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1119 [1119]

K. Henry. 8. The historye of Merindoll and Cabriers.

MarginaliaThe Popes army setteth forward toward Merindoll.by this meanes, thorow the authoritie of the sayd Court, the drumme was sounded thorowout all Prouince, the Captaines were prepared with their Ensignes displaid, and a great number of footemen and horsemen, began to set forward and marched out of the towne of Aix, in order of battell, well horsed and furnished agaynst Merindoll, to execute the Arrest. The inhabitantes of Merindoll beyng aduertised hereof, and seyng nothyng but present death to be at hand, with great lamentation, commended them selues and their cause vnto God by prayer, makyng them selues ready to bee murdered and slayne as shepe led vnto the butchery. Whiles they were in this greuous distresse, pitiously mournyng and lamentyng together, the father with the sonne, the daughter with the mother, the wife with þe husband, sodeinly there was newes brought vnto thē, MarginaliaThe army agayne retyred by the meanes of the Lord of Alenc.þt the armie was retired, & no mā knew at that time, how or by what meanes: notwithstanding afterward it was knowen, that the Lord of Alenc, a wise mā and learned in the Scriptures and in the Ciuill law, being moued with great zeale and loue of iustice, declared vnto the Presidēt Chassanee, that he ought not so to procede agaynst the inhabitantes of Merindoll, by way of force of armes, contrarye to all forme and order of iustice, without iudgement or condemnation, or without makyng any difference betwene the giltie and the vngiltie. 

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In this encounter, Jacques Reynaud, sieur d'Aillens reminded Bartholomé Chassanée, premier president of the Parlement of Aix-en-Provence that the protestants were just as entitled to legal representation as the rats which Chassenée had stood counsel for in 1521. The affair was recounted by Chassanée in his famous, and beautifully-illustrated Catalogue gloriae mundi, printed at Lyon in 1528. It was a well-publicised case which somewhat made his legal reputation. The possibility for prosecuting animals had long existed in France, especially before ecclesiastical courts. The rats were accused of stealing the grain of the bishop of Autun ('Authun') and were likely to be excommunicated. Chassanée successfully defended them on the grounds that their failure to appear before the court was because the summons had only been issued to some of the rats of the diocese, whereas (in reality) all of them were implicated in the affair. The court decided that the summons had to be reformulated. When they failed to appear a second time, Chassanée argued that his clients could not attend the court because they were otherwise engaged in the preparation of a great migration. In the final hearing, he pleaded that the rats were in fear of their lives and the courtroom was not a safe place for them. They legitimately could not be expected to attend the hearing. The case was postponed sine die. Chassanée went on to produce a learned treatise dealing with all aspects of the legal prosecution and defence of animals (Consilium primum….de excommunicatione animalium, insectorum (1531). The bailliage ('bailiwyke') of 'Laussois' is 'l'Auxois', the country around Auxerre in Burgundy.

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And furthermore he sayd, I desire you my Lord President, call to remēbraunce the counsell whiche you haue written in your booke, entituled Catalogus gloriæ mundi, in the whiche booke you haue intreated and brought forth the processes whiche were holden agaynst the Rats, by the officers of the Court and iurisdiction of the Byshop of Authun. MarginaliaA story of excōmunicatyng the Rattes for eatyng vp the corne.For as it happened, there was almost throughout all the bailiwyke of Laussois, such a great number of Rats, that they destroyed and deuoured all the corne of the countrey. Whereupon they tooke counsell to send vnto the Byshop of Authuns Officiall, for to haue the Rats excommunicate. Wherupon it was ordeined and decreed by the sayd Officiall, after hee had heard the playntife of the Procurator fiscal, that before he would procede to excommunication, they should haue admonition and warnyng, accordyng to the order of iustice. For this cause it was ordeined, that by the sound of a trompet, and open proclamation made throughout all the stretes of the towne of Authun, the Rattes should be cited to appeare within iij. dayes: and if they did not appeare, then to procede agaynst them.

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The thre dayes were passed, and the Procurator came into the Court agaynst the Rats, and for lacke of appearaunce, obteined default: by vertue whereof he required that they would procede to the excommunication. Wherupon it was iudicially acknowleged, that the sayd Rats beyng absent, should haue their Aduocate appoynted them to here their defence, for somuch as the questiō was for the whole destruction & banishyng of the sayd Rats. MarginaliaThe Presidēt Chaßanee chosē Aduocat for the Rats.And you my Lorde President, beyng at that tyme, the kynges Aduocate at Authun, were then chosen to bee the Aduocate to defende the Rats. And hauing taken the charge vpon you in pleadyng the matter, it was by you there declared, þt the citation was of no effect, for certaine causes and reasons by you there alleged. Then was it decreed that the sayd Rats should bee once agayne cited throughout the Parishes where as they were. Then, after the citations were duely serued, the Procurator came agayne into the Court as before, and there it was alleaged by you, my Lord Presidēt, how that the terme of appearaunce geuen vnto þe Rats, was to short, & that there were so many Cats in euery towne and village as they should passe thorow, that they had iust cause to be absent.

