« Berœans or Barclayites Berquin, Louis de Berruyer, Joseph Isaac »

Berquin, Louis de

BERQUIN, bār´´kan´, LOUIS DE: French Reformer; b. at Passy-Paris June, 1490; d. at Paris Apr. 17, 1529. He belonged to a noble family of Artois and was lord of the estate of Berquin, near Abbeville. In 1512 he came to Paris to finish his studies, became acquainted with Lefèvre d’Étaples and the publisher Josse Badius, and was introduced to Marguerite of Valois, sister of Francis I, through whom he gained the king's favor. He belonged to that group of godly humanists who wished a reformation of the Church, but without a rupture with Rome. He hated equally the ignorance of the monks and the coarseness of Luther. Erasmus seemed to him the true Reformer; with him therefore he opened correspondence and translated several of his tracts, as well as Luther's De votis monasticis. The doctors of the Sorbonne denounced him as a heretic and on May 13, 1523, the trial was held before the Parliament. Seven of Berquin's writings and one of his translations from Luther and Melanchthon were condemned by the theological faculty and by the Parliament. On Aug. 1, he was made prisoner, but was set free by order of the king, Aug. 8. The Parliament had already burned his papers and books. The siege of Pavia and the captivity of the king (Feb., 1525) increased the Parliament's power, and the queen regent, Louise de Savoie, established (May 20) an extraordinary court to judge the heretics. On the same day three of Erasmus's treatises were censured. Berquin would have been permitted to retire and live on his estates if he had consented to keep silence. But he could not help speaking the truth and (Jan. 8, 1526), being denounced by the bishop of Amiens, he was again imprisoned. His books were again judged and forty of his propositions were declared heretical. He defended himself by saying that his propositions were taken from Erasmus and nobody adjudged the latter a heretic. His books were nevertheless condemned and he would have been burned with them if Marguerite of Valois had not invoked the clemency of her brother. Aug. 17 Francis sent a letter to the Parliament commanding them to take no definite steps without his advice. Although Erasmus advised silence, Berquin, confident of the king's favor, tamed the struggle and quoted from Noël Beda's writings against Erasmus, against the Sorbonne, and Lefèvre d’Étaples, twelve propositions as false and heretical, and asked the king to allow the Parliament to give judgment. From July, 1528, until March, 1529, Berquin lived in security. He was then again imprisoned and Parliament condemned him "to have his tongue branded with a red-hot iron and to remain a prisoner for the rest of his life." Apr. 16 Berquin appealed to the king, and the next day Parliament, taking advantage of the king's absence at Blois, ordered Berquin to be burned at the Place de Grève. He was the first Protestant martyr of France. Théodore Beza said of him: "If Francis had upheld him to the last, he would have been the Luther of France." Berquin's original works are all lost, only a few of his translations being left: Enchiridion du chevalier chrestien (Antwerp, 1529); Le vray moyen de bien et catholiquement se confesser, par Érasme (Lyons, 1542); Paraphrases sur le Nouveau Testament, and Le symbole des apôtres (both from Erasmus, n.p., n.d.).

G. Bonet- Maury.


Bibliography: Sources for a biography are in T. Beza, Histoire ecclésiastique des églises réformée s de France, i, 7, Paris, 1882; A. L. Herminjard, Correspondance des Réformateurs, vol. ii and viii, especially vol. ii, containing letters by Erasmus to Berquin, ii, 155–157, 159–160, and the letter of Erasmus to C. Utenhovius, ii, 1893, 193, ib. 1878, 1893; a brief but lucid account of Berquin's life is contained in A. Chevillier, L’Origins de l’imprimerie de Paris, ib. 1694. Consult: Histoire du protestantisme français, xi, 129, ib. 1846; Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris, ed. L. Lalanne, ib. 1894; Hauréau, in Revue des deux mondes, Jan. 15, 1869; H. M. Baird, Rise of the Huguenots, i, 128–158, London, 1880.

« Berœans or Barclayites Berquin, Louis de Berruyer, Joseph Isaac »
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