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Did The Increasingly Radical Resistance Theories Of

The Late Sixteenth Century Have Any Effect In Pr Essay, Research Paper Calvin had a maxim that leaders were ?ordained of God? and that good leaders were therefore blessings upon a

The Late Sixteenth Century Have Any Effect In Pr Essay, Research Paper

Calvin had a maxim that leaders

were ?ordained of God? and that good leaders were therefore blessings upon a

people, whereas bad leaders were punishment for ?the wickedness of the

people?.? Calvin was aware of the

problem of inciting rebellion against Catholic princes and the repression it

might bring ? a fear confirmed by the St. Bartholomew?s Day Massacre ? but he

did reserve the right to passive disobedience, especially where staying within

the law required one to neglect or overturn a duty to God.? He also claimed that magistrates were

appointed to restrain the ?tyranny of kings? and so they had the right to rebel

and overthrow intolerable governments. Calvin?s

thesis was unclear, as it failed to set down all the practical means and

justifications for rebellion.? The

magistrates never found out who they were to obey and what they were to do.? Moreover, what one should do in

circumstances such as though during the Wars of Religion when the

superstructure of the state was hostile to Calvinism remained unclear.? Moreover, what one should do in the face of

absolute Catholic repression (as opposed to the potential and partial

repression seen in Calvin?s day) was never clarified.? In terms of theories of resistance, Calvin and Luther were of

very similar opinion.? Luther?s

pamphlet, Ravaging Hoardes, makes explicit reference to the fact that

peasant revolt was bad, and actually shared Calvin?s view of society. The most important person in

determining resistance theories through the sixteenth century was the one of

the idea?s greatest opponents. The sixteenth century?s most famous political

philosopher, Machiavelli, was a devoted Catholic and gained experience between

1498 and 1512 in the Florentine diplomatic corps. He was engaged in a variety

of roles in France, the Papal States and Germany.? Sacked by the new Medici government in 1512, Machiavelli was

writing in part at least in order to regain some influence and perhaps to win a

new appointment.? Dedicating his works

to the Medicis, Machiavelli exhorted them not just to rule Florence, but also

to restore Italy and to liberate her from the barbarians. Machiavelli was an extreme

pessimist and thought all men were prone to giving ?vent to their malignity

when opportunity offers? and he thus saw the ?princely virtues? (clemency,

liberality, honesty, honour etc.) as disadvantages when dealing with more

pragmatic people.?? In his view, a

prince had licence to ?act in defiance of good faith, of charity, of kindness

and of religion? in order to ?maintain his state.?? In essence, Machiavelli thought that in pursuit of national

objectives, Christian virtues should be discarded.? ??????????? Although The

Prince and The Discourses were unpublished until after his death,

these books circulated widely and within a generation of his death in 1527, he

had been universally attacked by Catholics and Protestants.? It is perhaps unsurprising that in the

aftermath of the Medici St. Bartholomew?s Day Massacre that Calvinists should

begin to see Machiavelli and the ?murderous Machiavel? Medicis, to whom

Machiavelli wrote his adivce, as atheist tyrants set on destroying them.? The perceived effect of Machiavelli?s

writings on Catherine de Medici, whether conscious or not, seem to have spurred

many Calvinist writers to begin to endorse theories of resistance designed to

protect themselves from extinction threatened by Machiavellian Catholic rulers

willing to savagely butcher, murder and destroy their subjects without

qualm.? It is the effectiveness of these

theories and their Lutheran and Catholic counterparts, written with the

specific purpose of raking back the tide of supposed Unchristian tyranny against

minorities that this essay will attempt to gauge. This era?s Zeitgeist is

a difficult one to trap for the non elite members of society.? Without the self confidence of a

constitutionally protected bourgeois class and without the guarantees of the

modern Rechtstaat, the consequences for social disorder and uproar were

very grave.? The strict oligarchy of the

time was harsh and could make the life of any resistant party nasty, brutish

and short without qualms, legal interference or backlash.? Meanwhile, the lack of modern

communicational media made the possibility of raising a force capable of making

any sustained or organised force difficult.?

