History, both sacred and profane, opens, so to speak with the enmities of brothers. Cain and Abel, Atreus and Thyestes, Eteocles and Polynices, Romulus and Remus, inaugurate with their murderous the origin of human society or the beginning empires. This remark of an eminent thinker, M.
Saint-Marc Girardin, may be carried farther. In the of Christianity, Jesus, when announcing to the tribulations which awaited them: The brother will deliver up the brother to death. Similar unnatural conduct is likewise to be met with the second great epoch of Christianity, that of the Reformation.
Strange! that a doctrine so worthy to loved should be enough to arouse hatred against those who profess it, and even hatred of so monstrous a kind as to show itself in patricide.
Brotherly love is one of the most beautiful features of human nature. A brother is a friend, but a friend created with ourselves. Brothers have the same father, the same mother, the same ancestors, the same youth, the same family, and many things besides in common. A brother is not merely a friend whom we meet and cling to, although that is no single blessing; he is a friend given by God, a second self. But just in proportion to the sacredness of the bond of brotherhood is the depth of the evil when it is disregarded. The nearer brother stands to brother, the deeper is the wound inflicted when they clash. The noblest feelings of our nature are then trampled under foot, and nothing is left but the most egotistic, the most savage instincts. The man disappears, and the tiger takes his place. While the history of the Reformation brings before us examples of the tenderest brotherly affection, as, for example, in the case of the Enzinas, it presents us also with some of those tragic catastrophes which must draw from us a cry of horror.
Among the Spaniards who were studying at Paris about 1540 there was, besides James Enzinas, a young man from Cuenca, named Juan Diaz. After making a good beginning in Spain, he had gone in 1532 to complete his studies at Paris, at the Sorbonne, at the College Royal, instituted by Francis I. There, by his progress in learning, he had soon attained a distinguished position among the students. At first he applied himself, like a genuine Spaniard, to scholastic theology. He became intimate with one of his fellow-countrymen, Peter Malvenda, a man older than himself, and a doctor of the Sorbonne, who was subsequently much employed by Granvella and by Charles the Fifth. Malvenda was a man rich in resources, but also full of prejudices, superstitions, and the pride which is the usual characteristic of the Roman doctors. Diaz, on the contrary, was characterized by great meekness, benevolence, candor and simplicity, integrity, plain-dealing, prudence and purity of life. Having a deep sense of the value of the sacred writings, he was anxious to read them in the original, and therefore studied Hebrew and Greek with unflagging earnestness. The reading of the sacred books opened before him a new world. The conflict between two doctrines which was agitating Christendom began within himself. What ought he to believe? Diligent in prayer, says one of his biographers, he very fervently prayed God to give him pure knowledge of his holy will. He became intimate with his fellow-countryman, James Enzinas, and they read the Scriptures together, James giving an explanation of them. The eyes of Diaz were opened, and the same Spirit which had inspired the sacred writers made known to him the Savior whom they proclaimed. He clung to him by faith and henceforth sought for righteousness in him alone. He gave up the scholastic theology, embraced the gospel, and became the associate of men who shared his own convictions. Among these were Claude de Senarclens, Matthew Bude, son of the illustrious William Bude, and John Crespin, son of a jurisconsult, of Arras, advocate to the parliament of Paris.
Impressed with the beauty of evangelical doctrine, Diaz was convinced that he must not hide it. He burned ‘to exhibit it before the world,’ he said.
He felt at the same time the need of gaining more and more power, and of being strengthened in the faith by experienced teachers. He therefore left Paris and betook himself to Geneva with Matthew Bude and Crespin, ‘for the purpose of seeing the state of the church in that town and the admirable order which was established there.’ Diaz stayed in the house of the minister Nicholas des Gallars. This visit took place in 1545. f166 After having conversed with the great reformer, set forth his faith, and received his approval of his doctrine as good and holy, Diaz felt it desirable to visit the evangelical churches of Germany. His stay extended to about three months, and he then went first to Basel, afterwards to Strasburg. Bucer and his friends were delighted with the young Spaniard, with his acquirements, his talents, his agreeable manners, and especially with his piety. Admitted to familiar intercourse with them, he entered more and more fully into the knowledge of evangelical doctrines and affairs. He enjoyed the conversation of these Christian people and the free and hearty manners which prevailed among them. He had no thought of quitting Strasburg; but a circumstance which occurred about six months afterwards led to his removal.
