PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FB - TWITTER - GR VIDEOS - GR FORUMS - GR YOUTUBE
PROTESTANT EXILES FROM SPAIN.
THOSE who have taken an interest in the preceding narrative will feel a desire to know something of the fate of those Spaniards who escaped the horrors of the dungeon and the stake by abandoning their native country.
From the time that violent measures were first adopted to put down the new opinions, individuals who had incurred the suspicions of the clergy, or whose attachment to their country yielded to their fears or to their passion for religious liberty, began to quit the Peninsula. As the persecution grew hotter, the emigration increased; nor had it altogether ceased at the close of the sixteenth century. Some of the emigrants crossed the Pyrenees, after which they sought out abodes in France and Switzerland; others, escaping by sea, took refuge in the Low Countries and in England.
Antwerp was the first place in which the refugees were formed into a church. The reformed opinions had been early introduced into this great mart of Europe, in consequence of the multitude of strangers who continually resorted to it, and the superior freedom which is enjoyed wherever commerce flourishes. It was to the merchants of Antwerp that the Spaniards were first indebted for the means of their illumination; and they continued long to promote the good work which they had begun, by encouraging translations of the scriptures and other books into the Spanish language. Antonio de Corran, or Corranus, a learned native of Seville, was pastor of the Spanish church in Antwerp before the year 1568, when that city fell into the hands of the duke of Alva, of sanguinary memory. f533 After it recovered its liberty, the exiles returned to their former asylum, and enjoyed the pastoral labours of another native of Seville, Cassiodoro de Reyna, the translator of the Bible, who appears to have continued with them until 1585, when the city was again brought under the Spanish yoke, after a memorable siege by the duke of Parma. During his residence there, he drew up, for the use of his hearers, the Antwerp Catechism, which he published both in Spanish and French. f534 Previously to his settling at Antwerp, De Reyna had resided at Strasburg, Frankfort, and other imperial cities, where he found a number of his countrymen, whom he would willingly have served as a preacher. But the German divines received him coldly, on account of his leaning to the sentiments of Calvin and the Swiss churches, on the subject of the eucharist. On this account, he retired to Basle, and meeting with a kind reception in that seat of literature, he finished his translation of the Bible, which had been his chief employment for several years. f536 The Palatinate, and the dominions of the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, opened a more hospitable retreat to the refugees than any other part of Germany. It was in Heidelberg that De Montes published that work which first laid open to the eyes of Europe the mysteries of the Spanish inquisition, and the sufferings which his protestant countrymen had endured from that inhuman tribunal; while a confession of faith in the name of the exiles from Spain, along with an account of their persecution, came from the press of Cassel. f538 France was happily in such a state as to offer a refuge to the Spanish protestants, when driven from their native country. Many of them repaired to the city of Lyons, where means of religious instruction had been provided for them, as well as for their brethren who had fled from Italy. f539 The French protestants showed themselves uniformly disposed to sympathize with the Spanish refugees, contributed to their support, shared with them that degree of religious liberty which they happened at the time to enjoy, and admitted several of them to be pastors of their churches. It is gratifying to find the French synods also receiving into their communion Moors, who had escaped, along with the protestants, from the inquisition of Spain, and now abjured Mahometanism under circumstances which rendered their change of religion less obnoxious to suspicion. f541 But it was in Geneva and England that the greater part of Spanish refugees found a safe harbour and permanent abode. As they were intimately connected with the Italian refugees who settled in these places, we shall, according to a former promise, combine the affairs of both in the following narrative.
As early as 1542, there was formed at Geneva a congregation of Italian refugees, which had the chapel of the cardinal d’Ostie assigned to it by the council, and was under the pastoral inspection of Bernardino de Sesvaz. f543 Its meetings were, however, discontinued after a short time, probably by the removal of some of its principal members; and they were not resumed until the year 1551.
