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The Crisis Generation in Civil War, 1562-1582.

The First Civil War and the Pacification of Amboise, 1562-1563

For more than three centuries, the civil wars in France were most often explained by confessional rivalry, hence the familiar title, "Wars of Religion." Beginning with contemporaries, historians often carried on the war with pens where other weapons left off: Catholics saw Protestantism as a rebellion against the one true faith and the natural secular order it sanctioned, and Protestants regarded the Roman church and its supporting governments as oppressors of the true faith and obstructors of progress. From time to time a few more sophisticated interpreters understood the dynastic and political motives underlying the confessional alignment of rival noble leaders; among the most astute, unequaled until our own time, were Parisian magistrate historians, especially Étienne Pasquier and Jacques-Auguste de Thou.

The first major revisionist of the twentieth century was Lucien Romier, for whom the political and dynastic rivalry of the dominant noble families was the "cause," and their vassals, clients, retainers, and other traditional dependents became their political and military followers. The end of the wars with the Hapsburgs, after sixty years, leaving all ranks of the fighting class at home, idle and incapable of retooling, provided the occasion for the ongoing rivalries to assume more explicit and aggressive form. The contending sects furnished ideologies; those who stood to gain most by change (the Bourbons and the Châtillons) chose the newer Protestant option, and those who assumed the defense of the traditional establishment (the Guises) in the process turned it into the French Counter-Reformation.

Every subsequent interpreter has had to address Romier's thesis, which


has been refined and modified in various respects. His neglect of economic and social factors has been remedied, so that rivalry of the noble factions, by itself, now seems incomplete and oversimplified. In the most comprehensive analysis of sixteenth-century France as a "society in crisis," J. H. M. Salmon says, "The preconditions of civil conflict were contained in the coincidence of religious passion, financial crisis, and factional division. The immediate precipitant . . . was an unexpected vacuum at the center of power"—the death of Henri II. The fact that his young successor was married to their niece enabled the Guises to take control of the government, "and their enemies within the aristocracy began to marshal the forces of opposition."[1]

In recent decades historians have also revised our view of the power structure of early modern France in itself, that is, without reference to either religion or war. Through the work of J. Russell Major and Robert R. Harding among others, the previously accepted concepts of royal centralization and aristocratic weakness and decline have both been considerably qualified. A new analysis that penetrates further into the internal dynamics of the nobility than any previous work revises even the modified "clientage" model. On this level, the "Wars of Religion" become merely one particular phase of "the centuries-old competition for status and power" that always characterized noble behavior, from the most modest to les grands , who showed continued vitality, more autonomy, and less rigidly hierarchical dependence on the state than is generally assumed.

Kristen Neuschel, in her analysis of nobles in Picardy who followed Condé (or did not ) has discerned a pattern of violence made up of local conflicts and individual strategies, in contrast to the conventional model that focuses on a small minority of prominent nobles. The pattern reveals that even quite minor nobles acted independently within certain limits: "The behavior of . . . the 'followers' towards Condé as well as that of Condé towards his 'followers' indicates that [the prince] . . . was by no means the only focal point of these nobles' lives." Neuschel suggests that fighting represented no single purpose, because there was no single war. Defense of honor was often the goal of noble participants, as well as concrete material or strategic gains. The line between warring activity and seemingly peaceful activity was extremely thin. Physical violence and symbolic violence offered different means of defending a noble's interests. As she documents local patterns of ordinary violence, Neuschel adds a new level to interpretation of the wars.[2]


Members of Parlement were not unaware that the ambitions and rivalries of les grands figured in the menace to the constitutional equilibrium they considered normal and wished to defend. Like Romier, they believed that the crown was at the root of the problem, but where he, with the hindsight of four hundred years, identified the cause as royal weakness and the consequent vulnerability of the queen mother's government to the pressure of rival noble factions under their rival religious banners, the sixteenth-century parlementaires placed the blame squarely on her religious policy. Their "thesis" was embodied in the phrase un roi, une foi . Catherine's advocacy of limited toleration they saw as sanctioning "two religions" and destroying the historic linkage of "the Holy Land, the Chosen People, and the Most Christian King," through the Roman Catholic Church. Before the era of the Counter-Reformation and the emergence of the League, the Guise party and the Huguenots appeared not as two "rival factions" but rather as "defenders of the faith" on the one hand, and victims of false propaganda, originating outside France, on the other. The acknowledged abuses of the church were considered responsible for the receptivity to heresy. Moreover, the association of the Bourbons with the Huguenots was confusing, weakening Parlement's traditional loyalty to princes of the blood as the natural advisers of the king. The ondoyance of Antoine de Bourbon blurred the distinctions even more. His death made nine-year-old Henri de Bourbon king of Navarre and first prince of the blood and brought Antoine's brother Louis de Bourbon, prince of Condé, to the fore.

Condé had been a troubling figure in Parlement's eyes since 1560. Historians are still uncertain about the extent of his involvement in the Conspiracy of Amboise, but the accusation by the Guise party that he had been its silent chief, blackened his image sufficiently to make even royalist Catholics uncomfortable, especially after his arrest for treason in November of the same year. The three magistrates appointed to the commission that tried him (Christophe de Thou, Jacques Viole, and Bartholomé Faye) would show themselves to be among the leading moderates in the debates on religious policy in 1561 and 1562, and while there is no explicit record of their sentiments at the time of the trial, when Chancellor L'Hôpital adjourned the proceedings after the death of François II, on December 5, five days before Condé was scheduled for execution, he admitted that opinion among the commissioners had been divided. It would have been very difficult for any of these three to support a death sentence against a prince of the blood,


especially one imposed by the Guise party. The prince had challenged the competence of the commission and demanded a hearing by the full court. It occurred in the following year and he was cleared, but Condé never forgave those who had lined up against him and launched récusations against them in 1562.[3]

If the condemnation of Condé was a manifestation of Guise power, his release and rehabilitation were among the important signs that the Guises had fallen. The queen mother was now at center stage. She and L'Hôpital could push more openly and vigorously the policy by which they hoped to reduce the tensions that had been mounting since the death of Henri II. Each measure they adopted toward that end, from the Edict of July 1561 through the Colloquy of Poissy to the Edict of January 1562, not only failed but boomeranged, by further polarizing public opinion. To the extent that the government's modified policy removed handicaps for the Huguenots, it encouraged them to make further demands and thus exacerbated Catholics' fears, so that in the weeks surrounding the Edict of January violence and hysteria reached a new high.

In the late winter and spring of 1562 the political and military force of each of the two noble factions offset the other. The tumultuous reception given to the duc de Guise testified to the intensity of Parisian partiality toward him, but Condé was also in the capital, with armed troops terrorizing the populace and displaying arrogance in his own behavior. When président René Baillet was delegated by Parlement to request Condé to stop Protestant preaching in a fief whose seigneur was opposed—in conformity with the edict—the prince replied truculently that regardless of what the court ruled, if the king wished them to preach there, they would do so. That was on March 19. During the following days, Holy Week, there were many clashes between armed supporters of the two sides, and the atmosphere was described as that of a town "in the front lines." Parlement supported the request of the Church to forbid Calvinist preaching, and Condé left Paris on March 23. Yet Huguenots were still boldly mocking Catholic rituals on Good Friday, March 27, and most of the rumors raging through the capital predicted an attack by Condé, because the seven hundred cavalry reported in Chaillot were allegedly his retainers.[4]


The relative distribution of power among factions in Parlement presents a very different configuration. The right-wing ultras were confidently on the offensive. Présidents Le Maistre and Saint-André and procureur général Bourdin were routinely described as attached to and in consultation with the Triumvirs, Constable Montmorency, the duc de Guise, and Marshal Saint-André. The moderate (and silent) majority was immobilized by distrust of both Catherine and Condé, fearful of an outbreak of civil war and reluctant to follow the ultras to an extreme position. There were no parlementaire spokesmen corresponding to the Huguenot nobles. Persons even suspected of an inclination toward leniency were increasingly exposed to danger. Parisians were decking themselves out in red and yellow ribbons—colors of the house of Guise—and "were saying aloud that the Queen should be sent back to Italy, that they would have no king who was not Catholic, and that God had given them one, le grand roi de Guise. " The papal nuncio Santa Croce remarked at the end of April, "no Huguenot speaks out now, and those [persons] who never passed the doors of a church now make ostentatious gestures [to prove] how devout they are." Catherine was backtracking: Paris had been declared exempt from the edict (denying Parisian Protestants their rights under its terms), the Triumvirs were loudly threatening to exterminate them, and in a few weeks, Antoine de Bourbon would physically expel them.[5]

The moment was fast approaching when parlementaires who were not ultras (and not inclined to martyrdom) would find that their options lay between flight and remaining as inconspicuous as possible. The "natural order" and "constitutional equilibrium" in which they believed were badly shaken and there was nothing they could do about it. Civil war could only make matters even worse. One of the tragic ironies of the century lies in the fact that Parlement's distrust of Catherine and obsessive insistence on une foi prevented members from realizing that their only chance to avoid the worst outcome lay in rallying to her support.

Early in April she had entered into negotiations with Condé, who had established headquarters in Orléans, using numerous envoys (in the words of one historian), "men of the robe, men of the sword, men of the church,


men who were tolerant or indifferent, [anyone] devoted to the cause of peace." Catherine's own efforts in the cause were unflagging. Throughout the twenty-seven years between the outbreak of civil war and her death in January 1589, she never stopped trying to prevent war, refusing to recognize it by continuing negotiations long after others gave up, and missing no opportunity to bring representatives of opposing sides to parley. It is true that she was willing to use anyone capable of acting as an intermediary, but the circumstances noted had greatly reduced the number of gens de robe available to her in the spring of 1562. Most helpful were members of the royal council. Her most persuasive agent was Jean de Monluc, bishop of Valence, whose political and religious opinions seem to have been close to her own, but even he failed to persuade the prince to lay down his arms.[6] Parlementaires she might have called on (and would in later situations), de Thou for example, were already known to be unacceptable to Condé. Like the earlier measures, Catherine's efforts to come to terms with Condé only increased the opposition of the Catholic ultras and the fears of the populace. In early April the municipal leaders requested Antoine de Bourbon, as lieutenant général, to increase the security guard of Paris "fearing that the Huguenots were preparing a surprise"; a month later the Bureau de Ville would be organizing militia in each quarter of the city.[7]

On several occasions in the early months of the war there were direct communications between Condé and the Parlement of Paris. In each case the prince took the initiative, or rather, the offensive. His first manifesto, addressed to all royal officers and courts, called on them to assist the prince of the blood and his "associates" in defending the king and the constitution against those who, "full of blood and threats, have reduced their Majesties to captivity in their persons and in their wills." Chief clerk Jean Du Tillet recounts what happened in the court when this first declaration was received. He was instructed by Catherine and Antoine to prepare a reply, but it was not to be sent until it had been cleared by the Conseil du Roi because


a "matter of state was involved, and not justice." When Du Tillet showed a rough draft to présidents Saint-André, Baillet, and de Thou, they expressed the opinion that it should be en quelques termes et endroitz adoulcye . But the first draft was chosen by the crown, and the court was told to have it delivered posthaste by special courier. Presumably there was another draft, but it has not been discovered. The modern reader may well wonder what those three could have agreed upon, a triumvirate like that formed by Pompey and Caesar: Saint-André one of the ultra leaders, de Thou the leader of the moderates, and Baillet, acceptable to both as a link. To know the respects in which the second draft was plus adoulcye by comparison with the first would be especially useful.[8]

Jean Acarie, an usher in Parlement, was assigned to deliver the reply and to render a detailed account of his mission. Dated April 28, it claims to give every particular of his journey and to name every person encountered but does not include any mention of individual parlementaires.[9] During his two-day trip, the Paris Parlement received a second declaration from Condé, with a covering letter addressed to members (April 27), by which Condé disingenuously "assumed" that the court had also asked "the other party" to lay down arms and demanded the withdrawal of the Triumvirs from the royal court, claiming that the prince and his associates would then do likewise. This document was taken to the king by another triumvirate, led by the relatively uncontroversial Baillet, flanked by Louis Gayant of the ultras, and Guillaume Viole (bishop of Paris and eldest clerical councillor) of the moderates, who were told to hand it over to Du Tillet to be kept under lock and key. Parlement did not reply.[10]

There is no doubt from the record that the parlementaires, even the ultras, were in no position to act on their own. The Triumvirs held the reins and in early May they struck back. Unwilling to dignify Condé's claims by addressing him directly, they replied obliquely by a "request" to the crown, to declare that no "diversity of religion would be tolerated, and to require of all royal officers that they make a confession of Catholic faith, on pain of being deprived of office." All armed forces except those of the crown under Antoine's command were to be disbanded. If these conditions were met, they professed themselves willing "to depart, not just from [the royal]


court, but to the ends of the earth." Condé prepared a long manifesto in response to the Triumvirs (but addressed to the crown) and sent a copy with still another letter to Parlement on May 20. He described himself as "so scandalized and offended by their calumny" that he would rather have replied with arms, but instead he had sent the "most modest reply possible." He was sending a copy to the Parlement, "as those from whom I would hide nothing," to be carefully preserved, so that the magistrates could testify to his loyalty when Charles IX came of age. When Du Tillet took his letter to the royal court, currently at Vincennes, Catherine and the Triumvirs did not receive him in person but sent a message that Parlement was neither to accept nor to read such missives in the future; on the contrary, they were to be burned unopened.[11] With this background, Condé's récusations against prominent parlementaires in July should not come as a surprise. The list contains many examples of guilt by association. Premier président Le Maistre's greatest offense is that "he drew up the plan to make war on the king's true loyal subjects," but he is identified as owing his position to the favor of the duchess of Valentinois (Diane de Poitiers). None of the présidents is exempt. Saint-André is denounced as the creature of Marshal Saint-André, Dormy is associated with Le Maistre as well as with Diane and the Guises. De Thou, a client of the cardinal of Lorraine, in addition to having sat on the commission that condemned Condé, is accused of stirring up rebellion in the municipal leadership of Paris. It may be significant that the two best known moderate présidents, Séguier and Harlay, are tainted only by association with Montmorency.

