(a) In Switzerland.
/Calvini Joannis, Opera quae supersunt/ in the /Corp. Reformatorum/, vols. xxix.-lxxxvii. Doumergue, /Jean Calvin, les hommes et les choses de son temps/, 1900-5. Kampschulte, /Johann Calvin, seine Kirche und sein staat in Genf/, 1899. Fleury, /Histoire de l'Eglise de Geneve/, 3 vols., 1880. Mignet, /Etablissement de la reforme religieuse et constition du calvinisme a Geneve/, 1877. Choisy, /La theocratie a Geneve au temps de Calvin/, 1897. /Cambridge Mod. History/, ii., chap. xi. (Bibliography, 769-83). For complete bibliography, see /Diction. Theologique/ (art. Calvin).
John Calvin, from whom the heresy takes its name, was born at Noyon in Picardy in 1509. In accordance with the wishes of his father he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, where he was supported mainly from the fruits of the ecclesiastical benefices to which he had been appointed to enable him to pursue his studies. Later on he began to waver about his career in life, and without abandoning entirely his hopes of becoming an ecclesiastic he turned his attention to law in the Universities of Orleans and Bourges. In French intellectual circles of this period a certain spirit of unrest and a contempt for old views and old methods might be detected. The Renaissance ideas, so widespread on the other side of the Alps, had made their way into France, where they found favour with some of the university professors, and created a feeling of distrust and suspicion in the minds of those to whom Scholasticism was the highest ideal. Margaret of Navarre, sister of the king, showed herself the generous patron and defender of the new movement, and secured for it the sympathy and to some extent the support of Francis I. A few of the friends of the Renaissance in France were not slow to adopt the religious ideas of Luther, though not all who were suspected of heresy by the extreme champions of Scholasticism had any intention of joining in a movement directed against the defined doctrines or constitution of the Catholic Church.
As a student at Bourges, Calvin was brought into close relations with Melchior Wolmar, a German Humanist, who was strongly Lutheran in his tendencies, and through whom he became enamoured of Luther's teaching on Justification. On his return to Paris he was soon remarkable as a strong partisan of the advanced section of the university, and by his ability and determination he did much to win over the Renaissance party to the religious teaching that had become so widespread in Germany. As a result of an address delivered by Nicholas Cop, rector of the university, and of several acts of violence perpetrated in the capital by the friends of heresy Francis I. was roused to take action. Calvin, fearing death or imprisonment, made his escape from Paris to Basle (1534). Here he published his first and greatest theological treatise, /Christianae Religionis Institutio/, which he dedicated to the King of France (1536). The work was divided into four sections, namely, God the Creator, God the Redeemer, Grace, and the External Means for Salvation. Both in its style and in its arguments drawn from the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the theologians of the Middle Ages, it was far superior, at least for educated readers, to the best that had been produced by Luther and even to the /Loci Communes/ of Melanchthon.
He arrived at Basle at a time when a crisis had arisen in the political and religious development of Geneva. For a long period the House of Savoy was seeking for an opportunity to annex the territory of Vaud extending along the Lake of Geneva, and the episcopal cities of Geneva and Lausanne. Berne, too, had aspirations of a similar kind. The authorities of Berne, having adopted the Zwinglian doctrine, thought that in it they had a means at their hand to detach Geneva and Lausanne from any sympathy with Savoy and to secure these territories for themselves. They despatched preachers to Geneva, where there were already two political factions, one advocating a closer alliance with Savoy, another clamouring for a union with Berne. The supporters of Berne rallied round William Farel and the Zwinglian ministers, while the friends of Savoy undertook to champion the old religion. The whole struggle was at bottom political rather than religious, but the triumph of the republican adherents of Berne meant victory for the reforming party in Geneva. The Duke of Savoy issued a declaration of war against the rebels to whom the Canton of Berne had pledged support (1534). As a result the forces of Savoy were driven out of Geneva and the Vaud, a close union was formed between Geneva and Berne, and every effort was made to spread the new religion in the city and among the Vaudois. A Zwinglian university was established at Lausanne, which exercised a great influence in propagating the new doctrine, and which had the honour of counting among its students Theodore Beza the most gifted and learned assistant of Calvin.
But though the Vaudois had been won over, Geneva was by no means secured for the reformers. Farel and his followers, finding themselves involved in serious difficulties, appealed to Calvin to help them in completing the work they had begun. In 1536 Calvin accepted this invitation, and took up his residence at Geneva. Gifted with great powers as an organiser and administrator he soon restored order in the city, and won over the people to his doctrines. Himself a man of very strict notions, in whose eyes all even the most harmless amusements appeared sinful or dangerous, he was determined that his followers must accept his views. Under his rule Geneva, formerly so gay, became like a city of death, where all citizens went about as if in mourning. Such an unnatural condition of affairs could not be permanent. The people soon grew tired of their dictator and of his methods; the authorities of Berne were roused to hostility by his refusal to accept their doctrinal programme or their model religious organisation; the Synod of Lausanne declared against him for a similar reason, and in 1538 he and his principal supporters were driven from the city. Cardinal Sadoleto took occasion to address a stirring appeal to Geneva to return to the old faith, but his appeal fell upon deaf ears.
Calvin retired at first to Strassburg, and later he took charge of a parish in France. During the interval he devoted himself to a closer study of the disputed religious questions, and wrote much in favour of the Reformation. It was at this time (1540) that he married the widow of one of the Anabaptist leaders. Meanwhile Geneva was torn by disputes between two factions, the Libertines as they were called, who were opposed to Calvin, and the Guillermins, who clamoured for his return. The latter body gained ground rapidly, and a decree was issued recalling Calvin to Geneva (October 1540). Knowing well that his presence was necessary to restore peace to the city he refused to return unless the conditions imposed by him should be accepted. In the end he went back to Geneva practically as its religious and political dictator (1541).
The form of government introduced was theocratic. Calvin was recognised as the spiritual and temporal ruler of the city. He was assisted in the work of government by the Consistory, which was composed of six clerics and twelve laymen. The latter was the worst form of inquisition court, taking cognisance of the smallest infractions of the rules laid down for the conduct of the citizens, and punishing them by the severest form of punishment. Any want of respect for the Consistory or opposition to its authority was treated as a rebellion against God. Calvin formulated a very severe code of rules for the guidance of the people not merely in their duties as citizens and as members of his religious organisation, but also in their social intercourse with one another. Even the privacy of family life was not sacred in his eyes. All kinds of amusements, theatres, dances, cards, &c., were banned as ungodly, as were also extravagance of dress and anything savouring of frivolity. Nobody was allowed to sell wine or beer except a limited number of merchants licensed to do so by the Consistory.
Nor were these mere empty regulations designed only to keep religion before the eyes of the people without any intention of enforcing them. The preachers were invested with extraordinary powers, and were commissioned to make house to house visitations, to inquire about violations of the rules. In their reports to the Congregation and to the Consistory they noted even the most minute transgressions. Not content with this Calvin had his spies in all parts of the city, who reported to him what people were saying about his methods and his government. The punishment meted out by the courts were of a very severe and brutal kind. No torture that could be inflicted was deemed too much for any one bold enough to criticise the Consistory or the dictator.
It was natural that such methods should be highly distasteful to those of the citizens of Geneva who were not religious fanatics. A strong party tried to resist him. They accused him of being much more tyrannical than the Pope, but Calvin denounced such opponents as libertines, heretics, and atheists. He handed them over to the devil at least in so far as his ecclesiastical censures were effective, threatened the severest spiritual punishment against their aiders and abettors, and when all such means of reproof failed he had recourse to the secular arm.