The person to whom its revival was chiefly owing was Galeazzo Carraccioli, whose life presents incidents which would excite deep interest in a romance. He was the eldest son of Nicol-Antonio Carraccioli, marquis of Vico, one of the grandees of Naples. His mother was of the noble family of the Caraffi, and sister to the cardinal of that name who was raised to the pontifical chair. At the age of twenty, he married Vittoria, daughter to the duke of Nuceria, who brought him a large fortune, and bore him six children. The emperor Charles V., who was under obligations to the marquis, conferred on his son the office of gentleman-sewer; and the personal accomplishments of Galeazzo, the uniform correctness of his manners, his affability, and the talents which he discovered for public business, led all who knew him to anticipate his gradual and certain advancement in worldly honors. Serious impressions, accompanied with a conviction of the errors of the church of Rome, were made on his mind by Valdes and Martyr, at the time that the protestant tenets were secretly embraced by many individuals in Naples; and his religious dispositions were cherished by the advices of that pious and elegant scholar, Marc- Antonio Flaminio. Having accompanied the emperor to Germany, his acquaintance with the reformed doctrine was enlarged by conversation with some of the leading protestants, and the perusal of their writings; and his attachment to it was confirmed by an interview which, on his way home, he had at Strasburg with Martyr, who had lately forsaken his native country for the sake of religion. After his return to Naples, he endeavored to prevail on such of his countrymen as held the same views with himself to meet together in private for their mutual edification; but he found that the severe measures lately resorted to had struck terror into their minds, and that they were resolved, not only to conceal their sentiments, but also to practice occasional conformation to the rites of the popish worship. He now entered into serious deliberation with himself on one of the most delicate and painful questions which can be forced on a person in his circumstances.
What was he to do? Was he to spend his whole life in the midst of idolatry, in the way of concealing that faith which was dearer to his heart than life, and incurring the threatening, “Him that confesseth me not before men, I will not confess before my Father and his angels?” Or, was it his duty to leave father, and wife, and children, and houses, and lands, for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s? The sacrifice of his secular dignities and possessions did not cost him a sigh; but as often as he reflected on the distress which his departure would inflict on his aged father, who, with parental pride, regarded him as the heir of his titles, and the stay of his family,— on his wife whom he loved and by whom he was loved tenderly,— and on the dear pledges of their union, he was thrown into a state of unutterable anguish, and started back with horror from the resolution to which conscience had brought him. At length, by an heroic effort of zeal, which few can imitate, and many will condemn, he came to the determination of bursting the tenderest ties which perhaps ever bound man to country and kindred. His nearest relations, so far from being reconcilable to the idea of his abandoning the church of Rome, had signified their displeasure at the pious life which he had led for some years, and at his evident disrelish for the gaieties of the court. Having no hope of procuring their consent, he concealed his design from them, and, availing himself of the pretext of business which he had to transact with the emperor, set out for Augsburg, whence he speedily repaired to Geneva. The intelligence of his arrival at that place, and his abjuration of the Roman religion, while it filled the imperial court with astonishment, plunged his family into the deepest distress. One of his cousins, who had been his intimate friend, was despatched from Naples to represent the grief which his conduct had caused, and urge him to return. As soon as his refusal was known, sentence was passed against him, and he was deprived of all the property which he inherited from his mother. At the risk of his life, he went to Italy and met his father at Verona, where he remained until the marquis went to the emperor, and obtained, as a special favor, that the sentence pronounced against his son should not extent to his grandson. During his father’s absence, Galeazzo was waited upon by the celebrated Fracastoro, who used his great eloquence to persuade him to comply with the wishes of his friends. In the following year he met his father a second time at Mantua, when an offer was made to him, in the name of his uncle, now pope Paul IV., that he should have a protection against the Inquisition, provided he would take up his residence within the Venetian states; a proposal to which neither his safety nor the dictates of his conscience would permit him to accede. All this time he had been refused the privilege of seeing his family; and it was not until the end of the year 1557 that he received a letter from his wife Vittoria, earnestly requesting an interview with him, and fixing the place of meeting. Having obtained a safe-conduct from the government of the Grisons, he immediately set out for Lesina, an island on the coast of Dalmatia, over against his paternal castle of Vico; but, on his arrival at the appointed place, Vittoria, instead of making her appearance, sent two of her sons to meet their father. He had scarcely returned to Geneva from this fatiguing and dangerous journey, when he received another packet from his wife, apologizing for her breach of engagement, and begging him to come without delay to the same place, where she would not fail to meet him, along with his father and children. On his reaching Lesina the second time, none of the family had arrived; and unable to brook further delay, he crossed the Gulf of Venice, and presented himself at his father’s gate. He was received with every demonstration of joy, and for some days the castle was thronged with friends who came to welcome him. But it behoved the parties to come at last to an explanation. Taking Vittoria aside, Galeazzo apologized for not having imparted to her the secret of his departure, gave a full account of the reasons of his conduct, and begged her to accompany him to Geneva; promising that no constraint should be laid on her conscience, and that she should be at liberty to practice her religion under his roof. After many protestations of affection, she finally replied, that she could not reside out of Italy, nor in a place where any other religion than that of the church of Rome was professed; and further, that she could not live with him as her husband, so long as he was infected with heresy. Her confessor had inculcated upon her that it was a damnable sin to cohabit with a heretic, and dreading the influence which her husband might exert over her mind, had prevented her from keeping her first appointment. The day fixed for his departure being come, Galeazzo went to take leave of his father, who, laying aside the affection with which he had hitherto treated him, and giving way to his passion, loaded him with reproaches and curses.
