CHAPTER III. PROGRESS OF CALVINISM
But though Francis I. had been moved to take action against the sectaries, and though Calvin and other leaders were obliged to leave France, the reforming party, relying on the influence of patrons like Margaret of Navarre and on the Humanist section at the university and at the newly established College de France, felt confident of ultimate success. They realised that the king was most anxious to arrive at an understanding with the Protestant princes of Germany against Charles V., and that therefore it was unlikely that he would indulge in a violent persecution of their co-religionists at home. They knew, too, that Francis I. had set his heart on securing complete control of the Church in his own dominions, as was evident by the hard bargain which he drove with Leo X. in the Corcordat of 1516, and they were not without hope that Luther's teaching on the spiritual supremacy of the civil rulers might prove an irresistible bait to a man of such a temperament. Negotiations were opened with Francis I. by some of the German reformers, who offered to accept most of the Catholic doctrines together with episcopal government if only the king would support their cause (1534). As it was impossible to arrange for a conference, the Lutheran party submitted a summary of their views embodied in twelve articles to the judgment of the Sorbonne. In reply to this communication the doctors of the Sorbonne, instead of wasting their energies in the discussion of particular tenets, invited the Germans to state explicitly whether or not they accepted the authority of the Church and the writings of the Fathers. Such an attitude put an end to all hopes of common action between the French and German theologians, but at the same time Francis I. was not willing, for political reasons, to break with Protestantism. The publication, however, of a particularly offensive pamphlet against Catholicism, printed in Switzerland and scattered broadcast throughout France, served as a warning to the king that his own country was on the brink of being plunged into the civil strife which Protestantism had fomented in Germany, and that if he wanted to preserve national unity and peace the time for decisive action had arrived. Many of the leading reformers were arrested and some of them were put to death, while others were banished from France (1535).
From this time the Lutherans began to lose hope of securing the active co-operation of Francis I., but the friendly political relations between the king and the German Protestant princes, together with the close proximity of Strassburg, Geneva, and Berne, from which preachers and pamphlets made their way into France, helped to strengthen the heretical party in the country despite the efforts of the ecclesiastical and lay authorities. In the South many of the Waldenses in Dauphiny and Provence went over formally to the side of the Calvinists. In places where they possessed considerable strength they indulged in violent attacks on the clergy, for which reason severe measures of repression were adopted by the local administrators and by the king. As in Switzerland, so too in France Calvinism proved to be the most attractive of the new religious systems. Calvinistic communities were formed at Paris, Rouen, Lyons and Orleans, all of which looked to Geneva for direction. The name given to the French followers of Calvin was Huguenots.
Henry II. (1547-59), who succeeded on the death of Francis I. had no difficulty in allying himself with the German Protestants, and in despatching an army to assist Maurice of Saxony in his rebellion against the Emperor, while at the same time taking every precaution against the spread of heresy at home. He established a new inquisition department presided over by a Dominican for the detection and punishment of the Huguenots, and pledged the civil power to carry out its decisions. In this attitude he was supported strongly by the University of Paris, which merited the heartiest congratulations of Julius III. by its striking defence of Catholic doctrines, especially the necessity of obedience to the Holy See. Yet notwithstanding all measures taken against them the Huguenots continued to increase in numbers. The Bishop of Navarre went over to their side, as did a certain number of the clergy, and the attitude of some of the others was uncertain. So strong did the Huguenot party find itself in France that a Synod representing the different reformed communities was held in Paris in 1559, at which the doctrine and ecclesiastical organisation introduced by Calvin into Switzerland were formally adopted. The accession of Elizabeth to the throne in England, and the hopes entertained in France of detaching that country from Spain made the French government less anxious to adopt severe measures against the Protestants. After the Peace of Cateau Cambresis (1559), when Henry determined to make a great effort to extirpate Calvinism, he was prevented by death.