There are no Principals of Morality more universally received, and that make deeper impressions on the minds of all Men, that are more necessary for the good of human Society, and do more resemble the Divine Perfections than Truth and Goodness: So that if our Saviour denounced a Woe against those who teach Men to break the least of his Commandments, what may they look for who design to subvert these that may be justly called the greatest of them?
That the Church of Rome teaches Barbarity and Cruelty, against all who receive not their Opinion; and that Can. 3. Hereticks are to be delivered to secular Princes, who must burn them without mercy; or if they have neither Bowels or Conscience, so that they will not be the Instruments of their Cruelty, that they shall lose their Kingdoms or Dominions, is known to all that have read the Decrees of the 4th Council in the Lateran. The violation of Publick Faith, was also decreed by another of their General Seff. 19. Councils at Constance, in which, notwithstanding the save conduct that Sigismund had granted to John Husse and Jerome of Prague, care was not only taken that they should be burnt; but they made it a standing Rule for the time to come, That the Hereticks came to the 4 place of Judgment, trusting to their safe conduct, and would not have come without it; yet the Prince who granted it, was under no Obligation by it, but the Church might proceed to Censures and Punishment. By these Decrees, Cruelty and Treachery are become a part of their Doctrine, and they may join them to their Creed, upon as good Reasons as they can shew for many of their other Additions.
The Nature of Man is not yet sunk so low, as easily to hear these things without horror: therefore it is fit they should be kept among the Secrets of their Religion, till a fit opportunity appear, in which they may serve a turn; and then we need not doubt but they will be made use of. If any will be so charitable to their Church, as not easily to believe this, the History of the Parisian Massacre may satisfie them to the full: which Thuanus says was a Pitch of Barbarity beyond any thing that former Ages had ever seen: And if the Irish Massacre flowing from the same Spirit, and the same Principles, had not gone beyond it, we might have reasonably concluded, that it could never be matched again. But we may be taught from such Precedents, what we ought to expect, when ever we are at the mercy of Persons of that Religion, who, if they be true Sons of the Church of Rome, must renounce both Faith and Mercy to all Hereticks.
I shall give the Relation of this Massacre from that celebrated late Writer of the French History, Mr. de Mezeray, only adding some Passages out of Thuanus, Davila and others, where he is defective.
But I shall premise a short representation of the Civil Wars of France, which are made use of as the Arguments for justifying that Cruelty, and by which they do still blemish the Protestant Religion, as teaching Rebellion against Princes.5
During the Reign of Francis the 1st, and Henry the 2nd, the Protestant Religion got great footing in France; the usual severities of the Church of Rome were then employed to extirpate it; yet tho their Numbers were very great, and the Persecution most severe, they made no resistance. But upon the death of Henry the 2d, Catherine de Medici, the Queen Mother, with the Cardinal of Lorrain, and the Duke of Guise, took the Government Thuanus. in their Hands; pretending that the King (Francis, the 2nd) was of Age, being then sixteen. The Princes The abstract of the Books written upon the Head, by the Voluminous but Anonymous Historian of these Wars, printed at Paris, An. 1582. of the Blood on the other hand alleadged, That the Kingdom ought to be under a Regency till the King was at least 22 Years of Age: Since Charles the 6th had been admitted at that Age to the Government, as a particular mark of their esteem of him: So that tho the Age of Majority was at 25 Years, and that was a singular exception from a general Rule, yet at furthest, it shewed that the King could not assume the Government before he was two and twenty.
It was also an undoubted Right of the Princes of the
Blood to hold the Regency, during the Minority of
their Kings: and to administer it, by the Direction of
the Parliaments, and the Assembly of the States. Upon
these Points, many things were written on both sides.
Thuanus, lib. 16
The Princes of the Blood pretended, they were excluded
from the Government, against Law, and upon that
were projecting how to possess themselves of the Power;
which, with the Person of the King, were violently
kept from them. But the Prince of Conde being advised
to it, by Coligny then Admiral France, did also
declare for mitigating the Severities against the Protestants.
This being the Case, that the Point was truly disputable,
no Man can blame the Protestants for joining
with their Friends against their Enemies. And yet this
Mezeray. Plot was driven no further than an endeavour to take the King out of the Hands of his Mother and the Brothers of Lorrain, who were all Foreigners. The chief Promoter of it was a Papist, Renaudy [Renauldy], and it was discovered by Avennelles [Avenelles]; who tho he was most firm to his Religion, being a Protestant, yet having an aversion to all plots, revealed it out of scruple of Conscience.
Soon after this Discovery, Francis the 2nd died; and his Brother that succeded him, Charles the 9th was without dispute under Age, he not being then full eleven years old. And according to the resolution of many great Lawyers, in the case of his Brother, the Kingdom ought to have been under a Regency, during all the Wars that preceded the Massacre, for he was then but two and twenty. At first it was agreed to, that the King of Navarre as the first Prince of the Blood, ought to be Regent; but he being wrought on, by the Queen Mother and her Party, and drawn over to them, the Lawyers were again set to examine, How far the Power of the Regent did extend: Many published their Opinions, That the other Princes of the Blood ought to have their share in the Regency, and that the Regents might be checkt by the Courts of Parliaments, and were subject to an Assembly of the States.
The chief Point of State, then under Consideration, was, What way to proceed with the Protestants, whose Numbers grew daily, and were now more considerable, having such powerful Heads. A severe Edict came out against them in July 1561, condemning all Meetings for Religious Worship, except those that were celebrated with the Rites of the Church of Rome, banishing all the Protestant Ministers, and appointing the Bishops to proceed against Hereticks with this only mitigation of former Cruelties, That Banishment should be the highest punishment. 7 But the Nation could not bear the Execution of this: So next January there was a great Assembly called of the Princes of the Blood, the Privy Counsellors, and eight Courts of Parliament, in which the Edict that carried the name of the Month, was passed. By it, the free exercise of that Religion was tolerated, and the Magistrates were required to punish all who should hinder or interrupt it.
Davila. Not long after that, the Duke of Guise did disturb a Meeting of Protestants at Vassy, as he was on his Journey to Paris; his Servants began with reproachfull words, and from these they went to blows. It ended in a throwing of Stones, one of which hurt the Duke; but that was severely revenged, about 60 were killed, and 200 wounded, no Age or Sex being spared. Upon this he encouraged the violation of the Edict every where; so that it was universally broken. The King of Navarre joined with him in these Courses; but the Prince of Conde, that was next to him in the Royal Blood, declared for the Edicts: Many great Lawyers were of opinion, That the Regents Power was not so vast as to suspend, or break the Edict, and that therefore the People might follow any Person, much more the next Prince of the Blood, in defence of it. This Plea was yet stronger, before the Year ended, for the King of Navarre being killed, the Prince of Conde was then by the Law of France the Rightful Regent: So that the Wars that followed afterwards, till the Year 1570, had this to be said for them. That in the Opinion of very Learned Men, the King was all the while under Age, that the Edicts were broken, the Kingdom governed by a Woman, and Foreigners, against Law, and that the lawful Regent was excluded from the Government; which made King James, whose Judgment is not to be suspected in this Case, 8 always justify the Protestants in France, and excuse them from Rebellion.
This is a piece of History little understood, and generally made use of to blemish the Reformation; therefore I thought it necessary to introduce the following Relation, with this just account of these Wars, that were the pretended grounds with which the House of Guise covered their own Ambition, and hatred of the Family of Burbon.
After France had suffered all the Miseries which a course of Civil Wars, for ten years together, carries after it, the King was advised to set on foot a Treaty of Peace; not so much out of a design to quiet Matters by a happy settlement, as to ensnare the Protestants into some fatal Trap, in which they being catched, might be safely and easily destroyed. The chief Authors of this advice, were the Queen Mother, the Cardinal of Lorrain, the Duke of Nevers, the Count of Rets, and Birague; the last three were Italians, and so better fitted both for designing and carrying on so wicked a Council, to which the Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry the third, was also admitted.