On quitting his father’s apartment, he had to undergo a still severer trial of his sensibility. He found his wife and children, with a number of his friends, waiting for him in the hall. Bursting into tears, and embracing her husband, Vittoria besought him not to leave her a widow, and her babes fatherless.
The children joined in the entreaties of their mother; and the eldest daughter, a fine girl of thirteen, grasping his knees, refused to part with him. How he disengaged himself, he knew not; for the first thing which brought him to recollection was the noise made by the sailors on reaching the opposite shore of the Gulf. He used often to relate to his intimate friends, that the parting scene continued long to haunt his mind; and that, not only in dreams, but also in reveries into which he fell during the day, he thought he heard the angry voice of his father, saw Vittoria in tears, and felt his daughter dragging at his heels. His return gave great joy to his friends at Geneva, who, in proportion to the confidence which they reposed in his constancy, were alarmed for the safety of his person.
Painful as this visit had been to his feelings, it contributed to restore his peace of mind, by convincing him that he could entertain no hope of enjoying the society of his family except on the condition of renouncing his religion. After he had remained nine years in exile, he consulted Calvin on the propriety of contracting a second marriage. That reformer, who took a deep interest in the character of his noble friend, felt great scruples as to the expediency of this step, but ultimately gave his approbation to it, after he had consulted the divines of Switzerland and the Grisons. Accordingly, the courts of Geneva having legally pronounced a sentence of divorce against Vittoria, on the ground of her obstinate refusal to live with her husband, he married Anne Fremejere, the widow of a French refugee from Rouen, with whom he continued to live happily in a state of dignified frugality. On being informed of this part of his conduct, we feel as if it detracted from the high unsullied virtue which Galeazzo had hitherto displayed. His second nuptials, though contracted according to the rules of the canon law, gave occasion of reproach to the keen adversaries of the Reformation; but they did not lower him in the estimation of his acquaintance of either religious persuasion. By the citizens of Geneva he was all along held in the highest respect; the freedom of the city had been conferred on him soon after his arrival among them; a house was allotted to him by the public; and he was admitted a member both of the great and small council. Princes, ambassadors, and learned men, popish as well as protestant, who visited the city, regularly paid their respects to the marquis; a title which was always given him, though he refused to assume it even after the death of his father. Nothing gave greater offence to the papal court, and the government of Naples, than his choosing the see of heresy for his residence. It was probably with the view of removing this prejudice, and thereby procuring remittances from his patrimonial estate, that he consented, in the spring of 1572, to a proposal made by Admiral Coligni to take up his abode with him; but providentially he was prevented from removing to France so soon as he had intended, and thus escaped the massacre of St. Bartholomew, which took place in August that year. After residing five years at Nion and Lausanne for the sake of economy in his living, he returned to Geneva, which he did not again leave until his death, which happened in 1586, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. f548 The first thing which engaged the attention of Caraccioli, after his settlement in Geneva, was the re-organizing of the Italian congregation.
Lattantio Ragnoni, a gentleman of Sienna, whom he had known at Naples, having arrived a few days after him, and given proofs of his orthodoxy and qualifications for public teaching, was persuaded by him to undertake the office of pastor to his countrymen. They accordingly recommenced their public exercises in the Magdalene church, which was assigned to them by the council. Caraccioli himself became one of their elders, and by the respectability of his character, and the wisdom of his counsels, contributed more than any other individual to the permanent prosperity of that church.
