TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

[Provincial Council of Lyon, 21-24 March 1528]

In Latin and French, manuscript on paper
France, Lyon, dated 23 October 1527 [nouveau style, 1528]

TM 303


44 ff., complete, in a single large gathering, on paper (single watermark close to Briquet, no. 9757, “Lettres soudées”: Lyon, 1529; Valence, 1528-1536), written in brown ink in a cursive notarial script, on up to 29 long lines by a single hand, added paragraph with signature of Official of Lyon at the end of document, large opening initial with calligraphic pen flourishing, opening words in larger display script, major textual breaks and certain passages to be emphasized copied in a larger size, gathering preserved in a loose paper wrapper, with title on front cover: “Concilium Lugdunense. 1527.” (Paper showing a water stain affecting two first and two last folios, although text fully legible with ink intact; a few ink stains). Dimensions 285 x 210 mm.

Contemporary copy of the acts and decrees adopted during the Provincial Council of the Church of Lyon held in March 1528. The Council of Lyon took a strong position against the new Lutheran heresy that had become a growing reality and concern within the diocese. Such a document is interesting as a notarial and diplomatic document: its text is preserved in only one other localized copy. It is important for the study of the Gallican Church’s reaction to Luther’s position, as well as the rapport the Gallican Church entertained with the brash King Francis I.


1. Although the majority of the acts copied here concern the Council of Lyon summoned on 21 March 1528 and held till 24 March 1528, the final document copied in this manuscript is dated Paris, 23 October 1528 [ancien style 1527](f. 44).The watermark of the paper used is in keeping with the dates quoted in the manuscript.

2. Copy authenticated by Barthélémy Bellièvre, notary who was échevin of Lyon in 1506 and 1512, secretary to Cardinal François de Tournon [see Dict. de biographie française, vol. V, “Bellièvre, Barthélémy de”]. He signs here as “notaire de l’officialité diocésaine de Lyon”: “…clericus civis lugdunensis…notarius et curie officialatus lugdunensis…” (f. 44). His notarial signature is placed in the left-hand margin of f. 44.


ff. 1-33v, Contemporary copy of the Acts of the Council of Lyon (1528) [In Latin], incipit, “In nomine domini Amen. Per hoc presens publicum instrumentum cunctis pateat evidenter et sit notum quod anno domini milesimo quingentesimo vicesimo septimo…”; explicit, “[…] sequitur et est talis”;

The first two thirds of the present copy of Acts of the Council of Lyon (1528, dated 1527, ancien style) are redacted in Latin. They are immediately followed by a number of resolutions and acts rendered in French. This constitutes an interesting example of official “bilingualism,” where Church Latin and more common vernacular expression typically existed side by side.

ff. 33v-44, Articles adopted by the Council of Lyon [in French, with some Latin]; incipit, “C’est la response que faict le clergé de la province de Lyon a vous reverend pere en dieu monseigneur de Mascon commissaire deputé de part le roy nostre sire…”; “Memoyres et advertissemens a monseigneur l’arcevesque de Lyon de ce qu’il aura a dire et remonstrer a ses suffragans...”; explicit, “[…] Fait a Paris le .xxiii. jour d’octobre l’an mil cinq cens vingt sept [signed] Francoys Gedoyn“; added below, in another hand: “Et quia ego Bartholomeus Bellievre clericus civis lugdunensis publicus apostolica…in testimonium premissorum requisitus [signed] Bellievre.“

f. 44v, blank.

This document is a copy of the articles debated and the decrees ultimately adopted at the Provincial Council of Lyon, which convened on 21 March 1528 [21 March 1527, ancien style]. The Provincial Council of Lyon (which assembled local representatives of a given ecclesiastical province, as opposed to the general ecumenical councils of the Roman Catholic Church such as the Council of Trent) was held between March 21 and 24, 1528. It was one of the many Provincial Councils summoned that same year: Paris (Sens), Lyon, Tours, Bourges, Reims, Rouen. The Council of Lyon was called for by King François I, freshly released in 1526 from imprisonment in Madrid, and was presided by the Bishop of Mâcon, in the absence of François de Rohan, Archbishop of Lyon, who was detained ill in Paris (see Faye, 1859, pp. 83-88).

The present Council of Lyon specified Catholic doctrine on a number of points of concern, in particular what attitude the Church–and here the local Church of Lyon–should adopt concerning the growing influence of Luther’s “ever-spreading” heresy and the development of protestant congregations throughout the diocese of Lyon: “Et premierement quant a l’extirpation de ceste mauldite secte lutherienne…” (f. 33v). In addition to its condemnation of the “errors” of Luther, the Council also addressed the problem of reformation of the clergy and its conduct, perhaps conscious of the pertinence of some of the criticisms waged by Luther against slipping morals in the Church: “Quant au deuxiesme article c’est assavoir la refomacion des meurs des parsonnes ecclesiastiques…” (f. 34). The present manuscript thus constitutes an interesting document for the study of the reaction of the Catholic hierarchy to the “New Faith” and its quest to find counter solutions. These numerous provincial councils would eventually culminate with the convening of the famous ecumenical Council of Trent, held in 1545, just before Luther’s death, under Pope Paul III.

Another point of contention and debate in the Council was the King’s plea to the Gallican Church for financial help to pay the ransom for his children still held hostages in Spain: “Et quant au tiers qu’est le don demandé par ledict seigneur de quatre decimes pour la rancon dudict seigneur et recouvrement de messieurs ses enfants…” (f. 34v). Indeed, after his defeat at the Battle of Pavia, King François I was made prisoner of Charles V. The King of France was eventually freed but in exchange his children, François and Henri, were kept captive in Spain in order to ensure that François I abided by the Treaty of Madrid (1526), which conditioned his release. Their liberation became a matter of concern for the King, who turned to the Church for financial support.

The acts and decrees debated and adopted at the Council of Lyon were published in Labbé, Sacrosancta concilia… (1732), vol. XIX, col. 1095-1140, “Ex MS. ecclesiae Augustodunensis [Autun].” The Labbé edition would thus be based on a copy from Autun. After verification, it appears the only other extant copy is now that of Beaune, Bibl. municipale, MS 154, and not Autun, although the manuscript in Beaune might come from Autun originally (see Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements [CGM], 1888, vol. VI, p. 277: “Actes du concile provincial tenu à Lyon en 1527. Copie authentique du temps, 16e siècle, papier, 45 ff., 289 x 107). The format of the Beaune copy seems a bit odd, and perhaps the second measurement is erroneous.


De Faye, C. L'Église de Lyon depuis l'évêque Pothin jusqu'au réformateur P. Viret (152 à 1563), précédée d'une lettre de M. Rosseeuw Saint-Hilaire, Paris, C. Meyrueis, 1859.

Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France. Départements. Auxerre…Beaune…Autun… [CGM], vol. VI, Paris, 1887.

Guettée, René-François-Wladimir (Abbé).Histoire de l’Eglise de France :composée sur les documents originaux et authentiques, Paris, 1847-1856, tome VIII.

Peletier, Abbé. Dictionnaire universel et complet des conciles tant généraux que particuliers…, Paris, 1846.

Labbé, P. ed. Sacrosancta concilia, ad regiam editionem exacta, quae olim quarta parte prodiit auctior, studio Philip. Labbei et Gabr. Cossartii,... nunc vero integre insertis Stephani Baluzii et Joannis Harduini additamentis... emendatior exhibetur, curante Nicolao Coleti, Venice, 1728-1733, vol. XIX, ab anno 1438 ad annum 1549.

Online resources

Scanned version of De Faye: