Slike stranica

time, for instance in the Propos Rustiques of Noël du Fail, is a being who acts by routine, with a mind not easily open to new ideas, less accessible, therefore, than that of the turbulent craftsmen to the great currents of the time. He sticks to his old superstitions, whose root lies in the ancient Gallic heathenism, and which the Church has known how to transmute and to appropriate to its own purposes; he reveres the local saint, the saint of the wood, the mountain or the spring; he trusts to the tutelary ceremonies that bring rain or sunshine, keep away drought or hail, protect the cattle. against mysterious diseases. He ever conceives of religion as a contract between superior beings, who have a right to a fair share of masses and wax tapers, and man, who in return hopes for divine protection. In such a world, the preaching of a pure worship, a worship "in spirit and in truth," the doctrine of grace as the sole and necessary deliverer of the soul, could hardly prove successful. No wonder then if, in 1539, the peasants of the Limousin drove away the preachers with stones and forks, as if they had been werewolves, and if, in 1572, Aluigi Contarini could write, "The people that live in the country are almost all free from that plague."

But let us beware of exaggeration. Did not Florimond de Raemond point out, as amongst the first heretics, "even those who had never done aught but handle the plough?" As early as 1525, when the Archbishop of Paris complains to the Parliament that there are suspects in his diocese, he mentions "a ploughman, in a village near this town." At the same date we find signalized as dissenters in Thiérache "day-laborers who had gone to France as harvestmen,” i. e., people of the lowest grade in the rural class, people who, living merely from day to day, had not profited by the fall in the price of land, because they could not buy any, and who formed, from that time, a kind of agricultural proletariat.

In the rural portions of Normandy, for unknown reasons, "Lutheranism" had spread so much that to one district of that province was given the name of "little Germany." That district probably consisted of the environs of Rouen, the Vexin and the land of Caux, for we find after 15302 heretics at Anneville, at Sotteville, at Aumale and in every town and village of the neighborhood. At about the same time, a "protégé" of Marguerite d'Angoulême, the vicar Étienne Lecourt, evangelized the peasantry of Condé-surSarthe. In Saintonge, about 1534, in an absolutely rural district, in the isles of Arvert, Oléron, Ré, many congregations sprang up, composed of fishermen and vinedressers. Here, as in a few other

1 Bull. du Protest., III. 28. The heretics, says he, are 2 Bulletin, 1887, p. 305.

[ocr errors]

gens de peu de savoir."

districts, the countrymen showed their hostility against the Church by refusing to pay tithes ; thus a material interest binds them to the Reformation.

In the lists given by M. Weiss for 1545–1549 we find proof of the existence of a rural Protestantism.1 Indeed if heresy had been merely an urban growth we should find mentioned in those rolls none but centres of some importance. But we encounter names of places which were then, and in some cases have remained until now, nothing but small villages or hamlets, in Orléanais, Nivernais, Blésois, Puisaye, etc. (taking into account only the territory of the Parliament of Paris). When six heretics were discovered at Héronville near Pontoise, others at Lécourt near Langres, others at Salers, St. Martin de Valmeroux, "and other places in the mountains of Auvergne," when twenty-two men and five women are arrested in a locality so unimportant as St. Maixent in Poitou, it is hard to believe that there were no field-laborers among the victims whose occupation is not mentioned in the decrees of the court.

At the time when actual churches were organized we find many of them in villages, especially in the South. At St. Jean de Gardonnenque, in the diocese of Nîmes, the parish church is abandoned, divine service is discontinued, and the population crowds about the minister. In Agenais, where feudalism has remained more oppressive than elsewhere, the religious rising takes a form not unlike that of the "jacquerie," as in Germany. In the neighborhood of Vitry in Champagne fifteen villages called for ministers from Geneva.

Besides a free and spontaneous spreading of rural heresy, another element, about 1560, becomes highly active, i. e., the influence of the Protestant gentlemen-farmers. The landlord of La Ferté-Fresnel in Normandy writes to the church of Geneva, October 28, 1561:3 "God has set me in authority over many men, and through these means one of the most superstitious districts of the realm will be gained to Christ." On his estates conversions have taken place by the hundreds, conversions by seigniorial decree. Therefore, although "this province has been the last to move," their church" is already well begun, and even bids fair to extend to fifteen or twenty leagues around." This "manorial" Protestantism spreads through "eight parishes around his castle." The success of the Reformation in the principalities of Bouillon and Montbéliard, in Béarn, and in the valleys of the Pyrenees was not unconnected with this very human element.

1 La Chambre Ardente.

2 Le Bourrilly in Bull. du Protest., 1895, p. 597.

3 Bull., 1897, p. 461.

In any case, rural Protestantism was more important than has been commonly thought. In the midst of religious wars we find rural churches in the South, chiefly in Languedoc and the Cévennes, in Champagne, in Saintonge, etc. Till the eve of the Revolution these congregations survived. While the town craftsman had emigrated early, the countryman remained obstinately fixed to the soil. For instance, in Auvergne (where, nevertheless, the Reformation was never predominant) Protestantism, in 1685, is essentially a religion of field-laborers.1

Throughout France it was, until about 1560, a religion of poor folk. It was only at that date that, in the words of a young scholar,2 "the political conduct of the Guises gave leaders to the Reformed." In order to counteract the influence of the Lorraine princes, a portion of the French nobility-the Condés, the Chastillons and their followers-rushed into political and religious opposition; the Huguenots of Faith became Huguenots of State. From that time the great Protestant stream was appropriated by the nobility. The democratic Protestantism of the towns emigrated to Holland, England and Germany, and the trades-unions fell under the sway of the religious brotherhoods, which excluded the non-Catholics and were soon to lead the revolutionary movement of the League.

