Dubourg, Anne

Dubourg, Anne one of the most interesting characters of French Protestantism, is noteworthy on account of his accomplishments, his lovely character, and his tragical end. He was born in the year 1521, of one of the best families in the Auvergne. In early life he devoted himself to the study and practice of law, and afterwards became a professor of civil law in the University of Orleans. At this period Calvin's writings were universally read, and Marot's psalms were upon every lip. Dubourg conscientiously examined the Protestant doctrines in order to arrive at the truth. He was well versed in the Scriptures, and acquainted with the early fathers and with the history of the Church, as his replies to his judge clearly show. On Easter 1557, he still belonged to the Roman Church, and communed in it. On October 19 of that year he was appointed as a spiritual counselor to the Parisian Parliament, which exercised the immediate supervision over the University of Orleans. His learning had procured him this position without cost, which was rare in those days. His religious convictions were unknown; but, in order to enter upon his position, he was ordained subdeacon and deacon. His real views, however, soon became apparent. During Easter 1558, he attended mass for the last time, and soon afterwards he took part in Protestant assemblages, and communed with them. The choicest members of the Parliament, including the presidents Harlay and Seguier, sympathized with him. The Roman Catholic party, finding the Parliament likely to be at least just, if not kind, towards Protestantism, appealed to the king (Henry II), representing to him the danger which threatened the faith. He appeared in Parliament attended by a large train, and in a short and violent speech expressed his desire that the Parliament would be more zealous in its support of the Church. When it was Dubourg's time to speak, he pointed out the wrong involved in permitting great criminals, as blasphemers, adulterers, etc., to go unpunished, while the most severe measures were adopted against innocent persons. Henry II was highly offended, and Dubourg was dragged to the Bastile, and his trial was at once ordered. Contrary to the laws, by which members of Parliament could only be tried by the assembled chamber, the king appointed a commission, made up of avowed enemies of Protestantism, and Dubourg was ordered to acknowledge this tribunal, if he did not desire to be condemned without a trial. Dubourg appealed in vain to the archbishops of Paris, Sens, and Lyons, who had jurisdiction over him as a spiritual councilor. The death of Henry II brought the Guises into power, who were still more zealous in the persecution of Protestants. Dubourg openly avowed his connection with the new Church, but could not be induced to discover the names of its members, or the time and place of their assemblages. He intended to hand a strongly evangelical and scriptural confession of faith to his judges, but some of his friends induced him to compose and transmit another, which was less objectionable to the Catholics. A letter from Marlorat, at that time pastor of the evangelical church at Paris, induced him, however, to forward the first confession, and he thus sealed his doom. According to law, an avowal of Protestantism was punishable with death. The cardinal of Lorraine urged the prosecution of Dubourg because he had ascertained that elector Friederich III of the Palatinate intended to secure Dubourg as a professor for Heidelberg. The president Minard was assassinated on December 12, and this was construed into a conspiracy in favor of the accused. Sentence was pronounced by Parliament against Dubourg on the 21st of December, to the effect that he was to be hanged and then burnt. No voice was raised in his favor. Two days later the sentence was executed (December 23, 1559). Dubourg was the first French Protestant of the upper classes who sealed his confession with his blood. His creed (noticed above) sides completely with the teaching of Calvin as contra-distinguished from the Lutheran doctrines. — La vraye histoire contenant l'inique jugement contre Anne Dubourg (Anvers, 1561, 12mo); Haag, La France Protestante, volume 4; Schott, in Herzog's Real Encyklop. 19:437.

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