HISTORY OF THE WALDENSES; CONTAINING THE GRIEVOUS PERSECUTIONS WHICH THEY SUFFERED FOR THEIR FAITH
CHAPTER - 1
By whom — wherefore — by what means — and at what times the Waldenses were persecuted.
THE Waldenses have had no worse enemies than the Popes, because, saith monk Reinerius, “ I. Of all those that have risen up against the church of Rome, the Waldenses have been the most prejudicial and pernicious, forasmuch as they have opposed it for a long time.
II. Because that sect is universal, for there is scarce any country where it hath not taken footing.
III. Because all others beget in people a dread and horror of them by their blasphemies against God. But this on the contrary hath a great appearance of godliness, because they live righteously before men, and believe rightly of God in all things, and hold all the articles contained in the Creed, hating and reviling the church of Rome; and in this they are easily believed of the people. “The first lesson which the Waldenses taught those whom they drew to their sect is, that they inform them what manner of persons the disciples of Christ ought to be, by the words of the gospel and the apostles; saying, that those only are the successors of the apostles who imitate their life. Inferring thence, that the pope, the bishops, and clergy, who enjoy the riches of this world, and seek after them, do not follow the lives of the apostles, and therefore are not the true guides of the church; it having never been the design of our Lord Jesus Christ to commit his chaste and well- beloved spouse to those who would rather prostitute it by their wicked examples and works, than preserve it in the same purity in which they received it at the beginning, a virgin chaste and without spot. Out of hatred, therefore, of the Waldenses, for the many things written by them against the luxury, avarice, pride, and errors introduced by the popes, they have persecuted them to death.
The means which they used to exterminate them, were their thunderbolts and their anathemas, their canons, constitutions, and decrees, and whatsoever might render them odious to the kings, princes, and the people of the earth; giving them over, as much as in them lay, to Satan; interdicting them all communion and society with those who obeyed their laws; judging them unworthy and incapable of any office, honor, profits, and to inherit or make wills, or to be buried in the common church-yards.
They confiscated their goods, disinherited their children, and where they could be apprehended, they condemned them to be delivered up to the secular power, their houses to be razed, and their goods and moveables to be confiscated, or given to the first conqueror. Of all such sentences we have at this day the schedule given by the popes, also the instruments that they employed in such executions, and the commands that they laid upon kings, princes, magistrates, consuls, and people, to make an exact inquisition, to shut the gates of the cities, to call for the best help and assistance of the people, to sound the toll-bell, to arm themselves, and, if they could not otherwise apprehend them, to slay them, and use all manner of violence which they should see needful in such a case. Giving to the accusers a third part, or some other portion of that which should be confiscated, all counselors and favorers of them being condemned to the same punishment. Forasmuch as no prince or magistrate, or any other person, had the power to frame a process against any one in the matter of pretended heresy, commandment was given to the bishops, every one in his jurisdiction, to make an inquiry into their flocks, and take notice how every particular person was affected by the ordinances of the popes and the church of Rome. So when Waldo began to cry out against the corruptions of the said church of Rome, Alexander III., then pope, enjoined the Archbishop of Lyons to proceed against him; and because the said prelate did not exterminate him accordingly, and as soon as he desired, he immediately assembled a council, wherein he excommunicated Waldo, and all those who followed his doctrine, though under other names. But yet, this means was judged to be too easy for so pressing an occasion, as was that of the Waldenses, who, notwithstanding those thunderbolts, did not cease to preach that the pope was Antichrist, the mass an abomination, the host an idol, and purgatory a fable: points which being received were sufficient to overthrow all the authority of the popes, and to dry up all the rivers of gain; and the fat of the clergy. Therefore, Pope Innocent III., who succeeded Pope Celestin III., about the year 1198, took another method than that of the ordinary bishops, to frame the process against the Waldenses and others, whom he called heretics. He authorized certain monks who had the full power of the Inquisition in their hands to frame the process, and deliver over to the secular power by a far shorter way, but much more cruel; for they delivered up the people by thousands into the hands of the magistrates, and the magistrates to the executioners; whereby in a few years all Christendom was moved by those pitiful and lamentable spectacles, grieving to see all those persons hanged or burnt who trusted only in our Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and renounced all the vain hopes invented by men: and for their profit; which was all the fruit of the Papal Inquisition.
CHAPTER - 2
The Inquisition — by whom first put in practice — and by what subtleties and cruelties theWaldenses thereby have been vexed.
IN the beginning of the prosecutions of the popes to exterminate the Waldenses, they were contented with the above-mentioned methods; but either because the business went forward but slowly, or because, notwithstanding those means, the number of those who exclaimed against the errors of the papacy did so increase, that those means were found too weak: it was resolved by Pope Innocent III. to try if by the way of preaching he could obtain that which he never could do by violence.
He sent, therefore, his bishops and monks, who preached in those places suspected to entertain the religion of the Waldenses. But as the author of the Treasure of Histories saith, the said preachers converted not any but a few poor people; but the greatest part still persisted in the profession of their faith. 1 In Gallia Narbonensis were two monks employed, Peter de Chateauneuf and Dominic, born at Calahorre in Spain; to whom was joined a certain abbot of Cisteaux. 2 Several other priests and monks came as it were in a body, and among others a Bishop of Cestre. The monk Peter of Chateauneuf was slain, 3 and canonized for a saint; but Dominic continued his persecutions against the said Waldenses both in word and fact. That monk seeing himself in authority, instituted an order of begging monks, who from him were called Dominicans, and the said monk was canonized, and his order confirmed by Pope Honorius. 4 For it seemed to him that the church of Rome was falling, and that Dominic sustained it with his shoulders, in recompense of which, the said pope commanded that the said order should have the precedency among the mendicants. It is reported of this monk, that his mother going with child of him, dreamed, that she had in her womb a dog which cast flames of fire out of his throat. 5 His followers interpreted that to his advantage: as if it thereby were signified, that he should be that dog that should vomit out that fire which should consume the heretics. On the contrary, those whom he daily delivered up to death, might very well say that he was that dog that had set all Christendom on fire; and that the flames which proceeded out of his throat, were to denote the fiery and infernal sentences which he should pronounce against the Christians. So well did he manage his, and his brethren’s affairs, that before he died, he built a great many houses in Languedoc, Provence: Dauphiny, Spain, and elsewhere; for which he obtained great revenues, either from the liberality of those who affected, his order, or from the confiscations of the Waldenses; out of which the earl Simon of Montfort gave him vast privileges and alms; as “cutting large thongs out of another man’s leather.” He labored in the Inquisition as chief, with such satisfaction to the popes, that from that time forward the monks of his order were ever employed in the Inquisition.
The power conferred upon the said monks inquisitors was without limits.
For they might assemble the people when they pleased by the sound of a bell, and send out process if there were occasion to imprison, or open the prisons without control. All manner of accusations were valid; a sorcerer, or a harlot, was a sufficient and irreproachable witness in the case of pretended heresy. It was no matter who accused, or whether it were by word of mouth, or by tickets cast in before the Inquisitor. Without any personal appearance, or confronting of each other, the process was made, without party, without evidence, and without any other law than the pleasure of the inquisitors. To be rich, was a crime near unto heresy; and he that had anything to lose, was in a way to he undone, either as a heretic, or at least as a favorer of heretics. One single suspicion stopped the mouths of fathers, mothers, and relatives, that they dared not intercede to prevent future punishment; and if any one begged leave to convey a cup of water to them, or a little straw to lie upon in some stinking dungeon, he was adjudged as a criminal, and a favorer of heretics, and often reduced to the same or worse extremity. No advocate durst undertake the defense of his most intimate relative and friend, nor a notary receive any act in his favor. Moreover, when any one was once entangled with the snares of the Inquisition, he could never live with any assurance, for he was always to begin again. If he were released, it was only for a time, till they had better considered of it. Death itself did not put an end to the punishment, since they have left us copies of their sentences against the bones to disinter them, and to burn them, even thirty years after the decease of the person accused. Those who were heirs, had nothing certain; for upon any accusation of their parents or relatives, they durst not take upon them the defense of their right, or possess their inheritance without the crime and suspicion of heresy, that they rather inherited their evil faith than their goods. The people, even the most rich and mighty, were constrained almost to adore those monks inquisitors, and make them large presents for the building of their convents, and endowing their houses, for fear of being accused of heresy, and esteemed not zealous for the faith by those holy fathers. The more to impress persons with the apprehensions of those things, they sometimes made a show and bravado of their prisoners, leading them in triumph in their processions. Some being obliged to whip themselves, others to go covered, after the manner of Benedictines, with certain red cassocks crossed with yellow to show that they had been convicted of some error, and that for the first fault which they should hereafter commit, they stood already condemned as heretics. Others appeared in their shirts, their feet and heads bare, with a halter about their necks, and a torch in their hands; that being thus equipped, they might strike a terror into the beholders, to see such persons, of all qualities and sexes, reduced to so miserable a condition, being all forbidden to enter into the church, but to stay at the door, or to cast an eye upon the host when shown by the priest, till it was otherwise ordered by the fathers, the inquisitors.
To complete the satisfaction of the said fathers, the party accused was banished for his penance into the Holy Land; or listed for some other expedition against the Turks or other infidels, levied by order of the Pope, under an obligation to serve the Church for a certain time at his own expense; during which time, the said holy fathers took possession of the goods of the poor pilgrim; but he must not inquire whether the said monks had any private familiarity with his wife, during his absence, for fear of being condemned as a person relapsed, impenitent, and altogether unworthy of favor.
Moreover those cruelties were practiced ever since the year 1206, the time that Dominic set up his inquisition, to the year 1228; by which time there was so great a havoc made of these poor Christians throughout all Europe, that the archbishops of Aix, Arles, and Narbonne, being assembled at Avignon in that year, at the instance of the monks of the inquisition, to confer with the said monks about several difficulties which they met with in the execution of their office, their had compassion of the misery of a great number of the persons accuse, and kept prisoners by the said monks inquisitors, saying — “It is come to our knowledge that you have apprehended so many of the Waldenses, that it is not only impossible to defray the charges of their subsistence, but also to provide stone and mortar to build prisons for them. We advise you to defer a little such imprisonments, until the pope be advertised of the great numbers that have been apprehended, and till he notify what he pleases to have done in the case. And there is no reason, vous tuissiez? you should take offense hereat; for as to those who are altogether impenitent and incorrigibe, or concerning whom you doubt of their relapse or escape, or being at liberty, that they would infect others, you may condemn such without delay.”
There needs no other proof than this of the said prelates, to make it appear that the number of those delivered up to death by the inquisition, was very great. For upon the question moved by the said inquisitors, whether those who have kept company with the Waldenses, and have taken the Lord’s Supper with them, were excusable, because they pleaded ignorant, not knowing that they were Waldenses, the said prelates answered, that they were not excusable. “For,” they added, “who is so great a stranger as not to know that the Waldenses have been for this long time punished and condemned, and that for these several years past, they have been prosecuted at the pains and charges of Catholics, that prosecution having been sealed by the condemnation of so many persons, so that it cannot be called in question?”
Now the speech of the said prelates being compared with what George Morel wrote in the year 1530, it would appear to be none of the least miracles of God, that notwithstanding the bloody persecutions ever since Waldo’s time, in the year 1160, until the said year 1530, there were, according to the report of the said Morel, at that time, above eight hundred thousand persons who made profession of the religion of the Waldenses. As to the subtleties of the inquisitors, we should have had no knowledge of them, had it not been for those who made their escape out of the inquisition of Spain; but it was the will of God, that their cunning tricks should not be so concealed, but that we should have examples of them, even from themselves. Behold then the crafty subtleties and deceit of the inquisitors, which served them for a rule, in drawing up the process against the Waldenses. “It is not expedient to dispute of matters of faith before the laity.” “No person ought to be counted a penitent, except he accuses those whom he knows to be like himself.” “After that any one hath been delivered up to the secular power, care must be taken that he be not suffered to excuse himself, or to manifest his innocence before the people: for if he be put to death, and her justifies himself, it will be an offense to the laity; and if he should escape, there would be danger of his loyalty.” “Care must be taken not to promise life to one under sentence of death, before the people; for no heretic would suffer himself to be burned if he could escape by such a promise. And if he should promise to repent before the people, and his life should not be granted to him, the people would be offended thereat, and believe that he was wrongfully put to death.” “The inquisitor ought always to presuppose the fact, without any condition, and must only inquire about the circumstances thereof, as thus: How many times hast thou confessed thyself to heretics?
In what chamber of thy house have they lain, and such like?” “The inquisitor may look into any book, as if he found written therein the life of the party accused, and all that he inquires of.” “It is necessary to menace the person accused with death, if he doth not confess; telling him that his fact is too apparent, that he ought to think of his soul, and renounce his heresy, for he must die, and undergo with patience what shall happen unto him: and if he answers, since I must die, I had rather die in that faith which I profess, than in that of the church of Rome; then take it for granted, that before he only dissembled in his repentance, and so let him suffer justice.” “We must never think to convince the heretics by literature and, the scriptures, forasmuch as learned men are rather confounded by them; and here indeed the heretics fortify themselves, seeing they are able to delude the most learned.” “Moreover, care must be taken, that heretics do answer directly; and when they are pressed with frequent interrogations, they have a custom to declare, that they are simple and illiterate persons, and therefore know not how to answer. But if they see that the assistants are moved with compassion towards them, as if they should do them wrong, counting them to be simple people, and therefore not culpable, then they take courage, and make as if they weeped like poor miserable wretches, and by flattering their judges, endeavor to free themselves from the inquisition; saying, if I have done amiss in anything, I will willingly do penance, only lend me your aid and assistance to rescue me from this disgrace, into which I am fallen by the malice of others, and not by my own fault. But then the courageous inquisitor must never yield to such flatteries, nor give credit to those dissimulations.” “The inquisitor must likewise tell them, that they will gain nothing by false-swearing, because they have enough to convict them of by evidence, and that therefore they must not think by means of their oath to evade the sentence of death but must promise them, that if they ingenuously confess their fault, they shall find mercy: for there are many persons in such a perplexity, who confess their error in hopes to escape.”
Thus you see the subtleties of the monks inquisitors, which they formerly practiced against the Waldenses throughout all Europe. It remains to lay open their practices in each respective kingdom and province, so far as they have come to our knowledge; and we will begin with Dauphiny, since that was the province into which Waldo and his followers retired at their departure from Lyons.
CHAPTER - 3
The Churches of the Waldenses in Dauphiny, and the persecutions which they suffered.
THE Waldensian Churches in Dauphiny have been for these several hundred years dispersed into divers parts of the province. They had churches in Valentia, where there still remain places in which, time out of mind, the faith of the Waldenses hath been transmitted from father to son in Faux and Bauregard in Valentinois, and la Baulme near Crest. Out of which places there have come to our hand certain processes against persons, who were accused by the inquisitors, as adherents to the faith of the Waldenses, A.D. 1300.
The most celebrated churches of that province are those of the valley of Fraissiniere near Ambrun, Argentiere and Lovse, which for the sake of reproaching the Waldenses was called Val-Pute, as if the said valley had been nothing but a brothel, and the receptacle of all manner of villany and debauchery. This was entirely destroyed. On the other side of the Alps there was a valley called Pragela, which they have inhabited, for a long period, in the dominion and jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Turin, peopled at present by those who are descended from the ancient Waldenses. The inhabitants of the said valley also peopled the Waldensian valleys of Piedmont, Perouse, St. Martin, Angrogne, and others. Those who inhabited in Provence and Calabria also came at first from the said places in Dauphin. and Piedmont. In the said valley of Pragela there are at present six fine churches, every one having its pastor; and every pastor has several villages, which appertain to each of those churches, all filled with the offspring of the ancient Waldenses.
They are churches truly reformed time out of mind; for though there are at this present time in the said valley, old peoples and of those not a few, who draw near to, and some who exceed one hundred years; yet those good old men have never heard from their ancestors that mass hath been sung in their time in that country. Although the Archbishops of Turin may have caused it to be said in the said valleys unknown to the inhabitants, yet here is not one among them who hath made profession of any other faith, than the confession which is in the preceding book. All the books before mentioned have been received among the inhabitants of the said valley, which formerly was one of the securest retreats that the Waldenses had in Europe, environed on all sides with mountains almost inaccessible, into whose caverns they used to retire in the time of persecution.
Le Sieur de Vignaux, one of the first pastors who preached among those people, long before the exercise of the reformed religion was free in France, could never sufficiently mention the piety and integrity of those people, whom he found all disposed to receive the dispensation of the word of God, which their fathers had so much cherished, and in which they had instructed, their posterity. And it is worthy our observation, though, they were blocked up on all sides, and surrounded with the enemies of their faith, and in danger of being apprehended when they went out of their houses, yet, no worldly, consideration could divert, them from their holy resolution, transmitted from father to son of serving God, by taking his Word for the rule of their faith, and his law for the rule of their obedience in that design, God hath blessed them above all other Christians of Europe: for their children are no sooner weaned, than their parents take a singular delight to instruct them in the Christian faith and doctrine, till they are able to confound persons dwelling elsewhere, who are well stricken in years, and overwhelmed with ignorance. To that perfection of knowledge do their pastors bring them, who not contented with giving them exhortations upon the sabbath, do also go upon the week days to the villages and hamlets to instruct them.
Nor do they favor and indulge themselves, because of the sharpness of the rocks, the severity of the season, and the incommodiousness of the country, where they are forced to climb high and steep mountains to visit their flocks, and bring unto them the food of their souls, even when the said people in the heat of summer are keeping their cattle upon the top of the rocks: but there do they instruct and exhort them in the open field.
There may one see people who hear the Word of God with reverence and attention. There discipline is exercised with success: There the people pray with fervor at their return from their labor, when they betake them to their rest; and in the morning before they enter upon any business, they beg God’s direction and assistance in their thoughts, words, and actions, first in their houses, and afterwards in the church; and so go forth to their labor under the protection of the living God, whom they love, honor, and adore. There is to be found more zeal and simplicity, than in other places where riches and luxury abound. Neither are they so ignorant and illiterate, but that they have among them persons who know how to read and express themselves handsomely, and in good terms, especially those who travel with their commodities into the Low Countries. They have also schools, in which they educate and nurture their children, and they want nothing which they esteem necessary, to the advancement of God’s glory among them.
The first persecution which is come to our knowledge, is that which was set on foot by a monk inquisitor, of the order of the Friar-minors, named Francis Borelli, being commissioned in the year 1380 to make inquiry into, and give information concerning the sect of the Waldenses in the dioceses of Aix, Arles, Ambrun, Vienne, Geneva, Aubonne, Savoy, the country of Venice, Dyois, Forests, the principality of Orange, the city of Avignon, and Selon: as he was authorized by his bull given him by Pope Clement VII, who then kept his residence at Avignon 1 By reason of the proximity of his court to the dwellings of the said Waldenses, the Pope thought to rid Dauphiny of all those who counted him Antichrist. To that purpose he commanded the prelates of Dauphiny, Provence, and other places within the extent of his power and jurisdiction, for there was then a schism and division in Europe, part for Pope Urban I., residing at Rome, and partly for the said Clement, enjoining them to have so vigilant an eye over their flocks, that not one of the sect of the Waldenses might dwell there.
That monk summoned all the inhabitants of Fraissiniere, l’Argentiere, and Val-Pute, to appear before him at Ambrun, under pain of excommunication. They neither appeared themselves, nor any for them, and were therefore condemned for contumacy, and at length cut of from the Romish Church by a final and most dreadful excommunication. In the space of thirteen years, he delivered by sentence to the secular power, to be burned at Grenoble, of Val-Pute, William Mary of Villar, Peter Long Chastan, John Long Fruchi, Albert Vincens, Johanna the Wife of Stephen Vincens, and others, to the number of one hundred and fifty men, several women, and a great many of their children of both sexes.
He delivered also to the secular power in the valley of l’Argentiere and Fraissiniere, Astune, Berarde, Agnessonne the wife of John Bresson, Barthelmie the wife of John Porte, and others of both sexes, to the number of eighty, all of whom were condemned; and when any one of them was apprehended, he was immediately carried to Grenoble, and there, without any other form of law and process, instantly burned alive.