If Protestantism did not completely succeed in taking root in France, the reason may be, that in the sixteenth century, owing to the social state of the time, it won more adherents among the workmen, a travelling and migratory class, than among the peasantry, which was the stable and permanent element of the nation.

1 See Archives Nationales, T. T., 251, 232, 261.

2 M. Le Bourrilly.




SIR J. R. SEELEY, in his Growth of British Policy, regards the expedition against the West Indies as a mere incident unimportant in itself and in its relations and results. In his opinion Cromwell had no far-sighted plans in connection with the expedition, nor were economic considerations of more than mere secondary influence. While the West Indian expedition at first glance seems of wholly minor significance, yet it is so vitally connected with the fundamental questions of Cromwell's government as to make it worth while to trace as far as possible the influences that prompted the attack on Spain, the origin of these influences, the extent of Cromwell's plans and whatever other considerations led to this expedition. In the first place, the affair was inseparably connected with his foreign policy. In the second place, it was inseparably connected with the religious movement on which Cromwell had ridden to power. . In the third place, it had a vital connection with the most important economic questions of the Protectorate. Subsidiary to these were the questions: how to unite the Protestants of Europe and protect the Huguenots of France; how to prevent forever the return of the Stuarts to the English throne; and, still further in the background, how to recover England's ancient possessions in France.

At the very beginning of Cromwell's government the most important question in his foreign policy arose: Should he ally himself with France or with Spain? Cromwell never seriously intended making an alliance with Philip IV. unless driven to it as a last extremity. In spite of his turning now and then to Spain when unusually angered at France, his religious zeal and his economic hopes for England's greatness forced him back to the same point again— an attack on Spain. It is the dominant thought in his whole foreign policy. He was bent on an accommodation with France, but he must first manœuvre Charles II. out of France, and establish his

1 Vol. II., pp. 73-75.

2 Although he did once offer to come to terms with Cardenas, the Spanish ambassador, it was in a moment of anger against France and was done in such a way as to make a consummation of the bargain extremely difficult. See Gardiner, Commonwealth and

Protectorate, II. 446.


own position and power. He must also manœuvre France into giving a sufficient guarantee of the safety of the French Huguenots, whose welfare Cromwell had sincerely at heart. Spain was very useful in these diplomatic encounters. Nor need the exorbitant and unwarrantable demands made on France cause us to think that Cromwell courted a rupture with Louis XIV. Cromwell desired an alliance with France, but Mazarin desired it more. While the negotiations were in progress Major Robert Sedgwick, under commission from Cromwell, made an unprovoked attack on Acadia and captured it. When Cromwell sent his expedition to the West Indies he instructed his commanders to capture French ships as well as Spanish. But neither of these acts produced a ripple on the stream of diplomacy.


The problem of alliance, however, had no independent importance, for the solution of it depended entirely upon other influences than the mere wish to have England in the ordinary cordial relations with the rest of Europe. It was the religious and economic questions that were driving Cromwell on and that form the key to all that intricate maze which constitutes his foreign policy. With this key for a guide, and with the remembrance that the Protector hated Charles II. and all of the Stuart family and had to establish thoroughly his own power, his vacillation in his foreign policy becomes more apparent than real. The religious motives which influenced Cromwell to undertake this expedition—the desire for the union of the Protestant states of the world and for the establishment of Protestantism and religious freedom-are well understood. The problem of Cromwell's real character and motives is, of course, a most involved one, but it can safely be said that when his ambition did not absolutely conflict with his notions on religion, he was strongly influenced by his religious inclinations. Both now urged him against Spain. There was something of the spirit of the Crusades in Cromwell's attempt to overthrow the Spanish in the West Indies. It was to his mind a blow at Anti-Christ, an extension of the true kingdom of Christ in the world. In his judgment Protestantism was still in a critical condition, especially as Puritanism was on its decline, and needed a champion who could wield the sword if necessary. In addition, Cromwell's antagonism had, as was the 1 See also Gardiner, II. 477-478.

2 Thurloe, II. 583. John Leverett to Cromwell, September 5, 1654, tells of the capture of Acadia by Sedgwick in July of the same year. Mazarin was advised of it October 23, 1654, but must certainly have known it long before. However, there is no sign of protest on his part. See also Thurloe, II. 418, 419, 668.

3 Sir J. R. Seeley strongly to Cromwell. and the Elizabethans.

conjectures that the example of Gustavus Adolphus appealed It is questionable whether it was not rather that of Raleigh See Growth of British Policy, II. 75.

« PrethodnaNastavi »