The previous careers of conseillers Gayant, Bonete, and Anjorrant would be sufficient to explain Condé's hostility, but Gayant's abstention from the vote that cleared the prince was his ultimate offense. Bonete is accused as a Guise client, along with several others, including avocat du roi Du Mesnil and procureur du roi Bourdin. Anjorrant was among those associated with—really led by—Saint-André. Relatives of Le Maistre, Saint-André, and de Thou on the court were accused as such, and the latter's close associates Viole and Faye, along with Le Maistre's brother-in-law Jean-Baptiste Sapin, were individually named. A very few conseillers are listed for specific offenses against Condé: Eustache de Chambon for having said in public that the prince and his followers should be exterminated, Jean de Thérouenne for abuses of his position as judge of heretics in Orléans.


Bracketed with parlementaires were members of the clergy who held benefices from members of the Guise faction, accused of having raised 200,000 écus to repay a papal loan "for the advancement of this damned conspiracy."[12]

In the interval between the decision to burn any further messages from Condé and his July récusations , pressures on the Parlement had been stepped up from the other side. Antoine's order that Protestants leave Paris or be prosecuted for treason was issued on May 26; on the 29th premier président Le Maistre warned members of the court "fraternally," that if those with unorthodox views did not withdraw, "one could not easily keep the populace from attacking them." This was followed on June 1 by the first of a series of house-to-house searches for heretics, called by reporters for the Guise party la chasse aux Huguenots . On June 5 the anonymous attack on the orthodoxy of présidents Séguier and Harlay was found on the premises of the Palais de Justice, and although the charges were dismissed as "scandalous calumny" the next day, we have noted that Le Maistre felt it necessary to take measures that would reassure the city that the faith was not in danger from heresy in Parlement. A fresh surge of anti-Huguenot hysteria was sweeping the city and everyone feared the worst.[13]

June 9 brought the non-ultra Catholic magistrates to their Rubicon: if they did not make profession of Catholic orthodoxy, those who were already suspects would confirm this attribution and those who might formerly have escaped suspicion could hope to do so no longer. Thirty-one members, almost one-quarter of the court, absented themselves from the session rather than take the oath.[14]

For the Parisian in the street, the climactic point of this drama-packed season was the St-Médard procession on June 14. Public opinion had not cooled on this subject in the six months since the tumulte ; only a month earlier the unfortunate Sergeant Nez d'Argent had been hanged for the crime of protecting the Huguenots and blaming the Catholics for the incident. Parlementaire participation and abstention symbolized the court's


predicament: while the Host was flanked by the six ranking members, only 86 of the 143 parlementaires attended.[15]

If moderates had expected the St-Médard procession to serve as a catharsis for anti-Huguenot hostility, they were disappointed. Intensity was maintained throughout the summer; book burnings did not diminish, murders increased, and all other corps were obliged to make a similar profession of faith. As noted above, Nicolas Luillier, lieutenant criminel, who had protected a suspect, was obliged to take refuge in the Palais de Justice and to lock the doors for several hours, because "the people were demanding permission to kill Huguenots without a trial." The city was simultaneously hit by the plague, a spell of bad weather, and shortages—thus suffering, as the Journal de 1562 notes, from God's three scourges, plague, famine, and civil war. In late August Catherine and Parlement were unable to prevent Gabaston (commander of the municipal guard at the time of the tumult of St-Médard) from suffering the same fate as Nez d'Argent, "because the people were so aroused that if he had been released, it was feared that they would do violence to the court of Parlement itself." Members of the highest court in France could now be hunted down as outlaws with no legal recourse.[16]

Deeply involved as they were in religious and political issues, the Paris magistrates had little contact with the military events of the First Civil War. One episode, however, affected them directly, the death of one of their own members at the hands of Condé. During Parlement's summer recess Jean-Baptiste Sapin was captured and hanged in Orléans, together with one of his traveling companions. When we recall that Sapin had been singled out by name in Condé's récusations , it seems a simple act of vengeance. Huguenots rationalized it as justifiable "execution" for Sapin's participation in the court's proceedings that had violated the legal rights of Huguenots and usurped royal authority, but to his fellow parlementaires it was murder, committed by outlaws against the king's justice. The shocking news was announced at the opening of the new parlementaire season, November 12, 1562, by procureur général Bourdin, who urged the court to erect a memorial tablet to Sapin and the king to reserve his office for a member of his family. Two days later a requiem mass in his memory was held at Notre-


Dame, with Bourdin pronouncing the eulogy.[17] Most of the fighting was far away, much of it in the Midi, and the main military engagement was the siege of Rouen. Nevertheless, the one real battle, at Dreux (also the final and decisive event of the First Civil War) took place virtually at the gates of the capital, and parlementaires shared with other inhabitants the fear, uncertainty, and other shifting emotions as rumors of a Condé victory on December 20 struck terror in Parisian hearts, only to be followed by relief and exuberant rejoicing the next day—despite the death of Marshal Saint-André and the capture of the constable.

One other event that occurred during the ensuing negotiations for peace (which lasted until mid-March) was of capital importance. François, duc de Guise, the charismatic Catholic commander, was assassinated on February 24, 1563.[18] The immediate consequences, though less momentous than those of the long-range, significantly affected the Parlement. The elimination of all three Triumvirs obliged Catherine to press for peace and make some concessions to Condé, which infuriated public opinion and hardened opposition to the queen's policy. During the final days of the peace parley, the assassin was executed and two funeral services were held for the martyred duke, the first at the Sainte-Chapelle in the Palais de Justice, on March 9, subsidized and heavily attended by the Parlement. A solemn high requiem mass was held at Notre-Dame on March 20, the day the Pacification of Amboise, ending the First Civil War, was signed.[19]

The mourning of the Parisian crowds matched in hysterical intensity the welcome they had given Guise just a year before, and the position of those suspected of dissent grew still more precarious. As early as January, the Bureau de Ville had been demanding that no compromise be made on religious uniformity and Parlement rejected the proposal of amnesty for the defeated rebels. A number of absent Parisians, even including some parlementaires, were hanged in effigy, reported the Venetian ambassador


Marc'Antonio Barbaro, and the harassment of suspects did not abate. Parisians had been aware of Catherine's contrary intentions for some time, but popular anger had escalated since the victory at Dreux and the assassination of the duke was an event that Parisians expected would stiffen royal resistance to Condé's demands. The public failed to realize that the crown's financial and military weakness canceled out its presumed advantages. The queen mother was held to be in collusion with the enemy, a slander made credible by the role played in the peace parleys by Éléonore de Roye, princesse de Condé.[20] Negotiations had begun on November 28, some weeks before the battle of Dreux, while the Huguenot army was encamped near the city. Achille de Harlay, later premier président and the model parfait magistrat of the mainstream, while also suspect to the ultras, took part in the peace negotiations of December 1562-March 1563.[21]

In the altered circumstances after Dreux peace talks were resumed, with great urgency. The English ambassador Nicholas Throckmorton wrote to Queen Elizabeth on January 6, 1563, that Catherine de Médicis had moved to Chartres, and that "some judge peace to be more forward than it appears because the chief présidents and other councillors from the Parlement have gone to Chartres at the Queen's command, to yield to such articles as hitherto they and the Parisians have refused." We wonder who the other councillors were and regret the silence of the sources. André Guillart, sieur du Mortier, who was employed as envoy by Catherine a few weeks later on a sensitive mission, would not have been a logical choice for this mission since he was suspect himself. René Baillet might qualify, or de Thou's close associates Viole and Faye. (Recall that in December 1562, at the critical juncture de Thou became premier président, replacing Le Maistre, a tremendous stroke of luck for Catherine and for the cause of peace.) Yet the atmosphere in the capital had not moderated to match the drive toward compromise. A dispatch of the English agent Smith, who had remained in the city when Throckmorton went to Chartres, reports, on January 14, "all here is ruled by the house of Guise, to whose order the King and Queen have submitted." A few days later he refers to the dilemma of Marshal Montmorency, "as much [as] he might safely do, he favors those of the religion, which [is] the opinion the Papists and the Parisians have of him,


so he is not so beloved by them." On February 4 Smith gives details of Parisian atrocities against Huguenots in a letter to William Cecil, and he was himself a victim (though not a fatality) the next day.[22]

Some articles of the Pacification of Amboise met Condé's demands just enough to enrage the ultras without providing safeguards for the Huguenots. For instance, injuries and offenses on both sides were to be wiped out, on pain of death for violation, but no oath to observe the edict was required of royal or municipal officers, and the ultras held that it was not necessary to keep faith with heretics. Condé's specific request that all cases involving religion or the execution of the edict be assigned to the Grand Conseil was ignored; the regular course of justice was to be followed. This meant the parlements, of which the prince had said, at an early stage of the negotiations, that "the lives of the reformed would be no safer than if they were handed over to their worst enemies." Propertied Parisian Huguenots were allowed to reclaim their property but not to worship as they wished, even in their own houses, unlike haut justiciers elsewhere in the kingdom. Offices and titles were supposed to be restored to ex-rebels, but there was an outcry that the king should permit at court no person who did not profess the Catholic faith. If Protestant nobles, like the Châtillons, were thus imperiled, dissident parlementaires stood no chance of getting their rights. In the words of the Spanish ambassador, Chantonnay, the Parisian public was enragé .[23]

It was hardly surprising that the Parlement should drag its heels in these circumstances. Premier président de Thou tried to reassure Catherine. The letters patent ordering registration "will be published and registered without restrictions or modifications, but to allay the suspicions some have against Parlement, which will not like [the edict] and who will use it to cause more trouble, we shall delay until it pleases the king to send two princes of the blood to supervise it." He then requested that the duc de Montpensier and cardinal de Bourbon be assigned this duty.[24] When the edict was finally registered, (after a long wrangle to be discussed shortly) only the first and last phrases were read out by Du Tillet, Parlement "fearing a commotion if the full text were announced," as one observer put it.[25] Santa Croce was assured by the ultra leaders that the peace would not last, its


purpose being to gain time. Catherine herself excused it as an instance of reculer pour mieux sauter . As so often, the Venetian assessment seems to reveal the real situation. Barbaro wrote to the Senate on March 23.

I have been told by a principal member of Parlement that the king had no further means to carry on the war. The city must either accept the peace or defend itself. The Parlement is much disturbed, and knowing that both parties are equally dangerous to the state , does not know what resolution to take, but [the Parlement spokesman added] if we bring this public war to a conclusion, we are preparing a private one on a much larger scale in every city and house in the kingdom .[26]

This statement is a valuable revelation of the ambivalence of Parisian parlementaire opinion: on the one hand the threat of the Catholic party is recognized, but on the other, the determination to continue the fight against any degree of toleration of dissent is forcefully expressed.

Fewer nuances are found in robe opinion in the provinces, not surprisingly. In the major parlements, except Rouen's, dissenters or doubters of the Catholic line were few. The Toulouse court had a well-earned reputation for harshness. The capitouls (of the municipal leadership), on the contrary, had been for the most part won over to the reform, and the antagonism produced four tumultuous and bloody days (May 1562), in which one of the most distinguished jurists, Jean de Coras, who happened also to be one of the rare Protestants, was among the victims. In Bordeaux also, the Parlement was strongly anti-Huguenot, although both the city and the court were less ultra than in Toulouse. The Catholics in these two cities often expressed the feeling of being under siege because the smaller cities and towns of Languedoc and Guyenne constituted the heartland of the reform.[27]

Burgundy was a bastion of conservative Catholic opinion. Perhaps the proximity of Switzerland and the Rhine and Rhône valleys made Burgundians particularly fearful of penetration by "foreign" ideas that threatened traditional habits and beliefs, and influential regional nobles, especially the Saulx-Tavannes, ranked among the leaders of the ultra party. When the deputies of the three estates of le pays et duché de Bourgogne produced remonstrances against the Edict of Amboise, they were embodied in a pamphlet that elaborates the Catholic position in more than fifty pages, drawing extensively on the Bible and the ancient history of the Near East


to make the same few points over and over again: France is a monarchy; a monarchy that permits diversity of religion cannot enjoy internal peace and stability; wise rulers have realized this and have suppressed religious beliefs that differed from their own; where toleration has been tried, the results have been disastrous, as currently in France, with the policies of Catherine de Médicis. Thus far the main argument is a simple statement of un roi, une foi . De Caprariis says, "In this pamphlet are presented, forcefully and in lucid form, all the objections of Catholic parlementaires to the policy of the regent and L'Hôpital." The author was Jean Begat, conseiller in the Dijon Parlement, with a reputation for learning. He makes a further point, new at this time, that would figure frequently in the propaganda of the League, accusing the Huguenots of intending to break up the kingdom into a group of city-states, like Switzerland. The accusation was as ridiculous as it was libelous, considering the passionate royalist nationalism of the French Huguenots in every generation, but it was an effective scare-tactic. In Burgundy at this time also, the first regional confraternity was organized, to wage "implacable war" against heresy. De Thou comments, "The piety of the king of Spain was publicly exalted, even in the pulpits, and unflattering comparisons were made with the royal [French] authority and the very name of Frenchman was made to sound shameful, as if it were the business of the king of Spain to regulate religion in France and to interpret the king's edicts."[28]

By comparison with Parlement's action on the Edict of January 1562, the Edict of Amboise appeared to be registered in Paris with little opposition, but this impression is misleading. It was only a pro forma acceptance. The court was not strong enough to block it and resorted instead to a strategy of sabotaging its implementation. Meanwhile house-to-house searches, book burning, and street violence continued; Huguenots were denied their rights under the edict. Although the tide had begun to turn within the court—with de Thou's assumption of the first presidency—the ultras still had the upper hand, and some parlementaires who had thus far escaped harassment came under fire.

A major contribution of Linda Taber's study of heresy in the Paris Parlement is the discovery of some key documents and the unraveling and interpretation of others. An outstanding example is an anonymous police


report.[29] According to her reconstruction, the genesis of this list was probably a complaint by certain dixaine captains on November 12, 1562, just as the session that had opened with the news of Sapin's murder was about to close. The captains reported that "the people" were outraged by the continued presence in the court of members who "ordinarily" attended the sermons and observed the rituals of the new religion and held assemblies in their houses, with impunity. The complaint was followed by a "request" to the Parlement, to refuse entry to such members, even if they had already made profession of faith (or said they would be willing to do so), to expel members who had approved allowing the Huguenots to have temples or to assemble, under any conditions, and to grant them, the captains, permission to order all such persons to leave Paris. For the Parlement, the timing of the captains' request or report is especially significant for it illuminates the divisions among magistrates as the First Civil War was drawing to a close, as well as revealing the development of those divisions discussed above in chapters 7-9 and foreshadowing many of the complications in the months ahead.

Although the November 12 register does not mention the episode, that of November 27 alludes to it, recording that after lengthy debate it was decided that the captains should investigate and then submit a list of known or suspected heretics. Procedure is not mentioned until the register of January 8, 1563, which instructs the captains to inquire into the orthodoxy of members of all important corps and their families. The Parlement of Paris is named first. Each captain is to solicit assistance from the most prominent inhabitants of his dixaine and to prepare a separate list with their names. Neither list is to be signed.[30] Slight changes in procedure authorized in late January suggest that some difficulties had been encountered, but neither the registers of the court nor those of the Bureau de Ville contain any further mention of this investigation. The Journal de 1562 and other sources refer to the continued pursuit of heretics, however, one claiming that right after the battle of Dreux Parlement had ordered all priests to denounce suspects to their bishops within nine days, on pain of excommunication for failure to comply.[31]

Taber believes that the anonymous police report was the end product of the captains' request. Of the sixty-eight names, thirty-six are those of


conseillers in the Parlement, and fourteen others are wives or other relatives. Her reasoning and conclusions have been very valuable to this study—more than can adequately be acknowledged—and are incorporated into my own conclusions about the spectrum of religious opinion in each generation.

The Fragmentation of the Court, 1563

The ultras had lost no time in attacking the vulnerable aspects of the Edict of Amboise. On March 29, at the session immediately following registration, Parlement remonstrated against Catherine's toleration of non-Catholic courtiers, on grounds that they could not be trusted to be faithful, for "no certainty of good [performance in] office can be found with diversity of religion." Two weeks later they carried presumption even further, expressing resentment that violence in other parts of the kingdom (against the Huguenots) was ignored, "as if only Catholic Paris was to be held to the terms of the edict," and demanding that it be applied equally to both sides.[32] Taber summarizes the situation, "the functions of Parlement as the conservatives saw them emerge very clearly . . . in both the making of policy and the execution of justice, the Court was the king's mentor. The royal reply, read to the members on April 24, made it equally clear that such tutelage was felt to be inappropriate and offensive." As retaliation against the ultras, the crown took deadly aim at a sensitive spot. In an interview between de Thou and Chancellor L'Hôpital on May 9, despite the premier président's almost superhuman efforts to be tactful and conciliatory, the court was ordered to withdraw the requirement for a profession of faith, and to admit without coercion absentees who did not wish to make one.[33] The return of several controversial absentees heightened the drama and hardened the court's resistance, but the only result achieved by an impressive delegation of présidents, gens du roi , and senior conseillers who tried to explain their position (May 18) was that they were explicitly forbidden to deliberate the question at all.[34] At least by implication, this was an attack


on Parlement's most precious prerogative, the right of remonstrance. Inevitably, it provoked new remonstrances on May 22.

Noting that a profession of faith conformed both to the procedures of François I and to the requirement of the Edict of January that members of the court be of the same faith as the king, the main thrust of Parlement's argument was that law and order depended on the maintenance of the profession. To drop it would entail dire consequences, including public disrespect for Parlement and disunity within its ranks. Predictably, the king's reply was that reasons of state made it imperative that members of the court not be obliged to make profession, and that such was his will.[35] Taber speculates that Parlement had probably anticipated this outcome, since the remonstrances of May 22 are entered in the register of May 25 with yet another parlementaire initiative, drawing a distinction between Protestants who had borne arms during the war and officers who had absented themselves in order to avoid a profession of faith. In the court's opinion, the edict applied only to the former category; the profession of faith, on the contrary, was a rule of the court, to be obeyed by all members, as the king's justice was by definition in conformity with his religion.[36]

Taber has a convincing hypothesis concerning the probable membership of the commission that drew up the second, bolder set of remonstrances on May 25. She sees a division within "the conservative rump" that had made a profession of faith the previous June. Thirteen members whose ideological deviation had been revealed in the police report she calls "unreliables," ten of whom were present when the May 25 remonstrances were formulated, three belonged to the Grand' Chambre: Étienne Charlet, Matthieu Chattier, and Michel Quélain.[37]

Those who were "unreliable" from the point of view of ultra-conservative solidarity I place in the parlementaire mainstream, as moderates, who for the most part had been silent in recent months. These were sincere Catholics, for whom a profession of faith was a natural act in support of un roi, une foi , and while they could not accept the crown's moves toward accommodation of heretics, neither did they believe in either vindictive persecution or in the imposition of iron-bound uniformity in every detail of religious observance and belief. They were willing, therefore, to waive


the oath for returnees and let bygones be bygones as much for alienated colleagues as for those who had borne arms. These attitudes did indeed make them "unreliable" as followers of the ultra line, but the court's leadership was no longer hostage to the ultras. Of the five présidents only Saint-André stood for total unwillingness to compromise. Christophe de Thou was now in the driver's seat, and he had shown his independence by permitting deliberation on the question of the profession of faith in defiance of the king's command and by the same act had defied ultra parlementaire opinion by allowing the returnees the same privileges as others. De Thou could count on the support of Séguier and Harlay (who would probably have gone even further) and of Baillet, who was always compliant. Among the conseillers, de Thou's own allies and those of Séguier, notably Faye, Viole, and Du Drac, could act as "whips" of the Gallican party that would emerge when the patriotism of the ultras seemed compromised by the Counter-Reformation.

The balance of power between the mainstream and the ultras was beginning to shift. The French delegation to the Council of Trent, led by conseiller Arnauld Du Ferrier, opposed decrees that would eliminate the autonomy of the French church before withdrawing from Trent altogether. One result would be to make the ultra position appear more extreme and to accelerate defections from it toward the mainstream, in the center. The full implications of these changes were not yet evident, however.

There were also subdivisions among the dissidents, the thirty-one parlementaires who had absented themselves to avoid the profession of faith. Nearly two years earlier, in the summer of 1561, the Venetian ambassador Michele Suriano had already reported differences of opinion among parlementaires. The reason the pourparlers that finally produced the Edict of July were so long and drawn out, he said, was that "everyone insisted on giving his own opinion, not satisfied with what had been said by previous speakers." He adds provocative details on two prominent individuals:

Hitherto all members of Parlement had shown themselves most hostile to the new sects [sic ], with the exception of M. Viole, who spoke openly in their favor. He had consequently gained great credit with them, while M. du Ferrier had lost as much . . . [but since returning from Rome] from having been the most violent and implacable enemy of Catholics and especially of the authority of the Pope [he is now] more kind and friendly. . . . Those who are displeased by the change declare that he had been bought by presents and promises.[38]


These impressions reflect the opinions of Suriano's informant(s); he or they were clearly "reliable" conservatives; the slur on Du Ferrier's integrity conflicts with everything we know of him.

In another dispatch, written two weeks later (July 14), after the conclusion of deliberations but before the edict was officially issued, Suriano states that "more than 100" of the 140 persons who participated, that is, the Parlement and the Conseil du Roi

were firm and united in opinion in favour of the Catholic faith. The remainder were opposed to it; but divided into several parties. . . . Some of them openly advocated the cause of the Sacramentarians; amongst them the Admiral and M. du Mortier [seigneur de l'Isle], and some members of the Parliament. Some, who were doubtful, wished, under various pretexts, to delay the decision [of the Parliament]. Others, who thought that it was too severe, desired that more leniency should be shown. Amongst the latter was the Cardinal de Châtilion.

Antoine de Bourbon spoke in a low voice and said little, continues Suriano. The cardinal de Lorraine spoke with learning and eloquence and persuaded the assembly to publish the decree by authority of Parlement, because its supremacy in the kingdom "has all the force of a pragmatic sanction, against which neither the favour, nor the ability nor the rank nor the authority of anyone would avail."[39]

The father of André Guillart, sieur de l'Isle, was président Charles Guillart, who had died in 1524. Louis Guillart, André's uncle, bishop of Chartres, a member of the king's council, was one of the French bishops the papacy attempted to deprive of their sees, as heretics, in August 1563.[40] We are tantalized by the offhand reference to "some members of Parlement," probably those who later refused to make profession of faith in June 1562. Those who "sought pretexts for delay" would seem to indicate men like Du Faur and Paul de Foix, who urged waiting for a church council to decide the religious question. The "leniency" of cardinal de Châtillon might be an allusion to his willingness to allow the use of the vernacular in some church rituals, for instance. It is particularly interesting that Suriano expresses the


exalted parlementaire view of the court's authority and prestige—it could be Étienne Pasquier speaking—and intriguing that such a view should be put in the mouth of the cardinal de Lorraine. This is not plausible, however. I suspect the Venetian ambassador conflated a report that the assembly was persuaded to accept the edict—which nobody really favored—by the cardinal's eloquence, with some parlementaire's assertion of the court's influence.

Of the edict itself Suriano had said (July 27, 1561) that the published version was less severe on heresy than Parlement had intended because "it had been weakened by the Chancellor, whose orthodoxy was suspected," consequently, "that which was intended as remedy, would instead add to the evil." A secret dispatch the same day reports that the queen mother was suspected of collusion with the chancellor and others who favored the Huguenots.[41] Again we see that the ultras had the ambassador's ear.

Suriano's mission ended just after the Colloquy of Poissy, in October 1561. A year and a half later, in spite of an unbroken series of setbacks, the Protestant party still loomed as a dreadful menace in conservative parlementaire opinion. In April 1563 the succeeding Venetian ambassador, Marc'Antonio Barbaro, could report to the Senate, "the Catholic party is convinced that if the peace [Amboise] is continued, the whole kingdom would go over to the new religion , although the king has declared his intention to live and die in that of his fathers."[42]

In the interval between the earlier Venetian reports and the one just quoted, the clear-cut division between those who made profession of faith and the thirty-one who refused had surfaced, and the less clear subdivisions within both groups that Taber and I have analyzed became discernible. Her painstaking analysis of the time-table of absentee returns shows that four of the thirty-one had been lost through resignation or death, and three were abroad, serving as ambassadors. All but nine of the rest had reclaimed their seats by June 1563; only two had asked to be excused from the oath.[43] The last nine, who did not return until the fall or winter 1563-64, had all been accused of the most serious offenses on the police report, such as holding assemblies in their houses or serving in Condé's army.


