161. THE WALDENSIAN MARTYRS IN PROVENCE
Now in the mean time it followeth, (according to my promise made before,) next after this lamentable slaughter of Calabria, here to insert also the tragical persecution and horrible murder of the faithful flock of Christ, inhabiting in Merindol in France, and in the towns adjacent near unto the same, in the time of Francis the First, the French king. The furious cruelty of this miserable persecution, although it cannot be set forth too much at large, yet because we will not weary too much the reader with the full length thereof, we have so contracted the same, especially the principal effect thereof we have comprehended in such sort, that as we on the one part have avoided prolixity, so on the other, we have omitted nothing which might seem unworthy to be forgotten. The story here followeth.
A notable history of the persecution and destruction of the people of Merindol and Cabriers, in the country of Provence:
Where not a few persons, but whole villages and townships, with the most part of all the aforesaid country, both men, women, and children, were put to all kinds of cruelty, and suffered martyrdom for the profession of the gospel.
They that write of the beginning of this people, say, that about two hundred years ago, A.D. 1360, they came out of the country of Piedmont to inhabit in Provence, in certain villages destroyed by wars, and other desert places: wherein they used such labour and diligence, that they had abundance of corn, wine, oils, honey, almonds, with other fruits and commodities of the earth, and much cattle. Before they came thither, Merindol was a barren desert, and not inhabited: but these good people, (in whom God always had reserved some little seed of piety,) being dispersed and separated from the society of men, were compelled to dwell with beasts in that waste and wild desert, which, notwithstanding, through the blessing of God, and their great labour and travail, became exceeding fruitful. Notwithstanding, the world in the mean time so detested and abhorred them, and with all shameful rebukes and contumelies railed against them in such despiteful manner, that it seemed they were not worthy that the earth should bear them: for they of a long continuance and custom had refused the bishop of Rome's authority, and observed ever a more perfect kind of doctrine than others, delivered unto them from the father to the son, ever since the year of our Lord 1200.
For this cause they were often accused and complained of to the king, as contemners and despisers of the magistrates, and rebels: wherefore they were called by divers names, according to the countries and places where they dwelt. For in the country about Lyons, they were called the Poor People of Lyons; in the borders of Sarmatia, and Livonia, and other countries towards the north, they were called Lollards; in Flanders and Artois, Turrelupines, of a desert where wolves did haunt. In Dauphine, with great despite, they were called Chagnards, because they lived in places open to the sun, and without house or harbour. But most commonly they were called Waldois, of Waldo, who first instructed them in the word of God; which name continued until the name of Lutherans came up, which above all others was most hated and abhorred.
Notwithstanding, in all these most spiteful contumelies and slanders, the people dwelling at the foot of the Alps, and also in Merindol and Cabriers, and the quarters thereabouts, always lived so godly, so uprightly, and so justly, that in all their life and conversation there appeared to be in them a great fear of God. That little light of true knowledge which God had given them, they laboured by all means to kindle and increase daily more and more, sparing no charges, whether it were to procure books of the Holy Scriptures, or to instruct such as were of the best and most towardly wits in Iearning and godliness; or else to send them into other countries, yea, even to the farthest parts of the earth, where they had heard that any light of the gospel began to shine.
For in the year 1530, understanding that the gospel was preached in certain towns of Germany and Switzerland, they sent thither two learned men, that is, Georgius Maurellus, born in Dauphine, a godly preacher of their own, and whom they had of their charges brought up in learning, and Petrus Latomus, a Burgundian, to confer with the wise and learned ministers of the churches there in the doctrine of the gospel, and to know the whole form and manner which those churches used in the service and worshipping of God: and particularly to have their advice also upon certain points which they were not resolved in. These two, after great conference had with the chiefest in the church of God, namely with Ścolampadius at Basil; at Strasburg, with Bucer and Capito; and at Berne, with Bartholdus Hallerus, as they were returning through Burgundy homeward, Petrus Latomus was taken at Dijon, and cast into prison; Maurellus escaped, and returned alone to Merindol, with the books and letters which he brought with him from the churches of Germany; and declared to his brethren all the points of his commission, and opened unto them how many and great errors they were in, into the which their old ministers, whom they call Barbes, (that is to say, uncles,) had brought them, leading them from the right way of true religion.
When the people heard this, they were moved with such a zeal to have their churches reformed, that they sent for the most ancient brethren, and the chiefest in knowledge and experience of all Calabria and Apulia, to consult with them touching the reformation of the church. This matter was so handled, that it stirred up the bishops, priests, and monks, in all Provence, with great rage against them. Amongst others, there was one cruel wretch called John de Roma, a monk, who, obtaining a commission to examine those that were suspected to be of the Waldois or Lutheran profession, forthwith ceased not to afflict the faithful with all kinds of cruelty that he could devise or imagine. Amongst other most horrible torments, this was one which he most delighted in, and most commonly practised; he filled boots with boiling grease, and put them upon their legs, tying them backward to a form, with their legs hanging down over a small fire; and so he examined them. Thus he tormented very many, and in the end most cruelly put them to death.
The first whom he thus tormented, were Michelottus Serra and W. Melius, with a number more. Wherefore Francis the French king, being informed of the strange and outrageous cruelty of this hellish monk, sent letters to the court of parliament of Provence, that forthwith he should be apprehended, and by form of process, and order of law, he should be condemned, and advertisement sent unto him with all speed of his condemnation. The monk, being advertised hereof by his friends, conveyed himself to Avignon, where he thought to enjoy the spoilings, which he, like a notorious thief, had gotten by fraud and extortion from the poor Christians: but shortly after, he which had so shamefully spoiled others, was spoiled of all together, by his own household servants; whereupon shortly after he fell sick of a most horrible disease, strange and unknown to any physician. So extreme were the pains and torments wherewith he was continually vexed in all his body, that no ointment, no fomentation, nor any thing else, could ease him one minute of an hour: neither was there any man that could tarry near about him, nor yet would any one of his own friends come near to him, so great was the stench that came from him. For the which cause he was carried from the Jacobins to an hospital, there to be kept; but the stench and infection so increased, that no man there durst come near him: no, nor he himself was able to abide the horrible stench that issued from his body, full of ulcers and sores, and swarming with vermin, and so rotten, that the flesh fell away from the bones by piecemeal.
While he was in these torments and anguish, he cried out oftentimes in great rage, "Oh! who will deliver me? who will kill and rid me out of these intolerable pains, which I know I suffer for the evils and oppressions that I have done to the poor men?" And he himself went about divers times to destroy himself, but he had not the power. In these horrible torments and anguish, and fearful despair, this blasphemer and most cruel homicide most miserably ended his unhappy days and cursed life, as a spectacle to all persecutors, receiving a just reward of his cruelty by the just judgment of God. When he was dead, there was no man that would come near him to bury him; but a young novice, newly come to his order, instead of a more honourable sepulture, caught hold with a hook upon his stinking carrion, and drew him into a hole hard by, which was made for him.
After the death of this cruel monster, the bishop of Aix, by his official Perionet, continued the persecution, and put a great multitude of them in prison, of whom some by force of torments revolted from the truth; the others which continued constant, after he had condemned them of heresy, were put into the hands of the judge ordinary, who at that time was one Meiranus, a notable cruel persecutor, who, without any form of process or order of law, such as the official had pronounced to be heretics, he put to death with most cruel torments; but shortly after he received a just reward of his cruelty in like manner.
After the death of the good president Cusinetus, the lord of Revest, being chief president of the parliament of Aix, put many of the faithful to death; who afterwards, being put out of his office, returned to his house of Revest, where he was stricken with such a horrible sickness, that, for the fury and madness which he was in, his wife, or any that were about him, durst not come near him; and so he, dying in his fury and rage, was justly plagued for his unmerciful and cruel dealing.
After him succeeded Bartholomew Chassanee, likewise a pestilent persecutor, whom God at length struck with a fearful and sudden death. In the time of this tyrant, those of Merindol, in the persons of ten, were cited personally to appear before the king's attorney. But they, hearing that the court had determined to burn them without any further process or order of law, durst not appear at the day appointed. For which cause the court awarded a cruel sentence against Merindol, and condemned all the inhabitants to be burned, both men and women, sparing none, no, not the little children and infants; the town to be razed, and their houses beaten down to the ground; also the trees to be cut down, as well olive-trees as all others, and nothing to be left, to the intent it should never be inhabited again, but remain as a desert or wilderness.
This bloody arrest or decree seemed so strange and wonderful, that in every place throughout all Provence there was great reasoning and disputation concerning the same, especially among the advocates, and men of learning and understanding; insomuch that many durst boldly and openly say, that they greatly marvelled how that court of parliament could be so mad, or so bewitched, to give out such an arrest, so manifestly injurious and unjust, and contrary to all right and reason, yea, to all sense of humanity; also contrary to the solemn oath which all such as are received to office in courts of parliament, are accustomed to make; that is to say, to judge justly and uprightly, according to the law of God, and the just ordinances and laws of the realm, so that God thereby might be honoured, and every man's right regarded, without respect of persons.
Some of the advocates or lawyers, defending the said arrest to be just and right, said, that in the case of Lutheranism, the judges are not bound to observe either right or reason, law or ordinance; and that the judges cannot fail or do amiss, whatsoever judgment they do give, so that it tend to the ruin and extirpation of all such as are suspected to be Lutherans.
To this the other lawyers and learned men answered, that upon their sayings it would ensue, that the judges should now altogether follow the same manner and form, in proceeding against the Christians accused to be Lutherans, which the gospel witnesseth that the priests, scribes, and Pharisees, in pursuing and persecuting, and finally condemning, our Lord Jesus Christ.
By these and such other like talks, the said arrest was published throughout the country, and there was no assembly or banquet where it was not disputed or talked of: and namely, within twelve days after the arrest was given out, there was a great banquet in the town of Aix; at which banquet were present M. Bartholomew Chassanee, president, and many other councillors and other noble personages and men of authority. There was also the archbishop of Arles, and the bishop of Aix, with divers ladies and gentlewomen, amongst whom was one which was commonly reported to be the bishop of Aix's concubine. They were scarce well sat at the table, but she began thus to talk: "My lord president! will you not execute the arrest which is given out of late against the Lutherans of Merindol?" The president answered nothing, feigning that he heard her not. Then a certain gentleman asked of her, what arrest that was? She recited it in manner and form as it was given out, forgetting nothing, as if she had a long time studied to commit the same to memory: whereunto they that were at the banquet gave diligent ear, without any word speaking, until she had ended her tale.