Sebastian Castellio, a well-known preacher and Scriptural scholar, was punished because he could not agree with Calvin's teaching on predestination, as was also the physician Bolsec; Ameaux one of the members of the Council was put to death because he denounced the tyranny of Calvin and of the Consistory; Gentilis was condemned to execution for differing with Calvin's teaching on the Trinity, and was compelled to make a most abject public retraction before he could obtain a reprieve. Several of the citizens were punished with long imprisonment for dancing even on the occasion of a wedding, as happened in the case of Le Fevre, whose son-in-law was obliged to flee to France because he resented warmly such methods of promoting religion. In Geneva and in the adjoining territory all Catholic practices were put down by violence, and the peasants were allowed no choice in their religious views. Possibly, however, the most glaring example of Calvin's tyranny and high-handed methods was his treatment of Michael Servetus, a Spaniard who had written against the Trinity. He was on a journey through the territory of Geneva and was doing nothing to spread his doctrines nor acting in any way likely to bring him under the ire of Calvin. The latter having heard of his presence there had him arrested, tried, and condemned to death. To justify such harshness he published a pamphlet in which he advocated death as the only proper remedy for heresy. Theodore Beza wrote strongly in support of this opinion of his master's, as did also Melanchthon who, though differing from Calvin on so many points, hastened to forward his warmest congratulations on the execution of Servetus.
Calvin's acts of cruelty were not the result of violent outbursts of temper. By nature cold and immovable, he did not allow himself to be hurried to extremes either by anger or by passion. How he succeeded in maintaining his position for so many years in Geneva is intelligible only to those who understand the strength of the religious fanaticism that he was able to arouse amongst his followers, the terror which his spiritual and temporal punishments inspired among his opponents, his own wonderful capacity for organisation and administration, the activity of his ministers and spies, and the almost perfect system of repression that he adopted in his two-fold character of religious and political dictator.
To strengthen his position and to provide for the continuance of his system he established an academy at Geneva (1558) principally for the study of theology and philosophy. It was attended by crowds of scholars from Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland. By means of the academy, Calvinism was spread throughout Switzerland notwithstanding the opposition of the Zwinglian preachers, and Calvin's system of ecclesiastical organisation became the model aimed at by his disciples in most countries of Europe, notably France, the Netherlands, and Scotland. The Zurich school, at the head of which stood Bullinger, did not yield ground to the new teaching without a severe struggle, and Calvin found himself obliged to come to terms with them in the /Consensus Tigurninus/ (1549). In his desire to secure the religious unity of Switzerland he had no difficulty in abandoning or minimising his own doctrine in the hope of overcoming or winning over his opponents. After a life of tireless energy his health began to fail in 1561, and three years later he passed away (1564).
Calvin was a man of morose and gloomy temperament, severe even to harshness with his followers, and utterly devoid of human sympathy. Not so however his disciple and assistant Theodore Beza. The latter was born in Burgundy in 1519, and after completing his classical studies at Orleans he drifted to Paris, where he plunged into all the pleasures and dissipations of the capital, and where at first he was remarkable more for his love songs than for his theology. He devoted himself to the study of law, and in 1539 he took his licentiate at Paris. Having become attached to the opinions of the Swiss Reformers he left Paris and settled at Geneva, where he fell completely under the influence of Calvin, but not even Calvin's temperament and system could change his naturally gay and sympathetic disposition. For this reason he became a general favourite, and did much to win the good- will of those who felt themselves rebelled by the harshness of the dictator. Beza was, besides, a man of very superior ability, and had been especially well equipped in Hebrew and in the classics. He was master of a striking style whether he wrote in French or in Latin, eloquent beyond most of his contemporaries, and in every way capable of making a good impression not merely on the ordinary citizen but on the more educated classes. His writings in defence of Calvin's system and his translations of the Scriptures gave him a great reputation throughout Europe, and gained for him a commanding position in Geneva, where he died in 1605.
Calvin's system was modelled to a great extent on the doctrines of Luther and Zwingli, but it was coloured largely by his own harsh and morose disposition. For the distinguishing feature of his system, namely, absolute predestination, he was dependent largely upon the works of Wycliffe. Like Luther, he began with the assumption that the condition of man before the Fall was entirely natural, and that consequently by the Fall he was deprived of something that was essential to his nature and without which human nature was completely corrupted. Man was no longer free, and every act of his was sinful. His want of freedom was the result of the play of external forces directed and arranged by God, rather than of any internal necessity by which he was forced to sin. God is, according to Calvin, the author of sin, in the sense that he created a certain number of men to work evil through them in order that He might have an opportunity of displaying the divine attribute of mercy. Hence the motive of God in bringing about evil is different from the motive of the sinner, and therefore though the sinner is blameworthy God is nowise responsible for his crime.
Adam sinned because it was decreed by God that he should fall in order that the divine mercy should be manifested to the world. For the same reason God did not intend that all should be equally good or that all should be saved. He created some men that they might sin and that their punishment might afford an example of God's justice, while He made others that they might be saved to show His overwhelming mercy. The former are condemned to hell by an irreversible decree, the others, the elect, are predestined absolutely to glory. The elect are assured of justification through the merits of Christ, and once justified they are always justified, for justification cannot be lost. Faith such as that advocated by Luther was the means of acquiring justification, but, mindful of his other doctrine that even the best of men's works are sinful, Calvin took care to explain that justifying faith was only the instrument by which a man laid hold of the merits of Christ. It was like a vessel which, though containing some priceless treasure, was in itself worthless.
As might be expected, Calvin refused to admit that the sacraments were endowed with any objective power of conferring Grace. In the case of their reception by the elect, however, he held that they were the means of strengthening the faith by which justification is acquired, but for those predestined to damnation they were mere signs without any spiritual effect. In regard to the Eucharist, while he rejected the Catholic view of Transubtantiation, he maintained against the Lutherans that Impanation or Companation was equally absurd. Nor did he agree with Zwingli that the Eucharist is a mere sign of Christ's love for men. According to him Christ is really present, in the sense that though the bread and wine remain unchanged, the predestined receive with the Eucharistic elements a heavenly food that proceeds from the body of Christ in Heaven.
Like Luther he contended that the true Church of Christ is invisible, consisting in his view only of the predestined, but, realising the necessity for authority and organisation, he was driven to hold that the invisible Church manifested itself through a visible religious society. Unlike Luther, however, he was unwilling to subordinate the Church to the civil power, believing as he did that it was a society complete in itself and entirely independent of temporal sovereigns. Each Calvinistic community should be to a great extent a self- governing republic, all of them bound together into one body by the religious synods, to which the individual communities should elect representatives. The churches were to be ruled by pastors, elders, and deacons. Candidates for the sacred ministry were to receive the confirmation of their vocation by a call from some Calvinistic church body, and were to be ordained by the imposition of the hands of the presbyters or elders. For Calvin as for Luther the Holy Scriptures were the sole rule of faith to be adopted by both the preachers and the synods. The special illumination of the Holy Ghost was sufficient to guard individuals from being deceived either in determining what books are inspired, or what is the precise meaning which God wished to convey in any particular book or passage.
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Baird, /Theodore Beza, Counsellor of the French Reform/, 1900.
Galli, /Die Lutheran, und Calvinist, Kirchenstrafen im Reformationszeitalter/, 1878.
