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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

De Tressan dreamed of the cardinal's hat


The

storm had now been brewing for some years; the Bishop of Nantes, Lavergne de Tressan, grand almoner to the Regent, had attempted some time before to wrest from him a rigorous decree against the Protestants; the Duke of Orleans, as well as Dubois, had rejected his overtures. Scarcely had the duke (of Bourbon) come into power, when the prelate presented his project anew; indifferent and debauched, a holder of seventy-six benefices, M. de Tressan dreamed of the cardinal's hat, and aspired to obtain it from the Court of Rome at the cost of a persecution. The government was at that time drifting about, without compass or steersman, from the hands of Madame de Prie to those of Paris-Duverney. Little cared they for the fate of the Reformers. "This castaway of the regency," says M. Lemontey, "was adopted without memorial, without examination, as an act of homage to the late king, and a simple executive formula. The ministers of Louis XVI. afterwards found the minute of the declaration of 1724, without any preliminary report, and simply bearing on the margin the date of the old edicts." For aiming the thunderbolts against the Protestants, Tressan addressed himself to their most terrible executioner. Lamoignon de Baville was still alive; old and almost at death's door as he was, he devoted the last days of his life to drawing up for the superintendents some private instructions; an able and a cruel monument of his past experience and his persistent animosity. He died with the pen
still in his hand.

The new edict turned into an act of homage to Louis XIV. the rigors of Louis XV. "Of all the grand designs of our most honored lord and great-grandfather, there is none that we have more at heart to execute than that which he conceived, of entirely extinguishing heresy in his kingdom. Arrived at majority, our first care has been to have before us the edicts whereof execution has been delayed, especially in the provinces afflicted with the contagion. We have observed that the chief abuses which demand a speedy remedy relate to illicit assemblies, the education of children, the obligation of public functionaries to profess the Catholic religion, the penalties against the relapsed, and the celebration of marriage, regarding which here are our intentions: Shall be condemned: preachers to the penalty of death, their accomplices to the galleys for life, and women to be shaved and imprisoned for life. Confiscation of property: parents who shall not have baptism administered to their children within twenty-four hours, and see that they attend regularly the catechism and the schools, to fines and such sums as they may amount to together; even to greater penalties. Midwives, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, domestics, relatives, who shall not notify the parish priests of births or illnesses, to fines. Persons who shall exhort the sick, to the galleys or imprisonment for life, according to sex; confiscation of property. The sick who shall refuse the sacraments, if they recover, to banishment for life; if they die, to be dragged on a hurdle. Desert-marriages are illegal; the children born of them are incompetent to inherit. Minors whose parents are expatriated may marry without their authority; but parents whose children are on foreign soil shall not consent to their marriage, on pain of the galleys for the men and banishment for the women. Finally, of all fines and confiscations, half shall be employed in providing subsistence for the new converts."


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