In the close of the year 1553, they obtained a preacher of greater abilities in Celso Massimiliano, usually called Martinengo, because he was the son of a count of that name, in the territories of Brescia. He had entered into the order of canons regular, and having imbibed the reformed doctrine from Peter Martyr, preached it for some time with great boldness and eloquence; but understanding that snares were laid for his life, he fled to the Valteline, whence he came to Basle, with the intention of proceeding to England. By the importunities of Caraccioli he was induced to abandon his intended journey, and to undertake the pastoral charge of the Italian church at Geneva. On his death in 1557, Calvin exerted himself to procure for them the services of Martyr and Zanchi, who excused themselves on account of their engagements; and the church appears to have remained under the sole inspection of Ragnoni until 1559, when they procured Nicola Balbani, who continued to serve them with much approbation nearly to the close of the sixteenth century. It would seem that this situation was also held by Jean Baptiste Rotan, a learned man, who, on removing to France, incurred the suspicion of seeking to betray the reformed church by reconciling it to Rome. f554 The peace of the Italian church was for some time disturbed by the antitrinitarian controversy. Alciati, a military officer from Milan, and Blandrata, a physician from Piedmont, in the visits which they made to Geneva, privately disseminated their sentiments, which were adopted by Valentinus Gentilis, a native of Cosenza in Calabria, who had joined the Italian congregation. The celebrated lawyer Gribaldo, after differing with Calvin, had taken up his residence at Fargias, a villa which he purchased in the neighbouring district of Gex, within the jurisdiction of Bern, from which he kept up an intercourse with the secret agitators in Geneva. They had caused great uneasiness to Martinengo, who, in recommending his church to the care of Calvin, when he was on his death-bed, adjured that reformer to guard them against the arts of these restless spirits. In concert with Ragnoni, their surviving pastor, Calvin exerted himself in allaying these dissensions, and, in 1558, drew up a confession of faith for the use of the Italian congregation. This was subscribed by Gentilis, under the pain of perjury if he should afterwards contradict it; but, encouraged by Gribaldo, he began again to spread the opinions which he had renounced, upon which a process was commenced against him, which issued in his expulsion from the city. f556 The internal peace of the Italian church being restored, it continued to flourish, and gained fresh accessions every year by the arrival of persons from the different parts of Italy. All classes in Geneva, the magistrates, the ministers, and the citizens, vied with each other in their kind attention to the exiles from Italy, who were admitted to privileges, and advanced to offices, in common with the native inhabitants of the city. Nor had the republic any reason to repent of this liberal policy. The adopted strangers transferred their loyalty and affections to Geneva; and among those who have served her most honorably in the senate, the academy, and the field, from that time to the present, we recognize with pleasure Italian refugees and their descendants. It is sufficient here to mention the names of Diodati, Turretini, Calandrini, Burlamaqui, Micheli, Minutoli, Butini, and Offredi.
Individual Spaniards, who found it necessary to fly from the Inquisition, had taken refuge in Geneva from the time that Egidio was thrown into prison at Seville. In 1557, additions were made to their number; and the persecution increasing during the two subsequent years, emigrants poured in from all parts of the Peninsula. The council extended to them the privileges which had been already granted to the emigrants from Italy.
It was Juan Perez, to whom his countrymen were otherwise so much indebted, who first formed a Spanish church in Geneva. After his departure to France, they enjoyed the pastoral labors of De Reyna and others of their learned countrymen; but, as many of their members removed to England and other places, and as the most of them understood Italian, they adjoined themselves, before the close of the century, to the church which was placed under the charge of Balbani. One of the most distinguished of their number, both in point of learning and piety, was Pedro Gales. While he taught Greek and jurisprudence in Italy, he had fallen under the suspicion of heresy, and being put to the torture at Rome, lost one of his eyes. Escaping from prison, he came to Geneva about the year 1580, and was appointed joint professor of philosophy with Julio Paci, an Italian lawyer. During an interruption of the academical exercises caused by the attempts of the duke of Savoy on Geneva, Gales was persuaded to accept the rectorship of the college of Guienne at Bordeaux.