This last sentence was pronounced in the cathedral of Ambrun, in the year 1393, to the great profit and advantage of the monks inquisitors, who adjudged one moiety of the goods of the said persons condemned to themselves, and the rest to the temporal lords. Then they forbad all their neighbors to aid or assist them in any way whatsoever; to receive, visit, or defend them; to give them any sustenance, or to have any manner of communication or dealing with them; or to afford them any counsel or favor, under the pain of being attainted and convicted for favorers of heretics, They declared them unworthy of all places and public offices, prohibiting others to make use of their evidence, judging them unfit to bear witness, or to succeed in an inheritance. And if they were judges, that their sentences should be null and ineffectual, and that no causes should be tried before them — if advocates, that their defense and pleas should not be taken — if notaries, that their instruments should be void, canceled and defaced — if priests, that they should be deprived of all offices and benefices; interdicting all ecclesiastical persons to administer the sacraments to them. or to afford them burial, or to receive any alms or oblations of them, under pain of deposition from their functions, and deprivation of their benefices.
That monk reserved to himself, by the said sentence, the review and examination of the process of a dozen whom he particularized therein, whom he would fain have escape through the Golden Gate, or by bribery.
For in the processes which have come to our hands, we find several complaining that they would never have been entangled with the snares of the Inquisition, had it not been for their wealth; it being evident that they had never been acquainted with the religion of the Waldenses.
As to the Waldenses of the valley of Pragela, they were assaulted by their enemies, on the side of Susa, a town in Piedmont, about the year 1400; and forasmuch, as they had often attempted them in vain, it being at a season when they could make their retreat to the high mountains, and caves thereof, where they might do much mischief and damage to those who should come there to attack them; their enemies set upon the Waldenses about Christmas, at a time when those poor people never dreamed that any would have dared to pass the mountains covered with snow. Seeing their caves possessed by their enemies, they betook themselves to one of the highest-mountains of the Alps, called l’Albergam, or a mountain of retreat, flocking thither with their wives and children; the mothers carrying the cradles, and leading their little children by the hand, who were able to go. The enemy pursued them till night, and slew a great number of them before they could reach the mountain. Those who were then put to death, had the better portion; for night having surprised that poor people, who were in the snow, destitute of any means of kindling a fire to warm their little children, the greatest part of them were benumbed with cold. In the morning they found four score little children dead in their cradles; and the greatest part of their mothers died after them. The enemies retiring in the night to the houses of the said poor people, plundered and pillaged all that they could convey away with them to Susa; and to complete their cruelty, they hung upon a tree a Waldensian woman, whom they met upon the mountain of Meane, named Margaret Athode. The inhabitants of that valley look upon this persecution to be the most violent, that in their time, or in the time of their forefathers, they had ever suffered. They speak of it to this day, as if the thing were but lately transacted, and fresh in their memory; so often have they from generation to generation made mention of that sudden surprise, which was the occasion of so many miseries amongst them.
In the meantime the Waldenses of the valley of Fraissiniere, who escaped the former persecution, were again cruelly handled by John, archbishop of Ambrun, their neighbor, in the year 1460; in the time of Pope Plus II. and Louis XI., King of France.
That archbishop gave commission to a monk of the order of the Friar Minors, named John Veyleti, to prosecute the said Waldenses; who proceeded, therein with such diligence and violence that there were hardly any persons in the valleys of Fraissiniere, l’Argentiere, and Loyse, who could escape the seizure of that inquisitor; but they were apprehended either as heretics, or else as favorers of them. Those therefore, who were unacquainted with the faith of the Waldenses, had recourse to King Louis XI., beseeching him, by his authority, to put a stop to the course of such persecutions. The king granted them his letters, and by them the design of the inquisitors may easily be discovered, who involved several Romanists in their process, under color of the inquisition against the Waldenses.
LETTER OF KING LOUIS XI
Louis, by the grace of God, King of France, Dauphin de Viennois, Count de Valentinois and Dioys, to our well-beloved and faithful governor of Dauphiny. Health and dilection. “Touching the inhabitants of the valleys of Loyse, Fraissiniere, l’Argentiere, and others belonging to our country of Dauphiny, we have been certainly informed, — That notwithstanding they have, and will still live, as becomes good Christians, without holding, believing or maintaining any superstitious tenet, but only such as is agreeable to the ordinance and discipline of the Church — nevertheless: certain religious mendicants styling themselves Inquisitors of the Faith, and others, thinking by vexations and persecution to force and extort their goods from them, and by other ways to molest them in their persons, have been, and still are desirous, falsely to lay to their charge, that they hold and believe certain heresies and superstitions contrary to the Catholic faith; and under that color and pretense, do trouble, and annoy them with process upon process, both. in our court of parliament of Dauphiny, and several other countries of our dominions.” “And for the confiscation of the goods of those whom they charge with the said crimes, several of the judges, and even of the inquisitors of the faith, who for the most part are religious mendicants, under the color of the office of inquisitors, have and daily do continue to send out process against several poor people, without any just or reasonable cause; have put some upon the rack, called them to question, without any preceding information, and have condemned them for crimes which they were not guilty of, as hath been afterwards found out; and of others they have taken and exacted great sums of money to set them at liberty, and molested and troubled them by divers unjust and illegal means, to the prejudice and damage not only of the said supplicants, but also of us, and the whole republic of our country of Dauphiny.” “Wherefore, we being willing to provide against this mischief, and not to suffer our people to be troubled by such unjust and illegal methods; especially the inhabitants of the said places affirming, that they always have, and will still continue to live, as becomes good Christians, and professors of the Catholic religion, without holding or believing any other faith than what is allowed by the Church; neither have maintained, or will maintain or believe anything contrary thereto; and that it is unreasonable, that any person should be condemned for the crime of heresy, except those who stubbornly, obstinately and contumaciously maintain and affirm things contrary to the sincerity of our faith; have with great and mature deliberation, and to put a stop to such frauds and abuses, unjust vexations, and illegal extortions, granted to the said supplicants, and do grant, and with our Certain knowledge and special consent, full power and authority, royal and delphinal, we have willed and ordained, and do will and ordain by these presents, that the said supplicants, and others of our country of Dauphiny, be freed from the court and suits, and whatsoever suit any of them shall have commenced against them for the causes abovementioned; we have of our certain knowledge, full power and authority, royal and delphinal, abolished and do abolish, made void and do make void by these presents. And our will and pleasure is, that from the beginning of the world to this day, there be nothing exacted of them, or injury offered to them in their body, goods, or good name. Except, nevertheless, there be any who obstinately, stubbornly, and contumaciously will hold and affirm any points contrary to the holy Catholic faith.” “Moreover, we have willed and ordained, and do will and ordain, that the goods of the said inhabitants our supplicants, and others of our country of Dauphiny, which, for the cause abovementioned, have been taken and exacted of any person, in what manner soever, by execution or otherwise, by the order and demand of our court of parliament of Dauphiny, or any other whatsoever; as likewise all bonds and obligations, that they have given for the causes above-mentioned, whether it be for payment of fees and expenses for the said persecution, or otherwise, shall be again restored unto them; unto which restitution all such shall be compelled to submit, who have in anything, either by sale or spoil of their goods, moveables or unmoveables, by detention or imprisonment of their persons, any ways wronged them, until they have fully restored their goods and things above-mentioned, and obeyed our commands; otherwise to be forced and compelled by all just and reasonable methods requisite in such a case; notwithstanding all appeals whatsoever, which our will is, should be absolutely suspended.” “Because that by reason of those confiscations, which have been formerly pretended, of the goods of those whom they have accused and prosecuted in this case, several, rather out of covetousness, and a desire of possessing the said confiscations, or part of them, than out of justice, do and have sued and prosecuted several people; and to further and procure the said confiscations, have made use of many unjust and illegal means; we have declared, and do declare by these presents, that we will not from henceforward have any confiscations taken, levied or exacted, for the said cause, for us, or by our officers; and all our right and claim we have quitted and remitted to the children, and other heirs and successors of those from whom such confiscations shall be exacted. Moreover, to prevent the frauds and abuses offered by the said Inquisitors of the Faith, we have forbidden, and do forbid any person to suffer or permit the said inquisitors to proceed from this time forward, against the said inhabitants of our country of Dauphiny, or to hold them in suit for the above-mentioned, or the like causes, without our express letters concerning that matter. We have further forbidden, and do forbid, any of our judges and officers of our subjects, for the above-mentioned, or the like causes, to take upon them any jurisdiction or cognizance, but that they refer all causes and suits relating to the said business to us, and those of our great council, to whom, and to no other, we have reserved, and do reserve the examination and determination. We therefore expressly command and enjoin you, duly and punctually to put our said letters in execution, according to their form above-mentioned, and not otherwise, as in such case is requisite. For it is our will and pleasure that it should be done: And to that end we give you full power and authority, commission and special commandment. We charge and command all our justices, officers and subjects, commissioners and deputies, that they give their assistance for the due obedience thereunto. Given at Arras, May 18, Anno 1478.”
The Archbishop of Ambrun ceased not to proceed further against the persons accused, but was much more animated than before; grounding his procedure upon that clause of the said letters: “Except there be found any among them who rebelliously, contumaciously, and obstinately harden themselves in their opinions.” Therefore he pretended, that he did nothing in contradiction to the said letters, since, those who had received them did not appear in judgment to justify themselves, making it manifest that they were neither obstinate, rebellious, nor contumacious. Moreover the said archbishop extorted from part of the inhabitants of Fraissiniere, l’Argentiere, and Val Loyse, a renunciation or denial of the requests presented to the King, declaring that no persons in Dauphiny were less free from heresy, than those who were the readiest to clear themselves before the King; and caused a second information to be made. We have observed in that information that the witnesses produced were for the most part priests, or officers belonging to the said archbishop, William Chabassol, Canon of Ambrun; Francis Magnici, priest of the Valley of Loyse; Rostain Payan, curate of St. Marcelin; Anthony Garneri priest; Aimar Raimondi, chaplain; Michael Pierre, curate of Fraissiniere; all which deposed that those who had recourse to King Louis XI., were Waldenses.
Thus the archbishop being fortified and encouraged by their recantation, and those witnesses, and the assertion of John Pelegrin, who was corrupted by money to charge and accuse the Waldenses of the ancient calumnies, which were formerly imposed upon the primitive Christians, that they met together in private and obscure places, and there, after the candles were put out, to commit sin, he sent to the court to vindicate and justify himself against the informations given to the King, that he prosecuted the Waldenses rather for the sake of their goods, than out of zeal for the Catholic Faith. But that single witness prevailed but little against several others who would never depose against their consciences, that they had seen among the Waldenses, anything which did bear the appearance of that villany with which the false witness had charged them.
Nevertheless the archbishop did not desist from annoying and disturbing the said persons accused, to the utmost of his power; so that the greatest part of them that were unable to defray the charge, betook themselves to flight, there being not any amongst those that were persecuted, except James Palineri, who protested against the unjust trouble and molestation given them, to the prejudice of the letters obtained of his majesty, and demanded a copy of their proceedings, that he might right himself by law.
The archbishop let him alone, prosecuting those who had not the courage to oppose his violent practices. But the consuls of Frassiniere, Michael Ruffi, and John Girraud, having been summoned to appear before the archbishop, to answer both in their own name, and the inhabitants of their valley; after they had made answer, that they had nothing to say before the arch-bishop, because their cause was depending before the King and council, which they then openly averred, and demanded a copy of it; being pressed to answer notwithstanding all their protestations and averment to the contrary, Michael Ruffi nodding his head, answered in his own language, Veici ragis; and being pressed a second time, he said, Veici una bella Raison. The archbishop being enraged against the said consuls for such a contempt, sent them to the fire without any other form or process.
But the arch- bishop himself did not long survive them, for he died with an evident mark of Divine justice, soon after their execution. Thus ended the persecution in the year 1487.
We may observe a remarkable piece of villany in the process formed by this monk Veiliti. Having the said process in our hands, we discovered little bills, wherein the said commissioner used to take the answers of the persons accused, simply and nakedly, as they came out of their mouths, but we found them afterwards stretched and extended in the process, altogether contrary to what they were in the sumptum, as they called it, altering therein the intention of the said person, making him to say that of which he never thought.
Inquire, whether he believed, that after the words of consecration were pronounced by the priest in the Mass, the body of Christ was present in the Host in as gross and extensive a manner as it was upon the Cross if the Waldenses shall answer, no Veiliti, or his clerk, he dictating it, set down the answer thus: “he confessed he believed not in God.” In whether we ought not to pray to the saints? if he answer no, they set down, “he reviled and spake evil of the saints.” Inquire whether we ought to reverence the Virgin Mary, and pray unto her in our necessities? if he answer no, they write, “that he spake blasphemy against the Virgin Mary.” Thus you may see the fidelity of the inquisitors in so weighty and important an action. It could not be without the great Providence of God, that the history of such villanies should be preserved till now, that men might see by what spirit they were actuated and inspired, who cut the throats of, and burnt the faithful members of the church, after they had loaded them with impostures; demanding of us notwithstanding, where these faithful members of the church were, whom they had massacred before our time.
If the reader desires to know how the process and indictments fell into our hands; here he will again see the great Providence of God, in causing the very same persons, who were the authors and actors of those cruelties and villanies, to keep the said papers and process in their libraries, and other places wherein their records are laid up; the archbishops of Ambrun themselves, John and Rostain, and others, until the city was recovered out of the hands of the rebels in the year 1585. Then all the said process and proceedings, attempted and contrived for many hundred years together against the Waldenses, were flung out into the street, because the archbishop’s palace was set on fire by the enemies themselves, with a design to defend a tower called Tour Brune, whither they were retired, and to cut off a wooden gallery, by which the archbishop had passage to the tower. The Sieur de Calignon, chancellor of Navarre, and the Sieur de Vulcon, chancellor to the King, in the Parliament at Grenoble, being there, they caused the papers, containing the process, framed long ago against the Waldenses, to be gathered together; whence we have collected that which relates to the cruelties and lewd behavior of the said monks inquisitors, and their adherents; as likewise that which followeth concerning the Waldenses in Dauphiny, and the persecutions carried on by the commissaries of the archbishops of Turin, against the Waldensian churches of Pragela.
The method of harassing the Waldenses by war was never known till that time; but Albert de Capitaneis, Archdeacon of Cremona, sent against them by Pope Innocent VIII., began to desire the aid and assistance of the King’s Lieutenant in Dauphiny, called Hughes de la Paln, who for this service levied troops, and marched to those places where the said Albert told him any of the Waldenses were, in the valley of Loyse. That the business might seem to be undertaken according to justice and equity, and to give the better authority to their proceedings, the Lieutenant of the King took along with him a Counselor of the Court, named John Rabot. Upon their arrival at the said valley of Loyse, they could meet with none of the inhabitants, for they had all fled into their caverns on the top of the mountains, having carried thither with them their little children, and whatsoever they accounted most precious, and fit for their sustenance and nourishment. This Lieutenant of the King caused a great quantity of wood to be placed at the entrance of their caves, and to be set on fire, so that either the smoke by suffocating, or the fire by burning them, constrained a great number to throw themselves headlong from their caverns upon the rocks below, where they ended their lives, being dashed in pieces. If there were any one amongst them who dared to stir, he was immediately slain by the soldiers of Paln. That persecution was very severe: for there were found within the said caverns four hundred little children, suffocated in their cradles, or in the arms of their dead mothers. Among the Waldenses dwelling in the adjacent valleys, above three thousand persons, men and women, belonging to the said valley, then perished. To say the truth, they were wholly exterminated; so that thenceforward that valley was peopled with new inhabitants, and there was no family of the said Waldenses that ever after took footing there; which proves beyond dispute, that all the inhabitants thereof, of both sexes, died at that time. That Lieutenant of the King having destroyed the inhabitants of the valley of Loyse, fearing lest the Waldenses in the neighboring country should settle there again, and that they might not hereafter be put to a second trouble to expel them, he gave the goods and possessions of the valley to whom he pleased; which were not so soon divided, but that the Waldenses of Pragela and Fraissiniere had made provision for their safety, expecting the enemy at the passage and narrow straits of their valleys; so that when the Lieutenant of the King came to invade them, he was obliged to retreat.
Albert de Capitaneis’s commission calling him elsewhere, he substituted a Franciscan monk, named Ploieri, who began to exhibit fresh informations against the Waldenses of Fraissiniere, in the year 1489. He cited them to appear before him at Ambrun, and for not appearing, he excommunicated and anathematized them, and at last condemned them, as contumacious heretics and backsliders, to be delivered to the secular power, and their goods to be confiscated. At this judgment assisted, a counselor named Ponce, in the behalf of the Parliament of Dauphiny, to the end that this mixed judgment might admit of no appeal The sentence was pronounced at the great church at Ambrun, afterwards fixed upon the door of the said church upon a large pannel, in the lower part of which were thirty-two articles of the faith of the said Waldenses, against the Mass, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, Pilgrimages, the Observations of Feasts, distinction of meats upon certain days, and other points maintained by the Waldenses.
The informations on which their sentence was grounded having come to our hands, this imposture hath been detected to their own condemnation.
We find not any witness to these allegations: but, on the contrary, though the chief of those that were heard, were priests or monks, on being asked by the monk, whether they knew the contents of the aforesaid articles to be true; they answered, that they never knew any such doctrines either taught or practiced amongst the Waldenses.
In the same parcel of writings, containing the process against the Waldenses, we find one drawn up against Francis Gerondine and Peter James, two barbs, or pastors, who were taken, “sur le col de coste plane;” about the hill in the side of the plain, in 1492. Being asked the reason why the sect of the Waldenses multiplied and increased so fast, and for a long time together had spread itself into so many places, this monk wrote down the answer of Gerondine after this manner: “That the dissolute and debauched lives of the priests was the cause of it; and because the cardinals were covetous, proud, and luxurious, it being manifest to all, that there was neither pope, cardinal, nor bishop, who kept not their concubines, and few or none who were not guilty of unnatural crimes; and therefore it was an easy matter for the pastors of the Waldenses to persuade the people, that the religion of such scandalous per. sons could never be good, since the fruits of it were so bad.” And immediately after, the said pastor being asked what their doctrine was concerning lechery, they made him to answer, that lechery was no sin; as if it were a thing possible for the pastors to draw the people off from the Church of Rome, by condemning the lechery of the priests, if they themselves should teach that lechery was no sin. All this was thus set down and subscribed, not only according to what was dictated and ordered by the said monk, but approved of, and signed by the Counseler Ponce, and Oronce, Judge of Briancon. Wherein appears the clandestine conspiracy and unjust confederacy of the said Inquisitors, in that they were not satisfied with persecuting them by open violence, but likewise loaded them with calumnies, making the pastors to answer so unsuitably and childishly, touching those matters in which, as appears in their Exposition on the Seventh Commandment, the pastors were thoroughly informed by the Holy Scriptures; and in which Exposition they leave nothing unsaid of all that which the Word of God teacheth us against luxury and incontinency.
That persecution was extremely severe; for the Waldenses being condemned as heretics by the Inquisitor, Ponce the Counseler, and Oronce the Judge hurried them to the fire, without suffering their appeal. That which increased the number of the persecuted was, that whosoever did any ways intercede for them, though it were the child for the father, or the father for the child, he was presently committed to prisons and his indictment drawn up as a favorer of heretics.
In the year 1494, Anthony Fabri, doctor and canon of Ambrun, and Christopher de Salliens, canon, vicar, and official of the Bishop of Valence, received a commission from the Pope to commence suit against the Waldenses in Dauphiny, otherwise called Chagnards. Fabri, the Inquisitor, and Gobandi, notary of Ambrun, and secretary to the said Inquisitors, carried to Ambrun an indictment framed against Peironnette of Beauregard, in Valentinois, the widow of Peter Berand; whom we do not mention for her constancy, but because in her answers she delivered many things which make some addition to this history.