Rouquette, /L'Inquisition protestante. Les victimes de Calvin/, 1906. Galiffe, /Quelques pages d'histoire exacte sur les proces intentes a Geneve/, 1862. Paulus, /Luther und Gewissensfreiheit/, 1905. Id., /Melanchthon und Gewissensfreiheit/ (/Katholik/, i., 546 sqq.).
Schwane, /Dogmengeschichte der neuerenzeit/. Cunningham, /The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation/, 1862.
(b) Calvinism in France.
Lavisse, /Histoire de France/ (vols v.-vi.), 1904-5. De Meaux, /Les luttes religieuses en France au XVIe siecle/, 1879. Imbart de la Tour, /Les origines de la Reforme/, vols. i.-ii., 1904-9. Hauser, /Etudes sur la Reforme francaise/, 1909. Capefigue, /Histoire de la reforme, de la ligue et du regne de Henri IV./, 4 vols., 1834. Maimbourg, /Histoire du Calvinisme/, 1682. Soldan, /Geschichte des Protestantismus in Frankreich bis zum Tode Karls ix./, 2 Bde, 1855. Baird, /History of the Rise of the Huguenots in France/, 2 vols., 1879. See also bibliography, chap. iii. (a).
Many causes combined to favour the introduction of the reformed doctrines into France. Owing to the anti-papal attitude adopted by the French theologians during the Great Western Schism, there was still lurking in many circles a strong feeling against the Holy See and in favour of a national Church, over which the Pope should retain merely a supremacy of honour. Besides, the influence of the old sects, the Albigenses and the Waldenses, had not disappeared entirely, and the principles of the French mystics favoured the theory of religious individualism, that lay behind the whole teaching of the reformers. The Renaissance, too, was a power in France, more especially in Paris, where it could boast of powerful patrons such as Margaret of Navarre, sister of Francis I. and wife of the King of Navarre, the king's mistress, his favourite minister Du Bellay, and the latter's brother, the Bishop of Paris. Not all the French Humanists, however, were equally dangerous. A few of them were undoubtedly favourable to Luther's views, while many others, infuriated by the charges of unorthodoxy levelled against them, were inclined to look with complacency on whatever was condemned by their Scholastic opponents. The proximity of Strassburg, where Lutheran and Zwinglian doctrines found support, and the close relations existing between the Paris University and German scholars helped to disseminate among Frenchmen the writings of Erasmus, Luther, and Melanchthon and with them the new religious views.
Against the success of the Reformation in France was the fact that the people, Latin rather than Teuton in their sympathies, were thoroughly devoted to their religion and to the Holy See, that the bishops though nominated by the king according to the Concordat of 1516, were more zealous than their German brethren, that in the main Paris University, then the great centre of intellectual life in France, was thoroughly Catholic, and that the queen-mother, the chancellor of state, the leading ministers both lay and ecclesiastic, and the parliamentary authorities could be relied upon to offer Lutheranism their strongest opposition. Nor, however much Francis I. might be inclined to vacillate in the hope of securing the help of the German Protestant princes in his struggle with the empire, had he any desire to see his kingdom convulsed by the religious strife raging on the other side of the Rhine.
In 1521 the Parliament of Paris with the approval of the king forbade the publication of writings dealing with the new religious views. Luther's books were condemned, and the Paris University drew up a list of erroneous propositions extracted from the works of the German theologians (1523). At the request of the queen-mother the theological faculty of Paris formulated a plan for preventing the spread of the German errors in France, the main points of which were that heretical books should be forbidden, that the bishops should be exhorted to seek out such works in their dioceses and have them destroyed, and that the Sorbonne should have a free hand in maintaining religious unity. Yet in spite of these precautions a Lutheran community was formed at Meaux in the vicinity of Paris, and in the South of France, where the Waldensian party was still strong, Lutheran teaching found many supporters. In some places various attempts were made to imitate the tactics adopted so successfully at Wittenberg and Berne to bring about by force the discontinuance of Catholic worship. But these attempts failed, owing mainly to the independent attitude of the local parliaments and to the energy of the bishops, who removed one of the most dangerous weapons wielded by the heretics by insisting on a thorough reform of the clergy.
But though Francis I. had been moved to take action against the sectaries, and though Calvin and other leaders were obliged to leave France, the reforming party, relying on the influence of patrons like Margaret of Navarre and on the Humanist section at the university and at the newly established College de France, felt confident of ultimate success. They realised that the king was most anxious to arrive at an understanding with the Protestant princes of Germany against Charles V., and that therefore it was unlikely that he would indulge in a violent persecution of their co-religionists at home. They knew, too, that Francis I. had set his heart on securing complete control of the Church in his own dominions, as was evident by the hard bargain which he drove with Leo X. in the Corcordat of 1516, and they were not without hope that Luther's teaching on the spiritual supremacy of the civil rulers might prove an irresistible bait to a man of such a temperament. Negotiations were opened with Francis I. by some of the German reformers, who offered to accept most of the Catholic doctrines together with episcopal government if only the king would support their cause (1534). As it was impossible to arrange for a conference, the Lutheran party submitted a summary of their views embodied in twelve articles to the judgment of the Sorbonne. In reply to this communication the doctors of the Sorbonne, instead of wasting their energies in the discussion of particular tenets, invited the Germans to state explicitly whether or not they accepted the authority of the Church and the writings of the Fathers. Such an attitude put an end to all hopes of common action between the French and German theologians, but at the same time Francis I. was not willing, for political reasons, to break with Protestantism. The publication, however, of a particularly offensive pamphlet against Catholicism, printed in Switzerland and scattered broadcast throughout France, served as a warning to the king that his own country was on the brink of being plunged into the civil strife which Protestantism had fomented in Germany, and that if he wanted to preserve national unity and peace the time for decisive action had arrived. Many of the leading reformers were arrested and some of them were put to death, while others were banished from France (1535).
From this time the Lutherans began to lose hope of securing the active co-operation of Francis I., but the friendly political relations between the king and the German Protestant princes, together with the close proximity of Strassburg, Geneva, and Berne, from which preachers and pamphlets made their way into France, helped to strengthen the heretical party in the country despite the efforts of the ecclesiastical and lay authorities. In the South many of the Waldenses in Dauphiny and Provence went over formally to the side of the Calvinists. In places where they possessed considerable strength they indulged in violent attacks on the clergy, for which reason severe measures of repression were adopted by the local administrators and by the king. As in Switzerland, so too in France Calvinism proved to be the most attractive of the new religious systems. Calvinistic communities were formed at Paris, Rouen, Lyons and Orleans, all of which looked to Geneva for direction. The name given to the French followers of Calvin was Huguenots.
Henry II. (1547-59), who succeeded on the death of Francis I. had no difficulty in allying himself with the German Protestants, and in despatching an army to assist Maurice of Saxony in his rebellion against the Emperor, while at the same time taking every precaution against the spread of heresy at home. He established a new inquisition department presided over by a Dominican for the detection and punishment of the Huguenots, and pledged the civil power to carry out its decisions. In this attitude he was supported strongly by the University of Paris, which merited the heartiest congratulations of Julius III. by its striking defence of Catholic doctrines, especially the necessity of obedience to the Holy See. Yet notwithstanding all measures taken against them the Huguenots continued to increase in numbers. The Bishop of Navarre went over to their side, as did a certain number of the clergy, and the attitude of some of the others was uncertain. So strong did the Huguenot party find itself in France that a Synod representing the different reformed communities was held in Paris in 1559, at which the doctrine and ecclesiastical organisation introduced by Calvin into Switzerland were formally adopted. The accession of Elizabeth to the throne in England, and the hopes entertained in France of detaching that country from Spain made the French government less anxious to adopt severe measures against the Protestants. After the Peace of Cateau Cambresis (1559), when Henry determined to make a great effort to extirpate Calvinism, he was prevented by death.
