The Spaniards who at this epoch distinguished themselves by the purest faith were those who, having been by various circumstances transported into Germany and the Netherlands, were there brought into contact with the Reformation and its most remarkable men. Thus it happens that respecting these we possess the most detailed information. We are, therefore, called to look in this chapter and the following ones at Spain out of Spain.
While Seville was a great evangelical center in the South, and the foremost town in Spain at the epoch of the Reformation, there were also cities in the north of the Peninsula which were distinguished by some remarkable features, particularly Valladolid and Burgos. The latter town, situated in a fertile country, and once the capital of Castile, gave birth to four young men, who were afterwards noted for their devotion to the gospel, but who spent most of their lives beyond the Pyrenees. These were James, Francis and John de Enzinas, sons of a respectable citizen of Burgos, who had kinsmen of noble rank and high connections, and Francis San Romano, of more humble origin, but whose parents were ‘good honest people.’ His father was alcalde of Bribiesca.
These four young men, almost of the same age, were comrades at Burgos. For various reasons they quitted the town in their youth. The father of the Enzinas, a man in his way ambitious for his children, and holding firmly by his authority as a father, continued to rule his sons even after they had attained their majority. He sent them to complete their education at the university of Louvain, partly because the course of study there was of a more liberal cast than in Spain, and partly because he had kinsmen settled in the Netherlands, some of whom were at the court and enjoyed the favor of Charles the Fifth. It appeared to him that a fine career was there open to their ambition, and that they would perhaps ultimately rise to the high position of their father. They were indeed to find a career, but one of a more noble and glorious kind.
The Enzinas, having arrived in the Netherlands before 1540, applied themselves zealously to their studies. They were all of them, and especially Francis, desirous of discovering all that was true and good, fully determined to communicate to others the truths which they had acquired, filled with courage to defend them against all attacks and with perseverance to continue in the face of danger faithful to their convictions. They had the Spanish temperament, depth and fervor of soul, seriousness and reflectiveness of understanding; and some faults of their nature were corrected by Christian faith. Their language had not only stateliness but thought. The sense of honor did not in them degenerate into pride, as is so often the case; and their religious faith, by the influence of the gospel, was preserved from superstition. They have been known under different names in different countries. Their family name Enzinas, which in Spanish denotes a species of oak, was as usual hellenized in Germany, where they bore the name of Dryander, and was turned into French in France, where they were sometimes called Duchesne.
These three young men had a taste for literature, and made rapid progress in it. While the truly noble and liberal bent of their intellect separated them from the theologians who were virtually imprisoned within the walls of the Scholastic method and doctrine, their naturally religious disposition, the common characteristic of their countrymen, led them to seek out the pious men of their day. Two of these were the means of bringing them over from Roman Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism; both of them conciliatory men, who, though they belonged especially to one of the two categories, maintained at the same time some relations with the other. One of them stood on the Catholic side, the other on the Protestant; but they had both been desirous of bringing about a reconciliation between the Reformation and Catholicism. One of these men was George Cassander, born in 1515, probably in the island of Cassandria, at the mouth of the Scheldt. He was a good scholar, and was a perfect master of languages and literature, law and theology, and taught with great reputation in various universities in the Netherlands. Sincerely pious, he made it the purpose of his life to demonstrate the agreement of the two parties in essential doctrines and to endeavor to unite them. With this intent he published various works? f72a The emperor Ferdinand at a later time requested him to work for this end. The Enzinas associated themselves with him. An intimate friendship grew up between them; they had frequent conversations and wrote to each other when separated. But while the Catholics thought that Cassander conceded too much to the Protestants, the latter, and especially Calvin, complained that he conceded too much to the Catholics. He did, in fact, remain always united with the Roman church, declared that he submitted to its judgment, and openly condemned schism and its authors.
The three brothers, endowed with an honest spirit, were resolved to get to the bottom of things. The spirit of Cassander, timid, as they thought, and the inadequacy of the reforms which he allowed to be desirable, displeased them; and they gradually withdrew from him. They looked for better guides, and studied the Holy Scriptures. By public report they heard of Melanchthon, and they began to read and to meditate on his writings. He was their second teacher, more enlightened, more evangelical, and more illustrious than the first. Melanchthon laid open to their understanding in a homines manner the sacred Epistles. He revealed to his reader the grace of Jesus Christ, and this without the asperity and the violent language which are sometimes to be met with in Luther. Melanchthon’s moderation charmed them. They had found their master.
