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9 The Road to Civil War (2): 1561-1562
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The Decisive Struggle

It is not surprising that the hardiesse protestante became ever more conspicuous in the weeks following the Colloquy of Poissy. Pasquier describes one of its sensational manifestations at court in a letter to his friend Christophe de Fonsomme. It was the marriage of a son of the Rohan family to a daughter of the Barbançon family, under the sponsorship of Jeanne d'Albret. The ceremony, à la mode de Genève , was performed by Theodore de Bèze himself. Attention was naturally drawn to nuptials in such prominent families; the Rohans held the highest position in the Breton nobility and the bride was the niece of Madame d'Étampes, formerly maîtresse-en-tête of François I. All the ranking Protestant nobles were in attendance, and there was no censure of any kind by the royal authorities, as Throckmorton reported to Queen Elizabeth.[18]

With Huguenot nobles enjoying such favor while violating the edicts against Protestant assemblies, Catherine's government could hardly apply the letter of the law to their humbler coreligionists in the city. These were now meeting just outside the city limits, near the Porte St-Antoine and near the Porte St-Marceau, next to the church of St-Médard. Curiosity-seekers and enemies of the reformed helped to swell the crowds beyond anything that had been seen before. "Il serait incroyable de dire quelle affluence se trouve à ces nouvelles dévotions," remarked Pasquier. Bèze estimated that six thousand attended a service he conducted in mid-December, and the Spanish ambassador, to whom it was very bad news, concurred.[19]

It would be easy to draw the wrong conclusion about the religious climate of Paris from these episodes, as indeed some contemporaries did. In fact, Protestants were a small minority; the fear and apprehension they aroused was way out of proportion to their numbers. The resulting tensions exceeded even those of the Advent season of 1559, when Minard was assassinated and Du Bourg executed. Ordinances forbidding possession of firearms had not reduced them, as Protestants feared for their safety and Catholics for their property. The royal governor (a Bourbon prince, La Roche-sur-Yon), no doubt on orders from Catherine, turned a deaf ear to pleas, including those of the Parlement, to end the prêches , widely perceived as the cause of the mounting violence. In her anxiety to keep the peace, Catherine permitted the municipal police to escort Protestants coming and


going to services avec main forte pour empêcher les troubles , a decision that would boomerang fatally.[20]

Reference has repeatedly been made to the role of inflammatory preaching in Parisian pulpits. In the 1561 Advent season a young Minim friar named Jean de Han had the reputation of being le plus hardy precheur qui fust en France . His particular target was the Huguenot influence at court, especially the liberal tutors of Charles IX, on whom he blamed the present evils, predicting worse to come. He had a tremendous following so there was a general outcry when he was arrested by royal authorities on December 10. Under pressure from numerous influential Parisians he was released three days later—a victory for the ultra-Catholics and a defeat for the queen's policy, and for law and order as well. An episode known as the tumult of St-Médard might have been just one more in the endless series of riots had it not been for the fever pitch of religious antagonism caused by the discrepancies between official royal policy and the current practice of royal officials, with the police protecting the lawbreakers, as Linda Taber points out in her illuminating analysis of these events.[21]

On December 26 there was a clash between Protestants attending service at "the house of the Patriarch" and Catholics in the church of St-Médard next door. Opinions differ as to which group first resorted to the violence that resulted in two deaths and many wounded, but it is clear that the arresting officers imputed the responsibility to the Catholics, who were led off in chains, under armed guard. One of the officers was Lieutenant Criminel Desjardins, whom the crown had kept in office over parlementaire objections (already noted, in September 1560) qu'il lust convaincu Luthérien . Canon Brulart, spokesman for the Parisian in the street, describes the populace as fort esmeu that the authorities should perpetrate such an injustice—he had no doubt that the Protestants were the real disturbers of the peace. The politique historian Jacques-Auguste de Thou, in one of his admirably low-key judgments, later wrote, "The spectacle aroused the indignation even of those who were least unsympathetic to the new doctrines." The next day the gens du roi and the Bureau de Ville complained, and Desjardins and the other officers were arrested, while Catherine replaced La Roche-sur-Yon with François de Montmorency as governor of Paris. Unlike his Châtillon nephews, the constable's sons did not embrace


the reform; the Montmorencys were Catholic leaders of a group of (chiefly) nobles unaligned with either religious faction, often considered the nucleus of an emerging "politique party," discussed in chapter 10.[22]