Then the lord of Alenc, a man fearing God, and of great understanding, said unto her, "Gentlewoman! you have learned this tale either of some that would have it so, or else it is given out by some parliament of women." Then the lord of Senas, an ancient councillor, said unto him; "No, no, my lord of Alenc! it is no tale which you have heard this gentlewoman tell; for it is an arrest given out by a whole senate: and you ought not thus to speak, except you would call the court of Provence a parliament of women." Then the lord of Alenc began to excuse himself, with protestation that he would not speak any thing to blemish the authority of that sovereign court; notwithstanding, he could not believe all that which the said gentlewoman had told, that is to say, that all the inhabitants of Merindol were condemned to die by the arrest of the said court of parliament of Provence, and especially the women, and little children and infants; and the town to be razed for the fault of ten or twelve persons, which did not appear before the said court at the day appointed. And the Lord Beauvieu also answered, that he believed not the said court to have given out any such arrest; for that (said he) were a thing most unreasonable, and such as the very Turks, and the most tyrants in the world, would judge to be a thing most detestable: and said further, that he had known a long time many of Merindol, who seemed unto him to be men of great honesty: and my lord president (said he) can certify us well what is done in this matter, for we ought not to give credit unto women's tales. Then the gentlewoman who had rehearsed the arrest, stayed not to hear the president's answer, but suddenly looking upon the bishop of Aix, said, "I should greatly have marvelled, if there had been none in all this company who would defend these wicked men." And lifting up her eyes to heaven, in a great womanly chafe and fume, she said, "Would to God that all the Lutherans who are in Provence, yea, and in all France, had horns growing on their foreheads;then we should see a goodly many of horns!" To whom the Lord Beauvieu suddenly answered, saying, "Would to God all priests' harlots should chatter like pies!" Then said the gentlewoman, "Ah, my Lord Beauvieu! you ought not so to speak against our holy mother the church, for that there was never dog that barked against the crucifix, but he waxed mad;" whereat the bishop of Aix laughed, and clapping the gentlewoman on the shoulder, said, "By my holy orders, my minion! well said; I con you thank. She hath talked well unto you, my Lord Beauvieu! remember well the lesson which she hath given you." Here the Lord Beauvieu, being wholly moved with anger, said, "I care neither for her school nor yours, for it would be long before a man should learn of either of you either any honesty or honour. For if I should say, that the most part of the bishops and priests are abominable adulterers, blind idolaters, deceivers, thieves, seducers, I should not speak against the holy church, but against a heap and flock of wolves, dogs, and filthy swine. In speaking these things I would think a man not to be mad at all, except he be mad for speaking of the truth."
Then the archbishop in a great fury answered, "My Lord Beauvieu! you speak very evil, and you must give account, when time and place serve, of this your talk, which you have here uttered against the churchmen." "I would," said the Lord Beauvieu, "that it were to do even this present day, and I would bind myself to prove more abuses and naughtiness in priests than I have yet spoken." Then said the president Chassanee, "My Lord Beauvieu! let us leave off this talk, and live as our fathers have done, and maintain their honour." Then said he in great anger, "I am no priest's son, to maintain their wickedness and abuse:" and afterward he said, "I am well content to honour all true pastors of the church, and will not blame them that show good example in their doctrine and living; but I demand of you, my Lord of Arles! and you, my Lord of Aix! when our Lord Christ Jesus called the priests, deceiving hypocrites, blind seducers, robbers, and thieves, did he them any outrage or wrong?" And they answered, "No; for the most part of them were such men." Then said the Lord Beauvieu, "Even so it is with the bishops and priests whom I have spoken of, for they are such kind of men, or rather worse: and I so abhor their filthy and abominable life, that I dare not speak the one half of that which I know; and therefore in speaking the truth, to cool the babbling of a harlot, I do them no injury."
The Monsieur de Senas, an ancient councillor, said, "Let us leave off this contentious talk, for we are here assembled and come together to make good cheer." And afterwards he said, "M. de Beauvieu! for the love and amity which I do bear unto you, I will advertise you of three things, which, if you will do, you shall find great ease therein. The first is, that you, neither by word nor deed, aid or assist those which you hear to be Lutherans. Secondly, that you do not intermeddle openly to reprove ladies and gentlewomen for their pastime and pleasures. Thirdly, that you do never speak against the life and living of priests, how wicked soever it be, according to this saying, Do not touch mine anointed."
To whom M. de Beauvieu answered, "As touching the first point, I know no Lutherans, neither what is meant by this word Lutheranism, except you do call them Lutherans, who profess the doctrine of the gospel; neither yet will I ever allow any arrest which shall be given out to death against men, whose cause hath not been heard, especially against women and young infants: and I am assured, that there is no court of parliament in all France, which will approve or allow any such arrest. And whereas you say, that I should not meddle to reprove ladies and gentlewomen, if I knew any kinswoman of mine, which would abandon herself unto a priest or clerk, yea, albeit he were a cardinal or bishop, I would not do her so much honour as to rebuke her for it, but at least I would cut off her nose. And as touching priests, as I am contented not to meddle with their business, so likewise I will not that they meddle with mine hereafter, or come from henceforth within mine house; for as many as I shall find or take there, I will set their crowns so near their shoulders, that they shall need no more to wear any hoods about their necks." The like also said the president Chassanee.
Then the bishop of Aix's sweetheart, which had begun the quarrel, said, "I shall not be in quiet, except I speak yet one word more unto M. de Beauvieu." "Do you think," said she unto him, "that all the cardinals, bishops, abbots, priests, and all those holy religious men, which go oftentimes to gentlemen's houses, and haunt the castles and palaces of princes and noblemen, that they go thither to commit wickedness? Also you must not think evil of all those ladies and gentlewomen that go to bishops' houses of devotion, and to reveal those whom they know to be Lutherans, as it was commanded in the pulpit upon pain of excommunication. If so be you will maintain those words, I will not cease to accuse you of crime, and also of treason both to God and man; for here be those in this company, who shall make you give an account thereof." She had not so soon ended her talk, but M. Beauvieu said unto her, "Avaunt, O Herodias! thou filthy and impudent harlot! is it thy part to open thy mouth to talk in this company? Dost thou well understand and know what treason to God and man meaneth? Is it not sufficient for thee to be as thou art, but thou must solicit others to shed innocent blood?" With these words the gentlewoman was somewhat amazed. All men thought that this talk had been at an end, and every man began to invent some merry communication, that the former matter should be no more talked of.
At the last the gentlewoman, advising herself, and thinking that she was too much injured, to be said that she went about to shed the innocent blood, she brake off all their talk, and with a loud voice said, "Monsieur Beauvieu! if I were a man, as I am a woman, I would offer you the combat, to prove that I am no such manner of woman as you say I am, that I desire to shed innocent blood. Do you call the blood of these wicked men of Merindol, innocent blood? True it is, that I desire and offer with my whole power, that these naughty packs of Merindol, and such-like as they are, should be slain and destroyed, from the greatest even unto the least. And for to see the beginning of this work, I have employed all my credit, and all my friends, and do not spare neither body nor goods to work the ruin and destruction of these people, and to rase out and to deface their memory from amongst men. Do you then, Monsieur Beauvieu! call the slaughter of these Lutherans, the effusion of innocent blood? And say you what you will, I will not refrain for no man living, to go either by day or by night unto the houses of bishops, in all honesty and honour, for the devotion which I bear unto our holy mother the church, and also I will receive into my house all religious men, to consult and devise the means how to put these Lutherans to death." But as Monsieur Beauvieu took no more regard unto her talk, so likewise all that were at the table dispraised her, and were weary of her prating.
Then there was a certain young gentleman, which, merrily jesting, said unto her, "Gentlewoman! it must needs be that these poor people, unto whom you do wish this cruel death, have done you some great displeasure." Then said she, "I may well take an oath, that I never knew one of these wretched people, neither (that I wot of) ever saw any of them; and I had rather to meet ten devils than one of those naughty knaves, for their opinions are so detestable, that happy and blessed are they which never heard tell of them. And I was not then well advised at what time by curiosity, I, seeing the bishop of Aix so much troubled and angry that he could not eat nor drink, did desire him and constrain him to tell me the cause thereof. Then he, perceiving that I would not he well contented if he should not tell me, declared unto me some part of the cause, that is to say, that there were certain heretics, who spake against our holy mother the church, and among other errors they maintained, yea, to death, that all bishops, priests, and pastors, ought to be married, or else they should be basely handled: and hearing this I was marvellously offended, and ever since I did hate them to the death. And also it was enjoined unto me by penance, that I should endeavour with all my power to put these heretics to death." After these frivolous talks, there was great trouble and debate amongst them, and many threatenings, which were too long here to describe.
Then the president Chassanee and the councillors parted aside, and the gentlemen went on the other part. The archbishop of Arles, the bishop of Aix, and divers abbots, priors, and others, assembled themselves together, to consult how this arrest might be executed with all speed, intending to raise a new persecution, greater than that of John, the Jacobin monk of Rome: "for otherwise," said they, "our state and honour is like to decay; we shall be reproved, contemned, and derided of all men. And if none should thus vaunt and set themselves against us but these peasants, and such like, it were but a small matter; but many doctors of divinity and men of the religious order, divers senators and advocates, many wise and well learned men, also a great part of the nobility, (if we may so say,) and that of great renown, yea, even of the chiefest peers in all Europe, begin to contemn and despise us, counting us to be no true pastors of the church; so that except we see to this mischief, and provide for remedy betimes, it is greatly to be feared, lest not only we shall be compelled to forsake our dignities, possessions, and livings, which we now wealthily enjoy; but also the church, being spoiled of her pastors and guides, shall hereafter come to miserable ruin, and utter desolation. This matter therefore now requireth great diligence and circumspection, and that with all celerity."
Then the archbishop of Arles, not forgetting his Spanish subtleties and policies, gave his advice as followeth:
"Against the nobility we must, said he, take heed that we attempt nothing rashly, but rather we must seek all the means we can how to please them; for they are our shield, our fortress, and defence. And albeit we know that many of them do both speak and think evil of us, and that they are of these new gospellers, yet may we not reprove them, or exasperate them, in any case; but seeing they are too much bent against us already, we must rather seek how to win them, and to make them our friends again by gifts and presents: and by this policy we shall live in safety under their protection. But if we enterprise any thing against them, sure we are to gain nothing thereby, as we are by experience already sufficiently taught."
The bishop of Aix then answered,--
"It is well said, but I can show you a good remedy for this disease; we must go about with all our endeavour, and power, and policy, and all the friends we can make, sparing no charges, but spending goods, wealth, and treasure, to make such a slaughter of the Merindolians and rustical peasants, that none shall be so bold hereafter, whatsoever they be, yea, although they be of the blood royal, once to open their mouths against us, or the ecclesiastical state. And to bring this matter to pass, we have no better way than to withdraw ourselves to Avignon, in the which city we shall find many bishops, abbots, and other famous men, which will with us employ their whole endeavour to maintain and uphold the majesty of our holy mother the church."
