Resistance to Persecution:
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
(c) 1996, 1997 David C. Treibs, firstname.lastname@example.org
We owe a debt of gratitude to James H. Dearmore and his wife for posting Foxe's Book to the web: email@example.com
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Following are excerpts from Foxe's (or Fox's) Book of Martyrs, giving examples of Christians engaging in armed resistance to defend themselves from persecution.
As Foxe's Book is about martyrdom, the instances of armed resistance are few and far between. I have left in some of the sufferings and torturing so you can see the justification for the armed resistance.
If you want to skip the endless slaughter and mayhem committed by those who hate God, you can search for the boldfaced and underlined text to read the instances of armed resistance.
The links below point to various incidents and
time periods so you can find your way around more easily, or you
can just use the page down key to scan this document.
Not every link has an instance of resistance.
Those passages that are underlined but not also boldface are instances of notable cruelty, but probably have no resistance involved.
The Tenth Persecution, Under Diocletian, A.D. 303
Under the Roman emperors, commonly called the Era of the Martyrs, was occasioned partly by the increasing number and luxury of the Christians, and the hatred of Galerius, the adopted son of Diocletian, who, being stimulated by his mother, a bigoted pagan, never ceased persuading the emperor to enter upon the persecution, until he had accomplished his purpose.
The fatal day fixed upon to commence the bloody work, was the twenty-third of February, A.D. 303, that being the day in which the Terminalia were celebrated, and on which, as the cruel pagans boasted, they hoped to put a termination to Christianity. On the appointed day, the persecution began in Nicomedia, on the morning of which the prefect of that city repaired, with a great number of officers and assistants, to the church of the Christians, where, having forced open the doors, they seized upon all the sacred books, and committed them to the flames.
The whole of this transaction was in the presence of Diocletian and Galerius, who, not contented with burning the books, had the church levelled with the ground. This was followed by a severe edict, commanding the destruction of all other Christian churches and books; and an order soon succeeded, to render Christians of all denomination outlaws.
The publication of this edict occasioned an immediate martyrdom, for a bold Christian not only tore it down from the place to which it was affixed, but execrated the name of the emperor for his injustice. A provocation like this was sufficient to call down pagan vengeance upon his head; he was accordingly seized, severely tortured, and then burned alive.
All the Christians were apprehended and imprisoned; and Galerius privately ordered the imperial palace to be set on fire, that the Christians might be charged as the incendiaries, and a plausible pretence given for carrying on the persecution with the greater severities. A general sacrifice was commenced, which occasioned various martyrdoms. No distinction was made of age or sex; the name of Christian was so obnoxious to the pagans that all indiscriminately fell sacrifices to their opinions. Many houses were set on fire, and whole Christian families perished in the flames; and others had stones fastened about their necks, and being tied together were driven into the sea. The persecution became general in all the Roman provinces, but more particularly in the east; and as it lasted ten years, it is impossible to ascertain the numbers martyred, or to enumerate the various modes of martyrdom.
Racks, scourges, swords, daggers, crosses, poison, and famine, were made use of in various parts to dispatch the Christians; and invention was exhausted to devise tortures against such as had no crime, but thinking differently from the votaries of superstition.
A city of Phrygia, consisting entirely of Christians, was burnt, and all the inhabitants perished in the flames.
Tired with slaughter, at length, several governors of provinces represented to the imperial court, the impropriety of such conduct. Hence many were respited from execution, but, though they were not put to death, as much as possible was done to render their lives miserable, many of them having their ears cut off, their noses slit, their right eyes put out, their limbs rendered useless by dreadful dislocations, and their flesh seared in conspicuous places with red-hot irons.
It is necessary now to particularize the most conspicious persons who laid down their lives in martyrdom in this bloody persecution.
(Perhaps it isn't armed resistance, but he did the best he could, a Gideon who didn't live long enough to do any more.)
Victor was a Christian of a good family at Marseilles, in France; he spent a great part of the night in visiting the afflicted, and confirming the weak; which pious work he could not, consistently with his own safety, perform in the daytime; and his fortune he spent in relieving the distresses of poor Christians. He was at length, however, seized by the emperor Maximian's decree, who ordered him to be bound, and dragged through the streets. During the execution of this order, he was treated with all manner of cruelties and indignities by the enraged populace. Remaining still inflexible, his courage was deemed obstinacy. Being by order stretched upon the rack, he turned his eyes toward heaven, and prayed to God to endue him with patience, after which he underwent the tortures with most admirable fortitude. After the executioners were tired with inflicting torments on him, he was conveyed to a dungeon. In his confinement, he converted his jailers, named Alexander, Felician, and Longinus. This affair coming to the ears of the emperor, he ordered them immediately to be put to death, and the jailers were accordingly beheaded. Victor was then again put to the rack, unmercifully beaten with batoons, and again sent to prison. Being a third time examined concerning his religion, he persevered in his principles; a small altar was then brought, and he was commanded to offer incense upon it immediately. Fired with indignation at the request, he boldly stepped forward, and with his foot overthrew both altar and idol. This so enraged the emperor Maximian, who was present, that he ordered the foot with which he had kicked the altar to be immediately cut off; and Victor was thrown into a mill, and crushed to pieces with the stones, A.D. 303.
