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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

The Duke of Anjou died June 10th


The

escape of the two Princes led in the end to the "Peace of Monsieur," the terms of which were published in the Edict of Beaulieu (May 6th, 1576). The right of public worship was given to Protestants in all towns and places within the kingdom of France, Paris only and towns where the Court was residing being excepted. Protestants received eight strongholds, partly as cities of refuge and partly as guarantees. Chambers of Justice "mi-parties" (composed of both Protestants and Roman Catholics) were established in each Parliament. The King actually apologised for the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, and declared that it had happened to his great regret; and all sentences pronounced on the victims were reversed. This edict was much more favourable to the Protestants than any that had gone before. Almost all the Huguenots' demands had been granted.

Sec. 16. _The beginnings of the League._

Neither the King, who felt himself humiliated, nor the Romanists, who were indignant, were inclined to submit long to the terms of peace. Some of the Romanist leaders had long seen that the Huguenot enthusiasm and their organisation were enabling an actual minority to combat, on more than equal terms, a Romanist majority. Some of the provincial leaders had been able to inspire their followers with zeal, and to bind them together in an organisation by means of leagues. These provincial leagues suggested a universal organisation, which

was fostered by Henry, Duke of Guise, and by Catherine de' Medici. This was the first form of that celebrated League which gave twenty years' life to the civil war in France. The Duke of Guise published a declaration in which he appealed to all France to associate together in defence of the Holy Church, Catholic and Roman, and of their King Henry III., whose authority and rights were being taken from him by rebels. All good Catholics were required to join the association, and to furnish arms for the accomplishment of its designs. Those who refused were to be accounted enemies. Neutrals were to be harassed with "toutes sortes d'offences et molestes"; open foes were to be fought strenuously. Paris was easily won to the League, and agents were sent abroad throughout France to enrol recruits. Henry III. himself was enrolled, and led the movement.

The King had summoned the States General to meet at Blois and hold their first session there on Dec. 6th, 1576. The League had attended to the elections, and the Estates declared unanimously for unity of religion. Upon this the King announced that the Edict of Beaulieu had been extracted from him by force, and that he did not intend to keep it. Two of the Estates, the Clergy and the Nobles, were prepared to compel unity at any cost. The Third Estate was divided. A minority wished the unity brought about "by gentle and pacific ways"; the majority asked for the immediate and complete suppression of the public worship of the Protestants, and for the banishment of all ministers, elders, and deacons.

These decisions of the States General were taken by the Huguenots as a declaration of war, and they promptly began to arm themselves. It was the first war of the League, and the sixth of Religion. It ended with the Peace of Bergerac (Sept. 15th, 1578), in which the terms granted to the Huguenots were rather worse than those of the Edict of Beaulieu. A seventh war ensued, terminated by the Peace of Fleix (Nov. 1580).

The Duke of Anjou died (June 10th, 1584), and the King had no son. The heir to the throne, according to the Salic Law, which excluded females, was Henry of Navarre, a Protestant. On the death of Anjou, Henry III. found himself face to face with this fact. He knew and felt that he was the guardian of the dynastic rights of the French throne, and that his duty was to acknowledge Henry of Navarre as his successor. He accordingly sent one of his favourites, Eperon, to prevail upon Henry of Navarre to become a Roman Catholic and come to Court. Henry refused to do either.


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