The evidence suggests that these nine were real heretics, and to the extent that they retained dissident beliefs after their return, they were what Calvin called "Nicodemites," secret Protestants. The earliest returnees, of June and July 1562, on the contrary, who took the oath without apparent hesitation, were almost certainly conventional or indifferent Catholics. We recall that Eustache de la Porte, for instance, had complied easily and promptly when the judges at his 1559 trial had required him to recant his criticism of the Grand' Chambre's severity to heretics. Some of the dissenters I would characterize as "liberal" Catholics. In contrast to the indifferent or conventional group, they had reached their beliefs through sophisticated and subtle reasoning, but the substance was more spiritual and moral than theological, as we have seen with Paul de Foix, who represents the most radical end of the spectrum. The congruence of his views with those of Jean de Monluc and with the provisions of the Edict of January marks the difference between the "left of center" members and the moderate conservatives of the court. If about three-fourths of the Parisian parlementaires were conservatives, relatively few were ultras—and as time passed there were fewer. And if the remaining fourth consisted of dissidents, relatively few of them were heretics. The moderates of the mainstream and the liberal Catholics between them constituted a substantial majority.

As long as Charles IX was a minor, opposition to the policies of Catherine and L'Hôpital stimulated anticipations of the end of the regency.[44] The Parlement, hoping that the king's policies would be closer to its own when that moment came, exploited the situation by granting only "provisional" registration to the Edict of January and the Pacification of Amboise. Moreover, while Charles IX had been crowned in May 1561, it was not until two years later that he paid the court the honor of a visit. The occasion was the crown's need for new revenues in order to take advantage of the cessation of hostilities to unify the quarreling factions in a "national" military campaign to drive the English out of Normandy. The device so often resorted to in such circumstances, to "borrow" from the French church, made it necessary to launch an official royal appeal, in a royal séance of the Parlement of Paris on May 17, 1563.

In a personal statement opening the proceedings, the young king excused himself for not coming sooner "to do my duty, that is, to admonish you to administer justice well and honorably . . . because I became king at such a


young age and have been so preoccupied with other affairs." The chancellor elaborated the point and brought up the proposition of alienating church lands to meet the needs of national security. Premier président de Thou, speaking for the court, supported the request and thanked the king effusively for their "joy at seeing before them the image and power of God represented in their king . . . seated in the throne of his majesty. " This meant in the Grand' Chambre of the Parlement of Paris, and he was beseeched to do so often. The premier président underlined Parlement's opinion that it had a right to be consulted by inserting smoothly, "as pilot of a [vessel] which is tossed and torn by ill winds, the king as is customary requests counsel of those who are inside [the vessel]."[45]

The royal séance of May 17 has usually been interpreted as a humiliation of the court because it was obliged to drop the requirement of a confession of faith and to readmit those who had refused to take the oath—a matter that was uppermost in their current concerns. Hanley, however, carrying out her constitutional interpretation, believes that "contrary to common supposition . . . this Royal Séance . . . was specifically convoked to register a royal edict not under the iron hand of the monarch but at the willful insistence of a Parlement intent upon securing for itself during minority kingship a greater legislative role."[46]

The crown's announcement that a lit de justice would be held in the Parlement of Rouen (August 17, 1563) to proclaim the king's majority (and crown the national military victory in Normandy) precipitated a constitutional crisis that some scholars regard as the most serious of the century, prior to the 1590s.[47] The Parisian Parlement not only refused to comply with the request to send delegates but attempted to change the regent's mind—in vain. The argument advanced in de Thou's letter was that there was no need for a special assembly to proclaim the royal majority because

even if you [Charles IX] were only one day old, you would be as much a major in respect to justice as if you were thirty years old, since [justice] is administered in your name by the power God has given you. In addition, the attire [red robes] in which we [the Parlement of Paris] are vested during


Royal Funerals shows that since [kings] do not die in respect to justice, they can never be reputed as minors [in respect to justice].[48]

If such an ordinance, as special, is however, deemed necessary,

then the act must take place first in this Court . . . the first of the Courts of the kingdom, the Court of peers, and the seat of the king's sovereign justice. . . . [The Parlement of Paris is the true and only court in which] he customarily holds his Lit de Justice [assembly] . . . it [the court] represents the true and solid image of the majesty and dignity of his justice.[49]

Parlement had thus completely reversed the position it had held in earlier decades. From denying the legitimacy of a lit de justice assembly, the Parisians had turned to co-opting the institution, asserting that it could only take place in the Grand' Chambre of the Paris Palais de Justice.

Using the compilations of Du Tillet (see chapter 2), Chancellor L'Hôpital articulated a royal strategy designed to counter the Parlement's claim and to "eliminate the shadow of legislative incapacity hovering over the scene of royal minority," by asserting that the throne was never vacant (l'autorité royale ne meurt point ). Transfer of this maxim, borrowed from private law, provided a basis for "instantaneous succession" in public law, as a legitimate concept in the "ancient constitution."[50]

In Parlement's eyes, the villain of the majorité struggle was Chancellor L'Hôpital, who, as spokesman of the crown, expressed the more absolutist interpretation and challenged parlementaire constitutionalism by every available means, from straightforward pressure, applied through prestigious envoys who commanded registration and dismissed remonstrances in the king's name, to underhanded practices like suborning members of the court to break the confidentiality of its proceedings so that every move was known in advance by officers of the crown. A new royal tactic was to announce that the king would shortly come in person to the Paris Parlement, and then to change the rules and require that a parlementaire delegation bring the remonstrances to him in Normandy. The location of the meeting was changed three times before it took place, five days after the original date, in the presence—unexpected by the parlementaires—of the Conseil


du Roi. The king denied the validity of every point in the remonstrances and castigated the court for disobedience:

The kings who preceded me placed [the Parlement] in your present station only for the purpose of making justice for subjects. . . . You are not my tutors or guardians of the kingdom . . . you are always welcome to make remonstrances . . . but not as my governors. And after having made them and having heard my will, you must obey. . . . You are my servants and subjects who must obey me when I command.[51]

Forced to abandon direct resistance, the Parlement resorted to obstruction through procedural tactics, which prolonged the struggle for several weeks more. The height of the crisis occurred after a tie vote (partage ) in Parlement on whether to register the second Edict of Pacification (a confirmation of Amboise) without its being "witnessed" by two princes of the blood—as a warranty of good faith that it was not intended to legitimize the existence of two religions. The tie vote listed the individual parlementaires by name, in writing , contrary to the usual custom of taking votes orally and recording only the overall numbers, for and against. When the king demanded to see the original list, the situation became much worse. Several desperate maneuvers of the court failed, and members were finally compelled to concede that the partage was invalid because Parlement's "cognizance did not extend to affairs of state." But the court did not obey the command to record the original (now canceled) partage —the document instead was deleted from the registers until some days later, when they were brought to the king to prove that the order had been executed. In defeat, the factions had to close ranks. To be sure, the partage in itself reflected division in the court, but the agreement to take such a step in the first place and the resistance of all factions to cancellation and to expunging the record, show how members separated by disagreement over substantive policy, joined forces to defend the court's prerogatives.[52]

At the all-important lit de justice in Rouen, in August 1563, the majority of Charles IX was proclaimed and the royal theory of government was set forth by L'Hôpital: the king was sole legislator in matters of state (public or constitutional); Parlement's jurisdiction was restricted to the private sphere, the application of law among individuals. This stood in marked contrast to "les pretensions du Parlement de Paris à être colégislateur avec le roi et à s'imposer comme le principal Parlement en France." The ada-


mantine stand of the Paris court against the crown's tactic (on such vital issues as the Edicts of January, Amboise, majority, and later Nantes) of bypassing it and having them registered in provincial parlements first , makes clear the Parisian belief that the latter were "lesser" in some respect. Some of their discourse suggests a theory of "parlementaire unity," in which the others were subordinate to Paris in one "national" court. Hanley, however, points out that "Far from being official doctrine in the sixteenth century, the idea of parlementary unity under the Parisian court was vigorously contested." In speeches delivered in provincial parlements, L'Hôpital defined parlementary unity in a way that "leveled all the courts to one unit headed by the king."[53]

These rival assertions express two conflicting views of the constitution: Paris claimed both superiority over all other courts and a "partnership" with the king, as colegislator without whose consent (registration) no royal decree had the force of law. The crown ignored the Parisian arguments and the chancellor repeated the humiliating limitation to "private justice" in the parlements of Toulouse and Bordeaux. Hanley comments, "The Parlement of Paris was well aware that Charles IX's Majority Lit de Justice of Rouen had undermined its pretensions to supremacy among the Courts of France."[54]

This defeat of Parlement's claim to equal partnership with the crown set a pattern in 1563 that would be repeated each time the issue arose, with ever-increasing slippage of Parlement's position. Contemporaries did not realize how decisive it was, probably because each successive occurrence—always in crisis—was perceived as an opportunity to redress the balance of power to the true, constitutional equilibrium. The next major test was nine years off.

Decompression and Reconciliation, 1563-1566

Eighteen years after its beginning, the Council of Trent was about to wind up, with deadlock on two fronts. On the one hand, the papal legates were trying to achieve enactment of a "reformation of princes" before the council adjourned, in revenge for the leadership of secular rulers in the drive toward church reform. This "reformation" would remove from the secular authorities any jurisdiction over heresy and social matters like marriage, and administrative matters like nomination to benefices, and criminal jurisdic-


tion over the clergy even in cases of murder and would place these matters under the exclusive jurisdiction of clerical administrators and courts. Predictably, representatives of all the secular rulers resisted the proposals, the French most sharply and vociferously. We recall that there had been a brief Gallican "crisis" over the mere convocation of the second session, in 1551-52, and that in fact no French delegates had taken part. Ten years later the problem was exacerbated by the insertion of a hotly contested unorthodox religious policy of the French crown. Another deadlock, unabashedly political, was a resurgence of the long-standing rivalry between the French and the Spaniards over precedence.[55]

The third session of the Council of Trent opened on January 18, 1562 (the day after the Edict of January was announced by L'Hôpital). Two of the three ambassadors Catherine sent to the council were robins , Arnauld Du Ferrier, conseiller in the Paris Parlement, and Guy Pybrac Du Faur, a member of the king's council and of a family prominent in the Toulouse robe, both known for liberal religious views. The third was Louis de Saint-Gelais, sieur de Lansac. They presented their credentials on May 26, that is, coincident with the violent aftermath of the registration in Paris of the Edict of January, leading up to the imposition of the confession of faith. In Trent little was happening. The strategy of the French clerical delegation—more than sixty bishops led by the cardinal de Lorraine—was to follow the lead of the imperial delegation, since the pope was more inclined to listen to the Germans and Lorraine's views and those of the emperor (temporarily) coincided on the most pressing changes to be made: marriage of the clergy, communion in both kinds for the laity, and a limited use of the vernacular. Repeated delays and procedural disputes blocked action, however, to the annoyance of the secular rulers, who kept sending protests by special messengers. No sessions at all were held between September 1562 and July 1563.

During that interval in France, we have seen that the first civil war was brought to an end by the Pacification of Amboise, with a great deal of effort on Catherine's part. Exploiting this unaccustomed advantage, after Dreux she had sent a list of thirty-four articles, described as "disciplinary," to be presented to the council, urging their adoption. In addition to the three major points already mentioned, the list included such reforms of the epis-


copate as abolition of resignatio in favorem (no. 22), and of benefices without mandatory duties (no. 24), and a general rubric (no. 29) of "abuses" and "superstitions" to be eliminated, which included indulgences, images, pilgrimages, and reverence of saints and relics. The signatures of the Conseil du Roi on these demands, as the opposition called them, imply approval, but it is hard to imagine the constable, for instance, associating himself with the language and embracing the ideas of the heretics he hated and feared. The document's tone suggests that it was formulated by L'Hôpital and/or Monluc; the conservatives of the Conseil du Roi probably signed under the influence of Lorraine. There was a suggestion that annates would be restored to the papacy as a quid pro quo for acceptance of the crown's articles, but the papal claim to plenitudo potestatis that contradicted Gallican traditional belief in the superiority of bishops-in-council was firmly repudiated.[56]

By the end of summer, in the weeks of the Parisian struggle against the announcement of Charles's majority in Rouen, the cardinal de Lorraine, who had shifted away from sponsorship of the reform toward cooperation with the pope, left Trent for Rome. The assassination of his brother, Catherine's accommodation of the Huguenots, and papal flattery are among the factors that may have persuaded him, either that religious compromise could not work in France or that the continuation of his own power depended on orthodox alignment.