Such simple brakes on any potential resistance movements or reactions

must be borne in mind when considering the question, as it would be unfair to

judge the power of authors over their audiences if we bear a modern view of

social fluidity and mobility. After the St. Bartholomew?s Day

massacre, Gentillet argued that the Medici influence on France had unleashed

the horrors of the massacre, a massacre of Machiavellian characteristics,

occurring during a time of supposed cross-denominational peace and

reconciliation upon a protestant population that had come to Paris in order to

celebrate in peace.? Gentillet spoke of

the peaceful nature of Protestants, who prayed for the conversion of other

peoples, and of the need for a peaceful co-existance, reiterating Calvin?s

belief in the need for compliance with the dominant and strengthening Catholic

forces.? However, Gentillet was the

first in the line of Calvinist writers whose ferocity would increase with

time.? The events of 1572 made the

Calvinists realise the need for a more effective means of dealing with

repression.? The result was ?monarchomach?

writers who condoned varying levels of resistance.? Francois Hotman?s Francogallia (1573), Theodore Beza?s The

Right of Magistrates (1574) and Philippe du Plessis-Mornay?s The Defence

of Liberty against the Tyrants (1579) being the most famous and typical

examples of such work. Francogallia was actually

written by 1568, and was approved by the Genevan Council who had not seen the

dedication; a passage attacking Louis XI, who was accused of being a usurper

amongst other things.? Hotman claimed

that the Estates Generales had the power to usurp, appoint and depose kings and

that the Estates Generales assent should be obtained before any decisions

affecting the whole Commonweal were made. Beza went further than Hotman,

claiming that the Estates Generales had the responsibilities as described by

Hotman, but he also claimed that in the event of the Estates Generales being

rendered impotent by kingly oppression, that magistrates should convene and

?press for a convocation of the estates? whilst ?defending themselves from

tyranny?.? The ?magistrates? were

defined as being local governors, the nobility generally and people of any

authority.? These people, he argued,

should not be seen as rebels if they acted against their king, but as people

merely performing their sworn duty to their God and Country.? It is unsurprising that this document, which

was rendered unpublishable by the Genevan council (fearing a public backlash),

was banned. The Defence of Liberty

against Tyrants was even more extreme.?

Whereas the others had seen the king as anointed leader in whom trust

must be placed, in return for which one could expect just kingship, du

Plessis-Mornay saw obedience as conditional on the king?s religion, behaviour

and general morality.? Private

individuals had no power to act, but the magistrates were told to act to the

extent of their power to remove such a figure.?

The book includes a phrase condemning the tyrannicidal as ?seditious, no

matter how just their cause may be? although he does admit the need for people

to act with an ?extraordinary calling.? Less orthodox were the writings

by such writers as the Scot George Buchanan.?

In The Right of the Kingdom of Scotland, he claims that the right

to remove tyrants lay with the ?whole body of people? and that ?every

individual citizen? had a compulsion to act appropriately.? A correspondent of Du Plessis-Mornay and

Beza, Buchanan differed on this vital issue.?

Huguenot writers flirted with the idea of open resistance (something

from which even the tyrannicidal Scot Buchanan shied away) but never really seemed

to bring themselves to condone it. Beza?s reaction to Henri of

Navarre?s claim to the French throne was to re-edit his works in favour of

condoning the absolutism of the monarch and diminishing the power of the

Estates Generales, but upon Henri?s conversion, returned to his original theses.? He did write specifically to call upon the

Huguenots to support the new king despite his ?major fault? (Catholicism).? The reaction to the Dutch

Revolt was to find its mouth in the German Johannes Althusius and the Dutchman

Hugo Grotius.? These uncontroversial

republican Protestants saw absolutism as ?wicked and prohibited? and condoned

the Estates Generales as the true method of government.? The Conciliar movement valued the German

constitution for its control of the Emperor through the electors.? Although the writers? vision of the Empire

was a vision of what they wanted it to be and not what it was, it also

contained a warning not to rebel against appointed leaders as otherwise nations

would become ?multitudes without a union.? Before the coronation and

conversion of Henri IV, Catholic resistance theories emerged as they saw the

emergence of a very real Protestant contender to the throne.? Louis d?Orleans firstly attacked the Francogallia

and Jean Boucher and Guillaume Rose proceeded to justify tyrannicide

unconditionally when ?a private individual? could aid ?a whole

commonweal?.? The Jesuit adherence to

the doctrine of tyrannicide was exemplified in such treatises as Juan de

Mariana?s The King and the Education of the King (1599).? Henri II?s assassination was seen as ?a

detestable spectacle? but was seen to serve as a warning to kings that their

crimes would not go unpunished, and even went as far as to claim that Jacques

Clement?s assassinating the King was ?an eternal honour to France.?? It is for such flagrant disregard for

political tact that the Jesuits were ejected from France in 1594 for seven

years. Meanwhile, the Scots Catholic

William Barclay expressed a more conventional position that the divinely

appointed leaders of nations could not be judged by human laws, and therefore

tyrannicide became merely regicide. Antonia Fraser sees the

importance of the Catholic justification for tyrannicide as massively important

for such figures as the Gunpowder plotters.?