This counsel was well liked of them all. Whereupon the said archbishop of Arles, and the bishop of Aix, went with all speed to Avignon, there to assemble out of hand the bishops and other men of authority and credit, to treat of this matter. In this pestilent conspiracy, the bishop of Aix, a stout champion, and a great defender of the traditions of men, taking upon him to be the chief orator, began in a manner as followeth:
"O ye fathers and brethren! ye are not ignorant that a great tempest is raised up against the little bark of Christ Jesus, now in great danger and ready to perish. The storm cometh from the north, whereof all these troubles proceed. The seas rage, the waters rush in on every side, the winds blow and beat upon our house, and we, without speedy remedy, are like to sustain shipwreck and loss of all together. For oblations cease, pilgrimage and devotion waxeth cold, charity is clean gone, our estimation and authority is debased, our jurisdiction decayed, and the ordinances of the church despised. And wherefore are we set and ordained over nations and kingdoms, but to root out and destroy, to subvert and overthrow, whatsoever is against our holy mother the church? Wherefore let us now awake, let us stand stoutly in the right of our own possession, that we may root out from the memory of men for ever the whole rout of the wicked Lutherans: those foxes (I say) which destroy the vineyard of the Lord; those great whales which go about to drown the little bark of the Son of God. We have already well begun, and have procured a terrible arrest against these cursed heretics of Merindol: now then resteth no more, but only the same to be put in execution. Let us therefore employ our whole endeavour, that nothing happen which may let or hinder that we have so happily begun; and let us take good heed that our gold and silver do not witness against us at the day of judgment, if we refuse to bestow the same, that we may make so good a sacrifice unto God. And for my part I offer to wage and furnish of my own costs and charges, a hundred men well horsed, with all other furniture to them belonging; and that so long, until the utter destruction and subversion of these wretched and cursed caitiffs be fully performed and finished."
This oration pleased the whole multitude, saving one doctor of divinity, a friar Jacobin, named Bassinet, who then answered again with this oration.
"This is a weighty matter," said he, "and of great importance; we must therefore proceed wisely, and in the fear of God, and beware that we do nothing rashly. For if we seek the death and destruction of these poor and miserable people wrongfully, when the king and the nobility shall hear of such a horrible slaughter, we shall be in great danger lest they do to us, as we read in the Scriptures was done to the priests of Baal. For my part I must say, and unfeignedly confess, that I have too rashly and lightly signed many processes against those which have been accused of heretical doctrine: but now I do protest before God, which seeth and knoweth the hearts of men, that seeing the lamentable end and effect of mine assignments, I have had no quietness in my conscience, considering that the secular judges, at the report of the judgment and sentence given by me and other doctors my companions, have condemned all those unto most cruel death, whom we have judged to be heretics. And the cause why in conscience I am thus disquieted, is this; that now of late, since I have given myself more diligently to the reading and contemplation of the Holy Scriptures, I have perceived that the most part of those articles, which they that are called Lutherans do maintain, are so conformable and agreeing to the Scriptures, that for my part I can no longer gainsay them, except I should even wilfully and maliciously resist and strive against the holy ordinances of God. Albeit, hitherto, to maintain the honour of our holy mother the church, and of our holy father the pope, and of our order, I have consented to the opinions and doings of other doctors, as well through ignorance, as also because I would not seem to attempt any thing against the will and pleasure of the prelates and vicars general: but now it seemeth unto me, that we ought not any more to proceed in this matter, as we have done in time past. It shall besufficient to punish them with fines, or to banish them which shall speak too intemperately or rashly against the constitutions of the church, and of the pope; and such as shall be manifestly convicted by the Holy Scriptures to be blapshemous or obstinate heretics, to be condemned to death according to the enormity of their crimes or errors, or else to perpetual prison. And this my advice and counsel I desire you to take in good part."
With this counsel of Bassinet all the company were offended, but especially the bishop of Aix, who, lifting up his voice above all the rest, said thus unto him; "O thou man of little faith! whereof art thou in doubt? dost thou repent thee of that thou hast well done? Thou hast told here a tale, that smelleth of faggots and brimstone. Is there any difference, thinkest thou, between heresies and blasphemies spoken and maintained against the Holy Scriptures, and opinions holden against our holy mother the church, and contrary to our holy father the pope, a most undoubted and true god on earth? Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" Then said the bishop of Arles, "Could any man treat better of the little bark of Christ Jesus, than my lord of Aix hath done?"
Then stood up Bassinet again, and made this oration:
"It is true that my lord, the bishop of Aix, hath very well set out the manners and state of the clergy, and hath aptly reproved the vices and heresies of this present time: and therefore, so soon as mention was made of the ship of Christ Jesus, it came into my mind first of all, of the high bishop of Jerusalem, the priests, the doctors of the law, the scribes and Pharisees, which sometime had the governance of this ship, being ordained pastors in the church of God: but when they forsook the law of God, and served him with men's inventions and traditions, he destroyed those hypocrites in his great indignation; and having compassion and pity upon the people which were like sheep without a shepherd, he sent diligent fishers to fish for men, faithful workmen into his harvest, and labourers into his vineyard, which shall all bring forth true fruits in their season. Secondly, considering the purpose and intent of the reverend lord bishop of Aix, I called to mind the saying of the apostle, 1 Tim. iv., that in the latter day some shall fall away from the faith, following after deceitful spirits, and the doctrine of devils. And the apostle giveth a mark whereby a man shall know them. Likewise our Lord Jesus Christ saith, Matt. vii., that the false prophets shall come clothed in sheep-skins, but inwardly they are ravening wolves, and by their fruits they shall be known. By these two, and divers such other places, it is easy to understand, who are they that go about to drown this little bark of Christ. Are they not those which fill the same with filthy and unclean things, with mire and dirt, with puddle and stinking water? are they not those which have forsaken Jesus Christ, the fountain of living water, and have digged unto themselves pits or cisterns which will hold no water? Truly even those they are, who vaunt themselves to be the salt of earth, and yet have no savour at all; which call themselves pastors, and yet are much less than true pastors, for they minister not unto the sheep the true pasture and feeding, neither divide and distribute the true bread of the word of life. And (if I may be hold to speak it) would it not be at this present as great a wonder to hear a bishop preach, as to see an ass fly? Are not they accursed of God, who glory and vaunt themselves to have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and neither enter in themselves, nor suffer them that would enter, to come in? They may be known right well by their fruits; for they have forsaken faith, judgment, and mercy; and there is no honest, clean, or undefiled thing in them but their habit, their rochet, and their surplice, and such other. Outwardly they are exceeding neat and trim, but within they are full of all abomination, rapine, gluttony, filthy lust, and all manner of uncleanness; they are like painted sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful and fair, but within are full of filth and corruption. A man shall know (I say) these ravening wolves by their fruits, which devour the quick and the dead under pretence of long prayer. And forasmuch as I am enforced to give place to the truth, and that you call me a master in Israel, I will not be afraid to prove by the Holy Scriptures, that your great pilot and patron the pope, and the bishops the mariners, and such others, which impudently forsake the ship of Christ Jesus, to embark themselves in pinnaces and brigandines, are pirates and robbers of the sea, false prophets, deceivers, and not true pastors of the church of Jesus Christ."
When Doctor Bassinet had thus freely and boldly uttered his mind, the whole multitude began to gather about him, and spitefully railed at him; but the bishop of Aix, above others, raging and crying out as he had been mad, "Get thee out," said he, from amongst us, thou wicked apostate! thou art not worthy to be in this company. We have burned daily a great many which have not so well deserved it as thou hast. We may now perceive, that there is none more stedfast and fervent in the faith than the doctors of the canon law; and therefore it were necessary to be decreed in the next general council, that none should have to do in matters of religion but they alone: for these knaves, and beggarly monks and friars, will bring all to nought." Then the other doctors of the same order boldly reproved the bishop of Aix for the injury he had done unto them. After this there arose a great dissension amongst them, insomuch that there was nothing at that time determined. After dinner all these reverend prelates assembled together again, but they suffered neither friar nor monk to be amongst them, except he were an abbot. In this assembly they made a general composition, confirmed with an oath, that every man should endeavour himself that the said arrest of Merindol should be executed with all expedition, every man offering to furnish out men of war, according to his ability. The charge thereof was given to the bishop of Aix, and to the president of the canons, to solicit the matter, and to persuade by all means possible the presidents and councillors of the said court of parliament, without fear or doubt, to execute the said arrest with drums, ensigns displayed, artillery, and all kind of furniture of war.
This conspiracy being concluded and determined, the bishop of Aix departed incontinent from Avignon, to go unto Aix, to perform the charge which was given to him. Notwithstanding they desired him to be, the next day after the council was holden, at a banquet which should be made at the house of the bishop of Rieux. To this banquet such as were known to be the fairest and most beautiful, women in all Avignon, were called, to refresh and solace these good prelates, after the great pains and travail which they had taken for our holy mother the church. After they had dined, they fell to dancing, playing at dice, and such other pastimes as are commonly wont to be frequented at the banquets and feasts of these holy prelates. After this they walked abroad to solace themselves, and to pass the time till supper.
As they passed through the streets, every one leading his minion upon his arm, they saw a man which sold base images and pictures, with filthy rhymes and ballads annexed to the same, to move and stir up the people to whoredom and knavery. All these goodly pictures were bought up by the bishops, which were as many as a mule could well carry; and if there were any obscure sentence, or hard to understand in those rhymes or ballads, the same these learned prelates did readily expound, and laughed pleasantly thereat. In the same place, as they walked along, there was a bookseller, which had set out to sale certain Bibles in French and Latin, with divers other books; which when the prelates beheld, they were greatly moved thereat, and said unto him, "Darest thou be so hardy to set out such merchandise to sell here in this town? dost thou not know that such books are forbidden?" The bookseller answered, "Is not the Holy Bible as good as these goodly pictures, which you have bought for these gentlewomen?" He had scarce spoken these words, but the bishop of Aix said, "I renounce my part of paradise, if this fellow be not a Lutheran!" "Let him be taken," said he, "and examined what he is." And incontinently the bookseller was taken and carried unto prison, and spitefully handled; for a company of knaves and ruffians, which waited upon the prelates, began to cry out, "A Lutheran! a Lutheran! "" To the fire with him! to the fire with him! "And one gave him a blow with his fist, another pulled him by the hair, and others by the beard, in such sort that the poor man was all imbrued with blood before he came to prison.
The morrow after he was brought before the judges in the presence of the bishops, where he was examined in this form as followeth: "Hast thou not set forth to sale the Bible and the New Testament in French?" The prisoner answered that he had so done. And being demanded, whether he understood or knew not, that it was forbidden throughout all Christendom to print or sell the Bible in any other language than in Latin? he answered, that he knew the contrary, and that he had sold many Bibles in the French tongue, with the emperor's privilege, and many others printed at Lyons; also New Testaments imprinted by the king's privilege. Furthermore, he said, that he knew no nation throughout all Christendom, which had not the Holy Scriptures in their vulgar tongue: and afterwards, with a bold courage, thus he spake unto them:
"O you inhabitants of Avignon! are you alone in all Christendom those men who despise and abhor the Testament of the heavenly Father? Will ye forbid and hide that which Jesus Christ hath commanded to be revealed and published? Do you not know that our Lord Jesus Christ gave power unto his apostles to speak all manner of tongues, to this end, that his holy gospel should be taught unto all creatures in every language? And why do you not forbid those books and pictures, which are full of filthiness and abomination to move and stir up the people to crimes and to uncleanness, and to provoke God's vengeance and great indignation upon you all? What greater blasphemy can there be, than to forbid God's most holy books, which he ordained to instruct the ignorant, and to reduce and bring again into the way such as are gone astray? What cruelty is this, to take away from the poor silly souls their nourishment and sustenance? But, my lords! you shall give a heavy account, which callsweet sour, and sour sweet, who maintain abominable and detestable books and pictures, and reject that which is holy."