About the close of 1537, Francis Enzinas, then from twenty to twentyfive years of age, was recalled by his family to Burgos. His relative, Peter de Lerma, had just been prosecuted by the Inquisition. It was supposed that the views for which proceedings had been taken against him were to be attributed to his sojourn at Paris. Those inhabitants of Burgos who had sent their sons to foreign universities were alarmed lest; their children and themselves should be subjected to the severities of the Inquisition. This was mainly the cause of the return of Francis to Burgos. ‘At that time,’ says he, ‘I was assailed by earnest remonstrances on the part of my parents, and I began to be looked on with suspicion by many great persons, because I would not comply with their requirements and give up the studies, the savor of which I had already tasted.’ His aged uncle, Peter de Lerma, was at this time at Burgos. Francis went to see him, and found him unhappy and dispirited, unable to reconcile himself to the thought of living in a country where a man must either be in agreement with the Inquisition or become its victim. ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘I can no longer remain in Spain. It is impossible for men of learning to dwell in safety in the midst of so many persecutors.’ What though he was now nearly eighty years old? What though he must renounce, if he quitted Spain, all his goods and all his honors? He determined to seek after another abode in which he might end his days in peace. He would not hear of delay either on account of the season of the year, when storms are most to be dreaded, or on account of the war which was raging beyond the Pyrenees. He was resolved to leave Spain immediately. Perhaps he was encouraged not to put off his departure by the thought that the younger Enzinas might be of some service to him in carrying out his project. The old man embarked on a vessel which was sailing for Flanders. On his arrival there he betook himself to Paris, where he had formerly resided. During his first stay in the capital of France, De Lerma had been made doctor of the Sorbonne; he now found himself the most aged member of the University. His friends, persuaded that he had been persecuted unjustly, received him with much respect. He spent four years at Paris.
Francis had returned to Louvain. A great thought had by this time taken possession of his mind. His supreme desire was to see Spain converted to the gospel. Now what means so mighty for this end as to give to the land the Word of God, and what a happiness it would be for him to enrich his native country with this treasure! In former ages the Bible had been translated, but the Inquisition had flung it into the flames. Hardly a single copy had escaped; and Spaniards proudly boasted of the fact that their language had never served to dishonor the Book of God by exposing it to profane eyes. Enzinas, in common with others, supposed that the New Testament had never yet been translated into Spanish. He therefore zealously undertook this task. But when he had made a beginning he felt that it was not in the Netherlands that he could conveniently accomplish it. The superstitions prevalent around him, and the annoyances which he had to endure on the part of the fanatical ultramontanes, made him ardently long to leave Louvain. At the same time he felt the need of a visit to Wittenberg, to talk over his work with Luther and Melanchthon, that he might profit by their larger knowledge. He was already acquainted with their writings, but he wished for their counsel, and desired an introduction to them.
Enzinas had met Alasco at Louvain in 1536, when the latter, after leaving Poland, had directed his steps to the Netherlands. He had been struck with the aspect, at once serious and gentle, of the Polish noble, and he had admired the air of stateliness and dignity which invested his whole person. But he had not yet perceived ‘the treasures which lay hidden in the depth of his soul.’ Subsequently, Albert Hardenberg arrived at Louvain.
They talked together about John Alasco, and Hardenberg expressed himself with all the warmth of a friend. ‘How can I name to you,’ he said, ‘all the gifts which God has bestowed on him, his eminent piety, his pure religion, the sweetness and the benevolence of his disposition, his wonderful acquaintance with all the liberal sciences, his aptitude for languages?... In these respects he surpasses all other men.’ These words of Hardenberg kindled in the heart of Enzinas a warm love for Alasco; and ere long, he says, the little spark became a great flame. He would fain have gone to him in all haste; but he was detained at Louvain by insuperable obstacles. He attempted to write to him; but when he read over his letter, abashed and anxious, he threw it away. At last he set out; but when he had reached Antwerp he found himself compelled to go back to Louvain. Not long after his return he heard that Alasco’s wife was there. She was, as we have seen, a native of this town. Francis hastened to her dwelling. He saw the wife and the daughter of his friend; he almost fancied that he saw the friend himself. He availed himself of the opportunity to write to the man for whom he had conceived one of those great and intense affections which are sometimes found in healthy natures.
