants, went to Paris to celebrate the marriage, Aug. 18, 1572. A few days after the marriage, the Admiral, who was one of the principal protestant leaders, was assassinated, Aug. 22. This alarmed the king of Navarre, and the prince of Conde, but, the king and his mother promising to punish the assassin, they were quiet. The next Sunday, being St Bartholomew's day, Aug. 24, when the bells rang for morning prayers, the duke of Guise, brother of the last, appeared with a great number of soldiers, and citizens, and began to murder the Hugonots, the wretched Charles appeared at the windows of his palace, and endeavoured to shoot those who fled, crying to their pursuers, kill them, kill them. The mas

sacre continued seven days, seven hundred houses were pillaged; five thousand people perished in Paris; neither age, nor sex, nor even women with child were spared; one butcher boasted to the king that he had hewn down a hundred and fifty in one night. The rage ran from Paris to the provinces, where twenty five thousand more were cruelly slain; the queen of Navarre was poisoned; and, during the massacre, the king offered the king of Navarre, and the young prince of Conde, son of the late prince, if they would not renounce Hugonotism, either death, mass, or bastile:


for, he said, he would not have one left to reproach him.. This bloody affair does not lie between Charles IX. his mother Catharine of Medicis, and the duke of Guise, for the church of Rome, and the court of Spain, by exhibiting public rejoicings on the occasion, have adopted the whole for their own, or, at least, have claimed a large share.

Would any one after this propose passive obedience, and non-resistance, to French protestants? Or, can we wonder, that, abhorring a church, who offered to embrace them with hands reeking with the blood of their brethren, they put on their armour again, and commenced a fourth civil war? The late massacre raised up also another party, called politicians, who proposed to banish the family of Guise from France, to remove the queen-mother and the Italians from the government, and to restore peace to the nation. This faction was headed by Montmorency, who had an eye to the crown. During these troubles, the king died, in the twenty fifth year of his age, 1574. Charles had a lively little genius, he composed a book on hunting, and valued himself on his skill in physiognomy. He thought courage consisted in swearing and taunting at his courtiers. His diversions were hunting, music, women and wine. His court was a common sewer of luxury and impiety, and, while his favourites were fleecing his people, he employed himself in the making of rhymes. The part he acted in the Bartholomean tragedy, the worst crime that was ever perpetrated in any christian country, will mark his reign with infamy to the end of time.

Henry III. who succeeded his brother Charles, was first despised, and then hated, by all his subjects. He was so proud that he set rails round his table, and affected the pomp of an eastern king: and so mean that he often walked in procession with a beggarly brotherhood, with a string of beads in his hand, and a whip at his girdle. He was so credulous that he took the sacrament with the duke of Guise, and with the Cardinal of Lorrain, his brother; and so treacherous that he caused the assassination of them both, 1588. He boasted of being a chief adviser of the late massacre, and the protestants abhorred him for it. The papists hated him for his adherence to the Hugonot house of Bourbon, and for the edicts which he sometimes granted in favour of the protestants, though his only aim was to weaken the Guises. The ladies held him in execration for his unnatural practices: and the duchess of Montpensier talked of

C 2


clipping his hair, and of making him a monk. His heavy taxes, which were consumed by his favourites, excited the populace against him, and, while his kingdom was covering with carnage, and drenching in blood, he was training lapdogs to tumble, and parrots to prate.

In this reign, 1576, was formed the famous league, which reduced France to the most miserable condition that could be. The chief promoter of it was the duke of Guise. The pretence was the preservation of the catholic religion. The chief articles were three. The defence of the catholic religion. The establishment of Henry III. on the throne.' The maintaining of the liberty of the kingdom, and the assembling of the states. Those, who entered into the league, promised to obey such a general as should be chosen for the defence of it, and the whole was confirmed by oath. The weak Henry subscribed it at first in hopes of subduing the Hugonots; the queen-mother, the Guises, the Pope, the king of Spain, many of the clergy, and multitudes of the people, became leaguers. When Henry perceived that Guise was aiming by this league to dethrone him, he favoured the protestants, and they obtained an edict, 1576, for the free exercise of their religion: but edicts were vain things against the power of the league, and three civil wars raged in this reign.

Guise's pretended zeal for the romish religion allured the clergy, and France was filled with seditious books and sermons. The preachers of the league were the most furious of all sermon-mongers. They preached up the excellence of the established church, the necessity of uniformity, the horror of hugonotism, the merit of killing the tyrant on the throne, (for so they called the king) the genealogy of the house of Guise, and every thing else that could inflame the madness of party-rage. It is not enough to say that these abandoned clergymen disgraced their office, truth obliges us to add, they were protected, and preferred to dignities in the church, both in France and Spain.

The nearer the Guises approached to the crown, the more were they inflamed at the sight of it. They obliged the king to forbid the exercise of the protestant religion. They endeavoured to exclude the King of Navarre, who was now the next heir to the throne, from the succession. They began to act so haughtily that Henry caused both the duke and the cardinal to be assassinated, 1588. The next year 1589, he himself was assassinated by a friar. Religion flou


« السابقةمتابعة »