They said the extirpation of Heresy might be done much cheaper than by a Civil War. It was fit first to grant the Protestants what conditions they desired, then to treat them with all possible kindness; by which their Jealousies were to be once extinguished; and a confidence being begotten in them; then to draw the chief Heads of the Party to Court, upon some specious Attractive, and there they were sure of them. The first Bait to be offered, was the marriage of the King's Sister to the King of Navarre, and if that succeded not, they were to invent still a new one, till they found that which would do the Business. All the danger of this 9 Council was, that the Pope and the King of Spain would be provok'd by it; and there might be some hazard of Tumults among the zealous People of France, if the King seemed to favor the Hereticks too much. But they reckoned, that when the Design took effect, all who might be discontented with the appearance of favour shewed to them, would be well satisfied, and the more the Pope and Spaniard complained of it, it would advance their chief end, of creating a confidence in the Protestants more effectually.
Thus were the Councils laid. The Room in which this was first projected Thuanus lib. 49. was the Council-Chamber of Blois, where 16 years after the Duke of Guise was killed, by Henry the third's Orders. And it was more fully concluded in that Chamber at St. Clou, where the same Henry the third was murdered by a Dominican.
The Design being agreed on, the Queen Mother made some of her spies, among the Protestants, assure them, that she hated the King of Spain mortally, both on her Daughters account, that was his Queen, and as was universally believed, had been poysoned by his Orders; as also upon the consideration of her own Family of Florence, to which the Spaniard was then an uneasy Neighbour: and designed.to take the Territory of Sienna out of their Hands. It was reasonable enough to believe, that upon such Motives, a Woman of her temper would set on a War with Spain. The King did also express a great inclination to the same War, and to undertake the Protection of the Netherlands; which were then under the Tyranny of the Duke of Alva's Government. This wanted not a fair pretence, Flanders having been formerly subject to the Crown of France. He also seemed weary of the greatness of the Duke of Guise and his party, which a Civil War did still encrease.10
The King and the Queen-Mother employed also in these Messages, Byron, Momorancy, Cosse, and others, who were Men of great integrity, and had much friendship for the Queen of Navarre and the Admiral, that were the Heads of the Protestant Party. The Queen of Navarre was sensible of the great advantages her Son would receive from such an Alliance. An Army was also promised for the recovery of her Kingdom from the Spaniard; which bad been easily regained, if the Crown of France had assisted her; since the Southern parts of France were almost all Protestants, who would have willingly served her against Spain. Only she being a most Religious Woman, had great apprehensions of the unlawfulness, at least the extream danger of matching her Son to one of a different Religion, therefore she took some time to consider of that part of the Proposition. The Admiral was very weary of the Civil War, it both ruined his Countrey and slackened the discipline of War, which he had formerly observed with a Roman severity.
He thought the Conquest of the Netherlands would be an easy and a great accession to the Crown; he knew there was none so likely to be employed in it as himself, and he was resolved to carry all the Souldiers of the Religion with him. And being Admiral, he also designed to raise, the greatness of the Crown both at Sea , and in the New-found World, which was then sending over an incredible deal of wealth to Spain; in which the Spaniards who had landed in Florida and killed a Colony of the French, that was setled there, had given just cause to make War upon them. Therefore as he had often expressed his being so averse to a Civil War, that he could no longer look on and see the Miseries it brought on his Country; so he was made believe, the King did in good earnest intend to assist the Flemings, which being, both 11 against the Spaniard, and in defence of those of the same Religion, he would by no means hinder.
Upon these Considerations, there was a Peace
concluded between the King and the Protestants, by which
the free exercise of their Religion was granted; some
Cautionary Towns were also put in their Hands, to be
kept by them two years, till there were a full settlement
made of the Edicts, and the other things agreed to, for
their Security. The King acted his part with all the Artifice
possible, he became much kinder to the Family of
Momorancy and the rest of the Admirals Friends and seemed
to neglect those of Lorrain. He threatened the Parliament
of Paris, because they made some difficulty in
passing the Edict in favours of the Protestants. He went
secretly to meet with Lewis Count of Nassaw; and treated
with him about the Wars of the Netherlands. He married
the Emperors Daughter, who was thought a Protestant
in his Heart. He entred in a Confederacy with
Q. Elizabeth: and the Cardinal of Chastilion (the Admirals
Brother, who had renounced his red Hat, and turned
a Protestant) being then in England was employed
to set on Foot a Treaty of Marriage between the Duke
of Anjou and the Queen: A Peace was also made with
the Princes of the Empire. And tho both the Spanish
Ambassador and the Legat did all they could to hinder
the Peace, and the Marriage of the King of Navarre, yet
they seemed to make no account of that at Court: Only
the King gave the Legat great assurances of his Fidelity to
the Apostolick See, and that all that he was doing, was for
the interest of the Catholick Religion. And taking him
one day by the Hand:
He desired him to assure the
Pope, that his design in this Marriage, was that he might
be revenged on those that were Enemies to God, and
Rebels against himself, and that he would either punish
them severely, and cut them all in pieces or lose his
Crown. All which he would do in compliance with
the Advices he had received from the Pope, who had
continually set him on to destroy them; and he saw no
way of doing it so securely, as by getting them once to
trust him, having tryed all other methods in vain. And
for the pledg of his Faith, he offered him a Ring of great
value; which the Legate refused to take, pretending that
he never took Presents from any Prince, and that the
Word of so great a King, was a better security than any
Upon all these demonstrations of Friendship made to the Protestants, it was no wonder if Persons of such candour, as the Queen of Navarre and the Admiral, were deceived. The Admiral went first to Court, where he was received by the King with the greatest shew of kindness and respect that was possible. He embraced him thrice, laid his cheek to his, squeezed his Hands, called him Father, and left nothing undone that might possess him with a firm Opinion of his Friendship. Nor was the Queen-Mother less officious to express her kindness to him. He was allowed to keep fifty Armed Gentlemen about him. An hundred thousand Franks were sent him, for furnishing his Houses that had been spoiled during the Wars. And which was more than all the rest, when Complaints were carried by him to the King, of some who violated the Edicts, great Insolencies being committed in many places; the King ordered them to be exemplarily punished. So that there was a general repining over all France, at the King's kindness to him. The King had also told him that now he had got him near him, he would never suffer him to leave him any more.
The Design succeeding so well on the Admiral; the 13 Proposition of the Marriage was also carried on; and the Queen of Navarre was next brought to Court, but soon after died (as was generally believed) of Poison, that was given her in some perfumed Gloves; to conceal which, the Chirurgeons that opened her, would not touch her side. The Cardinal of Chastilion was also at that time poisoned, which tho afterwards confessed by him that had done it, yet was not then so much as suspected.
The King seemed more and more set on the War in Flanders. He sent both to England, and Germany, to consult about Preparations for it, and had agreed with the Prince of Orange, about the Division of the Netherlands: That all on their side of Antwerp should come to the Crown of France: And what lay on the other side of it, should belong to the States. He sent a Protestant his Ambassadour to Constantinople, to engage the Grand Signior unto a War with Spain. He also furnished the Count of Nassaw with Mony, and sent some of his best Captains with him to try, if they could surprise any Towns near the Frontier, who did their part so dextrously, that Mons was surprized by the Count of Nassaw, and Valenciennes by La Noiie, according to Mezeray; tho he seems to be mistaken as to Valenciennes, for Thuanus and Davila say nothing of it, but mention Mons only. And Veremundus Frisius, who Wrote the History Printed at Edinburg, 1573. of that Massacre the year after, says, That they missed their Design in surprising Valenciennes,, upon which they went to Mons and carried it. Upon this all reckoned that the King was now engaged, and the War begun. So the King of Navarre, and the Prince of Conde, were brought to Court, and received with all the Marks of a firm Friendship, that could be invented. A Dispensation was obtained from the new Pope for the Marriage. 14 Veremundus says, Pope Pius the 5th had always opposed it, but upon the Cardinal of Alexandria's return to Rome, who went to assist in the Conclave, where Gregory the 13th was chosen, the new Pope, easily granted the Bull, which was believed to have flowed from the Information he received from that cardinal, of the King's Design in this Marriage, which to be sure his Holiness would neither obstruct nor delay. So the Bull being sent to the Cardinal of Burbon, the day was set, and the chief heads of the Protestants were all drawn into Paris, partly to assist at the solemnities of a Marriage, which they hoped would put an end to all their troubles; partly to get Charges in the Army, which all People believed would be commanded by the Admiral. Only many of the hottest of them had followed Jenlis and La Noiie into Flanders where it was intended to abandon them to the cruelty of the Duke of Alba, who had intercepted and cut off a great Body of them commanded by Jenlis. The Admiral pressed the King, to declare the War immediately, foreseeing that unless it followed suddenly his Friends that had surprized these Towns, would be destroyed, and the whole Design spoiled. But the King put him off with delays, in which he expressed much confidence in him, by telling him the secret grounds he had to distrust almost every Person about him; and that therefore he must of necessity settle his Court and Councils first, before he could enter upon such a War.