As the Protestants declined to recognize the Council of Trent, which had been opened in December 1545, the Elector Palatine had proposed a colloquy between the two parties, and this conference opened at Ratisbon, January 27, 1546. Bucer had been nominated one of the delegates on the part of the Reformation; and the Senate of Strasburg, judging that a Spanish convert from Catholicism to Protestantism, a man rich in knowledge and in virtue, would carry much weight in the discussion, associated Diaz with his friend. At Ratisbon, Bucer and Diaz found as champions of the papacy, Malvenda, whom Diaz had known at Paris, Cochlaeus, and the Carmelite monk Billik. These three were determined to maintain the extremest doctrines of the papacy; for seeing that the council was assembled they feared that if they made any concession they would be struck with the same anathemas as the Protestants. Without hesitation Diaz went to see Malvenda. Malvenda was his senior, and he ought to pay his respects to him. Perhaps he hoped that the ties which had formerly united them would give him some hold on the mind of his countryman. Presenting himself, therefore, with on of his friends, he told him with the utmost simplicity that he was come to Ratisbon with Bucer for the purpose of defending the doctrines of the Reformation. Malvenda could believe neither his own eyes nor ears. He remained for a short time astounded, as if some monster had made its appearance. f167a The expression of his countenance and the restlessness of his movements displayed his astonishment and alarm. At length he said: ‘What! Juan Diaz at Ratisbon! Juan Diaz in Germany and in the company of Protestants!...
No, I am deceived; it is a phantom before me, resembling Diaz, indeed, in stature and in feature, but it is a mere empty image!’ The young Spaniard assured the doctor that he really was there present before him. ‘Wretched man,’ said Malvenda, ‘do you not know that the Protestants will pride themselves far more on having gained over to their doctrine one single Spaniard than if they had converted ten thousand Germans or an infinite number of men of other nations?’ Diaz wondered at these words, for it seemed to him that the sovereign will could convert a Spaniard as easily as a German. Malvenda, then, no longer in doubt as to the real presence of Diaz in flesh and blood before him, assailed him with questions blow after blow. ‘Hast thou been long in Germany? What ails thee that thou hast come into these parts? Dost thou understand the doctrine of Martin Bucer and the other Germans?’ and so forth. Diaz, with more presence of mind than his master, replied quietly and modestly: ‘I have been almost six months in this country. My object in coming was to see here religion established in its purity, and to confer with the learned men who are to be found here. The true knowledge of God is before everything; and in a matter so important I would rather trust my own eyes than the false reports of evil men. I had a wish to see this poison; and as I find that the churches of Germany are in agreement with antiquity, and have in their favor the perpetual consent of the apostles and prophets, I cannot reject their doctrine.’ f168 This admiration for Germany very much astonished Malvenda. ‘Oh!’ cried he, ‘it is an exceedingly wretched lot to live in this country. For any man who loves the unity of Rome, six weeks’ sojourn here is a burden as oppressive as six years; nay, say rather six centuries. Six days in Germany makes me older than a long lifetime. Every honest man must beware of what is taught here. Much more must thou, Diaz, beware, who belongest to a land in which the religion of our holy mother the Church has always flourished. Respect, therefore, thine own reputation, and do not bring dishonor on thyself, nor on they family, nor on the whole Spanish nation.’
As Diaz was accompanied by the one of his friends, Malvenda, embarrassed, did not pursue the subject farther. But they agreed to meet again.