Being demanded whether she had seen or heard of any of the pastors of the Waldenses, she at first replied that she had not, being resolved to answer negatively to all interrogations. The Inquisitors ordered, because she had not satisfied their demands, that she should be committed to the Bishop of Vatence’s prison; where being menaced to be further pressed with the question, she confessed that about twenty-five years before, two men clothed in grey came to her husband’s house, and after supper one of them asked her, — ”N’aves vous jamais oui parlar d’un plen pung de monde, que si non era tot lo monde seria a fin,” — Whether she had heard of a handful of people that are in the world, without which the world must soon be at an end? — and she answered, “that she had never heard of such, but from one Monsieur Andre, minister of Beauregard, who frequently told her, that there was a small number of people in the world, without whom the world must perish. He then told her, that he was now come thither on, purpose to confer with her, about that little flock, and to give her to know that they were the men who had by God’s commandments learned how to serve him; and that they traveled about the world on purpose to instruct men how they ought to worship and honor him; and to correct and reform the abuses of the Church of Rome. Among other things, he told her that we ought not to do anything to another which we would not have done to ourselves — That we are to worship one God only, who is alone able to help us, and not the saints departed — That we ought not to swear — That we are to be faithful to our matrimonial engagement, and to sanctify and keep holy the Sabbath day; but there was no need of observing other. feasts — That ecclesiastical persons were too rich and wealthy, which was the cause why they lead such scandalous lives; and that he said of the Pope, in his language: Autant crois, et autant maluais es lo Popa coma neugun autre, et perco non ages de poissansa; That the Pope is as bad or worse than any other, and therefore he hath no authority. That he taught that there was no Purgatory; but only Heaven for the good, and Hell for the wicked; and that, therefore, all trentsis and suffrages said by the priest for the souls of the deceased, or their processions in the church-yards, singing kirieleison, avail nothing: also, that it was better to give to the poor than to offer to the priests; and that it was an idle and superstitious thing to bow the knee before the images of saints.”
She was remanded back to prison, and the next morning sent for again. But persisting in what she had said before, she added, that the said pastors had told her “that the priests who took money for the masses they sing, were like Judas, who sold their master for silver; and that they who gave money for their masses, were like the Jews, who bought Christ with money.”
Those Inquisitors discharged Peironnette, until they were otherwise advised, having first obtained from her whatsoever she knew of the assemblies of the Waldenses, of those persons that frequented them, of the places and times of their meetings, which afterwards occasioned great trouble to the said Waldensian Churches, and much profit and advantage to the Inquisitors.
In the year of our Lord, 1497, Rostain, the Archbishop of Ambrun, would know at his arrival how matters had been carried on fill that time against the Waldenses of his diocese; and finding that the inhabitants of the valley of Fraissmiere had been excommunicated by the Inquisitors, who had then framed their indictments, and that they had delivered them into the hands of the secular power, nothing but their flight obstructing the execution of the sentences pronounced against them; he would not enter into the said valley, though earnestly entreated by one Fazion Gay, an inhabitant of the said valley, saying, “that they had been condemned Authoritate Pontificus Romani, and therefore he might begin his journey to them inconsulto Pontifice: but when the pope laxabit mihi manus, shall loose my hand, and their absolution shall manifestly and clearly appear to me, I will visit them.” Fazion Gay, speaking in behalf of the said inhabitants, who made profession of living as becomes good Catholics, says, they answered, “that the King had freed them from such punishments, provided that they behaved themselves like good Catholics for the future.”
The archbishop replied, “that he would do nothing till he had sent to the pope, and that he had for that purpose deputed friar John Columbi, a master in divinity, and that he would write to the pope and cardinals, and send them a verbal report of what had been transacted against them, and desire their advice, how to demean himself in this affair.” Hereupon, Charles VIII, king of France, having departed this life, he took his journey to the coronation of King Louis XII, in the year 1498, which coming to the knowledge of the said inhabitants of Fraissiniere, and knowing too well that they had no reason to expect that anything in their favor would come from Rome, and that the archbishop would, be easily persuaded to enjoy those goods that his predecessors had confiscated, and that he would be unwilling to restore those goods which they had annexed to his archbishopric, they concluded among themselves to send to King Louis XII., and to become humble supplicants to him, that he would be pleased to take some course for the restitution of their goods, which the archbishop, the monks inquisitors, and others, detained from them. The King referred this business to his chancellor and council. The chancellor making mention thereof to the archbishop, he replied, that the restitution which they required did not concern himself, because the said goods were confiscated by the inquisitors, long before he became archbishop of Ambrun: but the president of Grenoble, and the chancellor Rabot, were then at Paris, who were able to answer to the article, they being the men that had condemned them.
The Waldenses, on the other hand were very urgent that the archbishop might particularly be enjoined to make restitution of the goods, because several parcels thereof were added to the archbishop’s domain; and whensoever they required them, he sent to the pope, to the prejudice of the order and decree of the late king.
The grand council having taken cognizance of this business; commanded that no innovations should be made in that which related to the Waldenses of Fraissiniere, the king having written to the pope, that apostolical commissaries might be appointed, with the archbishop as ordinary, to conclude this business for that time.
In order to the prosecution of the said ordinance, there were nominated for apostolical commissioners, a confessor of the king’s, and the official of Orleans, who arrived at Ambrun upon July 4, 1501.
The reader may judge of the archbishop from those memorials left by himself, and which we have here transcribed verbatim. “The gentlemen, (saith he) the confessor, and the official of Orleans, being come to Ambrun, dispatched to me a packet by the post, to bring me the letters missive of the king; to which, upon my receipt of them, I paid my obedience, and sent to desire they would lodge with me, as Monsieur the confessor had promised to do at Lyons. I immediately sent some of my people to offer them a lodging, and presented them my wine. To whom they returned this answer, that I should no more send anything, that they might not be suspected by the inhabitants of Fraissiniere, and that for that reason they would not accept of my lodging. After dinner I went to their lodging, in company with the abbot of Boscaudon, with some of my canons and other officers. I again offered my lodgings to the said commissioners, showing them honor and reverence, as to apostolical and royal commissioners, out of respect to their office and persons. Then the said commissioners presented to me the said apostolical and royal commissions, requiring me, as being joined in the same commissions, and as ordinary, to observe the same. The commissions being seen and read, I presently offered to lend them all the aid and assistance that possibly I could, and that on my part there should be nothing wanting towards the full and complete accomplishment of the said commission, offering unto them all the processes and indictments that I had, as they demanded them; notwithstanding a great part of the said processes remained in the grand council, ever since the time that Adam Fumee, the chancellor, caused my predecessor and his secretary to be arrested at Lyons, until the said Adam Fumee had the original of the process delivered to him; not suffering the said secretary to detain any writing, as the said secretary, medio juramento, in their presence deposed.
Afterwards, the confessor began to blame those commissioners who had been formerly employed therein, notwithstanding that I had before offered to deliver the said process, he did charge and admonish, “semel, bis, ter, sub paena excommunicationis latae sententiae, trina, et caronica monitione praecedente — once, twice, three times, under the penalty of excommunication, the third canonical notice having preceded; “that I should produce immediately all the indictments which I had concerning this matter: for that he was to spend but a few days in the affair, being to return to court against the feast in August, to the King, who expected him as his confessor.” When I saw that he acted contrary to all form of law, and that he intended to proceed against the episcopal dignity and authority, rather by suspensions than excommunications; and that I was a judge as well as they, and which, is more, the ordinary, I required the copy of their commissions, according to the forms of law, Then the confessor replied, that he had not long since made use of the same censures and commands towards the masters of the parliament of Grenoble, and that consequently he might use it towards myself. “He also replied unto me, you petty clerks know nothing but two C. C., codice et capitulo, and two F, digestis, and will take upon you to put down and suppress theology; and that he heard the king say with his own mouth, that the archbishop of Ambrun would withstand his commission, and openly accuse the Waldenses. To whom I answered, that he must pardon me, for I did not believe but that the king had a better opinion of me, because I had never employed my labor in this matter but to a good end, as I always intended and designed to do. Then the confessor proceeding in his discourse, spake these words: ‘Vos ad me in modum Scribarum, et Pharisaeorum Christum accusantium, ad Pilatum accessistis, cum tantis viris ecclesiasticis ad terrendum me: sed nihil teneo sub vobis, aut dominio vestro, et de nihilo vos timeo.’ That is: — ’You are come to me as the Scribes and Pharisees when they accused Christ before Pilate, and with such a numerous company of ecclesiastical persons to terrify me but you have no authority to command me and I do not at all fear you.’ To which I replied, that I brought no more with me than those who used to bear me company when I walked through the city. Suddenly he ordered the laity to quit the chamber, then revoked the sentences which he had thundered out against me, contrary to all law and equity; saying, that it was necessary to make use of those rigorous terms before the lay people, and especially there being some of the Waldenses present. This was the kind of deportment of the confessor; and thus were the matters above-mentioned, as more fully and largely appears by a public instrument.”
Thus you have part of the notes of Archbishop Rostain, wherein we find several falsehoods. He wrote in great trouble, that the said commissioners did not hear above three or four witnesses; but we find in the bundle of memoirs belonging to Archbishop Rostain, a copy of informations, in which there were twenty-four witnesses heard and examined.
He said, that they put no other questions to them but whether they were good Catholics or no; to which, being well instructed, they answered yes, and the commissioners were satisfied with that answer. Yet, it appears, that they asked them several questions concerning the eucharist, purgatory, invocation of saints, and divers other points.
Again, he declares, that the witnesses were timorous and dare not speak; and yet it is very apparent that the generality of the witnesses produced were priests and monks of the archbishop’s faction, and brought by himself.
Again, that they suffered nothing to be written down; whereas it appears, that there are no indictments where there is more written, than in those drawn up by the said commissioners.
But that which most grieved the archbishop was, that the said commissioners cleared and absolved them from contumacy, sine praejudicio causa principalis, et juris cuicunque acquisiti; without prejudice to the principal cause, and to the right acquired by any one; against which the arch-bishop protested, and would not give his consent to sign the said sentence, complaining that the official of Orleans had manifestly discovered, by his proceedings, that he favored the said Waldenses, especially having openly acknowledged, at his lodgings at the inn at Ambrun, that he wished he were as good a Christian as the worst person of the Fraissiniere.
But the greatest hurt and detriment fell upon himself, for he saw that he must of necessity restore several vineyards belonging to the said Waldenses, situated at Clements, at Crispin, at Chanteloube, and several estates at Chateau Roux, which John his predecessor had annexed to the domain of his archbishopric.
The king’s confessor having reported to the king and his council, what he knew concerning the Waldenses, and that they were cleared and absolved of their contumacy, commanded that the goods of the said Waldenses should be restored: upon which King Louis XII. granted the following letters. Louis by the grace of God, King of France, etc. “Forasmuch as it is come to our knowledge, that the inhabitants of Fraissiniere have undergone great troubles and affiictions, punishments and molestations; we desiring to relieve them, and that restitution should be made of their goods, moveables and immoveables, do by these presents command and enjoin all those who do keep and detain the said goods, that immediately, and without delay, they desist and quit claim to the said goods, and make restitution of them to the said petitioners, or their procurators in their stead, every one in his place and order. And in case of opposition, refusal, or delays, we, out of regard to their poverty and misery, which they have a long time, and still do suffer and undergo, without being able to obtain justice; desiring with all our heart that it may be administered unto them; our will and pleasure is to take cog- nizance thereof in our own proper person, summoning all those who shall oppose or retard the execution of these presents, to appear before us at a certain, convenient day. “Given at Lyons, October 12, 1501.”
Those mandatory letters being put in execution, it was the opinion of most men, since the best and the greatest part of the goods of the Waldenses were in the possession of the Archbishop; that it was highly reasonable that he should set the example unto others, especially since that which some of them possessed, was given unto them as a salary or fee, for their pains and services, by Archbishop John his predecessor. The Archbishop Rostain answered, that he held none of the goods of the Fraissinieres — only certain goods, for good and just reasons, had been annexed to his archbishopric, and incorporated, into his church by his predecessor, the said goods being within the territories and jurisdiction thereof, in which no commandment of the king ever used to be executed. Therefore, said he, it is not to be believed, that it proceedeth from the will and pleasure of the king, being the protector and defender of the Church, and following the example of his great and noble predecessors. But yet, nevertheless, the archbishop being willing to please the lord our king, will be content to restore unto the inhabitants of Fraissiniere the vineyards, upon condition that other lords of Dauphiny will deliver that which they possess of the said goods.
Thus the people were frustrated in their design; for there was not one who would restore anything of that of which he had got possession. Therefore they summoned before the king and council, the archbishop, Monsieur Pons, Counselor of the Parliament at Grenoble; Peter de Rames, Lord of Poit; Faix de Rames, Master of Montainard and of Argentiere; Arrouars de Bonne; and several other attorneys, priests, and burgesses of Ambrun and Briancon. These sent to the court, and having more friends and credit there than the inhabitants of Fraissiniere, their excuse was received, wherein they declared, that it was not in their power to restore the said goods, before the pope had absolved them.
The archbishop protested that, for his part, he was ready to restore all that his predecessors had annexed to his church, provided that they had the aforesaid absolution. This occasioned such as were less affected and constant to try this way, and to send to Pope Alexander VI. They were advised not to go to Rome, but to fetch a writ of absolution from the Cardinal Legate in France, George, entitled Saint Christ; which would suffice, and might be obtained with less expense; for the obtaining whereof, they made use of the commissary the king’s confessor. They sent, therefore, Stephen Roux, who brought two bulls, one by which he gave absolution for simony, theft, murder, usury, adultery, detention of benefices, destruction of ecclesiastical goods, violence against clerks by beating them, unlawful oaths, perjury, frauds, apostacy and heresy; and whosoever had committed any crime, were it never so heinous, the cardinal absolved them from all by his apostolical authority.
And lest the archbishop should pretend the said bull could not absolve the people of Fraissiniere, having been condemned by the said apostolical authority, by commissioners and inquisitors deputed by the pope; and that his mouth might be stopped, he brought another bull, in which there was especially this clause: “Having power from the pope to decide or determine any matter, that any other who hath been deputed by the holy see, or substituted, can do, even where there hath been an appeal, absolving all that have in any manner been condemned.”
The man thought he had made a good progress in this business; but Archbishop Rostain made a jest of his bulls, saying, that they were obtained at too dear a rate, and with importunity, and that he must have an absolution from the pope himself; and so resolved in short to restore nothing. All the rest followed his example; and although they had been absolved by the pope himself, yet no restitution would have been made; for he knew well enough that, in those days, all things were sold at Rome, as those Latin verses which were written against Pope Alexander VI. testify. Vendit Alexander cruces, altaria, Christum, Emerat ille, prius vendere jure patest, Pope Alexander sold altars, Christ, and his cross, Before he could sell, he had bought them of course!
Templa, sacerdotes, altaria, sacra, corenae, Ignis, thura, preces, caelum est venale, Deusque.
Temples and priests, altars and crowns, they sell for pelf, Fire, frankincense, prayers, heaven, and God himself!
Which is to be understood of the breaden God in the mass.
The archbishop, therefore, was the cause why others still detained those goods in their possession, without any restitution; and although some particular persons were afterwards called to an account, Le Sieur de Montainer, De Rames, and others, yet they could never obtain any remedy.
In the year 1560, the Waldenses of Fraissiniere and Pragela had their churches supplied with pastors, who kept them up to the exercise of their religion, at the time when all the professors of the Reformation were persecuted unto death. The President Truction made a speech to the states of Provence, assembled the same year, on November 6, pressing them to exterminate the Waldenses of Fraissiniere and Pragela, saying, that it was expedient to purge the old heretical leaven, which would otherwise infect and sour the whole country of Dauphiny, if some course were not taken to prevent it. It was resolved thereupon by those states to extirpate them by open force, and to this end, commissions were given out to levy troops, and march into the said valleys: but so soon as the drum was beaten up, and the men were under arms throughout Provence, the unexpected death of King Francis II. gave a new turn to the design; and the said Waldensian Churches in Dauphiny continued in the same postare, by the singular favor of God.
CHAPTER - 4
The Waldensian Churches in piedmont, and the persecutions which they endured.
THE Waldenses had famous churches in the valleys of Piedmont, Angrogue, La Perouse, the valley St. Martin, Lucerne, and other neighboring places, time out of mind. It is held for certain among them, that they descended from the Waldenses of Dauphiny, Pragela, Fraissiniere, and other neighboring places; and that in process of time, being so vastly multiplied and increased, that the country could not supply them with provisions, they were constrained to disperse themselves far and wide, where they could best settle themselves. And so dearly have they loved one another, like brethren, that notwithstanding they have been oppressed with continual troubles, yet they have ever relieved one another, with a most hearty love and charity, not sparing their lives and goods for their mutual conservation.
The first troubles that the Waldenses of Piedmont endured, were occasioned by the report of certain priests, sent thither by the Archbishop of Turin, who gave in information, that the people committed to their charge did not live according to the manners and faith of the Church of Rome, neither making any offerings for the dead, nor caring for masses or absolutions, or to redeem any of their relations out of the pains of purgatory, by any of the usual ways and methods. 1 Thenceforward the archbishops of Turin persecuted them, as much as lay in their power, rendering them odious to their princes; who hearing of the good report that their neighbors gave of their mild and honest conversation, and that they were a simple people, fearing God and of good deportment without the deceit or malice, levine integrity and plain dealing, always ready to serve their princes; and that they very willingly and cheerfully yielded to them all dutiful obedience; being moreover in such favor and esteem with the people their neighhours, that they endeavored to get the youth of Piedmont into their service, and to procure nurses among them to bring up their young children: the said princes bearing thus well of them, were resolved for a long time not to molest and disturb them; but the priests and monks, who were frequently amongst them, getting no handle from their belief and behavior, Charged them at length with an infinite number of forged calumnies; and whensoever they went into Piedmont upon business, they always apprehended the Christians, and delivered them into the hands of the inquisitors, and the inquisitors to the executioner, so that there was hardly any town or city in Piedmont, in which some of them were not put to death. Jordan Tertian was burnt at Suse; Hyppolite Ronsier at Turin; Villermin Ambroise was hanged at Meane; and also Anthony Hiun. Hugh Chiampe de Fenestrelles, being apprehended at Suse, was conveyed to Turin, where his entrails were torn out and put into a bason, and he himself afterwards was most cruelly martyred. Among which servants of God, there were some who maintained that truth which had been known for above two hundred and fifty years among them. But among all the rest, the constancy of Cardin Girard is worthy of our remembrance. Standing upon the block whereon he was to be burnt at Revel in the Marquisate of Saluces, he requested his executioners to give him a couple of stones, which they refused to do, fearing that he designed to fling them at somebody; but he protesting the contrary, at last they delivered them unto him; who having them in his hand, said unto them; “When I have eaten these stones, then you shall see an end of that religion for which you put me to death;” and so cast the stones upon the ground. The fires were kindled till the year 1488, at which time they resolved to assault them by open force; because they perceived that the constancy of those whom they did publicly put to death, drew a great number of others to the knowledge of God; and that by this means they should never accomplish their design. Therefore they levied men to join with Albert de Capitaneis, commissioned by Popes Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. There were eighteen thousand soldiers raised, besides a great number of the inhabitants of Piedmont; who ran to the plunder from all parts. They marched all at once to Angrogne, Lucerne, La Perouse, St. Martin, Praviglerm, and Biolet, which is in the Marquisate of Saluces. They raised troops also in Vaucluson in Dauphiny, overrunning the valley of Prageta; to the end, that being obliged to defend themselves, they might not be able to assist their neighbors, the Waldensian Churches in Piedmont: All this was ordered by the singular providence of God, that they divided their troops into parties, rather out of pride, than for their better expedition.
For notwithstanding the Waldenses were employed in their own defense, and could not succor one another, yet the enemy by this division did so lessen their forces, that they were everywhere beaten; but especially in the valley of Angrogne, where they made their most violent attack. As that levy of men could not be raised, without suspicion, that it was against themselves; so they accordingly made preparation for their reception, keeping themselves in the strait passes, where but few men were able to attack them; being also armed with long targets of wood, which wholly covered them, and whereon the arrows of their enemies struck without any damage to themselves. The foremost being thus armed and covered, the rest did good service with their bows and cross-bows under the said targets. As the enemy endeavored to approach the passes, the women and children being spectators upon their knees, prayed in their own language, “O dio, aiutaci; O God, help us!” Whereat the enemies scoffing, among others, Captain Saquet, counterfeiting the said women, was slain and cast headlong from the mountain into a deep bottoms which is still called the Gulf of Saquet. At the same time, a captain, named Le Noir de Montdeni, as he cried out to the soldiers to put them to death, was killed with the shot of an arrow in the throat, which the soldiers perceiving, and also that they were covered with rocks, and themselves with stones and arrows, they all betook themselves to fight, and the greatest part of them threw themselves down from the rocks. The Waldenses took notice of another effect of divine Providence; that the enemies approaching to their strongest place by nature, which is in the valley of Angrogne, called Le Pre de la Tour, where they might have fortified themselves, and made themselves masters of the said valley, God sent so thick a clouds and so dark a fog, that the enemies could hardly see one another, insomuch that they had no leisure or opportunity to know the strength of the place, or to stay there; whereupon the Waldenses taking heart followed the pursuit so vigorously, that the persecutors being all dispersed, and not seeing which way they went, the greatest part fell headlong down the mountains; and betaking themselves to flight, discharged themselves of their arms and booty, which they had gotten at the entrance into the valley, where they had poured out the wine, and the corn, and loaded their servants with the most valuable moveables of the Waldenses.