But now the Design being ripe, the Duke of Guise, to
whom it had also been communicated, was employed to
gather many desperate Men about him, who might
be fit to execute all Orders; and the thing getting into
more hands, took wind, so that they at Rochel being
informed of some suspicious Passages, wrote to the Admiral,
to disabuse him, and desired he would leave the Court,
and trust no more to the fair appearances he saw there;
since these were only the Masks of some great Mischief
that was framing. To them he wrote a long answer,
and assured them,
That the King's Heart was wholly
changed, that there was never a better Prince in the
World, and that for his own part, he would die a thousand
deaths, rather than suspect him capable of so base a
Design. Then he laid before them all the reasons which
induced him to believe the War with Spain was really
intended, and therefore he desired, that they would
lay down their groundless Jealousies. And when some
that were about him, pressed the same things upon him;
he told them plainly, He would rather be destroyed
than make a new Rupture; and would dragged at
Horse-heels through Paris, rather than begin another
Civil War. His Authority was so great, and his Experience
so approved that the whole Party submitted to
his Judgment: And he got some Cautionary Towns,
that were by the Treaty of Peace to be restored at the
end of two years, to be delivered up three Weeks before
the time was elapsed: Only the Rochellers were a
little more apprehensive, and would not receive a
On the 17th of August was the King of Navarre Married, and four days were spent in all the gallant Diversions, that are usual on such Occasions, but were now performed with more than ordinary Munificence and Joy.
Hitherto the Mine was working under-ground, and now it was time for it to play. There was nothing could be blamed in the Conduct of the Protestants, but too much Candour and too great Confidence. They knew they designed nothing, but the quiet of their 16 Country, and the greatness of the Crown. They were cajol'd with the most engaging tokens of Friendship, that ever were shewed on any such Occasion; they thought the King was sincere, and being then but coming to be of Age, was taking new Measures. And he had so covered the Cruelty of his Temper, with a shew of good Nature, that they expected they should be most happy under him. And for the Queen-Mother, tho they knew her too well to put any confidence in her; yet her Passion for her Family, and her Revenge for the poysoning of her Daughter, made them think they were also well assured of her. And indeed so deep and so refin'd a Dissimulation was perhaps never before acted. There was but one part of the Kings Deportment that could give any ground for Jealousie, the horrid and blasphemous Oaths and Imprecations, which he made use of on all occasions to persuade them of the reality of his Professions; which always raise suspicion in sober and wary Persons. These the King used so frequently, that the Writers of that Time, say, That he seldom spoke three words without some terrible Oath, or blasphemous Expression, which from his ill Example, was so spread over all France that none but the Protestants spoke in any other strain.
But now when it tell under Consideration, how their Designs should be Executed, the Queen with her two Italian Confidants, the Count de Retz , and Birague, who, next to the Protestants hated the House of Guise beyond all the World, yet dissembling it most artificially; intended that the business should be so managed, as to ruin both the Protestants, and that Family at once; Therefore they thought, that if some of their Followers would Assassinate the Admiral, the Protestants would turn their Revenge on them, and they knew the 17 Parisians, would be easily moved to rise against the Protestants; and so they reckoned, that if an attempt was made upon the Admiral, by any of the Duke of Guise's Creatures, his Party would presently take a severe Revenge on the Head of the House of Guise, and the Parisians would be soon brought out to destroy them.
They concealed this part of their Design, and in the Cabinet-Council only proposed, that the Duke of Guise would find some person to kill the Admiral, which should pass like an act of private Revenge; and they said, they did not doubt, but the whole party would upon that take arms, and thereupon there would be a good colour given, to bring out the City of Paris upon them. The Duke if Guise being young and hot, and boiling with Revenge for his Father's Blood, undertook it, not considering that himself might perish in the first heat of action, as the Queen hoped he should. He pitch'd on Maurenel, who had formerly assassinated another person, and placed him in the House of one that had been his Tutor, near St. German of Auxerre whence the Admiral used to pass, as he went or came from the Louvre.
It was not necessary to execute their Design quickly, for the Protestants were beginning to apprehend some danger. They saw the King was resolved, to let those who had surprized the Towns in Flanders perish, without sending them any Relief. The Admiral was resolved to take leave within a few days: His Friend, the Duke of Montmorency, tho no Protestant, yet saw the Storm coming, and retired to his House: and many little Circumstances occurred, which gave them all just cause of fear: So the other Party had no time to lose. Therefore on the 22d of August, about Noon as the Admiral was going Home from the Court, reading a Paper that he had 18 in his hand, the Assassinate that was laid for him, shot him from the House, where the Duke of Guise had placed him; his Fuzee was charged with three Bullets, that were believed to be poysoned. One of these carried away part of the Fore-finger of his right Hand; the other stuck in his left Arm, and the third missed him, He received it with great presence of mind, and pointed to the House from whence it came; he also sent one to the King to give him notice of it, and then ordered his Arm to be bound up, and so went Home leaning on his Servants. Some run to the House and broke into it, but found none there, save a Lacquey, and a Maid, and the Fuzee, which the Murderer left behind him, when he made his escape. The King was in the Tenis-Court when the news were brought him: He personated a deep resentment, and said in a Tone that seemed full of affliction, and with a terrible Oath, Shall I never have quiet! and so threw away his Racquet, and went out in a rage. The Duke of Guise did also counterfeit some Surprise.
But they missed their designs both ways, for neither was the Admiral killed, nor did the Protestants fly out into any disorder The King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde came upon this to the King to complain, and desired leave to go out of Town, since Men were not safe so near the Court. The King seemed to resent it, more than they did, and with the horriblest Oaths he could think of swore he would execute such a Revenge on all that were found guilty of it, whoever they were, that it should never be forgotten; and desired them to stay and be Witnesses of it. The Queen-Mother made also shew of inflaming his Rage with most vehement Expressions, so that they were persuaded to stay. The King ordered the Murderer to be pursued, the two 19 Servants to be Examined, and all the Gates of Paris (except two) to be kept shut. The Admirals carriage on this occasion, was suitable to the rest of his behaviour, and equal to what the greatest Heroes had ever shewed. Ambrose Parè, the famous Surgeon, dressed his Wound, he made the Incision into his Arm, that he might take out the Bullet, and did cut off his Finger for fear of a Gangreen: But his Scissars not being sharp enough, he put him to extream pain, and did not cut it off but at the third reprise: during all which, the Admiral expressed no impatience nor anger. But as Parè told Thuanus, he said to Mr. Maur a Minister that stood by. Now I perceive that I am beloved of God since I suffer these Wounds for his most holy Name. And during the Operation, he often repeated these words, O my God, forsake me not, and withdraw not thy wonted Favour from me! And whispered one that was holding his Arm, in the Ear, that he should distribute an hundred Crowns among the poor of Paris.
