Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Belated St. Bartholomew's Day

I know, I know. I missed St. Bartholomew’s Day. I can only blame it on in-laws visiting. St. Bartholomew’s Day is August 24th, and it is infamous because of the Massacre that occurred in 1572. That is when the Queen Mother ordered her son, King Charles 9th, to slaughter to Protestants, who were in town for a wedding. It began with a failed assassination attempt, but ended with the successful murder of 70,000 French Protestants. 10,000 in Paris alone. 500 of those killed in Paris were noblemen, a rare thing in that day and age. In addition to Admiral Coligny, of whom I have spoken before, many other died. The Marquis of Resnel, Francis Nonpar De Coumont along with one of his sons. The other lived by pretending to be dead. Baron Quellenac was slain and left naked for the ladies of the court to see. Admiral Rochefoucault was killed in his bed despite being a friend since childhood of the king. Teligny, the son-in-law of Admiral Coligny, was murdered as well. The first wave of killers came, but he was so kind to them they could not harm him, and left without doing the job. A second wave came in and cut him down before he could speak.

Yet, it is not the dead, I wish to discuss here today. It is those who got out by renouncing their religion. What do we make of them? Henry of Navarre, better known as King Henry 4th, is remembered for declaring, “Paris is worth a Mass.” But, did you know he first converted to the Roman faith on St. Bartholomew’s Day? He and his fellow noble, Conde, were taken unarmed before the King and King Charles threatened them with “The Mass or death, or the bastile.” They chose the Mass. Both would renounce their recantation. Conde spent the rest of his life fighting the Romanists. Henry of Navarre fought them briefly and then joined them. It should be remembered that he is the one that finally gave them official toleration, but he could have given them so much more. How should we judge these men? Are they cowards? Or did they act to preserve their own life in an honorable way? The Protestants in both of their houses, their chaplains, and their friends, were slain before their eyes. Many were slain in the streets before their eyes. History appears to have judged these men harshly. Yet, Thomas Cramner recanted twice before finally making it to the stake. Many English Protestants attended the Roman church of Queen Mary and readily accepted the Protestant faith back under Elizabeth, and I have seen seminary professors speak well of that group. Many people will argue that Rahab’s lie in Jericho is not sin, and herald her. Then why not these men? So the question I have is, can we accept the sin of Cramner and Rahab and still reject the Henry of Conde and of Navarre? Or must we call Rahab a liar, as well as the recanters of France?