It pleased God at length to touch the heart of their prince with some compassion towards those poor people. Philip VIII, duke of Savoy, and prince of Piedmont, declared that he would not have that people, who had been always most loyal, faithful, and obedient to him, to be so rigorously handled by way of arms; being contented that a dozen of the principal among them should come to Pignerol, where he was, to beg pardon for all the rest, for having taken up arms in their own defense, which he gave them to understand by a prelate whom he sent to Praisut. They deputing the said embassy of twelve to do whatever his highness required of them, he kindly received them, and forgave them all that was past during the war, upon paying a certain sum of money for the charges of it. And whereas he had been informed, that their young children were born with black throats, and that they were hairy, and had four rows of teeth, he commanded some of them to be brought before him to Pignerol; and seeing them all fair and perfect creatures, he was much displeased with himself for being so easily imposed upon as to believe the report made to him concerning that people; declaring withal, his pleasure was, that thenceforward they should have the same liberties and privileges as formerly, and as all the rest of his subjects in Piedmont did enjoy.
Notwithstanding, the monks inquisitors sent out processes every day, against as many of them as they could apprehend. Especially they lay in ambush, in a convent near to Pignerol, whence they delivered them to the secular power. That persecution lasted till the year 1532, when they resolved to order their churches in such manner, that that exercise, which was before performed in covert, might be manifest to every one; and that their pastors should preach the gospel openly, without regard to any persecutions which might befall them upon that account.
His highness the duke was speedily advertised of this change, and much incensed thereat; so that he commanded Pantaleon Bersor to hasten into the valleys with his troops; which, he so readily performed, that before the Waldenses were apprised of it, he had entered their valleys with five hundred, men, part foot, and part horse, ransacking, pillaging, and laying waste whatever came in their way. The people leaving their ploughs and tillage, betook themselves to their mountain passes, and with their slings, charged their enemies with such a shower of stones, and with such violence, that they were constrained to fly, and leave their prey behind them; many of them being killed upon the spot. This news was presently brought to his highness, being likewise told what experience had taught them before, that it was not the way to reclaim and subdue those people by arms, the strength of their country so favoring them, and they being better acquainted with the straights and passes of the mountains, than the assailants; and that therefore there was no good to be done, when “the skin of one Waldensian must be purchased at the expense of the lives of a dozen of his other subjects.” He thought it therefore not convenient to molest them any more by arms; but only that they should be apprehended one by one, as they came into Piedmont; and that exemplary justice should be inflicted upon them, if they changed not their faith; that thus they might gradually be destroyed, to the terror of all other inhabit. ants of the said valleys, and so their ruin might be procured insensibly, and without the hazard of any other of the prince’s subjects.
All this did not hinder them from persisting in their resolution; and, to the end that all thins might be done in order, all the heads of every family, with their pastors, assembled together, out of all their Valleys, at Angrogne, on September 12, in the year 1535; where it was certified by one of them that their brethren, the Waldenses of Provence and Dauphiny, had sent George Morel and Peter Mascon, their pastors, into Germany, to confer with Oecolampadius, Bucer, and other servants of God, who there preached the gospel, concerning their faith, which had time out of mind been transmitted from father to son. He reported: That Oecolampadius and Bucer had found that God had been very merciful and gracious unto us, in that he had preserved us undefiled in the midst of so many idolatries and superstitions, which in the ages foregoing had infected all Christendom, under the tyranny of the antichrist of Rome — that they encouraged us by holy admonition and persuasions, and exhorted us not to bury those talents which God had imparted unto us and that they looked upon it as an evil thing that we have so long deferred the public profession of the gospel, by causing it to be preached in the ears, and to the knowledge of every one; leaving the event of things to God, to dispose whatsoever it shall please him should befall us in the promoting of his glory, and the advancement of his Softs kingdom. Afterwards, having read the letters of Oecolampadius and Bucer, which were sent to them, as well as to their brethren, the Waldenses of Provence and Dauphiny, the propositions or articles following were ordered, read, and approved, and unanimously signed and sworn to by all the assistants, as what they would preserve, observe, believe, and inviolably retain among them, without any contradiction; and that this they would do, by the grace of God, as being agreeable to the doctrine which hath been delivered from father to son among them, and taken out of the word of God.
RULES OF FAITH AND PRACTICE ADOPTED BY ALL THE WALDENSES, WHO MET IN ONE ASSEMBLY AT ANGROGNE, SEPTEMBER 12, 1535.
Article I. Divine service cannot be duly performed, but in spirit and truth; for God is a spirit, and whosoever will pray unto him must pray in spirit.
II. All that have been, or shall be saved, were elected by God before all worlds.
III. They who are saved cannot miss of salvation.
IV. Whosoever maintaineth free-will, wholly denieth predestination. and the Grace of God.
V. No work is called good but that which is commanded by God; and none evil but that which he forbiddeth.
VI. A Christian may swear by the name of God without any contradiction to what is written in the fifth chapter of Matthew, provided that he who sweareth, taketh not the name of the Lord in vain. Now that person sweareth not in vain, whose oath redoundeth to the glory of God, and the good of his neighbor. A man also may swear in judgment, because he that beareth the office of a magistrate, be he Christian or infidel, derives his power from God.
VII. Auricular confession is not enjoined by God; and it is concluded according to the holy scriptures, that the true confession of a Christian consists in confessing himself to one only God, to whom belong honor and glory. There is another kind of confession, which is, when a man reconcileth himself to his neighbor, whereof mention is made in the fifth of Matthew. The third manner of confession is, when, as a man’s sin is public, and exposed to the notice and censure of all men, so his confession and acknowledgment of the fault be as public.
VIII. We must rest or cease upon the Lord’s day from all our labors out of zeal for the honor and glory of God; for the better exercise of charity towards our neighbor: and our better attendance upon the hearing of the word of God.
IX. It is not lawful for a Christian to revenge himself on his enemy, in any case or manner whatsoever.
X. A Christian may exercise the office of a magistrate over Christians.
XI. There is no certain time determined for the fast of a Christian; and it doth not appear in the word of God that the Lord hath commanded or appointed certain days.
XII. Marriage is not prohibited to any man, of what quality or condition soever he be.
XIII. Whosoever forbiddeth marriage, teacheth a diabolical doctrine.
XIV. He who hath not the gift of continency is bound to marry.
XV. The ministers of the word of God ought not to be removed from one place to another, unless it be to the great benefit and advantage of the Church.
XVI. It is no ways repugnant to the apostolical communion, that the ministers should possess anything in particular, to provide for the maintenance of their families.
XVII. As to the sacraments, it hath Men determined by the holy scriptures, that we have but two sacramental signs or symbols, which Christ Jesus hath left unto us: the one is baptism, the other the eucharist or Lord’s supper, which we receive to demonstrate our perseverance in the faith, according to the promise we made in our baptism in our infancy: as also in remembrance of that great benefit which Jesus Christ hath conferred upon us, when he laid down his life for our redemption, cleansing us with his most precious blood.
Those articles being resolved upon by them, astonished the Romish priests, who were then among them to collect the revenues of their cures, so that being out of all hopes of ever seeing those people reclaimed, or reduced to the obedience of the Church of Rome by any violence and compulsion, much less of their own accord, and perceiving the door of their gain to be shut, they departed without speaking a word. Upon this their retreat, the mass vanished of itself in the valleys of the Waldenses; and because they had only the New Testament, and some books of the Old translated into the Waldensian tongue, they resolved speedily to send the whole bible to the press, their books being only manuscripts, and those few in number. They sent therefore to Neufchatel in Switzerland, where they gave one thousand five hundred crowns in gold to a printer, who published the first impression of the bible which was seen in France. In the year 1536, they sent Martin Gonin to Geneva to provide a large supply of those books which he should see necessary for the instruction of the people. But they were balked in their attempt, because that good man was apprehended for a spy as he was passing over the Mountain de Gap, by George Marten, Lord de Champollion. As soon as Gonin was discovered to be a Waldensian, he was sent to Grenoble, and there confined in prison. Afterwards, in the night time, he was cast into the river Lyzere, for fear he should declare his faith before the people. 5 The monkinquisitor who delivered him to the secular power told them that it was not convenient that the world should hear him, “because,” said he, “it is to be feared that they who hear him may become worse than himself.”
It then happened that there were wars in Piedmont, between Francis I. and the Prince of Piedmont, which fell out providentially for those Waldenses; for during the continuance of those confusions they were at quiet, until Pope Paul III solicited the parliament of Turin to take some violent course against them, as pernicious and mischievous heretics, whensoever they should be delivered into their hands by the inquisitors. That parliament caused a great number to be burnt at Turin, in imitation of other parliaments in France, who in those times burnt all those whom they called Lutherans.
The Waldenses appealed to the king, presenting to him their petition that they might not be persecuted by the parliament for the profession of that religion, in which they and their ancestors had lived for so many hundred years, with the permission of their princes. But the king enjoined them to live according to the laws of the Church of Rome, upon pain of being punished as heretics. He likewise commanded the parliament at Turin to cause all his subjects within their jurisdiction to profess his religion; adding, that he “did not burn the Lutherans throughout his whole kingdom of France, to make a reservation of them in the Alps.” The parliament endeavored to put the king’s decrees speedily in execution; and to that end enjoined the Waldenses, upon pain of death, immediately to dismiss their ministers, and to receive priests among them to sing mass, in conformity to all others of the king’s subjects. They replied, that they could not obey any such injunctions, contrary to the commandment of God, whom they would obey rather than man, in matters relating to his service. But if the king had not at that time been elsewhere engaged, doubtless the parliament would have compelled them to do that by force, to which mere injunctions could never have brought them. They therefore were contented to prosecute them by the Inquisition, and to receive from the monks those whom they condemned to be burnt. But in the year 1555, they increased the persecution. Having condemned to the fire Bartholomew Hector, a stationer, who suffered death at Turin, because he died with admirable constancy, insomuch that he edified even the assistants, as well as others the standers by, so that he drew tears from their eyes, and compassionate expressions from their lips; they unanimously justifying and applauding him for his good and holy speeches and prayers to God — the parliament took occasion thereupon to use their utmost endeavors to subvert and overthrow this profession in its very source and original, and to make use of the king’s authority to constrain the people either to submit to the laws of the Church of Rome, or else to suffer a miserable death. To this end, the parliament of Turin deputed the President of Julian, and an assessor named de Ecclesia, to repair to those places, and there to put in execution whatsoever they thought proper, either to the reduction or extermination of the said people, with a promise to assist them in whatsoever should be necessary to that purpose, according to the advice and counsel that they should receive from them. The president with his assessor took their journey to Perouse, and caused public proclamation to be made in the name of the king, that every one of the inhabitants should go to mass upon pain of death. Afterwards they came to Pignerol, where they summoned several to appear before them.
Among others, there appeared a poor simple laboring man, whom the president ordered to have baptism again administered to his child, who had been lately baptized by the Waldensian minister, near Angrogne. The poor man desired so much respite, as to offer up his prayers to God, before he answered him. Which, with some laughter, being granted, he fell down upon his knees before all the standers by, and having concluded his prayer, he said to the president, that he would cause his child to be re-baptized, provided he would oblige himself by a bond, signed with his own hand, to discharge and clear him from the sin that he should commit in so doing, and suffer himself the punishment and condemnation, which God would one day inflict upon him for it, taking this iniquity upon him and his. Which the president understanding, commanded him to depart out of his presence, without pressing him any farther.
Having framed and drawn up several indictments against some particular persons of the said valleys, and made collections of whatsoever the president could imagine might be hurtful to the people, he tried also to win them by the preaching of the monks, whom he brought with him into the valley of Angrogne. Being therefore come to the place where their temple stood, he caused one of the monks to preach before the Waldenses, who bestowed much time in exhorting them to return to the Church of Rome, concerning which he related many things, to which the people gave no credit. After the monk had said as much as he thought good, and held his peace, the greatest part of the people requested that the pastors there present, or some one of them in the name of the rest, might be permitted to make answer to the sermon which the preaching friar had made; but the president would by no means yield to it. Upon which ensued a murmuring among the people, which astonished the president and his monks. But dissembling their fear, the president withdrew to Turin, without speaking one word; where, being arrived, he gave the parliament an account of his proceedings, and withal signified to them, how difficult a matter it was to overcome that people by violence and extremities; because if any attempt should be made to take them by force, they were resolved to defend themselves; and their country favoring them, it was to be feared that it would cost much blood and labor, before they could either be reduced to the Church of Rome, or despatched out of the world. It was the work of a king of France to exterminate them; and therefore it was necessary to send the report, and to leave the issue of so troublesome an undertaking to his own will and pleasure. This advice was followed; the indictments and reports were sent to the king; but as court affairs cannot be finished in a short time, it was a whole year before any other course was taken, or so much as mentioned against them, than that of the inquisitors who continually delivered some of them to the secular power. At the year’s end, the king sent down express orders from the court, to compel them by force to do that, which they could not be brought to do by fair words and kind usage. The parliament sent the president of Julian again, who upon his arrival at Angrogne, commanded them in the king’s name to go to mass, upon pain of both bodily punishment and confiscation of goods. They demanded a copy both of his commission and his speech, promising to return him such an answer, as that he should have reason to be satisfied therewith but nothing could give the president satisfaction, who still urged them in vain to alter their religion. They answered him, that they were not bound to obey decrees which were contrary to the commands of God. He commanded, that twelve of the heads amongst them together with all the ministers and schoolmasters should instantly resign themselves prisoners at Turin, there to receive such sentence as reason should require. He enjoined the syndics of the said valleys to dismiss and enjoin all strangers forthwith to depart; and thenceforward, not to receive or entertain any preachers or schoolmasters, but such as shall be sent them by the papal diocesan. They answered that they neither could nor would obey commands that were contrary to those of God; and that they would not appear at all at Turin, since they could not do it without the hazard of their lives, and being troubled for their faith.
The Parliament of Turin were so incensed against them, that as many of them as they could cause to be apprehended in Piedmont, and the frontiers of their valleys, they committed to the flames at Turin: among others, Jeffery Varnigle was burnt in the castle-yard, 1557, by whose death, the Waldenses were very much strengthened and edified, there being a great number present, who saw and heard him continue to call upon God to his last breath.
During those grievous persecutions, the Protestant princes of Germany interceded for them, intreating King Henry II. to permit them peaceably to enjoy that religion in which from generation to generation they had lived for ages past. The king promised to have regard to their petitions: and so they continued unmolested until the peace was concluded between the kings of France and Spain. and till the Duke of Savoy was restored, in 1559, to his dominions and government.
About a year after the said restitution of the country, in 1560, the pope’s nuncio reproached the Duke of Savoy, that he did not imitate the zeal of the king of France, who out of affection to the Roman religion, to the utmost of his power had persecuted the Waldenses and Lutherans of the valleys of Angrogne, and other neighboring and adjacent places; and that if he did not contribute what in him lay, either to bring them back into the bosom of the church, or else to destroy them out of the world, the pontiff would have great reason to suspect him as a favorer of them. The Prince of Piedmont promised to make use of all the means he could either for their reduction or total subversion. In pursuance of which declaration, he commanded them to go to mass upon pain and death and of seeing their valleys exposed to fire and sword. To which commands they not yielding obedience, he assaulted them with military force, and gave the charge of that war to le Sieur de la Trinite. He caused them at the same time to be persecuted by the monks inquisitors, Jacomel and de Corbis. After la Trinite had been sufficiently defeated with his troops, seeing that the lion’s claw stood him in no stead, he made use of the fox’s skin, and told them that what was passed had happened unto them rather for want of parley and communication than out of any ill-will which his highness bore to them — that if his soldiers had exceeded their bounds, it was because of the resistance which they met with — that he would for the future be an instrument of their preservation, and become as zealous to procure their rest and quiet, as at first he had shown himself ardent to give them trouble.
To that purpose he advised them to send some of the principal among them to his highness, by whom he would send his letters recommendatory to the prince, and Margaret, dutchess of Savoy, only sister to Henry, king of France, and that he was very well assured his highness would bury in oblivion all that was past. But it was his opinion above all things, that the Waldenses ought to give some testimony of obedience to their prince, who was obliged by the pope to set up the mass in all his territories, and that therefore they should suffer the mass to be sung at Angrogne, which would be but a thing indifferent since he did not require their presence thereat, but only that he might write to his highness that they were his obedient and loyal subjects. Moreover, because his highness was fully bent that no strange minister should remain within his territories, they should entreat their pastors to withdraw to Pragela for some days, and after his highness was reconciled to them they could recall them. He had much difficulty to get them to comply with that point. “If we intreat our pastors to withdraw, the Waldenses retorted, it will be the counsel of the flesh, to which God will not give his blessing; for our enemies, when they shall have gained this advantage over us, that we have no persons left to comfort, counsel, reprove or exhort us, will doubtless endeavor to the utmost of their power to prevent forever the return of our good pastors, by whose ministry we have been so worthily instructed and so well fortified against a world full of temptations. And since we shall not fail of being accused as rebels in recalling them, it is better not to deprive ourselves of the fruit of their holy ministry, and be accounted as such now by serving God, and keeping those whom he hath sent to preach his word unto us. He is still as mighty to preserve us as he hath hitherto been, and we should be ungrateful wretches to doubt of his assistance, not considering that we poor miserable sheep, the dogs being driven away, shall be devoured by the wolves.” Those representations, and several others made by the more zealous and perspicacious amongst them, could not hinder some of them from entreating their pastors to withdraw for some days into Pragela, a neighboring valley, and peopled with their brethren the Waldenses of Dauphiny. There might a man see the justice of God executed upon them, and the beginning of misery. They all of them melted into tears, all their rocks resounded and echoed with their outcries and lamentations when the women and children went to conduct their pastors to the top of the mountains to depart from them to the other side.
In other places, when they saw the principal amongst them take their journey to Turin, into the hands of their enemies, several foretold the mischief that would befall them thereupon, and that it seemed to them that God had abandoned them at the very same time when the Waldenses forsook him in the person of his servants. It fell out just according to what was foretold by those who would not allow of, nor consent to such counsels of the flesh. Being arrived at Turin they were closely confined in prison, their indictments drawn up as against heretics, and the passes secured and guarded to prevent any one from giving notice or information of the treatment which the said deputies had received. In the mean time la Trinite told them, that he knew his highness had granted all their requests, and that he had written to him that he detained them only for this cause, that he might be better assured of their promises for the time to come, to which purpose he likewise erected a fort, which he built near Angrogne.
That which gave them a suspicion was, that they heard no news from their Waldensian prisoners, much less would la Trinite permit them to send any thither. At length having a long time consulted together what they had best to do, seeing a fort was building, which if they should suffer to be completed, it would bridle and restrain them for ever; and fearing on the other hand, if they should undertake any thing against the workmen, that they would put all those whom they had sent to Turin to death, they were reduced to extreme perplexity. But they were soon cleared in all their apprehensions and suspicions, knowing that they had been deceived by de la Trinite; and that therefore it highly concerned them to commit the issue to Divine Providence, and to make their peace and reconciliation with him by fasting and prayer. Which having done, they recalled their pastors, begged the assistance of their neighbors of Pragela, who came unto them with their arms, entered into those temples where la Trinite had caused altars to be erected and images to be placed. The Waldenses then demolished those altars and laid them level with the ground, broke the images, besieged the fort and took it, beat the succors that were sent to relieve the said fort, put them to flight and slew a great number of the soldiers. The prince Emanuel Philibert, being very much incensed, determined to avenge himself upon the prisoners: but Margaret interceding for them, endeavored all she could to appease and pacify the prince; telling him that they must needs have been informed of the treatment that their deputies had received from his highness, and that seeing themselves in a fair way to be entirely destroyed, they had taken those desperate methods for their preservation Now his royal highness by the advice and instigation of the pope’s nuncio, had compelled the said deputies to go to mass, and there to ask pardon of God, the pope, and their holy mother the church &Rome, with a promise to live in obedience to its laws, and afterwards remitted them to prison, waiting for the perfection of his fort. But seeing himself frustrated in his design, he followed the methods of treaty proposed by Margaret, under which they have lived to this day. It is true, they afterwards suffered at various times, several persecutions, which with much zeal and patience they did undergo. Among others, that in the year 1570, was very severe. For their prince having entered into an offensive league against the Protestants with several other princes of Europe, he began to molest and disturb his said subjects of the valleys. He forbade them to hold any correspondence with the Waldenses of Dauphiny upon pain of death, or to assemble themselves or meet in any synod or council, except in the presence of the governor of Castrocaro. In pursuance of which that governor did not fail to be present at their first council called at Bobi. The pastors and elders there present, signified to the governor that his presence and assistance at their councils would not be in the least prejudicial to the matters in agitation therein, which were of such a nature, that if the whole world were witnesses to them, the more clearly and evidently would their piety towards God, and their fidelity to their prince appear, forasmuch as they held no consultations there, but what might tend to the glory of God, and loyalty to their superiors. Yet since his highness took occasion to mistrust them, he must have been misinformed by some of their enemies. Therefore, being satisfied in their conscience that they had deserved no such thing, they looked upon that novelty as a manifest infringement of the treaty which he had made with them, and as a persecution destroying the free exercise of their religion.