Parlement conducted its own investigation of the episode concurrently with its resistance to the new Edict of Toleration in the opening weeks of the new year. Two conseillers, each well known as an activist in his own faction, were appointed to take the testimony of witnesses, "chacun de leur côté," in de Thou's words: Louis Gayant, of the Chambre Ardente and Antoine Fumée of the June 1559 suspects. (They were later replaced by others, first by two virtual unknowns and eventually by two mainstream representatives of high repute.)

Protestant and politique historians are unanimous in the opinion that collusion of the authorities with the Catholic ultras ruled out the possibility of a fair trial, although proof is lacking. In any case, the authorities probably felt it expedient to appease public hostility (by a sacrifice). The unlucky victims were Nez d'Argent (hanged on May 23) and Jean de Gabaston, chevalier du guet , the commander of the guard that had led off the parishioners of St-Médard "in chains, as if they were criminals condemned to the galleys." Both were eventually beheaded by arrêt of Parlement in 1562.[23] Desjardins escaped punishment, almost certainly thanks to the influence of Catherine de Médicis, after a complicated trial in which he lodged récusations against all the présidents, a majority of the conseillers, and even the gens du roi . Avocat du roi Du Mesnil, in refuting Desjardins's claims, made a point significant for the future of French religious policy. If Desjardins's récusations had been allowed, he said, there would have to be a new Parlement to judge those of the new [religious] opinion, as well as new laws.[24]


The Protestant community of Paris owed its prominence in the public eye almost equally to proximity to the royal court and regular contacts with the noble party leaders resident there, and to the disorders, "scandals," and outrages caused by the continuous attacks of Parisian Catholic extremists. Conspicuous as it was, the capital was a relatively small part of the problem faced by the royal government. Some regions of France were honeycombed by heresy and there were instances of whole towns being taken over. Increasingly, lower-rank officials, local and national, tended to ignore the laws against heresy, even to challenge them openly. The reasons for this are complex and difficult to disentangle. In addition to the growing appeal of the reform there was also the opportunity to assert local and regional autonomy against a weakened central government. (In the domains of the queen of Navarre where the laws, the sovereign, and the highest echelons of the government were strongly Calvinist, disobedience under the banner of Catholicism was widespread.) The nature of the Protestant problem, in terms of law and order, had changed drastically in recent months. Small isolated groups, clandestine and vulnerable, had been replaced by politico-military Calvinist enclaves, whose disciplined forces were strong enough to defy royal administrators, sometimes to the point of armed rebellion.

The numbers of lower-level royal officers and robins drawn to the reform are striking, far greater than the proportion of Protestants in the general population, and the same is true of municipal officers. In the ressorts of the parlements of Bordeaux and Toulouse, Protestant robins accounted for between 7 and 8 percent, according to careful quantitative studies summarized by Janine Garrisson-Estèbe. She explains the well known reciprocal antagonism between the capitouls of the city and the Parlement in Toulouse more completely than earlier scholars. The aggressive actions of the former—voting to establish the reform, writing to Geneva for pastors, for example—made the devoutly Catholic parlementaires feel that they were obliged to "make the city a fortress, in a region that had become three-quarters Huguenot," a justification also for the reputation of the Toulouse court as the most severe on heresy in France. Reformed lower-level practitioners of the law in the Midi represent an even greater proportion—10 percent: "[the reform] was a magnet pour tout un petit monde de clercs, basochiens ,


procureurs, greffiers " as well as for sergeants and officers in the municipal militia.[25]

The most important Catholic military commander in the Midi, Blaise de Monluc, was struck by this phenomenon and his Commentaires provide one of its major sources. His editor notes that this sympathy of the gens de robe for the reform was displayed "by total inertia with regard to the violators of the law, organizers of disorder, and image-breakers . . . who assembled under the mantle of religion, especially in the small towns, and committed excesses that worried the chiefs of the reform." For the most part these persons were educated, and prosperous above the average, but left out of the power structure; if it was a "class struggle" the stakes were political and professional rather than economic.[26]