He wrote to Alasco as a soldier who stands near his captain. It appears that his parents had destined him for a military career, and he knew the almost inflexible will of his father. He had had conflicts to go through. A Spanish noble, doubtless for the purpose of encouraging him to enter upon the career which his father had chosen, had presented him with a beautiful and antique sword. ‘Although,’ wrote the young soldier of Christ to Alasco, ‘I should see the whole world taking up arms against me, because in spite of the advice of respected men I dedicate myself to study, I would not slight the gifts which God in his goodness, and without any deservings on my part, has given me. I will strive like a man to propagate the truth which God has revealed to us. But for this purpose I must fly far from this Babylonish captivity, and betake myself to some place where piety is not proscribed, and where a man may devote himself to noble studies. I have decided to go to Wittenberg, to the university which possesses so many learned professors, where knowledge of such various kinds is to be found, and which enjoys the approbation of all good men. I think so highly of the knowledge, the judgment, and the gift of teaching of Philip Melanchthon, that for his sake alone, to enjoy the conversation and the instruction of so great a man, I would fly to the ends of the world. Aid me in my project. This you may do by giving me letters to facilitate my access to Luther, Melanchthon, and other scholars, and to obtain for me their kindly regard.’
This was not all. Enzinas delivered to Alasco’s wife, as an act of homage to her husband, the antique and valuable sword presented to him by a Spanish noble. ‘You will say to me,’ he adds, ‘‘What would you have me do with a sword?’ I know that you are armed with a better, one which penetrates deeper than any other, the Word of God. But I send you this as a token of the love that I bear to you, and of the respect that I feel for the gifts which God has given you.’ This letter is dated May 10, 1541.
Francis Enzinas was not able to go immediately to Wittenberg. He had to undertake a journey to Paris in the summer of 1541, partly to see his elder brother then residing there, and partly to attend on his aged uncle, Peter de Lerma, who was now drawing near to his end. The young man was thus with his aged kinsman on two most solemn occasions — his departure from Spain, and his death. Francis found him weakened, but still enjoying the use of his fine faculties. He went frequently to see him, and they had long and confidential interviews. The suavity of the old man, and his seriousness unmixed with severity, charmed and delighted Francis, who from infancy had always loved and honored his relative, and now esteemed it a privilege to testify to the last his respectful affection. His parents wrote to him from Burgos to take the greatest care of his aged uncle. He therefore went daily to see him, and his visits made glad the heart of the old man. Suddenly, in the month of August 1541, Peter de Lerma exchanged the miseries of this world for the joys of the life eternal. The patriarch of eighty-five and the youth of twenty-five were together at this solemn moment. Life was just beginning for Francis at the time when it was ending for his uncle; and the former, like the latter, was to experience all its burdens. As the sole representative of the family, he gave the old man honor and reverence till his death. f82 At Paris, Francis had found, as we have stated, his elder brother James, who had gone thither by his father’s command to complete his studies; and it is possible that this interview may have been the real purpose of his journey. James had, like his brother, a noble and independent mind, a sensitive conscience, and a pure and innocent nature which unsuspectingly showed itself as it was. This openness of character exposed him to great danger. To these qualities he added a very refined taste, which enabled him to appreciate instinctively the works of intellect and the productions of art. James was already convinced of the great truths of the gospel, but his faith was strengthened during his stay at Paris; and he exerted a beneficial influence on some of his fellow-countrymen who were studying there at the same time.
In this capital he did not find everything answering to his expectation. The processors were mostly bigots, who had a very small stock of knowledge, but nevertheless assumed a consequential air, although the little philosophy which they possessed made them really less intelligent than if they had had none at all. The students had little good-breeding, nor did they show any desire for really liberal researches. James Enzinas was deeply moved by the heroism of the martyrs, and the cruelty of their executioners made him shudder. One day a very young man named Claude Lepeintre, about twenty years of age, was conducted to the Place Maubert, to suffer there the last penalty. He had resided three years at Geneva, serving, it appears, an apprenticeship to a goldsmith, In that city he had found the gospel. After his return to Paris, his native place, ‘he had endeavored to impart to his friends the knowledge of eternal salvation.’