They therefore desired the governor of Castrocaro to withdraw, and not to molest them by such innovation and infringement of the foregoing treaty, at least till such times as, having cleared and justified themselves before his highness, it should be otherwise ordered by him. The governor was fully resolved to stay there. The pastors and elders protested against the said innovation. The governor also on the other hand protested and declared that he undertook nothing therein without the express commands of his highness, and that they ought to be better satisfied that that charge had been laid upon him, rather than upon any other, since he gave place to none in good-will and affection towards them, always interpreted their actions to the best advantage, and would make a true report to his highness of the loyalty and fidelity that he perceived in their carriage and deportments.
He was therefore admitted into their synod, at the conclusion of which, he made use of this artifice; he endeavored to sow envy and jealousy amongst the pastors, speaking well of them in general, that he had found their order to be good and decent, and that he could not have believed they had proceeded with so much zeal, order and charity; but that there was no reason why they should wonder that his highness had been so jealous and mistrustful of strange ministers, because he knew that they were more violent in their opinions than the generality of the natives of the country.
He again excepted Stephen Noel, whom he knew to be a quiet and peaceable man, and more desirous to content and satisfy his highness.
Therefore since his highness had resolved to permit no stranger to dwell in his territories, he could not believe that the ministers would be exempted any more than others; and to the end that he might not any more be constrained to employ his power and authority to drive them out of his dominions, that it would be better for them and much more for their honor, to depart elsewhere freely and of their own accord, than to stay till the prince expelled them out of his country by banishment. They replied, they could not believe that his highness had any such meaning or intention as the said governor would persuade them; but that to inform themselves of the truth thereof, they would send a deputy to his highness.
The governor being incensed because they would not give credit to his words, nor do any thing according to his persuasions, gave permission to the soldiers of the fort of Castrocaro to surround the church when the minister was in his sermon, and there to commit many insolencies and disorders, firing several muskets and alarming those who saw themselves surprised and unarmed. Stephen Noel was desired to write to lady Margaret, which he did; but the letters whereby madame assured them that the governor had received orders from his highness to contain himself within the bounds and limits of the treaty made between his highness and the said people, remained in the hands of the governor. While those things were in agitation, the massacre of the Huguenots happened in France, in the year 1572, which so puffed up the pride and increased the stubbornness of the governor, that his violences could by no means be restrained. Bonfires being made throughout all Piedmont in token of joy for that horrid effusion of blood, the governor persuaded himself that he should shortly see the like persecutions in the Waldensian valleys.
Therefore hearing the cannons fired and understanding the great pleasure and satisfaction that his highness took therein, the Christians were persuaded that they should not continue long unmolested, and therefore that it was the safest way to convey what they most valued into the caverns upon the top of the Alps, whither they used to fly in times of trouble. His highness being informed that the Waldenses were in a posture of defense, would not hazard the lives of his other subjects to subdue them, but rested contented with having terrified them; giving commandment that when any of them came into Piedmont, they should be apprehended and executed as heretics. Which the Christians being aware of, they provided themselves with what was necessary for their nourishment and sustenance in Dauphiny, and in the valleys of their brethren of Pragela and Valclusion. After the decease of his highness and Margaret, Charles Emanuel their son, and prince of Piedmont, suffered them to live in peace and tranquillity, under the treaties made with his father and mother. Notwithstanding which, the inquisitors have always been upon the watch to take some or other of them, especially to hinder them from speaking of their faith when they came into Piedmont. In such case, provided it appear that they have held any conferences concerning religion, they have always condemned them as the teachers of strange doctrines and swervers from the treaties whereby it was enjoined that they should broach no new opinions.
The last who was persecuted in that cause, was a merchant of Lucerne, who much strengthened and edified the people by his constancy. His history will manifest to the world that the popes continue to show how hateful and odious the doctrines of the gospel is to them, and that if it lay in their power to overrule the hearts of the kings and princes of Europe at their pleasure, the fires would still be burning in all those places where they have any influence or authority.
In the year 1601, Bartholomew Copin, a Waldensian of the valley of Lucerne, being at Ast in Piedmont with his goods and merchandise, Copin sitting at table in the evening at supper with several other merchants, one of them started a discourse concerning the diversity of religions, and uttered many expressions tending to the dishonor of the Waldenses of Angrogne and the neighboring valleys. Copin hearing him speak of his brethren and of their religion, to the dishonor of God, and with less modesty than became such who profess themselves to be merchants; and believing that he should render himself partaker in the crime, if he did not make some reply to the blasphemies which he heard, returned an answer to the person who held such discourses in favor of his own religion. What, said the man whom Copin reprimanded, are you a Waldensian? Yes, said he, I am. Do you not believe the real presence of God in the host? No, said Copin. “See,” replied the other, “what a false religion yours is!” “My religion,” said Copin, “is as true as that God is God, and as I am certain that I shall die.” The next day Copin was called before the bishop of Ast, who told him that he had been informed of certain scandalous opinions and discourses which he held yesterday in the evening, at his lodgings, and that he must acknowledge his fault if he would obtain pardon for it, or else that he would take care to have him punished. Copin answered, that he was provoked to say what he did, and notwithstanding, he had said nothing but what he would stand to, and maintain at the hazard of his life: that he had some goods in the world, and a wife and children, but that his affections were so far dead to such things, as not to love them to the prejudice of his conscience. As to his life and conversation, he said if his lordship would be pleased to inquire of the merchants of Ast, who all knew him, concerning his honesty and good behavior, they would all certify that he never wronged or injured any man during the whole course of his traffic and commerce among them; and that being a merchant he ought to be dismissed to follow that business for which he came thither, to trade and traffic, without being molested and hindered. That if the Jews and Turks were permitted to keep the fairs and traffic throughout all Piedmont, much more ought he to be suffered so to do, who was a Christian; since in that discourse about religion, he only made answer to a question, and that it was lawful for him to answer and give a reason of his faith to any one that asked him in any place whatsoever, even by the treaty made between the Waldenses and his highness, which forbids them to broach and teach any new doctrines and opinions, but doth not deprive them of the liberty of making answer to whosoever shall perplex them with any questions.
The prelate regarded not those just remonstrances, but commanded that he should be committed to prison. The next day the bishop’s secretary visited Copin, expressed much love and kindness to him, and told him that he forewarned him as a friend, that if he did not acknowledge his fault, he was in great danger of losing his life.
Copin replied, that his “life was in the hands of God, and that he would never preserve it to the prejudice of his glory.” He beseeched God that as he had but two or three steps to take in his journey to heaven, to give him his grace not to shrink back, or turn aside.” Some time after he was examined by a monk inquisitor before the prelate, who at first treated him with kind and gentle persuasions, endeavoring to win him by fair words to the abjuration of his faith: but Copin always repulsed him by the word of God, telling him, that “if he should be ashamed of, and deny Jesus Christ, Christ would be ashamed of, and deny him before God his father.” The monk then concluded his dispute with menaces and threatenings. “Out upon thee thou cursed Lutheran; thou shalt go to all the devils in hell, and when thou shalt be tormented by those unclean spirits, thou wilt call to mind the holy instructions, which we have given thee, to bring thee to salvation: but thou hadst rather go to hell, than reconcile thyself to thy holy mother the church.” — ”I have been reconciled a long time ago,” said Copin, “to the holy church.”
After several violent attempts, they caused his wife and his son to come to him, promising him liberty and leave to go away with them, if he would make satisfaction for his offense by the confession thereof. They permitted his wife and his son to sup with him in prison; where the time was spent in exhorting them to patience; the wife, because she should be deprived of her husband, and the child of its father. Copin said, that “he was fully persuaded that God would be a father to him, and better than a husband to her; and that for his part, he was not obliged to love wife or children more than Christ; that they ought to esteem him happy, that God was pleased to confer such honor upon him, that he should bear witness to his truth at the expense of his life; and that he hoped God would give him grace to suffer and undergo all manner of torments for his glory.” He recommended the care of his son and daughter to his wife, enjoining her to bring them up in the fear of God. He commanded his son to be obedient to his mother, that so he might draw down the blessing of God upon him. He desired their prayers to God for him, that he would be pleased to strengthen him against all temptations. Thus having blessed his son, and taken leave of his wife, they were dismissed out of prison, and he locked up where he was before. His wife and child pouring forth floods of tears, crying and lamenting in such a manner as would have melted the most obdurate hearts into pity and compassion. That good man, not contented with what he had said to them, wrote to his wife the following letter; the original of which she hath delivered to us, written and signed with Copin’s own hand. To my well-beloved consort Susanna Copin.
FROM THE TOWER OF LUCERNE “MY DEAREST CONSORT:
— I have reaped much comfort and consolation from your coming hither, and so much the more, by how much the less I expected it. I believe it was no small comfort and satisfaction to yourself too, to have the opportunity of supping with me, as it fell out upon Saturday the fifteenth of September, 1601. I know not how it came about, that we were permitted so to do. But all things are in the hands of God, and be the cause what it will, I do not think that we shall eat together any more. I therefore beseech God to be your comforter, and put your trust in him, who hath promised never to forsake those who depend upon him. You want not prudence, and therefore so manage and govern our house, that you may keep Samuel and Martha in obedience to you, whom I command by the authority that God hath given me, to honor and obey you; for in so doing they will obtain the blessing of God. As to the rest, be not troubled and concerned for me, for if Divine Providence hath decreed to put a period to my life, and if it please the Almighty to demand the restitution of that soul which he hath a long time lent me, my trust is in him, that out of his immense and divine mercy and goodness, he will receive it into heaven for the sake of his son Jesus Christ, who I believe hath blotted out our sins by his holy death and passion. Be careful to pray unto God, and to serve him: for by that means you will be happy. You need not take any care to send me any thing for these three weeks. At the end of which you may send me some money, if you please, to pay the gaoler, and something more for my own relief and succor, if I live so long. Moreover remember that which I have often told you; that God added fifteen years to the life of king Hezekiah, but that he had prolonged my term much more; for you have seen me dead as it were a long time ago. Nevertheless I still live, and hope, and certainly believe that he will still preserve my life, till my death shall be more to his glory, and my own happiness and felicity, through his goodness and mercy towards me.” — From the prison of Ast, September 16, 1601.
The prelate of Ast was in great perplexity, to know how to dispose of that good man. If he should let him go, he feared giving offense, and that several others would take courage, and openly exclaim against the Romish religion. On the other hand, there was a clause in the treaty made between his highness and the Waldenses, which cleared him from guilt in those words. It provided that “if any question should be put unto them relating to their faith, being in Piedmont among the rest of the subjects of his highness, it should be lawful for them to make answer, without incurring thereby any personal or real punishment.” — Now the question was put to him, and therefore he ought to have been acquitted; but the prelate would not have it said, that he had wrongfully and unjustly imprisoned him. To the end therefore that he might not be charged with his death, and that he might not send him away absolved, he sent his indictment to pope Clement VIII. to know what they should do in the case. It could never be learned what answer that prelate received from him; but soon after Copin was found dead in the prison, with the appearance and suspicion of having been strangled; for fear that had he been publicly executed, he would have edified the people by his confession and constancy. After his death, he was condemned to be burned; and being brought out of prison, his sentence was read in the same place, and cast into the fire. This was the last of the Waldenses, so far as it has come to our knowledge, who suffered death for his faith.
CHAPTER - 5
The Waldenses dwelling in the valleys Maties and Meane, and the Marquisate of Saluces; and the last persecutions which they suffered.
WHEN the Waldenses of Dauphiny dispersed themselves into Piedmont, some of them dwelt in the Marquisate of Salutes, in the valleys of Maties and Meane, and other adjacent parts; but these did not escape, during the grievous persecutions and sufferings of their brethren of the valleys of Angrogne, St. Martin, and other places. All their refuge was to fly into the valleys of the Alps, especially when the governors of that marquisate persecuted them by the command of the kings of France, who put to death all those who within their realms and dominions made profession of the Waldensian faith. Now King Henry IV. styled the Great, having granted to his subjects an edict of pacification, the Waldenses who dwelt in the marquisate, enjoyed the same privileges as his other subjects did. But when by the treaty made with the duke of Savoy, la Bresse was exchanged for the marquisate of Saluces, the Waldenses, within the extent and jurisdiction of the said marquisate, were deprived of the free exercise of their religion. At the instance and importunity of the nuncio of pope Clement VIII. they were not only interdicted the free exercise thereof; but by a new edict, all those were banished out of the marquisate, who made profession of any other religion than that of the church of Rome. To hasten their departure, a great number of monks and inquisitors were sent into that marquisate and the valleys, who went from house to house, examining every one of them concerning their faith. By which means upwards of five hundred families were driven into exile, who retired into the kingdom of France, and especially into Dauphiny. That they might not be reproached in the places where they came, that they were banished out of their country for any crimes or enormity that they had committed; but that it might be known it was their zeal for their religion alone, which caused them to become wanderers and pilgrims in the world, they made the following declaration in the year 1603. Declaration of the Waldenses dwelling in the valleys of Maties and Meane, and the marquisate of Saluces, made in the year 1603.
Whereas time out of mind, and from generation to generation, our predecessors have been instructed and brought up in that same doctrine and religion which we from our infancy have openly and publicly professed, and in which we likewise have instructed our families as we have been taught by our ancestors; whereas also, when the Marquisate of Saluces was under the jurisdiction of the king of France, we were permitted to make profession thereof without trouble and molestation, as our brethren of the valleys of Lucerne, la Perouse, and others do, who by express treaty made with our sovereign Lord and Prince, have enjoyed to this day the free exercise of the reformed religion, yet his highness, instigated and pushed on by evil counsel, and by persons biassed by prejudice and passion, rather than of his own free will, resolved to disturb and molest us, having published an edict for that purpose.
To the end therefore, that all men may know that it is not for any crime or misdemeanor perpetrated either against the person of our prince, or for rebellion and opposition against his edicts, or for murder or theft, that we are thus persecuted and spoiled of our goods and houses; we protest and declare, that being very well assured that the doctrine and religion taught and practiced by the reformed churches of France, Switzerland, Germany, Geneva, England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and other kingdoms, countries and lordships, is the only true christian doctrine and religion approved of and established by God, who alone can make us acceptable to himself, and bring us to salvation, we are resolved to follow it at the expense of our lives and fortunes, and to continue therein to the end of our lives. But if any one pretends to say, that we are in an error, we desire that they would make us to see our error, promising immediately thereupon, to abjure and repent of it, and to follow that better way which shall be shown unto us, desiring nothing more than with a sure and safe conscience to pay that true and lawful service and homage, which we poor creatures owe to our Creator, and by that means to attain true and everlasting happiness. But if any shall go about or attempt by mere force and compulsion, to constrain us to forsake and deviate from the true road to salvation, to follow the errors and superstitions and false doctrines invented by men, we had rather lose our houses and goods, and also our very lives. We therefore most humbly entreat his highness, whom we acknowledge to be our true and lawful lord and prince, not to suffer us to be troubled and molested without cause, but to permit us and our posterity after us, to continue to the end of our days in that obedience and service, which as his loyal and faithful subjects, we have hitherto rendered unto him. Since all that we desire of him is, as we are bound and obliged to do by the commandment of God, we may also have the liberty to render to God the homage and service due to him, and which he in his holy word requires of us. “In the mean time we desire the reformed churches in the midst of our exile and calamity, to receive and look upon us as true members thereof, being ready, if it should please God so to order it, to seal the confession of faith by them made and published, with our blood, which we acknowledge to be every way conformable to the doctrine taught and written by the holy apostles, and consequently therefore truly apostolical. This we promise to live and die in, and if in so doing we suffer afflictions and persecutions, we return God thanks for them, who hath given us the honor to suffer for his name’s sake: committing the issue of our affairs and the righteousness of our cause into the hands of his Divine Providence, trusting that he will deliver us when and how he pleases. We moreover most humbly beseech God, that as the hearts of kings and princes are in his hand, he would be pleased to mollify the heart of his highness and incline him to take pity upon those who never have, and are resolved that they never will offend him, and that he may perceive and acknowledge us to be more loyal and faithful unto him, than those who incite and push him on to such persecutions; and in the mean time, we pray that the Lord would be pleased to support us in the midst of such temptations, and to fortify us with patience and constancy that we and our surviving posterity may persevere in the profession of the truth to the end of our lives. Amen.”
That persecution continued till 1620, at the instance of pope Paul V. and his nuncio, who continually have teazed and tormented those people by the monk’s inquisitors. Some of them they induced to renounce their faith, who knew not how to part with their riches, so firmly were their affections linked and wedded to the world; but the greatest part of those Waldenses constantly persisted in the service of God, choosing rather to be banished from their native country upon earth than to be for ever deprived of life eternal; being indifferent to the place of their nativity, their possessions, and their houses, which they could not enjoy without denying Christ and his truth.
CHAPTER - 6
The Waldenses dwelling in the new lands, and their persecutions.
THE new lands, concerning which we are now to speak, are in the Alps, on the frontiers of Piedmont, Dauphiny and Provence, of which the metropolitan city is Barcelona or Barcelonette. In the said country there are certain villages which have long been peopled and inhabited by the Waldenses, situated in the best part of the said countries, among others in Josiers. Those people continued a long time without the regard or notice of the princes of Piedmont; but the priests rendered them odious to the world, because they got nothing by them, for they made no oblations for the living and the dead as other people did. So when his highness persecuted all those within the extent of his dominions, who had forsaken the laws of the church of Rome, they were not forgotten, especially when the governors of the said valleys were their enemies. These therefore among others, in the year 1570, were enjoined either to go to mass, or to quit his highness’ country. In which strait they could find no other way to help themselves, than by joining themselves to some others, who being threatened with the like banishment had recourse to the protestant princes, intreating them to intercede with their prince for them, that he would be pleased not to trouble and molest them so for their religion, which from generation to generation they had professed for the space of several hundreds of years; during which time their princes never had more faithful and loyal subjects than they were, nor were they outdone by any in duty, submission, and paying taxes and contributions; which they have ever most readily and cheerfully rendered to their princes, as they continued always ready to pay obedience to their commands; desiring only that they might not be troubled for their conscience’ sake. The prince Palatin of the Rhine sent one of his counselors of state, ambassador to the prince of Piedmont, with certain other eminent and noble persons. Upon their arrival at Turin, they saluted his highness in the name of the said prince Palatin, and delivered their letters credential. The prince Emanuel Philibert gave him a very friendly audience. This counselor gave him to understand that the sole charity of his master towards Christians and those of his own profession, had moved him to mediate and intercede for them that his highness would suffer them peaceably to enjoy the exercise of their religion without offering violence to their consciences. — That he should receive it as a favor done to himself, and that it would oblige all the protestant princes of Germany, who by them made the same requests unto him: — that God would be more propitious and his subjects more loyal and faithful, if he did not show himself relentless and inexorable: — that the troubles and confusions which have happened within the realms and dominions of all those kings and princes who have attempted by force of arms to conquer and reclaim the hearts of their subjects, and to reduce them to obedience by violence, ought to caution and instruct all other princes who are not come to such extremities: — and that since those who have not made use of rigor and austerity have won the hearts of their subjects to a more strict fidelity and allegiance to them: this means being in his power, he intreated him to take pattern herein from the most gentle and merciful princes.