Next day Damvil, Cosse, and Villars, came to visit and comfort him, but confessed it was needless, for he expressed great resolution of mind and readiness to die, only he desired to see the King, and speak with him before he died. Damvil and Teligny (the Admirals Son in Law ) carried this Message to the King, who very readily yielded to it. The Queen-Mother apprehending the great Genius of the Admiral, and fearing lest he should turn her Son to better Councils, would needs go with the King. His two Brothers, with twelve of the chief Persons in the Court, waited also on him, to make a shew of putting the more Honour on the Admiral, but really to watch the King, that he might have no opportunity of speaking with him alone. When the King came to his Bed-side, he expressed the greatest tenderness possible, and in his Looks, and the 20 tone of his Voice counterfeited a most profound sorrow, and said to him, You, my Father, have received the Wound, but I feel the smart of it, and will punish it in so severe a manner, that the like was never seen. The Admiral thanked him, and told him, By his Wound, he might well perceive, who were the Authors of the Troubles of France. He pressed him earnestly to go on with the War in Flanders, and not leave all those Gallant Persons to the Duke of Alva's Insolence and Cruelty, who had trusted to his Protection. He complained of the Violation of the Edict in several parts of France; and desired the King, to consider how much it concerned him both in Honour and Interest, to keep his Faith inviolated. The King gave him full assurances of this, but avoided the discourse of Flanders, and with repeated Oaths told him, he would punish this Fact against him, as if it had been done against himself. Then the Admiral desired to speak privately with the King, which lasted not long; for the Queen-Mother, apprehending what the subject of his Discourse might be, came to the Bed-side and told the King, that so long a Conversation would much endanger the Admirals health, and so broke it off. Yet it seems, as short as it was, it made some Impression, for when she asked the King, what it was that he had said to him? He answered, He had advised him to Reign himself, and he was resolved to follow it. When this was over, the King asked the Admirals Friends, and the Physicians many questions about his Health, and proposed for his greater security, the carrying him to the Louvre. But the Physicians said, he could not be safely removed. So after he had staied an hour he left him, during which time he acted the part, he intended to play, so well, that all the Witnesses were satisfied with the Sincerity and Passion he expressed.21
The Court of Parliament examined the Maid, and Lackquey, that were taken in the House from whence he was shot, about the Murtherer: and many presumptions appeared against the Duke of Guise, whose Servants they found, had brought him to that House, and had provided an Horse for his escape. The King wrote that same day both to his Ambassadours in foreign parts, and to the Governours of the Provinces, shewing them what had befallen the Admiral, and how much he resented it. The next day being the 23d, the Duke of Guise and his Uncle the Duke of Aumale, came and desired leave to go out of Town. The King by his Looks and Carriage seemed to abhor them; and said, they might do what they pleased; but as they went away, he said, they might go whither they would, but he should find them out, if they appeared to be guilty of that Fact. And so they mounted on Horse-back and rode to the Port St. Anthony, as if they had intended to go out of Town, but came back to Guise-house: and began to raise a great stir in Paris. They called many about them, and sent their Agents all over the Town, and sent Arms to divers places. When News of this was brought to the Admiral, he sent to the King to desire a Guard, so 50 were sent under the Command of Cosseins, one of his bitterest Enemies. But to cover the matter better, some of the King of Navarres Swisses, were sent to Guard within his House. The King did also order all the Papists that lay near his House, to remove their Lodgings, that the Protestants might have conveniency to be about him, and gather together if there should be any Tumult. He also desired the King of Navarre, and the Prince of Conde would gather about them their best Friends, that they might be prepared to defend themselves, in case the Duke of Guise should raise any disorders.22
All this seemed not only sincere, but kind; and by these Arts were the Protestants, not only secured from their fears, but had great hopes raised in them: And thus the greatest part or them were brought within the Net, that was laid for their ruine. Only the Vice-Lord (or Vidam) of Chartres saw through the disguise: And a Council of their Party being held in the Admirals Chamber, he spoke freely, and told them, the Admirals Wound was the first Act of the Tragedy, and more would soon follow. Therefore he proposed, that he might be carried to Chastilion, ill as he was, in which there was less danger, than to stay in a place where they and all their Friends would be suddenly destroyed. Teligny and others, that were fully perswaded of the Kings good Intentions, opposed this much, and said, it would shew such a distrust of the King, as might for ever lose him, that was then beginning to favour their Party, But the Vidam answered, that stay who would, he would not stay longer than to Morrow, for he was assured their stay would be fatal to themselves, and all their Friends.
There was a perfidious Person in that Assembly, one Bouchavannes, who was an Intelligencer to the Queen-Mother and carried presently an account of their Consultation to her. She and her Party were now pressed with time, therefore the execution of their Design could be no longer delayed than the next Night. So the Council met and resolved, that not only the Persons of Quality of the Religion should be killed, but that every one of what condition soever, that were of that Profession should be Massacred. It was debated long, whether the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde should perish with the rest? for the' Duke of Guise his Party had a great mind to destroy the whole Family of Bourbon: but as for the King of Navarre, it was thought contrary to the Laws of Nations, of Hospitality, 23 and of Nature, to murder a King, that had come under trust to the Court, and was now so nearly allied to the King: and was guilty of no Crime, but what he had from his Education. So it was resolved, he should be spared, and made change his Religion. But for the Prince of Conde, he was naturally fierce, and that temper, joined with the memory of his Father, made them less inclined to save him; Only the Duke of Nevers, who had married his Wifes Sister, interposed vigorously for him, and Undertook that he should become a good Catholick, and a faithful Subject: And he prevailed, tho with great difficulty, that he should be spared. But for the rest, it was agreed on, to raise the Town of Paris, and set them upon them, who were inflamed into such a rage against that Party, that they knew it would be an easy work to engage them in any sort of Cruelty against them.
The conduct of it was committed to the Duke of Guise, who undertook it very chearfully. He did first communicate it to the Guards, and ordered them to keep a strict Watch, both about the Louvre and the places where the Admiral and his Friends were lodged, that none might escape; then he desired the Provost (or Major), of Paris, and the chief Magistrates and Officers of the City, would meet at Midnight in the Town-house, where they should receive their Orders. They met accordingly, and it was intimated to them, that the King was now resolved to destroy the Hereticks, who had so long distracted his Kingdom: that therefore every one should go to his Quarter, and have all People in readiness, with the greatest secrecy that might be, and that they should have many Torches and Flambeaus ready, to light out at their Windows. The Sign should be a white Linnen Sleeve on their left Arm, and a white Cross in their Caps: and at the tolling of the great Bell of the Palace, which should 24 be done near the break of Day, they should light their Torches and march.
The King in the mean while, was under great irresolution. The horror of the Fact. the infamy that would follow it, and the danger he might be in, if it either miscarried, or were not fully executed, could not but fill him with Confusion. But the Queen, who had overcome all the impressions of Tenderness and Pity, that are natural to her Sex, hearing of it, came to him, and studied to confirm him in his former resolutions, representing to him all the trouble they had given him in the former Wars, and that he might expect yet worse, if he would let go this opportunity, of securing the quiet of his whole Reign. She knew how to work upon him so well, that in end she prevailed, and the Kings swore deeply he would go through with it. Upon that, she being impatient, and fearing a new turn in the Kings Thoughts, made the Bell of St. Germans he tolled, which was the warning for tolling that in the Palace.