Then the bishop of Aix and the other bishops began to rage, and gnash their teeth against this poor prisoner. "What need you," said they, "any more examination? let him be sent straight unto the fire, without any more words." But the judge Laberius and certain others were not of that mind, neither found they sufficient cause why to put him to death; but went about to have him put to his fine, and to make him confess and acknowledge the bishop of Aix, and others his companions, to be the true pastors of the church. But the bookseller answered, that he could do it with a good conscience, forasmuch as he did see before his eyes, that these bishops maintained filthy books, and abominable pictures, rejecting and refusing the holy books of God; and therefore he judged them rather to be the priests of Bacchus and Venus, than the true pastors of the church of Christ. Whereupon he was immediately condemned to be burned, and the sentence was executed the very same day; and for a sign or token of the cause of his condemnation, he carried two Bibles hanging about his neck, the one before, and the other behind him: but this poor man had also the word of God in his heart, and in his mouth, and ceased not continually by the way, until that he came to the place of execution, to exhort and monish the people to read the Holy Scriptures; insomuch that divers were thereby moved to seek after the truth. The prelates, seeing a great dissension among the people of Avignon, and that many murmured and grudged against them for the death of this good man, and also for the dishonour which they had done unto the holy Testament of God, minding to put the people in fear, they proceeded the next day to make a proclamation by the sound of a trumpet throughout the whole town and country of Venice, that all such as had any books in the French tongue, treating upon the Holy Scriptures, should bring them forth, and deliver them into the hands of the commissioners appointed for that purpose: contrariwise they which had any such books found about them, should be put to death.
Then, after these prelates had taken advice to raise great persecution in Venice, the bishop of Aix returned to prosecute the execution of the arrest against Merindol, travailing earnestly with the president Chassanee to that effect; declaring unto him the good-will of the prelates of Avignon and Provence, and the great affection they bare both to him and his, with many fair promises if he would put the arrest in execution. The president answered him, that it was no small matter to put the arrest of Merindol in execution; also that the said arrest was given out more to keep the Lutherans in fear, which were in great numbers in Provence, than to execute it in effect, as it was contained in the said arrest. Moreover, he said, that the arrest of Merindol was not definitive, and that the laws and statutes of the realm did not permit the execution thereof without further process. Then said the bishop, "If there be either law or statute which doth hinder or let you, we carry in our sleeves to dispense therewithal." The president answered, "It were a great sin to shed the innocent blood." Then said the bishop, "The blood of them of Merindol be upon us, and upon our successors." Then said the president, I am very well assured, that if the arrest of Merindol be put in execution, the king will not be well pleased to have such destruction made of his subjects." Then said the bishop, "Although the king at first do think it evil done, we will so bring it to pass, that within a short space he shall think it well done: for we have the cardinals on our side, and especially the most reverend cardinal of Tournon, the which will take upon him the defence of our cause; and we can do him no greater pleasure, than utterly to root out these Lutherans: so that if we have any need of his counsel or aid, we shall be well assured of him. And is not he the principal, the most excellent and prudent adversary of these Lutherans, that is in all Christendom?"
By this and such other like talk the bishop of Aix persuaded the president and councillors of the court of parliament, to put the said arrest in execution, and by this means, through the authority of the said court, the drum was sounded through all Provence, the captains were prepared with their ensigns displayed, and a great number of footmen and horsemen began to set forward, and marched out of the town of Aix in order of battle, well horsed and furnished, against Merindol, to execute the arrest. The inhabitants of Merindol, being advertised hereof, and seeing nothing but present death to he at hand, with great lamentation commended themselves and their cause unto God by prayer, making themselves ready to be murdered and slain, as sheep led unto the butchery.
Whilst they were in this grievous distress, piteously mourning and lamenting together, the father with the son, the daughter with the mother, the wife with the husband, suddenly there was news brought unto them, that the army was retired, and no man knew at that time how, or by what means; notwithstanding afterwards it was known, that the lord of Alenc, a wise man, and learned in the Scriptures, and in the civil law, being moved with great zeal and love of justice, declared unto the president Chassanee, that he ought not so to proceed against the inhabitants of Merindol by way of force of arms, contrary to all form and order of justice, without judgment or condemnation, or without making any difference between the guilty and the not guilty. And furthermore he said:
"I desire you, my lord president! call to remembrance the counsel which you have written in your book entitled Catalogus Gloriæ Mundi, in which book you have treated and brought forth the processes which were holden against the rats, by the officers of the court and jurisdiction of the bishop of Autun. For as it happened, there was almost throughout all the bailiwick of Laussois such a great number of rats, that they destroyed and devoured all the corn of the country; whereupon they took counsel to send unto the bishop of Autun's official, to have the rats excommunicated. Whereupon it was ordained and decreed by the said official, after he had heard the plaintiff of the procurator-fiscal, that before he would proceed to excommunication, they should have admonition and warning according to the order of justice. For this cause it was ordained, that by the sound of a trumpet, and open proclamation made throughout all the streets of the town of Autun, the rats should be cited to appear within three days; and if they did not appear, then to proceed against them. The three days were passed, and the procurator came into the court against the rats, and for lack of appearance obtained default, by virtue whereof he required that they would proceed to the excommunication; whereupon it was judicially acknowledged that the said rats, being absent, should have their advocate appointed them to hear their defence, forasmuch as the question was for the whole destruction and banishing of the said rats. And you, my lord president! being at that time the king's advocate at Autun, were then chosen to he the advocate to defend the rats; and having taken the charge upon you in pleading the matter, it was by you there declared, that the citation was of no effect, for certain causes and reasons by you there alleged. Then was it decreed that the said rats should be once again cited throughout the parishes where they were. Then after the citations were duly served, the procurator came again into the court as before; and there it was alleged by you, my lord president! how that the term of appearance given unto the rats was too short, and that there were so many cats in every town and village which they should pass through, that they had just cause to be absent.
"Wherefore, my lord president! you ought not so lightly to proceed against these poor men, but you ought to look upon the Holy Scriptures, and there you shall find how you ought to proceed in this matter. And you, my lord! have alleged many places of the Scripture concerning the same, as appeareth more at large in your said book; and by this plea of a matter which seemeth to be but of small importance, you have obtained great fame and honour, for the upright declaration of the manner and form how judges ought gravely to proceed in criminal causes. Then, my lord president! you which have taught others, will you not also learn by your own books? the which will manifestly condemn you, if you proceed any further to the destruction of these poor men of Merindol: for are they not Christian men, and ought you not as well to minister right and justice unto them, as you have done to the rats?"
By these and such-like demonstrations, the president was persuaded, and immediately called back his commission which he had given out, and caused the army to retire, which was already come near unto Merindol, even within a mile and a half.
Then the Merindolians, understanding that the army was retired, gave thanks unto God, comforting one another, with admonition and exhortation always to have the fear of God before their eyes, to be obedient unto his holy commandments, subject to his most holy will, and every man to submit himself unto his providence; patiently attending and looking for the hope of the blessed, that is to say, the true life and the everlasting riches, having always before their eyes, for example, our Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, who hath entered into his glory by many tribulations. Thus the Merindolians prepared themselves to endure and abide all the afflictions that it should please God to lay upon them; and such was their answer to all those that either pitied, or else sought their destruction: whereupon the bruit and noise was so great, as well of the arrest, as of the enterprise of the execution, and also of the patience and constancy of the Merindolians, that it was not hidden or kept secret from King Francis the First, a king of noble courage and great judgment; who gave commandment unto the noble and virtuous lord, M. de Langeay, which then was his lieutenant in Turin, a city in Piedmont, that he should diligently inquire and search out the truth of all this matter. Whereupon the said M. de Langeay sent unto Provence two men of fame and estimation, giving them in charge to bring unto him the copy of the arrest, and diligently to inquire out all that followed and ensued thereupon; and likewise to make diligent inquisition of the life and manners of the said Merindolians and others, which were persecuted in the country of Provence.
These deputies brought the copy of the arrest, and of all that happened thereupon, unto the said M. de Langeay, declaring unto him the great injuries, pollings, extortions, exactions, tyrannies, and cruelties, which the judges, as well secular as ecclesiastical, used against them of Merindol, and others. As touching the behaviour and disposition of those which were persecuted, they reported, that the most part of the men of Provence affirmed them to be men given to great labour and travail; and that about two hundred years past (as it is reported) they came out of the country of Piedmont to dwell in Provence, and took to tillage, and to inhabit many hamlets and villages destroyed by the wars, and other desert and waste places; which they had so well occupied, that now there was great store of wines, oils, honey, and cattle, wherewith strangers were greatly relieved and holpen. Besides that, before they came into the country to dwell, the place of Merindol was taxed but at four crowns, which before the last destruction paid yearly unto the lord, for taxes and tallages, above three hundred and fifty crowns, beside other charges.
The like was also reported of Lormarin, and divers other places of Provence; whereas there was nothing but robbery before they came to inhabit there, so that none could pass that way but in great danger. Moreover, they of the country of Provence affirmed, that the inhabitants of Merindol, and the others that were persecuted, were peaceable and quiet people, beloved of all their neighbours, men of good behaviour, constant in keeping of their promise, and paying of their debts without traversing or pleading of the law: that they were also charitable men, giving alms, relieving the poor, and suffered none amongst them to lack, or be in necessity. Also they gave alms to strangers, and to the poor passengers, harbouring, nourishing, and helping them in all their necessities, according to their power. Moreover, that they were known by this, throughout all the country of Provence, that they would not swear, or name the devil, nor easily be brought to take an oath, except it were in judgment, or making some solemn covenant. They were also known by this, that they could never be moved nor provoked to talk of any dishonest matters; but in what company soever they came, where they heard any wanton talk, swearing, or blasphemy, to the dishonour of God, they straightway departed out of that company. Also they said, that they never saw them go unto their business, but first they made their prayers. The said people of Provence furthermore affirmed, that when they came to any fairs or markets, or came to their cities by any occasion, they never in a manner were seen in their churches; and if they were; when they prayed they turned away their faces from the images, and neither offered candles to them, nor kissed their feet; neither would they worship the relics of saints, nor once look upon them. And moreover, if they passed by any cross or image of the crucifix, or any other saint by the way, as they went, they would do no reverence unto them. Also the priests did testify, that they never caused them to say any masses, neither dirges, neither yet De profundis, neither would they take any holy water; and if it were carried home unto their houses, they would not say once, "God a' mercy!" yea, they seemed utterly to abhor it. To go on pilgrimage, to make vows to saints, to buy pardons or remission of sins with money, yea, though it might be gotten for a halfpenny, they thought it not lawful. Likewise when it thundered or lightened, they would not cross themselves, but casting up their eyes unto heaven, fetched deep sighs. Some of them would kneel down and pray, without blessing themselves with the sign of the cross, or taking of holy water. Also they were never seen to offer, or cast into the bason, any thing for the maintenance of lights, brotherhoods, churches, or to give any offering either for the quick or the dead. But if any were in affliction or poverty, those they relieved gladly, and thought nothing too much.