It appeared by the answer of his highness, that he was not pleased with that mediation, but much more so by the effects which followed it. For he answered that although he did not inquire how the prince Palatin of the Rhine, and the other princes of Germany, ruled and governed their subjects, and that being a sovereign he had nothing to do to give an account of any of his actions and proceedings; nevertheless, he returned thanks to the said prince and all others who had expressed so much charity and good will towards himself, his state and subjects, as to desire their peace arid tranquillity. But that the mischiefs and miseries, which by means of the diversity of religions have happened amongst them, have made him desirous to have but one religion in his dominions, that which he there found, and in which he had been brought up and educated, for fear least under this cloak of religion and liberty of conscience, he might be put to dispute those things with his subjects like an equal, which he had a right to determine as a sovereign, as had been the fate and condition of several other princes in Europe, who in this case, could riot exercise a sovereign authority over their subjects. To show them that he loved peace, he had published an edict in favor of his Waldensian subjects dwelling in the valleys of the Alps, which he caused to be kept inviolable. But that if without the bounds of the said valleys, he found in his dominions any factious, busy spirits, affecting novelties, he caused them to be punished as rebels. That he thought as the said princes had compassion on his subjects, so as to endeavor that they might enjoy the exercise of their religion, so he was certain they could not take it amiss if he provided for the security and preservation of his state, by the punishment of seditious and rebellious persons. That out of regard to their intercession he would inquire more narrowly into the state of his subjects making profession of their religion, and give them some ease and refreshment.
And because he had made mention particularly of one Giles, a minister whom he kept confined in a dungeon, he caused him to be brought out, and put into a chamber, and after inquiry made into the crime of which he was accused, understanding that it was because he had written letters to Geneva, to the prejudice of his service, he set him at liberty. He reproved a certain captain of a castle of the valley of Meane, for something that he had done against the Waldenses of the said valley; but as to the rest, the said counselor scarce got half way upon his return homeward, but the persecution grew much more violent than before. Amongst others the governor of the new lands about the end of November following, caused it to be proclaimed with sound of trumpet, that all those who would not go to mass within one month, were to quit his highness’ territories within that space, upon pain of confiscation both of body and goods. Those poor people of the new lands could no whither direct their course, without running the risk of losing their lives. For in Provence the parliament of Aix committed to the fire those whom they called Lutherans. In the dominions of Honorat, earl of Tendes, they were delivered into the hands of the executioners. Gonsague, duke of Nevers, general to the king of France in the marquisate of Salutes, put them to death. In Dau-phiny, the archbishop of Anbrun caused as many as he could apprehend of them, either to rot in the dungeons, or else to perish with cold and hunger at Tour-Brune. In Piedmont, they were banished. There was no other means left them, but in the midst of winter to pass by night over a high mountain almost inaccessible, covered over with frost and snow, to get if they could into the valley of Fraissiniere. They betook themselves therefore to the said mountain about Christmas, in the sharpest season of all the year; but before they could reach the top thereof, the greatest part of the women and little children were benumbed with the cold, and night overtaking them at the top of the mountain, they were forced to lie upon the ice, where the larger part of them were found dead the next morning. Those who escaped that danger retired into the valley of Fraissiniere. Now after the houses of that poor people had for some time remained destitute of inhabitants, because no body would seize and take possession of their lands, much less till and cultivate them, the governors permitted the said Waldenses to dwell in them, and tolerated their religion; only they were obliged to go out of the territories of their prince for the exercise thereof, and so they repeopled the valley.
CHAPTER - 7
The Waldenses dwelling in Calabria, and the persecutions that they suffered.
ABOUT the year of our Lord 1370, the Waldenses of the valley of Pragels in Dauphiny, growing too numerous for their small country, were constrained to send out some of their youth to seek where they might inhabit by taking up the employ of tillage and husbandry. They found in Calabria certain wild and uncultivated lands, and thinly peopled, and yet very fertile, as they might judge by those parts that were adjacent. Seeing therefore, that the country was fit to bring forth corn, wine, oil, olive and chesnuts, and the hills were fit for pasture for their cattle and to furnish them with fuel and timber proper to build withal, they went to the proprietors of the said lands to treat with them about the conditions of dwelling therein. The said lords gave them a very kind and friendly reception, consented to their rules and laws to the great advantage of the new inhabitants, and made a compact and agreement with them about their rents, tithes, tolls and penalties, in case any quarrels, contests or misdemeanors should happen amongst them. Then having assigned to them certain parts or parcels of the country, the greatest part of them returned home to let their parents know what bargain they had struck in a rich and fruitful country, likely to abound with all manner of temporal blessings, so as to enable them to return what their parents and friends were pleased to give them towards house-keeping. Several of them married and returned with their wives into Calabria, where they built certain little towns, St. Cixt, la Garde, la Vicaricio, les Rousses, Argentine, St. Vincens, and Montolieu. The proprietors counted themselves happy in having met with such good subjects, who had peopled and fertilized their countries, making them to abound with all manner of fruit; but chiefly because they found them to be honest and conscientious men, paying them all the duty and respect that could be looked for at the hands of the best and most faithful subjects in the world. Only the priests and curates complained that they did not live like other people in the matter of religion, making none of their children either priests or nuns, nor caring for singing, tapers, lamps, bells, nor for the masses for the dead. They had erected certain temples without adorning them with any images, and never went on pilgrimages; they caused their children to be instructed by certain strange schoolmasters, to whom they paid much more honor and respect than they did to them, giving them nothing but their tithes according to their compact and agreement made with their lords. They suspected, therefore, that the said people made profession of some particular religion, which hindered them from mixing or allying themselves with the natives of the country, and that they had no good opinion of the church of Rome. The lords of the place fearing that if the pope should take notice that there were certain people so near his seat, who despised and contemned the laws of the church of Rome, he would destroy them, withheld the curates from complaining of those people who, as to all other matters were so just and honest, and had enriched all that country, and even the priests too; for the tithes alone which they received out of so vast a plenty and abundance of all manner of fruits brought forth and produced in those countries which before yielded them no profit or advantage, were such that they might very well bear with other matters. Those lords represented withal, that they came to dwell in those places from far countries, where perhaps the people were not so much addicted to the ceremonies of the church of Rome; but since in the main, they were just and honest, charitable to the poor, and feared God, they would not have them troubled and molested by any farther or more particular scrutiny into their conscience. These reasons wrought much with their enemies, and the lords of the said places stopped the mouths of their murmuring neighbors, who could never entice them into their alliances, and who saw their lands, goods, cattle and all that they possessed was attended with signal and singular blessings, by alleging farther that they were a temperate, sober and wise people, not dissolute and debauched, not given to frequent balls or taverns, never known to suffer any blasphemous expressions to escape their lips. In a word, living in a country where the inhabitants were addicted to all manner of vice and wickedness, they were like precious stones in a dunghill, and therefore, both envied and admired, but always vindicated and upheld by their lords, who comparing those with their other subjects, could never speak enough in their commendation. They were therefore maintained and protected by their said lords against all envy, and in spite of the priests, until the year 1560, when they could no longer defend them from the thunderbolts of the pope, and then calamities came upon them.
Those people understanding that in the valleys of Pragela and Piedmont there were certain pastors who openly preached the gospel, they sent to Geneva to provide themselves pastors, who sent them Stephen Negrin and Lewis Paschal. Upon their arrival, they endeavored as much as in them lay, to establish the exercise of the protestant religion. Pope Pius the IV. having notice of it, assembled the college of cardinals, and concluded upon the entire extirpation of those people, who being so near to the pope’s seat, had presumed to plant the faith of the Lutherans. The charge of their destruction was given to cardinal Alexandrino, the most furious and violent man amongst the cardinals. He made choice of two monks for his informers, Valerio Maluicino and Alphonso Urbin, a Dominican monk, who began with the inhabitants of St. Cixt. Being in the place, they caused the people to be assembled, speaking very mildly to them, protesting that they were not come to trouble or molest them, but only to admonish and advise them in a friendly manner, to desist from hearing any teachers, but such as should be appointed them by the prelates of their diocese. That they very well knew they had received ministers from Geneva, but by forsaking them and living for the future in obedience to the laws of the church of Rome, they need not fear any thing; but if they presumed to keep and conceal the said ministers among them, they would endanger both their lives and fortunes, because they would be condemned as heretics. To discover who those were that had wholly rejected the laws of the church of Rome, they caused the bell to be sounded for mass, inviting the said people to come thereunto; but they, instead of going thither, forsook their houses and fled into the woods with such of their wives and children as were able to follow them, leaving only a few decrepid men and women, and some little children in the city. The monks dissembled that flight, that they might ensnare and entrap them all at once. They went to la Garde without threatening any of those who stayed behind at St. Xist, Being there, they caused the gates of the city to be shut, and the people to be assembled, and told them that the inhabitants of St. Xist had renounced and abjured their religion, and going to mass had begged pardon at the hands of God. They promised them that if they would do the like, no body should offer them any hurt or violence. Those poor people thought that the monks had told them nothing but the truth, and therefore they complied with whatsoever they required of them. But when they understood that their brethren of St. Xist had refused to go to mass, and that they were retired into the woods, they were extremely ashamed and displeased at their weakness and apostacy, and immediately resolved to fly with their wives and children to their brethren of St. Xist; but Salvator Spinello, the lord of the place, would not suffer them to make so miserable a retreat, promising to defend and protect them against all injuries, provided, they would live, said he, like good Roman catholics. In the mean time, the monks sent two companies of foot after those of St. Xist, who hunted and pursued those poor people like wild beasts, crying amassa, amassa, kill, kill. They slew a great many of them. Those who could reach the top of the mountains, desired to be heard, which request being granted them, they entreated them to have pity upon them, their wives and their children; that they would remember they had for several ages inhabited the country wherein they dwelt; that during that time there was no body who complained of their life and conversation; and that notwithstanding if they could not dwell in their houses in the profession of that faith in which they had hitherto lived, if they might be permitted to retire under the protection of God, either by sea or land, whithersoever it should please the Lord to conduct them only with their own persons and some few conveniences for their use and subsistence, they would very willingly forsake all their goods, rather than fall into and comply with any idolatry, promising both for themselves and theirs, never to return to their houses again. They entreated them in the name of God not to drive them to any further necessity of defending themselves, because if they were once deprived of all hopes of mercy, it would be to the peril of those who had reduced them to such extremity. The soldiers being but the more enraged at these words, violently and impetuously rushed upon them, which obliged those poor people to a just defense, and God so prospered and assisted them, that they slew the greatest part of the soldiers who pursued them, and put the rest to flight. The monks inquisitors wrote to the viceroy of Naples to send immediately some companies of soldiers to apprehend certain heretics of St. Xist and de la Garde, who had fled into the woods, telling him that in this he would do a work acceptable to the pope and meritorious to himself, by freeing the church from such a contagion. The viceroy came in person with some troops. As soon as he was arrived at St. Xist, he caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that the place was condemned to fire and sword. Whilst those things were in agitation, the women had time to return to St. Xist, whither they went to get some food for their husbands and children in the woods. The viceroy caused it to be proclaimed throughout the whole kingdom of Naples, that all the exiles who would come to the war against the heretics of St. Xist, should receive pardon and forgiveness for their former offenses. Whereupon great numbers of them came in, and were conducted to the woods where the fugitives of St. Xist were, and they chased them so hotly and furiously, that at length having slain a great number of those poor people, the rest of their wounded retired into the caverns upon the top of the rocks, where the greatest part of them perished by famine. The monks inquisitors seemed to be very much displeased at what had happened, and going to Cossence, where the syndic of St. Xist appeared before them, they advised him forthwith to withdraw, for fear if the viceroy should know he was there, he would cause him to be apprehended. This lulled the inhabitants of la Garde into security, who being summoned by public proclamation to appear before the said inquisitors at Cossence, or else before the viceroy at Folcade, they were easily induced to believe the promises and fair words of the inquisitors. For seventy of them were apprehended upon their arrival at Folcade, and being bound were carried to Montaud before the inquisitor Panza, who caused them to be put upon the rack. Amongst others, he tormented Stephen Charlin with such Violence that his bowels burst out of his belly, to make him confess that they sometimes met together by night to commit whoredom and damnable incests, the candles being put out. But notwithstanding the extremity of the said torture, they could never extort from him the confession of so heinous and flagitious a piece of wickedness as that forged against them.
There was another, named Verminel, who by reason of the torments which he endured upon the rack, promised to go to mass. The inquisitor thought, that since the torture of the rack had constrained him to renounce his faith, he might, by doubling the violence thereof, draw from that weak person a confession of the foregoing imposture; and therefore he caused him to be tormented in such a manner, that he often left him eight hours hanging upon the rack, but for all that could never force so horrid a calumny out of his mouth.
A person called Maroon, was stripped stark naked, and beaten with iron rods, afterwards drawn through the streets and burnt with firebrands. One of his sons was assassinated with a knife, and the other led to the top of a tower, where a crucifix was offered unto him, with a promise, that if he would kiss it, he should have his life saved. He replied, that he had rather die than adhere to any idolatry; and though he were cast headlong from the tower, as he was threatened, he had rather his body should be dashed in pieces upon the earth, than his soul, by denying Christ and his truths, should be cast into hell. The inquisitor, very much enraged with this answer, commanded him to be cast down, that he may see, said he, whether his God will preserve him. Bernardine Conte was condemned to be burnt alive; as they led him to the stake, he let drop a certain crucifix, which the executioner had put into his hands. The inquisitor commanded him to be sent back to prison, that his torture might be aggravated and increased. He had him thence conveyed to Cossence, and there covered over with pitch, and so burned. Moreover, the same inquisitor Panza, cut the throats of fourscore of them, just as butchers do their sheep; and afterwards caused them to be divided into four quarters, and the highway which lies between Montald, and Chasteau Villar, for the space of thirty miles, to be set with stakes, and a quarter to be stuck upon each of them.
He caused four of the principal men of la Garde to be hanged, and strangled in a place called Moran, James Ferner, Anthony Palcomb, Peter Jacio, and John Morglia, who died with admirable constancy. A youth named Samson, defended himself a long while against those who came to apprehend him: but being wounded, he was at length taken, and led to the top of a tower, where he was bid to confess himself to a priest there present, before he was cast down. He refused, saying, that he had confessed himself to God. Then the inquisitor commanded him to be thrown down. The next day the viceroy passing below by the said tower, saw that poor man lie languishing, with his bones all broken, imploring the mercy of God. He kicked him with his foot upon the head, saying, “that dog is yet alive; give him to the hogs to eat.”
Sixty women of St. Xist were tortured upon the rack, with such violence, that the cords corroded their arms and legs to that degree, that a great quantity of worms bred and engendered in their wounds, which eat them up alive, they not knowing how to remedy it, till some body, moved with pity and compassion towards them, secretly gave them some lime, which destroyed them. They died almost all of them in prison in a very miserable condition. Nine of the chief and most beautiful amongst them were LOST, and it was never known what became of them, after they were delivered to the fathers of the inquisition.
That inquisitor went next to Agathe, where he delivered a great number of them up to the secular power. And if any one offered to intercede for them, he had him immediately put upon the rack, as a favorer of heretics: so that no one at length durst open his lips in their favor.
Pope Pius IV. sent the marquess of Butiane, in order to complete their destruction, with a promise, that if he would do that good piece of service to the holy see, as to clear Calabria of the Waldenses, that had taken footing there, he would give his son a cardinal’s hat. That marquess met with no great difficulty in the execution of his commission: for the monks, inquisitors, and the viceroy of Naples, had already put to death almost all those whom they could apprehend, having sent the strongest and most robust of them to the Spanish galleys, banished the fugitives for ever, and sold or slain their wives and children.
As to their ministers, Stephen Megrin was imprisoned at Cossence, where he was starved. Lewis Paschal was conveyed to Rome, and there condemned to be burnt alive. Pope Pius IV. would see the last punishment of him who had held and maintained him to be antichrist, being present with several cardinals at his death. But the pope wished himself elsewhere, or that Paschal had been dumb, and the people deaf, for he spake many things against the pope from the Word of God, which very much displeased him. Thus did that person die, calling upon the name of God, with such an ardent zeal, that he moved thereby the spectators to pity him, and made the pope and cardinals to gnash their teeth for anger.
Thus you see the end of the Waldenses of Calabria, who were entirely exterminated. For if any of the fugitives returned, it was upon condition, that they would live in obedience and subjection to the laws of Rome.
CHAPTER - 8
The Waldenses dwelling in Provence, and their persecutions.
THE Waldenses inhabiting Provence, the parts of Cabriers, Merindol, la Coste, and other neighboring places, have been accounted the first offspring of the Waldenses of Dauphiny and Piedmont, as still appears by the families of the same name; and there remain some amongst them to this day, who can evidently make out the same. It was upon the like occasion, that those of Calabria took up their abode in Provence, to disburthen their valleys of so vast a multitude of inhabitants as were therein. And although at their first arrival into Provence, the country wherein they dwelt was but a wild desert, and an uncultivated place, yet by the blessing of God, within a few years they rendered it fruitful, and fit to bear corn, wine, oil, olive, and other fruits, in great plenty and abundance.
The first persecutions which they suffered, have not come to our knowledge, although we find the commissions given out by the popes and antipopes residing at Avignon, very near to their habitations; as particularly that of the archdeacon of Cremone, Albert de Capitaneis, and Francis Borelli, a monk of the order of the friar minors, who in the year 1380, received a commission against them, to examine the Waldenses in the diocese of Aix in Provence, Aries and Selon. As also when they were restored into the said province in the year 1298, when the archbishops of Aix, Aries, and Narbonne met together at Avignon to give their advice to the inquisitors about the business of the Waldenses, who then said, that the inquisitors had taken arid apprehended so vast a number of them, that they were not only at a loss to provide food for their subsistence, but also to procure lime and stone enough to build prisons for them. It is certain that the Waldenses of Provence, dwelling as it were at the gates of the pope’s palace, and round about Avignon, were not then forgotten.
The first persecution, is that which history gives us an account of, in the reign of King Louis XII. about the year 1506. This king having been informed, that in Provence there were a certain people, who lived not according to the ordinances of the church of Rome, but were wicked and flagitious wretches, committing all manner of impieties and villanies, the memory of which struck a horror into men’s hearts, and were such with which the primitive Christians had been charged; he left it to the parliament of Provence to take cognizance thereof, and to punish them according to their deserts. Which orders the said parliament having diligently put in execution, so soon as he understood that several innocent persons were put to death, he put a stop to the proceedings of the said parliament, and would not suffer them to continue their persecutions, till such time as he could certainly be informed, what manner of people those were, who had been represented to him as such wicked and impious wretches. To that purpose he sent Adam Fumee, master of his requests, who brought him back word, that the information which had been given him concerning the Waldenses of Provence, was notoriously false; for they were not any ways guilty either of sorcery or adultery, but lived like honest men, doing no hurt or injury to any man; that they caused their children to be baptized, and taught them the articles of the creed, and the commandments of God; that they carefully observed the Lord’s day; and that the Word of God was purely expounded to them. 1 Parui a Jacobin monk, confessor to the king, testified also as much, who had been joined in commission by the king, with the said master of requests: “His auditis, Rex jurejurando addito inquit, Me et caetero populo meo Catholico meliores illi viri sunt” — which the king having heard, he declared with an oath, that they were more pious, honest, and religious persons than himself, and his catholic subjects. That persecution being stayed, and restrained by Louis XII. they continued unmolested till the reign of Francis I.; and when there was a talk in France, about the reformation in matters of religion, they sent two of their bathes or pastors, George Morel into Dauphiny, and Peter Bourgogne to John Oecolampadius, minister of Basle, to Capito and Martin Bucer at Strasburg, and to Richard Haller at Berne, to confer with them about their religion, and to ask their advice and counsel, about several points, in which they desired to be instructed. The letters which Oecolampadius and Bucer wrote to them, have already been inserted; when we endeavored to prove, that several eminent persons among the professors of the Reformation have given testimony to their piety and probity. 2 Therefore we will only lay before you those of the said Waldenses. “Salut a Monseignor Oecoiampadio. Car moti racontant, a sona a nostras oreillas que aquel que po torus cosas, tea reple in de la Benediction del seo Sperit, coma se cognois per li frue. Eraperco nos sen vengu de region lognana a tu de corage ferment alegre, sperant et nos confidant mot que lodict sperit enlumenare nos per tu, et nos esclairare motas cosas lasquals son a nos en dubi, et ferment cubertas per la colpa de la nostra ignoranca, etc.”
LETTER OF THE WALDENSES OF PROVENCE TO MR. OECOLAMPADIUS.