Persecutions from About the Middle of the Fifth, to the Conclusion of the Seventh Century
Proterius was made a priest by Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, who was well acquainted with his virtues, before he appointed him to preach. On the death of Cyril, the see of Alexandria was filled by Discorus, an inveterate enemy to the memory and family of his predecessor. Being condemned by the council of Chalcedon for having embraced the errors of Eutyches, he was deposed, and Proterius chosen to fill the vacant see, who was approved of by the emperor. This occasioned a dangerous insurrection, for the city of Alexandria was divided into two factions; the one to espouse the cause of the old, and the other of the new prelate. In one of the commotions, the Eutychians determined to wreak their vengeance on Proterius, who fled to the church for sanctuary: but on Good Friday, A.D. 457, a large body of them rushed into the church, and barbarously murdered the prelate; after which they dragged the body through the streets, insulted it, cut it to pieces, burnt it, and scattered the ashes in the air.
Hermenigildus, a Gothic prince, was the eldest son of Leovigildus, a king of the Goths, in Spain. This prince, who was originally an Arian, became a convert to the orthodox faith, by means of his wife Ingonda. When the king heard that his son had changed his religious sentiments, he stripped him of the command at Seville, where he was governor, and threatened to put him to death unless he renounced the faith he had newly embraced. The prince, in order to prevent the execution of his father's menaces, began to put himself into a posture of defence; and many of the orthodox persuasion in Spain declared for him. The king, exasperated at this act of rebellion, began to punish all the orthodox Christians who could be seized by his troops, and thus a very severe persecution commenced: he likewise marched against his son at the head of a very powerful army. The prince took refuge in Seville, from which he fled, and was at length besieged and taken at Asieta. Loaded with chains, he was sent to Seville, and at the feast of Easter refusing to receive the Eucharist from an Arian bishop, the enraged king ordered his guards to cut the prince to pieces, which they punctually performed, April 13, A.D. 586.
Thus far our history of persecution has been confined principally to the pagan world. We come now to a period when persecution, under the guise of Christianity, committed more enormities than ever disgraced the annals of paganism. Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the "dark ages." The kings of the earth, gave their power to the "Beast," and submitted to be trodden on by the miserable vermin that often filled the papal chair, as in the case of Henry, emperor of Germany. The storm of papal persecution first burst upon the Waldenses in France.
Persecution of the Waldenses in France
Popery having brought various innovations into the Church, and overspread the Christian world with darkness and superstition, some few, who plainly perceived the pernicious tendency of such errors, determined to show the light of the Gospel in its real purity, and to disperse those clouds which artful priests had raised about it, in order to blind the people, and obscure its real brightness.
The principal among these was Berengarius, who, about the year 1000, boldly preached Gospel truths, according to their primitive purity. Many, from conviction, assented to his doctrine, and were, on that account, called Berengarians. To Berengarius succeeded Peer Bruis, who preached at Toulouse, under the protection of an earl, named Hildephonsus; and the whole tenets of the reformers, with the reasons of their separation from the Church of Rome, were published in a book written by Bruis, under the title of "Antichrist."
By the year of Christ 1140, the number of the reformed was very great, and the probability of its increasing alarmed the pope, who wrote to several princes to banish them from their dominions, and employed many learned men to write against their doctrines.
In A.D. 1147, because of Henry of Toulouse, deemed their most eminent preacher, they were called Henericians; and as they would not admit of any proofs relative to religion, but what could be deduced from the Scriptures themselves, the popish party gave them the name of apostolics. At length, Peter Waldo, or Valdo, a native of Lyons, eminent for his piety and learning, became a strenuous opposer of popery; and from him the reformed, at that time, received the appellation of Waldenses or Waldoys.
Pope Alexander III being informed by the bishop of Lyons of these transactions, excommunicated Waldo and his adherents, and commanded the bishop to exterminate them, if possible, from the face of the earth; hence began the papal persecutions against the Waldenses.
The proceedings of Waldo and the reformed, occasioned the first rise of the inquisitors; for Pope Innocent III authorized certain monks as inquisitors, to inquire for, and deliver over, the reformed to the secular power. The process was short, as an accusation was deemed adequate to guilt, and a candid trial was never granted to the accused.