Francis II. who lived only one year (1559-60) succeeded, and he was followed by Charles IX. (1560-74). The latter of these was a mere child, and during the minority the government of the country was in the hands of Catharine de' Medici, his mother, who became regent of France. At the court two parties struggled for supremacy, the family of Guise which stood for Catholicism, and the Bourbons who favoured Calvinism. The regent, not being a woman of very decided religious convictions or tendencies, set herself to play off one party against the other so as to increase her own power, and in this way a splendid opportunity was given to the Calvinists to pursue their religious campaign. Several of the more powerful people in the kingdom favoured their schemes solely out of hatred to the Duke of Guise and with the hope of lessening his power. Amongst the prominent Calvinist leaders at this period were Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, and his brother Louis Prince de Conde, the Constable de Montmorency and Admiral Coligny, the recognised head and ablest leader of the Huguenot party.
Taking advantage of the bitter feeling aroused amongst their followers by the execution of some of their number, the Huguenots formed a conspiracy (Tumult of Amboise 1560) to seize the young king, to overthrow the Duke of Guise, and to set up in his place the Prince de Conde. The Calvinist theologians, having been consulted about the lawfulness of such an enterprise, declared that the conspirators might proceed without fear of sinning so long as a prince of the royal family was amongst their leaders. The plot was discovered, however, before their plans were matured, and several of those who took part in it were put to death. Instead of weakening, it served only to strengthen the family of Guise. Francis, Duke of Guise, was appointed a lieutenant-general of France with the title of saviour of his country, while his brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, became chief inquisitor and one of the papal legates appointed for the reform of abuses in France. The King of Navarre, to whom Pius IV. addressed a personal appeal, confessed his unfaltering loyalty to the Catholic religion, although at the same time he was doing much to spread Calvinism in his own dominions and throughout the South of France.
Though the royal edict against the Calvinists, published in 1560, was severe, yet little was done to enforce its terms except against those who had recourse to arms. The Prince de Conde organised a new conspiracy and attempted to secure Lyons. He was arrested, tried, and condemned to death, but before the sentence could be carried out Francis II. passed away.
A new grouping of parties now took place. The regent, Catharine de' Medici, alarmed at the growing influence of the Guise faction, threw the whole weight of her influence into the scales in favour of the Prince de Conde and of the Huguenots. A royal edict was issued suspending all prosecutions against heretics and ordering the release of all prisoners detained on account of their religion (1561). The regent wrote to the Pope praising the religious fervour of the Calvinists, and calling upon him to suppress several Catholic practices to which the heretics had taken exception. She professed herself anxious for a national council to settle the religious differences, and failing this she insisted upon a religious disputation at Poissy. The disputation (|Colloquy| of Poissy) took place (1561) in presence of the young king, his mother, and a large number of cardinals, bishops, and ministers of state. The Catholics were represented by the Cardinal of Lorraine, the Jesuit General Lainez, and other distinguished clergy, while the Calvinists sent a large number of their ablest leaders, conspicuous amongst whom were Theodore Beza and Francois de Morel. The principal doctrines in dispute, notably the authority of the Church and the Eucharist, were discussed at length without result. Then a small committee, composed of five theologians representing each side, was appointed, but without any better success. In the end, as no agreement could be secured, the conference was dismissed.
Owing to the close alliance between the regent and the Prince de Conde the former issued a new edict, in which she allowed the Calvinists free exercise of their religion outside the cities provided that they assembled unarmed, commanded them to restore the goods and churches they had seized, and forbade them to have recourse to violence or to conspiracies to promote their views (1562). Encouraged by these concessions, the Calvinists especially in the South of France attempted to force their religion on the people. They attacked churches, profaned the Blessed Sacrament, murdered several priests and laymen, and obliged the peasants to listen to their preachers. Feeling between the two parties was extremely bitter, and the Catholics were especially incensed that a small minority should be allowed to have their own way regardless of the opinions of the vast body of the French people.
In these circumstances it required very little to lead to serious conflict. At Vassy some soldiers accompanying the Duke of Guise quarrelled with a party of Calvinists, whose psalm-singing was disturbing the Mass at which the Duke was assisting. The latter, hearing the noise, hastened out to restore peace, and was struck with a stone. His followers, incensed at this outrage, drew their swords and killed a large number of the Calvinists. This incident, referred to generally as the massacre of Vassy, led to a new civil war (1562). The Calvinists hastened to take up arms, and the Prince de Conde was assured of English assistance. A large army attacked Toulouse, but after a struggle lasting four days the Calvinists were defeated and driven off with severe loss. In Normandy and other centres where they were strong they carried on the war with unheard of cruelty; but as they were in a hopeless minority and as the English failed to give them the necessary assistance they lost many of their strongholds, and finally suffered a terrible defeat at Dreux where the Prince de Conde was taken prisoner (Dec.1562). Coligny escaped to Orleans, which city was besieged by the Duke of Guise, who was murdered during the siege by one of the followers of Coligny. Before his execution the prisoner accused Coligny and Beza as being accessories to his crime, but it is only fair to say that Coligny denied under oath the truth of this statement.
Though the Catholics were victorious the awful struggle had cost them dearly. Their ablest leader the Duke of Guise had fallen, as had also Antoine de Bourbon, King of Navarre, who had been converted from Calvinism; many of their churches and most valuable shrines were destroyed; and to make matters worse they recognised that the struggle had been fought in vain, as the regent proclaimed a general amnesty and concluded a peace with the Huguenots (Peace of Amboise, 1563), whereby Calvinist nobles and their followers were allowed free exercise of their religion with certain restrictions.
Neither side was satisfied with these terms. Coligny and the Prince de Conde were annoyed furthermore by the fact that the regent broke off her close relations with them, and began to lean towards the Catholic side and toward an alliance with Spain. After raising large sums of money and arming their forces for a new effort they determined to seize the king and his court at Monceau, but the Constable de Montmorency with six thousand trusty Swiss soldiers hastened to the king's defence, and brought him safely from the midst of his enemies (1567). This attempt together with the terrible slaughter of Catholics at Nimes (29 Sept.) led to the outbreak of the second civil war. The Catholic forces were successful at St. Denis though they lost one of their ablest generals, the Constable de Montmorency, and were deprived of the fruits of their victory by the intervention of the Elector of the Palatinate. Owing to the mediation of the latter a new treaty was made in 1568, but as the Huguenots continued to seek alliances with England, Germany, and the Netherlands, Charles IX. recalled the concessions he had made, and forbade the exercise of Calvinist worship under penalty of death.
Thereupon the third civil war broke out (1569). The Huguenots received assistance from England, the Netherlands, and Germany, while the Catholics were supported by Spain and the Pope. The war was carried on with relentless cruelty on both sides. In the battle of Jarnac the Huguenot forces were defeated, and the Prince de Conde was slain (1569). The struggle was however continued by Coligny supported by Henry King of Navarre and the young de Conde. By wonderful exertions Coligny put a new army into the field only however to suffer another terrible defeat at Montcontour, where the Huguenots were almost annihilated. It seemed that the long struggle was to end at last and that peace was to be restored to France. But unfortunately at this juncture some of his courtiers succeeded in convincing Charles IX. that his brother, the Duke of Anjou, who with the young Duke of Guise was mainly responsible for the Catholic victories, might use his recognised military ability and his influence with the people to make himself king of France. Alarmed by the prospect of such a contingency Charles IX., already jealous of his brother's triumphs, turned against the Catholic party and concluded the Peace of St. Germain-en-Laye with the Huguenots (1570).