But finding his situation unpleasant, in consequence of the civil wars which then raged in France, and the envy of one of his colleagues, he left it, with the intention of repairing to the Netherlands. On his journey he was seized by some of the partisans of the League, and delivered first to his countrymen, and afterwards to the Spanish Inquisition, by whose sentence he was committed to the flames, after making an undaunted profession of his faith. He had made a large collection of ancient manuscripts, with annotations of his own, part of which was preserved, and has been highly prized by the learned. f565 England had the honor of opening a harbour to protestants of every country who fled from persecution at the beginning of the Reformation.
The first congregation of strangers formed in London was the Dutch or German, which met in the church of Austin Friars, under the superintendence of the learned Polish nobleman John a Lasco. It was followed by the erection of French and Italian congregations. As early as 1551 there was an Italian church in London, of which Michael Angelo Florio was pastor. On its restoration after the death of queen Mary, Florio returned; but, owing to some irregularity of conduct, he was not admitted to his former place, which was conferred on Jeronimo Jerlito. f567 the most distinguished of its members were Jacomo Contio, better known as an author by the name of Acontius, who was suspended for some time from communion, on suspicion of his being infected with Arian and Pelagian tenets; his friend Battista Castiglioni, who had a place at court, and taught Italian to queen Elizabeth; Julio Borgarusci, physician to the earl of Leicester; Camillo Cardoini, a Neapolitan nobleman, whose son was afterwards made governor of Calabria, as a reward for abjuring the protestant religion, and Albericus Gentilis, who became professor of civil law at Oxford. The foreign Italian congregation appears to have been united to the French in the course of the sixteenth century; but in 1618 the noted Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spalatro, preached in Italian at London, and had one of the family of Calandrini appointed as his colleague. f573 There had been Spaniards in England from the time of Henry VIII., whose first queen belonged to that nation. Her daughter Mary entertained them about her person, and their number greatly increased after her marriage to Philip II. of Spain. As several of them were converted to protestantism, some writers are of opinion that they must have heard the gospel preached in their native tongue during the reign of Edward VI. But it does not appear that the Spanish protestants were formed into a congregation until the accession of Elizabeth. During the year 1559 they met for worship in a private house in London, and had one Cassiodorio for their preacher. In the course of the following year they presented a petition to secretary Cecil and Grindal bishop of London, for liberty to meet in public. They had hitherto refrained, they said, from taking this step, by the advice of persons whom they greatly respected, and from fear of giving offence; but they were convinced that their continuing to do so was no less discreditable to the religion which they professed, than it was incommodious to themselves.
Their adversaries took occasion to say, that they must surely harbour some monstrous tenets, detested even by Lutherans, when they were not permitted, or did not venture, to assemble publicly in a city where protestants from every country were allowed this privilege. Some of their countrymen had withdrawn from their assembly, and others had declined to join it, lest they should suffer in the trade which they carried on with Spain, from their attendance on a private and unauthorized conventicle. They added, that if the king of Spain complained of the liberty granted to them, they would desist from the exercise of it, and quit the kingdom rather than involve it in a quarrel with foreign states. The government was favourable to their application, and it would seem that they met soon after in one of the city churches, whose ministers, as stated in their petition, were willing to accommodate them. London was not the only place which furnished them with an asylum; but in other towns both they and the Italians generally assembled for worship along with the French emigrants. With the view of countering the invidious and unfounded reports circulated against their orthodoxy, the Spanish protestants in England drew up and published a confession of their faith, which was adopted by their brethren scattered in other countries. This document proves that the Spanish exiles, while they held the doctrines common to all protestants, were favourable to the views which the reformed churches maintained in their controversy with the Lutherans respecting the eucharist. f578 The countenance granted by the government of England to protestant exiles, and particularly to Spaniards, gave great offense to the pope and to the king of Spain. It was specified as one of the charges against Elizabeth, in the bull of Pius V. excommunicating that princess. This drew from bishop Jewel the following triumphant reply. Having mentioned that they had either lost or left behind them their all, goods, lands, and houses, he goes on to say: “Not for adultery, or theft, or treason, but for the profession of the gospel. It pleased God here to cast them on land. The queen, of her gracious pity, granted them harbour. Is it become a heinous thing to show mercy? God willed the children of Israel to love the stranger, because they were strangers in the land of Egypt. He that showeth mercy shall find mercy. But what was the number of such who came to us? Three or four thousand. Thanks be to God, this realm is able to receive them, if the number be greater. And why may not queen Elizabeth receive a few afflicted members of Christ, which are compelled to carry his cross?
