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

Or to be deprived of their justiciary rights Feb


that policy of extirpating the

Protestants to which the late King had devoted himself, and it was soon apparent that it would be continued by the new government. The process against Antoine du Bourg and his fellow-members of the _Parlement_ of Paris who had dared to remonstrate against the persecution, was pushed forward with all speed. They were condemned to the stake, and the only mitigation of sentence was that Du Bourg was to be strangled before he was burnt. His fate provoked much sympathy. As he was led to the place of execution the crowd pleaded with him to recant. His resolute, dignified bearing made a great impression; and his dying speech, according to one eye-witness, "did more harm to the Roman Church than a hundred ministers could have done," and, according to another, "made more converts among the French students than all the books of Calvin." The persecutions of Protestants of lower rank increased rather than diminished. Police made descents on the houses in the Rue de Marais-Saint-Germain and neighbouring streets.[208] Spies were hired to insinuate themselves into the confidence of the suspected for the purpose of denouncing them. The _Parlement_ of Paris instituted four separate criminal courts for the sole purpose of trying heretics brought before them. The prisons were no sooner filled than they were emptied by sentences which sent the condemned to the galleys or to death. The government incited to persecution by new declarations and edicts. It declared that houses in which conventicles were
held were to be razed to the ground (Sept. 4th, 1559); that all who organised unlawful assemblies were to be punished by death (Nov. 9th, 1559); that nobles who had justiciary courts were to act according to law in the matter of heresy, or to be deprived of their justiciary rights (Feb. 1560). In spite of all this stern repression, the numbers of the Protestants increased, and Calvin could declare that there were at least 300,000 in France.

The character of Protestantism in France had been changing. In the earlier years of the persecution they had submitted meekly without thought of revolt, resigned to their fate, rejoicing to suffer in the cause of Christ. But under this rule of the Guises the question of resistance was discussed. It could be said that revolt did not mean revenge for injuries done to themselves. A foreign family had overawed their King and imposed themselves on France. The Princes of the Blood, Antoine de Bourbon and his brother Louis de Conde, in whose veins ran the blood of Saint Louis, who were the natural leaders of the people, were flouted by the Guises. The inviolability of _Parlement_ had been attacked in the execution of Antoine du Bourg, and the justiciary rights of great nobles were threatened simply in order to extirpate "those of the religion." They believed that France was full of men who had no good will to the tyranny of the "foreigners." They consulted their brethren in exile, and Calvin himself, on the lawfulness and expediency of an armed insurrection. The refugees favoured the plan. Calvin denounced it. "If one drop of blood is shed in such a revolt, rivers will flow; it is better that we all perish than cause such a scandal to the cause of Christ and His Evangel." Some of the Protestants were not to be convinced. They only needed a leader. Their natural head was the


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