HST3034: The Coming of the Protestant Reformation in France: A Climate of Uncertainty Presentation 1 Early Protestantism in France: Uncertainty and its Consequences Periodisation - The ‘Early Reformation’ (1519-c.1542) marked by ‘magnificent anarchy’ (Lucien Febvre), apparently ‘incoherent’ official responses to the appearance of heresy in France, periods of ‘hope’ for those inclined to the new religion, coupled with periods of ‘fear’ for the consequences of espousing ‘heresy’. The period is often seen to end with the (definitive) installation of Jean Calvin in Geneva (1542) and the gradual tightening up of anti-heresy legislation and enforcement in France…. Lutheran Ideas in France – Rapid and Early Diffusion - 1 • ‘Consultation’ of Luther’s works in ‘official’ quarters (the Sorbonne) – but NB Sorbonne theologians divided over Luther’s works. His anti-papal and pro-conciliar stance was not immediately opposed by Gallican theologians. The Sorbonne did not condemn his works as heretical until after the universities of Cologne and Louvain (i.e. April 1521, with the condemnation of 104 propositions drawn from his works) and after pressure from the king to do so. Lutheran Ideas in France – Rapid and Early Diffusion - 2 • Rapid spread of Luther’s printed works, mainly in Latin until the later 1520s, spreading especially via printers in Basel and Antwerp, who specialised in the French market • Humanist cultural exchange (e.g. Boniface Amerbach in Avignon, in touch with humanists in Basel, Lyon, Montpellier). • Rumour (e.g. Philippes de Vigneulles in Metz) – Luther’s propositions known about, if not in detail, as suggesting the marriage of priests and the priesthood of all believers • Attack and Counter-Attack – The 104 propositions attacked by Philipp Melanchthon in July 1521, the beginnings of a lively counter-attack among French orthodox theologians to Luther’s propositions, marked from 1523 • The beginnings of the spread of Lutheran works in French translation from 1526, but almost always anonymous, and not the most polemical works, and printed and spread by underground means. Lutheran Ideas in France – Rapid and Early Diffusion - 3 • The Elaboration of a ‘Defensive Culture’ against the Lutheran ‘heresy’. First signs of the appearance of a literature of ‘prodigies’ and ‘marvellous portents’, some of them translated from German sources (e.g. 12 December 1522, report of a monstrous ‘pig-calf’ discovered in the stomarch of a dead cow, ‘with the head of an illformed giant’ diffused at Paris) • The importance of duke Antoine de Lorraine in sponsoring anti-Lutheran works French ‘evangelism’ – a ‘French Reform’? • • • • The existence of a ‘pre-reform’ movement in France (claimed by the historians Pierre Imbert de la Tour and Augustin Renaudet), based upon:Reforming activities of French bishops, who believed that the church was in crisis, and who sought to establish a better moral authority for the church within their dioceses by means of visitations, synods, etc Reforming zeal of individuals and groups within the French monastic orders, for whom there was an aggressive desire to reform ‘from within’, leading to an equally vocal and determined campaign from traditionalists to ‘defend’ the status quo Important strands of humanist learning in France, in which the desire to ‘return’ the church to its ‘pristine’ condition in the years immediately after the death of Christ, and the importance of studying the Scriptures in the original languages, understanding them in the context of their own time, were key objectives Currents of late-medieval ‘mysticism’, especially spreading from the Netherlands, which emphasised the importance of an individual response to God, independent of the church hierarchy A ‘French Evangelis’: Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples (c.1450-1536) • Almost a monk; a great traveller; a Parisian intellectual; a great humanist; a mystic • A humanist interpreter of the Scriptures, through whom Christ reveals Himself, and God through Him • A great admirer of Erasmus, but different interpretations of how to read the Bible, and different attitudes towards ‘good works’ like pilgrimages, candles, etc • Not interested in the ‘faith’ vv. ‘works’ controversy begun by Luther • His writings were enormously significant, and there is a current debate over the extent to which he might ever have been a French ‘Luther’ Guillaume Briçonnet, Bishop of Meaux (c.1472-1534) • A member of the governing clans around the later Valois, a Parisian intellectual, an ambitious cleric, committed (when politic to do so) to reform of his diocese • Established around him a group of partisans of reform, including Lefèvre d’Etaples and others, and began instituting a series of ambitious reforms (constituted 1521; recomposed 1523; dispersed 1526) in opening up scriptures to the laity, stimulating changes to liturgical practice, and involving the church in social issues • He was investigated by the Parlement of Paris and the Sorbonne and, especially during the imprisonment and captivity of Francis I post Pavia (1525-6), he was threatened with