Page images

60. MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW's. In the month of August, 1572, in the reign of Charles IX. of France, 30,000, or, as some affirm, 100,000 protestants were massacred in France by the Catholies. This bloody massacre commenced in Paris on the 24th of August, on St. Bartholomew's day.

In order the sooner to effect their purposes by cutting off the leaders of the protestants, many of the principal ones in the kingdom were invited to Paris under a solemn oath of safety, upon occasion of the marriage of the king of Navarre with the French king's sister. The queen-dowager of Navarre, a zealous protestant, however was poisoned by a pair of gloves before the marriage was solemnized. Upon a given signal the work of death began. Charles, the savage monarch, from the windows of his palace, encouraged the furious populace to massacre his protestant subjects, by crying out “ Kill! kill!”

Cologni, admiral of France, was basely murdered in his own house, and then thrown out of the window, to gratify the malice of the duke of Guise; his head was afterwards cut off, and sent to the king and queen-mother; and his body, after many indignities offered to it, hung on a gibbet. After this, the murderers ravaged the whole city of Paris, and butchered in three days above ten thousand lords, gentlemen, presidents, and people of all ranks. “ A horrible scene of things !" says a historian of the time; “ the very streets and passages resounded with the noise of those who met together for murder and plunder; the groans of those who were dying, the shrieks of those who were just going to be butchered, were every where heard ; the bodies of the slain were thrown out of the windows, the dead bodies of others were dragged through the streets; their blood running through the channels, in such plenty, that torrents seemed to empty themselves into the neighbouring river, in a word, an innumerable number of men, women, and children, were all involved in one common destruetion, and the gates and entrances of the king's palace all besmeared with their blood,"

From the city of Paris the massacre spread throughout the whole kingdom. In the city of Meaux they threw above two hundred into jail ; and after they had ravished and killed a great number of women, and plundered the houses of the protestants, they exercised their fury on those they had imprisoned, and, calling them one by one, they were killed like sheep in a market. In Orleans they murdered above five hundred men, women, and children, and enriched themselves with the spoil. The same cruelties were practised at Angus, Troyes, Bouges, La Charite, and especially at Lyons, where they inhumanly destroyed above eight hundred protestants ; children hanging on their parents' necks ; parents, embracing their children; putting ropes about the necks of some, dragging them through the streets, and throwing them, mangled, torn, and half-dead, into the river.

But what aggravates still more these scenes of wantonness and cruelty, was the manner in which the news was received at Rome. When the letters of the pope's legate were read in the assembly of the cardinals, by which he assured the pope that all was transacted by the

express will and command of the king, it was immediately decreed that the pope should march with his cardinals to the church of St. Mark, and in the most solemn manner give thanks to God for so great a blessing conferred on the see of Rome and the Christian world ; and on the Monday after, solemn mass should be celebrated in the church of Minerva, at which pope Gregory XIII. and his cardinals were present; and that a jubilee should be published throughout the whole Christian world, and the cause of it declared to be, to return thanks to God for the extirpation of the enemies of the truth and church in France.

In the evening the canon of St. Angelo were fired to testify the public joy; the whole city illuminated with bonfires ; and no one sign of rejoicing omitted that was usually made for the greatest victories obtained in favour of the Roman church !!!

61. AUTO DE FE, OR ACT OF FAITH. “ Act of faith” (Auto de Fe) in the Romish church is a solemn day held by the inquisition for the punishment of heretics and the absolution of the innocent accused. They usually contrive the auto to fall on some great festival, that the execution may pass with the more awe, and it is always on a Sunday. The auto de fe may be called the last act of the inquisitorial tragedy; it is a kind of jail-delivery, appointed as often as a competent number of prisoners in the inquisition are convicted of heresy, either by their own voluntary or extorted confession, or on the evidence of certain witnesses. The process is this :- In the morning they are brought into the great hall, where they have a peculiar habit put on, which they are to wear in the procession, and by which they know their doom. The procession is led up by the Dominican rs, after which come the penitents, being all in black coats without sleeves, and barefooted, with a wax candle in their hands. These are followed by the penitents who have narrowly escaped being burnt, who over their black coats have flames painted, with their points turned downwards. Next come the negative or relapsed, who are to be burnt, having flames painted on their habits, pointing upwards. After these come such as profess doctrines contrary to the faith of Rome, who, besides having flames painted upwards, have their picture painted on their breasts, with dogs, serpents, and devils, all open-mouthed, about it. Each prisoner is attended with a familiar of the inquisition, and those to be burnt have also a Jesuit on each hand, who is continually exhorting them to abjure. After the prisoners comes a troop of familiars on horseback; and after them the inquisitors, and other officers of the court, on mules : last of all, the inquisitor-general, on a white horse, led by two men.

