Guide to Daily Reading | 3/29/20 |Liberation!

Liberated this day in the year 1536, Bonnivard (The Guide to Reading: The Pocket University Volume XXIII. 1925. (2 ns))

François Bonivard (or Bonnivard; 1493–1570)[1][2] was a nobleman, ecclesiastic, historian, and Geneva patriot at the time of the Republic of Geneva. His life was the inspiration for Lord Byron‘s 1816 poem The Prisoner of Chillon. He was a partisan of the Protestant Reformation, and by most accounts was a libertine, despite his vocation. [That infallible source (2020) (1 n but allows for 2)]

This is one of those stories on which I could waste nearly an entire day.

But they [citizens of Geneva, 1520-30s] would not because of past favors submit to present wrongs, especially to the wrong which freeborn man most resents, the loss of his freedom. Hence, Geneva read the situation with other eyes than the house of Savoy, and resolved not to change its religion but to preserve its liberty.

The Cambridge Modern History Volume II: The Reformation (1934) (1 n)

What is at issue is the tension (that might be putting it too mildly) between Geneva and the Duchy of Savoy regarding religion, morals, and other things. You may have heard of the Huguenots, a term “the French corrupted” from the German, Eidgenossen— oath comrade (Cambridge Modern History).

One of the leaders of the movement was Bonnivart.

… a humanist with the gift of speech and letters, a kind of provincial Erasmus, with a graphic pen and a faculty for witty epigram, yet with a courage that neither the fear not the experience of prison could damp.

Cambridge Modern History

Lots of folks in this story with extremely strong convictions, or none whatsoever. In 1526 the businessmen of Geneva established a council of 200 and from them, a Small Council of Twenty-Five. These were the guys who in fact ruled according to how they saw fit, “frequently flouting the authority of bishop [nominal ruler of Geneva] and duke [ruler of the Duchy] alike (The Story of Civilization VI The Reformation (1957) (2 n’s). Eventually, the bishop sent troops to take control and, in 1930, they seized Bonnivart and imprisoned him in the dungeon of the castle of Chillon.

As there always is, there’s a lot going on in this history. At some point Calvin shows up. And then more zealous ministers. Looks as if Bonnivart is perpetually in trouble with someone or other. Here’s a good one:

Bonnivart, too joyous in his liberty, was warned to end his licentious ways.

The Story of Civilization VI The Reformation

He was, what we would have called him back in the day, a playboy. He was married four times. Read the Wikipedia article. He was a scoundrel! And the crappy old books back this up. “… too joyous in his liberty… “

GDR 3/29/20

Here’s the poem.