This was the whole tenor of the report made unto Monsieur de Langeay, touching the life and behaviour of the inhabitants of Merindol, and the other who were persecuted; also as touching the arrest, and that which ensued thereupon. Of all those things the said Monsieur de Langeay, according to the charge that was given him, advertised the king, who, understanding these things, as a good prince, moved with mercy and pity, sent letters of grace and pardon, not only for those which were condemned for lack of appearance, but also for all the rest of the country of Provence, which were accused and suspected in like case; expressly charging and commanding the said parliament, that they should not hereafter proceed so rigorously as they had done before, against this people; but if there were any that could be found or proved, by sufficient information, to have swerved from the Christian religion, that then he should have good demonstration made unto him by the word of God, both out of the Old and New Testament: and so, as well by the gentleness, as by the rigour of the same, he should be reduced again unto the church of Christ. Declaring also, that the king's pleasure was, that all such as should be convicted of heresy in manner aforesaid, should abjure; forbidding also all manner of persons, of what estate or condition soever they were, to attempt any thing against them of Merindol, or others that were persecuted, by any other manner of means, or to molest or trouble them in person or goods: revoking and disannulling all manner of sentences and condemnations of what judges soever they were, and commanding to set at liberty all prisoners which either were accused or suspected of Lutheranism.
By virtue of these letters they were now permitted to declare their cause, and to say what they could in defence thereof; whereupon they made a Confession of their faith, the effect whereof you shall see in the end of the story. This Confession was presented first to the court of parliament; and afterwards being declared more at large, with articles also annexed thereunto, it was delivered to the bishop of Cavaillon, who required the same. Also to Cardinal Sadolet, bishop of Carpentras, with the like articles, and also a supplication to this effect:
That the inhabitants of Cabriers, in the country of Venice, most humbly desired the cardinal, that he would vouchsafe to receive and read the Confession and declaration of their faith and doctrine, in the which they, and also their fathers before them, had been of a long time instructed and taught, which they were persuaded to be agreeable to the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testament. And because he was learned in the Holy Scriptures, they desired him that he would mark such articles as he thought to be against the Scriptures; and if he should make it to appear unto them, that there was any thing contrary to the same, they would not only submit themselves to abjuration, but also to suffer such punishment as should he adjudged unto them, even to the loss, not only of all that they had, but also of their lives. And moreover, if there were any judge in all the country of Venice, which, by good and sufficient information, should be able to charge them that they had holden any erroneous doctrine, or maintained any other religion than was contained in the articles of their Confession, they desired him that he would communicate the same unto them; and with all obedience they offered themselves to whatsoever should be thought just and reasonable.
Upon this request Cardinal Sadolet answered by his letters written by his secretary, and signed with his own hand, the tenor whereof here ensueth:
"I have seen your request, and have read the articles of your Confession, wherein there is much matter contained; and do not understand that you are accused for any other doctrine, but for the very same which you have confessed. It is most true, that many have reported divers things of you worthy of reproof, which, after diligent inquiry made, we have found to be nothing else but false reports and slanders. As touching the rest of your articles, it seemeth unto me, that there are many words therein which might well be changed without prejudice unto your Confession: and likewise it seemeth to me, that it is not necessary that you should speak so manifestly against the pastors of the church. For my part, I desire your welfare, and would be sorry that you should be so spoiled or destroyed, as they do pretend. And to the end you shall the better understand my amity and friendship towards you, shortly I will be at my house by Cabriers, whither ye may resort unto me either in greater or smaller numbers, as you will, and return safely without any hurt or damage; and there I will advertise you of all things that I think meet for your profit and health."
About this time, which was A.D. 1542, the vice-legate of Avignon assembled a great number of men of war, at the suit of the bishop of Cavaillon, to destroy Cabriers. When the army was come within a mile of Cabriers, the Cardinal Sadolet went with speed unto the vice-legate, and showed him the request of the inhabitants of Cabriers, with the articles of their Confession, and the offers that they made; so that for that present the army retired, without any hurt or damage done unto the inhabitants of Cabriers. After this, the Cardinal Sadolet went unto Rome; but before his departure he sent for divers of Cabriers, and certain farmers of his own, whom he knew to be of the number of those which were called Lutherans, and told them that he would have them in remembrance as soon as he came unto Rome, and communicate their articles and Confession unto the cardinals, trusting to find a mean to have some good reformation, that God should be thereby glorified, and all Christendom brought to unity and concord; at least, nothing at all doubting but that the foulest abuses should be corrected and amended: advertising them in the mean time to be wise and circumspect, to watch and pray, for that they had many enemies. With this oration of Cardinal Sadolet, they of Cabriers were greatly comforted, trusting that at the suit of Cardinal Sadolet they should have answer of their Confession: but at his return, they understood that he found all things so corrupt at Rome, that there was no hope of any reformation there to be had, but rather mortal war against all such as would not live according to the ordinances of the Church of Rome. Likewise said the treasurer of Carpentras, who albeit he paid out money to furnish soldiers that were hired for the destruction of Cabriers, notwithstanding he did aid them secretly all that he might. Howbeit he could not do it so secretly, but that it came to the knowledge of the legate; whereupon he was constrained to withdraw himself.
On the other part, the bishops of Aix and Cavaillon pursued still the execution of the arrest of Merindol. Then it was ordained by the court of parliament, that, according to the king's letters, John Durand, councillor of the court of parliament, with a secretary, and the bishop of Cavaillon, with a doctor of divinity, should go unto Merindol, and there declare unto the inhabitants the errors and heresies which they knew to be contained in their Confession, and make them apparent by good and sufficient information; and having so convicted them by the word of God, they should make them to renounce and abjure the said heresies: and if the Merindolians did refuse to abjure, then they should make relation thereof, that the court might appoint how they should further proceed. After this decree was made, the bishop of Cavaillon would not tarry until the time which was appointed by the court for the execution of this matter; but he himself, with a doctor of divinity, came to Merindol, to make them to abjure. Unto whom the Merindolians answered, that he enterprised against the authority of parliament, and that it was against his commission so to do. Notwithstanding he was very earnest with them that they should abjure, and promised them, if they would so do, to take them under his wings and protection, even as the hen doth her chickens, and that they should be no more robbed or spoiled. Then they required that he would declare unto them what they should abjure. The bishop answered, that the matter needed no disputation, and that he required but only a general abjuration of all errors, which would be no damage or prejudice to them; for he himself would not stick to make the like abjuration. The Merindolians answered him again, that they would do nothing contrary to the decree and ordinance of the court, or the king's letters, wherein he commanded that first the errors should be declared unto them, whereof they were accused: wherefore they were resolved to understand what those errors and heresies were, that being informed thereof by the word of God, they might satisfy the king's letters; otherwise it were but hypocrisy and dissimulation to do as he required them. And if he could make it so appear unto them by good and sufficient information, that they had holden any errors and heresies, or should be convicted thereupon by the word of God, they would willingly abjure; or if in their Confession there were any word contrary to the Scriptures, they would revoke the same. Contrariwise, if it were not made manifest unto them, that they had holden any heresies, but that they had always lived according to the doctrine of the gospel, and that their Confession was grounded upon the same, then they ought by no means to move or constrain them to abjure any errors which they held not; and that it were plainly against all equity and justice so to do.
Then the bishop of Cavaillon was marvellously angry, and would hear no word spoken of any demonstration to be made by the word of God, but, in a fury, cursed, and gave him to the devil that first invented that means. Then the doctor of divinity, whom the bishop brought thither, demanded what articles they were that were presented by the inhabitants of Merindol, for the bishop of Cavaillon had not yet showed them unto him. Then the bishop of Cavaillon delivered the doctor the Confession, which, after he had read, the bishop of Cavaillon said, "What! will you any more witness or declaration? this is full of heresy." Then they of Merindol demanded, "In what point?" whereupon the bishop knew not what to answer. Then the doctor demanded to have time to look upon the articles of the Confession, and to consider whether they were against the Scriptures or no. Thus the bishop departed, being very sore agrieved that he could not bring his purpose to pass.
After eight days the bishop sent for this doctor, to understand how he might order himself to make their heresies appear which were in the said Confession: whereunto the doctor answered, that he was never so much abashed; for when he had beholden the articles of the Confession, and the authorities of the Scriptures that were there alleged for the confirmation thereof, he had found that those articles were wholly agreeable and according to the Holy Scriptures; and that he had not learned so much in the Scriptures all the days of his life, as he had in those eight days, in looking upon those articles, and the authorities therein alleged.
Shortly after the bishop of Cavaillon came unto Merindol, and calling before him the children both great and small, gave them money, and commanded them with fair words to learn the Pater-noster and the Creed in Latin. The most part of them answered, that they knew the Pater-noster and the Creed already in Latin, but they could give no reason of that which they spake, but only in the vulgar tongue. The bishop answered, that it was not necessary that they should be so cunning, but that it was sufficient that they knew it in Latin; and that it was not requisite for their salvation, to understand or to expound the articles of their faith; for there were many bishops, curates, yea, and doctors of divinity, whom it would trouble to expound the Paternoster and the Creed. Here the bailiff of Merindol, named Andrew Maynard, asked, to what purpose it would serve to say the Pater-noster and the Creed, and not to understand the same? for in so doing they should but mock and deride God. Then said the bishop unto him, "Do you understand what is signified by these words, I believe in God?" The bailiff answered, "I should think myself very miserable, if I did not understand it: "and then he began orderly to give an account of his faith. Then said the bishop, "I would not have thought there had been such great doctors in Merindol." The bailiff answered, "The least of the inhabitants of Merindol can do it yet more readily than I; but I pray you, question with one or two of these young children, that you may understand whether they be well taught or no." But the bishop either knew not how to question with them, or at least he would not.
Then one, named Pieron Roy, said, "Sir! one of these children may question with another, if you think it so good; "and the bishop was contented. Then one of the children began to question with his fellows with such grace and gravity, as if he had been a schoolmaster; and the children one after another answered so unto the purpose, that it was marvellous to hear: for it was done in the presence of many, among whom there were four religious men, that came lately out of Paris, of whom one said unto the bishop, "I must needs confess that I have often been at the common schools of Sarbonne in Paris, where I have heard the disputations of the divines; but yet I never learned so much as I have done by hearing these young children." Then said William Armant, "Did you never read that which is written in Matthew xi., where it is said, O Father! Lord of heaven and earth! I render thanks unto thee, that thou hast bidden these things from the sage and wise men of the world, and hast revealed them unto young infants: but behold, O Father! such was thy good will and pleasure." Then every man marvelled at the ready and witty answers of the children of Merindol.