A scaffold is erected, large enough for two or three thousand people; at one end of which are the prisoners, at the other the inquisitors. After a sermon, made up of encomiums of the inquisition, and invectives against heretics, a priest ascends a desk near the scaf

fold, and having taken the abjuration of the penitents, recites the final sentence of those who are to be put to death, and delivers them to the secular arm, earnestly beseeching, at the same time, the secular power not to touch their blood, or put their lives in danger !!! The prisoners, being thus in the hands of the eivil magistrate, are presently loaded with chains, and carried first to the secular jail, and from thence in an hour or two, brought before the civil judge ; who, after asking in what religion they intend to die, pronounces sentence on such as declare they die in the communion of the church of Rome, that they shall first be strangled, and then burnt to ashes ; or such as die in any other faith, that they be burnt alive. Both are immediately carried to the Ribera, the place of execution, where there are as many stakes set up as there are prisoners to be burnt, with a quantity of dry furze about them. The stakes of the professed, that is, such as persist in their heresy, are about four yards high, having a small board towards the top for the prisoner to be seated on. The negative or relapsed being first strangled and burnt, the professed mount their stakes by a ladder, and the Jesuits, after several repeated exhortations to be reconciled to the church, part with them, telling them that they leave them to the devil, who is standing at their elbow to receive their souls, and carry them to the flames of hell. On this a great shout is raised, and the cry is, Let the dogs' beards be made !which is done by thrusting flaming furze, fastened to long poles, against their faces, till their faces are burnt to a coal, which is accompanied with the loudest acclamations of joy. At last, fire is set to the furze at the bottom of them, over which the professed are chained so high that the top of the flame seldom reaches higher than the seat they sit on; so that they are rather roasted than burnt. There cannot be a more lamentable spectacle. The sufferers continually cry out while they are able, “Pity, for the love of God!" Yet it is beheld by all sexes and ages with transports of joy and satisfaction.*

* Buck's Theological Dictionary..

62. THE WAR OF THE CEVENNES, IN FRANCE. The power of England being established by her great victory over the Spanish Armada, in the year 1588, made her the universal champion of protestantism. The popish kingdoms shrunk from provoking the resentment of a country which had thus shown the impotence of all external hostility. The church in France thenceforth continued undisturbed, except by the private jealousies and provocations of the monks. But the accession of Charles II., a popish hypocrite and a French slave to the English throne, degraded England, and stripped protestantism abroad of sword and shield.

The protestant church in France had increased rapidly under the reigns of Henry IV. and Louis XIII. At the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV. it amounted to two millions and a half, incomparably the únost industrious, intelligent, and orderly portion of the people. Its clergy were distinguished for piety. and learning. It had six hundred and twenty-seven places of worship, and six hundred and forty-seven ministers.

Protestantism is a safe religion in either master or subject; for the Christian honours the laws for conscience sake. The Huguenots were eminently loyal during the period from the edict of Nantes in 1598 to the beginning of the persecutions under Louis XIV. They have even the testimony of Louis to their unimpeachable allegiance. In a letter to Cromwell, who had desired that the duke of Savoy, in his cruelties to the Vaudois, should not be suffered to expect encouragement from France, the king stated “ that it was not likely that he would co-operate in inflicting any punishment on the subjects of the duke of Savoy, on account of their attachment to the pretended reformed religion, seeing he conferred so many tokens of favour on his subjects of the same religious profession; for he had reason to apo plaud their fidelity and zeal in his service. They omitted no opportunity of giving him evidence of their loyalty, even beyond all that could be imagined, cor

« PreviousContinue »