Some people of the house in which he carried on his trade as a goldsmith ‘could not endure the sweet savor of the gospel of the Son of God,’ and therefore took him before the criminal judge, who condemned him to be burnt alive. He appealed to the parliament, which, as Claude refused to recant, added that he should forthwith have his tongue cut out. Without change of countenance the pious young Christian presented his tongue to the executioner, who seized it with pincers and cut it off. It is even added that with it he struck the martyr several blows on the cheek. He was then placed in a car to be taken to the stake. Several evangelical Christians, students and others, such as James Enzinas, his friend the advocate Crespin, and Eustace of Knobelsdorf, would not leave him till his death.
His martyrdom was described by all three of them. While on his way to the Place Maubert he was subjected, say these eye-witnesses, to ‘numberless insults which they cast at him. But it was wonderful to see his self-possession and constancy, and how he passed on with a light heart. It might have been thought that he was going to a banquet.’ He alighted of his own accord from the car, and stood by the post to which they bound him by coiling chains about his body. The crowd excited against him assailed him with outcries and insults; but he bore them with unspeakable calmness. His tongue having been torn out, he could not speak; but his eyes were steadily fixed on heaven, as on the abode which he was about to enter, and whence he looked for help. The executioner covered his head with brimstone, and when he had finished showed him with a threatening air the lighted torch with which he was going to set fire to the pile. The young martyr made a sign that he would willingly suffer this death. ‘This youth,’ says Knobelsdorf, one of the eye-witnesses, ‘seemed to be raised to a more than human elevation.’ ‘This most happy end,’ says another witness, Crespin,’ confirmed those who had begun to have some sense of the truth, to which the Lord gave before our eyes a true and living testimony in the person of Claude.’ f83 James had employed his leisure hours in composing in Spanish a catechism which he thought adapted to impress on the minds of his countrymen the great truths of the gospel. Confirmed in his faith by the martyrdom of Claude Lepeintre, weary of his Paris life, and anxious to publish his work, he went to Louvain and thence to Antwerp. This town offered facilities for printing it, and the ships bound for Spain easily conveyed the books when printed into that country. Francis, on his return from Paris, stayed for some time in Belgium, and next went to Wittenberg where freedom of studies, was possible, and where Melanchthon was to be found.
John Enzinas, the youngest of the three brothers, was also a lover of the gospel; but he led a more peaceful life than the elder ones. He had chosen the medical profession, and had settled in Germany. He became a professor at the university of Marburg, and acquired a certain reputation by his works on medicine and astronomy, and by the invention of various instruments useful for the advancement of those sciences. But in the annals of the Reformation his name is less conspicuous than those of his brothers.
Another young Spaniard, like the Enzinas a native of Burgos, and a friend of theirs, was in 1540 at Antwerp, whither James had already gone, and Francis likewise was to go. San Romano, of whom we have previously made mention, had devoted himself to trade, and his business affairs had called him into the Netherlands. There was a fair-time at Antwerp, during which it was usual for the merchants of various countries to settle their accounts. As San Romano was a very intelligent young man, and was, moreover, already acquainted with the merchants of Bremen, he was commissioned by their creditors, his countrymen, to go to Bremen to claim and receive what was owing to them. Another Spaniard was associated with him. It will be remembered that Jacob Spreng, provost of the Augustines of Antwerp, had taken refuge in this town after his escape from the persecutions of the inquisitors. He was now preaching the gospel there with much power. San Romano, whose business had not concluded so quickly as he might have wished, was desirous of learning something about the doctrine which was being preached in Germany, and which was hated in Spain. Although he knew very little of German, he entered the church. He drew near, he listened, and his attention was soon riveted. To his great surprise he understood the whole sermon. He was intensely interested, enlightened, and convinced. He felt pierced as by an arrow from the hand of God, and was greatly moved. The orator’s discourse made his heart burn within him. Something new and strange was going on. No sooner was the service over than, forgetting all matters of business, he hastened to the preacher. The latter received him with much kindness, and took him to his house.