According to the terms of this Peace the Huguenots were allowed free exercise of their religion in France with the sole exception of the capital. They were not to be excluded from any office of the state, and four of the strongest fortresses of the country, La Rochelle, Montauban, Cognac, and La Charite were to be delivered to them for their protection and as a guarantee of good faith. The whole policy of Charles IX. underwent a complete change. Obsessed with the idea that the Catholic party, led by the Duke of Anjou, was becoming too powerful to be trusted, he turned to Coligny and the Calvinists, broke off the alliance concluded with Spain the previous year, and sought to bring over France to the side of England and of the rebel subjects of Spain in the Netherlands. Coligny was invited to court, where he soon became the most trusted and influential councillor of the king. He endeavoured to embitter the mind of Charles IX. against his mother, against the Duke of Anjou and the family of Guise. No effort was spared by him to bring France into the closest relations with England and the Netherlands against Spain, and as a sign of the reconciliation that had been effected between the court and the Huguenots a marriage was arranged between Henry, the Calvinist King of Navarre and Margaret of Valois, the sister of Charles IX.
The Catholics were highly indignant at this sudden change of policy. Mindful of the misfortunes brought upon their country by the Huguenots and of the losses and cruelties they had suffered at the hands of this implacable minority, they resented the domination of Coligny, whom they regarded as their most dangerous enemy, and they were embittered by the thought that the victories they had won at so much cost had resulted only in their own downfall and in the triumph of their worst enemies. Catharine de' Medici, the queen-mother, felt more acutely than the rest the influence of Coligny. She believed that he was using his power to alienate the young king from herself, and to win him from the policy she had advocated. She was only waiting an opportunity to wreak her vengeance on Coligny and the whole Huguenot party, knowing well as she did that she could count upon the popular feeling of the nation to support her.
The opportunity came on the occasion of the marriage between the King of Navarre and Margaret of Valois. The leading Calvinists anxious to take part in the ceremony flocked to Paris, where they and their followers paraded the streets armed to the teeth and with the air of conquerors. Catharine de' Medici took steps to secure the murder of Coligny on the 22nd August, 1572, but the attempt failed. Such a step served, however, to embitter feelings on both sides, and to arouse the queen-mother to make one final effort for the destruction of her Huguenot opponents. In an audience with the king she represented to him that the Calvinists were plotting to take his life, and that the only way to secure himself against them was to anticipate them. In view of the previous history of the party and the suspicious temperament of the king, it required little to convince him of the truth of this allegation, and at last he signed an order that on a certain pre-arranged signal having been given the soldiers should let loose on the Huguenots. On the night preceding the feast of St. Bartholomew (23-24 Aug.) the bells of the church of St. Germain-en- Laye were rung, and the troops sallied forth to carry out their instructions. Rumours of a Huguenot plot had been spread through the city. The people were alarmed, and the general body of the citizens took up arms to support the soldiers. In the melee that followed over a thousand Calvinists including Coligny were put to death. The movement spread through the provinces where about the same number suffered as in the capital, though many of the Catholic clergy, as for example, the Bishop of Lisieux, exerted themselves to put an end to the butchery.
This event is known in history as the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The massacre was in no sense a premeditated affair. It was a sudden outburst of popular indignation brought about by the machinations of the queen-mother, and was neither encouraged nor approved by the bishops of the Catholic Church. The king presented himself before the Parliament of Paris on the day following the massacre, and declared that he alone was responsible for what had happened. He explained that a plot had been formed against his life and that he had taken the only measures that it was possible for him to take. This was the account of the affair that was forwarded to the French diplomatic representatives abroad, and which they gave at all courts to which they were accredited. Gregory XIII., acting on the report of the French ambassador, ordered that a /Te Deum/ should be sung in thanksgiving for the safety of the king and royal family, and not, as has been so often alleged, as a sign of rejoicing for the murder of the Calvinists. On the contrary he was deeply pained when he learned the true state of affairs. The massacre of St. Bartholomew was indeed unjustifiable, but it was done neither to promote religion nor at the instigation of the Church. It was merely political in its object as far as the king and the queen-mother were concerned, and it was a sudden popular outburst in so far as the citizens of Paris or the people of the country took part in it. In judging the responsibility and blame for what took place nobody can put out of mind the terrible excesses, of which the Huguenots had been guilty during their long struggle against their own countrymen. The German Lutherans, who looked upon the slaughter as a judgment from Heaven on the Calvinist heretics, were rejoiced at their execution.
The Huguenots flew to arms to avenge their brethren who had fallen, and the fourth civil war began. The Duke of Anjou laid siege to their strongest fortress, La Rochelle, but failed to take it, and on his election as King of Poland (1573) a treaty was concluded according to which the Huguenots were allowed free exercise of their religion. A large number of French politicians were at last growing tired of a struggle which was costing their country so dearly, and were anxious to conclude peace even though it were necessary to yield to the demands of the Huguenots. At the head of this party stood some of the most powerful nobles of France including the Duc d'Alencon, and when on the death of Charles IX. the Duke of Anjou succeeded as Henry III. (1575-89) his sympathies were entirely with the party of the moderates as against the extremists of both sides. By the terms of the Peace of Beaulieu (1576) the Huguenots were assured of complete freedom except in Paris and at the French Court, and of full civil rights, and as a guarantee of good faith they were continued in possession of their fortresses.
Indignant at such concessions the Catholic party formed the League with the young Duke of Guise at its head. Henry III., finding that it was impossible to oppose this combination with any hope of success, determined to control it by becoming himself its leader. The concessions made to the Huguenots were recalled (1577), and the fifth civil war broke out. This was brought to an end by the Peace of Poitiers (1577). The Huguenot party, under the King of Navarre and the young Prince de Conde, continued to make headway against the League, and sought to strengthen themselves by an alliance with England and the Netherlands.
The question of the succession to the French throne became serious for both parties. Henry III. was childless, and on the death of the heir- apparent, his brother the Duke of Anjou (Alencon, 1584), the succession devolved apparently on Henry King of Navarre, but as he was a Calvinist the Catholics were unwilling to recognise him. The League declared Cardinal de Bourbon son of the Duke of Vendome as the lawful heir to the French throne, though many of its out and out supporters were in favour of the Duke of Guise. An attempt was made to get the approval of the Pope for the League and its policy, but both George XIII. and Sixtus V. were not inclined to support its pretensions. At the earnest request of Spain the latter, however, issued a constitution in 1585, by which he declared that Henry of Navarre and the Prince de Conde, as notorious heretics excommunicated by the Church, had forfeited all claim to the throne of France. Henry of Navarre lodged a solemn protest in Rome, and he appealed to the Parliament of Paris, which refused to approve of the publication of the papal document. Both sides had recourse once more to arms, and the Huguenots under the leadership of Henry of Navarre were victorious in the battle of Coutras (1587). The League however continued the struggle, captured some of the principal cities such as Lyons, Orleans, and Bourges, while Henry III. favoured both parties in turn. Overawed by the successful exploits of the Duke of Guise he pledged himself to put down the Huguenots, and the French people were called upon by royal proclamation to swear that they would never accept a heretic as their king (1588).
