A lone candle lit the darkened room where a mother held her newborn son. “Little Jean,” she whispered. She softly sang a French lullaby and kissed his head. She had heard the world was just beginning to change. The effect of the invention of the printing press was already being felt. Art and culture were developing in other lands. Education was becoming more important, even to households less than rich like theirs. Yet for the most part, time seemed to go on as it always had, here in Noyon, France. She was not concerned about changes. The sixteenth century would likely be little different than the fifteenth that was past.
The pink light of dawn peeked through the window of their medieval cobblestone home. The young mother smiled. The baby she held in her arms was not so robust as his older brother, who was already beginning to stir in his bed. But she was thankful for them both. Safe births and healthy children were not to be taken for granted in A.D. 1509. She brushed the tiny infant’s forehead and kissed him again.
She was thankful for the Church of Rome, too. She was a religious woman, and the Church brought opportunities. Her husband Gerard held the position of secretary to the bishop, among other titles. He was a busy and ambitious man. He had already begun to form plans for their sons. Gerard Chauvin had connections. Jean would receive a fine education with those wealthier than themselves. He might even become a priest. Priests were paid well in these days. She fingered little Jean’s brow. The light had increased now and she could see his tiny fingers grasping her shawl. A firm grip for such a delicate body. She reached over to snuff the candle. Unconsciously she smelled the furling trail of smoke. Yes, the Church would be the place for this little one, she was sure.
Soon light came through in yellow streams. She laid the babe down to tend to other chores. She sighed. What would this child accomplish in his life? Might he be great and noble? Would history remember his name? The day was bright and hopes were high.
She did not know how wrong—and right—her hopes would be.