There, when they were alone, San Romano recalled to Spreng what he had said, repeating the whole discourse as if he had learnt it by heart. He told him the impressions which it had produced on his heart, and thus earnestly entreated him: ‘Pray explain to me more clearly this doctrine which I begin to relish, but which I do not yet thoroughly understand.’
The pastor marveled at the vehemence of the young man and at his sudden conversion. The liveliness of his new-born faith, which seemed resolved to subdue everything, this first ardor of a striking transformation, astonished him. He counseled San Romano to restrain himself and not to fail in prudence; but at the same time he taught him carefully and kindly the great truths of salvation. San Romano remained for three days in the pastor’s house, nothing could induce him to go out. He had seemingly forgotten the business on which he had come to Bremen. A divine light shone more and more clearly in his mind. During these three days he was completely changed, like Paul at Damascus, and became a new man. f88 When this time had elapsed, San Romano went to pay some attention to his business, entrusted it to his companion, and then several times returned to converse further with his new guide. The words of the gospel had laid hold on him; they were his only theme of thought by day, his only dream by night. He would not miss one of Spreng’s sermons.
When he returned to his abode he wrote them down and then read them over to the pastor. More than this — he openly professed the truth which he had learned. ‘This man,’ thought Spreng, ‘is certainly not like the rest of the world. Other men make a gradual progress, but he has learnt all in a few days. He seems to be saturated with the Word of God, although apparently he has read so little of it. He despises the world and the life of the world; he despises everything for Christ, whose Word he fearlessly spreads abroad.’ He was anxious not only for the salvation of those about him, but wrote long letters to his friends at Antwerp. ‘I give thanks to God,’ he said to them, ‘who led me to a man by whose instrumentality I found Jesus Christ, my true Savior, and from whom I have gained a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which I cannot sufficiently prize.’ He exhorted them all to turn to God, if they would not perish for ever with those who led them astray. Lamenting the cruelty of Spain and the blindness of the Spaniards, ‘Alas!’ he said, ‘they will not open their eyes to contemplate the glorious light of the gospel, nor give attentive ear or mind to the manifest counsels of God who calls them to repentance.’ He therefore formed a resolution. ‘I purpose,’ said he, ‘returning to Antwerp, to see whether the light of divine knowledge may not enlighten the hearts of my friends. I shall then proceed to Spain, to endeavor to convert to the true worship of God my relations and our whole city, which is at present shrouded in the horrible darkness of idolatry.’ In the ardor of his first love, San Romano imagined that nothing could resist a truth, all the sweetness and power of which he himself knew so well. But, alas! it was by the flames of martyrdom that he was destined to illuminate his country.
His zeal no longer knew any limits. He wrote to Charles the Fifth earnestly conjuring him to acknowledge worthily the great benefits of God, by faithfully fulfilling his duty. ‘May the distensions of Christendom,’ he said, ‘that the glory of God may by your means be made manifest in the world; re-establish in Spain and in every country which is subject to your sway the pure doctrine of Christ our Savior.’ San Romano wrote thus two or three times to the emperor. At the same time he wrote some evangelical books in Spanish. All this was done in one month, or at most in forty days, while he was awaiting the answer to the letters which he had written to Antwerp.
These had been well received by his friends, and they had instantly understood from what malady he was suffering. Far from thinking of their own salvation as he implored them, they only thought how to ruin him, and set all their ingenuity to work to entrap him. ‘Ah!’ they wrote in terms of endearment, ‘if only you return to Antwerp, the great things of which you speak will, without the least doubt, be accomplished.’ At the same time they came to all understanding with the Dominican monks, some of whom they appointed to watch for the moment at which he should enter the city. ‘You are to seize on him,’ said they, ‘you are to question him about his father, and if he differs from you in the least on this subject you are to put him to death, or throw him into some pit in which he will be buried as a living corpse.’ f93 The poor man, whom the answer of his friends had filled with hope and joy, mounted on horseback, saying to himself that he should be able without great difficulty to convert all the Spaniards to the true religion. He arrived, passed the gates, and entered the town; but all at once the monks in ambush surrounded him, dragged him from his horse, and led him off as a prisoner to the house of a tradesman who was devoted to their cause. f94 There they bound him hand and foot and began searching his baggage.