In addition to refusing to prosecute heretics, the reformed robins took the lead in violating the law, offering their own houses for illicit assemblies, attending prêches in a body (Castres), turning over Catholic churches to the Calvinists (Nîmes), providing armed protection to Protestants (Agen). In Montpellier the reformer Pierre Viret was escorted to the pulpit by the First Consul wearing his red robes; in Pamiers (as early as 1556) the municipal officers refused to admit the Society of Jesus "because there are already too many religious, and they will dominate the town if we permit this importunate and annoying anthill to increase" (fourmillière importune et fascheuse ).[27] Where the Parisian ultras opposed royal policy as "soft" on heresy, many provincials found it too harsh.

Catherine de Médicis was aware that each successive edict had provoked hostility in two radically different groups of Frenchmen, and she declared her intentions to formulate a new one—a compromise that would conciliate both parties—as early as November 1561. If a document could be so drawn that both sides would be willing to accept it as a matter of civil administrative policy (pour adviser la police pour faire cesser les troubles procédant de la religion ) pending resolution of the religious issue by the ecclesiastical authorities, perhaps further escalation of conflict could be avoided. It had at least to be tried, unless one was resigned to civil war.

To advise her in the preparation of the new edict, the queen convoked another special assembly, at St-Germain. It met during the first two weeks of January 1562, in the aftermath of the tumult of St-Médard. Opponents


were convinced that she stacked the membership so as to obtain a favorable outcome, as soon as possible. Members of the Conseil Privé and of the Order of St. Michael were naturally included, as well as two judges from each parlement. Paris was represented by président de Thou and Guillaume Viole, the eldest clerical conseiller. Neither the Guises nor the constable attended; Marshal Saint-André was the only ultra of the court Catholic party, cardinals Charles de Bourbon and Tournon being traditionalists by comparison, as was Marshal Montmorency.[28]

By contrast with earlier assemblies, this time the chancellor faced the religious division head on and took pains to emphasize the distinction between the religious issue as such and the maintenance of peace.

Il ne s'agit pas d'établir la foi, mais de règler l'État . One could be a citizen without being a Christian [sic ], and one did not cease to be the king's subject by separating from the church. We can live in peace with those who do not observe the same ceremonies . . . and apply what is said about the defects of wives . . . they must either be corrected or tolerated.

In addition, the chancellor pointed out, pragmatically, that since the Edict of July had not succeeded, it was necessary to have a new one, for laws should be fitted to circumstances "as shoes to feet."[29]

Upon first reading the text of the Edict of January, we might find it hard to believe that through all the succeeding decades of the century the constant cry of the French Huguenots would be "Give us the Edict of January!" because most of its provisions were directed against the reformed: they were obliged to restore all church property, from buildings to relics; forbidden to interfere with any activities of the ecclesiastical authorities (such as officiating on saints' days, collecting tithes); forbidden to build churches anywhere or to hold assemblies either by day or by night inside the limits of any town; forbidden to harbor criminals or to raise money or troops. Iconoclasm and sedition would be punished by the death penalty, as would a second offense of printing or distributing prohibited books. To balance these negatives there were some concessions: services inside private houses, for the household only, could be held inside town limits; public assemblies, by day, would be tolerated outside them (provided that the local seigneur gave his permission and that nothing contrary to scripture or to the Nicene Creed was said); royal officers might attend these assemblies and indeed were


almost obliged to do so, because their permission was required for consistories to be held and because their presence was safeguard against harassment of the participants. Catholics as well as Protestants were forbidden to hold armed assemblies and priests were forbidden to incite violence in their sermons—a belated recognition of the pulpits' role in civil conflict. That this edict should be acclaimed by the Protestants shows how precious was mere recognition of their existence and official permission to hold services, no matter how hedged about with restrictions.[30]