HEALTH BE TO YOU MR.OECOLAMPADIUS:
“Whereas several persons have given us to understand, and the report hath reached our ears, that He who is able to do all things, hath filled and replenished you with the blessings of his Holy Spirit, as it conspicuously appears by its fruits — we therefore have recourse to you from a far country, and with steadfast hope and confidence, that the Holy Ghost will enlighten our understanding by your means, and will reveal to us, and let us into the knowledge of several things, wherein we are now doubtful, and which are hid and concealed from us, by reason of our ignorance and remissness; and as we have reason to fear, to the great damage and disadvantage, both of ourselves and the people of whom we are the unworthy teachers. That you may know at once how matters stand with us; we, such as we are, poor instructors of this small people, have undergone for above these four hundred years, most sharp and cruel persecutions, and not without great and signal marks and instances of Christ’s favor, as all the faithful can easily testify; for he hath often interposed for the deliverance of this people, when under the harrow of the said cruel and severe persecutions. And therefore we come unto you for advice and consolation, in this our state of weakness.”
They wrote another much to the same effect, to Martin Bucer; wherein they say, that they had written to their brethren of Neufchatel, Morat and Berne, concerning the same subject; which shows with what care and diligence the said Waldenses always endeavored to understand more and more the mysteries of godliness, in order to their salvation: especially since they pitched upon that time, openly to exercise their religious worship before all the world, when the flames of persecution raged throughout all France, against the professors of their religion, who were at that time called Lutherans. The more zealous therefore they were, the more they incurred the spite and fury of their adversaries, and threw themselves into extreme perils and dangers. But as all are not victorious by faith, so there were found some weak and infirm persons amongst them, who following the instigations of,the flesh, persuaded themselves, contrary to all reason, that they might innocently bow themselves in those places, where God is offended by idolatry, by preserving their heart pure and undefiled before God. Oecolampadius took occasion thence to write the following letter, to be communicated to those hypocrites, who walk not uprightly before God.
LETTERS WRITTEN BY OECOLAMPADIUS TO THE WALDENSES OF PROVENCE, WHO THOUGHT THEY MIGHT SERVE GOD, BY BOWING BEFORE POPISH IDOLS,
Oecolampadius desires the grace of God, through Jesus Christ his son, and the Holy Ghost to his well-beloved brethren in Christ, called Waldenses.
We understand that the fear of persecution, hath caused you to conceal and dissemble your faith. Now with the heart we believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; but those who are afraid to confess Christ before. the world, such shall find no reception from God the Father. For our God is truth, without any dissimulation; and as he is a jealous God, he cannot endure that any of his servants should take upon them the yoke of antichrist; for there is no fellowship or communion with Christ and Belial: and if you communicate with infidels, by going to their abominable masses, you will there hear blasphemies against the death and passion of Christ: for when they boast, that by the means of such sacrifices, they make satisfaction to God for the sins both of the living and the dead, what naturally follows thence, but that Jesus Christ hath not made sufficient expiation and satisfaction by his death and passion, and consequently that Christ is no Jesus, that is, no Savior, and that he died for us in vain? Thus if we participate of that impure table, we declare ourselves to be of one and the same body with the wicked, although it be never so contrary to our wills and inclinations. And when we say amen to their prayers, do we not deny Christ? What death ought we not rather to undergo? What torture and torment ought we not rather to endure? Nay, into what abyss of woe and misery ought we not rather to plunge ourselves, than by our presence to testify our consent to, and approbation of the blasphemies of the wicked? I know that your infirmity is great, but those who have been taught, that they were redeemed by the blood of Christ, ought to be more courageous, and always to fear and stand in awe of him, who can cast both body and soul into hell. And what? Is it enough for us to have preserved this life alone? Shall this be more precious to us than that of Christ? And are we satisfied with having enjoyed the delights and pleasures of this world? Are there not crowns laid before us, and shall we flinch back and recoil? And who will believe, that our faith was ever true and sincere, should it want zeal and ardor in the time of persecution? We beseech the Lord to increase your faith. And certainly it is better for us to lose our lives, than to be conquered and overcome by temptations. And therefore, brethren, we advise you thoroughly to weigh and consider the business; for if it be lawful to conceal our faith, under the tyranny of antichrist, it will be as lawful so to do under that of the Turk, and with Dioclesian, to worship a Jupiter or Venus: it would then have been lawful for Elijah to worship the calf in Bethel: and what then will become of our faith towards God? If we do not pay to God that honor which belongs to him, and if our life be nothing else, but hypocrisy and dissimulation, he will spue us up like base and lukewarm wretches. And how shall we glorify the Lord in the midst of sufferings and tribulations, if we deny him?
We must not, brethren, look back, when once we have put our hand to the plough: neither must we give ear to the dictates and instigations of our flesh, which moving and enticing us to sin, notwithstanding it endureth many things in this world, yet it suffereth shipwreck in the haven.”
Those pious instructions and admonitions tended very much to the strengthening and confirmation of the more weak and infirm, and came in good time for those who were soon after harassed and oppressed with several outrages and cruelties; and even one of the messengers who brought the said letters, was put to the necessity of making use of them, Peter Masson, who was taken at Dijon, where he was condemned to die as a Lutheran. George Morel made his escape with his letters and papers, and arrived Safe into Provence, where he successfully labored to re-establish the Waldensian churches. Some member or other of which was daily summoned before the parliament of Aix, and were condemned either to be hanged or burnt, or dismissed with marks of infamy in their forehead; until in the year 1540, when five or six of the principal persons of Merindol being summoned to appear, instead of the rest of the inhabitants, at the instance and importunity of the king’s attorney in the parliament of Aix, and at the solicitation of the arch-bishop of Aries, the bishop of Aix and other ecclesiastical persons, sentence was given against them; the most exorbitant, cruel, barbarous and inhuman that was ever, pronounced by any parliament; resembling in all respects the edict of king Ahasuerus, given out at the request of Haman against the people of God, as we read in the book of Esther. For not only the persons summoned to appear, were condemned by the said sentence, for their obstinacy to be burnt alive, and their wives and children to be banished, but it was moreover ordered, that the country of Merindol should be laid waste and rendered wholly uninhabitable; the woods cut down, and leveled with the ground, for the compass of two hundred paces round about it: and all this without permitting them to be heard or to speak in their own defense.
The king being informed of the rigor and severity of that edict, sent the Sieur du Langeai into Provence to inquire into the manners and religion of the said Waldenses, and having understood that those people had been charged with many things which they were not guilty of, King Francis the I. sent his letters of grace, not only for those who had offended by obstinacy and contumacy, but also for all the rest of the inhabitants of Provence, expressly commanding and enjoining the parliament not to proceed for the future so rigorously in such cases, as they had formerly done. These letters were suppressed. Those that were cited to appear in person, desired leave to answer by a proctor.
Francis Chai and William Ormand appeared in the room of the rest of the said people, desiring in their names, that they might be informed wherein their error lay, by the word of God, being ready to renounce and abjure all heresy, if it could be made out and proved to them that they were fallen into any. To that purpose they delivered the confession of their faith in writing, that if they found any thing therein worthy of reproof, when compared with the holy scriptures, they might be instructed what it was they were to abjure; or if the contrary, that they might not any more be disturbed and molested by so many persecutions, for fear, lest supposing that they made war only against men, they should be found to oppose God and his truth, in the persons of those who maintained it.
All their requests served only to fret and irritate them the more; for the judges being prepossessed with the opinion, that they were heretics, without taking the pains to search into the truth of it, concluded all in favor of the priests, their accusers. So that when the cardinal of Tournon had by surprise obtained the king’s letters for the execution of the said sentence, notwithstanding the pardon and revocation before obtained, it was executed and performed.
In the year 1545, the president Opede, governor of Provence, in the absence of the earl of Grignan, deputed for commissioners the president Francis de la Fun, Hunore de Tributiis and Bernard Badet, counselor; and the advocate Guerin, in the absence of the procurator general, dispatched several commissions and proclaimed the war by sound of trumpet, both at Aix and Marseilles. The troops being thus levied, and the five ensigns of the old bands of Piedmont joined with them, the army marched to Pertuis.
On the fourteenth day of April, they went to Cadenet, and upon the sixteenth, they began to set fire to the villages of Chabriers, Pepin, la Mothe, and Martin, belonging to the Sieur de Sental, then a child; where the poor laborers were slain without any resistance, their wives and daughters ravished, and women big with child, with little infants, were murdered, without any pity or compassion! Several women had their breasts cut off, after whose deaths, the poor children were starved to death; the said d’Opede ordering it to be proclaimed, that no body should give them any food or succor, upon pain of the halter. They ransacked, burnt and pillaged, every thing that they found in those places, and left none alive but those whom they had reserved for the galleys. Upon the seventeenth, Opede ordered the old bands of Piedmont to draw near, and the day following caused the villages of Lormarin, Ville Laure, and Trezemines to be burnt, and at the same time on the other side of the Durance, the Sieur de la Rocque and Others of the city of Aries, burnt Gensson and La Rocque. Opede, upon his arrival at Merindol, found no body there but a very ignorant and simple young lad named Morisi Blanc, who had surrendered himself to a soldier, with a promise of two crown pieces for his ransom. Opede finding no body to exercise his rage upon, paid the soldier ten shillings, and so commanding him to be bound to a tree, he caused him to be shot to death with harquebuses; then he commanded the said village, consisting of above two hundred houses, to be pillaged, burnt and razed.
There remained the town of Chabriers, surrounded with walls, which they were battering down with cannon-shot. The poor people who were shut up therein, to the number of about sixty peasants, told them that they need not employ so much powder and pains to batter them down, since they were ready to open the gates to them, and also to leave both the place and the country, and go to Geneva, or into Germany, with their wives and children, leaving all their goods behind them, only desiring that a safe passage might be granted them.
The lord of Chabriers interceded for them, that their cause might be decided by course of justice, without force or violence; but Opede getting within the city, commanded the men to be brought forth into a meadow, where he caused them to be hewed in pieces with swords, these valiant executioners trying their manhood and dexterity, in cutting off of heads, arms and legs. He caused the women to be shut up in a barn full of straw and ordered fire to be put to it, where many pregnant women were burnt, Upon which a soldier moved with pity and compassion, having made a place for them to creep out at, they were repulsed into the fire with pikes and halberds. The rest of those men who were found hidden in the caves were brought into the castle-hall, where they were most barbarously murdered and massacred, in the presence of the said Opede. As to the women and children that were found in the temple, they were exposed to the bands of ruffians of Avignon, who slew about eight hundred persons, without distinction of age or sex. Towards the end of that execution, the Sieur de la Coste, Opede’s kinsman, came thither, who intreated him to send him some soldiers, offering to bring all his into Aix, and to make as many breaches in the wall as he pleased. Three companies of foot were sent thither, who pillaged and plundered whatsoever they pleased, burnt part of the village, ravished the women and virgins, and slew some peasants without meeting with any resistance. In the mean time the residue of the inhabitants of Merindol and other places, were pursued by Opede and his army through the rocks and mountains, and forced to great extremities and distress. They begged of him to give them leave to retire into Geneva, with the remainder of their wives and children. He replied that he would send them with their wives and children to dwell ‘with all the devils in the infernal regions, so as to blot out the very memory of them from the face of the earth.
King Francis I. being informed of the cruelties practiced and executed in pursuance of the said edict, was extremely displeased at it, so that being at the point of death, and pricked with remorse of conscience, especially because the whole had been transacted under his name and authority: being sorry also that he could not before his death inflict any punishment upon the shedders of so much innocent blood, he charged and enjoined his son Henry to revenge it. In pursuance of which, after the decease of his father, he issued out his letters patent, in the year 1549, whereby he took upon himself the examination and decision of the cause of the Waldenses of Provence. The advocate Guerin was hanged because he misinformed the king, when he kept back the revocation of the first retention of the cause of the Merindolians, upon which followed shortly after the execution of the sentence passed by the parliament of Aix. All the rest who were guilty, escaped upon this consideration, that it was not expedient to proceed any farther in favor of the Lutherans at that time.
As to the residue, who escaped the fury of this massacre, some of them retired to Geneva, others into Switzerland and Germany, others dwelt near thereabouts, and went thither sometimes by stealth to till and cultivate their lands, and so by little and little returned home to their own habitations, which they built and repaired whensoever they were permitted so to do by favor of the said edicts. They became afterwards the seed, the prime and original source of several famous churches, which still flourish to this day, no less celebrated for their zeal and piety than the other churches in the kingdom of France. 3
CHAPTER - 9
The Waldenses fled into Bohemia, and the persecutions which they suffered . SEVERAL have written that Waldo, upon his departure from Lyons, went into Dauphiny, and having erected some churches, and laid the foundations of those which have been almost miraculously preserved there to this day, he went thence into Languedoc, and left some barbes or pastors there, who set up and governed those churches, which afterwards cost the pope and his clergy so much pains to destroy. 1 That thence he took his journey into Picardy, and being expelled, he went next into Germany, and from Germany into Bohemia, where, as some affirm, he ended his days. 2 The Waldenses of Dauphiny, Piedmont and Provence, held a communion and correspondence with their brethren who had retired into Bohemia; for proof of which we have the message of Daniel de Valence and John de Moline, barbes in Bohemia, who did very much mischief to the churches of that kingdom, because they discovered and betrayed those flocks to the adversaries, which before lay hid and concealed by reason of the grievous and severe persecutions then raging.
We have likewise an apology of the Waldenses of Bohemia, in a letter which they wrote to king Ladislaus under the following inscription. Al Serenissimo Princi Rey Lancelao. A li Duc, Barons, et a li plus veil del Regne. Lo petit tropel de li Chrestians, appella per fals nom falsament Pauvres o Valdes. Gratia sic en Dio la Paire et en Jesus lo Filli de luy.
This letter is a proof of the correspondence which the Waldenses of Dauphiny held with those of Bohemia, since we find that letter in their tongue which contains an apology or defense against the crimes and imputations formerly charged upon both of them, and which were also equally imputed to the primitive Christians. We find likewise in the same volume a treatise inscribed as follows, Aico es la Causa del nostre despartiment de la Gleisa Romana. This is the cause of our separation from the Roman church; the same causes which have been common to all the separatists from her, for fear they should share and participate of her judgments.
The author of the catalogue of the witnesses of the truth, makes mention of a kind of inquisition carried on and practiced against the Waldenses of Bohemia, in the reign of king John, which was about the year 1330. Also in another inquisition, it is observable that the Waldenses of Bohemia sent those whom they would have instructed in theology to the Waldensian doctors in Lombardy. In the treatise concerning the original of the Bohemian churches, at the time when the doctrine of John Huss was received and entertained there, the ministers, elders and protestants of Bohemia say, that the Waldensian churches of that country had been oppressed by papal tyranny to that degree, that they could not meet any more in their assemblies, and that there were none of their writings to be found in Bohemia. Esrom Rudiger, in his treatise relating to the Bohemian churches, saith, that the Waldensian churches were erected and established at least two hundred and forty years before those of the Hussites; and although he doth confess that their belief was the same, yet he affirms that there did not remain the least memory of their churches in their time, excepting those in France, Merindol and other adjacent and neighboring places; and that when these were sent into Bohemia to unite themselves to them in their religion, they inquired whether they made open and public profession of the truth. But when they understood that there were some amongst them who sometimes frequented the popish temples, and were present at their idolatries, they sharply and severely reprimanded them for it. Therefore those persons that have answered under the name of the Waldenses, and published their confession, which we may find at this day in the catalogue called Catalogus rerum expetendarum, are not really any of the Waldenses, but only some of those who by way of calumny and reproach, were afterwards so called; not that they were ever ashamed of that name, being very well assured of the purity of their doctrine. They acquiesced in the vulgar error, when they say they know very well that several good persons, and such as both follow, and love the truth of the gospel, being deceived by the false marks and characters whereby they have been described, have taken them for Waldenses. Moreover they give this testimony to the Waldenses, that it appears they had great light and understanding, that they thoroughly understood and purely taught many things, and also that they have undergone very many sufferings and persecutions for the truth, especially in France, And that therefore it was they desired to be distinguished from them, as it is observed that the Waldenses have been very serviceable to the establishment of the truth in their times, so the world may know, that the Hussites have not been a little so in theirs. Aeneas Sylvius reporteth of Peter de Dreeze and James de Misne, disciples and followers of the Waldenses, that they traveled into Bohemia in the time of John Huss, and that after some conference and conversation with him, they taught him their doctrine. They themselves do not deny it.
For they say, that Wickliff was moved to throw off the papal yoke, by the example of the Waldenses, and that Wickliff was the means and instrument which God made use of, for the instruction of John Huss who taught in Bohemia, and that therefore they thought themselves very much obliged to the churches of the Waldenses; since whatsoever was good in them, they say, was transplanted into theirs, and so they were, in one sense, the beginning and original of their churches. 9
CHAPTER - 10
The Waldenses dwelling in Austria, and their persecutions .
A GREAT number of the Waldenses dwelt in Austria, who were there harassed with horrid and severe persecutions, as appears by the Chronicle of Hirsauge, where it is observed that a great many of them were burnt in the city of Creme, belonging to the dukedom of Austria. But that which did most alarm their persecutors, was the speech of one of them, who being about to suffer at Vienna, the metropolis of Austria, told them at his execution, that there were above fourscore thousand persons of his faith in that country. About the year of our Lord 1467, the Hussites reforming and separating their churches from the church of Rome, understood that there were some churches of the ancient Waldenses in Austria, upon the frontiers of Bohemia, in which there were great and learned men ordained, and appointed to be pastors, and that the doctrine of the gospel flourished in its full force and vigor amongst them. That they might be informed of the truth thereof, they sent two of their ministers with two elders, giving them in charge to inquire into, and know what those flocks or congregations were; for what reason they had separated themselves from the church of Rome; their principles and progress; and also to discover and make known to them the beginning of their own conduct in Bohemia, and to acquaint them with the cause and reason of their separation and dissension from the Romish church.
These men being arrived thither, 2 and having found out those Waldensiam churches, after a diligent and careful search for them, they told them, that they did nothing but what was agreeable to the ordinance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of his apostles, confining themselves wholly to the institution of the Son of God in the matter of the sacrament.
It was a matter of great joy and satisfaction to the Waldenses, to understand, that a great number of people in Bohemia, had advanced the glory of God, by casting off the corruptions and idolatries of the Roman church; exhorting them in God’s name, to continue and carry on that work, which they had so well begun, for the knowledge and maintenance of the truth, and for the establishment of good order and discipline amongst them. In token of their great joy, and that holy society and correspondence, which they desired to hold with them; they blessed them, praying, and laying their hands upon them.
Afterwards the said Waldenses gave them an account of God’s miraculous preservation of them, for many hundred years, notwithstanding the many grievous and continual persecutions, which they have suffered and endured; and so the Bohemians lovingly and kindly took their leave of their said brethren, and at their return, related what they had both seen and done in that their journey, to their unspeakable satisfaction and content.
Thenceforward, they were possessed with a holy and affectionate desire of holding communion or correspondence with each other as often as they could, in order to their mutual edification. In pursuance of which design, the brethren of Bohemia sent letters to the Waldenses of Austria, giving them to understand, how great the comfort was that they received from their last communication with them. But yet as they themselves did not desire to be soothed or flattered in any of their faults, so they could not without breach of charity conceal what they had found culpable and amiss in them; namely, that they gave way too much to their infirmities, since that after they had known the truth, they notwithstanding frequented popish temples, being present at those idolatries which they condemned, thereby basely profaning and polluting themselves: saying, that it is not only our duty to believe with the heart, but that we must likewise make confession with our mouth to salvation. They likewise told them of another fault they had taken notice of; that they were too solicitous about heaping up riches; for although their end and design might be good and just, namely, to support and comfort each other in the time of persecution; yet because every day is attended with troubles and afflictions enough of its own, and because such cares and solicitudes do not become those whose business it is only to look before them, and to lay up treasure in heaven, they condemned what appeared as excess in them, and in which at length they would be in danger to place their chief hopes and confidence.