This fatal signal was given the Morning of the 24th of August, St. Bartholomews day, being Sunday; and was followed with a general Rising of the whole City of Paris. The March of Soldiers, the noise of their Arms, and the lightning of so many Torches, awakened the poor Protestants, who now saw visibly that their ruine was both near and inevitable. Some of them went out to the Streets, and asked what the matter might be, of so great a Concourse, and so many Torches and armed Men, at such an hour? Some answered, as they had been instructed to say, till all things should be ready, that there was to be a Mock-Siege of a Fort in the Louvre, for the Kings diversion. So they went forward to satisfy their Curiosity, but quickly found it was a real Massacre, and not a Mock-Siege that was intended, and they were the first 25 Sacrifices of that bloody Festivity. There were now about threescore thousand Men brought together. The Duke of Guise, with his Uncle Aumale, resolved first to satisfie their revenge on the Admiral, and therefore went to his Gate, where Cosseins kept guard, on design to betray him the more effectually. He called to open the Gate; which being done, they killed the Porter and broke into the Court. But the King of Navarre's Swisses baricado'd the next Gate, and made some resistance. This dismal noise awakened the Admiral, who at first apprehended, it might be some Tumult of the Populace, which he hoped the King's Guards would easily disperse. But when he perceived it encreased, then he saw he was to be destroyed. So he took his Night-Gown and got up: Those that were about him were amazed at the constancy of his mind, his Minister Merlin prayed; and when that was ended. He said to those that were about him, I see now what this will end in, but I am prepared to meet Death, which I have often looked for, but was never afraid of: I account my self happy since it is so near me, having in this my Death, through the Grace of God the hope of Eternal Life. I need no more the help of Men, therefore farewel, my Friends, and try how you can save your selves, that you be not involved in my ruin, lest by my death I make more Widows than one: I have help enough in the presence of God, into whose hands I commit my Soul, which is soon to be discharged out of this Body. All this he spoke without the least commotion or appearance of fear. Then those about him left him, and got up to the Roof of the House. By that time the Murderers had brook in, and seven of them being all in Armour, came into his Chamber. Besme, that had been one of the Duke of Guises Grooms, advanced towards him; to whom he said, Young Man, you ought to reverence my gray Hairs, but you cannot shorten 26 my Life much. They all stood a while amazed at such undaunted courage, and so composed a behaviour, which as one of them told Thuanus, was the most extraordinary thing that ever he saw his whole Life. Besme did first thrust him into the Belly, and then cut him over the Face: at which he fell, and the others struck at him, till he was quite dead; The Duke of Guise being below in the Court, heard the noise, and called to them to throw him out at the Window, which Besme and another did. And either the Duke, or the Count of Angoulesme (for it is differently reported) wiped his Face, which was disfigured with Blood, to know if it was he indeed, and perceiving it was so, trampled on his Belly, and went away. An Italian cut off his Head, and carried it first to the Queen-Mother, and then embalmed it, and sent it to Rome, (not only as the Protestants say, which is disengeniously added by Mezeray, for Thuanus affirms it). Then all the ignominy and barbarity possible was exercised about the dead Carcase, his Fingers and Hands were cut off, his Body dragged about the Streets, thrown in the Sein, and hanged up in Chains his Feet uppermost: and a fire was set under to burn it, but it only dried it and did not consume it. Some days after Monmorancy caused it to be taken down secretly, and buried it in his Chappel at Chantilly.
Thus fell the Admiral, that for all noble Qualities necessary, either to a great Captain, or a compleat Statesman, may be equalled to any of the Ancient Greeks or Romans; and for Piety and other Christian Vertues, was the Wonder of the Age he lived in.
But the Cruelty of the Duke of Guise and his Party, was rather kindled than satiated with his Blood, So he and his Company went out to the streets, and cried aloud, It was the King's Command they should go on, and finish 27 what they had begun. And so the Multitude was let loose, to murder all that were of the Religion, and the plunder of their Houses was to be their reward. This was followed with the most enraged and cruel Massacre that ever was heard of. It exceeded all that either the Heathens had done, or their Poets had feigned. Every Man seemed a Fury, and as if they had been transformed into Tigres and Wolves, out-did the very cruelty of Beasts of Prey. The bare relation of Matters of Fact, is beyond all that Eloquence can invent, by which it may be aggravated: and indeed a strict Narrative of what was really done, will appear some Ages hence, as a Tragical description of an imaginary Cruelty, rather than a true History. Five hundred Persons of Quality were murdered, and in all 4000 according to Thuanus and Mezeray. Perefixe the late B. of Paris says, there were twenty Lords of note killed, and twelve hundred Gentlemen, and between three and four thousand others. But Veremundus says, they were ten thousand. No Age or Sex was spared; Husbands and Wives were killed in one anothers Arms, after they saw their Children murthered at their feet. One butcher'd an innocent Babe, as it was playing with his Beard. Men of fourscore were not left to the course of Nature, but hewen down. Nor did a single death satisfie their brutal rage, but they made them die many deaths, before death relieved them. One would cut off the Nose, another the Ear, a third the Hands, and a fourth the Arms of the same Person, before they would be so merciful as to kill him out-right. Those that fled up to the tops of their Houses, were made leap over to the Streets, where they were knocked down with Halberts. Such as ran out to escape through dark Passages, were either instantly killed, or driven to the Sein, where they took 28 pleasure to kill and drown them with much art. Dead Bodies floated all along the Seine, and were lying in heaps thorough the Streets. In many places the Kennels ran Blood. There was nothing to be heard but the howlings of mangled and dying Persons; or the horrid blasphemies of their accursed Butchers. They searched all the Corners of their Houses, as Hounds persuing for prey. No Man delivered his Friend; no Host had pity on his guest; only one brave Man saved his Enemy.
The Louvre it self was full of Blood, and the dead Corpes of those whom the King of Navarre and Prince of Conde had brought about them for their security: but where they expected a Sanctuary, they found a Massacre. It is needless to reckon up the Names of those noble Persons who were then destroyed, for the memory of Rochfoucant [Rochefoucault], Teligny, Renel, Piles, Pluvial, Baudine, Guerchy, Lavardin, Nompar or La Force, and five hundred will ever be sacred; yet in this Nation where these Families are not known, the recital would be tedious and useless. Of all those Guerchy alone died with a Sword in his Hand, but could hurt none of those that assaulted him, they having Armour on them.
This horrible Confusion, gave the Allarm to those who lay in the Suburbs on the other side of theSeine to make haste and be gone; and they, having no suspicion of the King himself, were thinking to have gone over and sheltered themselves within the Louvre. The Parisians had now lost all order, and were fallen to plunder, so that they could not be brought together: Therefore the Duke of Guise sent over some of the Swisse Guards in Boats to kill them, and himself followed with some Horse; and had it not been for the mistake of him who brought the wrong Keys of the Gate, thorough which he was to pass, they had been all surprized before 29 they had resolves what course to take. But day appearing, they saw enough to convince them, it was not time to delay any more: So in the greatest confusion possible, they got on Horseback, and fled away. The Duke of Guise pursued them, but they were out of his reach, and not being strong enough to defend themselves, and keep in a Body, they dispersed and escaped.
But the fury that they fled from continued in Paris all that day, and the two following days: In which nothing was left undone that ingenious and desperate cruelty could suggest. Six hundred Houses were pillaged. And after such a glut of Blood, Mens minds becoming savage, they fell to revenge private Enmities,, even upon their fellow Papists; many of whom were in the end also murdered, but those were chiefly Monorancy [sic] his Friends, who were thought cold in the matter of Religion.
The most enraged of their Blood-hounds were Tanchou, Pesou, and Crosier a Goldsmith; the two former drove many to the Mills, and forced them to leap from thence into the River. Pesou boasted to the King himself, that he had made an hundred and fifty leap that night. And Thuanus says, he often heard Crosier say, That with that Hand he had killed 400: by which it seems he was thought so sanctified, that he would live no longer a common life, but as a sacred Person sent to an Hermitage; where yet his cruelty left him not; for during the Warrs of the League, he drew a Flemish Merchant into his Cell and murdered him there. Thus were the Protestants destroyed in Paris, with a Treachery and Cruelty that the uncivilized Nations had never shewed to one another, nor had the Heathens been ever guilty of any thing like it towards the Christians. The Precedent which the Church of Rome had formerly given 30 in the Massa[c]re of the Albigenses, was the likest thing in History to it for Barbarity; but never had Treachery and Cruelty met together in such a manner before this execrable day.