The opposition of the Parlement was inevitable. Such recognition and concessions were exactly what the court found unacceptable. The moderate leaders who had participated in the discussions at St-Germain undertook, without much enthusiasm, to pilot the edict through the deliberations of the court. Chances for parlementaire support were always slight (as were those of success in the ultimate objective, the avoidance of civil war) but a major turn in the power struggle of les grands just as the court was being pressured to register the edict, virtually eliminated them. This was the "capture" of Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre and first prince of the blood, by the ultra leaders. They had worked hard for this victory, as we know from the letters of the Spanish ambassador to his king. Antoine's religious ondoyance —his shiftiness and resulting unreliability—had withstood every argument; the capitulation was brought about by Spanish exploitation of his well-known vanity and obsessive desire for a kingdom of his own. The "king of Navarre" was only "the consort of the sovereign" in the eyes of Jeanne's Béarnais subjects, and since her conversion the marriage had been deteriorating. In the first week of January, Philip II sent a special envoy to Antoine with the message that he would provide him with another kingdom after he had procured the abolition of Calvinist services, even in the private quarters of the Huguenot nobles, expulsion of all ministers from France; restoration of all church property; and in addition, repudiation of his wife and the transfer of Henri de Navarre to his father's custody and to orthodox Catholic tutors. Antoine took the bait and began furiously to carry out his side of the bargain. "The King of Navarre was never so earnest on the Protestant side as now zealous on the other," Throckmorton wrote to Cecil. Catherine's fragile balance of the factions was destroyed. "After the


king's volte-face the superiority of the Catholic faction was overwhelming," Romier concludes.[31]

Even so, the ultras did not triumph easily. The edict was delivered to the court on January 23 but not registered until March 6. Long-standing bones of contention between the crown and the court provided the latter with some leverage for resistance: their wages had been in arrears for months, delaying compliance with the edict might speed up settlement. Also, the credentials of Hippolyte d'Este, cardinal of Ferrara, as papal legate were awaiting court action. Since he was an important ally of the ultras, the moderates were holding back and capitalizing on the basic Gallican conviction that was the strongest bond between them and that would eventually reunite the court. Meanwhile, the St-Médard investigation was dragging along and was a source of continuing embarrassment.

On Saturday, January 24, the edict was read in Parlement in the presence of Marshal Montmorency and the king of Navarre, who transmitted a royal command that it be registered immediately sans y user de restrictions, limitations, ou remonstrances . The court did not dignify this bluff by calling it, and it is doubtful that anybody really expected it to succeed. Members of the court, including (ultra) premier président Le Maistre and (moderate) Christophe de Harlay, demanded copies so that they might give it serious consideration. Over the weekend, Marshal Montmorency had some printed and by Monday they were in the hands of several parlementaires (we know of Dormans, Longueil, and Le Maistre). The court was indignant that this should be done prior to deliberation and without its authorization, and also that the phrase avec privilège du roi was included, which had not been authorized. Conseillers Jacquelot and Eustache Chambon, accompanied by two ushers, were sent to the marshal to demand that the entire output be handed over. The sources conflict as to the number of copies made, the marshal claiming there were only twelve, for specific important persons, others saying there were twelve hundred . The latter number sounds high, but the supply was sufficient for copies to circulate in the other parlements before action by the Parlement of Paris, whose displeasure is reflected in amended remonstrances to the edict itself in late February.[32]

Prestigious royal emissaries were sent from St-Germain to the Palais de Justice nearly every day to keep up the pressure. On January 30, the court expressed its irritation to one of them, Tristan de Rostaing, sieur de Thieux,


saying that it was impossible to hurry any more because the decision would be made by vote, and every member had to be free to change his mind after hearing the opinions of others. "Your court cannot do its duty without hearing all the opinions." It seems likely that both moderates and ultras hoped to benefit from delay.[33]

On February 7, that is, two weeks after receiving it, the court declared for the first time that it could not, en conscience , verify, publish, and register the edict but would send remonstrances, deputing de Thou and Guillaume Viole to explain their position.[34]