Malvenda prepared to make use of his fine rhetorical powers in striking the heaviest blows for the purpose of bringing back into the Roman fold this sheep which as he though had gone astray. When Diaz made his appearance again, this time alone, Malvenda said: ‘Dost thou not perceive all the dangers which are threatening at once thy body and they soul? Dost thou not see the formidable thunderbolts of the pope, the vicar of the Son of God, which are about to fall upon thee? And dost thou not know with what a horrible execration those are smitten whom he excommunicates, so that they become the plague of the human race? Is it well, then, to venture, for the sake of the opinion of a small number of people, to stir up sedition in all countries and to disturb the public peace? Dost thou not dread the judgment of God, and the abhorrence of all thy fellow-countrymen?’
Assuming, then, the most kindly air, he continued: ‘I promise to aid thee, to befriend thee in this matter to the utmost of my power. But do not wait until the emperor arrives at Ratisbon; go to meet him, cast thyself at the feet of his confessor, and entreat him to pardon thine offence.’ ‘I am not afraid,’ replied Diaz, modestly but decisively, ‘of exposing myself to danger for the purpose of maintaining the heavenly doctrine on which our salvation depends, or even of shedding my blood to bear testimony to the religion of Christ. To me this would be a great honor and a great glory.’
Malvenda shuddered at these words. If what Diaz said was true, what Rome said was false; and yet his fellow-countryman was ready to die to testify the truth of his belief. ‘No,’ exclaimed the priest, ‘the pope, vicar of Christ, cannot err.’ ‘What!’ resumed Diaz, ‘the popes infallible!
Monsters defiled within and without with enormous crimes infallible!’
Malvenda acknowledged that some of the popes had led impure lives; but, as he was anxious to drop this subject, he declared to Diaz that it was mere loss of time to come to the colloquy, and that no good would arise from it. He added that if Diaz wished to do any good, he ought to go to the Council of Trent, which was established by the pope and attended by many prelates. Diaz quitted the doctor, resolved to see him no more privately. f169 The young Spaniard had now ruined himself with the doctor. The affection which Malvenda had felt for him gave place to implacable hatred, and as he had not succeeded in gaining him over, his only thought now was to ruin him. With this view he applied to the confessor of Charles the Fifth, of whose influence he was aware. ‘There is now at Ratisbon,’ he wrote, ‘a young Spaniard whom I once knew at Paris as an obedient son of Rome, but who now avows himself an enemy of the church and a friend of the Lutherans. If such things are permitted, Spain is lost, and you will see her claiming to shake off her shoulders the burdens with which she will profess to be overwhelmed. I implore you to avert such a calamity, even if necessary by a violent remedy.’ Malvenda was not content with writing one letter. As the confessor gave no answer, he wrote other letters, ‘far more harsh and violent than the first.’
De Soto had not answered at once because he was perplexed. He was quite capable of feeling the worth of such a man as Juan Diaz; and, whatever the chroniclers may have said, he had previously been struck with the excellencies of Enzinas, and had winked at his escape. Moreover, the case was one of real difficulty. Diaz, being one of a deputation sent to a colloquy approved by the emperor, was protected against violent measures, except at the cost of a renewal of the breach of faith of which John Huss had been the victim. Just at the time when the confessor received from Malvenda his last violent letter, he had with him another Spaniard, named Marquina, who was entrusted with a mission for Rome, respecting which he was conversing with the confessor. ‘See,’ said De Soto, ‘what trouble our Spaniards give us,’ and he read to him Malvenda’s letter. Marquina, who was an old friend of Juan Diaz, had always looked upon him as a model of honesty and piety. He therefore said to De Soto; ‘Put no faith in Malvenda’s statements. He is no doubt impelled by some private ill-will. Believe, rather, the public testimonies of good men, who have at all times approved the character and the doctrine of Diaz.’ But De Soto was not convinced. ‘We must;’ he said, ‘either convert him, or get him put out of the way.’ Did he mean that he was to be imprisoned or put to death? The latter seems the most probable conclusion. Nevertheless De Soto was not so black as Protestant writers depict him. In 1560 he was prosecuted by the Inquisition of Valladolid, on suspicion of Lutheranism. His intercourse with such men as Enzinas and Diaz might well tend to make him afterwards more just towards a doctrine which he had at first condemned Marquina set out for Rome.
