Preferred Citation: Roelker, Nancy Lyman. One King, One Faith: The Parlement of Paris and the Religious Reformations of the Sixteenth Century. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996.

EPILOGUE PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . , 1594-1605

PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . , 1594-1605

A considerable proportion of the Catholic population would not really accept Henri until he received papal absolution, and the Protestants, an armed minority, would not accept the abjuration-conversion without some legal guarantee of their status. Henri had promised the Catholics to maintain the old faith and the Protestants to protect their rights; both were determined to hold him to the commitment. The inherent contradiction was complicated by problems of timing; the papacy set a high price for absolution: readmission of the Jesuits, acceptance of the Trent decrees, and ultimately the suppression of heresy. Delaying the absolution gave leverage to Rome and intensified Catholic pressure on the king, even by those most sympathetic to his predicament. On the other hand, the Protestants inevitably felt betrayed by the king's delay of the promised edict, and reiteration of his good intentions embittered rather than reassured them.

There was no way to avoid the dilemma nor any solution that would satisfy all parties. Circumstances obliged Henri to give priority to accommodation with Rome: the ultra party backed by Spain constituted a much greater threat than the fitful aid of Protestant rulers to the Huguenots, while within France Catholics greatly outnumbered Protestants. Henri could exploit the differences between the traditional Gallican and ultramontane factions. Predictably, Parlement, the Gallican bastion, would hold out against the Jesuits and Trent, no matter how long the siege, but it cooperated willingly in the pursuit of absolution.[1]

After the failure of the Nevers mission Henri was determined to avoid another humiliation, and he prepared carefully for the next approach to the pope. Clement VIII was among those Catholics who did not believe in the

[1] . V. Martin, Gallicanisme , 324-325.


sincerity of Henri's conversion, and he added new "tests," the restoration of Catholicism in Béarn and the conversion of Henri de Condé, next in line to the throne as long as Henri IV lacked direct heirs. As all the winning cards were in the pope's hand, a resort to bluff seemed the only way to avoid capitulation and clear the way to a new royal initiative.

Pierre de Gondi, archbishop of Paris, wrote to the pope proposing a new ambassador to the Holy See, referring skillfully to the problem created for Henri by papal insistence on the Trent decrees. Victor Martin describes the letter as a "political masterpiece . . . based on realism and common sense." Gondi urged Clement not to underestimate the force of parlementaire opposition, noting that royal advisers were not lacking to recommend that the king bypass Rome and accept absolution from the French episcopate. Gondi's choices for the new mission were two skilled diplomats, high in papal esteem: Arnauld d'Ossat and Jacques Davy Du Perron.[2] D'Ossat turned the pope's attitude around—in re making Trent the condition of absolution—and Du Perron was eventually received as ambassador. D'Ossat's task was very difficult; he describes himself—and other French prelates associated with him—as "sweating blood" before the representatives of the pontiff would agree to allow for Henri's Gallican conditions. He had one stroke of luck, however, when the cardinal-legate Plaisance modified his position from adamantine opposition to willingness to compromise. As a consequence of all these efforts, Clement finally agreed to receive an ambassador. Du Perron's instructions were dated May 9, 1595. The elaborate ceremony of absolution took place on September 17 of the same year.[3] Clement was enthroned at the entrance to St. Peter's, surrounded by the papal court in full regalia, as the king's envoys knelt before him, abjuring heresy, professing the Catholic faith, and swearing to keep to the true doctrine, in the name of their master. A penitential act was always included in such transactions. Henri's was the obligation to publish the decrees of the Council of Trent and attend to their enforcement, "except for the points, if any, which could really not be observed without troubling the kingdom (which we grant as a result of your strong supplication and prayers)."

In Victor Martin's opinion, Henri "got off cheap." He did not lose "a single hair of his authority," and recognition of the pope's spiritual powers and regularization of his own status served the progress of Henri's cause.

[2] . Ibid., 279, citing BN nouvelles acquisitions françaises 37, fol. 234 et seq. Arnauld d'Ossat was bishop of Bayeux and cardinal. Formerly Huguenot, Jacques Davy Du Perron was bishop of Évreux and chief spiritual advisor and champion of the converted Henri IV—and a prominent debater on religious issues.

[3] . Ibid., 283-284 (see also 282 n.4).


Moreover, the pope understood that Henri could not carry out his end of the bargain until the civil wars were over. "The past was definitively buried; what remained was to fulfill the promises made by his representatives and especially to obtain the king's own signature on them."[4] This next phase of the task on the pope's side was entrusted to Alexander de' Medici, cardinal of Florence, a felicitous choice though he too would fail, like all his predecessors, because the king could indeed not impose the Trent decrees without "troubling the kingdom" as long as there existed an armed Protestant party.

Consonant with his character, Medici's instructions were to exercise "prudence, amenities, and delicacy" in pursuing the papal aims. In regard to the Trent decrees, he should work ceaselessly for the gradual reform of the French clergy and the appointment of bishops who would correct abuses and favor papal policies, and avoid as much as possible confrontation with opponents. The Parlement was méfiant , nevertheless. It took ingenuity and repeated efforts on Henri's part to prevent the inclusion of a clause specifically excluding approval of the Trent decrees in the court's registration of the authorized presence of the cardinal-legate.[5] A further obstacle was the suggestion that the king bypass Parlement and submit the decrees directly to the bishops (a mirror image of the Gallican desire to bypass Rome, it will be noted). This danger was removed by d'Ossat in a personal conversation with the pope, to explain how alien such a move would be to the customs of the French kingdom, and persuade him that it would, in fact, be counterproductive, "lacking all legal validity, in French eyes."[6]

In 1598, when Medici had been in France for eighteen months and Henri was receiving the surrender of the die-hard League leaders and negotiating peace with Spain, he could no longer postpone the remaining action required to establish domestic peace—the promised new edict of toleration for the Huguenots. This was, not surprisingly, the signal for a renewed offensive by the ultras. Some of the prédicateurs of the League were brought to the fore again by the enragés of the Sorbonne, spreading rumors that the pope would excommunicate any members of Parlement who voted to register such an edict and that the Huguenots were plotting a reverse St. Bartholomew, with the magistrates as the chief victims. We have this information on the word of a reliable objective witness, François d'Aerssen, the Dutch ambassador.[7]

[4] . Ibid., 284-286.

[5] . Ibid.; 288 n.2 lists the arrêts of Parlement against the reception of Alexander de' Medici.

[6] . Ibid., 298 n.2, d'Ossat to Villeroy, April 20, 1597.

[7] . "L'Édit de Nantes et le Parlement de Paris," Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire du protestantisme français 2 (1853): 28-37; dispatches of the Dutch ambassador, François d'Aerssen.


Henri's counterstrategy had been designed to cooperate with the moderate papal tactics, undercutting the extremists. As early as 1596 he had assigned the marquis de Pisany to instruct Henri de Condé. The edict itself had been issued in the quiet provincial town of Nantes on April 15, 1598. A letter to the duc de Luxembourg during the summer, in which Henri recognized the justification of Huguenot demands for guarantees of their rights and the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the sects, had been widely "leaked."[8] He removed the most vocal, highly placed parlementaire opponent, président Antoine Séguier, by naming him ambassador to Venice. Most important, he delayed pressuring the Paris Parlement to register until after the departure of the cardinal-legate, which occurred in mid-September. A few days later the king was importuned again by a convocation of the clergy to publish the Trent decrees, arguing that it would be the surest and quickest way to ensure religious reform. Henri's response, in one of his famous speeches, displayed his wit at its most endearing and the assertion of his authority at its most effective.

During the war I tried to put out the fires; now I shall do what I should in time of peace. . . . Religion and justice are the foundations and pillars of this state. . . . With God's help I shall act so that the church will be [in] as good [shape] as it was one hundred years ago; but Paris was not built in a day. Behave, by your good example, so that the people will be as moved to do good as they were formerly led astray.

You have exhorted me to do my duty; I now exhort you to do yours. Let us then do good together, you and I. You take one road and I the other, and if we should meet [the goal] will soon be reached. My predecessors have given you elaborate speeches, but I, in my old gray jacket, I'll give you results. I am gray on the outside, but solid gold inside. . . . I shall accommodate you as favorably as I possibly can.[9]

The final drive for registration took place in the opening weeks of 1599. The edict was presented by the gens du roi on January 2, meeting the predictable negative reception. On the 7th, Henri summoned the présidents and some ranking conseillers to the Louvre, where he used both persuasion

[8] . Jules Berger de Xivrey and Joseph Gaudet, eds., Lettres missives d'Henri IV (Paris, 1843-76), 5:15.

