1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Poissy, Colloquy of

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POISSY, COLLOQUY OF, a conference held in 1561 with the object of effecting a reconciliation between the Catholics and Protestants of France. It was initiated by Queen Catherine de’ Medici, regent during the minority of her son Charles IX. In the policy of which it was the outcome she enjoyed the support of the Chancellor Michel de l’Hopital and the lieutenant-general of the kingdom, Anthony of Navarre; while on the other hand the heads of the Catholic party had attempted to frustrate any form of negotiation. Theodore Beza from Geneva and Peter Martyr Vermigli from Zurich appeared at the colloquy; the German theologians to whom invitations had been dispatched only arrived in Paris after the discussion was broken off. The conference was opened on the 9th of September in the refectory of the convent of Poissy, the king himself being present. The spokesman of the Reformed Church was Beza, who, in the first session, gave a lengthy exposition of its tenets, but excited such repugnance by his pronouncements on the Communion that he was interrupted by Cardinal Tournon. In the second session (Sept. 16) he was answered by the cardinal of Lorraine, who discharged his task with skill and moderation. On the motion, however, of Ippolito d’Este, the papal legate, exception was taken to the further conduct of the negotiations in full conclave; and a committee of twenty-four representatives, twelve from each party, was appointed—ostensibly to facilitate a satisfactory decision. On the Catholic side, as was speedily demonstrated, there existed no sort of tendency to conciliation. On the contrary, the cardinal of Lorraine, by his question whether the Calvinists were prepared to sign the Confession of Augsburg, attempted to sow dissension between them and the Lutheran Protestants of Germany, on whose continued support they calculated. The Catholic delegates, moreover, discovered a powerful auxiliary when Lainez, the general of the Jesuit order, which had been admitted into France a short time previously, entered the debate; and the acrimony with which he opposed the Protestants was of material service in clarifying the situation. Still a further reduction was made in the number of members, and a small residuum consisting of five Catholics and five Protestants undertook the task of devising a formula on which the two churches might unite with regard to the question of the Communion. Their difficult labours even seemed on the point of success when the assemblage of prelates refused assent, and the conference broke up on the 9th of October—a result which barred the way to a pacific understanding with the Huguenots.

See H. Kupffel, Le Colloque de Poissy (Paris, 1868), E Lacheinmann in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie f. protest. Theologie (3rd ed, 1904), xv. 497.  (C. M.)