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

The King of Navarre replied to Monsieur Sixtus


Sec. 17. _The League becomes disloyal._[224]

Meanwhile the Romanist nobles were taking their measures. Some of them met at Nancy towards the close of 1584 to reconstruct the League. They resolved to exclude the Protestant Bourbons from the throne, and proclaim the Cardinal Bourbon as the successor of Henry III. They hoped to obtain a Bull from the Pope authorising this selection; and they received the support of Philip of Spain in the Treaty of Joinville (Dec. 31st, 1584).

Paris did not wait for the sanction or recommendation of the nobles. A contemporary anonymous pamphlet, which is the principal source of our information, describes how four men, three of them ecclesiastics, met together to found the League of Paris. They discussed the names of suitable members, and, having selected a nucleus of trustworthy associates, they proceeded to elect a secret council of eight or nine who were to direct and control everything. The active work of recruiting was superintended by six associates, of whom one, the Sieur de la Rocheblond, was a member of the secret council. Soon all the most fanatical elements of the population of Paris belonged to this secret society, sworn to obey blindly the orders of the mysterious council who from a concealed background directed everything. The corporations of the various trades were won to the League; the butchers of Paris, for example, furnished a band of fifteen hundred resolute and

dangerous men. Trusty emissaries were sent to the large towns of France, and secret societies on the plan of the one in Paris were formed and affiliated with the mother-society in Paris, all bound to execute the orders of the secret council of the capital. The Sieur de la Rocheblond, whose brain had planned the whole organisation, was the medium of communication with the Romanist Princes; and through him Henry, Duke of Guise, le Balafre as he was called from a scar on his face, was placed in command of this new and formidable instrument, to be wielded as he thought best for the extirpation of the Protestantism of France.

The King had published an edict forbidding all armed assemblies, and this furnished the Leaguers with a pretext for sending forth their manifesto: _Declaration des causes qui ont meu Monseigneur le Cardinal de Bourbon et les Pairs, Princes, Seigneurs, villes et communautez catholiques de ce royaume de France: De s'opposer a ceux qui par tous moyens s'efforcent de subvertir la religion catholique et l'Estat (30 Mars 1585)._ It was a skilfully drafted document, setting forth the danger to religion in the foreground, but touching on all the evils and jealousies which had arisen from the favouritism of Henry III. Guise at once began to enrol troops and commence open hostilities; and almost all the great towns of France and most of the provinces in the North and in the Centre declared for the League.

Henry III. was greatly alarmed. With the help of his mother he negotiated a treaty with the Leaguers, in which he promised to revoke all the earlier Edicts of Toleration, to prohibit the exercise of Protestant public worship throughout the kingdom, to banish the ministers, and to give all Protestants the choice between becoming Roman Catholics or leaving the realm within six months (Treaty of Nemours, July 7th, 1585). These terms were embodied in an edict dated July 18th, 1585. The Pope, Sixtus V., thereupon published a Bull, which declared that the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde, being heretics, were incapable of succeeding to the throne of France, deprived them of their estates, and absolved all their vassals from allegiance. The King of Navarre replied to "Monsieur Sixtus, self-styled Pope, saving His Holiness," and promised to avenge the insult done to himself and to the _Parlements_ of France.


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