[9] . V. Martin, Gallicanisme , 302. This reply is not recorded in the procès-verbaux of the Assembly. L'Estoile included it in the first redaction of the Mémoires-Journaux but condensed it and altered the tone subsequently, according to Martin, who believes it to be authentic. It is included in the Brunet edition, 7:138-139.


and veiled threats. Although we unfortunately do not have any verbatim account, the Dutch ambassador's report of January 21 is probably right on the essentials. He predicts that in spite of the opposition of three-fourths of the court, the edict will be registered because the présidents have been won over, ayant servi leurs propres interêts , that is, by forcing the king to make some concessions, revising downward Huguenot access to judicial offices. Another negotiating session was required before the final capitulation, however, on February 22. This final meeting appears to have been a bargaining session between the king and the présidents alone. Having won the protection of their positions acquises , the présidents are said to have tried to press their advantage still further, demanding that any Protestants seated be required to take an oath of loyalty. Pomponne de Bellièvre, who was emerging as in indispensable mediator between Henri and influential persons or groups who resisted royal authority, carried out the tricky task of persuading the magistrates to drop it.[10]

The Dutch ambassador's dispatches contain a helpful chronology and pinpoint the main issues clearly, but the process of compromise and accommodation was anything but direct and clear-cut. First, it was necessary to win over the gens du roi . They had told Henri in mid-December, at St-Germain, that Parlement's will was that "the exercise of the Catholic religion be reinstated in the towns presently occupied by those of the RPR [religion prétendue réformée ] . . . as a precondition, which would create the opportunity (donnerait occasion ) for his Catholic subjects to obey as well." Henri thanked them for their concern but reminded the Parlement that he was the protector of the faith, declaring that he would reestablish it not only in France but in Béarn also. He would give his word that the Catholic faith would be reinstated in the areas held by the Huguenots "before a single Huguenot officer was received [in the court]" and that he was assured by their leaders that those of the RPR would obey.[11]

There seems to have been a gradual erosion of parlementaire opposition as the king appeared to yield—by inches—in regard to the membership of Huguenots in the courts, especially in the Parlement of Paris itself. (According to the original formulation, four of the offices created in March 1597 and the first two to fall vacant after the promulgation of the edict in April 1598 were to be reserved for Huguenots.) The matter was discussed during eighteen sessions, January 11-30, 1599. It is unfortunate for histo-

[10] . Aerssen, "L'Édit et le Parlement," 31; my italics.

[11] . Maugis, Parlement de Paris , 2:206-208, citing AN x1a 1761, fol. 3v, dated January 11, 1599 (report of the gens du roi ).


rians that there is no official record of the proceedings; the procès-verbal does not even list the names of those present.[12]

Pierre de L'Estoile, however, recorded at some length a session of four years earlier, on January 31, 1595, which he says was the last of twelve consecutive days exclusively devoted to debating the king's request that the court reaffirm, verify, and register anew the Edict of Pacification of 1577. As a sort of rehearsal for the 1599 debate, which indicates the range and substance of opinion, it is a precious document, especially as it is the only one I have been able to find that spells out the principal arguments and identifies by name some particular parlementaires who voiced them in the period of reconciliation after the rehabilitation of the court. It accords well with de Thou's account of the 1599 debate, notably with regard to the key role of Lazare Cocquelay.

Summarizing the outcome (at the end of his detailed account), L'Estoile notes, "But those who voted for verification pure and simple won by only six votes; for out of 112 opinions, there were 59 for [verification as the king asked] and 53 opposed. Six who originally voted against changed their vote to agree with the rapporteur [for the affirmative]." As far as can be determined, seven lay conseillers and seven clerical conseillers are included in the record, as well as two or three undetermined.[13] As was customary, the senior conseiller (doyen ) and rapporteur spoke first. In January 1595, this was Étienne (II) Fleury, who had been on the court for thirty-eight years.[14] He recommended "verification pure and simple." To do otherwise would be to limit His Majesty, whose right it was to dispose of office, he argued. Moreover, the excellent services performed for the nation by "those of the religion" entitled them to recompense. He added that he had consulted with Louis Servin, avocat du roi, who supported his opinion "with very pertinent reasons." Also, he advocated including in the arrêt the "condition" reported by the procureur général (Jacques de La Guesle) as a "message" to the court from the king, namely, that he would soon remove the young prince de Condé, next in line to the throne, from Huguenot control and see that he was brought up a Roman Catholic. As usual, the senior clerical conseiller spoke next. This was Jacques (II) Brissard, who had been on the court

[12] . Ibid., 208-209.

[13] . L'Estoile, Mémoires-Journaux , ed. Brunet, 7:22-26.

[14] . Étienne (II) Fleury, received conseiller , October 1556, through resignation of his father. Married to daughter of président Saint-André. At time of reduction, he was the lay "dean" of the court, with a service of thirty-eight years (Maugis, Parlement de Paris , 3:1556 ; I cite basic information on all in this work by year of their initial appointment rather than page).


twenty-eight years. His desire was to verify the edict as an exact duplicate of that of 1577, with no concessions of offices to the Huguenots.

Besides Cocquelay, only two of those named voted finally with Fleury, Adrien du Drac (III), whose particular point was that equality between "true Frenchmen" should be maintained, and that those who "under the pretext of religion held that [those of the religion] were not true Frenchmen" were really "opening the door to the Spaniard," and "stout soldier," Jacques de Bellanger, who argued that if Huguenots could be trusted with military offices, "on which our lives depend," they could hardly be denied lesser offices, and that the matter should be left to the king.[15]

Six initially voted for outright rejection: only two are listed as laymen. Le Voix expressed fear that the court would be deceived if it accepted the "condition" suggested by La Guesle, because he doubted that the king would remove "the little prince" from Huguenot hands, or that they would relinquish him; Antoine Rancher, although he had been named président des enquêtes in Tours, "expressed himself violently," saying that the so-called Edict of 1577 had been issued by Henri III "in order to quiet the heretics with a piece of paper" and that there would be grave consequences of reenacting it now, the most serious of which was alienation of the pope, on whom France was dependent for the king to make a second marriage. As for the little prince, he should be seized by force and no further attention paid to the Huguenots and their demands. Pierre Ruellé and Georges des Landes refuted Bellanger's point: "One heretic judge could do more harm than a whole army of soldiers." Jean Veau rejected the edict out of hand and said that all the troubles of the civil wars had been caused by disrespect of the Catholic faith. This brought him a rebuke from the premier président (Harlay), who retorted sharply that he had not been taken by force to the Bastille for disrespect to religion. Two others, not clearly identifiable, seemed par paroles indirectes to be justifying the League rebellion. They were censured and made to apologize by the premier président. L'Estoile does not spell out which of these dissenters changed their vote in the final tally. He does indicate three members who were evidently not taken seriously: one Jean Le Jau, who "mouthed platitudes about marrying the two religions"; Christophe Ripault, about whom nothing seems to be known except that he proposed adding thirty amendments to the edict, L'Estoile

[15] . Jacques (II) Brissard, members cons. clerc, received December 1566, was also the deacon of Longjumeau and eldest ("dean") of the clerical members, with a service of twenty-eight years (3:1556 ). Adrien Du Drac (III; son of Adrien II), received December 1571 (3:1571 ); Jacques Bellanger, clerc, received April 1570 (3:1570 ).


remarks, "enough to keep the court busy until Easter"; and Hiérosme Du Four, "bon homme , who voted for everything in turn."[16]

A long paragraph details the intervention of Cocquelay, chanoine de Notre-Dame:

after having abjured and hated the League, thus making a kind of amende honorable for what he had been, [he] said that there could be no greater mistake than to create or continue discord between Catholics and those of the religion; on the contrary, uniting them was the sole means of achieving peace in both state and church, that we must not allow ourselves to be led astray by some priests who were ignorant of the Holy Scriptures, and indeed [of the fact] that the new religion contained some sparks of truth. As for allowing [those who belonged to it] to hold offices, it would be no different from actions of the popes themselves.

Here he cites negotiations conducted by the papacy between the Gothic kings and the eastern emperor for the protection and privileges of worship of Arians in the Roman Empire so that orthodox Catholics would not be mistreated in Italy. He concluded with a strong plea for verification of the edict "pur et simple, sans restriction ni modification aucune."[17]

De Thou reports Cocquelay's speech in full, three and one-half pages in vol. 9 of L'Histoire universelle , casting him as the spokesman of "those whose more moderate and pacific sentiments in the interest of public tranquility carried that day for the edict to be registered pur et simple , with no modifications, leaving the execution to the discretion of His Majesty." Cocquelay's most eloquent plea was "Conservons cette tranquillité que Dieu nous a donné par le canal du Roi," and his peroration compares Henri, who had earned the title père de la patrie , to Augustus.[18]

[16] . Information on the relatively obscure conseillers listed by L'Estoile (and in Maugis, Parlement de Paris ): Jean Le Voix, cons. clerc, received 1566 (3:1566 ); Antoine Briçonnet, lay, received 1577 (3:1577 ); Antoine Rancher, clerc, président des enquêtes in Tours, 1594 (3:1594 ); Pierre Ruellé, clerc, possessor of various benefices, received 1572 (3:1572 ); Guillaume Deslandes (or Des Landes), lay, received 1572 (3:1572 ); Jean Veau, lay, received February 1576, maître des requêtes 1586, ligueur (3:1576 ); Jean Poille, identification uncertain—there were several by this name—one, received January 1591, ligueur ; Jean Le Jau, lay, received December 1568, son-in-law of président des enquêtes Le Prévost (2:1568 ); Christophe Ripault, unable to identify; Claude le Maréschal, clerc, received September 1587, later raised to Grand Conseil, ligueur (3:1587 ); Hiérosme Du Four, lay, received March 1568 (3:1568 ).