Educated men, making a sophisticated bid to destroy the Protestant order

under the shield of what she refers to (confusingly) as ?double justification?.

This massive (probably government backed) plot to kill not only the King but

also the Protestant lords of England and if we are to believe its provenance as

a real letter from the Plotters, Monteagle?s letter shows a tremendous effort

to avoid killing Catholics, which would simply be an example the mortal sin of

homicide. Predictably, the effect of the

resistance theories is greater, the more educated the proponents and executors

of resistance were.? The Gunpowder

plotters needed double justification, and (apparently) took pains not to

kill the righteous, despite the predictable results of their widening the

circle of cognoscenti.? The highbrow ideas were

commuted in print and the lack of approval from the Genevan Council for openly

hostile ideas meant that theories propagated in churches from the pulpit and in

popular culture were more important in encouraging resistance than intellectual

theories, although these may have been required for the clerics and the

educated to accept such ideas.? As such, the rebellions of the

illiterate must be looked at in isolation.?

In 1562, the Bishop of Nimes encouraged Catholic children to murder

Protestant children ?following the Lord?s word, that his power would be most

clearly manifested by innocent persons.??

Such murders were not reciprocated because of a lack of familial and

popular support for such retribution.?

That such crimes could be committed is due in part to a transcontinental

hysteria about the imminence of apocalypse.?

Astrological predictions such as those by Michel Nostradamus were common

currency, and the phenomenon of Nostradamus? accuracy in predicting the Wars of

Religion, accompanied by his (and his colleagues?) assertions that

Protestantism would destroy Catholicism led to a determination to pull out

Protestantism root and branch.? To kill

Admiral Coligny was not a theologically sound case of tyrannicide, but in fact

just murder.? A Catholic riot in

Toulouse in 1563 was attributed a prediction of Nostradamus that the town would

fall to heretics the next day.? Low

level revolts were more commonly dictated by baser ideas of astrology and

vitriol distributed in pamphlet form across Europe than the theories of

resistance. More important still to the

heart and mind of every peasant were, predictably enough, resources such as

food.? Peasants, regardless of religion,

rebelled when taxed too hard.? The

French system of exacting tribute from the tenants of the gentry and the

exacting of tribute by the gentry from the peasantry led to frequent revolts,

as an increase in either imposition could lead to a regional poverty crisis

that would be uncontrollable by any one of the two taxing parties.? In 1548, 1589, 1590, 1591, 1594 and 1595,

there were major rebellions, some taking place in Protestant areas, some in the

predominately Catholic regions. In Sweden, where the tax

collection was centralised and where such instances did not occur, there was

much lower incidence of peasant rebellion.?

Although there was a revolt in 1542, a revolt linked to the reform of

the Swedish church as the peasantry wanted a return to the Orders they knew and

the ceremonies to which they were accustomed, it was mostly about the increased

tax burden.? In Muscovy, the risings of

1603 and 1606 to 1607 were a result of the introduction of serfdom and

coincidental famines. The German Peasants? War can be

attributed to the ?Poor Conrad? movement, rebellions concerning the work

tribute system in Inner Austria and the Bundschuh movement. Although such instances as the

Moriscos? Revolt show a propensity to rebel on religious grounds, there are

very few examples of low level revolt with a non tax based causation before

1626 when the Austrian Lutherans were either told to leave the country and face

heavy penalties or to convert swiftly.?

Although the billeting of Bavarian troops on the people was the

touchpaper that won peasant support for the rebellion, the religious aspect was

vital, as Wiellinger, Fadiger and Zeller, all educated men, led a peasants?

revolt against the Catholic oppression.?

It should be noted that these men acted precisely as was suggested in

the tracts.? Wiellinger, the official,

sent a list of demands for clemency and freedom of conscience to Ferdinand II,

promising obedience.? Although they did

turn to arms once the Bavarians billeted on them turned upon them, they did so

only as a last resort.? The armed

uprisings of 1632 and 1636 were purely labourers? revolts and thus turned

straight to arms, but without the cohesion, organisation or focus of the events

of 1626 as they lacked middle classed peasant support. It would seem that the theories

of resistance were important for people to whom they were communicable, in that

the Gunpowder Plotters and the Austrian rebels found theological support for

their actions in the theories of resistance, but that they never inspired

revolts and merely dictated their conduct.?

Events such as the murder of Coligny and the massacring of children had

no theological basis, but were enacted in any case.

3cf

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