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MarginaliaThe perswasiō of the Lord of Alenc. to Chassane, to returne his army from Merindoll.Wherfore my Lord Presidēt, you ought not so lightly to procede agaynst these poore men, but you ought to looke vppon the holy Scriptures, and there you shall finde how you ought to procede in this matter: and you my Lord, haue alleged many places of the Scripture cōcernyng the same, as appeareth more at large in your sayd booke, and by this plea of a matter whiche semeth to be but of small importaunce, you haue obtayned great fame and honour, for the vpright declaration of the maner and forme, howe iudges ought grauely to procede in criminall causes. Then my Lord President, you whiche haue taught others, will you not also learne by your owne bookes? the which will manifestly condemne you, if you procede any further, to the destructiō of these poore mē of Merindoll. For are not they Christiā mē? and ought you not as well to minister right and iustice vnto them, as you haue done vnto the Rattes? By these and such lyke demonstrations, the President was persuaded, and immediatly called backe his cōmission which he had ge-uē out, & caused þe army to retire, the which was already come nere vnto Merindoll, euē within one myle & a halfe.

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Then the Merindolians vnderstandyng that the army was retired, gaue thankes vnto God, cōfortyng one an other, with admonitiō & exhortatiō, alwayes to haue the feare of God before their eyes, to be obedient vnto his holy commaundementes, subiect to his most holy will, MarginaliaThe Lords prouidence for the Merindoliansand euery man to submit him selfe vnto his prouidence, paciently attendyng and lookyng for the hope of the blessed, that is to say, the true lyfe and the euerlastyng riches, hauyng alwayes before their eyes for example, our Lord Iesu Christ, the very sonne of God, who hath entred into his glory by many tribulations. Thus the Merindolians prepared them selues to endure and abyde all the afflictions, that it should please God to lay vpon thē: and such was their aunswere to all those that either pitied or els sought their destruction. Wherupon the brute & noyse was so great, as well of the Arrest, as of the enterprise of the execution, and also of the patience and constancie of the Merindolians, that it was not hyddē or kept secrete, from kyng Fraunces, a king of noble courage, and great iudgement: MarginaliaFraunces the french king sendeth Mounsieur Langeay, to inquire better of the Merindolians.Who gaue commaundement 

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This passage follows closely Crespin (Crespin/Benoist, 1, p. 392-4 - i.e, Crespin [1560], fol 100A-101B and Pantaleon, fols 125-116. In December 1540, the French king François I ordered the arrêt of the Parlement of Aix-en-Provence to be carried out, rejecting a last-minute appeal for clemency. Shortly afterwards, Guillaume du Bellay, sieur de Langey ('Longeay'), lieutenant du roi in Piedmont, was despatched by the royal council to investigate the claims of the Vaudois and he reported favourably on their monarchical loyalties, leading to a conditional royal pardon for the Vaudois at Mérindol provided that they abjured within three months.

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vnto the noble and vertuous Lord, Mounsieur de Langeay, which then was his Lieutenaūt in Thurin, a Citie in Piemont, that he should diligētly enquire and searche out the truth of all this matter. Wherupon the sayd Mounsieur de Langeay, sent into Prouince, ij. men of fame and estimation, geuyng them in charge, to bryng vnto hym the copie of the Arrest, and diligentlye to enquire out all that followed and ensued therupon: and likewise to make diligent inquisition of the lyfe and maners of the said Merindolians and others, whiche were persecuted in the countrey of Prouince.

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These deputies brought the copie of the Arrest, and of all that happened thereupon, vnto the sayd Mounsieur de Langeay, declaryng vnto him the great iniuries, polings, extorcions, exactions, tyrannies, and cruelties, whiche the iudges, as well secular as Ecclesiasticall, vsed against them of Merindoll and others. MarginaliaA testimonye in the commendacion of the MerindoliansAs touchyng the behauiour and disposition of those which were persecuted, they reported that the most part of the men of Prouince affirmed thē to be men geuen to great labour & trauaile, and that about 200. yeares passed (as it is reported) they came out of the countrey of Piemont to dwell in Prouince, and tooke to tillage and to inhabite, many hamlets and villages destroyed by the warres, & other desert and wast places: whiche they had so well occupied, that now there was great store of wynes, oyles, hony, and cattell, wherwith straungers were greatly relieued and holpen. Besides that, before they came into the countrey to dwell, the place of Merindoll, was taxed but at foure crownes, which before the last destruction, payed yearely vnto the Lord for taxes and tallages, aboue 350. crownes, besyde other charges.

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The like was also reported of Lormarin, and diuers other places of Prouince, where as there was nothyng but robberie before they came to inhabite there, so that none could passe that way, but in great daunger. Moreouer, they of the countrey of Prouince, affirmed that the inhabitauntes of Merindoll and the other that were persecuted: MarginaliaThe godly conuersation of the Merindolians.were peaceable & quiet people, beloued of all their neighbours, men of good behauiour, constant in kepyng of their promise, and paying of their debtes, with out trauersing or pleadyng of the law. That they were also charitable men, geuyng of almes, releuyng the poore, and suffred none amongest them to lacke or bee in necessitie. Also they gaue almes to straungers, & to þe poore passengers, harbouring norishing & helping thē in all their necessities, according to their power. Moreouer, þt they wer knowen by this, throughout all the coūtrey of Prouince, that they woulde not sweare, nor name þe deuill, or easlye be brought to take an othe, except it were in iudgement, or makyng some solemne couenaunt. They were also knowē by this, that they could neuer be moued nor prouoked to talke of any dishonest matters, but in what cōpany so euer they came, where they heard any wanton talke, swearyng, or blasphemye, to the dishonor of God, they streight way departed out of that cōpany. Also they sayd þt they neuer saw thē go vnto their busines, but first they made their prayers. The sayd people of Prouince furthermore affirmed, that when they came to any faires or markets, or came to their Cities by any occasion, they neuer, in a maner, were seene in their Churches: and if they were, when they prayed, they turned away their faces from the Images, and neither offered candels to them, nor kissed their feete. Neither would they worshyp

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