Monday, April 30, 2012

The Ecclesiastical Ordinances of Jeanne d'Albret (Theonomy Applied)

Jeanne d'Albret (1528-1572), queen of Navarre
from 1555 - 1572
(credit: Tosca / CC BY -SA 3.0)

by The Monarchomaque

Theonomy Resources begins a collaboration with The Monarchomaque consisting of joint publications on the historical application of Theonomy in the French geopolitical space. Our first article focuses on the Reformation of Bearn-Navarre under Queen Jeanne d'Albret. It includes excerpts of the study The Sovereign, the Church and State: the Ecclesiastical Ordinances of Bearn from the journal Zwingliana (No. 35 , 2008, p. 161-185) to which we insert some elements. Lets start by quoting the preamble of Jeanne's Ordinances:




Jeanne, Queen of Navarre, Sovereign Lady of Bearn
On the entire restoration of the kingdom of Jesus Christ 
in His sovereign country of Bearn
Jeanne, by the grace of God, Queen of Navarre, Sovereign Lady of Bearn [... followed by a series of hereditary titles ...]

To all present and to come, salutation and dilection.

As it is true, there is no living monarch who should not recommend his entire kingdom to Jesus Christ to his, especially that the heavenly Father gave him all power in heaven and earth, and that he commanded all his subjects and elected to search Him before anything else. The princes that He, by His sole grace and goodness, removed from sin and death or even from Hell to lead them to eternal life are justly obliged to procure the advancement and full establishment [of the kingdom of Jesus-Christ] for all their subjects. If their duty calls on them to keep the public peace that concerns their states, it forces them even more to restore piety.

It is impossible that the bond of police breaks all loose, where God is purely followed according to the content of his Word. Nobody can doubt that the kings and princes who are diligently working, to the example of Josiah, Hezekiah and Theodosius who have been driven and filled with the spirit of God to reject off all idolatries and superstitions of their kingdoms and states by all their power to make the true piety rule, in late fall under the heavy burden of God's wrath


So, to obey the command of the Lord, to satisfy the duty and office of the Christian, to respond to the vocation we have from God, to ensure the salvation of all our people and subjects, to maintain the bond of peace and public police in its whole, to diligently follow the example of good princes and kings, to prevent the horrible rage and judgment of God, and to grant the request of the last General-Estates of Bearn, sovereign country of our obedience, which legitimately assembled and, by their own movement, very and humbly begged and required us to banishing all false oaths, idolatries and superstitions, we proclaim the Word of God [...]

We said, declared, and ordered, by the present, perpetual and irrevocable edict, that we want that all subjects of our said country of whatever quality, condition, sex and state, make public profession of the confession that we publish now under our authority as surely based on the doctrine and the writings of the prophets and apostles. And so everyone knows, we have ordered that she be here inserted verbatim as follows: [...]

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From 1571 to 1620, date of its effective attachment to the kingdom of France, the sovereign viscounty of Bearn is in religious matters governed by the Ecclesiastical Ordinances adopted by Jeanne d'Albret.



The beginnings of the Reformation in Bearn

The decisive date for the introduction of the Reformation in Bearn has traditionally been fixed to the years 1560-1561. [...] On December 25, 1560, she [Joan] publicly takes the Lord's Supper at the St. Martin Church in Pau. In May 1561, she orders the magistrates of Bigorre to let the pastor preach in public in Cauterets. On July 19, the Bearnese Protestant community receives her official support by the order of Nerac which, in six articles, established a simultaneum [use of the same religious building for the respective liturgies of different faiths].


Jeanne d'Albret then orients her choice more towards Geneva who sent the Rev. François Le Gay, Sieur of Boisnormand, in October 1557 in Pau, and then Theodore Beza met in 1561 at Nerac. [...] In March [1563, pastor] Jean Reymond-Merlin is sent by Calvin as a reformer at the request of the queen. He assembles the first "national" synod of Bearn-Navarre on September 20, 1563 [...] and then divides the country into five major  presbyteries. It is a "national" institution under the protection of the sovereign. He writes a Discipline of the Reformed Churches of Bearn, and then a catechism extracted from the one of Geneva and makes the synod institute a college. [...] It is by order of Jeanne d'Albret that many churches and even the cathedral of Lescar are emptied of their furniture to be devoted exclusively to the reformed religion.