The remonstrances were drawn up on February 12 and signed by premier président Le Maistre and Louis Gayant, who had the greatest experience of any conseiller in dealing with heresy. Parlement took the offensive on the identical grounds as had the chancellor—law and order, but from its own point of view: the spread of heresy, which was responsible for the disorders, was a direct result of royal policy since the start of the new reign (that is, Catherine's policy of de facto toleration) allowing Protestant assemblies, contrary to the law. Disorders would cease if Protestant pastors were exiled. The argument that leniency was required for the peace of the city was ridiculous since there were only two hundred Protestant households out of a total of thirteen thousand. Most important, the prohibition of appeals to Parlement from lower courts was a denial of the king's justice, and this was particularly dangerous because many lesser officials were themselves heretics and their failure to execute the laws was one of the chief causes of the troubles.[35]

Two clays later in St-Germain, the parlementaire representatives were severely reprimanded. The king said to de Thou, "Nous avons grande occasion de nous malcontenter de vous," and L'Hôpital said that the court's remonstrances did not help the situation and showed that its members did not understand it as did the queen and her council. When the magistrates asked for clarification of the clause about the attendance of royal officers at Protestant services, a loophole opened up for acceptance of the edict by the moderates of the court: the crown's intention was that officers of the police only , and only to maintain order, would attend, not officers of the sovereign courts. When de Thou reported this to Parlement on February 16, he said that this declaration, together with the king's stated intention to live and die in the religion of his ancestors and his understanding that the royal


judiciary would do likewise, had brought the court's deputies to the conclusion that Parlement "would not find it difficult to proceed to publication of the edict, which was, after all, only provisional."[36] This opinion was seconded by René Baillet and Christophe de Harlay, who had also been at St-Germain, but the moderates as a group could still not carry the court, which voted down the edict for the second time on February 18: "Ladicte court . . . ne peult et ne doit pas en conscience procéder à la vérification."[37]

Several days of confusion followed. When Catherine was in Paris on February 20, accompanied by the queen of Navarre,[38] she sent for Guillaume Viole and told him she had heard that some members of the court had drawn up preliminary suggestions (ouvertures ) for calming the disorders and she wished the court to hear them, pour appaiser les séditions . Both Le Maistre and Saint-André (next in line for the chair) were absent, alleging illness (thought by some contemporaries to be "diplomatic") and Saint-André with a "monstrous nosebleed," so the session requested did not take place until February 23. It was decided that only those who had taken part in the February 18 session (the second rejection) would be included—despite Catherine's understandable wish for a full complement. Linda Taber's detailed analysis of the eleven-member commission chosen to prepare the ouvertures points to the significant correlation of those in attendance on February 23 with those in attendance on June 9, when the court made the "profession of faith" which was the heart of the ultra program. Sixty-nine members were present, noticeably fewer than for recent sessions. "Nearly three-fourths (twenty-one out of twenty-nine) of those who would refuse [the oath] were also absent on the previous 23 February when the court was preparing its counter proposals, striking evidence that, for all practical purposes, the conservatives already controlled the court and that . . . the ouvertures would represent their program and not that of the court as a whole." This conclusion is undoubtedly correct, although the designation of all eleven commissioners as "conservatives" without further differentiation, blurs distinctions necessary to the present study.[39]


The ouvertures constitute a condensed and sharpened revision of the February 22 remonstrances: all Protestant services would be prohibited and the pastors exiled; consequently non-Catholic baptisms and marriages would cease to take place and non-Catholic transactions concerning property would be illegal. The new element is the requirement for all royal officers from the lowest to the highest to make profession of faith according to the Sorbonne's twenty-five articles. The precedent for this had been set for their own chapter by the canons of Notre-Dame two months earlier (November 1561), with only two negative votes, by Adrien de Thou and Jacques Rouillard. Had the result been the same in the Parlement, Taber points out, French Protestantism would have been "choked off at its roots, since the economic and legal consequences, especially for affluent and high-ranking families, would have forced them into either abjuration or exile."[40]

