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History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
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§ 93. The State of Geneva after the expulsion of the Reformers.


I. The correspondence in Opera, vols. X. and XI., and Herminjard, Vols. V., VI., and VII.—Annal. Calv, XXI. 235–282.—The Chronicles of Roset and Bonivard; the histories of Spon, Gaberel, Roget, etc.

II. Henry, I. ch. XIX.—Stähelin, I. 283–299.—Dyer, 113–123.—Kampschulte, I. 342 sqq.—Merle D’Aubigné, bk. XI. chs. XVIII. (vol. VI. 610 sqq.) and XIX. (vol. VII. 1 sqq.).

C. A. Cornelius (Cath.): Die Rückkehr Calvins nach Genf. München, 1889. Continuation of his essay, Die Verbannung Calvins aus Genf. München, 1886. Both in the Transactions of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.


The answer to Sadolet was one of the means of saving Geneva from the grasp of popery, and endearing Calvin to the friends of freedom. But there were other causes which demanded his recall. Internal disturbances followed his expulsion, and brought the little republic to the brink of ruin.

Calvin was right in predicting a short régime to his enemies. In less than a year they were demoralized and split up into factions. In the place of the expelled Reformers, two native preachers and two from Bern were elected on the basis of the Bernese customs, but they were below mediocrity, and not fit for the crisis. The supremacy of the State was guarded. Foreigners who could not show a good practical reason for their residence were banished; among them, even Saunier and Cordier, the rectors of the schools who faithfully adhered to the Reformers.

There were three main parties in Geneva, with subdivisions.

1. The government party was controlled by the syndics of 1538 and other enemies of the Reformers. They were called Articulants or, by a popular nickname, Artichauds,605605    Dyer, p. 113, miscalls them Artichokes, because, as he fancies, they took "this plant for their device." from the twenty-one articles of a treaty with Bern, which had been negotiated and signed by three counsellors and deputies of the city—Ami de Chapeaurouge, Jean Lullin, and Monathon. The government subjected the Church to the State, and was protected by Bern, but unable to maintain order. Tumults and riots multiplied in the streets; the schools were ruined by the expulsion of the best teachers; the pulpit lost its power; the new preachers became objects of contempt or pity; pastoral care was neglected; vice and immorality increased; the old licentiousness and frivolities, dancing, gambling, drunkenness, masquerades, indecent songs, adulteries, reappeared; persons went naked through the streets to the sound of drums and fifes.

Moreover, the treaty with Bern, when it became known, was very unpopular because it conceded to Bern the rights of sovereignty. The Council of Two Hundred would not submit to it because it sacrificed their liberties and good customs. But the judges of Bern decided that the Genevese must sign the treaty and pay the costs. This created a great commotion. The people cried "treason," and demanded the arrest of the three deputies who had been outwitted by the diplomacy of Bern, but they made their escape; whereupon they were condemned to death as forgers and rebels. The discontent extended to the pastors who had been elected in the place of Farel and Calvin.

Within two years after the banishment of the Reformers, the four syndics who had decreed it came to grief. Jean Philippe, the captain-general of the city and most influential leader of the Artichauds, but a man of violent passions, was beheaded for homicide, and as a mover of sedition, June 10, 1540. Two others, Chapeaurouge and Lullin, were condemned to death as forgers and rebels; the fourth, Richardet, died in consequence of an injury which he received in the attempt to escape justice. Such a series of misfortunes was considered a nemesis of Providence, and gave the death-blow to the anti-reform party.

2. The party of the Roman Catholics raised its head after the expulsion of the Reformers, and received for a short time great encouragement from the banished bishop Pierre de la Baume, whom Paul III. had made a cardinal, and from the Letter of Cardinal Sadolet. A number of priests and monks returned from France and Savoy, but the Answer of Calvin destroyed all the hopes and prospects of the Romanists, and the government showed them no favor.

3. The third party was friendly to the Reformers. It reaped all the benefit of the blunders and misfortunes of the other two parties, and turned them to the best account. Its members were called by their opponents Guillermains, after Master Guillaume (Farel). They were led by Perrin, Porral, Pertemps, and Sept. They were united, most active, and had a definite end in view—the restoration of the Reformation. They kept up a correspondence with the banished Reformers, especially with Farel in Neuchâtel, who counselled and encouraged them. They were suspected of French sympathies and want of patriotism, but retorted by charging the government with subserviency to Bern. They were inclined to extreme measures. Calvin exhorted them to be patient, moderate, and forgiving.

As the Artichauds declined, the Guillermains increased in power over the people. The vacant posts of the late syndics were filled from their ranks. The new magistrates assumed a bold tone of independence towards Bern, and insisted on the old franchises of Geneva. It is curious that they were encouraged by a letter of the Emperor Charles V., who thus unwittingly aided the cause of Calvin.606606    "Es macht einen eigenthümlichen Eindruck," says Kampschulte (I. 365), "Karl V. hier für den Sieg eines Mannes mithätig zu sehen, dessen Wirksamkeit, wie kaum eine andere, dazu beigetragen hat, die Grundlagen seiner Macht zu untergraben."

The way was now prepared for the recall of Calvin. The best people of Geneva looked to him as the saviour of their city. His name meant order, peace, reform in Church and State.

Even the Artichauds, overpowered by public opinion, proposed in a general assembly of citizens, June 17, 1540, the resolution to restore the former status, and spoke loudly against popery. Two of the new preachers, Marcourt and Morland, resigned Aug. 10, and returned to Bern. The other two, Henri de la Mare and Jacques Bernard, humbly besought the favor of Calvin, and begged him to return. A remarkable tribute from his rivals and enemies.607607    Bernard wrote a letter to Calvin, Feb. 6, 1541 (Herminjard, VII. 23), in which he says: "Veni ergo, venerande mi pater in Christo: noster es perfecto. Te enim nobis donavit Dominus Deus. Suspirant etiam post te omnes …Faxit Dominus Jesus, ut velox adventus tuus sit ad nos! Vale, ecclesiaeque digneris succurrere nostrae. Alioqui requiret de manu tua sanguinem nostrum Dominus Deus. Dedit enim te speculatorem domui Israel quae apud nos est." Calvin answered, March 1, 1541, that he was very reluctant to return to Geneva, but would obey the voice of the Church. Herminjard, VII. 38-40.



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