At this point the papal legates in Trent advanced the "reformation of princes," complete with a proviso for excommunication of rulers who transgressed the restrictions, and Du Ferrier made an impassioned Gallican protest. He claimed that all the points in this reformation of princes had the sole object of abolishing the ancient liberties of the Gallican church and of diminishing the majesty and authority of the Most Christian kings, and he insisted that in France ecclesiastics could not be judged outside the kingdom. The kings, who were the founders and patrons of most of the churches had the right to use the revenues of the church in cases of necessity, and none of these Gallican practices were contrary to the dogma of the Catholic church, or to the ancient decrees of popes and councils. Whoever dared to violate the privileges of the king and the Gallican church would be resisted by the crown, the laws and the French church itself. The oration ended in an expression of astonishment that the church fathers should presume to excommunicate princes, who were established by God, to whom obedience and respect were required, even when they did wrong.[57]


The ultramontane assault on the Gallican liberties was not confined to generalities. Pius IV had recently presumed to deprive six French bishops of their sees and issued a summons to Jeanne d'Albret, the Calvinist queen of Navarre, to appear before the Inquisition; the summons declared her deposed and her kingdom forfeit.[58] Catherine's special representative in this case, Henri de Clutin, sieur d'Oysel, currently French ambassador to the papacy, stated in no uncertain terms that the pope "had no jurisdiction whatever over kings and queens" and that the queen of Navarre held the major part of her lands from the crown of France, which alone could legislate for or dispose of them. The king threatened dire reprisals against any French prelates who cooperated in the attack on Jeanne and especially denounced the intention, rumored, to declare her marriage with Antoine de Bourbon invalid (which would make Henri de Navarre a bastard and annul his status as first prince of the blood). Charles IX demanded again that the council enact the articles sent many months earlier and instructed the French delegation to leave Trent forthwith if it were not done. Indeed, they never attended the council again and shortly withdrew to Venice.

The Trent decrees, a package whose contents violated the laws, customs, and traditions that constituted the Gallican liberties, were never accepted, en bloc, in France, although some particulars were duplicated or echoed in royal edicts. The first of many tests occurred in a meeting of the Conseil du Roi, attended also by the présidents of the Parlement, in February 1564. The cardinal de Lorraine urged the reception of the Trent decrees, and the chancellor was among the most outspoken opponents. Lorraine, who had signed, as head of the French clerical delegation, on the last day of the council, was anxious for ratification by the crown. When the chancellor categorically refused, the cardinal's anger exploded. "Throw away the mask," he shouted, "we cannot tell what your religion is, or rather, we know all too well: it is to do as much harm as you possibly can to me and to my family!" and he launched on a long list of favors L'Hôpital owed to the Guises, charging him repeatedly with ingratitude. L'Hôpital was not intimidated: "Your Illustrious Lordship should know who trampled the Edict of January under foot at Vassy and set off the troubles. . . . As for services kindly rendered to me, I shall always be ready to acknowledge them


on my own account, but I will never pay them off at the expense of the king's honor and [my] usefulness [to him]!"[59]

The significance of this heated exchange to both camps is reflected in the fact that Bèze reported it to Bullinger, with glee, while Santa Croce reported it to the pope, in the tone of "I-told-you-so." In the opinion of de Caprariis, "The chancellor found precious allies in Parlement on the common ground of opposition to the Council of Trent. . . . The Gallican issue was stronger than any other consideration in parlementaire thought. Defense of the Gallican church, of the royal prerogative, and of Parlement's own privileges were joined into one common cause." The Parlement of Paris remained the guardian of the Gallican liberties and the bastion of resistance to the Trent decrees in perpetuity, and the first fruit of that resistance was rapprochement with L'Hôpital, although this did not erase the reciprocal distrust and antagonism on other issues between the court and its ex-member become their superior.[60]

In addition to the revival of Gallican sentiment, the recall of Perrenot de Chantonnay as Spanish ambassador contributed to the détente. Since 1559 he had been a close observer of every action and nuance of opinion at the French royal court—historians have benefited from his insight and detailed reports to his master. His hostility to the crown's policy of coexistence of the two sects reflected his belief in greater influence of the Huguenots over Catherine and L'Hôpital than they in fact had. Catherine was increasingly frustrated by his stubborn refusal to listen to her justifications, to the point that his usefulness was really at an end. Philip removed him in January 1564, coincident with the royal court's move to Fontainebleau (the first step in an absence from the capital that would last more than two years) and replaced him with Don Francis Alava, Spanish ambassador to the duchy of Savoy, who had been in France for two years already, at Chantonnay's right hand. By comparison with his predecessor, Alava's manner was less abrasive, his mind more flexible and his understanding of France more subtle, but the policy he pursued was unchanged, as Philip's instructions make clear.

Recognizing the predicament of Spanish diplomacy created by Chantonnay's antagonism of Catherine, the king of Spain tells his new ambassador to start his tour of duty by explaining that Chantonnay had been recalled


so as to replace him with somebody in whom she could have "entire confidence." The substance of his mission is to warn her repeatedly that she, Charles IX, and the kingdom of France are in grave danger from evil men who "wish to change the crown." After his predecessor's departure, in order to underline the alleged change in policy, the new ambassador should flatter her, while at the same time keeping her in perpetual fear , and "penetrate French designs" in Germany, England, Flanders, and Italy. Alluding to Catherine's preoccupation with the proposed meeting with her daughter Élisabeth, Philip says he needs proof that what the queen mother wishes to discuss can only be done in a face-to-face meeting. The greetings for Alava to convey from his master to the duchess de Guise are accompanied by warm praise of the late duke, and those to the constable contain a barbed reference to the Châtillons. "I am constantly astonished that the dangers threatening religion in France come from your close relatives."[61]

While the court was at Fontainebleau, the ambassadors of the chief Catholic powers laid siege to the king collectively, proposing a "summit meeting" of Catholic rulers at some convenient place, like Nancy (Lorraine), where they could hear the Trent decrees read and discuss at leisure their relation to "the poisons spread about by the sectarians, which have undermined divine law and disturbed the peace." Catherine was not displeased with this idea as long as she did not have to implement it. The king gave a vaguely assenting response, as the queen mother plunged the court into a series of pre-Lenten bails, jousts, and other entertainments on a lavish scale.[62]

These distractions served as a screen for consultations on the Trent decrees and related issues of religious and foreign policy, for which some leading members of Parlement were invited to join the Conseil Privé. Five were well known: présidents de Thou, Séguier, and Harlay, avocat général Du Mesnil, and procureur général Bourdin. The premier président and ranking gens du roi would be summoned ex officio to such a consultation. There was also a new président, Bernard Prévost, and an undistinguished assistant to Du Mesnil, Edmond Boucherat, who is dismissed as sans valeur by Loisel.[63] (This opinion may have stemmed from Boucherat's close identification with the Guises.)

Catherine attempted to reassure Santa Croce about parlementaire par-


ticipation, promising to see to it "that they walked the straight and narrow," but their initial reaction was that it would endanger the peace to accept the Trent decrees until the crown had the situation more firmly in hand and the Protestants were no longer to be feared. The deliberations continued for three weeks, in deep secrecy, and the ultimate parlementaire arguments went beyond passing political considerations to constitutional issues. De Caprariis says:

Other enemies of the council might grow feeble or disappear, but the Gallican spirit, on the contrary, increased in strength as the struggle continued. From this time on the Trent decrees would regularly come up against it without ever being able to prevail. Without exaggeration it can be said that these Fontainebleau consultations mark an essential date in the history of the French church; they set the stage whereon, for more than a century, two irreconcilable movements would clash, religious nationalism, determined to conserve even the [Gallican] abuses, and Roman centralization, the instrument of a more monolithic and purified Catholicism.[64]

Du Mesnil's Advertissement sur le faict du Concile de Trente sums up the deliberations and arguments, some general, others relevant only to particular articles. The historic propositions of Gallicanism provide a preamble: first, the French church is subject only to God's law and the decrees of the earliest councils, and second, a corollary, it is not subject to any rulings of modern popes and councils, except as the king may choose to apply them, a condition that has traditionally been accepted by popes. The defense of this autonomy, Du Mesnil continued, "was never more important than now," with a young, inexperienced king on the throne and the threat of a renewal of civil war. The determining role of the immediate circumstances is clearly spelled out:

[Everyone knows with what urgency and difficulty] the Edict of Pacification was achieved last year, and the evils, calamities, and desolation that constrain the consciences of the king's subjects and violations of his edicts had brought on the kingdom, which were remedied by the sole means of that Edict. . . . Approval of the said council cannot be given without the alteration, or rather the revocation of the said Edict . . . [because] the permission the king accorded his subjects to live in liberty of conscience, would come to an end, and the troubles would start up again. . . . Whoever advocates any means of disturbing the public tranquillity of this kingdom, especially now,


when hearts and wills are just beginning to be reconciled, not only is not to be held a good and loyal subject, he is not to be tolerated at all (souffert ).[65]

Before its decrees can be considered, he went on, the council's procedural defects alone would invalidate them a priori: it was a continuation of earlier Trent sessions, and not the new council required for a fresh start; it contradicted earlier councils and frustrated its own raison d'être by increasing papal power instead of restraining it. The council's connivance in Spanish usurpation of precedence (over the French) was another procedural fault.

The offensive decrees were those that set aside the rights of secular authorities, especially but not exclusively in France, in matters ranging from denial of the need for secular assent to ordinations and nominations to church offices, to regulation of marriage, and the universities. All these matters were henceforth to be controlled by the clergy. The jurisdiction of lay courts was specifically to be eliminated, as was the accountability of the clergy to lay justice under any circumstances. The application of these decrees to France would indeed have destroyed Gallican liberties, mutilated the constitution, and subjected the king and the law to the papacy and its agents. It was to be expected that resistance by Parisian magistrates would be virtually unanimous.

De Caprariis says that Du Mesnil's Advertissement reflects the entire range of parlementaire opinion "from Séguier to de Thou and from Harlay to Bourdin." Séguier seems to have objected only to some of the decrees—he and Harlay were usually in accord—while de Thou rejected them all. Bourdin threatened to resign his office rather than accept publication. Not satisfied with Du Mesnil's synthesis, the procureur général drew up his own objections, which include more than sixty of the Trent articles.[66]

The avocat général and the procureur général spoke for the Parlement of Paris, but a third expression of the Gallican position, Charles Du Moulin's Conseil sur le faicte du Concile de Trente has been more influential in posterity. Du Moulin's standing as philosopher-legist-historian, author of major treatises, would certainly explain his enjoying greater prestige than gens du roi temporarily in office, but the depth and originality of his arguments are also much greater. The leading authority on feudal law, and a master of canon and customary law, Du Moulin's learning had earned him the soubriquet "prince of legists." Among his impressive earlier works,


Les Commentaires analytiques tant sur l'édit des petites dates et abus de la cour de Rome es bénéfices ecclésiastiques, que sur un ancien arrest de la souveraine cour du Parlement de Paris was the most substantial legacy of the Gallican crisis of 1551. It is a sharp exposure of fraudulent claims and practices in the Roman church, especially by the popes, and a brilliant critique of ecclesiastical history across the centuries. Du Moulin's interest in comparative law and history have earned him a place among the pioneers of sociology, yet he was no ivory-tower theorist, or antiquarian. Years of practice at the Châtelet and numerous associations with members of Parlement—de Thou was a close friend—informed his interest in current affairs and public policy. Donald Kelley says his attitude was "utilitarian and often a bit vulgar for humanist taste."[67]

Throughout a bizarre personal career—his religious beliefs swung from Calvinism to Lutheranism and then to Catholicism, and his geographical displacements were equally wide-ranging—he remained "the arch-Gallican" who assembled the most comprehensive and at the same time "one of the most radical interpretations of royal Gallicanism and of national monarchy in modern times." He carried it so far that Kelley calls him plus Gallican que le roi .[68] One may add, et que le Parlement de Paris —an even more extraordinary feat, never again equaled. Precisely because Du Moulin's formulation was original (and more logical) than traditional versions, the parlementaires were uneasy with him as an ally. His religious and other gyrations could not have inspired confidence in the moderate conservative mainstream, whose ideals and models lay safely in the past.

The thrust of Du Moulin's book is twofold: first, the refutation of papal supremacy and of the "Romanist" interpretation of history with which it is linked (dominant in the first half of the century), and then the substitution of a Gallican interpretation, according to which the key figure in the "translation of empire" was Charlemagne. The Frankish kings were founders of the French church, along with the other major institutions. "Du Moulin's program rested upon a threefold ideal, the unity and self-sufficiency of French law, the French monarchy and the Gallican church," un roi, une loi ,


une foi , all embodied in Charlemagne. Kelley adds, "If Charlemagne had not existed the Gallicans would have had to invent him."[69]

Du Moulin's Conseil would take its place among the foundation-stones of Gallicanism in the coming years, but in 1564 Parlement censored it and its author. Parlementaire concern had not yet swung definitively away from the threat of heresy, and the full menace of the Counter-Reformation had not yet been felt. It seems significant that premier président de Thou was among the first to advocate a new line. "The Parlement was not yet possessed by the anti-papal ardor of the coming years . . . not all the conseillers shared the opinions of their premier président . . . the court judged that [Du Moulin] had gone too far, especially in touching on matters of doctrine."[70]

At the conclusion of the consultations of Fontainebleau, Catherine announced that a decision on the Trent decrees would be made in the middle of May. Not long afterwards she set out, with the king and the royal court, on an extended tour of the kingdom, designed to rally the support of all regions and classes to the young king. The circumstances were propitious: Charles IX was ruling in his own name; the Pacification was holding up well in general, although there were some pockets of endemic resistance and occasional flare-ups elsewhere; the leaders of the rival factions had withdrawn to their estates; while the Trent question was in abeyance, pressure from the Catholic rulers diminished; France had recovered Le Havre and relations with England were the best in memory (the Treaty of Troyes with England was signed in April 1564).