[17] . L'Estoile, Mémoires-Journaux , ed. Brunet, 7:15.

[18] . De Thou, Histoire universelle , 9:279-283; Cocquelay's "conversion" to the royalist cause, though it may have seemed sudden and surprising in 1595, probably had at least two anticipatory causes. One was his association with de Thou, Loisel, and the others in the special court sent to Guyenne in the early 1580s. Even in his years as an active ligueur he may have retained his respect for them and followed their careers and speeches in the opposite camp. The other was a negative factor, fostering alienation from the League: in December 1593 he had a sharp contretemps with the cardinal de Plaisance, leader of the League, over some disciplinary measures (with financial penalties) inflicted by the cardinal in the name of the pope, on the chapter of Notre-Dame, which had appointed Cocquelay to represent it. L'Estoile reports that both men lost their tempers, the cardinal to the point of attacking members of the Parlement by name, and collectively: he did not believe a word any of them said, and "everyone knew the majority of them were no good" (L'Estoile, Mémoires-Journaux , ed. Brunet, 7:13).


Étienne Pasquier wrote one of his pièces d'occasion in support of the edict, entitled "Sur l'Édit du mois d'avril." He too cites the examples of Roman emperors, but the central metaphor compares the good prince to the sun, which sheds its light on all, with no preferences. He defends the right of Protestants to hold office on the basis of their service to the king and the state. Indeed, merit and professional qualifications should be the only criteria for anybody to hold office. Catholics should obey the law. He expresses his hopes for the future of France, "les uns at les autres vivans en paix et en amitié, soubs l'autorité publique . . . reunis en même foi . . . ayant chassé le schisme et la diversité de ce royaume."[19]

Further substantiation of Parlement's general rally and acceptance of the edict—despite the unchanged conviction that un roi should imply une foi —is found in the comments of observers, for instance, Sir Edwin Sandys believes that "French Catholics are well-disposed toward the Protestants, though for worldly reasons many won't say so," and "Three out of four are opposed to the pope, especially the lawyers and barristers. "[20]

The edict was registered on February 25, 1599, but the struggle did not end. D'Aerssen's dispatch of March 9 records the passage of the edict but adds that it will be very hard to enforce; on April 22, he reports that it has not been printed and is not for sale anywhere; in August he comments that those of the RPR are still "waiting for action." The other parlements did not register until December, except for Dijon, which refused outright.[21] The implementation zigzagged through 1601, as Parlement would obstruct or

[19] . Pasquier, Écrits politiques , "Sur l'édit du mois d'Avril." Pasquier expresses these sentiments in various letters also but his idea of the "reunion" was the absorption of the reformed into the Roman church.

[20] . Sir Edwin Sandys's 1605 essay on religion cited by Dorothy Thickett, "Etienne Pasquier and his part in the struggle for tolerance," in Aspects de la propagande religieuse (Geneva, 1957), 400-401; my italics.

[21] . A. Lods, "L'Édit de Nantes devant le Parlement de Paris," Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire du protestantisme français 48 (1899): 135; C. Vivanti, Lotta politica e pace religiosa in Francia fra cinque e seiciente (Turin, 1963), 311; Frederic Baumgartner, "Catholic Opposition to the Edict of Nantes," Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance 40 (1978); Aerssen, "L'Édit et le Parlement."


try to invalidate each royal nomination of a Huguenot magistrate, but in the game of chicaner (cheating by tricks) Henri could outplay the court, easily.[22]

The king had won compliance but not agreement to the idea of separating affairs of state from religion. Even in Henri's own lifetime events would demonstrate the fragility of the edict and prove that Parlement's interpretation differed greatly from that of the Reformed, then and since.

De Thou's opinion, in his Mémoires , is significant both because it represents the rationale of the politique "rally" and because of its vision of the long term: "Although it had pleased God to endow Henri IV with the virtue and the power to withstand the confusions and disorders that had afflicted France, [still] He did not enable [the king] to settle everything at once and with one stroke." But Henri had the vision to see beyond those who thought only force would end the wars and hoped to bring about "at least a religion of the same intention, if not of the same form, by means of reason and justice." Through this shared "intention" he hoped that "the wisest adherents of [both sects] would one day be moved to bring about the longed-for religious reunification on the model of the blessed policy of April 1598." Vivanti remarks, "the Edict was thus considered to be a healing expedient."[23]

The turn-of-the-century phase of the Catholic issue, the Trent decrees, presents some resemblances, and some contrasts, to the struggle over the edict. Both had originated in the 1560s, the course of each had been marked by some periods of acute conflict and some quiescent ones. On the Protestant question the chief adversaries had remained the same. From Catherine de Médicis's Edict of January 1562, to Henri IV's Edict of Nantes, the crown advocated coexistence of the two Christian sects as a drastic remedy for the crisis of civil war compounded by foreign intervention, while the Parlement consistently resisted it. Toward the Trent decrees, on the other hand, though crown and court were in long-range, basic agreement, closing ranks in defiance of ultramontane assaults on the Gallican liberties, the circumstances of the 1590s compelled Henri to compromise with Rome, or at least to appear to. He could not afford the luxury of the die-hard Gallican position held by the Parlement. Obtaining absolution had achieved his acceptance by the overwhelming majority of his Catholic subjects, but it had not ended his dependence on the papacy.

Henri's marriage to Marguerite de Valois, doomed from the start, was without issue and had long since broken up, but not legally . Only papal

[22] . Maugis, Parlement de Paris , 2:208-212.

[23] . Vivanti, Lotta politica , 312, citing de Thou.


action could free the king to marry again in hopes of having heirs, and two legal arguments were available; the spouses were within the prohibited degrees of kinship and the wife claimed that she had been forced into the marriage. If Henri had reason to curry favor with the pope, Clement was determined to secure the reception of Trent in France. In Victor Martin's opinion, the year 1600 saw the greatest activity of any of the nearly forty years of futile papal effort: the matter figured in almost every communication from Rome to its several able agents at the French court.[24] Clement was very resentful of the contrast between Henri's expenditure of effort and strategic ingenuity on the Edict of Nantes and his almost total neglect of the Trent question. D'Ossat's lucid—and absolutely truthful—explanation (that a fresh outbreak of civil war was to be expected if the edict were not registered and/or the decrees were ) did not appease the pontiff. He launched a two-pronged offensive of his own, alternating the "carrot"—to crown the Jubilee of 1600 by French adherence to the decrees—with the "stick," asserting that the absolution of 1595 had been conditional on Henri's acceptance of Trent, solemnly sworn by his agents. His continued failure to confirm the obligation over his own signature and to have it registered by the Parlement constituted a breach of contract. This in turn invalidated the obligation of the other party. The Trent question thus became a serious threat to the gains already secured. Starting immediately after the registration of the Edict of Nantes in February 1599, Clement bombarded all the influential members of Henri's Conseil Privé with letters, containing arguments and appeals cleverly tailored to each recipient. Henri's only positive response was to evoke the question to the Conseil (but of course he could not get away with this attempt to bypass Parlement, and he certainly knew it). A more plausible pretext—at least for the moment—was the war with Savoy, which Henri claimed made it impossible to deal with "matters of peace." This was in December 1599, in answer to the papal legate's suggestion that acceptance of Trent would make "the best possible Christmas present for His Holiness." Even Sully—as Maximillien de Béthune would soon be called—was persuaded that some gesture on Trent must be made for reasons of state, and the two able former ligueurs who had risen to the top ranks of Henri's advisers, Bellièvre and Villeroy, were giving it priority.[25]

When peace with Savoy had been concluded, early in the new year, that

[24] . V. Martin, Gallicanisme , 304; notes throughout ch. 8 include correspondence of popes with their agents in France.