They found in it a good many books in German, French, and Latin; some were by Luther, others by Melanchthon, and the rest by Oecolampadius and other equally suspected authors. They even discovered, to their great horror, insulting pictures of the pope. They turned angrily to him, saying, ‘Thou art a perfect Lutheran.’ San Romano, having fallen so unexpectedly into an ambush, was confused, excited, and inflamed with wrath. He was a true Spaniard, calm while nothing disturbed him, but when hurt in any way, giving vent to the passions of a soul on fire. He had known the gospel too short a time to have become wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. He was no longer master of himself. ‘You are rascals,’ he exclaimed. ‘I am not a Lutheran, but I profess the eternal wisdom of the Son of God, whom ye hate. And as to your dreams, your impostures, your corrupt doctrines, I abhor them with all my heart.’ ‘What, then, is thy religion?’ asked the monks. ‘I believe in God the Father, Creator of all,’ replied San Romano, ‘and I believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind by his blood, and who by delivering them from the bondage of the devil, of sin, and of death, established them in the liberty of the gospel.’ ‘Dost thou believe,’ asked the monks, ‘that the pope of Rome is the vicar of Christ, that all the treasures of the church are in his hands, and that he has power to make new articles of faith and to abolish the others?’ ‘I believe nothing of the sort,’ exclaimed San Romano, horrified. ‘I believe that the pope, like a wolf, disperses, leads astray, and tears in pieces the poor sheep of Jesus Christ.’ ‘He blasphemes!’ said the Spaniards. ‘You shall be put to death, and by fire,’ cried the monks. ‘I am not afraid to die,’ replied he, ‘for him who shed his blood for me.’ The monks then lighted a fire; but they contented themselves with burning all his books before his face. But when he saw the New Testament thrown into the flames, he could contain himself no longer. ‘He is mad,’ said the Spaniards; and they carried him, bound, to a certain tower, six leagues from Antwerp, where they kept him for eight months in a dark dungeon.
Admitting, however, that a want of moderation was excusable in the state of extreme agitation into which he was thrown, his fellow-countrymen caused him to be set at liberty.
San Romano then betook himself to Louvain, knowing that he should find there friends of the gospel. Here he met with Francis Enzinas, who had not yet set out for Paris, and who, knowing the inexperience, boldness, and zeal of his countryman, and the dangers which awaited him, spoke to him frankly and wisely, advising him not to undertake, as he had purposed, the conversion of all Spain. ‘Remain,’ said he, ‘in the calling to which God has called you; you may be able to do much good in your business. Do not set yourself to speak about religion to every person whom you meet, nor to cry out like a madman at the top of your voice in the streets and public places. Perhaps you may not be able to reply to the arguments of your adversaries, nor to confirm your own by good authorities. If God has need of you he will call you, and it will be time then to expose yourself to every peril.’ ‘You say truly,’ replied San Romano, ‘and for the future I will speak more modestly.’
But there was in this young man a fire which nothing could extinguish. His ruling passion was the desire to do everything in his power which he believed calculated to save mankind and to glorify God. He had a wonderful fervency of spirit which prompted him to perpetual efforts, even to what many would, perhaps, call an excess of piety and charity.
This has often been the case with the most eminent Christians. The words of Scripture were true of him: The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
Scarcely had he promised Enzinas to be more prudent, when he set out, with a few friends for Ratisbon, where the Imperial Diet had been opened in April (1541), and where Charles the Fifth then was. The prince was showing, as they said, much favor towards the Protestants. He desired, in fact, to obtain the support of the evangelical party for the war against the Turks who were attacking Austria. San Romano, therefore, believed the moment to be favorable for attempting the conversion of Charles. He did not mention his design to his companions. While, however, he went on his way in silence, he reasoned within himself that the truth of the gospel was obvious, and that if the emperor, whom the Spaniards regarded as master of the world, should once receive it, he would spread it abroad throughout Christendom, and throughout the whole world. And he thought that if vulgar fears should hinder him from speaking to Charles, he would be taking upon himself an immense responsibility.