But in his heart Henry III. favoured the cause of the King of Navarre, if for no other reason because he wished to escape from the dictatorship of the Duke of Guise. In 1588 he procured the murder of the two greatest leaders of the League, Henry Duke of Guise and his brother Louis the Cardinal-archbishop of Lyons. This outrage drew upon him the wrath of the League and of the great body of the French Catholics. Charles de Lorraine, brother of the murdered Duke of Guise, put himself at the head of the king's enemies. Sixtus V. issued a strong condemnation of the murder of the cardinal-archbishop, and the Sorbonne declared that the nation no longer owed any allegiance to the king. The war was renewed vigorously on both sides, the League being supported by Philip II. of Spain and its opponents by Protestant troops from Germany and Switzerland. While the combined forces of Henry III. and of the King of Navarre were besieging Paris, Henry III. was assassinated (1589).
Thereupon Henry of Navarre had himself proclaimed King of France under the title of Henry IV., but the League refused to recognise his claims and put forward instead the aged Cardinal de Bourbon, then a prisoner in the hands of the King of Navarre. The Cardinal also was proclaimed king (Charles X.). Spain, too, refused to acknowledge Henry IV., and assisted the League with both money and soldiers. The Popes, Sixtus V. Gregory VIX. and Clement VIII. adopted an attitude of great reserve. While they were not inclined to support the demands of the League in their entirety they were unshaken in their reserve to acknowledge no heretic as king of France. Henry IV., though supported by many of the moderate Catholics (/Les Politiques/), began to recognise that as a Calvinist he could never hope for peaceful possession of the French throne. He determined, therefore, to yield to the entreaties of his most powerful supporters and to make his submission to the Catholic Church. In July 1593 he read a public recantation in the Church of St. Denis, and was absolved conditionally from the censures he had incurred. The following year he made his formal entrance into Paris, where he was welcomed by the people, and acknowledged as lawful king of France by the Sorbonne. Having pledged himself to accept the decrees of the Council of Trent, to abide by the terms of the Concordat of 1516, and to rear his heir and successor as a Catholic he was reconciled to the Holy See. The League dissolved itself in a short time, and so far as Catholics were concerned peace was restored to France.
The Huguenots, Henry IV.'s former co-religionists, were deeply pained at the step taken by their leader, and they insisted that their demands must be satisfied. Henry IV., more anxious for the unity and welfare of France than for the triumph of either religious party, determined to put an end to the civil strife by the publication of the Edict of Nantes (1598). The principal articles of the Edict were that the Calvinists should enjoy freedom of worship throughout the greater part of the kingdom, that they should be eligible for all positions of honour and trust in the state, that they should have for their own use the Universities of Montauban, Montpelier, Sedan, and Samur, that the funds for the upkeep of these universities and for the maintenance of their religion should be supplied by the state, and that for a period of eight years they should have possession of some of the principal fortresses. On their side they engaged to break off all alliances with foreigners, to allow Catholic worship to be restored in the places where it had been suppressed, to observe the marriage laws of the Catholic Church, and to abstain from anything that might be regarded as a violation of Catholic holidays. Such concessions were regarded with great disfavour by the Pope, the clergy, and the vast majority of the French people as being opposed to the entire national tradition of France, and it required all the efforts of the king to secure for them the approval of the Paris Parliament (1599). Similarly the Calvinists were not content with what had been conceded to them, nor were they willing to abide by the terms of the Edict of Nantes in so far as to allow the establishment of Catholic worship in the places which were under their control. Their public attacks on the Blessed Eucharist and on the Pope were very irritating to their countrymen, but Henry IV., who was a good king deeply interested especially in the welfare of the lower classes, continued to keep the peace between both parties. His sympathies were, however, with the Protestants of Germany, and he was actually on his way to take part in a war against the Emperor when he was assassinated (1610).
He was succeeded by his son Louis XIII. (1610-43) who was then a boy of nine years. His mother Mary de' Medici, who acted as regent approved the terms of the Edict of Nantes, but the Huguenots relying on the weakness of the government refused to carry out those portions of the Edict favourable to Catholics, and made demands for greater privileges. They rose in rebellion several times especially in the South, entered into alliance with every rebel noble who took up arms against the king, and acted generally as if they formed a state within a state. Cardinal Richelieu who was for years the actual ruler of France (1624-42), inspired solely by political motives, determined to put an end to a condition of affairs that was highly dangerous to the strength and national unity of the kingdom. He saw that it was impossible for France to extend her power so long as there existed at home a well-organised body of citizens prepared to enter into treasonable relations with foreign enemies, and to turn to their own advantage their country's difficulties. His opportunity came when the Huguenots having concluded an alliance with England rose in rebellion (1627). He laid siege to their strongest fortress, La Rochelle, drove back the fleet which England sent to their assistance, and compelled the city to surrender (1628). By this strong measure he put an end to the power of the Huguenots in France and secured peace and unity for the country, while at the same time he treated the conquered with comparative mildness, confirming the Edict of Nantes (Edict of Nimes, 1629), proclaiming a general amnesty, and restoring the leaders of the rebellion to the property and positions they had forfeited.
During the reign of Louis XIV. (1643-1715) the whole tendency of the government was dangerous to the Huguenots. Louis XIV. was determined to make himself absolute ruler of France, and, therefore, he could regard only with the highest disfavour the presence in his territories of a well-organised privileged party like the Huguenots. An opportunity of carrying out his designs came in 1659, when with the approval of the Synod of Montpazier they attempted to negotiate an alliance with England. They were punished with great severity, forbidden to preach in any place without express permission, to attack Catholic doctrines publicly, or to intermarry with Catholics. Converts from Calvinism were encouraged by promises of special concessions. Owing to the disfavour of the king and the energetic action of the clergy and bishops, whose education and culture at that time stood exceedingly high, large numbers of the Huguenots returned to the Church so that in some places, as for example in Normandy, where once they could boast of considerable influence, the sect became almost extinct.
The severity of the measures taken by Louis XIV. led to new rebellions, which were suppressed with great severity. Finally in 1685 a royal proclamation appeared announcing the revocation of all the privileges granted to the Huguenots and more particularly all those contained in the Edict of Nantes (1685). The churches which they had built recently were to be destroyed, their religious assembles were forbidden, and their clergy were offered their choice between submission to the Church or exile. The prime minister Louvois sent soldiers to enforce this proclamation, and the unfortunate Huguenots were treated with great harshness and cruelty. Many of them, unwilling to change their religion and unable to endure their hard lot at home, left the country and sought refuge in England, Germany, Denmark, and Holland. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes was not due to the religious zeal of Louis XIV. or of his ministers. Indeed at the very time that Louis XIV. was engaged in dragooning the Huguenots into the Catholic Church he was in bitter conflict with the Pope, and was committed to a policy that seemed destined to end in national schism. Some of the French bishops, notably Fenelon, disapproved of this attempt at conversion by violence, and Pope Innocent XI., having no representative in Paris at the time, instructed his nuncio at London to induce James II. of England to bring pressure to bear on Louis XIV. to favour the Huguenots. Several times during the reign of Louis the Calvinists rose in arms to defend their religion but without effect. After his death the decrees against them were not enforced with much severity, but it was only in 1787 that a measure of almost complete political equality was granted to them by Louis XVI. -- -- -- -- --
Lefranc, /Les idees religieuses de Marguerite de Navarre/, 1898.