In this metropolis was a brother of Juan Diaz, named Alonzo, an advocate practicing before the Roman tribunals. Marquina related to him all that he had heard about Juan. Alonzo loved his brother, but he loved Rome still more. At this news, therefore, he was plunged into a deep melancholy.
Juan a heretic! What a misfortune for him, but what an offence also against the Church! Alonzo, though not a thorough bigot, was violent, and was smitten with that gloomy and cruel madness which fancies that it is defending the church of God when persecuting those who hold contrary doctrines. He was not without affection for those of his own kin; but he was pitiless towards them if ever they attacked the faith. He would rather they should all perish than be guilty of an outrage against the Church. He was not only superstitious but fanatical; and fanaticism is to superstition what delirium is to fever! As soon as he was informed of the letters which Malvenda had written to the confessor, Alonzo determined to go to Germany and to make use of all available means to bring back his brother to the faith or to retrieve the injury done by him to the Church. He selected as his servant a man of evil repute, took post and went with the utmost speed to Augsburg, and thence to Ratisbon, where he expected to find his brother. This journey was made in March 1546. The conference was just on the point of closing without having accomplished anything, and Juan Diaz had already left Ratisbon.
Alonzo was greatly annoyed at this news, and resolved to have an interview without delay with Malvenda. The latter had no hesitation as to what was to be done. ‘May I live to see the day,’ said he, ‘on which Juan Diaz will be burnt... and his soul thus be saved.’ ‘A brutal speech’ says Crespin, the friend of Juan, ‘altogether diabolical and worthy of eternal wrath.’ But in those times of error, when people fancied that false doctrine ought to be punished like any ordinary crime, it is possible that this priest, in uttering the wish that the soul should be saved at the cost of the body, might imagine that it was really a pious and charitable speech. The human understanding was then, and had been for ages, profoundly and miserably mistaken on this matter.
Malvenda and Alonzo discussed together what was to be done. First of all, they said, inquiry must be made most carefully in what place, country, town, or village, Juan then was. Malvenda summoned a Spaniard of his house in whom he had full confidence, and bade him find out where it was conjectured that Juan was concealed. This Spaniard, who was a crafty man, invented a tale which he thought would ensure his success, and presented himself to one of the friends of Juan — whether Senarclens or another we do not know. ‘Letters of great importance,’ he said, ‘addressed to Diaz have arrived at the imperial court. If he receive them, it will be of great advantage to him. We beg you, therefore, to tell us instantly in what place we may deliver them.’ The friend of Diaz, who knew with whom he had to do, replied: ‘We do not know where he is; but if you have any papers to forward to him, please hand them over to us and we will take care that they reach him safely.’
Alonzo and Malvenda, greatly disappointed at receiving such an answer, devised a new trick, the success of which appeared to them infallible. The Spaniard returned to the friend of Diaz and said: ‘It is not a question about papers only; there is now at the Crown hotel a gentleman, a great friend of Diaz, who brings him news and letters of the highest importance, he is bound to deliver them to him in person, pray come and speak to him at the inn.’ Alonzo’s stratagem succeeded to his heart’s content. He discovered ere long his brother’s place of retirement. Juan, on the approach of Charles the Fifth, felt that he could not remain at Ratisbon, and therefore had betaken himself to Neuburg, where he ran less risk than at Ratisbon, as the town was within the jurisdiction of Otto Henry, the elector palatine. He was engaged there in superintending the printing of a work by Bucer. f172a It was a great surprise to him to see his brother, whose attachment to the papacy he well knew. The first days of their meeting were spent in painful debates. Alonzo put forth all his energy to snatch his brother from heresy. He made the best of all the arguments which he thought likely to prevail with him. He reminded him of the disgrace which would be reflected on, the name of his family, the perils to which he exposed himself, prison, exile, the scaffold, and the stake with which he was threatened. Juan remained inflexible. ‘I am ready,’ he replied, ‘to suffer anything for the sake of publicly confessing; the doctrine which I have embraced.’ Failing to terrify his brother, Alonzo attempted to seduce him. He offered him the wealth and honors wherewith Rome would willingly have paid for reconciliation with her adversaries. ‘Follow me to Rome,’ he said, ‘and all these things are yours.’ Juan was still less open to the solicitations of worldly ambition than he had been to threats of possible danger. Alonzo soon perceived that these methods would avail him nothing, and he therefore, changed his tactics. He pretended that he was himself overcome by the faith and the generous feeling of his brother, and professed himself, gained over to the gospel. ‘Come with me to Italy,’ said he; ‘there you will find a large number of souls open to the knowledge of the truth, and among these you will have opportunity of doing a great work of mercy. Germany possesses pious men in abundance to instruct it. Italy is in want of them. Come with me.’