When the bishop saw he could not thus prevail, he tried another way, and went about, by fair and flattering words, to bring his purpose to pass. Wherefore, causing the strangers to go apart, he said that he now perceived they were not so evil as many thought them to be: notwithstanding, for the contentation of them which were their persecutors, it was necessary that they should make some small abjuration, which only the bailiff, with two officers, might make generally in his presence, in the name of all the rest, without any notary to record the same in writing; and in so doing they should be loved and favoured of all men, and even of those who now persecuted them: and that they should sustain no infamy thereby, for there should be no report thereof made, but only to the pope, and to the high court of parliament of Provence: and also if any man, in time to come, would turn the same to their reproach, or allege it against them to their hurt or damage, they might utterly deny it, and say they made no abjuration at all, because there were no records made thereof, or witnesses to prove the same. For this purpose he desired them to talk together, to the end there might be an end made in this matter without any further business.
The bailiff, and the two officers, with divers other ancients of the town, answered, that they were fully resolved not to consent to any abjuration, howsoever it were to be done; except (that which was always their exception) they could make it appear unto them by the word of God, that they had holden or maintained any heresy; marvelling much that he would go about to persuade them to lie to God and to the world. And albeit that all men by nature are liars, yet they had learned by the word of God, that they ought diligently to take heed of lying in any matter, were it never so small. Also, that they ought diligently to take heed that their children did not accustom to use themselves to lie, and therefore punished them very sharply, when they took them with any lie, even as if they had committed any robbery; for the devil is a liar, and the father of lies. Here the bishop rose up in great anger and indignation, and so departed.
Within a while after, the bishop of Aix solicited Master John Durand, councillor of the court of the parliament of Provence, to execute the commission which was given him; that is, to go unto the place of Merindol, together with the secretary of the said court, and there, in the presence of the bishop of Cavaillon, accompanied with a doctor of divinity, to declare the errors and heresies which the bishops pretended the inhabitants of Merindol to be infected and entangled withal; and, according to their duty, to make it appear by the word of God; and so, being convicted, to make them abjure and renounce the said heresies. Whereupon the said councillor Durand certified the day that he would be present at Merindol, to the end and purpose that none of the inhabitants should be absent.
At the day appointed, the said councillor Durand, the bishop of Cavaillon, a doctor of divinity, and a secretary, came unto Merindol, where were also present divers gentlemen, and men of understanding of all sorts, to see this commission executed. Then they of Merindol were advertised that they should not appear all at once, but that they should keep themselves apart, and appear as they should be called, in such orderand number as should be appointed unto them. After that Durand, the bishop of Cavaillon, the doctor of divinity, and the secretary, were set in place where justice was accustomed to be kept, there were called forth Andrew Maynard, the bailiff of Merindol; Jenon Romaine, and Micheline Maynard, syndics; John Cabrie, and John Palenc, ancients of Merindol; and John Bruneral, under-bailiff. After they had presented themselves with all due reverence, the councillor Durand spake thus unto them:
"You are not ignorant, that by the arrest given out by the high court of Provence, you were all condemned to be burned, both men, women, and children; your houses also to be beaten down, and your town to be razed and made desolate, &c., as is more largely contained in the said arrest. Notwithstanding, it hath pleased the king, our most gracious prince, to send his letters unto the said court, commanding that the said arrest should not so vigorously proceed against you: but if it could by sufficient information be proved, that you, or any of you, had swerved from the true religion, demonstration should be made thereof unto you by the word of God, whereby you might be reduced again to the flock of Christ. Wherefore it was determined in the said court of parliament, that the bishop of Cavaillon, with a doctor of divinity, should in my presence declare unto you the errors and heresies wherewith they say you are infected; and after good demonstration made by the word of God, you should publicly and solemnly renounce and abjure the said heresies; and in so doing, should obtain the grace and pardon contained in the king's letters: wherefore show yourselves this day, that you be obedient unto God, the king, and the magistrates."
When he had thus spoken, "What answer you," said he, "to that which I have propounded?"
Then Andrew Maynard, the bailiff, desired that they would grant them an advocate to answer according to the instructions which they would give him, forasmuch as they were men unlearned, and knew not how to answer as in such a case was requisite. The councillor answered, that he would hear their answer neither by advocate nor by writing, but would hear them answer in their own persons: notwithstanding, he would give them leave to go apart, and talk together, but not to ask any counsel, but only among themselves; and then to answer one after another. Upon this determination, the bailiff and the two syndics, with other two ancient men, talked together awhile, and determined that the two syndics should speak first, and after them the bailiff, then the two ancient men; every man according as God should give him grace and by and by they presented themselves; whereat the councillor Durand was greatly abashed, to see that they had decreed and determined so speedily. Then Michelin Maynard began to answer, desiring the councillor and the bishop, with the other assistants, to pardon him, if that he answered over rudely, having regard that they were poor, rude, and ignorant men. His answer here followeth.
"We are greatly bound to give God thanks, that besides his other benefits bestowed upon us, he hath now delivered us from these great assaults, and that it hath pleased him to touch the heart of our noble king, that our cause might be treated with justice, and not by violence. In like manner are we also bound to pray for our noble king, which following the example of Samuel and Daniel, hath not disdained to look upon the cause of his poor subjects. Also we render thanks unto the lords of the parliament, in that it hath pleased them to minister justice according to the king's commandment. Finally, we thank you, my lord Durand, commissioner in this present cause, that it hath pleased you, in so few words, to declare unto us the manner and order how we ought to proceed. And for my part, I greatly desire to understand and know the heresies and errors whereof I am accused; and where they shall make it appear unto me that I have holden any errors or heresies, I am contented to amend the same, as it shall be ordained and provided by you."
After him answered Jenon Romaine, the other syndic, a very ancient father, approving all that which his fellow before had said, giving God thanks that in his time, even in his latter days, he had seen and heard such good news, that the cause of religion should be decided and debated by the Holy Scriptures, and that he had often heard ancient men say, that they could never obtain of the judges, in all their persecution, to have their cause debated in such sort.
Then Andrew Maynard the bailiff answered, saying, that God had given to these two syndics the grace to answer so well, that it was not necessary for him to say or add any more thereunto; notwithstanding, it seemed good that their answers were put in writing, which was not done by the secretary, who had done nothing else but mock and jeer at all that had been said: wherefore he required the commissioner to look unto the matter.
Then the commissioner was very angry, and sharply rebuked his secretary, commanding him to sit nearer and to write their answers word for word; and be himself, with a singular memory, repeated their answers, and oftentimes asked if it were not so. The said answers being thus put in writing, the commissioner asked the bailiff if he had any more to answer, saying, that he had done him great pleasure to show him his secretary's fault, willing him to speak boldly, what he thought good for the defence of their cause. Then the bailiff said, "Forasmuch as it hath pleased you to give me audience and liberty to speak my mind freely, I say moreover, that it seemeth unto me, that there is no due form of process in this judgment; for there is no party here that doth accuse us. If we had an accuser present, which, according to the rule of the Scripture, either should prove by good demonstration out of the Old and New Testament that whereof we are accused, or, if he were not able, should suffer punishment due unto such as are heretics, I think he would be as greatly troubled to maintain his accusations, as we to answer unto the same."
After the bailiff had made this answer, John Palenc, one of the ancients of Merindol, said, that he approved all that had been said by the syndics, and that he was able to say no more than bad been said by them before. The commissioner said unto him: "You are, I see, a very ancient man, and you have not lived so long, but that you have something to answer for your part in defence of your cause." And the said Palenc answered, "Seeing it is your pleasure that I should say something, it seemeth unto me impossible that (say what we can) we should have either victory or advantage; for our judges be our enemies."
Then John Bruneral, under-bailiff of Merindol, answered thus:
"That he would very fain know the authority of the councillor Durand, commissioner in this cause, forasmuch as the said councillor had given them to understand, that he had authority of the high court to make them abjure their errors, which should be found by good and sufficient information, and to give them (so doing) the pardon contained in the king's letters, and quit them of all punishment and condemnation. But the said commissioner did not give them to understand, that if they could not be found, by good and sufficient information, that they were in error, he had any power or authority to quit and absolve them of the said sentence and condemnation: wherefore it seemed that it should be more advantage for the said Merindolians, if it should appear that they were heretics, than to be found to live according to the doctrine of the gospel. For this cause he required, that it would please the said commissioner to make declaration thereof; concluding, that if it did not appear, by good and sufficient information against them, that they had swerved from the faith, or if there were no accuser that would come forth against them, they ought to be fully absolved, without being any more troubled, either in body or goods."
These things were thus in debating from seven of the clock in the morning until eleven. Then the commissioners dismissed them till after dinner. At one o'clock in the afternoon, they were called for again, and demanded whether they would say any thing else touching that which was propounded in the morning by the said commissioner. They answered, "No." Then said the commissioner, "What do you conclude for your defence?" the two syndics answered, "We conclude, that it would please you to declare unto us the errors and heresies whereof we are accused." Then the commissioner asked the bishop of Cavaillon, what informations he had against them. The bishop spake unto him in his ear, and would not answer aloud. This talk in the ear continued almost half an hour, that the commissioner and all others that stood thereby were weary thereof. In the end, the commissioner said unto them, that the bishop of Cavaillon had told him, that it was not needful to make it apparent by information, for such was the common report. Hereunto they answered, that they required the causes and reasons alleged by the bishop of Cavaillon against them should be put in writing. The bishop was earnest to the contrary, and would have nothing that either he said or alleged to be put in writing. Then John Bruneral required the commissioner that at least he would put in writing, that the bishop would speak nothing against them that they could understand; and that he would not speak before the commissioner but only in his ear. The bishop, on the contrary part, insisted that he would not be named in the process. There was great disputation upon this matter, and continued long.
Then the commissioner asked the Merindolians if they had the articles of their Confession, which they had presented to the high court of parliament. Then they required that their Confession might be read, that by the reading thereof, they might understand whether it were the doctrine which they held, and the Confession which they had presented, or no. Then the Confession was read publicly before them, which they did allow and acknowledge to be theirs. This done, the commissioner asked the doctor, if he did find in the said Confession any heretical opinions, whereof he could make demonstration by the word of God, either out of the Old or New Testament. Then spake the doctor in Latin a good while. After he had made an end, Andrew Maynard, the bailiff, desired the commissioner, according as he had propounded, to make the errors and heresies that they were accused of apparent unto them by good information, or at the least to mark those articles of their Confession which the bishop and the doctor pretended to be heretical; requiring him also to put in register the refusal as well of the bishop as of the doctor, of whom the one spake in his ear, and the other in Latin, so that they of Merindol could not understand one word. Then the commissioner promised them to put in writing all that should make for their cause. And moreover he said, that it was not needful to call the rest of the Merindolians, if there were no more to be said to them, than had been said to those which were already called. And this is the sum of all that was done in the afternoon.