Thomas, /Le Concordat de 1516/, 3 vols., 1910.
Forneron, /Les Ducs de Guise/, 1877.
De Ruble, /Antoine de Bourbon/, 2 vols., 1881-2.
Marcks, /Gaspard von Coligny/, 1892. Delaborde, /Gaspard de Coligny/, 3 vols., 1879-83.
De Ruble, /L'assassinat de Francois de Lorraine/, 1898.
Rouquette, /L'inquisition protestante, Les Saint-Barthelemy calvinistes/, 1906.
On the massacre of St. Bartholomew, cf. De la Ferriere, /La St. Barthelemy/, 1892. Fauriel, /Essai sur les evenements qui ont precede et amene la St. Barthelemy/, 1838. Bordier, /La St. Barthelemy et la critique moderne/, 1879. Hanoteaux, /Etudes historiques sur le XVIe et le XVIIe siecle en France/, 1886. Vacandard, /Etudes de critique et d'histoire religieuse/, 1905. Id., /Les papes et la St. Barthelemy/ (/Rev. du Cler. Francais/, 1904).
Richard, /La papaute et la ligue francaise/, 1901. De Chalambert, /Histoire de la Ligue sous Henri III. et Henri IV./, 1898. De l'Epinois, /La Ligue et les papes/, 1886.
Caillet, /L'Administration en France sous le ministere du cardinal de Richelieu/, 2 vols., 1863.
Gerin, /Le Pape, Innocent XI. et la Revocation de l'Edit de Nantes/ (/Rev. des Quest. Historiques/, xxiv.).
(c) Calvinism in the Netherlands.
Cramer-Piper, /Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica/, 1903-11. Juste, /Histoire de la revolution des Pays Bas sous Philippe II./, 2 vols., 1863-7. De Lettenhove, /Les Huguenots et les Gueux/, 6 vols., 1882-5. Gossart, /La domination espagnole dans les Pays Bas a la fin du regne de Philippe II./, 1906. Holzwarth, /Der Abfall der Niederlanden/, 2 Bde, 1865-72.
The Netherlands formed part of the vast territories ruled over by Charles V. For many reasons it was not to be wondered at that the people should sympathise with the great religious revolt in Germany. They were allied closely with the Germans by blood and language. Like them, too, they looked upon Spain and upon the Spaniards with feelings of distrust. Again, as in other parts of the world, so too in the Netherlands the wealth of the Church had led to grave abuses as well as to a loss of respect for ecclesiastical authority, the latter of which was fostered in the minds of some by the spirit of mysticism that flourished in the land of St. Thomas a Kempis.
Yet, notwithstanding these favourable circumstances, the Reformation made little progress in the Netherlands during the reign of Charles V. He was a man who understood the people and who respected their rights and privileges. He visited the country frequently, was always ready to listen to their demands, and he took care not to offend their national instincts by a display of Spanish troops or Spanish officials. Besides, having a freer hand to deal with the new religious movement in the Netherlands than he had in Germany, he was determined to preserve his hereditary dominions from the dimensions and civil strife that had done so much to weaken the empire. He insisted on the proclamation and execution of the decree of the Diet of Worms against Luther, forbade the spread of heretical writings, introduced the Inquisition, and punished with great severity those who were found guilty of attempting to tamper with the faith of the people. But despite his efforts the trouble that had broken out in the neighbouring countries, France and Germany, could not fail to find an echo in the Netherlands, and the views of Calvin and Luther found some support.
In 1555 Charles retired and was succeeded by his son Philip II. (1555- 98). The new ruler unlike his father made no effort to win the affections of his subjects in the Netherlands, or to attach them to himself by bonds of loyalty. On the contrary he came amongst them only too seldom, and after 1559 he never set foot in the country. He showed himself careless about their commercial interests, regardless of their constitutional rights and privileges, and indifferent to their national prepossessions. Instead of relying on the native officials and nobles to carry on the administration of the kingdom, he sought to strengthen his own power by appointing Spaniards to offices of trust and by sending Spanish troops to suppress all symptoms of discontent. He set aside the Grand Council which by custom had the rights of a parliament, and without consultation with the authorities in the Netherlands he decided upon a new ecclesiastical division of the country. Hitherto there were only four bishops, whose Sees were subject to foreign metropolitans. Philip decided that the time had come when the number of bishoprics should be increased, and the jurisdiction of foreign metropolitans should be abolished. The main reason that influenced him to adopt this decision was the fact that, as matters stood, a complete and far-reaching scheme of reform could not be put into operation. In conjunction with Pope Paul IV. he arranged (1559) that the Spanish Netherlands should be placed under the three newly-erected archiepiscopal Sees of Utrecht, Cambrai, and Mechlin, and that suitable provision should be made for the maintenance of the new bishops out of the possessions of the monasteries and of the ecclesiastical institutions as well as from the contributions of the laity.
Many of the nobles were already tired of the Spanish rule, and were not unwilling to look favourably on the religious struggle as a means of securing independence. They objected to several unconstitutional acts of which the government of Philip II. had been guilty. They disliked Cardinal de Granvelle, the prime minister in the Netherlands, and insisted on his recall. They objected to the introduction of the Inquisition, and they protested against the new diocesan division as unnecessary, burdensome to the country, and an infringement of the rights and privileges of certain individuals. The clergy and people, whose positions were affected by the new arrangement, supported them strongly in their opposition to this measure. The leaders of this movement were the Count of Egmont and William of Orange, the latter of whom was a clever politician of boundless ambitions, who was not without hope that a rebellion against Spain might be the means of securing supreme power in the Netherlands. His brother, the Prince of Nassau, had adopted Calvinism, and William himself was not troubled with any particularly strong religious convictions. By his marriage with the daughter of Maurice of Saxony he sought to assure himself of the support of the German Protestant princes, while at the same time he was intimately connected with the Huguenots of France, and was on terms of the closest friendship with Counts Egmont and Horn, both of them, though for different reasons, hostile to Philip II. For William and for many of his abettors religion was but a secondary issue, provided only that by means of a religious revolution the power of Spain could be overthrown. Cardinal Granvelle, the minister of the Duchess of Parma, who was then regent of the country, was a strong man and a dangerous opponent, for whose removal the party of William of Orange strove with all their might. They succeeded at last in 1564, but despite all their efforts they could not prevent the publication of the decrees of the Council of Trent. They met together in the following year (1565) and formed the union known as the Compromise of Breda, nominally for the preservation of their constitutional rights but in reality to promote a political and religious rebellion. Many earnest Catholics unaware of the motives that inspired the leaders of this movement lent them their support. Having strengthened themselves by negotiations with some of the Protestant princes of Germany, the revolutionary party presented themselves before Margaret of Parma at Brussels to demand redress (1566). During the course of the interview Count de Berlaymont referred to them as a crowd of |gueux| or beggars, and this was the name they adopted to designate their party (/Les Gueux/).
Though they professed themselves willing to maintain the Catholic religion the friends of William of Orange had strong leanings towards Protestantism. Calvinist preachers flocked in from France; Calvinist communities began to be formed; and in districts where the party found itself powerful enough to do so, attacks were made on Catholic churches and Catholic worship. These outrages served to indicate the real tendency of the movement, and to drive into the opposite camp many Catholics who had joined the party merely to secure redress of political grievances. The Duchess of Parma, having failed to put an end to the disturbances by friendly negotiations, determined to employ force against the rebels. She was completely successful. William of Orange fled to Germany, and Counts Egmont and Horn surrendered themselves to the mercy of the king (1567). Had Philip II. known how to take advantage of this victory he might have put an end to Calvinism in the Netherlands, for as yet the vast majority of the inhabitants were at heart loyal to the Catholic church.