Whom, when he thought good to bring safely by the dangers of the sea, and to set in at our havens, should we cruelly have driven them back again, or drowned them, or hanged them, or starved them? Would the vicar of Christ give this counsel? Or, if a king receive such, and give them succor, must he therefore be deprived? They are our brethren; they live not idly. If they take houses of us, they pay rent for them; they hold not our grounds, but by making due recompense. They beg not in our streets, nor crave any thing at our hands, but to breathe our air, and to see our sun. They labour truly, they live sparefully; they are good examples of virtue, travail, faith, and patience. The towns in which they abide are happy, for God doth follow them with his blessings.” Referring to the Spaniards who came to England in the reign of queen Mary, the bishop thus contrasts them with their protestant countrymen. “These are few, those were many; these are poor and miserable, those were lofty and proud; these are naked, those were armed; these are spoiled by others, those came to spoil us; these are driven from their country, those came to drive us from our country; these came to save their lives, those came to have our lives. If we were content to bear those then, let us not grieve now to bear these.” f579 The Spanish monarch was not less indignant than his Holiness at the asylum granted to his protestant subjects. Not contented with persecuting them at home, he hunted them in every country to which they were driven.
Large sums of money were appropriated to the maintaining of spies, and defraying other expenses incurred by that disgraceful traffic. In France and Germany, individuals were from time to time carried off, and delivered over to the Inquisition. Not daring to make such attempts on the free soil of England, the emissaries of Spain had recourse to methods equally infamous. They required the English government to deliver up the refugees as traitors and criminals who had fled from justice. Francisco Farias and Nicolas Molino, two respectable members of the Spanish congregation, who had resided eight years in this country, were denounced by one of their countrymen who acted as a spy in London. In consequence of this, the Spanish ambassador received instructions from his court to demand of Elizabeth, that they should be sent home to be tried for crimes which were laid to their charge; and to induce her to comply with the request, their names were coupled with that of a notorious malefactor who had lately escaped from Flanders. If these innocent men had not had friends at court who knew from experience to sympathize with the exile, they might have been delivered up to a cruel death. To enable it to meet any future demand of this kind, the English government adopted measures to obtain an exact account of all the members of the foreign congregations who had come from any part of the king of Spain’s dominions. f581 In the year 1568, Corranus came from Antwerp, and undertook the pastoral charge of the Spanish congregation in London. Having been involved in a quarrel with Jerlito and Cousin, the ministers of the Italian and French congregations, who accused him of error and defamation, the parties appealed to Beza, who referred the controversy to bishop Grindal.
The commissioners named by the bishop to try the cause suspended Corranus from preaching. He appears to have been a man of a hot temper; but his learning recommended him to secretary Cecil, by whose influence the suspension was taken off, and he was made reader of divinity in the Temple. When he went to Oxford at a subsequent period, some of the heads of colleges scrupled to receive him, on account of the suspicions formerly entertained as to his orthodoxy; but their objections were overcome, and he was admitted to read lectures on theology in the university, as well as to hold a living in the church of England. Though there is no evidence that Cypriano de Valera ever acted as a preacher in England, yet he took an active part in the affairs of the foreign churches. f585 But his labors were chiefly by means of the press, in which respect he was more extensively beneficial to his countrymen than any of the exiles. He arrived in England soon after the accession of Elizabeth, and appears to have spent the remainder of his life chiefly in this country. After studying for some time at both universities, he devoted himself to the writing of original works in Spanish, and the translating of others into that language.
The most of these were published in England, where also his translation of the Bible, though printed abroad, was prepared for the press. It would seem that the circulation of the last-mentioned work in Spain was much more extensive than we could have expected. f587 The influx of Spanish refugees into England ceased with the sixteenth century, though a solitary individual, who had found the means of illumination in his native country, flying from the awakened suspicions of the inquisitors, occasionally reached its hospitable shores after that period. f588