Espence, Claude D'

, a learned French divine, was born at Chalons-sur-Marne in 1511, of noble parents, became a doctor of the Sorbonne, and was rector of the university of Paris. He preached with considerable applause; but having in one of his sermons called the “Légende | Doreée” the “Légende Ferrée,” it was concluded that he did not believe in the worship of the saints; especially from his doubting of certain facts related by the legendary writers in the “Golden Legend,” of which he ventured to speak thus disrespectfully. The faculty of Paris was about to pass a censure on him; but he explained himself in another discourse, and the transient storm was succeeded by a calm. The cardinal de Lorraine, who was well aware of his merit, employed him in several affairs of importance. D‘Espence attended him to Flanders in 1544, for the purpose of ratifying the peace between Charles V. and Francis I. His eminence took him afterwards to Rome in 1555, where he made so conspicuous a figure, that Paul IV. would have honoured him with the purple, in order to retain him. But his intention was set aside (says fatrjer, Berthier) as being apparently contrary to the interests of France. The imperialists requested the hat for three monks; and therefore the cardinal de Lorraine, who IV voured the design of getting D’Espence into the sacred college, relinquished the idea. “I rather chose,” says he in a letter to the king, “that he should not be there, than that three monks should get in; accordingly I entreated his holiness to think no more of it, and, by that means, I kept out the whole crew.” D’Espence, liking far less to live at Rome than at Paris, returned to France, and appeared with consequence at the assembly of the states of Orleans in 1560, and at the conference of Poissy in 1561, where he attached himself to the Calvinists, which gave much offence to his popish brethren. He died of the stone at Paris, Oct. 5, 1571, in the sixtieth year of his age. He was one of the most moderate and judicious doctors of the age in which he lived, and with all his attachment to popery, was the declared enemy of all violent measures, and disapproved of persecutions. He was well versed in the sciences, both ecclesiastical and profane. His works are almost all written in Latin, with an elegance scarcely known to the theologians of that period. The principal of them are, 1. “A treatise on Clandestine Marriages;” in which he proves that the sons of distinguished families cannot validiy contract marriage, without the consent of their relations. 2. “Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus,” full of long digressions on the hierarchy and the ecclesiastical discipline. 3. Several | controversial tracts, some in Latin and others in French. Ah his Latin works were collected at Paris in 1619, folio. 1

1

Moreri.—Niceron, vols. XIII. and XX.—Clement Bibl. Curieuse.