Several of Lyon’s major publishers – Luxemburg de Gabiano, Jacopo Giunta, Hugues de la Porte, Vincent de Portonaris and Antoine Vincent – formed a major cartel around 1540, known as the Compagnie des librairs de Lyon

Of course, one cannot trace any direct lines from French Bibles (many of them printed by men who later became Huguenots) to Spanish heretics. But it seems more than coincidental that both districts where the Holy Office discovered so many French Bibles in 1552 became centers of serious Protestant circles by the end of the decade. At Seville a notorious crypto-Protestant, Dr. Egidio, was sentenced in 1553, four years before the Inquisition’s capture of a courier from Geneva named Julian Hernandez unveiled the largest group of Lutherans in sixteenth-century Spain. The smaller group of crypto-Protestants in mid-sixteenth century Aragon are gradually emerging from obscurity through the research of A.G. Kinder.

But the possible links between French Bibles and Spanish heretics run in many directions. At the very moment when the Seville Inquisition was collecting copies of the Bible printed at Vienne in 1542 by Melchior and Gaspard Trechsel for Hugues de la Porte, John Calvin was arguing that Aragon’s most notorious Protestant, Michael Servetus, then a prisoner in Geneva, had spread his poison through this particular edition of the Bible, for which he had served as corrector. However, Servetus’ most important editorial work for the Compagnie des libraires de Lyon went into the lavish, six-volume Bible printed by Trechsel in 1545, which seems to have been too elaborate for the Spanish market: it never appears on either the Seville or Saragossa lists.

William Monter, “French Bibles and the Spanish Inquisition, 1552” (1989)


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