At Court all those generous Impressions which follow noble Blood, seemed extinguished. Men threw off Humanity, and Women had neither compassion nor modesty. The Queen-Mother and her Ladies took pleasure to look upon the most detestable Objects, and greedily beheld some obscene and indecent sights; but it is not fit to write all that was then done. About nine of the Clock, the King sent for the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde, and told them he was forced to use that severe Remedy to put an end to War and Rebellion, and had therefore destroyed those, whom he could not induce to obey: And for them, tho he had good reason to hate them mortally, since they had led on a Rebellion against him, yet in consideration of their Blood and Alliance, he was resolved to spare them if they would change their Religion, otherwise they must look for no better usage than their Servants had met with. The King spake this with great rage, so that the King of Navarre being terrified, said, That if the King would save their lives, and leave them their Consciences free, they should in all other things be commanded by him. But the Prince of Conde answered more boldly, That he might dispose of his Life and Estate as he pleased, but for his Religion, he owed an account of it to God alone, from whom he had received the knowledge of it. This resolute Answer put the King in such a rage that, after had treated him with most abusive language, he swore, That if he did not change within three days, he should hang for it. And so ordered them to be strictly guarded. At the same time there were Expresses dispatched over 31 all France to set on the People both in the Towns and Country, to imitate the example of the Parisians, and destroy the Hereticks. Yet the King either out of some remorse or shame, wrote to his Ambassadours and the Governours of the Provinces, that same day: That the Duke of Guise, and others that adhered him, having a great interest in the City of Paris, and apprehending that the Admirals Friends were resolved to revenge his Wound, had therefore, both to secure themselves, and to prosecute their former Quarrels, raised the City of Paris: and had broke through the Guards set to defend the Admiral, and killed him, and many other Persons of Quality; the rage of the People being such, that the Kings Guards could do nothing to repress it: Therefore he was forced to keep himself within the Louvre but had, as soon as was possible, quieted the Town; so that all things were put to order again, and he was resolved still to maintain his Edict, made for the free Exercise of their Religion. Veremundus has printed the Copies of the Letters, directed to the Governours of Burgundy and Tourain, and to the Town of Bourges, with the Memorial sent to the Swiss Cantons, all to the same purpose, bearing date the 24th of August. And in another Letter the King wrote, That he had made up a new agreement with the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde, and was resolved to ran the same hazard with them, for revenging the death of his Cousin the late Admiral. But the House of Guise would not bear this, and made the King own, that all was done by his express Orders. So on the 26th of August, the King went to the Court of Parliament, and after an invidious repetition of all the Troubles of his Reign, which yet he said, he intended to have quieted by the late Treaty of Peace, he discovered that the Admiral had conspired to kill him, his 32 Brothers, and the King of Navarre, and to set up the young Prince of Conde, whom he also designed afterwards to kill, that so the whole Royal Family being destroyed, he might make himself King: and since extream Diseases required extream remedies, he was forced to do what he had done; and concluded, that all was done by his express Order and Command. Thuanus the Father, tho he abhorred the thing, yet out of fear and compliance, made a base flattering Speech, of the necessity of dissimulation in Princes, and did much commend that saying of Lewis the 11th. He who knows not how to Dissemble, knows not how to Reign. And Pibrac the Attourney General moved the King, that the Declaration he had made might be entred in their Registers, and that strict Orders might be given, to put an end to the Blood and Confusion with which the City was filled: Both which the King ordered to be done. The Declaration which was thereupon published on the 28th, is printed by Veremundus. By it the King charged all Persons, under pain of Death, through the whole Kingdom, to do no injury to the Protestants. And at the same time declared it Capital for the Protestants to have any Assemblies; This was believed to be done rather on design to destroy, than save the Hugonets: That they being but of apprehension of danger, might stay all at Home, and so be more easily Massacred, On the 28th of August a Jubilee was granted to all, who had been in this Butchery; and they were commanded to go every where to Church; and bless God, for the success of that Action. So little relenting had they, after all these black Crimes, that they imagined they had done God good service: And to that height did their Impudence rise, that they presumed to address to that Merciful Being, who abhors cruel and blood-thirsty Men, and that with 33 hands not only defiled with Blood, but boasting of it as a Sacrifice offered to God, which had been a fitter Oblation to him that was a liar and a Murderer from the beginning, than the God of Truth and Father of Mercies.
One remarkable Passage fell out, which occasioned much Discourse, and was variously constructed by the several Parties. On the day of the Massacre, about Noon, a white Thorn in the Church-yard of the Innocents, that was almost dead, and had no Leaves on it, flourished all of a sudden. This was published through the Streets of Paris, as a Sign, that Heaven approved their actions, and was made use of to animate them to new heats in their Cruelty: For every one was set on to kill one or other, that he might be honoured with the sight of so unusual a thing. Some thought it might come from the nature of the Tree, and it was said, such things were not extraordinary in Trees of that kind, a little before they became quite dead. Others believed it might be the Trick of some Monk, who pouring either hot Water, or some prepared Water at the Root of it, might have done the feat. But the Rable did universally ascribe it to some miraculous Causes, only they differed about that to which it referred. The Protestants said, it signified their Innocence, and that a new Troop of Innocents were sent to Heaven, and therefore the Tree in the Church-yard of the Innocents flourished afresh. The Papists said, it signified the joy in Heaven at that days work, and that the Church was to flourish again by the death of the Hereticks.
But leaving these discantings on this seeming Miracle, Morvillier that was Lord Keeper, advised, That for justifying, or at least mitigating the Censures that might be made on these proceedings, there should be a 34 Process carried on, against the dead Admiral, to prove him guilty of a Conspiracy against the King and the Rayal Blood; and there were some few Protestants kept Prisoners, who had been taken out of the English Ambassadors Lodgings, who to save themselves, they hop'd might he brought to accuse the Admiral. But while this Mock-Process was making, there was a real prosecution of the like Cruelties in many other parts of France.
At Meaux, a little Town not far from Paris, they began on the 25th of August, being Monday, and spent the whole Week in shedding more Blood. They killed two hundred; many of those were Women, whom they Forced before they Murdered them. At Troye in Champaigne, about the same number was killed. At Orleans, a thousand were also killed. Six or seven hundred at Roan, tho the Governour did what he could to hinder it. At Bourges, Nevers, and Charite, all they found were killed. At Tholouse, two hundred were killed. At Burdeaux they were for some time in suspence, being afraid of the Rochellers, but the Priests did so inflame the Multitude, that the Governour could not restrain their rage longer, than the beginning of October, so then they Massacred all that they could find. This beginning, was followed by all the Towns on the Garvinne. But next to Paris, Lions was the place where the most barbarous Cruelties were acted. The Governour had a mind to save the Protestants, and gathered together about six or seven hundred of them, whom he lodged in several Prisons that so he might preserve them: And to give the People some content, he granted them the pillage of their Houses; But they were so heated by the Clergie, and by some that were sent from the Court, to promote the Massacre every where, that they broke open the Prisons and murdered them all, 35 dragged their Bodies through the Streets, and opened the Bellies of the fattest of them, to sell their Greese to Apothecaries. And when they could do no more, they threw them into the River of Rhosne, which was coloured with the Blood, and filled with the Carcases of the slain. These Examples were followed in many more places, but detested by others, who were not Papists enough, to overcome Nature and all Morality. The Governours in some places restrained the People; and in many places the Souldiers, tho more inured to Blood, defended the Protestants from the Rable, that were set on by the Priests. The Answer the Governour of Bayonne made, deserves to be remembred, who wrote to the King in these Words.
I Have communicated your Majesty's Command to the Inhabitants of the Town and the Souldiers of the Garrison. I find many good Citizens, and brave Souldiers, but never a Hangman here: And therefore in their Name and my own, I humbly beg your Majesty would employ our Arms, and Lives in things, which are possible for us to do, how dangerous soever they may be. and we will spend the last drop of our blood in your Service.