[25] . Ibid., 310-311.


excuse expired, and the chancellor sent word to Rome that the matter would be taken care of before Easter. But that deadline passed without action and the screws on the king were tightened yet again. In early May Henri left for Fontainebleau, having instructed Bellièvre to talk to the leaders of Parlement's opposition individually and tell them categorically that he was determined to publish the decrees at any price, because his honor was involved, and to make clear that they would have cause to regret prolonged stubbornness. A formula had been found to cast the announcement in terms that would put the best possible face on the repeated evasions and delays, namely, that like his predecessors, Henri could not act on his own true desire to honor the rulings of the church because publication "would serve rather as a pretext for rebellion than for the edification of consciences." The document concludes with the required phrases, "disons, statuons, ordonnons, et voulons that the Holy Council of Trent be received and observed throughout our kingdom . . . but without prejudice to the rights, privileges, and prerogatives . . . of our person . . . of the crown, and of the liberties, franchises, and immunities of the Gallican church, and of our edict [based on the earlier edicts] of pacification for the maintenance of peace in the kingdom."[26]

Bellièvre's interview with premier président Achille de Harlay was stormy. Characteristically ignoring the veiled threat implied, the latter said, "His Majesty may do whatever he pleases; the court will never register this edict." Returning to Paris a few days later, Henri sent word to Harlay that he wished to come and see him at home. The premier président was—allegedly—ill, obliged to stay in his room. Medication he had taken that morning had so enfeebled him that he was incapable of serious attention. Since discussion would be futile under the circumstances, he begged the king to excuse him. Henri was already en route when he got this message. He redirected the carriage to the house of a well-known banker, Zamet, and sent for président J.-A. de Thou and procureur général La Guesle. In a private conversation, the king tried to elicit a commitment of support from de Thou, but the magistrate—according to his own Mémoires , one must remember—begged off, saying that he was not prepared, and that he would only give his opinion before the entire court. Thereupon, the king addressed the group assembled in another room (evidently key members of his Conseil Privé were on hand also), in a reasonable, straightforward manner. He expressed love for all his subjects, "I will safeguard all their interests.

[26] . Ibid., 314-316. The text (Bibliothèque Mazarine ms. 2112, according to Martin) is reproduced in full in n.6, which begins on 314.


Without further prolonging a delay for which there is no longer any reason, I wish to give the Holy Father . . . this satisfaction. . . . It is my will that [Parlement] abstain [from its usual opposition] and that the court content itself with approving and registering . . . purely and simply . . . the decree with the reservations it will find included , without disputation on the essence of the Council [of Trent] itself." When Bellièvre announced that letters patent were already signed, lacking only registration, silence fell. It was broken by the king, requesting de Thou, again, to express an opinion. Again the président demurred, insisting that the Parlement should have complete liberty. Pressed further by Henri, "Speak with the same liberty you will have [in court]," de Thou explained that "the outcome will not correspond to [the king's] desire . . . Parlement will wish to examine the matter thoroughly (à fond ). . . . Ever since there has been a kingdom of France, no [church] council has been received without prior study." He cited all the most pious kings, from Charlemagne on down, and the custom of having special documents drawn up by French bishops, pragmatiques , which alone are authoritative in France . He emphasized particularly the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, most sacred to the parlementaires: c'est lui, croyez-le bien, Sire, que le Parlement d'aujourd'hui voudra suivre .[27]

The councillors present murmured in alarm at this conclusion, recognizing that it would be the ultimate insult to the pope, but de Thou persisted, with rare courage. "Out of one hundred who would give their opinion, I swear on my life, that more than ninety will vote to follow the procedure of Bourges." Henri instantly shifted tactics, to avoid going down in defeat. Alleging that he had only summoned them to advise him on how to satisfy the pope while protecting the interests of the kingdom, with Parlement's cooperation , he claimed that there was no question of immediate registration, and that he planned to talk to each président [and others] before asking the court to deliberate the matter. V. Martin describes this as "a prudent retreat masking a genuine defeat," adding that Henri knew that if he undertook a fight with Parlement, victory was far from certain.[28]

Neither the pressures of the papacy nor the power of the king had changed the Parlement's firm Gallican position vis-à-vis Rome. French custom and opinion was on their side. Moreover, their position favored the long-run advantage of the crown and the nation, and Henri knew it. The imposition of the Edict of Nantes had not changed Parlement's mind either,

[27] . Ibid., 317-319. Details on this exchange in de Thou, Mémoires , 371-374; my italics.

[28] . V. Martin, Gallicanisme , 320.


but in that case the king's opposing position was unequivocal. He really needed (and probably wanted) the edict whereas, though he would have preferred to enjoy papal favor, only severely pressing circumstances forced him to prevaricate on Trent to the extent that he did. Parlement's obstinacy saved him from having to compromise his own long-range advantage, as well as providing him with a scapegoat.

In the late summer of 1601, a new ambassador was named to the papacy, Philippe de Béhune, Sully's brother. His assignment, logically, was to explain, and as far as possible to excuse, Henri's repeated failures to deliver. D'Ossat's letters to the king and Villeroy give a full account. Béthune rehearsed in detail, with names and dates, Henri's unfulfilled promises, before asserting,

It is certain that His Majesty . . . has sought all possible means to carry them out, as much in order to keep his word and please His Holiness, as for the utility . . . that observation of the said Council would bring to his kingdom. . . . But as it is a matter that does not depend entirely on His Majesty, as everyone knows . . . and [because] a great number of his subjects and principal officers, such as conseillers in the parlements, have always showed greater fear and resentment [of the Trent decrees] His Majesty has been constrained to conduct the affair with patience and discretion.

Béthune goes on to mention the several steps taken by the king to bring the matter to a conclusion, even to the point of having letters patent and drawn up and signed, "but without yet being able to extract the slightest sign that they were disposed to obey." This is a subject of great distress to the king, for fear not only that it will give a bad example to others, but especially that His Holiness would impute this disobedience to His Majesty, "because in Rome they believe that the commands of the said Majesty are obeyed and executed au pied de la lettre . . . so ill-informed are they of the forms of government [in France]."[29]

This intended "holding action," which was really a stalemate, continued throughout the remainder of the life of Clement VIII, as other papal agents received the same promises that were never fulfilled and the same evasive answers to their questions. Victor Martin believes, nevertheless, that Henri was sincere in his desire and intention to honor the commitment and that the policy followed was merely a strategy to delay while endeavoring to

[29] . Ibid., 329-330, cited from the letters of d'Ossat to Villeroy (329 nn.1-2).


undermine Parlement's opposition if it could not be directly overcome. If such was the case, it was a gamble sure to be lost.[30]

There were no further explicit developments in regard to Trent until 1605, when a new papal offensive was launched by Paul V, but one action taken by Henri IV prevented the four-year record from being entirely negative from Rome's point of view. In 1603, the Society of Jesus was readmitted to the kingdom. Some students of the reign believe that this was a deliberate act of appeasement, a substitute for acceptance of Trent, and it is quite possible, in my opinion. The same people encouraged it, applauded and defended it, and the same people feared and fought it. Yet there is evidence that Henri and his advisers may have thought it a step toward acceptance of Trent rather than a substitute. At one point, two years later, when the nuncio, Maffeo Barberini, was pressing for acceptance of the decrees, Henri told him to wait. "Be patient. This is not yet the moment; let us allow the tempest unleashed by the return of the fathers to blow itself out. Meanwhile, they will themselves help me pave the way."[31]

Barberini was probably the ablest papal agent ever to have attempted to get around that immovable body, the Gallican Parlement of Paris. He was the most subtle and imaginative in his approach; he was certainly the last. Even the assembly of the (French) clergy could not be persuaded to desert the national tradition and to follow Rome, although Barberini had gained the cooperation of Père Cotton, Henri's Jesuit confessor. This was his greatest achievement, but not the trump card he had counted on.[32]

A number of bishops undertook to warn the nuncio in advance that the assembly of the clergy would not accept his formula for the unqualified reception of Trent. He then tried a new tactic, to separate the regulars from the bishops. Realizing that the cathedral and regular chapters had always maintained a solid resistance to any loss of their privileges—starting with the Concordat—Barberini tried to persuade the bishops that if they would accept the decrees, the world (and the pope) would regard that as definitive. Jerome de Villars, archbishop of Vienne, explained the refusal of the episcopate in a speech in the presence of the king on December 5, 1605, when he expressed the opinion that the holy father would "certainly accord all the reasonable concessions" necessary to assure the well-being of the kingdom of France, to which he wished to add the benefits of the Council. Henri's

[30] . Ibid., 330, 326. An example of the lengths to which Martin goes to give the French king the benefit of the doubt and of the rare degree of objectivity his study achieves.

[31] . Ibid., 339-340; also 324 n.1.

[32] . Ibid., 335-336 and 336 n.1, 341.


comment was philosophical, "The considerations of the world often are opposed to those of Heaven."

Several other innovative suggestions were equally unsuccessful, and Maffeo Barberini left France in 1607 with his mission unaccomplished despite spectacular effort. The dénouement dragged on for three more years, whose details even Victor Martin thinks lacking in interest, inutile et fastidieux .[33] In all probability it would have dragged on indefinitely, if the knife of Ravaillac had not killed the chances of the Trent decrees by the same stroke that killed Henri IV. Everything with a Roman stamp became anathema to the French, even devout Catholics, just as a strong religious and national Catholic revival was simultaneously gaining ground, in an apparent paradox, another in the series marking the long, ambivalent history of French relations with the Roman church.

