Berquin, Lewis De

, a gentleman of Artois, and a man of great learning, was burnt for being a Protestant, at Paris, 1529. He was lord of a village, whence he took his name, and for some time made a considerable figure at the court of France, where he was honoured with the title of king’s counsellor. Erasmus says, that his great crime was openly professing to hate the monks and hence arose his warm contest with William Quernus, one of the most violent inquisitors of his time. A charge of heresy was contrived against him, the articles of his accusation being extracted from a book which he had published, and he was committed to prison, but when the affair came to a trial, he was acquitted by the judges. His accusers pretended that he would not have escaped, had not the king interposed his authority; but Berquin himself ascribed it entirely to the justice of his cause, and went on with equal courage in avowing his sentiments. Some time after, Noel Beda and his emissaries made extracts from some of his books, and having accused him of pernicious errors, he was again sent to prison, and the cause being tried, sentence was passed against him; viz. that his books be committed to the flames, that he retract his errors, and make a proper submission, and if he refuse to comply, that he be burnt. Being a man of an undaunted inflexible spirit, he would submit to nothing; and in all probability would at this time have suffered death, had not some of the judges, who perceived the violence of his accusers, procured the affair to be again heard and examined. It is thought this was owing to the intercession of madame the regent. In the mean time Francis I. returning from Spain, and finding the danger his counsellor was in from Beda and his faction, wrote to the parliament, telling them to be cautious how they proceeded, for that he himself would take cognizance of the affair. Soon after Berquin was set at liberty, which gave him such courage, that he turned accuser against his accusers, and prosecuted them for irreligion, though, if he had taken the advice of Erasmus, he would have esteemed it a sufficient triumph that he had got free from the persecution of such people. He was sent a third time to | prison, and condemned to a public recantation and perpetual imprisonment. Refusing to acquiesce in this judgment, he was condemned as an obstinate heretic, strangled on the Greve, and afterwards burnt. He suffered death with great constancy and resolution, April 17, 1529, being then about 40 years of age. The monk, who accompanied him on the scaffold, declared, that he had observed in him signs of abjuration which Erasmus however believes to be a falsehood. “It is always,” says he, “their custom in like cases. These pious frauds serve to keep up their credit as the avengers of religion, and to justify to the deluded people those who have accused and condemned the burnt heretic.” Among his works are, 1 “Le vrai moyen de bien et catholiquement se confesser,” a translation from the Latin of Erasmus, Lyons, 1S42, 16mo. 2. “Le Chevalier Chretien,1542, another translation from Erasmus. Of his other writings, we have some account in the following extract from Chevillier’s History of Printing. “In 1523, May 23, the parliament ordered the books of Lewis de Berquin to be seized, and communicated to the faculty of divinity, for their opinion. The book” De abroganda Missa“was found upon him, with some others of Luther’s and Melancthon’s books and seven or eight treatises of which he was the author, some under these titles” Speculum Theologastrorum“” De usu & officio Missae, &c.“” Rationes Lutheri quibus omnes Christianos esse Sacerdotes molitur suadere,“” Le Debat de Pieté & Superstition.“There were found also some books which he had translated into French, as” Reasons why Luther has caused the Decretals and all the books of the Canon Law to be burnt“” The Roman Triad,“and others. The faculty, after having examined these books, judged that they contained expressly the heresies and blasphemies of Luther. Their opinion is dated Friday, July 26, 1523, and addressed to the court of parliament. After having given their censure upon each book in particular, they conclude that they ought all to be cast into the fire that Berquiu having made himself the defender of the Lutheran heresies, he ought to be obliged to a public abjuration, and to be forbidden to compose any book for the future, or to snake any translation prejudicial to the faith.1

1 Gen. Dict.—Foppen Bibl. Belgica. Morerj,