Mezeray. This gave great Offence at Court, and soon after, both he and the Count of Tendes, Governour of Provence, who had also given Orders, that there should be no Massacre made within his Jurisdiction, died very suddenly: And it was believed they were both poisoned. In all there were, as Thuanus says, Thirty thousand massacred over France, tho he believes they were not quite so many. Mezeray estimates them at five and twenty Hist. Hen 4th. Thousand. But Perefixè says, that over all France, 36 near a hundred thousand were butchered, And Veremundus says, that besides those who were killed, an hundred Thousand Persons were set a begging, most of those being Widows and Orphans Many of them fled to the places of strength in France, and great numbers went out of the Kingdom. For when they had escaped the first rage of the Massacre, they clearly perceived the design of their Enemies, was to extirpate them Root and Branch. And tho the King at first declared he would observe the Edict inviolably, they had learned from sad experience, how little his Faith was to be depended on, and they were further convinced of it by fresh Proofs. For the King pressed the King of Navarre, and the Prince of Conde very hard, to change their Religion: the former was tractable and hearkned to instruction; but the latter continued resolute and would hear nothing. This put the King once into such a Rage, that he called for his Arms, and was going in Person, either to kill him, or see him killed; had not his vertuous Queen, who had been instructed by her Father, to abhor all cruel Proceedings about Religion, cast herself at his Feet, and with many Tears diverted him from so ignominious an Action. But he sent for him and said only these three words to him, Mass, Death, or the Bastil. Yet he generously resolved to suffer Death, or perpetual Imprisonment, rather than go to Mass, had they not found out a Tool fit to work on him. One Sureau des Rosiers, that had been Minister of the Protestants at Orleans, had now to save his Life, changed his Religion; But to have some reputation in it, pretended that he had resolved to have done it sooner, tho when that fear was over, he returned to them again, but was never much considered after that. He was therefore employed to perswade the Prince of Conde: and what by his endeavours, and what by fear of Death, 37 both the King of Navarre and he went to Mass, and wrote Letters full of Submission and Obedience to the Pope; tho they were no sooner out of that Snare, than they declared that what had been obtained of them, was extorted by force.
This being done, the King sent his Orders over all France, bearing date the 22d of September, to turn all Persons out of any considerable Imployments, that would not renounce their Religion, and a long form of Abjuration was sent with it, which was to be the Test: both which are printed by Veremundus.
The Process against the Admiral was carried on before the Parliament of Paris, and (without any proofs that ever were published) they on the 27th of October, judged him "guilty of a Conspiracy against the King and his Crown; And therefore ordained his Body to be hanged, if it could be found; or if not, that he should be hanged in Effigie: his House of Chastilion to be razed, and a Pillar set up with an Inscription to defame his Memory, his Blood was also attainted, and his Children declared ignoble and incapable of any Priviledges in France." And the sentence concluded with an Order, for celebrating St. Bartholomews day in all time coming, with Processions and public Thanksgivings for the Discovery and Punishment of that Conspiracy. There were also two other Persons of Quality, Cavagnes and Briquemant who had been dealt with to accuse the Admiral, but they would not save themselves by so base a ransom; so they were both condemned as Complices with him. But when the sentence was pronounced against them, Thuanus, what was an Eye-Witness, says, Briquemant cried out, when that part of the Judgment was read that concerned his Children; Ah Innocents! what have they done? and then he, who for 50 years together had served 38 in the Warrs, with a high and approved Valour, being then 70, what for fear of Death, what out of pity to his Children, would have done any thing, to have saved, himself. He sent the King word, first that he would put Rochel in his Hands, if he would spare his Life: But that being rejected, he offered to accuse the Admiral, to preserve himself. But neither was that considered. All that while, his Fellow-Sufferer Cavagnes continued most serious in his Devotions, and for three hours together, was either Praying or reciting some Psalms: and expressed no concern for his Life, his thoughts being wholly employed about Eternity. He encouraged Briquemant to die as he had lived, and to turn himself to God, and not to stain so honourable a Life, as he had led, with an ignominious end. And he seeing, he must die, recollected his Thoughts, and seemed ashamed of his former abject behaviour, and composed and prepared himself for Death. They both were carried to the place of Execution in Hurdles, where they not only suffered the reproches of the Multitude, as they went along (who threw Filth and Clay at them with their most scurrilous Language) but Death it self with much Christian Patience and Magnanimity. They were hanged at the Greve, and their Bodies, after they were dead, were barbarously mangled by the cruel Multitude. With them the brave Admiral was hanged in Effigie, whose Innocence, as well as their own, they did to their last Breath assert. The King who delighted in such bloody Spectacles, did not only look on himself, with the Queen-Mother, and the Courts but forced the King of Navarre likewise to be a Witness of it.
It is needless to say much, for evincing the Admiral's Innocence, for all the Writers of the time acknowledg, the Process was only to cover the infamy of the Massacre. 39 And Thuanus has so fully demonstrated it, that none can so much as doubt of it. If the Admiral had any such design, why came he to Court? Why to Paris, where he knew he had few Friends, and a vast number of mortal Enemies? and why did he desire a Guard from the King? But since they could not find a better colour for so foul a Business, they must make use of the best they had; They took another course to stop the Queen of England's resentments, who besides the common Cause of Religion, had a particular esteem for the Admiral, for they shewed a Memorial, which he had given the King to perswade the War of Flanders, to Walsingham (the ever renowned Secretary of State) then her Ambassador in France; in which one of the reasons was; "That if the King would not receive these oppressed Provinces into his Protection, they would throw themselves into the Queen of England's Hands ; and if the English made themselves Masters of them, or of any considerable Ports in them, they would be again uneasy and formidable Neighbours to France which would thereby lose the great security they had in taking Calice out of their Hands." When Walsingham read this, and was asked, what he thought of the Admirals Friendship to his Mistress, he answered, as became so great a Man. "That he could not say much of his Friendship to the Q.of England, but he was sure, it appeared from that, what a faithful Subject he was to the King of France."
A Week after this was done, the King compleated the Treachery of this Precedure: for by his Letters directed to the Governours of the Provinces, bearing date the 3d of November, He declared he would Tolerate no Religion, but the Roman Catholick in all his Dominions. Upon which the following Civil Wars began, and in excuse of them, I shall only say, that 40 besides the barbarous and perfidious treatment the Protestants had now received, they had this legal Warrant for standing on their own defence, that by the former Treaty the King granted them Cautionary Towns, for Pledges of the observation of the Edict. And it is certain, that if a Prince grants his Subjects Cautionary Towns for their Security, he does thereby relax their Alleagiance to him, and gives them a right to defend themselves, if the Agreement upon which these Pledges were given, should come to be broken.
This is the true and just account of that foul and treacherous Massacre, even as it is represented by the Historians of that Age and Church, who can neither deny nor excuse the Infamy of it; tho some rejoyced at it, and others wrote in defence of it. The King gloried so much in it, that three Meddals were struck to perpetuate the memory of it. In one, Hercules is both with his Club, and a Flambeau, fighting against the seven-headed Serpent, with this Motto: Ne ferrum temnat, simul ignis obsto. On, the reverse, the King with his Hand, supports two Crowned Pillars, ready to fall, with this Motto. Mira fides, lapsas relevat manus una Columnas. Hereby intimating, that Heresy was the Serpent, which was to be destroyed by main Force, and by Fire: And that by this Act the King had supported Religion and Justice. In the second, the King sits in his Chair of State, with a Sword in his right Hand, and an Hand on the Head of a Scepter in his left. And many Heads lying about his Feet, with this Motto. Virtus in Rebelles. On the Reverse, were the Arms of France, between two Pillars and two Laurel Branches, with this Motto, Virtus excitavit Justitiam. The third had, on the one side, a Woman environed with Rays, and a Book open in one Hand, and a Palm in the other, and at her 41 Feet many Heads in Flames, with this Motto, Subducendis rationibus. The Reverse was the same with the first. The Signification of this was Religion triumphing over Heresy.
But this was only a false shew of Joy, for he was ininvardly [sic] tormented with the horrors of a guilty Conscience which the effusion of so much Blood did justly raise in him; so that being often troubled with Visions, he was frequently heard say, Ah! my poor Subjects, what had you done? But I was forced to it. The strange manner of his Death, looked like a signal Judgment from Heaven for that bloody day; for after a long Sickness, which was believed the effect of a lent Poison given him by the Queen-Mother, Blood not only came out through all the Conduits of his Body, but through the very Pores, so that he was sometimes found, all bathed in his own Blood. And he that had made his kingdom swim with Blood, died thus wallowing in his own.