The court's proposals were delivered to Catherine on February 25. The response, presented by La Roche-sur-Yon on March 3, stated that members of the royal council would agree with the court if it were possible to carry out Parlement's advice, but they were constrained to insist on the edict drawn up at St-Germain "by the necessity of the times," and if the edict was not a good solution, "it was the least bad they had been able to find." Moving to the offensive, the prince said that Parlement had made the situation worse by obliging Protestants to arm themselves in self-defense because they lacked legal standing. He needled the court by announcing that other parlements had already registered the edict and that disorders had diminished as a result, which stung the premier président to object again to the violation of constitutional precedent.[41]

Reference to Protestants resorting to arms was not mere rhetoric. The tempo of "disorder" had risen sharply in recent days, especially in the vicinity of the university. The previous week eighteen collège principals had complained to Parlement of armed groups gathering for prêches , claiming that they were nonstudents who were interfering with the functioning of the university. On March 4, as the final, and crucial, deliberation on the edict was taking place in Parlement, a large band of armed "students" (so called in the Journal de 1562 ) rioted in the courtyard of the Palais de Justice itself, demanding publication of the edict and shouting that if they were not given temples they would seize them. Marshal Montmorency reported


that five thousand or six thousand armed men were approaching Paris; sedition and looting were to be feared, but if Parlement would register the edict the danger would be averted. Throckmorton's dispatch of March 6 said that Paris was "more like a place besieged than . . . a merchant city."[42]

Such was the atmosphere of the city as Parlement began its final debate, in which all members were allowed to speak and vote, although the ultras had tried to exclude those who had participated in the assembly at St-Germain. The capitulation was led by the gens du roi , ironically, since they, especially procureur général Gilles Bourdin had led the opposition in previous sessions. But now avocat général Du Mesnil announced that the gens du roi were of the opinion that "verification of the edict was the most opportune means presently available to appease sedition," that refusal might make things worse, that it was only provisional and could be changed later. The clinching argument was that since the safety of the kingdom seemed to depend on publication, it was expedient to obey the king's command, especially in view of his assurance that he would not change his religion.[43] On March 5, it was decided that the edict would be registered the next day. Five members absented themselves, three of the commissioners (Brulart, Regnard, and Prévost), as did the two ultra présidents, Le Maistre and Saint-André, again on grounds of ill health. Canon Brulart calls them "gens de bien, voiants la force qu'on faisait à la justice . . . ne voulant consentir à un si meschant édit, contre leurs consciences."[44]

The Edict of January was registered "because of the necessity of the times, at the express command of the king (de expresso mandato regis ), without approval of the new religion and only until the king shall order otherwise"—and was then immediately disclaimed in the secret register.[45] The results were diametrically opposed to the hopes of its supporters and bore out the worst fears of its opponents. Étienne Pasquier's epitaph cannot be surpassed: "[The edict] was no sooner born than it died; thus it was, so to speak, an abortion suffered by France . . . [like a dead child] that will cause many tears in the entrails of the mother who produced it." Events in the following days and weeks show up the real failure of the edict rather


than its pretended success. Within forty-eight hours Paris learned of the massacre of a Huguenot congregation by armed retainers of the duc de Guise at Vassy, and on March 16 Guise entered Paris by the Porte St-Denis (site of royal entries), where "there was an infinite crowd of people. Many called out that he was welcome and that he had come just in time to chase out the Huguenots."[46]

On March 20, both Guise and Condé were attracting crowds of their partisans and "everybody feared some great riot because there was freedom for everyone to bear arms . . . shouts were heard everywhere, as if Paris were a town in the front line." Cardinal de Bourbon's efforts to persuade both Guise and Condé to withdraw from the city failed ("je ne scay par quel empechement," says the author of the Journal de 1562 ). but the prince did leave on the 23d, leaving the field to Guise. All during Holy Week rival processions and services were marked by violence. Huguenots mocked Catholics carrying palms on Palm Sunday and following the stations of the cross on Good Friday. On Easter Monday, March 31, when armed men, rumored to be supporters of Condé, appeared in Chaillot, the principal streets of the city were barricaded by chains.[47] The following weekend Constable Montmorency led an armed troop to the house called "Jerusalem" in the Faubourg St-Jacques, where Protestant services were held, broke in, and seized a cache of arms before turning it over to sack by the soldiers. "The pulpit from which the ministers preached, the congregation's benches, and everything made of wood was burned." From there they went to Popincourt to do the same, and one of the best-known ministers, La Rivière, was taken prisoner, along with the lawyer Jean Ruzé. The constable's example was not lost on a Parisian crowd, which looted the Popincourt house the following day, and "made a great bonfire in front of the Hôtel de Ville, dancing and shouting, 'God has not forgotten the people of Paris!' And if anyone demurred," adds the journaliste , "he was severely beaten or killed on the spot." Ambassador Chantonnay's report to Philip reflects the same