Gallicanism had drawn virtually no scholarly attention between the major works of Victor Martin in the 1920s and 1930s, and the early 1970s, when Donald R. Kelley showed that it was an essential ingredient in the historiographical flowering of late sixteenth-century France, and William J. Bouwsma brought out its place in the Renaissance and Reformation redefinitions of the nature of Christendom.[34] These seminal works have since stimulated further discussion, with fresh interpretations, some revisionist, such as the article of Jonathan Powis that challenges what he calls "the tolerant and latitudinarian reading of Gallican ideas expounded by Professor Bouwsma and other scholars." Powis cites as evidence advocacy by the end-of-the-century Gallicans (including two of our outstanding spokesmen) of the use of force when independent expression in "matters of religion" led to disruption of law and order: in 1585 Achille de Harlay approved the revocation of the edicts of pacification by Henri III, and in 1600 Jacques-Auguste de Thou, as a member of a commission redrafting the statues of the University of Paris, spoke strongly in favor of new disciplinary measures, including prohibition of discussion of certain materials and threats against any faculty member guilty of "subversive" teaching.

In suggesting that de Thou's tone may reflect "a more censorious and authoritarian streak to Gallican thinking" than indicated in the prevailing

[33] . Ibid., 341-342.

[34] . See Kelley, Foundations ; Bouwsma, "Gallicanism." More recently J. H. M. Salmon has produced a valuable analysis in century-long context, "Clovis and Constantine. The Uses of History in Sixteenth-Century Gallicanism," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 41, no. 4 (October 1990): esp. 14-20, on the Gallican works of four of our spokesmen of the last generation, Servin, Pithou, Fauchet, and Pasquier.


interpretation,[35] Powis fails to recognize the influence of circumstances on policy. These were pragmatic reactions to severe crises: in the Harlay case, the near-disintegration of the kingdom and the importance of maintaining the government; in the de Thou case, the restructuring of the university to prevent its revival as "a school of tyrannicide" and facilitate its integration into Henri IV's rehabilitated institutional structure. Short-term policy to meet emergencies is hardly to be equated with ultimate desired goals. Another failure to discriminate is the characterization of the use of force by legitimate authority to preserve domestic peace as "rationalization of a resort to violence."

Powis fails to distinguish between institutional Gallicanism, which he rightly describes—"Gallican liberties were concerned with upholding the authority of the French crown and its agents, . . . the crown was historically Catholic"—and the many variations in the private religious beliefs of Gallicans, which are too lightly dismissed. "It may be . . . that some intellectuals of the time could accept the virtues of pluralism and tolerance, especially in the private pursuit of religious study." Jonathan Dewald balances the complexities skillfully,

The magistrates enthusiastically enforced the crown's policy of repression of Protestantism during the 1540s and 1550s, despite the Erasmian quality of their personal religious lives. . . . The magistrates' interrogations showed clearly their intention of defending the most rigidly traditional view of religious practice. This position must be understood partly as a reflection of the magistrates' intense dependence on the crown. It also reflected the social terms in which heresy was viewed. . . .

In fact, articulate Gallicans associated dogmatic rigidity with the corrupt medieval past, and Gallican writers occasionally took a remarkably broad view . . . of Christian belief. Precisely . . . when the Roman reform movement . . . denounced or tried to control free . . . investigation, the Gallicanism of the magistrates sought truth in the concrete and empirical world . . . and accepted the autonomy of science as well as of politics; a sympathetic interest in the new astronomy was only one reflection . . . of the remarkably open attitude to all human experience that characterized the Gallican magistracy.[36]

The international affiliations of Gallicans, especially with Venetians, and their active participation in the ecumenical movement of the time, called

[35] . Jonathan Powis, "Gallican Liberties and the Politics of Later Sixteenth-Century France," Historical Journal 26, no. 3 (1983): 515-530.

[36] . Dewald, "The Perfect Magistrate," 297; Bouwsma, "Gallicanism," 826-827.


"the union of the churches," provide abundant proof of their "tolerant and latitudinarian" long-term attitudes.

Most surprising is that while Powis effectively documents "the belief that the interests of Catholicism were best served by . . . vigilant assertion of the crown's authority in ecclesiastical affairs," citing the La Guesles and Jacques Faye, he considers this inconsistent with their "unswervingly Catholic" commitment.[37] This, however, is precisely what Gallicanism is all about. Far from being new in the sixteenth century, it has a centuries-long history, from at least the thirteenth century. Strayer summarizes,

The basic theme ran something like this: the kings of France have always been pillars and defenders of the faith; the people of France are devout and pious; the kingdom of France is so specially favored by God that it is the most important part of the Church, therefore, any attack on the rights of the king or the independence and integrity of his kingdom is an attack on the faith. Conversely, any steps taken by the king to defend and strengthen his kingdom are for the good of the faith and the benefit of Christendom.[38]

In short, Powis's general conclusion is a non sequitur to his excellent summary of particular Gallican ideas.

The traditional-nationalist element in Gallicanism figured importantly in the arguments among French Catholics concerning the legitimacy of Henri IV's claim to the throne and the various questions about his conversion. The apostasy of the 1570s, the conditions stipulated for acceptance of the Trent decrees, the Edict of Nantes, and any and all defections from Roman policy were canceled out—if not necessarily justified—by the king's overriding claim to obedience, the privileged nature of the French crown reinforcing the general Christian injunction to obey the "constituted authorities." A considerable proportion of Henri's Catholic subjects even thought he did not need papal absolution in order to qualify as a good Catholic.

In the confusion that followed the assassination of Henri III, some Gallican prelates, led by the cardinal de Vendôme, had taken the initiative in the recruitment of important nobles to the support of Navarre. As we know, Louis de Gonzague, duc de Nevers, was in the forefront. Nevers was troubled by questions of conscience: was his oath of fidelity, given to the very Catholic Henri III, still binding to a lapsed heretic king? could he, as a good Catholic, render services to and fight for a heretic? In his letters to Nevers,

[37] . Powis, "Gallican Liberties," 523-524.

[38] . Strayer, "The Holy Land," 8-9.


Vendôme advances the argument that Catholics owe obedience to a non-Catholic king before his conversion; indeed, "conversion is a function of obedience," as Michael Wolfe expresses the point in his book. Moreover, there was a Christian duty—under the rubric of charity—to work for the conversion. It was required by one's duty to God, so that aide et conseil were not only legitimate but were a religious as well as a political (feudally derived) duty.[39]

Another new appraisal, by Claude Sutto, is a very fruitful update of the Gallican question. Pluralism and variation are identified as the main characteristics of Gallicanism. The subspecies of the Parlement (le gallicanisme administratif in Sutto's terms) is the first analyzed. The appel comme d'abus was its principal weapon, as everyone agrees, not only against the papacy but also and more often against the French clergy, in the name of the crown. Yet the court's insistence on its own prerogatives, distinct from the crown, is particularly stressed.

Theirs is the responsibility, in cooperation with the king, for the defense of the liberties; basically for the respect of the laws and customs that limit papal interventions in France and the primacy of lay jurisdiction over ecclesiastical discipline. They have exercised this power since the thirteenth century and it is to a great extent thanks to them that the liberties have been maintained.[40]

While insisting that Gallican principles had prevailed for centuries, the end-of-the-century spokesmen J.-A. de Thou, Pasquier, and Harlay "perfectly understood the impact of contemporary events on the Gallican liberties," Sutto remarks. This was particularly true of the "thorny question of the Jesuits," to which Sutto attributes the development of the international dimensions of Gallicanism. Sutto makes several quite new specific points, but his general thesis is most significant:

There was never one Gallican idea or one single Gallican practice. . . . To be sure there existed what could be called a Gallican state of mind, based on the arrêts , the jurisprudence, and the texts especially venerated and constantly cited, like the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. . . . But, aside from oscillating constantly between the realm of ideas and that of facts, Gallican-

[39] . Wolfe, Conversion , ch. 4, and "Piety and Political Allegiance: The Duc de Nevers and the Protestant Henri IV," French History 2 (1987): 1-21.

[40] . Claude Sutto, "Tradition et innovation, réalisme et utopie: l'idée gallicane à la fin du XVIe et au début du XVIIe siècles," Renaissance et Réforme , n.s., 8, no. 4 (1984): 291.


ism remained generally subject to the interpretations and to the interests of each individual .[41]

"All the grands corps , the crown, the sovereign courts, the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris, the episcopate, all boasted of their Gallican fervor." But such were the differences and variations amongst them that Sutto describes it as "a hymn of several voices."[42] Especially relevant for this study is the fact that the Gallicans formed a kind of chorus amongst themselves, with distinctly articulated, well-rehearsed parts—analogous to soprano, alto, tenor, bass—of a hymn that also allowed for individual descants and obbligatos. Some liberals, like Jacques Faye, held the opinion that "a man sincerely concerned to know the truth cannot be considered a heretic," while a greater number, more conservative, supported the use of force to suppress dissent. The major themes of the Gallican "hymn" were carried by all the voices: inadmissibility of papal encroachment on French national autonomy and maintenance of lay jurisdiction over clerical.[43]

The complexity of parlementaire motivation is illustrated in the range of Gallican writings. A striking example is André Maillard's "Lettre d'un catholique françois," which is part of his Advertissement au Roy de se réunir à la foy catholique (1586), in which he lists three sources "of my boldness in thus frankly writing to you: the devotion I have for my religion, the natural love of my country, and the service I owe to princes of the blood." Wolfe notes that Maillard extended the concept of devoir , of service beyond the principle of obedience to the prince alone, "to the eternal principles of poetry and justice that the crown was also bound to uphold. As guardians of the law, the royal judges considered its maintenance a collaborative effort between themselves and the prince." The underlying principle is that of judicial independence. "Like Henri IV, the judges reduced the question of loyalty to a matter of conscience; there was a matrix of allegiances in which duty to the prince was only one part . . . a notion of duty that carried . . . the implied threat of disobedience . . . should [the prince] flagrantly disregard the moral obligations imposed on the judge by his office and his own personal sense of honor."[44]

Certainly the Parlement had proved itself the most consistent defender of the Gallican liberties and during the fifteenth century defied both kings and prelates who compromised them in order to gain some advantage from

[41] . Ibid., 292; my italics.