Juan was almost carried away by this appeal. He was desirous, however, of consulting his friends. These dissuaded him from such an enterprise, and felt suspicious of his brother’s sincerity. Diaz still hesitated. He wrote to Bernard Ochino, pastor at Augsburg: ‘I must close my eyes to the world that I may follow only the call of Christ. May he be my light, my guide, my support! I have not yet come to a decision. Whether I am to set out or to remain here, I desire only to do the will of God. My trust is in Christ, who promises me a happy issue.’ His friends Bucer, Senarcleus, and others hastened to him in alarm, and at length succeeded in dissuading him from quitting the asylum in which he was safe under the protection of the elector palatine.
Alonzo, though deeply annoyed, dissembled his anger. He should cherish, he said, the memory of the pleasant moments which he had spent in his brother’s company; he carried away in himself a light which he would not allow to be extinguished; he commended himself to the prayers of this brother who had become his father in Jesus Christ. He wept much, and on March 26, 1546, he took his departure, his servant accompanying him.
The latter was a man accustomed to the shedding of blood. He had been all executioner; and he made a trade of selling his services to anyone who wanted to get rid of an enemy by the sword or by poison. The two men went to Augsburg, carefully concealing their presence. The next day, after changing their dress, they retraced the road by which they had come. On the way Alonzo bought a hatchet of a carpenter. He slept in a village not far from Neuburg; and on March 27, just as the day began to dawn, he reentered the town with the man who was in his service. This man knocked at the door of the house in which Diaz lodged, and showing some letters which he said that he brought from his brother, requested to be admitted. Notwithstanding the early morning hour he was allowed to enter the house, and went up the staircase while Alonzo waited below, prepared to assist in case of need.
Juan, waking with a start, rose and went out of his chamber, half-dressed, and received with kindliness his brother’s messenger. The latter handed a letter to him. The still faint light of the dawn scarcely penetrated into the room; Juan went to the window and began reading. Alonzo expressed to his brother the fears he felt for his personal safety. ‘Above all,’ said he, ‘do not trust Malvenda, who only thirsts for the blood of the saints. From afar I watch over you, and in giving you this warning I discharge a duty of brotherly piety.’ While Diaz was reading, the murderer approached him, and, armed with the hatchet which he had concealed under his cloak, plunged it up to the handle in the skull of the unfortunate man, over the right temple. So violent was the blow that the victim fell without uttering a word. The assassin caught him in his arms and laid him quietly upon the floor, and then fled without making any noise which might have betrayed the horrible deed which had just been done.
The friend of Diaz, Senarclens, who was sleeping in his own chamber, heard nothing but the footsteps of the murderer as he descended the stairs.
He rose hastily, ran to his friend, and found him dying. The hatchet had been left buried in the wound. Juan Diaz lived an hour longer but did not speak again. His hands were joined, his lips moved as if in prayer, and his eyes fixed on heaven showed the mark toward which he pressed.
Meanwhile the assassins were flying as fast as their horses could carry them. Swiftly pursued; they passed through Augsburg without stopping, and at length found refuge at Innsbruck, in the dominions of the archduke Ferdinand, king of the Romans. All Germany was stirred by this odious crime; and the punishment of the guilty was demanded from all quarters.
But by the intervention of the emperor they escaped the condemnation which they had deserved, and, if we are to believe Castro, Charles even raised the fratricide to the highest honors and dignities.