sentiment. "It would seem that God is kindling a spirit to remedy matters in this kingdom."[48]

Condé's forces had seized the town of Orléans on April 2, and civil war was erupting in other parts of the country, including major cities like Lyon and Toulouse. Catherine and her moderate advisers, especially Jean de Monluc, were trying to negotiate with Condé, as were members of the moderate parlementaire leadership like René Baillet, a matter to be discussed in the next chapter.

In the capital, the ultras were enjoying triumph upon triumph. Shortly after Montmorency's violence, Parlement exempted the city of Paris from application of the Edict of January, which meant that Parisian Protestants had lost all their rights. While the king, the queen, the king of Navarre, the constable, and the duc de Guise, with other grands , attended mass at Notre-Dame and heard a sermon by the cardinal de Lorraine, in the presence of the exposed Host, "an infinity of the people praised God for conserving their king in the true and pure religion of Jesus Christ." The anti-Huguenot frenzy continued to mount during May. Processions celebrating the fête of the Holy Sacrament, May 28, were the most elaborate ever seen, with the papal nuncio Prospero di Santa Croce, other ambassadors, and all the Catholic seigneurs taking part (the royal family had left Paris on May 14), "flanked by large numbers of gentlemen, each carrying a lighted candle." Most houses were elaborately decorated, according to Catholic custom, and those that were not, were sacked. "One poor man said aloud, 'If I had six men with courage equal to my own, I would put all these idolaters to flight.' No sooner had the words left his mouth than he was killed by those who overheard him."

Mobilization plans were set up for the defense of each quartier against the enemy, as Antoine de Bourbon prepared to assume the command of the royal armies. Before leaving, he issued instructions that all Protestants were to be treated as traitors, that is, with death. Nicolas Luillier, lieutenant général of the Prévôté of Paris, in conveying Antoine's instructions to the Parlement, remarked that "the people" were saying that the members of Parlement should also be on the proscribed list and were threatening to attack them, along with the Huguenots, if they did not leave the city. Also threatened were parlementaires who had not attended mass for years but


suddenly took an ostentatious part in the pentecostal processions and ceremonies.[49]

Nor did the ultras confine themselves to indirect measures. In the first week in June an anonymous libel, addressed to présidents Le Maistre, Saint-André, Baillet, and de Thou, accused présidents Séguier and Harlay, along with several conseillers, of heresy. The court then assigned two canons of Notre-Dame, well-known ultras (Jacques Verjus and Jean Picot), to inquire into the authorship of the libel as well as récusations against magistrates involved in the investigations of the tumult of St-Médard. All the charges were declared false and scandalous, but Le Maistre found it expedient for the court to make obvious gestures of orthodoxy in order to alter its image as a refuge of sympathizers with heretics and associates of rebels: the requirement of a profession of faith, and an expiatory procession and rededication of the church of St-Médard.[50] Even in the face of such pressure, 31 parlementaires failed to take the oath on June 9 and only 83 (out of 143) took part in the procession, on June 14.[51]

In the summer of 1562 tension within the court dropped somewhat, because members who had been under attack for years were now absent, and the moderates, relieved of the awkward choice between attempting to persuade suspects to change their views and defending them against the ultras, could turn their efforts in another direction: to bring about a cessation of hostilities and a reconciliation of Condé with the crown. These objectives would stimulate new conflicts with the ultras. Consequently, there was no real decompression, but rather a new period of tension and a renewed struggle between those who were assigned to implementing the edict and those who were determined to render it a dead letter.


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