[42] . Ibid., 278-279.

[43] . Bouwsma, "Gallicanism," 826; Powis, "Gallican Liberties," 524-525.

[44] . Wolfe, Conversion , 80; "Conversion of Henri IV," 270-272.


the papacy. Martin concedes that the magistrates imagined that they were defending the nation and its chief from "a policy that was both foreign and dangerous." Elsewhere he says, "The Gallican that dozed in the heart of each parlementaire, even the most Catholic and best disposed [to Rome], awakened, and the fear of arming the ancient enemy made him attentive" whenever the Gallican liberties seemed threatened.[45]

Since l'affaire Berquin first challenged parlementaire religious uniformity, a number of changes had occurred in the magistrates' relationship to the rest of the legal profession, in the court's place in the royal bureaucracy, and in its internal configuration. Amongst members of the sovereign courts, only a minority had strayed into heresy and even fewer had become active ligueurs , as we have seen. In the lower robin echelons, on the contrary, both divergent opinions had greater success. The League in particular, while losing support in the upper and middle levels as time passed, gained many adherents in the lower ranks. As noted, J.H.M. Salmon's analysis of the Sixteen shows that whereas at the beginning of the conspiracy (1585) they included six magistrates of the sovereign courts and five middle-rank officers of justice and finance (34 percent), in 1591 there remained only two of each (11 percent), while the numbers of avocats and procureurs had risen from ten (21 percent) before the Barricades to seventeen (37 percent) at the time of the Brisson murder.[46] One influential historian of the League, Henri Drouot, concludes that finding access to higher office blocked by the established families of gens de robe , Burgundian robins turned against the status quo. As Salmon puts it, "It may be that the frustrations experienced during the later phases of the religious wars by this ambitious, articulate and well-educated group within the legal profession are part of the explanation for the revolutionary role that some of them fulfilled." His phrase for this group is very apt—"street activists."[47]

Élie Barnavi and Robert Descimon have worked out a paradigm similar to Drouot's but distinguished by an ideological emphasis. As magistrates became spokesmen of the monarchy and the increasingly powerful national bureaucracy, downgrading both the Catholic faith and civic pride, they were more and more cut off from the "middle" class out of which they had arisen. They constituted then "la bourgeoisie première des officiers, oligarchie urbaine élevée par le service du roi." The second level of bourgeoisie, comprising members of the legal profession and merchants, municipal notables

[45] . V. Martin, Gallicanisme , 203; 205.

[46] . Salmon, "The Paris Sixteen," 550, 566 (and see chapter 11 note 11).

[47] . Ibid., 567 and n.112.


unable to rise to lucrative prestigious positions in the state, was situated between the officers and a third level of bourgeoisie, master artisans and shopkeepers. Without denying the special importance of the defense of the faith, emphasized by Barnavi, Descimon believes that in political terms, there was one single ligueur goal: to preserve the integrity of the urban community. But

in practice the Paris League oscillated between two attitudes, one of rejection and the other of acceptance of the royal officers. The first, that of Bussy-Leclerc and the Sixteen, triumphed January 16, 1589, and November 15, 1591; it led to terrorism of which the magistrates were the target; politiques by definition, because they preferred the state to the city. The second, the line of the Union, placed the magistrate at the heart of the city, beside and not above the other bourgeois, on condition that he support the cause and reform his "corruption."

The ligueur ideal included a magistracy of integrity, integrated into the community.[48]

If the Sixteen was the party of rejection, the grands robins politiques returned their scorn with interest, as we have seen in L'Estoile's frequent castigation of la lie du peuple ; even Pasquier and J.-A. de Thou use words like vermine . The ideal of union was broken up by powerful disintegrating factors, clientage relationships with nobles, and the service of the state, factors that reinforced the rupture between the first and second bourgeoisies and the separation of the city from French society as a whole.[49]

The shrill tone of magistrates toward "the others" and their evident discomfort under attack might, in part, be a reflection of the fact that membership in the court, even as président, was no longer the apex of robin aspiration. Mark Cummings has shown that in the seventeenth century the entering magistrates were younger, less experienced, and recruited from newer robe families than their predecessors, that they differed in values and in attitudes toward the king and the law, and that the most enterprising among them resigned after five to eight years in order to assume offices in the high administration, most often that of maître des requêtes . Tables show that Group A constituted more than one-third of the court. This trend was well under way in the 1590s, and it is not surprising that such men had a weaker commitment to the Parlement's history and traditions than those he calls "the lifers," or Group C, who carried on the traditions and attitudes

[48] . Robert Descimon, "La Ligue à Paris (1585-1594): une révision," Annales-Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations 37 (1982): 77, 91.

[49] . These points are paraphrased from Descimon, ibid., 91.


of earlier generations, and who were able to perpetuate these through control of the presidencies.[50]

The old esprit de corps had disappeared, without a backward glance from the ambitious upwardly mobile bureaucrats but mourned by some whose lament was more than nostalgia. With L'Estoile it was bitter disillusion. The most perceptive spokesmen of our last generation realized that nothing in the new age could preserve the social cohesion as had the old values, of which the Parlement had been—at least in theory—the standard-bearer. The most articulate expression was that of Antoine Loisel, in "Le Dialogue des avocats du Parlement de Paris."

We recall that he brings forward extensive lists of officers who had been avocats from the fourteenth century to "the present," and that the dialogue is described as taking place on a Sunday in May 1602. Those who met his standards and those who did not are named, with pithy characterizations that leave no doubt of their rank in his mind. In the manner of Plato's dialogues, the protagonist representing the author is the most admired contemporary; for Loisel, Étienne Pasquier, who makes a number of observations coupled with advice to the rising generations. He is critical of their lack of respect for the older members, and their failure to observe the customary rules, such as "neglecting to wear the prescribed costume . . . and especially of the attitude of those who have never been admitted to the bar toward those they esteem to be beneath themselves." He also disapproves of their behavior, and of the fact that "they do not order their time properly." Elsewhere, he advises young lawyers, both those who desire to become royal officers and those who will remain avocats: "Remember to conserve and to pass on to your successors the honor that the older [ones] have bestowed on you, of faithfulness in the handling of their portfolios [sacs , a metaphor for their contents, the confidential documents of legal cases] holding nothing back, disguising nothing . . . [and avoiding] other kinds of false action." Again, he exhorts them "to cultivate virtue, although it is often accompanied by misfortune in the opinion of the crowd . . . but in the end honor and a good life are known by all and especially by God, who is the true judge of our actions."[51]

It is not surprising that the changed circumstances stimulated attempts to refurbish the image of the court as well as a program of reform and codifications of the rules. In the first quarter of the seventeenth century, a veritable flood of works to this end appeared, all written by legists, some of

[50] . Cummings, "A Social Portrait."

[51] . Loisel, "Dialogue des Avocats," 1:157; 177; 196.


whom were praticiens , that is, active magistrates on the bench, as well. La Roche-Flavin's Treize Livres des Parlements de France is the most comprehensive of these, and was the most influential in the succeeding decades. The entire corpus has been analyzed by Mical H. Schneider. Among the more than sixty authors she lists are important mainstream spokesmen, including Pasquier, Loisel, Le Caron, Pithou, well-known writers on political theory in general like Charles Du Moulin, Michel de L'Hôpital, and Jean Bodin, and many relatively obscure ones. Topics discussed range from the development of professionalism, the concepts of bureaucracy and national judiciary to the characteristics of the emerging centralized state. A key feature is the notion of the ideal officer, frequently called the perfect magistrate.[52] This was the codified ideal produced by legists concerned not only to counteract the conspicuous negative image and rehabilitate the magistracy in public opinion, but indeed to place it on a pedestal as the model for a reformed society.

In an enlightening article, Colin Kaiser places the origins of the negative image in the earlier part of the century, when heresy was the main concern of the court, prior to his analysis of the ways intended to change it. Without the element of heresy, Kaiser believes, the social and professional tensions emphasized by Drouot, Barnavi, and Descimon might have been contained at the level of earlier decades, and he refers to Richet's stress on the belief of Catholics in midcentury that robins as a group were rapidly becoming heretics.