No sooner had he arrived at Ratisbon than he requested and obtained an audience of the emperor. He entreated him to make use of his power to repress the fanatical proceedings of the Inquisition. ‘Sire,’ said he, ‘the true religion is to be found amongst the Protestants, and the Spaniards are sunk in abominable errors. Receive worthily the true doctrine of the Son of God, which is proclaimed so clearly in the Germanic churches. Repress all cruelty, re-establish the true worship of God in your states, and cause the doctrine of salvation to be proclaimed throughout the world.’ Long and bold as San Romano’s discourse was, the emperor listened to it very patiently. It was not mere ranting. ‘I have this matter much at heart,’ replied Charles, pleasantly, ‘and I will spare no pains for it.’ San Romano withdrew full of hope.
A conference was now going on at Ratisbon between the Romanists and the evangelical party, who, at the emperor’s request, were endeavoring to come to an agreement. Charles’s moderation might well be the result of his desire to do nothing which might interfere with an arrangement. But no desire was manifested to render justice to the Reformation. On the contrary, Luther wrote to the Elector of Saxony. ‘All this is only pure popish deceit. It is impossible to bring Christ and the Serpent to an agreement.’ Fanatical Catholics, both Germans and Spaniards, were already indulging in acts of cruelty towards the evangelical Christians. At this spectacle San Romano felt his hopes vanish. He did not, however, lose heart; but appealed a second and a third time with great boldness to the emperor, receiving none but gracious replies from him.
The Spaniards in Charles’s suite were less politic than himself, and they displayed much irritation at the language of their countryman. When, therefore, the young Christian of Burgos desired to speak a fourth time with the monarch, they had him carried and put into prison. Their fury rose to the pitch, and weary of the consideration shown him, they were about to seize the audacious young and throw him without further ceremony into the Danube. The emperor prevented this, and ordered him to be tried according to the laws of the empire. He was then thrown into a deep dungeon, where he was kept in chains. According to some accounts, he was bound to the wheels of a chariot, dragged in the train of the emperor, and even transported to Africa, whither Charles at this time betook himself on a famous expedition. This story appears to us improbable. However that may be, on the day when he was released from prison he was cruelly bound and chained together with real criminals, without the least regard to his social position or the cause which he had been arrested, and thus conducted on a miserable cart either into Africa or into Spain. One of the Spaniards who had accompanied him on way from Louvain to Ratisbon approached the cart and, surprised at the barbarous manner in which his friend was treated, asked him, ‘What is the meaning of this? Why are you here in company with criminals and treated with such ignominy?’ Poor Romano, constant in his faith and hope, raised his arms as high as he could, saying, ‘Do you see these iron chains? They will procure me in the presence of God greater honors than all the pomp and magnificence of the emperor’s court. O glorious bonds! you will soon shine like a crown of precious stones. You see, my brother, how my arms and legs are bound and how my whole body, weighed down by these irons, is fastened to the cart, without being able to stir. But all these bonds cannot prevent my spirit, over which the emperor has no authority, from being perfectly free, nor from rising to the dwelling of the eternal Father to contemplate heavenly things, nor from being there continually refreshed by the sweet society of saints. Ah! would to God that the bonds of this mortal body were already severed and that my soul could even now fake flight to my heavenly home! It is my firm assurance, that soon, instead of these transient chains, everlasting joy in the glorious presence of God will be given me by the just Judge.’ Such was the faith of the martyrs of the Reformation. There was something within them that was free, liberrimus animus. There the emperor had nothing to command, nothing to say. Thus it was that after the night and bondage of the Middle Ages, our modern freedom took its rise. Holy and glorious origin! San Romano’s friend was so astonished and touched by these words that he ‘shed a torrent of tears.’ His grief was so intense that he could not speak, and answered only by tears and sighs. But soon the guards, noticing perhaps this conversation, drove on at a great rate, and the friends were separated. f103 San Romano on his arrival in Spain was delivered to the Inquisition of Valladolid. The inquisition threw him into a dark prison, ‘a most horrible subterranean hole,’ says the French translator. They subjected him to far more cruel treatment than he ever experienced from the soldiers; and he suffered more than in the great dangers which he had incurred at sea, from the chains with which he was and a thousand other torments. This took in 1542, and San Romano remained in prison about two years. f104