A new ordinance taken in Paris in July 1566, just before the queen’s departure for Bearn, contains in 22 articles a series of classics measures for the "full cleaning of Roman idolatry": pastors may preach everywhere; public processions are prohibited [...] there will be no Catholic preachers, the Catholic clergy is prohibited to return to the places where Catholic worship was banned, [...] collections for monks are prohibited.


These ordinances contain a series of legal measures: regulation of public dances, banning of card games and dice [that is to say gambling], banishment of "public women", and provisions concerning the settlement of poverty: allocation of the income of vacant ecclesiastical benefices to the fund for the poor, expulsion of sturdy beggars and foreign beggars.

The college is transformed into an academy by patent letters on July 19, 1566. It is the third institution of its kind based in Europe, after Geneva and Nimes. It’s goal is to train the administrative and religious elite of the sovereignty and even beyond. This is the legal framework within which Pierre Viret arrives, the queen called him in Pau to "finalize" the reformation of Bearn, something he will do until his death in March 1571.


The church property is seized (October 2, 1569) and the exercise of Catholicism is prohibited (January 28, 1570). Finally, Jeanne d'Albret takes, on November 26, 1571, her famous Ecclesiastical Ordinances in 77 articles in La Rochelle, transforming Bearn in a Calvinist sovereignty.


Theonomy in Bearn: the Ecclesiastical Ordinances

[Jeanne d'Albret did not enact these ecclesiastical ordinances unilaterally. A group of trustees of the Estates-General of Bearn had asked the Queen to "redeem the land from idolatry." To achieve this, she mobilized many theologians and jurists, including the pastor of Nicolas Gallars (the Moderator of the National Synod of Bearn) who succeeds to Pierre Viret, and the German prince Louis of Nassau. The Synod provided a commission on matrimonial affairs and the Estates-General (with the help of a pastoral committee) determined the clauses concerning church property.]

[Even if the Ordinances officially only concerned Bearn, they were probably also applied in their entirety in “independent” Navarre: administratively, Navarre seems to have merged with Bearn, and the Reformed Church of both principalities formed a single body. Also, the provisions which did not necessarily imply the exclusion of Catholics were probably applied in the other territories of Jeanne d'Albret.]


The text is impressive; it cuts by its length [and its theological & legal systematization] with the previous. It begins with a preamble followed by the Confession of La Rochelle. The first ten articles expose the principles of faith and the organization of the Reformed worship, from the 11th to 21st are defined ecclesiastical institutions, presbyteries,  presbytery, synods, from the 22nd through the 33rd are regulated the management of ecclesiastical property, in the 34th to the 67th is created a Protestant marriage legislation; from the 68th to the 77th are enacted some rules of public morality.


The Ordinances [...] were given at Pau on November 26, 1571. The Ordinances define precisely the part of the political and that of the ecclesiastical. A regulation of marriage and of its "dependencies" (adultery, betrothal, separation) which, with its thirty three articles, occupies the most important place, allows to define new rules [...] “according to the word of God and the content of our laws.” The exercise of censorship powers and especially of excommunication is recognized in the new church. The text finally established a separation of church property and state property. This is a protectorate which gives a large share of autonomy to a church that is better managed than in the French Presbyterian system.


This support by the civil power also appears in the Ordinances articles of on morality. Public order is a Protestant order, Calvinist, which combines a system of double prohibition and double penalty, civil and ecclesiastical. [We must see in this] the cooperation between the two powers towards the same goal.


The Bearnes sovereign, as the king of Navarre, reigns according to a Foral tradition, that is to say, a regime of contractual type in which the Assembly of the Estates, held annually, plays a crucial administrative role. In Bearn, the renovated For of Henry II [in 1551] recalls the mythical origin of a monarchy chosen by her subjects. It provides that on his accession, the sovereign makes the oath  to the barons and to all the inhabitants of Bearn to be their faithful lord, to deliver justice, not to harm them, and maintain the Fors, privileges and freedoms. The Bearnese sovereigns are therefore used to governing civilly with a representative assembly annually assembled. The administrative organization of Bearn therefore takes a new face with two representative assemblies [...] These assemblies [Estates-General and Synod] are governed by constitutional texts, make regulations and keep corpuses of proceedings. They have authority over the territory [...]

For the original article, which has more details, visit The Monarchomaque here. To read the article in English, click the "translate" option.

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 

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