The insults addressed to président Harlay by procureur Fichart were inspired by social jealousy, but they were justified by the président's alleged attendance at Huguenot sermons. [Although the progress of heresy was arrested in the 1560s], the judges were no less suspect. The politique robins , even when they were good Catholics, were constantly under suspicion because they refused to go along with brutal action against the Huguenots.[53]

We have noted abundant examples of Parlement's vulnerability to suspicion, accusation, and even persecution in the name of religion. Defensive reactions, feeble until the 1590s, multiplied as the League lost ground and the institutional structure was restored by a strong popular king. With the rehabilitation of Parlement, assertions of self-image, newly confident in tone, replaced the petulant apologetics of the civil-war years. Both the

[52] . See Schneider, "French Magistracy."

[53] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 17; Richet, "Grands serviteurs."


church and the crown made conscious efforts to refurbish Parlement's image, not in concert, but along the same lines. (Indeed, again following Richet, Kaiser finds a similar moralizing movement in the Huguenot camp also.) The construct of the perfect magistrate was the mirror image of the standard criticism. Kaiser comments, "This ideal is based on the principle that a man's virtue should be written on his face, exhibited by his behavior and able to be recognized by the society in which he lives. . . . The ideal constitutes a veritable 'system of signs.'"[54]

Moreover, the signs are external. As early as 1577, a mercuriale stipulated that members "who show little religious sentiment" must attend high mass in their parishes, because "by such demonstrations the people will be more edified; it is not enough to be a good, devout man, it is necessary to be thought so. " One is reminded of Machiavelli's advice to the prince. The details of what is required are spelled out: regulations of dress are listed; luxurious clothing indicates social disorder, encouraging people to violate the behavior (and expense) appropriate to their condition. The parfait magistrat should not indulge in gambling—even in private—and should be scrupulous in his financial dealings, as proof that he is worthy to judge others. By 1587, the prohibitions even include casual conversation in the street, or in the halls of the Palais. "Each [member] should abstain from association with all sorts of persons, even those of different professions, inviting them to dine . . . and making their houses places of entertainment for all sorts." Kaiser comments, "In other words, the judges should live in the city, but apart from all others." He adds, "This moralizing movement at its extreme is more than a rejection of urban sociability; it aims to detach the magistracy from its bourgeois roots, to make a sharp social separation (coupure sociale nette )."[55] Thus what Drouot and Descimon discerned as an inevitable development in the circumstances, was reinforced as a result of deliberate policy, according to Kaiser.

The desired result depended on the enforcement of discipline, through severe social controls. A system of examinations, depositions, and censures was developed, which began in the family and household. La Roche-Flavin contends that the art of government is derived from the "economic art, . . . that of governing well a household, a family. How can a man be trusted to render to others their due if he cheats his servants? how can he discipline adulterers, if he is one himself? how can he comport himself in peace and

[54] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 17-18.

[55] . Ibid., 23; my italics.


unity in a large company if he cannot [do so] with his own wife, relatives, and neighbors?"[56]

La Roche-Flavin maintains that these controls were created to check the tidal wave of heresy. What is certain is that as time passed, they became more elaborate and more severe. Few records of the Parlement itself have survived, but those of the Cour des Monnaies from 1553 to 1587 have been analyzed by Kaiser. At first only one "certification," signed by several witnesses, was required, and that only for new members. Later, a candidate was required to submit a list from which the procureur général chose the witnesses considered acceptable, usually two or three. By 1569, there were sometimes as many as six.[57]

Most significant is the increasing emphasis on religious behavior. Before 1569, while the candidate was always certified as bon catholique , meaning that he was not a heretic, no details of his religious beliefs or behavior were mentioned, even by ecclesiastical witnesses. After that date, those of his family, friends, clients, and servants were carefully scrutinized and the specifics of a candidate's religious behavior became the central matter of the investigation. Kaiser cites the case of our spokesman, Claude Fauchet. When be became the second président of the Cour des Monnaies in 1569, he called on five priests of his parish, St-Germain-l'Auxerrois, as witnesses. They testified that he regularly attended the parish services; confessed and took communion every Wednesday, as well as at Easter; had participated in a key procession, carrying a lighted candle; had his children baptized in the parish and attended other baptisms; he also attended masses at Notre-Dame. Significantly, "he echoed the attacks of the prédicateurs against the Huguenots."[58]

In addition to the increase in the numbers of witnesses required, gradually ecclesiastics came to predominate; in some cases there were no laymen at all. Kaiser comments,

the testimony of the parish curé was [then] obligatory, and must be confirmed in detail by all the other witnesses. Fervent participation in confession and communion, and frequent visits to various [other] churches were requirements. It is noteworthy that few references to the ancient themes of virtue [were included] . . . only the religiosity of the candidate was seriously examined . . . but it's only la manifestation extérieure de ce catholi -

[56] . Ibid.; La Roche-Flavin, Treize Livres , bk. VI, ch. 2.

[57] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 23-26.

[58] . Ibid., 26; my italics.


cisme qui importe. Les enquêtes d'offices à la Cour des Monnaies sont la preuve que le "système de signes" a triomphé .[59]

It is of utmost importance to our understanding of parlementaire mentalité that on this one subject La Roche-Flavin does not agree with the system of disciplinary controls. Instead, as previously noted, he strongly supports the traditional, that is, conservative and understated, parlementaire attitude toward religious practice, spelling out his opinion in considerable detail.[60] La Roche-Flavin is thus an example of the continuity of the old system of values through the first quarter of the new century, even as the tide was visibly running the other way.

Yet we note that La Roche-Flavin makes substantial contributions to the exalted image of the perfect magistrate and to the concomitant filiopietistic tradition that perpetuated it. Apropos of the evil effects of violation of the sumptuary laws, for instance, he stresses a magistrate's unique privilege of wearing red robes in certain circumstances when he represents the ongoing crown, parce qu'il est un vray portraict de sa Majesté .[61]

Kaiser believes that one purpose of the insistence on the ideal of the perfect magistrate was to emphasize the distinction between the magistracy and the nobility, and the superiority of the former. We recall André Guillart's assertion of this view, and Brantôme's confirmation of the perceived difference. Loisel gives an even more striking illustration of "robin pride," the great deed of Jean Jouvenal des Ursins—one of Loisel's most admired models—when he was able to resolve a dynastic crisis in favor of the monarchy, by making some rebel seigneurs yield the town of Auxerre and control of the Marne, using negotiation and diplomacy, "without a single person being attacked, captured, or pillaged . . . yet boldly getting the king out of the hands of the duc de Bourgogne . . . in short, all by himself in one week doing more than ten thousand men of war."[62] There is a difference between these celebrations of admirable actions by real historic persons—however exaggerated and laudatory in expression—and the end-of-the-century attention to external behavior of the disembodied perfect magistrate that Kaiser describes as une fixation quasi-obsessionelle sur l'apparence des magistrats , for instance, the rules to be followed in order to present an impassive, serenely superior demeanor. In court, a magistrate "should not raise his eyebrows, scratch his face, utter sighs, puff out his cheeks, or cross

[59] . Ibid.; my italics.

[60] . La Roche-Flavin, Treize Livres , bk. VIII, ch. 5.

[61] . Ibid., bk. X, ch. 24; Dewald, "The Perfect Magistrate," 292; 293-294; 299.

[62] . Loisel, "Dialogue des Avocats," 1:188.


his legs . . . and in the street, he should walk neither too slowly, for 'this is a sign of a lazy mind,' nor too fast, 'because this might make it appear that he was disturbed by inner passions (passions et perturbations internes ).'"[63]

Among contemporary examples, Achille de Harlay was the preferred model of the perfect magistrate. Blanchard calls his courage "immortal." It is a fact that Harlay resisted not only the pressures of the League and the threats of the mobs but also the demands of Henri IV himself, and that he came as close as anyone to exhibiting the virtues, and especially the dignity, considered essential. But the lengths to which the eulogies could go can be seen in anecdotes such as his confronting the troops of a noble entering a town where Harlay represented the crown, "with no other arms . . . but the look in his eye (son seul regard ), his gown, and his magisterial bonnet, . . . he so intimidated these poor men of war, that without waiting for him to say a single word, they picked up their baggage, mounted their horses, and left without bidding [him] farewell." To be sure, this appears in a eulogy by one Jacques de La Vallée, described as royal almoner, in 1611, the year of Harlay's death, and one would not expect the style to be marked by the traditions of Parlement, as was Blanchard's.[64]

The underlying concern here, bringing us back to religious attitudes, relates to the key position of the magistrates in French society, and the belief in the weight of their influence. Si les magistrats laissent l'hérésie gagner leurs foyers, toute la société basculera . It followed that their influence could also be a major force for good, if they set the right example. The enquêtes of lesser officers in the Cour des Monnaies tend to reflect those of the magistrates. Le "parfait magistrat" doit inspirer le parfait avocat, l'huissier parfait , concludes Kaiser. However limited the realization of this ideal in the historical magistracy, there is no doubt that it was an important factor in the evolution of the myths of the robe as a caste. Parlementaire family history in the seventeenth century and down to the Revolution always featured one or more ancestors who bore the marks of the perfect magistrate, "a variation of Achille de Harlay."[65]

[63] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 27; La Roche-Flavin, Treize Livres , bk. VIII, ch. 31.