The most important stop on the tour de France was to be Catherine's meeting with her daughter Élisabeth, queen of Spain, and, she hoped, with Philip as well. The queen mother's agenda included both family matters (marriage) and affairs of state (religion). After many delays it finally took place at Bayonne in July 1565, sixteen months into the tour. Catherine expected much from this encounter, which drew the attention of every ambassador and agent in Europe and played an important role in creating the twin myths of Catherine as "the wicked Italian queen" and the Massacre of St. Bartholomew as premeditated event.[71]

The papal nuncio was convinced that the entire tour was just another manifestation of Catherine's preferred policy of delay and avoidance of


facing up to the problems of concessions to heresy, on the one hand, and ratification of the Trent decrees, on the other. In fact, the queen mother never committed herself to an impossible situation if she could postpone doing so. Optimism went hand in hand with procrastination. She always thought that time was on her side and that circumstances could eventually be manipulated in the desired direction. Catherine has often—falsely—been accused of Machiavellian ruthlessness, but she was certainly one who believed with the Florentine secretary that virtù was the only weapon against fortuna .

In the early months of the tour Santa Croce expressed a degree of admiration for Catherine's policy of poco a poco , and confidence that it would succeed. In a letter of June 21, 1564, to Cardinal Borromeo, he says, "The Queen Mother is working it out so that, little by little, without saying no, she is bringing about observance of the [Trent] decrees. This is a better method than to attempt to make changes now, so as not to give the Huguenots any pretext to rebel anew." He ends the letter by relaying a message the Catholic leaders at court have asked him to pass on to the pope: tutto passera bene .[72]

Catherine's actions in recent days seemed to support the nuncio's optimism. Arriving in Lyon on June 12, 1564, she immediately banned all preaching, on pain of death for those attending as well as the preachers. Santa Croce also intervened personally in the situation, meeting with Pierre Viret, the leading reformer in the south.[73] He claimed that Viret had agreed to abandon Protestant beliefs if he could be convinced that they were mistaken, and the nuncio had arranged for a disputation between Viret and a leading Jesuit, Antonio Possevino. Catherine's optimism in Lyon was even greater, as Santa Croce realized, "she already sees Viret converted and persuading the entire city to return to the church!" His own hopes seemed on the point of fulfillment in 1565, at Bayonne, where he believed he had extracted a promise from Catherine to publish the Trent decrees "as soon as certain practical details could be taken care of." Victor Martin weighs the question of her sincerity. The probability is that she was delaying, as usual, and that in her relief and satisfaction after the meeting with Élisabeth she was in a euphoric mood: "She held forth at length on the great blessings


God had showered upon her . . . protesting that for nothing in the world would she abandon the religion in which she had been raised, and would defend it as long as she lived."[74]

We will never know whether or not Martin's speculation is correct that "one of the few chances for Catholic reform to penetrate France by the official entrance" was lost in the following weeks, when Santa Croce was replaced as nuncio and Plus IV died. There could be no follow-up to all Santa Croce's hard work, because the new pope and the new nuncio adopted a very different approach. Contrary to the gestures toward the Catholic camp Catherine had made in the months leading up to Bayonne, she swung to the other side immediately thereafter, allowing the princely Huguenot leaders to rejoin the court, and to hold Calvinist services in their private apartments, supposedly for their own household only, behind closed doors. She also insisted on holding another public ceremonial "reconciliation of the factions," but with no more success than formerly. Sir Thomas Smith reported to William Cecil on December 10, 1565, "The Huguenots look that the Edict of Pacification will forthwith be broken, and they to have no other remedy but to take to their weapons. The Papists also look for no less than that the King and Queen should openly declare that they would have but one [Catholic] religion in France."[75]

During the court's absence from Paris, the frictions between the crown and the Parlement that had been constant since the late 1550s lessened and there was a truce between the factions within the court while the Pacification held and the Trent decision was suspended. But both tensions surfaced again—briefly—when the Parlement was presented with the Ordinances of Moulins in 1566. These were the embodiment of L'Hôpital's "reformation of justice," and they brought about still another round of confrontation between the chancellor and the Parlement. The ordinances of Moulins were a comprehensive package embodying reforms demanded for decades; procedures were streamlined, appellate jurisdictions redefined, superfluous courts eliminated; abuses such as pluralism and nepotism were forbidden and the qualifications and examinations for judicial office stiffened. Prosecution of the powerful was facilitated and the administration of the poor laws revised. Many of these reforms were recognized as essential by the ranking jurists, but the magistracy as a whole resisted them because of L'Hôpital's determination to restrict, if not to abolish, venality.[76]


Although each clash was provoked by a specific disagreement, they should be seen collectively as links of a single chain, beginning with the inauguration of the policy of coexistence of Protestantism and Catholicism in the spring of 1560. There were differences on two planes, political and constitutional, organically connected, but the spotlight focused first on one and then on the other. In the early clashes, prior to the Pacification of Amboise, the political conflict was uppermost. The Edicts of Romorantin (1560), of July (1561), and especially the Edict of January 1562, and the chancellor's speeches in presenting them to Parlement, reflect certain political realities on which that policy was based.

The total failure of persecution and the danger of civil war lay behind the decision—or at least the attempt—to separate the maintenance of civil peace and order from religion: "It is not a question de constituenda religione, sed de constituenda republica , and many can be cives qui non erunt Christiani . . . even the excommunicate does not cease to be a citizen. . . . Persons of diverse opinions can live together in peace" (June 1561). This, of course, meant the abandonment of une foi: "Those who advise the king to choose one side or the other [in religion] might as well advise him to take arms against some members [of the body politic]. . . . He who is even-handed (égal ) between the two parties is he who follows the right path" (September 1561). It became evident that under the regime of L'Hôpital not only would prosecution cease, but diversité de religion would be authorized. The chancellor also showed an awareness of the value of the Huguenots to France lacking in most of those who refused to contemplate toleration—notably Louis XIV a century later—when he drew attention to the influential persons associated with the reformed and their wealth, "their departure from the kingdom would be a loss one can hardly estimate, if only because of the goods they would take with them."[77]

L'Hôpital hoped to enlist the cooperation of the Parlement. In Salmon's opinion, since L'Hôpital viewed government as the granting of justice, he envisaged the supremacy of the gens du roi and a partnership between those who served in the council and those who sat on the benches of the sovereign courts. But he was never able to allay the antipathy of the latter.

The constitutional issues underlying these differences on policy that had


come to the surface in the 1563 crisis over Charles IX's majorité with particular force, remained there. The position of the crown was that the king, as the sole legislator, could call on any individual or body at his pleasure, whenever, wherever, and for whatever purpose. L'Hôpital's orderly mind assigned particular kinds of advice to each of the important bodies: the royal council normally advised the king in matters of state; the Estates reported the sentiments of his subjects to the king and communicated his policies to them in return. A meeting of the Estates was an occasion where, by hearing grievances and granting redress, "the crown dispensed justice corporatively. The Parlement, on the other hand, was the instrument through which the king granted justice to individual subjects." It might also be consulted when the king so chose, but only when, as, if and to the extent that he chose, and if it remonstrated, the outcome was still in his hands. When L'Hôpital presented the majority edict to the Parlement of Rouen he said, "Matters of state in no way belong to [your] jurisdiction . . . you are judges of the meadow and the field, but not of life and customs and not of religion. " It was the sovereign's sphere to establish the general laws, the judge's to apply them in particular cases. The Parisian parlementaires, we know, believed the court to be pars corporis principis , and that no royal legislative act had the force of law unless approved and registered by the Parlement of Paris. Accordingly, when their remonstrances were repeatedly ignored, the parlementaires would finally register the offending edict with the phrase de expresso mandato regis and enter their protests in the secret register.[78]

The leading (twentieth-century) authorities on French constitutionalism are in accord on L'Hôpital's moderate position, between the traditional and the new, more absolutist extremes. "He understood the king's prerogative as unlimited only in his power to do right. Like Seyssel, he envisaged government as necessarily restrained by justice, and he saw justice as inseparably attached to the crown," says Salmon. Since this is so, "in case of any particular sovereign's act of in justice, refusal [by the court] far from being imputed to disobedience and injustice, is one of the greatest and most notable services, one can render . . . for the king's real will is never to harm his people, but rather to procure all possible good." Differences between the chancellor and the court derived from their conflicting interpretations of the common heritage; L'Hôpital thought of the court—and all other bod-


ies—as subordinate to the crown, while the parlementaires clung to the claim of equality.[79]

Despite his moralizing tone, with overtones of condescension toward the court (his biographers speak of "disdain") and his frequently doctrinaire mode of expression, there was a considerable element of realism in L'Hôpital's thought, the key to which was his acceptance of change. He was given to metaphors of adaptability: "the law should fit the times as the shoe the foot," and "as a mariner changes the set of the sails according to the wind," and, "the wise man knows when to yield to necessity." On the political plane this flexibility enabled L'Hôpital to separate out the religious issue in order to concentrate on law and order in a kingdom whose inhabitants differed in belief. It permitted the maintenance of une loi —though flexible—while it necessitated the abandonment of une foi . Because of stubborn resistance, especially by the Parlement of Paris, it also entailed increasing the power of un roi . L'Hôpital's policy could only be imposed from above. The result was paternalist tilting toward absolutism, but less so than earlier thinkers like Grassaille or Rebuffi, and further still from the position soon to be taken by Bodin. Salmon's overall assessment is that L'Hôpital "was a singular blend of the idealist and the practical reformer, the learned jurist and the statesman who knew how to compromise, and how to insinuate his ideas into the minds of others without dictating them. . . . He believed in the authority of tradition, but he was not afraid to espouse radical innovation when he thought it necessary."[80]

L'Hôpital's personal religious stance certainly compounded his difficulties with Parlement. He disapproved of "forcing consciences" and specifically opposed the profession of faith. He considered it inappropriate for the state to arbitrate religious questions, which was the task of church councils. The substance of his belief seems to have resembled Erasmus's "philosophy of Christ" rather than official Roman doctrine, resembling the liberal Catholic parlementaires Du Faur, Paul de Foix, and Du Ferrier, who were, we recall, suspects. L'Hôpital was a central figure in the humanist-literary-philosophical Parisian elite, most of whom were his associates and corre-


spondents and not a few of whom dedicated works to him, including Bodin (the Methodus ) and Hotman (Anti-Tribonian ).

The similarity of L'Hôpital's liberal religious views to those of alleged Huguenots afforded no protection to the latter during the chancellor's difficult final years, 1567-68. Moreover, the specific attempts of Marshal François de Montmorency, eldest son of the constable and governor of Paris, to mitigate persecution only exacerbated the antagonism of the populace toward him. His request for garrisons to enforce royal orders and still more his lecturing municipal officers and captains of militia on their disobedience, aroused the fury of a city jealous of its prerogatives. Indictments of prisoners in the Conciergerie registers reveal a tendency to insurrection under the influence of the municipal militia. One captain dared to threaten the governor: "when the captain of a ship neglects his duty, the subordinate officers should take command." Increasingly severe measures were often described as instigated à la clameur du peuple and would "explode in [the Massacre of] St. Bartholomew."[81]

Analysis of the register of prisoners reveals that underlying the charge of heresy the authorities had a political agenda: to impede Condé's recruitment (his call to arms in the Second War, September 1567, had considerable success with the rationale that the king had been "taken prisoner" by the Catholic faction), and perhaps more significantly, to cut off the financial support for the Huguenot cause of an internationale de marchands that included rich Protestants in the Low Countries. The most important Frenchmen in the group were the brothers Gastine.[82]

Boucher's breakdown of the verdicts in the sample shows twenty-four prisoners sentenced to die, eighteen condemned to the galleys, fourteen to fines, ranging from 2 to 200 livres , two to whippings, and twenty-four turned over to the Châtelet. Others were released, sometimes with conditions—to obey the laws, to leave the city, or to put up money subject to forfeiture if they violated the conditions. A number of prominent men among those receiving harsh sentences included André Guillart, premier président of the Breton Parlement and a member of the Conseil Privé, and Jean Bodin. Guillart was released two days after his arrest, Bodin not until eighteen months later. In Guillart's case Boucher speculates that Catherine


de Médicis intervened—"she made use of men with a foot in each camp"—and we know that she called on him subsequently. Boucher interprets the fate of such notables thus: "The arrest of such men reflects the Catholic militancy of Paris, their prompt release [reflects] the crown's desire in the search for peace to find a political compromise across ideological divisions.[83]

Parlement, the Edicts of Toleration, and the Massacre, 1568-1580

Although the Huguenots never won a single round in the Wars of Religion—and only the occasional military encounter—they were consistently strong enough to block a clear-cut Catholic victory and were never knocked out of the running. For this reason the terms of religious settlement dominated the successive truces, embodied in edicts of pacification that separated the wars. A model of parlementaire action on the edicts had been established by the court's docile acceptance of the Pacification of Amboise ending the First Civil War, in 1563. Without debate and without facing up to the actual substance of the edict, the court resorted to what Édouard Maugis calls "cowardly subterfuge . . . which allowed it to avoid responsibility and to leave loopholes for the future." He notes that the identical tactics employed in 1563 were applied again to the Edicts of Longjumeau (1568), St-Germain (1570), and La Rochelle (1573), terminating the second, third, and fourth wars, respectively. In addition to systematic delays and registration qualified "by express command of the king," and "without approving of the new religion," Parlement sometimes pretended that the king's orders and messages had not been received or that the court did not understand them. The usual tactic, and the most effective, was simple non-implementation.