The Waldenses of Austria returned them hearty thanks, entreating them to continue this holy love and affection towards them, assuring them that they for their parts were ready to do what in them lay to further and promote their correspondence, and to appoint a time and place of meeting, in order to a mutual conference. 3 For although they had for a long time been sensible of those faults and defects, which they had taken notice of, yet it had not as yet laid in their power to remedy the same, but they were in hopes that being met together, they might enter upon better and more efficacious resolutions, and also confer about several other matters of the last importance and concern. Now when they were just upon the point of sending to the place, which they had appointed for their meeting, they began to fear that the business might be detected and discovered, and so might be of dangerous consequence to them all. Besides all that, they considered with themselves, that they had already been supported under many difficulties; notwithstanding their faith and assemblies were sufficiently known to the world, and that therefore they would run themselves into extreme peril and danger, if they should unite themselves to other people. These considerations put a stop to their former purposes and designs of a mutual correspondence; as also that in the year following, in the year 1468, the persecution increased against the Waldenses of Austria, for a great number of them were burnt at Vienna. Among others, history gives us an account of Stephen, an elderly man, who being burnt there, confirmed many by his constancy. They that could escape this persecution, retired into the country of Brandenburg, where they did not tarry long, being there also exposed to fire and sword. Among those, there was Tertor, who fled into Bohemia, where he joined himself to the churches of the Hussites, and finding that a man might live there in peace and security both of person and conscience, he returned into his country, and persuaded many to go and dwell in Bohemia, who met there with a very kind and friendly entertainment; and since that time, there have been no particular assemblies of the Waldenses, but they have united themselves to the churches of the Hussites.
CHAPTER - 11
The Waldenses residing in Germany, and the persecutions which they there underwent.
NOTHWITHSTANDING, that immediately after the arrival of Peter Waldo and his followers into Germany, there was so great and cruel a persecution raised along the Rhine, by the incitement and instigation of the bishops of Mayence and Strasburg, that eighteen were burnt in one day, and in the same fire; yet we find 1 that in the reign of Frederick II. about the year 1213, Germany, and particularly Alsatia, was full of the Waldenses. They searched after them with that diligence and strictness, that they were constrained to disperse themselves into other parts, to escape the fury of the persecution. This flight proved very beneficial to the church, because many learned preachers were hereby dispersed abroad to divulge and make known the purity of their religion to the world. In the year 1230, Conrad de Marpurg, was made superintendent of the inquisition by the pope. He exercised this office with extreme cruelty against all sorts of persons, without any respect even of the priests themselves, whose bodies he punished, and confiscated their goods. 3 He used to try men with a hot iron, saying, that they who could hold a red hot iron in their hands, and not be burnt, were good christians, but if on the contrary they felt the fire, he delivered them up to the, secular power. 4 The Waldenses had at that time a considerable number of schools, wherein they caused their children to be instructed in their faith; and notwithstanding all the persecutions and inquisitions executed upon their flocks, yet they ventured to preach, calling their congregations together by the sound of a bell, maintaining and affirming in publica statione, that is, openly and publicly before all the world, saith the historian, that the pope was a heretic, his prelates simoniacs, and seducers of the people; that the truth was no where preached but amongst them; and that if they had not come to preach amongst them, God, rather than he would have suffered the faith to perish, and be banished out of the world, would have raised up others out of the very stones themselves, to instruct and enlighten his church by the true preaching of the gospel. Hitherto, said they, your preachers have buried and concealed the truth, and published falsehood; we, on the contrary, preach the truth, and bury falsehood and lies. In short, we do not give a false and fictitious remission, invented and ordained by the pope, but by God himself, and according to our vocation and ministry. It is observed by Matthew Paris, an English historiographer, that about the year 1230, a great number of them took up arms in Germany, where they were cut to pieces, being surprised in a place very disadvantageous to them, being bounded on the one side with a marsh and on the other with the sea, so that it was impossible for them to make their escape. About the year also 1330, they were grievously harassed and oppressed in several other places of Germany, by Echard, a Jacobin monk, the inquisitor. But after many cruelties practiced against them, as he urged the Waldenses to discover to him the cause and reasons of their separation from the church of Rome; being convinced in conscience, that they charged it with several errors and corruptions of which it was really guilty, and not being able to disprove the articles of their faith by the word of God, he gave glory to God, and confessing that the truth had gained the victory, he entered into communion with the Waldensian churches, which he had for a long time persecuted and punished with death. The other inquisitors being advertised of that alteration, were highly incensed thereat, and sent so many persons in pursuit after him, that he was at length taken and carried to Heidelberg, where he was burnt, maintaining and affirming that it was a notorious piece of injustice to put so many innocent and righteous persons to death, for adhering to the righteousness of Christ in opposition to the forgeries and inventions of antichrist. In the year 1391, the monks inquisitors apprehended four hundred and forty-three Waldenses in Saxony and Pomerania, who confessed that they had for a long time been instructed in their faith and religion by their ancestors, and that their teachers came from Bohemia. In the year 1457, the monks inquisitors of the diocese of Eistein in Germany discovered and apprehended several Waldenses, whom they put to death. They had twelve barbes or ministers amongst them, who instructed them.
We must not pass by the thirty-five citizens of Mayence, who were burnt at Binge, because they were known to be professors of the faith of the Waldenses: nor those fifty whom the bishop of Strasburg caused to be burnt in the same fire; nor the report of Trithemius, that they confessed that in those days the Waldenses were so numerous, that in traveling from Cologne to Milan, they might take up their inns with hosts of their own profession, and that the signs and gates were marked with certain tokens whereby they might be distinguished.
The most excellent instrument among them in God’s hands, was Raynard Lollard, who was at first a Franciscan monk, and an enemy to the Waldenses. But he was a person inspired with holy zeal and a desire to find out the true way to salvation, wherein he made such a progress, that the enemies themselves were forced to commend him. John le Maire ranks him in the number of those holy persons, who foretold by Divine revelation, several things which came to pass in his time. That worthy man teaching the doctrine of the Waldenses, was taken by the monks inquisitors in Germany, and being delivered up to the secular power was burnt at Cologne. This person wrote a commentary upon the Revelations, wherein he observed that several things were spoken therein with reference to the antichrist of Rome. From him the faithful were called Lollards in England, where he used to teach. Witness that tower in London, which is at present called by his name, Lollard’s tower, where the faithful wore wont to be confined and imprisoned. 10
CHAPTER - 12
The Waldenses who were persecuted in England.
ENGLAND was one of the first places which was honored with the reception of the gospel. For a little after the departure of Waldo from Lyons, many there were condemned to death as Waldenses, about eleven years after the dispersion of the Waldenses from the city of Lyons. Waldo departed from Lyons in the year 1163, and Matthew Paris 1 observes, that the monks inquisitors caused the Waldenses to be burnt in England in the year 1175. John Basse makes mention of a person who was burnt at London in the year 1210, for no other reason but because he was tainted with the faith of the Waldenses. 2 Thomas Walden, an Englishman, hath written that in the reign of Henry II. king of England, the Waldenses were grievously and cruelly persecuted, and that they were called Publicans. As to those against whom they could prove nothing worthy of death, they branded them in the forehead with a red hot key, that every body might know them. The faith of the Waldenses was much more public and notorious during the wars against the Albigenses, because as the Sieur de la Popeliniere hath well observed, the proximity or nearness of the territories of the earl Remond of Thoulouse to Guienne, then in possession of the English, and the alliance to the king of England, who was brother-in-law to earl Remond, gave the English opportunity, not only of assisting the subjects of Remond in their wars, but also to inform themselves of the faith of the Albigenses, which was the same in all respects with that of the Waldenses; and they alleged that the violence and injustice practiced against them was so great that the English were often constrained to defend them against those who invaded their lands under the color and pretence of religion. 4 Rainard Lollard, was the happy instrument whom God at that time made use of to make known to the English, by lively and powerful remonstrances and exhortations, that doctrine for which the Waldenses were put to death the said doctrine was received by Wickliff, as hath been observed in the book which treats of the original and confession of the Bohemian churches, who were thereby very much let into the knowledge of the truth. He was a very eminent divine in the University of Oxford, rector of the parish of Lutterworth, in the diocese of Lincoln, and a man of great and profound learning and eloquence. He won the hearts and esteem of several Englishmen, and of even the prime nobility of the kingdom; the duke of Lancaster, uncle to king Richard, Henry Persy, Lewis Gifford, and the chancellor, the earl of Salisbury; by whose favor the doctrine of the Waldenses or of Wickliff, took footing and became current in England until pope Gregory XI. severely persecuted the receivers of it, by means of the monks inquisitors. The flames of persecution were then raised and kindled in England for the space of several years, to put a stop to its progress and to prevent its spreading; but it was all to no purpose, for it was there held and maintained in spite of all the endeavors of antichrist to the contrary, until such times as his yoke was entirely rejected and thrown off. True it is, that the bones of Wickliff were disinterred above thirty years after his death, and condemned to be burnt, together with such books of his as his enemies could discover; but there was so vast a number of them abroad, that it was altogether impossible for his enemies wholly to deprive the church of them, for the most they endeavored to prevent the reading and knowledge of them by terrible menaces even of death itself, the more were the affections of the people moved and incited to read and peruse them with the greater fervor and urgency. It is likewise said, that a certain scholar having carried one of Wickliff’s books into Bohemia, entitled the Universals, and communicated it to John Hues, he attained thereby to such a degree of knowledge and wisdom, that he became the admiration of all Bohemia, and very much edified those who with himself readily forsook the church of Rome. Which occasioned the Hussites to say 5 that Wickliff did at first awaken their John Huss. Wickliff wrote above a hundred volumes against antichrist, or the church of Rome; the catalogue of which we find in the book of the description of famous men, who have resisted and opposed antichrist and his errors.
CHAPTER - 13
Waldenses fled into Flanders, and there were persecuted.
AFTER the great persecution raised against the Waldenses in the time of Philip le Bel, the historians make mention of their retreat into Flanders, where he pursued them, and caused a great many of them to be burnt. And because they were constrained to fly into the woods, to escape the fury of their persecutors, they were called tarlupins, that is, inhabitors with wolves.
Matthew Paris says, that one Robert Bougre, a Jacobin monk, did formerly live amongst the Waldenses, and was a professor of their faith; but having forsaken them, he became a monk, and a most violent persecutor, so that he caused several of them to be burnt in Flanders. But when his own party and friends understood that he abused his power, and the authority of his office, laying several things to their charge of which they were not guilty, and made use of it against those who were altogether ignorant of the faith of the Waldenses, he was not only deprived of his office of inquisitor, but also imprisoned: he was likewise convicted of several crimes, for which he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment. 2
CHAPTER - 14
The Waldenses who were persecuted in Poland.
ABOUT the year of our Lord 1330, there were several persons in the kingdom of Poland, who made profession of the religion of the Waldenses.
The bishops had recourse to the means appointed by the pope, the inquisition, whereby they delivered many of them into the hands of the executioner. The author of the Catalogue of the Witnesses of the Truth tells us, that he had the forms of the inquisition lying by him, which the inquisitors made use of in this persecution. Vignier saith, that at their departure out of Picardy, several of those who were there persecuted, retired into Poland. Le Sieur de la Popeliniere tells us in his history, that the religion of the Waldenses did spread and extend itself throughout all the places of Europe, even among the Polonians and Lithuanians; and that they have ever since the year 1100, been sowing and propagating their doctrine, which was but very little different from that of the modern protestants; and that notwithstanding the efforts and endeavors of all the potentates and princes to the contrary, they have to this day stoutly and courageously maintained and defended it.
CHAPTER - 15
Several of the Waldenses were persecuted at Paris.
IN the year 1210, twenty-four Waldenses were taken at Paris, 1 of which some were imprisoned, and some burnt. There happened also during the twenty-first schism, and in the popedom of John XXII. a very severe persecution against the Waldenses throughout all France, and especially at Paris.
Also in the year 1304, the monks inquisitors appointed to search after the Waldenses, apprehended one hundred and fourteen of them at Paris, who were burnt alive, and suffered the fire with admirable constancy. We likewise find in the Sea of Histories, that in the year 1378, the persecution against the Waldenses continuing, a vast number of them were burnt in the Place de Greve in Paris. 3
CHAPTER - 16
The Waldenses dwelling in Italy, and the persecutions which they there suffered.
IN the year 1229, the Waldenses had already spread themselves in great numbers throughout all Italy. 1 They had ten schools in Valcamonica alone, and they sent money from all parts of their abode into Lombardy, for the maintenance and support of the said schools. Rainerius saith, that about the year of our Lord 1250, the Waldenses had churches in Albania, Lombardy, Milan, and in Romagna, likewise at Vincence, Florence, and Val Spoletine. 2 In the year 1280, there were a considerable number of Waldenses in Sicily, as Haillan observes in his History. In the year 1492, Albert de Capitaneis, inquisitor and archdeacon of Cremona, surprised one of the barbes or pastors of the Waldenses, named Peter de Jacob, as he was passing over a mountain in Dauphiny, called le Colossians de Costeplane, in his journey from Pragela, into the valley of Fraissinieres. 4 Being demanded whence he came, he replied, that he came from the Waldensian churches in Italy, whither he had been to perform his duty, by fulfilling of his charge; and that he had passed by Genoa, where he told them the barbes of the Waldenses had a house of their own; which agrees with what the Sieur de Vigneaux observes in his memorials; that a barbe or pastor, named John of the valley of Lucerne, was for some misdemeanor suspended the ministry for the term of seven years, and that during the said time, he remained at Genoa, where the barbes had a house of their own, as they likewise had a very handsome one at Florence. Besides the above mentioned testimonies and proofs of the Waldenses dwelling in Italy, we have also those of Calabria. They were harassed in Italy with continual persecutions until they were entirely destroyed. The emperor Frederick II. did most severely handle and persecute them by edicts, by the inquisition, and by constitutions, especially that which condemns the Gazari, Patarens, Leonists, Speronists, Arnoldists, etc. There he laments and condoles the folly and simplicity of those whom he calls Patarens, that is, persons exposed to sufferings and misery, because they prodigally flung away their lives, being ambitious of martyrdom; whereas by quietly adhering to the faith of the church of Rome, they might, saith he, live in peace and tranquillity amongst other people, who acknowledge her to be their mother, and head over all the churches in the world. It was his pleasure, that they should be speedily and severely punished, for fear they should spread themselves further, seeing they had also begun to inhabit in Lombardy, and his kingdom of Sicily, where he ordered them to be handled with the utmost rigor and severity, that they might be banished thence, and from the world together.
Roger king of Sicily did likewise make constitutions against them, and caused them to be persecuted.
Pope Gregory IX. harassed and oppressed them with grievous persecutions. One of his legates banished them out of all the cities and countries of Italy, and commanded that their houses should be razed. 7 He likewise ordained and established two preachers in Milan, who, by the authority of the archbishop, made a search after the Waldenses, and wheresoever they could catch any of them, they made the praetor carry them where the archbishop appointed, at the public expense and charges.
Pope Honorius also most cruelly persecuted them under the name of Fratricelli, that is, Shifters: for those who were called by that name in Italy, were no other than Waldenses. In the time of Boniface VIII. they were charged with the same crimes and imputations, as the Waldenses of Dauphiny, and the primitive Christians were. The monks inquisitors ever made a strict and diligent search after them in Italy, to deliver them up to the secular power, and not satisfied with condemning the living, they also made process against the dead, disinterred their bodies, burned their bones, and confiscated their goods.
Paulus Aemilius speaks thus of the Fratricelli 8 There were, saith he, in the time of Charles le Bell, very many famous persons eminent for their courage and learning. That age did indeed flourish in learning; and some there were who were truly pious and holy; but some out of an eager and unseasonable desire to excel the rest of the world in goodness, became very wicked and impious: and others there were whose manners and institutions were dubions. As to the just and righteous, they were troubled and grieved at the wickedness of the times, but were forced to hold their peace: and as to those whom they called Fraterculi, they condemned the clergy both by word and writings, speaking against their gaudy apparel, their wealth and titles, and taught they were not becoming or agreeable to the Christian religion. Which occasioned it to be said, that they were of the religion of the Waldenses, because such was their doctrine.
Among others there was one named Herman, who being buried at Ferrata, was condemned to be disinterred twenty-eight years after his death,9 and his bones to be burnt; although he was accounted in his lifetime a righteous and holy man. Andrew likewise, and Guillaume his wife, were disinterred, and their bones burnt. 10
CHAPTER - 17
Some of the Waldenses retired into Dalmatia, Croatia, Sclavonia, Constantinople, Greece, Philadelphia, Diagonicia, Livonia, Sarmatia, Bulgaria, and there suffered persecution.
THE monk Rainerius, in his book of the form or method of proceeding against the heretics, in that catalogue that he made of the Waldenses, or poor of Lyons, observes, that in his time, in the year 1250, there were churches in Constantinople, in Philadelphia, Sclavonia, Bulgaria, and Diagonicia. Vignier takes notice, that after the persecution of Picardy, they dispersed themselves into Livonia, and Sarmatia. Matthew Paris tells us, that they had spread themselves long ago, as far as Croatia and Dalmatia, and had taken such footing there, that they had brought over several bishops to their party. He likewise says, that there was one Bartholomew, who came from Carcassone, to whom they paid all obedience; and that he styled himself in his letters Bartholomew, the servant of servants of the Holy Faith, and that he created and ordained bishops and churches. This may be forgery, because he attributes that to this person, which is attributed to the pope; that is, in styling himself the servant of servants, and yet usurpeth and exerciseth a dominion and sovereignty contrary to the institution of the Son of God, and the practice of his apostles. As also what Albertus de Capitaneis saith, that they had their great master or supreme pastor in the city of Aquila, in the kingdom of Naples, upon whom they did absolutely depend: for we find not one word in all their writings that has the least tendency to, or gives the least hint of any such matter. We only make use of the words of this historian, to show the extent of those places, whither the Waldenses had fled to avoid the fury of the persecution. Antonin relates, that the Waldenses called in Italy Fratricelli, were burnt in his time, in several parts of the world; so that several of them leaving Italy, were forced to fly into Greece; as also that one of the most eminent and notable amongst them, Lewis de Bauiere, and two monks or grey-friars, John de Chastillon, and Francis de Hercastura, were burnt for adhering to them. 4
CHAPTER - 18
The Waldenses inhabiting in Spain, and the persecutions which they there suffered.
IN the time of the wars against Remond earl of Thoulouse, and the earls of Foix and Comminge, when the Waldenses were persecuted by the pope’s legates, several of them fled into Catalonia, and the kingdom of Arragon.
This is what Matthew Paris takes notice of, saying, that in the time of pope Gregory IX. there were a great number of Waldenses in Spain; 1 and also about the year 1214, in the time of pope Alexander IV. who complains in one of his bulls, that they had suffered them to take such footing, and had given them time to increase and multiply as they had done. 2 For in the time of pope Gregory IX. they were advanced so far in number and credit, that they ordained bishops over their flocks, to preach their doctrine unto them; which coming to the knowledge of the popish bishops, they were most cruelly persecuted.
CONCLUSION OF THE HISTORY OF THE WALDENSES
BY the contents of the preceding chapters, it appears, that the Christians called Waldenses have opposed the errors and abuses of the church of Rome, and for above four hundred and fifty years were persecuted, not by the sword of the Word of God, but by all manner of violence and cruelty, in conjunction with several forgeries, calumnies, and false accusations, so that they were forced to disperse themselves wheresoever they could, wandering through wild and desert places. Yet the Lord hath so protected and preserved the residue of them, that notwithstanding the rage and fury of satan, they continued invincible against all the assaults of antichrist: whom they have challenged to spiritual combat, beating down and subduing him by the blast of God’s Spirit. Crying out with a loud voice, not only throughout all Europe, but also in other places of the earth, that it was high time to depart out of Babylon, that we might not share in, and partake of her judgments. This is the people who endeavored to set up, and re-establish the true and pure service of God by his word — a contemptible people indeed, and looked upon as the filth and scum of the world, but by whom notwithstanding the Lord has wrought many admirable and miraculous things, making them the instruments of reestablishing his church first in France, and afterwards causing the streams of Ms law and pure doctrine to issue as it were out of the new Zion, and to overflow the rest of the world, gathering together his elect by the preaching of his Holy Gospel. That which is most to be admired in this work is, that the doctrines which they have believed and taught, have been so miraculously preserved amongst them, in the midst of the grievous and continual persecutions which they have suffered for righteousness’ sake. It is also a thing worthy of our admiration, that their enemies should have kept a register of those evils and miseries which they did most unjustly make them suffer. They gloried in having shed that blood which cries to heaven for vengeance, and in having banished the church into the wilderness for a certain appointed time; and have made known by their histories, that the dragon hath done nothing more than what he was suffered to do, to make war against the Saints. 4 But being rescued and delivered from their great tribulations and afflictions, and their garments washed in the blood of the Lamb, they were conducted to living fountains of waters, and God hath wiped away all tears from their eyes. — ”He who overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Revelation, 21:7.