All the servile Pens of the Lawyers, and the bitter ones of enraged Priests, were also set on work, to appear in Defence of it; Of whose Writings Thuanus gives a full account. One mercenary Protestant was also hired, to excuse, if not to defend it. I have never been able to meet with any of these Books, only Rosseus that wrote in defence of the Holy League, calls it the Justice of St. Bartholomews day. And Andreas Endemon Johannes does also commend it.
The Arguments they used, have been formerly glanced at. The late Civil Wars, the pretended Conspiracy of the Admiral; the necessity of using desperate Remedies in extream Cases; and the Sovereign Power of Kings, were what the Lawyers could pretend. But the Divines had a better Plea, that by one General Council, 42 all Hereticks were to be extirpated. And by another, Faith was not to be kept with them. And it cannot be denied, but this is unanswerable, according to the Principles of the Roman Church. The Protestants were not wanting to their own Cause, but answered these Books, and sufficiently discovered the impudent Allegations of those shameless Persons, who hired themselves out to defend so horrid an Action.
Maximilian the 2nd, the Emperor, is the Person whose Judgment we have least reason to suspect. He was the King of France his Father-in-Law, and both by Blood and Alliance was joined to the Crown of Spain, yet he in a private Letter, writing to Scuendi his chief Minister in Hungary, has delivered his sense of this Matter so sincerely and fully; And that whole Letter is so excellently well written, and shews so much true piety, and so rare a temper of mind, that I shall not fear the Reader's censure Comingii Collectio, p. 278. for inserting it at its full length. It is but in one Book that I know, and that is very scarce.
I Received your Letter, and took in good part your Christian and Friendly Condolance for my late Sickness. The Eternal God, in whose hands are all things, do with me according to his Will. I bless him for every thing that befalls me. He only knows best what is healthful and profitable, and what is hurtful to me; I do patiently and chearfully acquiesce in his Divine Pleasure. And indeed Matters go so in this World, that a Man can have little pleasure or quiet in them: for every where there is nothing to be found but trouble, treachery, and foul dealing. God pity us, and deliver his Church from these mischiefs. It were no 43 wonder, if from such a prospect of Affairs, a Man should become stupid or mad; of which I could say much to you. I begin to recover, and am now so strong, that I walk about with a Stick. God be blessed in all his Works.
For that strange thing which the French have lately acted, most tyrannically against the Admiral and his Friends, I am far from approving it: and it was a great grief to me, to hear that my Son-in-Law had been perswaded to that vile Massacre; tho 1 know that others reign rather than he; yet that is not sufficient to excuse him, nor to palliate such a wickedness. I would to God he had asked my advice, I should have given him faithful and fatherly Counsel, and he should never have had my consent to this Crime, which has cast such a blemish on him, that he will never wash it off.
God forgive them that lie under such guilt. I apprehend within a little while, they shall perceive what they have gained by this method. For indeed, as you observe well, the Matters of Religion are not to be handled or decided by the Sword: and no Man can think otherwise, that is either pious or honest, or desirous of Publick Place and Happiness. Far otherwise did Christ teach, and his Apostles instruct us; their Sword was their Tongue, their Doctrine, the Word of God, and a Life worthy of Christ. Their Example should draw us to follow them, in so far as they were followers of Christ.
Besides, that mad sort of People might have seen after so many years Trials, and so many Experiments, that by their Cruelties, Punishments, Slaughters and Burnings, this Business cannot be effected. In a word, 44 Their ways do not at all please me, nor can I ever be induced to approve them, unless I should become mad or distracted which I pray God earnestly to preserve me from.
And yet I shall not conceal from you, that some impudent and lying Knaves have given out, That whatever the French have done, was by my knowledg and approbation. In this I appeal to God, who knows how deeply I am injured by it; but such Lies and Calumnies are no new things to me. I have been often forced to bear them formerly: and in all such cases, I commit my self to God, who knows in his own good time, how to clear me, and vindicate my innocence.
As for the Netherlands, I can as little approve of the Excesses committed there. And I do well remember how often I wrote to the King of Spain, Advices far different from those they have followed. But what shall I say? The Councils of the Spaniards relished better than mine. They now begin to see their Error, and that they themselves have occasioned all the mischief that hath since followed; I had a good end before me, that these noble and renown'd Provinces might not be so miserably destroyed. And tho they would not follow my Counsel, so that I may well be excused from medling any more, yet I do not give over, but am sincerely pressing them all I can to follow another method.
God grant I may see the wished-for effect of these endeavours, and that Men may be at last satisfied with what they have done, and may use no more such violent Remedies. In a word, Let the Spaniards or the French do what they will, they shall be made to give an account of their Actions to God, the Righteous and 45 Just Judg. An for my part, by the help of God, I shall carry my self honestly, christianly, and faithfully, with all candour and uprightness; and I hope God will so assist me with his Grace and Blessing that I may approve all my Designs and Actions, both to him and to all Men; And if I do this, I little regard a wicked and malicious World.
How the rest of the World looked on this Action may be easily gathered from the Inclinations and Interests of the several Parties. That all Protestants did every where abhor it, and hold the remembrance of it, still in detestation, needs not be doubted. All that were noble or generous in the Roman Church were ashamed of it, but many extolled it to the Heavens as a work of Angels; and others did cast the blame of it on the Protestants. The Court of Spain rejoiced openly at it. They delighted in the shedding of Protestant Blood, and were also glad to see France again embroil'd, and to be freed of the fears they had of a War in Flanders. In which if the French King had engaged, he had in all appearance conquered in one year, that for which his Successors have been since fighting a whole Age.
But let us next examine how the tidings of this Massacre were received at Rome, by which we may judg how fitly that part of Antichrist's Character, of being drunk with the Blood of the Saints, agrees to it. The News was brought thither the 6th of September, upon which a Consistory of the Cardinals was presently called, and the Legate's Letter, that contained a Relation of the Massacre being read, they went straight in a Procession to St. Mark^s Church, where they offered 46 up their solemn thanks to God for this great blessing to the See of Rome, and the Catholique Church. And on Monday following, there was another Procession made by the Pope and Cardinals to the Minerva, where they had high Mass, and then the Pope granted a Jubilee to all Christendom: And one of the Reasons was, That they should thank God for the slaughter of the Enemies of the Church, lately executed in France. Two days after that, the Cardinal of Lorrain, had another great Procession of all the Clergy, the Ambassadours, Cardinals, and the Pope himself, who came to St. Lewis Chappel, where the Cardinal celebrated Mass himself. And in the King of France his Name he thanked the Pope and the Cardinals, for their good Councils, the help they had given him, and the assistance he received from their Prayers, of which he had found most wonderful effects. He also delivered the King's Letters to the Pope, in which he Historie de France, anno 1581. wrote, That more Heretiques had been destroyed in that one day, than in all the twelve years of the War.
Nor did the Pope think there was yet Blood enough shed, but that which all the World condemned as excessive Cruelty, he apprehended was too gentle. Therefore he sent Cardinal Ursin his Legate in all haste to France, to thank the King for so great a Service done the Church, and to desire him to go on, and extirpate Heresie Root and Branch, that it might never grow again. In order to which, he was to procure the Council of Trent to be received in France; and as the Legat passed through, in his Journey to Paris he gave a Plenary Absolution to all that had been Actors in the Massacre.
The best Picture-drawers, and workers of Tapistry, were also put to work to set off this Action with all possible glory, and a Sute of these Hangings are to this day in the Pope's Chappel. So well do they like the thing that they preserve the remembrance of it still, even in the place of their Worship. Such a representation does indeed very well agree with their Devotion, whose Religion and Doctrine led on their Votaries to that thing so expressed. By this we may easily gather what is to be expected from that Court, and what we ought to look for, when-ever we are at the mercy of Men, whose Religion will not only bear them through, but set them on to commit the most Treacherous and Bloody Massacre.