Maugis's severest criticism is that the court did not take a stand on principle. In fact, however, the parlementaires were caught between two principles, both sincerely held, which in the current circumstances were in conflict. They believed in peace and reasoned discourse to settle disputes, to the point (as we have seen) of claiming moral superiority to nobles who always resorted to force—each of these treaties included some degree of toleration for a second religion in France, more accurately, for non-Roman Catholic worship—and thus with reasoned discourse they were in violation of un roi, une foi , the most sacred principle of all.[84]


Each edict reflected immediately preceding historical circumstances, and there was considerable variation in both the Huguenot demands and in the relative leniency or severity of the negotiated settlements. In general, the stronger the Huguenot military forces at the time of negotiation, and the greater the concomitant weakness of their opponents, the greater the concessions, resulting in increased anxiety and resistance in Parlement. The fragility of the Peace of Longjumeau, ending the second war in March 1568, was evident from the start. Nobody believed it would endure and indeed war broke out again only six months later.[85]

Longjumeau restored the terms of the Pacification of Amboise, removing the later modifications, and seemed initially to have the effect of lessening Huguenot power; Sir Henry Norris remarked ruefully that peace was "more dangerous than war," which accords with Pasquier's assessment, more wittily expressed. "It is no small feat for the king, after sparing the skins of an infinite number of his subjects, to gain back with one parchment skin all the towns they had taken from him."[86] If the application of peace and reason could diminish Huguenot power instead of increasing it, it seemed that—exceptionally—the two principles could be reconciled.

Altogether different was the context of the Peace of St-Germain. Huguenot strength at the end of the third war was the greatest it had ever been—and greater than it would be again until the leadership of Henri de Navarre in the late 1580s. Admiral Coligny and Jeanne d'Albret were a strong aggressive team, driving a hard bargain, exploiting the weaknesses of the crown—near-bankruptcy and in-fighting among the leaders—and prolonging the negotiations for eight months, to squeeze out every possible advantage. Odet, cardinal de Châtillon, was in England securing the support of the major Protestant power. Already the Huguenots had broadened their support by comparison with earlier phases of the wars. Pasquier notes, "they have given a new name to their enterprise, The Cause , a word that wormed its way into their minds through a sort of popular republic, to show that in this quarrel . . . the cause was the cause of all, in general and in particular. Each should contribute what he could and the little man had


an equal share with the greater." He continues, "I do not know what will be the outcome of this great tragedy."[87] One can understand that it seemed a tragedy to Pasquier, even as it produced a degree of optimism in the Protestant camp that would not be duplicated even under Henri IV, because his conversion was always feared—justifiably.

The Edict of St-Germain incorporated in its text some guarantees that had been "understood" in earlier edicts but never specified in the document and never implemented. It did not merely impose amnesty but detailed rights, such as access to educational institutions and the right to challenge the competence of judges; Protestants were allowed to worship in two towns per gouvernement and four places de sûreté , strategically selected, were ceded to them for two years. For the first time royal officials were required to swear to uphold the edict and the parlements to register it; severe penalties were provided for infraction, including whipping as well as fines for nonviolent action and the death penalty for obstruction by force. It was the first edict to have "teeth," as Sutherland points out. She calls it "seminal," and indeed it was the model in some respects for the Edict of Nantes. Even though it strengthened the Huguenots, Pasquier judged c'est finir où nous devions commencer , no doubt because the kingdom and especially the king's authority were deteriorating with each day of war. Better to arrest the disastrous decline and begin to heal the divisions by keeping the long-range vision of a united France in mind, at the price of some immediate concessions.[88]

Given the relative numbers and strength of those (on both sides) who worked to undo it compared to those who would preserve it, it is improbable that the Peace of St-Germain could have held for any length of time. Yet the effects might have lasted longer if the ranking Huguenots had not been removed from the scene within a few months. Odet de Châtillon died in the summer of 1571, just as he was embarking for France, having optimistically laid the foundations of a pan-European Protestant coalition. Jeanne d'Albret died in June 1572, her bad health exacerbated by exhaustion from a long struggle against the marriage of her son with Catherine's daughter Marguerite de Valois, an alliance intended by the queen mother as the instrument of national conciliation.


Admiral Coligny, of course, was assassinated six days after the wedding, in August 1572, and much of the second level of Huguenot leadership was eliminated, and the remainder scattered, in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Navarre's life was spared but he was only nineteen years old and was subjected to a kind of house arrest at court, from which he did not escape until 1576. The fundamental cause of the failure of the Peace of St-Germain, however, outweighing changes in personnel, was the involvement of the Huguenots with the parallel religio-political movement in the Netherlands, which had been escalating since 1566. Sutherland has disentangled the multiple threads of this involvement and provided a fresh, plausible rationale for their interrelations, which resulted in France becoming the crucible of the European conflict between the Counter-Reformation and the Protestant-nationalist camps for the rest of the century.[89]

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew, the single most shockingly dramatic event in thirty-six years of civil war, was an insurrection of fanatically Catholic Parisians against policies, actual and anticipated, of Charles IX, perceived as favorable to adherents of "the new religion." Accumulated economic, political, and religious grievances of the past decade and fear of a war in which French Protestants allied with foreign Protestant powers would overrun Paris and change the governance of (Catholic) France, exploded in looting, rioting, and murder, creating widespread devastation and leaving thousands of casualties, beginning on Sunday, August 24, and lasting for several days.

Until very recently accounts by contemporaries and historians alike, often polemical (on both sides), failed to extract a coherent analysis of the event from a mass of confusions, contradictions, and factual lacunae. Protestant accounts tended to treat it as a holocaust, with the crown and/or the Guises as the planners and instigators of a policy of extermination of heresy. Standard royalist accounts echoed the explanation of Charles IX when he accepted responsibility, declaring the use of force justified by the necessity to prevent a Huguenot uprising that would destroy the state. No traditional account hinted at any involvement of the Parlement of Paris; it is not even mentioned. The assumption that the court played no part rested on the fact


that it did not meet for about ten days—some before and some after the event—and especially on the absence of any mention of the event, or of parlementaire reaction, in the court's registers or in other primary sources for the period.

Fortunately, there is now a thorough, sophisticated study of the background, context, and repercussions of the massacre, to which all students of the question are greatly indebted.[90]

Another new, radically revisionist, interpretation is contained in a series of articles (1987-92) by Jean-Louis Bourgeon, in which the silence of the sources is considered proof, not merely of Parlement's involvement but of Parlement's responsibility . Indeed, Bourgeon speculates that its leaders, especially members of the de Thou clan and Pierre (I) Séguier, conspired to foment the insurrection and staged a strike (mensonge par omission ) to cover up their responsibility.[91] Their objective is alleged to have been the overthrow of the monarchy and takeover of the government. Elaborating his argument, Bourgeon links the parlementaire "conspirators" of 1572 with the leadership of all subsequent conflicts between Parlement and the crown down to the end of the ancien régime, referring to 1572 as a Fronde parlementaire . A number of students of the question are not persuaded—I among them.

Aside from the fact that he bases his case on a total lack of evidence, Bourgeon does not seem to recognize the long-established parlementaire view of the structure of the French government as a complex of powers in which the crown is subject to law, its power limited by the right of Parlement to debate, and if found constitutional, to register all royal edicts, without which they do not have the force of law.

The parlementaire leaders of 1572 certainly opposed the king's violation of their (most fundamental) right of remonstrance and used every weapon at their disposal to defend it, as well as to force Charles IX to modify or abandon his offensive policies. To extrapolate from this predictable stance the claim that Parlement's opposition represented a desire to destroy the


monarchy as such , however, flies in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary.

French government under the ancien régime functioned according to a constitutional process, in which the crown and the court bargained over royal policies, with Parlement always attempting to modify them in defense of its own prerogatives and rights. As in all bargaining situations, the outcome depended on the respective skill, and strength, of the negotiators. Faced with a strong king Parlement had to delay, stand on technicalities, make minor concessions, and dissimulate, leading to an outcome of ostensible acceptance of defeat (de expresso mandato regis ), as in the conflict over the Concordat with François I. When the crown was weak, skilled parlementaire leaders could force face-saving compromises or accept the policies conditionally. Concessions on religious policy under the last Valois kings fall in this category. They were always described in terms that denied finality, "pending the decision of a church council" or, "until such time as His Majesty deems otherwise." The Edict of January 1562 illustrates all these tactics in turn, and Parlement never really accepted it.[92]

An even stronger argument against Bourgeon's conspiracy theory lies in the lifelong, consistent parlementaire posture toward the monarchy in its traditional, constitutional form. Their public actions, speeches, and writings, identically matched in private correspondence and diaries, testify to their wholehearted, unreserved devotion to the French monarchy. Indeed, for the most articulate of the mainstream parlementaires it was their ruling passion, the chief expression of their patriotism.[93] With Pierre de L'Estoile, it became a veritable obsession; the perception of the monarchy as perverted was the ultimate proof that his were "the worst of times." Henri III "would have been a very good prince if he had met with a good century," and Henri IV was France's greatest hero because he was "the restorer of the monarchy."

Both Bourgeon and Diefendorf recognize what the latter describes as "building anger against the crown," initially targeted at Catherine, but with the edict creating new taxes on procureurs (to pay the subsidy the king had


promised the crown would supply for the German reiters who had fought with the Huguenots in the Third Civil War) increasingly aimed at Charles IX himself. I would add that Parlement's anger was reinforced because the constitutional issue was combined with the religious, evoking memories of the major defeat (by L'Hôpital in 1563) over the king's majority and readmission of those who had refused to make profession. The approaching marriage of a Valois princess to the Huguenot leader, heir to the throne, was an immediate menace. The leaders of the court were resolved to prevent another defeat. Diefendorf reminds us that after the failed attempt on Coligny's life (August 22) the threatening words and gestures of the Huguenot nobles, gathered for the ceremonies and bent on revenge, created great fear in the population, shared by parlementaires and fed by wild rumors. This threat provided the rationale for the king's decision to use force. Diefendorf's designation of the resulting massacre as "a preemptive strike" seems to be le mot juste; what was intended as a preventive measure, aimed at the armed Huguenot nobles, "got out of hand," partly because it was not certain what orders had been issued following the important meeting of the royal council in the night of August 23. Conceivably, many of the atrocities may have appeared to be sanctioned by the belief that the king himself had said something to the effect of "Kill them all." There is also evidence that ulterior motives, including private vengeance and the opportunity for extortion, explain some important crimes.[94]

In judging the action—or rather the inaction—of the civilian authorities responsible for public order, we must bear in mind the virtual paralysis that had been created by the ongoing conflicts over royal policy in the past decade. Diefendorf describes the division in the Hôtel de Ville between those who saw the main danger as heresy and those who saw it as anarchy . We have noted in each generation of parlementaires that this cleavage can also be described as ultras versus moderates in religion. In 1572, the moderate leaders, Christophe de Thou and Pierre (I) Séguier, were still in control; weaker leadership in the latter years of Henri III's reign would find Parlement too timid to prevent the excesses of the Sixteen. The rupture of the civic fabric increased dramatically under the League and reached its climax—as far as the Parlement was concerned—in the murder of premier président Brisson in November 1591.[95]


Examining anew the crucial sessions of mid-August 1572, the exchanges in the Parlement between Charles's spokesmen and the court's leaders, in which Bourgeon finds a conspiracy masked by deceptive rhetoric, I see a graphic example of the constitutional process, which, as Diefendorf says, "is easily mistaken for obstructionism." Citing earlier instances, she concludes, "when the full circumstances of each of these incidents are taken into account, it can be seen that the magistrates temporized because they were afraid to take actions whose success they could not guarantee, because any failure would only reveal more clearly the true weakness of civil authority." The ostensible victory was really another in the long series of defeats for Parlement, contrary to Bourgeon's conclusion, though the crown in turn also fell victim, during the reign of Henri III, to deepening crisis and renewed civil war. The magistrates' fate, which would further weaken their constitutional rights, came about because "[they] emerged as defenders of constituted authority. They were willing to enforce the king's edicts even when these edicts violated their Catholic beliefs, because they shared an even stronger belief in a legitimate and orderly state." Parlement's powers were thereby worn down by attrition without in the least changing their minds about une foi .[96]

The elimination of the first generation of Huguenot leaders was not the only major change in the French political configuration of the 1570s. Antagonism between Charles IX and his next brother, Henri d'Anjou, was disrupting the royal Catholic party, especially since Anjou's spectacular success as commander at the victory of Montcontour (October 1569). By 1573, Catherine de Médicis could no longer control the situation. Anjou's siege of the Huguenot port of La Rochelle, the main event of the Fourth Civil War, inflated his ambition still further, and Charles IX was visibly dying. An edict Sutherland describes as "crudely drafted and hastily concluded" so that Anjou could withdraw, ended the fighting, and the "victor" left for a brief reign as king of Poland—whence he would flee in a few months with his "subjects" in hot pursuit. This was a maneuver of the queen mother's to remove the heir apparent from the scene until he could return in triumph as king of France.[97] The Parlement of Paris registered the Edict of La Rochelle in silence, with the reservation "without approving of the new religion" written in.