Many which came thither to hear these disputations, supposing they should have heard some goodly demonstrations, were greatly abashed to see the bishop and the doctor so confounded; which thing afterwards turned to the great benefit of many, for hereby they were moved to require copies of the Confession of their faith, by means whereof they were converted and embraced the truth; and especially three doctors, who went about divers times to dissuade the Merindolians from their faith, whose ministry God afterwards used in the preaching of his gospel. One of them was Dr. Combaudi, prior of St. Maximin, afterwards a preacher in the territory of the lords of Berne: another was Dr. Somati, who was also a preacher in the bailiwick of Tournon: the other was Dr. Heraudi, pastor and minister in the county of Neufchatel.
After this, the inhabitants of Merindol were in rest and quietness for a space, insomuch that every man feared to go about to trouble them, seeing those who persecuted them did receive nothing but shame and confusion; as it did manifestly appear, not only by the sudden death of the president Chassanee, but also of many others of the chiefest councillors of the parliament of Provence; whose horrible end terrified many, but especially the strange and fearful example of that bloody tyrant John de Roma, set out as a spectacle to all persecutors; whereof we have spoken before.
Thus the Lord, repressing the rage of the adversaries for a time, stayed the violence and execution of that cruel sentence or arrest given out by the parliament of Provence against the Merindolians, until John Minerius, an exceeding bloody tyrant, began a new persecution. This Minerius, being lord of Opede near to Merindol, first began to vex the poor Christians by pilling and polling, by oppression and extortion, getting from them what he could to enlarge his seigniory or lordship, which before was very base. For this cause he put five or six of his own tenants into a cistern under the ground, and closing it up, there he kept them till they died for hunger, pretending that they were Lutherans and Waldois, to have their goods and possessions. By this and such other practices, this wretch was advanced in short space to great wealth and dignity; and so at length became not only the chief president of the high court of parliament, but also the king's lieutenant-general in the country of Provence, in the absence of the Lord Grignan, then being at the council of Worms in Germany. Now therefore, seeing no opportunity to be lacking to accomplish his devilish enterprise, he employed all his power, riches, and authority, not only to confirm and to revive that cruel arrest given out before by the court of parliament, but also, as a right minister of Satan, he exceedingly increased the cruelty thereof, which was already so great, that it seemed there could nothing more be added thereunto. And to bring this mischief to pass, he forged a most impudent lie, giving the king to understand, that they of Merindol and all the country near about, to the number of twelve or fifteen thousand, were in the field in armour, with their ensigns displayed, intending to take the town of Marseilles, and make it one of the cantons of the Switzers. And to stay this enterprise, he said it was necessary to execute the arrest manu militari: and by this means he obtained the king's letters patent, through the help of the cardinal of Tournon, commanding the sentence to be executed against the Merindolians, notwithstanding that the king had before revoked the said sentence, and given strait commandment that it should in no wise be executed; as is before mentioned.
After this he gathered all the king's army, which was then in Provence ready to go against the Englishmen, and took up all besides, that were able to bear armour, in the chiefest towns of Provence, and joined them with the army which the pope's legate had levied for that purpose in Avignon, and all the country of Venice, and employed the same to the destruction of Merindol, Cabriers, and other towns and villages to the number of two and twenty, giving commission to his soldiers to spoil, ransack, burn, and to destroy all together, and to kill man, woman, and child without all mercy, sparing none: no otherwise than the infidels and cruel Turks have dealt with the Christians, as before in the story of the Turks you may read. For as the papists and Turks are alike in their religion; so are the said papists like, or rather exceed them, in all kinds of cruelty that can be devised. But this arch-tyrant, before he came to Merindol, ransacked and burnt certain towns, namely, La Roche, St. Stephens, Ville Laure, Lormarin, La Motte, Cabriers, St. Martin, Pipin, and other places more, notwithstanding that the arrest extended but only to Merindol, where the most of the poor inhabitants were slain and murdered without any resistance; women and maidens ravished; women with child, and little infants born and to be born, were also most cruelly murdered; the paps of many women cut off, who gave suck to their children, which looking for suck at their mother's breast, being dead before, died also for hunger. There was never such cruelty and tyranny seen before.
Illustration -- Martyrs Dragged to the gallows
The Merindolians, seeing all on a flaming fire round about them, left their houses, and fled into the woods, and remained that night at the village Sanfales, and thereabouts, in wonderful fear and perplexity; for the bishop of Cavaillon, deputy to the bishop of Rome's legate, had appointed certain captains to go and slay them. The next day they went a little further, hiding themselves in woods, for there was danger on every side; and Minerius had commanded, under pain of death, that no man should aid them by any means, but that they should be slain without pity or mercy, wheresoever they were found. The same proclamation was of force also in the bishop of Rome's dominions thereby; and it was said, that the bishops of that country did find a great part of the army. Wherefore they went a tedious and painful journey, carrying their children upon their shoulders, and in their arms, and in their swaddling-clothes; and many of them also being great with child, were constrained so to do. And when they were come to the place appointed, thither were already resorted a great number which had lost their goods, and saved themselves by flight.
Illustration -- A Martyr Dragged and Whipped
Not long after it was showed them how that Minerius was coming with all his power to give the charge upon them. This was in the evening, and because they should go through rough and cumbersome places, and hard to pass by, they all thought it most expedient for their safeguard, to leave behind them all the women and children, with a few others, and among them also certain ministers of the church: the residue were appointed to go to the town of Muzi. And this did they, upon hope that the enemy would show mercy to the multitude of women and children being destitute of all succour. No tongue can express what sorrow, what tears, what sighing, what lamentation there was at that woeful departing, when they were compelled to be thus separated asunder, the husband from his dear wife, the father from his sweet babes and tender infants, the one never like to see the other again alive. Notwithstanding, after the ministers had ended their ordinary sermons, with evening prayers and exhortations, the men departed that night, to avoid a greater inconvenience.
When they had gone all the night long, and had passed over the great hill of Libron, they might see many villages and farms set on fire. Minerius, in the mean time, had divided his army into two parts, marching himself with the one towards the town of Merindol; and having knowledge by espial whither the Merindolians were fled, he sendeth the other part to set upon them, and to show their accustomed cruelty upon them. Yet before they came to the place where they were, some of Minerius' army, either of good will, or moved with pity, privily conveyed themselves away, and came unto them, to give them warning that their enemies were coming: and one, from the top of a high rock, where he thought that the Merindolians were underneath, cast down two stones, and afterwards, although he could not see them, he called unto them that they should immediately fly from thence. But the enemies suddenly came upon them, and finding them all assembled together at prayers, spoiled them of all that they had, pulling off their garments from their backs: some they abused, some they whipped and scourged, and some they sold away like cattle, practising what cruelty and villany soever they could devise against them. The women were in number about five hundred.
In the mean time Minerius cane to Merindol, where he found none but a young man named Maurice Blanc, who had yielded himself unto a soldier, promising him for his ransom two French crowns. Minerius would have had him away by force, but it was answered that the soldier ought not to lose his prisoner. Minerius therefore, paying the two crowns himself, took the young man, and caused him to be tied unto an olive-tree, and shot through with harquebusses, and most cruelly martyred. Many gentlemen which accompanied Minerius against their wills, seeing this cruel spectacle, were moved with great compassion, and could not forbear tears; for albeit this young man was not yet very well instructed, neither had before dwelt at Merindol, yet in all his torments, having always his eyes lifted up to heaven, with a loud voice he ceased not still to call upon God; and the last words that he spake were these: "Lord God! these men take away my life full of misery, but thou wilt give unto me life everlasting by thy Son Jesus Christ, to whom be glory." So was Merindol, without any resistance, valiantly taken, ransacked, burned, razed, and laid even with the ground. And albeit there was no man to resist, yet this valiant captain of Opede, armed from top to toe, trembled for fear, and was seen to change his colour very much.
When he had destroyed Merindol, he laid siege to Cabriers, and battered it with his ordnance; but when he could not win it by force, he, with the lord of the town, and Poulin his chief captain, persuaded with the inhabitants to open their gates, solemnly promising, that if they would so do, they would lay down their armour, and also that their cause should be heard in judgment with all equity and justice, and no violence or injury should be showed against them. Upon this they opened their gates, and let in Minerius, with his captains, and all his army. But the tyrant, when he was once entered, falsified his promise, and raged like a beast. For first of all he picked out about thirty men, causing them to be bound, and carried into a meadow near to the town, and there to be miserably cut and hewn in pieces of his soldiers.
Then, because he would leave no kind of cruelty unattempted, he also exercised his fury and outrage upon the poor silly women, and caused forty of them to be taken, of whom divers were great with child, and put them into a barn full of straw and hay, and caused it to be set on fire at four corners; and when the silly women, running to the great window where the hay is wont to be cast into the barn, would have leaped out, they were kept in with pikes and halberds. Then there was a soldier, which, moved with pity at the crying out and lamentation of the women, opened a door to let them out; but as they were coming out, the tyrant caused them to be slain and cut in pieces, and the children yet unborn they trod under their feet. Many were fled into the wine-cellar of the castle, and many hid themselves in caves, whereof some were carried into the meadow, and there, stripped naked, were slain: others were bound two and two together, and carried into the hall of the castle, where they were slain by the captains, rejoicing in their bloody butchery and horrible slaughter.
That done, this tyrant, more cruel than ever was Herod, commanded Captain John de Gay, with a band of ruffians, to go into the church (where was a great number of women, children, and young infants) to kill all that he found there; which the captain refused at first to do, saying, that were a cruelty unused among men of war: whereat Minerius being displeased, charged him, upon pain of rebellion, and disobedience to the king, to do as he commanded him. The captain, fearing what might ensue, entered with his men, and destroyed them all, sparing neither young nor old.
In this mean while certain soldiers went to ransack the houses for the spoil, where they found many poor men that had there hidden themselves in cellars, and other privy places, flying upon them, and crying out, "Kill! kill!" The other soldiers that were without the town, killed all that they could meet with. The number of those that were so unmercifully murdered, was about a thousand persons, men, women, and children. The infants that escaped their fury, were baptized again of their enemies.
In token of this jolly victory, the pope's officers caused a pillar to be erected in the said place of Cabriers, on the which was engraven the year and the day of the taking and sacking of this town, by John Minerius, lord of Opede, and chief president of the parliament of Provence; for a memorial for ever of that barbarous cruelty, the like whereof was never yet heard of. Whereupon we, with all our posterity, have to understand what be the reasons and arguments wherewith the antichrist of Rome is wont to uphold the impious seat of his abomination; who now is come to such excess and profundity of all kinds of iniquity, that all justice, equity, and verity being set aside, he seeketh the defence of his cause by no other thing than only by force and violence, terror and oppression, and shedding of blood.
In this mean while the inhabitants of Merindol, and other places thereabout, were among the mountains and rocks, in great necessity of victuals, and much affliction; who had procured certain men who were in some favour and authority with Minerius, to make request for them unto him, that they might depart safely whither it should please God to lead them, with their wives and children, although they had no more but their shirts to cover them. Whereunto Minerius made this answer: "I know what I have to do; not one of them shall escape my hands; I will send them to dwell in hell among the devils."
