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Henry II. City and its Territories. The Goods of Messieurs 1559. Couraut and Constantine were forfeited to the
Pope Paul iv. King, and Mr. Monjaut was to pay a Fine of
two hundred Livres to the King, besides the charges.
The Sentence was executed in all its points ; and the Constancy of the two Martyrs produced such good effects, that some of their Judges became zealous Promoters and Defenders of that Faith, for which they had condemned these innocent Persons ;. amongst whom, was Mr. Claudius Dangliers, Lieutenant-General of la Rochelle.
This relation shews, that there was some Reformed in that famous City, and a publick Teacher amongst them four years before M. de Clermont preached in that place, since M. Couraut fuffered for it; but we have no further Account of them nor of their Meeting, till the year 1557, when Mr. Clermont came amongst them. The next year 1558, M. Richer, Lord de l’Ifle, came into that City, and settled the Church in a better Form than it had been before ; for which reason M. de la Popeliniere, a famous Historian, gives him the Title of Father of the Church of le Rochelle.
The King and Queen of Navarr, going to Court this year, they took their way through that City, where they were splendidly received and entertained ; they had with them Mr. David above-mentioned, he preached in publick, by their Order, in all the places where they passed : he preached likewise at La Rochelle the pure Word of God, which promoted much the Reformation in that City ; to which we must add a very odd thing which happened there during their Majesties itay, in their Presence and under their Protection, which is as follows:
A Company of Comedians arrived in that Henry II. City ; one day they gave notice by the publick 559. Crier, that they had a piece of great importance Paul IV. to act that day.
The King and Queen with all their Court came to be present, and there was a crowded Audience of all sorts of People. They represented a fick Woman at the point of death, shrieking and begging earnestly to be confessed.
The Parish Priest was fent for; he came, in all his Apparels, and did what he could ; but the fick Woman was always in a Toss, crying, that she was not well confessed.
Some other Ecclesiasticks came, who succeeded no better than the Parish Priest. After them came fome Fryars of different Orders, and spared nothing to relieve her ; Beads, Reliques, Indulgences, of which they had their Bags full, and which they did read one after another to the sick, all was put in use, but to no purpose. At last they put on her St. Francis's Habit, as their last remedy ; but the Woman found no relief nor rest in her Conscience, and said, bemoaning her fad Condition, that those People understood not how to confess aright. At which, some body of her Acquaintance came to her upon the Stage, and lurking every where, as if he was afraid to he heard, he whispered to her, that he knew a Man, who would confess her right, and put her Conscience in a State of Peace and Tranquillity ; but that that Man went abroad only in the Nighttime, because the Day-light was noxious to him. The Woman earnestly desired her Friend to call for that Man ; he came in a Lay-dress, and drawing near the Bolster, he spoke to the Woman without being heard by the Company, but they observed by her Gestures, that the was mighty well pleased. At last he took a small Book
Henry II. out of his Pocket and said aloud unto her, This 1559. Book contains the most infallible receipts for the
Pone Paul iv. cure of your diseases; if you will make use of
them, you shall recover your health perfectly well in a few days. Then he went off the Stage, and the sick Woman got out of her Bed chearful, being perfectly cured ; and having walked two or three tiines upon the Stage, she told the Audience, That that Man, unknown, had wrought what had been impoffible to the former, who had visited her; and she was obliged to confess, that his Book was full of excellent receipts, as they might see by the happy Change that had happened in her ; that if any of them was afflicted with the same Disease, she advised them to consult the Book, which she would readily lend them; forewarning them however, that they would find it something hot in handling, and a noisome scent would come out of it, like that of a Faggot ; that for the rest, if the Audience desired to know her Name, and the Book's Name, they were two Riddles which they might guess at.
The King and Queen of Navarr were pleased to express their satisfaction, the whole Court followed their Example, and a great number of Auditors did the fine; many of whom, disliked already the Roman Religion.
They underfood perfectly well, that the fick Woman was Truth; that the first who could not confess her right, were those who took upon them the Character of Doctors and Pastors, and who, instead of wholesome Directions, administred nothing but what can serve only for an Aniulement to Babies: That the last Comer was one of those pretended Hereticks, whom the severity of the Times obliged to conceal themselves, and who alone did rightly confess, when they were called for. Lally, that the hot book which (melt of
the Faggot, was the Holy Bible, forbidden to be Henry II. kept at home, and to be read in the vulgar 1559.
Pope Tongue, under pain of Fire.
Paul Iv. But what pleased much to fome, displeased as much to others ; particularly the Ecclesiasticks were greatly offended at it. They made their Complaints to the King of Navarr, then to the Magistrates, and made such a noise, that the Comedians were obliged to leave the City suddenly and secretly; they would have been dealt with in a much severer manner, had it not been for the King and Queen, to whom that Company belonged (c).
I hope that this Digression will not be unpleafing to the Reader, since it is a subject, the confequence of which was the Conversion of many of the Inhabitants, and the increase of the Reformed Church of that City; which was such, that the 17th of November 1558, they elected eight Persons, who, with the Minister made up the Vestry : Mr. Fayet had succeeded to Mr. Richer, and in December of the said year they joined four other Elders to the eight elected before; they had no fixed place for their A líembly, but they met together fometimes in one, fometimes in another place, and that in the nighttime, for fear of being discovered, which was likewise observed by all the Churches throughout the Kingdom.
The Fire of the Perfecution raging in the Provinces of Xaintonge, Aunis, and other adjacent Places, the Reformed of la Rochelle came to this resolution, related by Mr. de Beze in his History of the Reformed Churches of France. They conceived, that the King of France consented to the fierce Perfecution which was carried on against them, only because he was not thoroughly acquainted with their real Sentiments concerning
Re(c) Vincent, Recherches sur les commencemers de la Ref. a la Rochelle.
Henry II. Religion ; upon this supposition they agreed to
1559. desire their Ministers to draw up a Confession of Paul iv. Faith, extracted out of the pure Word of God,
in order to be presented to the King, being subscribed by all with a Declaration to his Majesty, that they were ready to sign it with their Blood, and to facrifice their Lives altogether for so just a Cause, rather than to see themselves perfecuted, and put to death one after another, upon false and calumnious imputations, such as those for which they were condemned every day. That resolution being took, they sent the Ministers of la Rochelle, of St. John d'Angely, of Saintes, and of Marennes, as their Deputies to the King of Navarr, to acquaint his Majesty with their design, and require his Approbation and Protection.
But that Prince being not of the fame Opinion with them, exhorted them, to wait patiently for a better Season, fo their deliberation was put off to a better time. But the first General Synod of the Reformed Churches in France meeting a few Months after at Paris, as abovefaid, when the Ministers of St. John d’Angely and Marennes were deputed for the Churches of these Provinces, the Confession of Faith, and the Articles of Discipline were drawn up there, and presented two years after to King Charles IX.
The Church of la Rochelle makes such a great and glorious Figure in our History, and the Members of it have distinguished themselves by fuch a brave Defence of their civil Privileges, and such an uncommon, pure and sincere Zeal for their Religious Rights, and such an extensive Charity towards their Brethren ; being always ready to open their City, their Houses, their Bofoms to the poor afficted, persecuted, and to afford them such Comforts and Relief as they