Salmon describes the ten years from 1574 to 1584 as a drift to anarchy.


"One civil war followed another in an aimless procession that demonstrated the decline of royal authority. Famine and peasant revolt followed the path of marauding armies. . . . Social hostilities deepened." Reform was desperately needed and "there were times when the last and most intelligent of the Valois kings took a personal part. . . . Unfortunately, Henri III's intellectual ability was accompanied by an erratic and willful self-indulgence that alienated the loyalty of his subjects."[98] Salmon groups the signs of anarchy under three main headings: the weakness of the crown, the selfishness of the factions, the inner divisions tearing apart each party and social order. Illustrative detail springs out of the pages of Pierre de L'Estoile's Journal d'Henri III for these years.

Social fissures were opening up in every direction. In addition to the familiar contempt for the clergy, blamed for abuses that undermined faith and fed immorality and cynicism, nobles were castigated as frivolous and irresponsible and "the people" as a "stupid beast, stubborn and more inconstant than weather vanes, easily led against their own best interests." Within the robe, jealousy and antagonism between the parlementaires and administrative bureaucrats were increasingly bitter; they even occasionally came to blows in public.[99] Scapegoats for the unraveling of society were easily found, most frequently the Italians—especially the queen mother, "Sainte Katherine" as one widely disseminated libel called her, and the troupe of Italian comedians I Gelosi , the first modern-style theatrical company in French history.[100]

Given the crown's chronic financial crisis, it is understandable that public opinion was inflamed by the extravagance and waste of the king's favorites (mignons ), rising to new heights when they were given offices, estates, and lavish weddings. Money was also partly the cause of antipathy toward Henri III's increasing displays of piety, regarded as inappropriate and excessive—in which the mignons also participated. Under the heading Dévotions du


Roy; Dévotions d'argent mal agréables , in Lent 1575, L'Estoile reports, the king went every day to a different parish in the capital, "using every means ingenuity could invent to raise money." Toward the end of the year, he repeated the visits

to pray and give alms with great displays of piety. He abandoned at this time his embroidered shirts and wore his collar reversed, in the Italian style. He went in a coach, with his wife, the queen, to the convents in the vicinity, to add to his collection of little lap dogs. . . . He also took up the study of grammar, [he said,] "to learn to decline." This seemed to presage the decline of his authority.

There are pages on end of satirical and sometimes obscene verse attacking the Italians, the mignons , and the king himself.[101]

Scandal, vice, and extravagance were compounded by unrestrained violence. A total reversal of the old values appeared to be taking place. Nothing could be a more shocking proof to a traditionalist like L'Estoile than the extremes of disrespect for the king. Among the "titles" given him in the scurrilous pasquils circulating in Paris, were "Henry, by the grace of his mother, imaginary king of France and Poland, concierge of the Louvre, despoiler of the churches of Paris . . . merchant of justice, habitué of the sewers, protector of thugs."[102]

The first civil war under Henri III—number five, as specialists reckon—reflected the chaotic condition of the country, but it was precipitated by a new disruptive factor, the ambitions of François d'Alençon, now heir apparent.[103] He escaped from Paris in September 1575 and joined forces with the Huguenots. Their most militant faction had gained the upper hand, extending their politico-military organization, providing for an army as well as financial, judicial, and administrative institutions—the nucleus of what later would be called the Protestant "state within a state." They were demanding that the crown approve these actions—which no king of France could have done. They were also demanding a meeting of the Estates-General and places de sûreté . Alençon claimed as his objects "to undertake the people's cause" and "to oppose those who were devastating the king-


dom," by which he meant the Guise party. He also made exorbitant demands on the crown, including an enormous sum to pay off his mercenaries and dismantle his garrisons. The malcontents and the Huguenots formed an "incongruous coalition," Sutherland says, but "there was a real danger that it might have toppled the monarchy before its members disputed the spoils."[104] The crown had to capitulate. The resulting Edict of Pacification, appropriately called the Peace of Monsieur, granted important concessions to him and to the Huguenots. Most important of the latter were the right to unrestricted worship in temples of their own, and special chambers in the parlements called mi-parties , with equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants on the bench, to judge cases arising under the edict, or any case between litigants of opposing faiths. Eight towns were ceded as places de sûreté , some to be ruled by Alençon.

Resistance to the Peace of Monsieur was instantaneous and violent. Parisians boycotted the Te Deum and fireworks that the king was staging in celebration; the chambres mi-parties were odieuses à la cour . In L'Estoile's opinion, the edict would never have passed without the king's insistence, in person. That was in May 1576. Yet the magistrates came under attack later in the summer for "conniving in opening the door to heretics," an instance of effective propaganda against any advocates of peace. L'Estoile notes, "The truth is that these people would be willing for the whole world to be Huguenot provided that they could rule and make their League and conspiracy against the state successful."[105]

For it was not the Huguenots who posed the greatest threat to Henri III and traditional Gallicans, but rather the ultra-Catholics. The Peace of Monsieur had stimulated the formation of the Holy League—its first phase—designed to rally Catholics to defend the faith. The noble leadership was in the hands of the Guise-Lorraine family, who could include their own dynastic ambitions under that umbrella. The Parisian Third Estate was also drawn into the movement, as we shall see in the next phase of this study, as were many robins —but not the mainstream magistrates. Characteristically, L'Estoile's attitude is "A plague on both your houses." He remarks sardonically on the capture of the town of St-Esprit by Catholics and the town of La Charité by Huguenots in December 1576, "the former as little touched by the Holy Spirit as the latter by Charity."[106]


Opposition to any degree of toleration was expressed by each order at the Estates General of 1577, but the threat of heresy paled in comparison to the threat from Rome, which became acute when the heir presumptive to the title of Most Christian King was really a heretic.[107] Any hopes of arresting the national decline were brutally disappointed when François d'Alençon, last of the Valois brothers, died in 1584. The probability of Henri III having any offspring had diminished to the vanishing point, so with Alençon's removal Henri de Bourbon, king of Navarre, leader of the Protestant party, stood next in line for the throne. His claim under the regular laws of succession was indisputable, but his Protestant belief invalidated and overruled that claim in the eyes of the ultras, while creating a cruel dilemma for even the most moderate Catholics, as well as for Henri III, who was destroyed by it, first politically, and ultimately personally. For moderate Catholics, including mainstream parlementaires, the ordeal would grow in intensity for nearly ten years, until Henri de Navarre, become Henri IV, liberated them by his conversion.

In the interval, however, the leadership of the crisis generation came to an end, after more than twenty years at the helm. Pierre (I) Séguier died in 1580 and Christophe de Thou in 1582. The climate of opinion in the last generation, which fought the royalist-Gallican wars against the League even more than against heretics, was different in some important respects: autres temps, autres moeurs . The succeeding mainstream leaders—the politiques —constituted a coalition rather than an organized "party," having in common strong opposition to what they were against, while holding disparate, sometimes conflicting, views on what they were for.

The conventional designation politique for Catholic royalists, activist opponents of the League, and partisans of Henri IV in the 1590s, is legitimate and serviceable, but applications of the term in earlier phases of the Wars of Religion embrace a considerable range of political and religious positions. The nineteenth-century conception, which has prevailed, uncritically, to the present day, was formulated principally in the work of De Crue de Stoutz, followed most influentially by Michelet and Ranke. It embodied "the good sense of Erasmus, the probity of L'Hôpital . . . a program eventually espoused . . . by the gens de robe longue and érudits , respectable


Parisian bourgeois and finally even by moderate Leaguers," in the words of Charles Labitte.[108]

Recent scholarship has offered fresh examinations of several crucial questions: who, exactly, were the politiques and what were their defining characteristics? What elements, if any, linked L'Hôpital and the Montmorencys in the 1560s, Alençon and his associated malcontents in the 1570s, the fierce critics of Henri III in the 1580s with the parlementaire leaders who engineered the triumph of Henri IV in the 1590s? Was there at any time a politique "party" and, if so, what were its historical causes, its effects?

These questions are taken up by Christopher Bettinson in a 1989 article in which he challenges the notion of continuity that he finds characteristic of earlier histories, in particular Salmon's influential Society in Crisis . As Bettinson describes it, the "Politique party" that Salmon sees emerge from the fusion of loyalist Protestant and Catholic groups in the wake of Anjou's death derives its "identity" from the "flood of what he [Salmon] calls Politique political theory, . . . as a reaction to the resurgence of the League and the constitutional excesses of its pamphleteers." "Politique theory," Bettinson continues, "is defined as an amalgam of many elements of Renaissance political thought," from Seyssel to Machiavelli, constitutional, absolutist, Stoic, and Gallican.[109] In this view, moreover, the "attempts [of Catherine de Médicis] to counter the collapse of authority in the state and the policies she developed with Michel de L'Hospital in the early 1560s are seen . . . as the most significant element of continuity and the edicts of toleration or pacification themselves as a spinal cord running from the edicts of amnesty, granted at the end of the Conspiracy of Amboise, to the issue of the Edict of Nantes in 1598."[110]

For Bettinson, Salmon's "pattern of continuity" is too abstract and "systematizing at a level of generality not rooted in historical reality." He proceeds to give a more événementiel analysis. In response to the severe pressures of Philip II and the papacy, against the background of the final sessions of the Council of Trent (1562-63), when many leading French Catholics were "stiffening toward the religious concessions given to Huguenots, [the term politique was applied to] Catholics who refused to commit themselves fully to the eradication of heresy." Appeal was made to the "law of necessity" by the French crown, and the toleration policy was


rationalized as pur politique . By 1568, it was regularly applied to the circle of L'Hôpital, that is, those committed to a negotiated settlement with the Huguenots. From the ultra point of view they were virtually traitors—to the concept of state reflecting the rule of God. Bettinson points out that the effect of the massacre was to magnify the differences. Catherine, Charles, L'Hôpital—who had been driven from office—and all who would not follow the ultra line, were included as politiques , although some were primarily defenders of tradition, especially of the constitution and the Parlement itself, and some leaned markedly toward absolutism: some were Huguenot sympathizers, without becoming Nicodemites, and others merely wished to avoid any religious settlement until ecclesiastical authorities took modifying action, meanwhile separating the church-state-law questions from confessional ones.[111]

In conclusion Bettinson agrees with Salmon "that the issues and arguments struggling for dominance in the period of transition from Valois to Bourbon do bear a close similarity to those clustering around the pacification policy . . . of Catherine and L'Hôpital," but he retains doubts about the comparison of the historical circumstances and denies that these factors brought about "a major change in the nature of French society." Indeed, despite the secular and absolutist reactions against the excesses of the League, "the reality, as the development of royal absolutism in the seventeenth century shows, was a gradual return to the dominant notion of 'une foi, une loi, un roi.'"[112] This study maintains that the traditional view had never been abandoned by the mainstream.

Edmond Beame, in a thoughtful historiographical review of 1993, is struck by how rarely the word occurs in the primary sources, especially noticeable in the case of politiques , for example Jacques-Auguste de Thou, though he admits that L'Estoile is the outstanding exception. Only glimpses of them are to be found, "not a coherent picture but a series of snapshots, some sharp, others only hazy, each taken from a different angle." The result is a "legacy of ambiguity," "a modern historical vocabulary with meaning far more distinct than sixteenth-century usage would support." Beame's conclusion is that the word came to symbolize "a kind of attitudinal terrain, a land whose ideological boundaries . . . are delineated by a willingness to


sacrifice religious unity for peace. It was a territory across which various Frenchmen passed at one time or another . . . often for disparate reasons."[113]

Based on the actions, writings, and reputations of the mainstream parlementaires, the writer confidently asserts that one can discern defining elements in politiques thought: loyalty to the monarchy; opposition to the ultramontane position, including the Trent decrees, and unswerving defense of the Gallican liberties; abstention from specific statements of religious belief and refusal to condemn others who differed from them, together with the conviction that laymen were not qualified to judge religious matters other than where those impinged on the state, the community, the law, for which Parlement was directly responsible. In the circumstances of the civil wars, it was preferable to make temporary concessions on confessional uniformity rather than to suffer the destruction of the national community. Positive national feeling, xenophobia, and personal ulterior motives (self-preservation) were contributing ingredients, naturally in varying proportions among politiques as a group (if not really a "party" until 1593) and also within the mind of each member. This position is appropriately represented by our most astute spokesman, Étienne Pasquier, who differentiates earlier Catholic subgroups from the politiques . "Only in our most recent troubles was the Catholic party subdivided into the politique, considered worse than the Huguenot because he advocated peace, and the Ligueur, who was still divided into three or four groups."[114]


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