After this there was a power sent unto Costua, which likewise they overcame, and committed there great slaughter. Many of the inhabitants fled away, and ran into an orchard, where the soldiers vilely ill-used the women and maidens; and when they had kept them there enclosed a day and a night, they handled them so cruelly, that some of the women with child, and maidens, died shortly after. It were impossible to comprehend all the lamentable and sorrowful examples of this cruel persecution against the Merindolians, and their fellows, insomuch that no kind of cruel tyranny was unpractised; for they which escaped by woods, and went wandering by mountains, were taken and set in galleys, or else were slain outright.
Many which did hide themselves in rocks and dark caves, some were famished with hunger, some were smothered with fire and smoke put unto them: all which may more fully be understood by the records of the court, and by the pleas between them and their adversaries in the high consistory of the court of Paris, where, all the doors being set open, and in the public hearing of the people, the cause of this trouble and persecution was shortly after solemnly debated between two great lawyers; the one called Aubrius, which accused Minerius the president, committed to prison; and the other called Robert, the defendant who was against him. The cause why this matter of Merindol was brought in plea and judgment to be decided by the law was this:
Henry the Second, the French king, who newly succeeded Francis his father above-mentioned, con-sidering how this cruel and infamous persecution against his own subjects and people was greatly misliked of other princes, and also objected both against him and his father as a note of shameful tyranny, by the emperor himself, Charles the Fifth, and that in the public council of all the states in Germany, for so murdering and spoiling his own natural subjects, without all reason and mercy; he therefore, to the intent to purge and clear himself thereof, caused the said matter to be brought into the court, and there to be decided by order of justice, A.D. 1547.
Which cause, after it was pleaded to and fro in public audience, no less than fifty times, and yet in the end could not be determined, so it brake off and was passed over; and at length Minerius, being loosed out of prison, was restored to his liberty and possessions again, upon this condition and promise made unto the cardinal, Charles of Lorraine, that he should banish and expel these new Christians (terming so the true professors of the gospel) out of all Provence.
Thus Minerius, being restored, returned again into Provence, where he began again to attempt greater tyranny than before. Neither did his raging fury cease to proceed, before the just judgment of God, lighting upon him, brought him by a horrible disease unto the torments of death, which he most justly had deserved. For he, being struck with a strange kind of bleeding in manner of a bloody flux, and not being able to obtain other relief, thus by little and little his entrails within him rotted: and when no remedy could be found for this terrible disease, and his entrails now began to be eaten of worms, a certain famous surgeon, named La Motte, which dwelt at Arles, a man no less godly than expert in his science, was called for, who, after he had cured him of this difficulty of relieving himself, and therefore was in great estimation with him, before he would proceed further to search the other parts of his putrefied body, and to search out the inward cause of his malady, he desired that they which were present in the chamber with Minerius, would depart a little aside. Which being done, he began to exhort Minerius with earnest words, saying, how the time now required that he should ask forgiveness of God by Christ, for his enormous crimes and cruelty, in shedding so much innocent blood; and declaring the same to be the cause of this so strange profusion of blood coming from him.
These words being heard, so pierced the impure conscience of this miserable wretch, that he was therewith troubled more than with the agony of his disease; insomuch that he cried out to lay hand upon the surgeon as a heretic. La Motte hearing this, eftsoons conveyed himself out of sight, and returned again to Arles. Notwithstanding it was not long but he was sent for again, being entreated by his friends, and promised most firmly, that his coming should be without any peril or danger: and so, with much ado, he returned again to Minerius, what time all now was past remedy. And so Minerius, raging and casting out most horrible and blaspheming words, and feeling a fire which burnt him from the navel upwards, with extreme stench of the lower parts, finished his wretched life. Whereby we have notoriously to understand, that God, through his mighty arm, at length confoundeth such persecutors of his innocent and faithful servants, and bringeth them to nought; to whom be praise and glory for ever!
Moreover, besides this justice of God showed upon Minerius, here also is not to be forgotten which followed likewise upon certain of the others who were the chief doers in this persecution under Minerius aforesaid; namely, Louis de Vaine, brother-in-law to the said president, and also the brother and the son-in-law to Peter Durant, master-butcher in the town of Aix; the which three did slay one another, upon a certain strife that fell among them. And upon the same day the judge of Aix, who accompanied Minerius in the same persecution, as he returned homeward, going over the river of Durance, was drowned.
Notes upon the history of Merindol, above recited.
Thus hast thou heard, loving reader! the terrible troubles and slaughters committed by the bishops and cardinals, against these faithful men of Merindol, which, for the heinous tyranny, and example of the fact most unmerciful, may be comparable with any of the first persecutions in the primitive church, done either by Decius, or Dioclesian.
Now, touching the said story and people of Merindol, briefly by the way is to be noted, that this was not the first time that these men of this country were vexed; neither was it of late years that the doctrine and profession of them began. For (as by the course of time, and by ancient records, it may appear) these inhabitants of Provence, and other coasts bordering about the confines of France and Piedmont, had their continuance of ancient time, and received their doctrine first from the Waldenses, or Albigenses, which were (as some say) about A.D. 1170; or (as others do reckon) about A.D. 1216; whereof thou hast, gentle reader! sufficiently to understand, reading before.
These Waldenses, otherwise called Pauperes de Lugduno, beginning of one Peter Waldo, citizen of Lyons, as is before showed, by violence of persecution being driven out of Lyons, were dispersed abroad in divers countries, of whom some fled to Marseilles, some to Germany, some to Sarmatia, Livonia, Bohemia, Calabria, and Apulia. Divers strayed to the countries of France, especially about Provence and Piedmont, of whom came these Merindolians above-mentioned, and the Angrognians, with others, of whom now it followeth likewise (God willing) to discourse. They which were in the country of Toulouse, of the place where they frequented, where called Albii, or Albigenses. Against the which Albigenses, Friar Dominic was a great doer, labouring and preaching against them ten years together, and caused many of them to be burned; for the which he was highly accepted and rewarded in the apostolical court, and at length, by Pope Honorius the Third, was made patriarch of the black guard of the Dominic Friars.
These Albigenses, against the pope of Rome, had set up to themselves a bishop of their own, named Bartholomæus, remaining about the coasts of Croatia and Dalmatia, as appeareth by a letter of one of the pope's cardinals above specified. For the which cause the see of Rome took great indignation against the said Albigenses, and caused all their faithful catholics, and the obedientaries to their church, to rise up in armour, and to take the sign of the holy cross upon them, to fight against them, A.D. 1206; by reason whereof great multitudes of them were pitifully murdered, not only of them about Toulouse and Avignon in France, (as is afore to be seen,) but also in all quarters miserable slaughters and burnings of them long continued, from the reign of Frederic the Second, emperor, almost to this present time, through the instigation of the Roman popes.
Paulus Æmilius, the French chronicler, in his sixth book, writing of these Pauperes de Lugduno, and Humiliati, and dividing these two orders from the Albigenses, reporteth that the two former orders were rejected of Pope Lucius the Third, and in their place other two orders were approved, to wit, the order of the Dominic Friars, and of the Franciscans: which seemeth not to be true, forasmuch as this Pope Lucius was twenty years before Innocent the Third; and yet not in the time of Pope Innocent was the order of the Dominic Friars approved, but in the time of Pope Honorius the Third, who was forty years after Pope Lucius. Again, Bernard of Lutzenberg, in his Catalogus Hæ reticorum, affirmeth, that these Pauperes de Lugduno, or Waldenses, began first A.D. 1218; which if it be true, then must the other report of Æmilius be false, writing that the sect of Pauperes de Lugduno, to be refused by Pope Lucius the Third, who was long before this, A.D. 1181.
Amongst other authors who write of those Waldenses, John Sleidan, treating of their continuance and doctrine, thus writeth of them. "There be," saith he, "in the French province, a people called Waldois. These, of an ancient trade and custom among them, do not acknowledge the bishop of Rome, and ever have used a manner of doctrine somewhat more pure than the rest; but especially since the coming of Luther, they have increased in more knowledge and perfection of judgment: wherefore they have been oftentimes complained of to the king, as though they contemned the magistrate, and would move rebellion, with other such matter falsely surmised against them, more of despite and malice, than of any just cause of truth. There be of them certain towns and villages, among which Merindol is one. Against these Merindolians sentence was given five years past, at Aix, being the high tribunal-seat or judgment-place of Provence, that all should be destroyed without respect of age or person, in such sort as that the houses being plucked down, the village should be made plain, even with the ground; the trees also should be cut down, and the place altogether made desolate and desert. Albeit, though it were thus pronounced, yet was it not then put in execution, by the means of certain that persuaded the king to the contrary, namely, one William Belay, who was at the same time the king's lieutenant in Piedmont. But at the last, on the twelfth of April, A.D. 1545, John Minerius, president of the council of Aix, calling the senate, read the king's letters, commanding them to execute the sentence given," &c.
Moreover, concerning the Confession and the doctrine of the said Merindolians, received of ancient time from their forefathers the Waldenses, thus it followeth in the said book and place of John Sleidan.
"At last," saith Sleidan, (after he had described what great cruelty was showed against them,)" when the report hereof was bruited in Germany, it offended the minds of many; and indeed the Switzers, who were then of a contrary religion to the pope, entreated the king that he would show mercy to such as were fled."
Whereunto the said King Francis made answer in this wise; pretending that he had just cause to do as he did: inferring moreover, that they ought not to be careful what he did within his dominions, or how he punished his offenders, more than he was about their affairs, &c. Thus hard was the king against them, notwithstanding (saith Sleidan) that he, the year before, had received from the said his subjects of Merindol, a Confession of their faith and doctrine.
"The articles whereof were, that they, according to the Christian faith, confessed first, God the Father, Creator of all things: the Son, the only Mediator and Advocate of mankind: the Holy Spirit, the Comfortor and Instructor of all truth.
"They confessed also the church, which they acknowledged to be the fellowship of God's elect, whereof Jesus Christ is Head. The ministers also of the church they did allow, wishing that such which did not their duty should be removed.
"And as touching magistrates, they granted likewise the same to be ordained of God to defend the good, and to punish the transgressors. And how they owe to him, not love only, but also tribute and custom, and no man herein to be excepted, even by the example of Christ, who paid tribute himself, &c.
"Likewise of baptism, they confessed the same to be a visible and an outward sign, that representeth to us the renewing of the spirit, and mortification of the members.
"Furthermore, as touching the Lord's supper, they said and confessed the same to be a thanksgiving, and a memorial of the benefit received through Christ.
"Matrimony they affirmed to be holy; and instituted of God, and to be inhibited to no man.
"That good works are to be observed and exercised of all men, as Holy Scripture teacheth.
"That false doctrine, which leadeth men away from the true worship of God, ought to be eschewed.
"Briefly and finally, the order and rule of their faith they confessed to be the Old and New Testament; protesting that they believed all such things as are contained in the Apostoles Creed: desiring moreover the king to give credit to this their declaration of their faith; so that whatsoever was informed to him to the contrary, was not true, and that they would well prove, if they might be heard."
And thus much concerning the doctrine and confession of the Merindolians out of Sleidan, and also concerning their descent and offspring from the Waldenses.