[64] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 27 n.53, citing Jacques de La Vallée, Discours sur la vie, actions et mort de Très Illustre Seigneur Messire Achilles de Harlay, en son vivant conseiller du roi en ses conseils d'Estat et Privé, premier président du Sénat du Parlement, et Comte de Beaumont en Gatinois, pour servir d'exemple à ceux qui pour l'advenir voudront saincetment administrer la justice (Paris, 1611). As Kaiser notes, its title constitutes a "veritable program."

[65] . Kaiser, "Cours souveraines," 28-29.


Not all parlementaires of the 1590s can fit neatly into the categories of Cummings's analysis, or perhaps we should say that further differentiation is needed for some. These were men of outstanding ability and ambition, but unlike the majority of his Group A, they did not regard the court as a stepping-stone and in some cases made the Parlement their lifetime career, often in the parquet . At the same time they were not like the typical "lifers" of his Group C, in that they were activists in shaping policy and deeply involved in current politics. Although they shared reverence for the traditional values with the "lifers," their ruling characteristics were realism and pragmatism. They were conscious of the critical issues and believed that they should, and could, affect the outcome. The alternative would be the defeat of all aspects of their cause. If the Spaniards succeeded in invalidating the Salic law, France would either fall directly under foreign domination or continue to be torn between the several rival factions of the Guise-Lorraine clan; if Catholic Frenchmen did not recognize Henri de Navarre, he could not securely exercise the royal authority; if the Huguenots were not pacified, civil war would continue; if the royalist parlementaires from Tours could not be reconciled with the Parisians, the institutional structure of the kingdom could not be restored.

Marc Fumaroli stresses the widespread influence of Tacitus on turn-of-the-century humanists. He speaks of "the lesson" the Roman historian taught them, that "in a corrupt Europe, [monarchy] is preferable to disorder and civil war . . . in short, he taught them to give up their republican illusions."[66] Since they were "republicans" only in a metaphorical sense, related to their romantic notions about Rome, it was their constitutional illusions that were shaken. However preferable the balanced equilibrium described by Seyssel and postulated through succeeding generations, the events of recent decades had shown that only a strong monarchy could overcome the several disintegrating forces and ensure stability. This modification, the acceptance of what another scholar has called "incipient absolutism," implied both the recognition of a heretic, but legitimate, king, without papal absolution if necessary, and the abandonment of the hitherto rock-bottom principle, un roi, une foi in favor of coexistence between the sects, however distasteful, when it was imposed by a strong king as the indispensable means to domestic peace and national security.[67]

These modifications, or compromises, were adopted by leading praticiens like Le Maistre and La Guesle, and also by some of our core spokesmen,

[66] . Fumaroli, ,Âge d'éloquence , 153-154.

[67] . Oestreich, Neo-Stoicism , chs. 2, 4.


like Pasquier and J.-A. de Thou. Achille de Harlay might be said to have gone along with them de facto, while continuing to reiterate the unqualified constitutional view. The most articulate expressions of the modifications are those of Guillaume Du Vair, a figure distinguished from others in the group in several different ways. On the intellectual plane, he was a philosopher, a leading representative of Christian- or neo-Stoicism in France, and a highly gifted orator. On the political plane, his career during the League years, in addition to running the gamut from League sympathies to politique leadership, had included—uniquely—more than one attempt to mediate between the parties. In the critical period when public opinion in Paris was ripening for change, from the autumn of 1592 to the summer of 1593, his Exhortation à la Paix acted as a catalyst in the transformation from ligueur to royalist, and he was the principal author of the formula that clinched it, the "arrêt du président Le Maistre." In the crisis preceding the League's collapse and the king's triumphal entry (February-March 1594), his Lettre d'un bourgeois de Paris made a powerful contribution to the outcome, second only to the Satyre Ménippée .

In regard to modifications of the old constitutionalism, Du Vair's case again differs; his position is more a synthesis than a compromise. Fumaroli sees a foreshadowing of Jansenism and compares Du Vair to Arnauld. "In these men a very Roman ideal of senatorial aristocracy coexists with a Biblical ideal of a priestly aristocracy." Elsewhere, "he identified his struggle for the regeneration of the kingdom, fought with the passion of a good Frenchman, with his humanist's nostalgia for antiquity, the golden age of the word. The French language and French eloquence, 'as keystones of the arch of the republic' [would enable France] to resist the torrents of the corrupt times."[68]

Such an activist and optimistic tone is surprising in one known to be a Stoic. It is made possible by the special belief of Christian- or neo-Stoics that there was no conflict between the basic themes of Stoicism and Christianity, rather, they were "translations" into different languages. Although man is weak and sinful, God's grace is accessible to him, through his free will. Man's task is to find his proper role and to fulfill it as best he can. Nous sommes donc les collaborateurs de Dieu , is the bold summary of Pierre Mesnard on this matter. Exclaiming, "How far we are from classic Stoic wisdom!" he compares the ancient Stoic, un résigné , with the activist neo-

[68] . Fumaroli, Âge d'éloquence , 519; 690. This author thoroughly analyzes and places in context Du Vair's important place in the evolution of French rhetoric and oratory, tangential to our study.


Stoic Du Vair, vainqueur dans le plan de Dieu . Another scholar sees in Du Vair's Stoicism an anticipation of the heroes of Corneille.[69]

As a Parisian magistrate in the 1590s, Du Vair's actions constitute a new civisme , manifested in Ciceronian vita activa , dramatically illustrated by his participation in the reduction of the city. Fumaroli calls it "an indigenous Gallican Ciceronianism that can still function in a society of Tacitean complexity and ambivalence." Classic and Christian, humanist and nationalist, philosophical and pragmatic elements can be discerned in the synthesis, but none can be detached from it and each contributed to a whole that was more than the sum of its parts.[70]

Nannerl Keohane makes the point in a different way, pointing out that Du Vair was an exception to the turn-of-the-century trend toward dichotomies. In addition to his rejection of both libertinism and Tridentine-Reformation religiosity, he also refused to go along with the sharp division between public and private moralities.

Frenchmen . . . worked out two moralities . . . one for political behavior, the other for the individual. . . . In politics, the new moralities were those of the state and its reasons. At the same time, philosophers and theologians worked out codes for individual action. . . . Among the most striking characteristics of the age was the strict separation that normally obtained between these public and private ethics. . . . A few exceptions, such as Guillaume Du Vair . . . continued to adhere to the ethic of public involvement and dedication to the common good as the standard . . . of individual virtue.[71]

We have noted that Du Vair was a politique with a difference, of a more complex nature than that term usually denotes, that is, not merely a position ad hoc (the situation that threatened France's national destruction) and ad hominem (the rally to Henri IV despite his religion because he alone could end the civil war and reunite the country). In fact, however, there were a number of other strains, or variations, in politique opinion that have been brought to light in recent scholarship, notably a religious dimension involving a revival of the old Gallican theory that the king of France had a mandate from God, valid even when the papacy was opposed. Michael Wolfe demonstrates the relation of religious theory to the acceptance of Henri's conversion and analyzes versions of Catholic Frenchmen whose motivation

[69] . Mesnard, "Du Vair," 161-163; J. Maurens, La Tragédie sans tragique: le néostoïcisme dans l'oeuvre de Pierre Corneille (Paris, 1966), 305.

[70] . Fumaroli, Âge d'éloquence , 129.

[71] . Keohane, Philosophy and the State , 119-120.


was not confined to immediate political considerations. Jeffrey Sawyer has reinterpreted public opinion with regard to "incipient absolutism" and finds that willingness to accept it was more widespread in the 1590s than earlier historians assumed. Furthermore, a more pragmatic, even "Machiavellian," attitude emerged that placed other interests ahead of traditional (constitutional) values. Henry Clark has described this as an application of raison d'état on the private level. Both of the latter points fit logically with differences of career patterns in the new generation as described by Cummings. Indeed, they may be said to be part of the explanation of the change.[72]

Each of these elements of differentiation within politique opinion in the 1590s foreshadows a major movement in the seventeenth century: a new spirituality, Catholic, but nationalist, led by Bérulle and the dévots ; a new political orientation, more explicitly absolutist, under Richelieu; and the flowering of French classical literature glorifying heroic individuals who defied the state.

[72] . Wolfe, Conversion ; Jeffrey Sawyer, Printed Poison: Pamphlet Propaganda, Faction Politics, and the Public Sphere in Early Seventeenth-Century France (Berkeley, 1990).


EPILOGUE PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . , 1594-1605

Preferred Citation: Roelker, Nancy Lyman. One King, One Faith: The Parlement of Paris and the Religious Reformations of the Sixteenth Century. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996.