But instead of coming to make a personal appeal for the allegiance of his subjects and of trying to win over the malcontents by a policy of moderation Philip II., more concerned for the suppression of heresy than for the maintenance of Spanish rule, sent the Duke of Alva (1567-72) with an army of ten thousand men to punish the offenders and to wipe out all traces of Calvinism. Alva was a soldier who had distinguished himself on many a field against the Turks and against France. His character is sufficiently indicated by the title |the iron duke| given him by those who knew him best. He had no faith in diplomacy or concession. For him martial law was the only means of reducing rebels to subjection. The Duchess of Parma, unwilling to share the responsibility of government with such an associate, petitioned for her recall, and the Duke of Alva was appointed regent of the Netherlands. Two leaders of the rebellion, Counts Egmont and Horn, were tried and put to death (1568), as were also many of their followers. The goods of the rebels were confiscated, soldiers were quartered on the districts which were supposed to be sympathetic with the movement, and martial law became the order of the day. But the cruel measures adopted by the Duke of Alva did not put an end to the rebellion in the Netherlands. On the contrary, the contempt shown by him for the constitution of the country and the rights of individual citizens, the excessive taxation, and the license given to the soldiers in their treatment of civilians served only to embitter the issue and to drive even moderate men into the path of rebellion. William of Orange, backed by his brother, Louis of Nassau, made descents upon the country, while vessels manned by their supporters set themselves to do as much harm as possible to Spanish trade. With the aid of England they managed to capture the city and port of Briel (1572). Several of the northern states threw off the yoke of Spain and acknowledged William of Orange as their ruler, so that in a short time the Provinces of Holland and Zeeland were practically lost to Philip II. William of Orange tried to obscure the religious nature of the campaign by proclaiming religious freedom, but his followers could not be restrained. The Catholic churches were attacked, the clergy were expelled, and in 1572 nineteen priests were martyred for the faith at Gorcum. Holland and Zeeland went over completely to Calvinism, nor were the southern provinces, which were still Catholic, contented with the rule of Alva. Driven to desperation by his taxation and unconstitutional policy they formed a league with the followers of William of Orange to put an end to Spanish rule in the Netherlands. Philip II. began to realise that he had been unfortunate in his selection of a governor. A deputation that was sent from the insurgents was received kindly, and Alva's resignation of his office was accepted.
In his place Don Louis Requesens was sent as governor of the Netherlands (1573-5). Though inferior to Alva in military skill he was much superior to him in the arts of diplomacy and conciliation. He withdrew promptly the financial decrees that had caused such general discontent, yielded to most of the demands made by the people, and offered a general amnesty to those who would return to their allegiance. It required all the skill of William of Orange to prevent the submission of his adherents. Disappointed by the removal of the grievances that had provoked a national uprising, he was forced to have recourse more and more to the religious issues in order to maintain his power. He proclaimed himself the protector and champion of Calvinism, and as such he could still count on the aid of the northern provinces. Unfortunately, too, at the very time when the success of his policy of mildness seemed assured, Requesens died leaving it to his successor to complete his work.
Don Juan of Austria, the natural son of Charles V., who had won renown throughout the world by his annihilation of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, was appointed in his place. Before his arrival the southern and northern provinces had bound themselves together in the Pacification of Ghent (1576). Don Juan was obliged to accept the terms of the Pacification and to dismiss the Spanish troops before his authority would be recognised. William of Orange, secure in the north, determined to occupy the southern provinces, but his public profession of Calvinism and the religious intolerance of his followers prevented a combined national effort. The Catholic nobles of the Walloon provinces objected to the Protestant campaign that was being carried on in the name of liberty, and showed themselves not unwilling to come to terms with Don Juan. The latter, only too glad to meet them half- way, issued a very conciliatory decree (1577), which secured him the support of many of the Catholic party, and partly by force, partly by negotiation he succeeded in winning back much of what had been lost.
On the death of Don Juan (1578) Alexander Farnese, son of the former regent Margaret of Parma, was appointed his successor. Being something of a statesman as well as a soldier he lost no opportunity of endeavouring to break the power of the Prince of Orange. He devoted a great deal of his energies to the work of detaching the southern provinces, which still remained Catholic, from the northern, which had gone over to Calvinism. The intolerance of the Calvinists and their open violation of the religious freedom guaranteed to all parties tended to the success of his plans. During his term of office Belgium returned its allegiance to Spain, and this step put an end to the hopes entertained by the Calvinists of winning that country to their side. Meanwhile the northern provinces were entirely in the hands of William of Orange. In 1579 the five provinces Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Geldern, and Zutphen bound themselves together by a solemn compact in the Union of Utrecht under the name of the United Provinces, and practically speaking established a Dutch republic. They agreed to make common cause in war and in peace, and appointed William of Orange as Stadtholder for life. A short time later (1581) William of Orange, notwithstanding all his proclamations regarding religious liberty, forbade the public exercise of the Catholic religion, and refused to allow the new Archbishop of Utrecht to take possession of his See. In these circumstances nothing remained for the Pope except to appoint a vicar-apostolic to take charge of the religious interests of the Catholics, who formed two-fifths of the population of Holland, but even the vicar-apostolic was soon banished from the country.
In 1584 William of Orange was assassinated, and his son Maurice was appointed to succeed him. The English Government anxious to strike a blow at Spain encouraged the Dutch to continue the war, and despatched troops to their assistance. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada the situation was much more favourable to the rebels, and at last in 1609 a twelve years' truce was concluded. On the expiration of the truce the war was renewed without any very striking success on either side. Finally in the Peace of Westphalia (1648) the independence of the Dutch republic was acknowledged by Spain. From the very beginning of the religious revolt in the Netherlands Calvinism was the sect most favoured by the people, as is evidenced by the /Confessio Belgica/ in 1562. The University of Leyden decided in its favour, as did also the Synods of Dordrecht in 1574 and 1618. The Catholic minority in Holland were treated with the greatest severity, but in spite of all the efforts to induce them to change their faith many of the districts remained completely Catholic.
The Catholic provinces, which remained true to Spain and to the Catholic Church, suffered very severely from the long-drawn-out struggle, but despite the ravages of war they were soon the centre of a great religious, literary and artistic revival. The University of Louvain, founded in 1425, developed rapidly under the generous patronage of the civil rulers. During the sixteenth century it was recognised as an important centre of learning whither scholars flocked not merely from the Low Countries but from all parts of Europe. Throughout the Reformation struggle Louvain and Douay, the latter of which was founded in 1562 by Philip II. to assist in stemming the rising tide of Calvinism, remained staunch defenders of Catholic orthodoxy, though the unfortunate controversies waged round the doctrines of Baius and Jansenius did something to dim the glory of the university to which both belonged. The Jesuits, too, rendered invaluable service to religion and learning, particularly the men who hastened to offer their services to Father van Bolland in his famous /Acta Sanctorum/. Nor can it be forgotten that it was in these days Catholic Belgium gave to the world the great Flemish school of artists, amongst whom must be reckoned such men as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens.
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Lacheret, /L'evolution religieuse de Guillaume le Taciturne/, 1904.
Rachfal, /Margareta von Parma/, 1898.
/Vita Ferdinandi Toletani, ducis Albani/, 1669.