being denounced as a schismatic heretic. • There is a debate over the degree to which he was ever willing to defend the changes that were promoted in his name in his diocese, and the extent to which the issues for which he was suspected were not, in reality, part of a political campaign orchestrated by those at court who were suspicious (esp. the queen mother, Louise of Savoy) of those who were prepared to contemplate changes in the church Queen Marguerite of Navarre (1482-1549) - 1 • Political significant (the king’s sister) with an independent patrimony and power-base (as the wife of Henri d’Albret II, king of Navarre) with ancestral lands in west-central France (Angoulême, Alençon, Berry, etc) and in south-west France (Gascony) • She created an ‘evangelical network’ in France, using her influence at court, her own household, and her influence within her patrimony. This can only be patchily reconstructed through her surviving correspondence but it included:• - printers • - diplomats (the du Bellay brothers) • - teachers and intellectuals (e.g. Michel d’Arande; Gérard Roussel) • - judges (in Toulouse and Paris) • She intervened in the dynamic of French politics to try and align her brother’s stance towards protecting French humanists (and protestants), and building foreign alliances with German protestant princes and England against the Habsburgs Queen Marguerite of Navarre (1482-1549) - 2 Her own views something of an enigma • Her own writings mostly appeared in print after her death (e.g. the Heptaméron, a collection of stories, into which one can read evangelical messages) and the ‘Mirror of a Sorrowful Soul’ (a penitential treatise that was translated into English by the young Elizabeth I) • Her correspondence (especially that surviving with Guillaume Briçonnet) has to be read as partially in a ‘code’ in which the subjects under discussion are also about the dilemmas of the ‘evangelicals’ in France – e.g. about whether it was better to ‘dissimulate’ or be true to one’s faith and risk the consequences ‘Evangelical’ Manuscripts and Language While loving God with a whole heart Let us comfort each other, every one. Whatever misery or pain they inflict on us Let us not abandon our brotherly bong As some have done faithlessly. The Holy Scriptures command throughout That we should love each other perfectly And trust one another totally, While loving God with a whole heart. When the day of judgement comes, He will punish those tyrants terribly, And the elect will be freed from pain. Let us live therefore in this sure hope. Patiently enduring the present season, While loving God with a whole heart’ [Anonymous poem from l’initiatoire instruction (c.1529) – the last page of a manuscript translation of two Lutheran catechisms, prepared for Marguerite de Navarre] Evangelical Dilemmas • When was the right moment to ‘come out of the closet’ and proclaim the need for reform? • Could one depend upon one’s friends to keep one’s faith a secret, and protect one in emergency? • Was it better to try to reform the church and the world by local, and discreet initiative than by national decree? • Would social disorder result from the beginnings of religious change with popular support? Conservative Fears • That King François I and Heresy • Royal attitudes very difficult to discern, and often apparently ambiguous. • According to R.J. Knecht, Francis was consistently opposed to ‘heresy’ where it could be defined, but anxious not to draw its boundaries so broadly as to implicate humanists, scholars, and leading figures in his entourage and elsewhere in the mechanisms of heresy investigation. • He was particularly sensitive to ‘public’ or ‘notorious’ ‘scandal’, especially where it concerned sacred objects and ceremonials • He was especially concerned to root out ‘sacramentarians’ (i.e. those who opposed the ‘real presence’ in the sacrament) when they appeared to have a significant presence within France Mechanisms for Investigating Heresy in France • Inquisitional and ecclesiastical jurisdiction in France weakened, except in particular places (Languedoc; Dauphiné; Provence) and in particular scenarios, by interference from royal judges • Sovereign royal courts (Parlements) increasingly took the lead, but faced numerous difficulties in securing prosecutions • There was no firm definition of what constituted ‘heresy’ and the judges tended to proceed on the basis of what constituted a ‘cas énorme’, or a manifest (i.e. public and scandalous) case of heresy Conclusion: Uncertainty and its Impact • ‘Individualism is the first law of our reformation from its very beginning’ [Imbert de la Tour, Les Origines de la Réforme, 1914] • ‘A long period of magnificent religious anarchy preceded the age of servitude’ [Lucien Febvre, ‘Une question mal posée; les origines de la Réforme française…’ (1929) • ‘The first trait one should insist on: her uncertainty….’ [Pierre Jourda, Marguerite d’Angoulême (1930)] • Uncertainty – likely to create the circumstances in which both unrealistic expectations and irrational fears of religious change were most likely to be stimulated.