The pope, finding that these cruel means had not the intended effect, sent several learned monks to preach among the Waldenses, and to endeavor to argue them out of their opinions. Among these monks was one Dominic, who appeared extremely zealous in the cause of popery. This Dominic instituted an order, which, from him, was called the order of Dominican friars; and the members of this order have ever since been the principal inquisitors in the various inquisitions in the world. The power of the inquisitors was unlimited; they proceeded against whom they pleased, without any consideration of age, sex, or rank. Let the accusers be ever so infamous, the accusation was deemed valid; and even anonymous informations, sent by letter, were thought sufficient evidence. To be rich was a crime equal to heresy; therefore many who had money were accused of heresy, or of being favorers of heretics, that they might be obliged to pay for their opinions. The dearest friends or nearest kindred could not, without danger, serve any one who was imprisoned on account of religion. To convey to those who were confined, a little straw, or give them a cup of water, was called favoring of the heretics, and they were prosecuted accordingly. No lawyer dared to plead for his own brother, and their malice even extended beyond the grave; hence the bones of many were dug up and burnt, as examples to the living. If a man on his deathbed was accused of being a follower of Waldo, his estates were confiscated, and the heir to them defrauded of his inheritance; and some were sent to the Holy Land, while the Dominicans took possession of their houses and properties, and, when the owners returned, would often pretend not to know them. These persecutions were continued for several centuries under different popes and other great dignitaries of the Catholic Church.
Persecutions of the Albigenses
The Albigenses were a people of the reformed religion, who inhabited the country of Albi. They were condemned on the score of religion in the Council of Lateran, by order of Pope Alexander III. Nevertheless, they increased so prodigiously, that many cities were inhabited by persons only of their persuasion, and several eminent noblemen embraced their doctrines. Among the latter were Raymond, earl of Toulouse, Raymond, earl of Foix, the earl of Beziers, etc.
A friar, named Peter, having been murdered in the dominions of the earl of Toulouse, the pope made the murder a pretense to persecute that nobleman and his subjects. To effect this, he sent persons throughout all Europe, in order to raise forces to act coercively against the Albigenses, and promised paradise to all that would come to this war, which he termed a Holy War, and bear arms for forty days. The same indulgences were likewise held out to all who entered themselves for the purpose as to such as engaged in crusades to the Holy Land. The brave earl defended Toulouse and other places with the most heroic bravery and various success against the pope's legates and Simon, earl of Montfort, a bigoted Catholic nobleman. Unable to subdue the earl of Toulouse openly, the king of France, and the queen mother, and three archbishops raised another formidable army, and had the art to persuade the earl of Toulouse to come to a conference, when he was treacherously seized upon, made a prisoner, forced to appear barefooted and bareheaded before his enemies, and compelled to subscribe an abject recantation. This was followed by a severe persecution against the Albigenses; and express orders that the laity should not be permitted to read the sacred Scriptures. In the year 1620 also, the persecution against the Albigenses was very severe. In 1648 a heavy persecution raged throughout Lithuania and Poland. The cruelty of the Cossacks was so excessive that the Tartars themselves were ashamed of their barbarities. Among others who suffered was the Rev. Adrian Chalinski, who was roasted alive by a slow fire, and whose sufferings and mode of death may depict the horrors which the professors of Christianity have endured from the enemies of the Redeemer.
The reformation of papistical error very early was projected in France; for in the third century a learned man, named Almericus, and six of his disciples, were ordered to be burnt at Paris for asserting that God was no otherwise present in the sacramental bread than in any other bread; that it was idolatry to build altars or shrines to saints and that it was ridiculous to offer incense to them.
The martyrdom of Almericus and his pupils did not, however, prevent many from acknowledging the justness of his notions, and seeing the purity of the reformed religion, so that the faith of Christ continually increased, and in time not only spread itself over many parts of France, but diffused the light of the Gospel over various other countries.
In the year 1524, at a town in France, called Melden, one John Clark set up a bill on the church door, wherein he called the pope Antichrist. For this offence he was repeatedly whipped, and then branded on the forehead. Going afterward to Mentz, in Lorraine, he demolished some images, for which he had his right hand and nose cut off, and his arms and breast torn with pincers. He sustained these cruelties with amazing fortitude, and was even sufficiently cool to sing the One hundredth and fifteenth Psalm, which expressly forbids idolatry; after which he was thrown into the fire, and burnt to ashes.
Many persons of the reformed persuasion were, about this time, beaten, racked, scourged, and burnt to death, in several parts of France, but more particularly at Paris, Malda, and Limosin.
A native of Malda was burnt by a slow fire, for saying that Mass was a plain denial of the death and passion of Christ. At Limosin, John de Cadurco, a clergyman of the reformed religion, was apprehended and ordered to be burnt.
Francis Bribard, secretary to cardinal de Pellay, for speaking in favor of the reformed, had his tongue cut out, and was then burnt, A.D. 1545. James Cobard, a schoolmaster in the city of St. Michael, was burnt, A.D. 1545, for saying 'That Mass was useless and absurd'; and about the same time, fourteen men were burnt at Malda, their wives being compelled to stand by and behold the execution.
A.D. 1546, Peter Chapot brought a number of Bibles in the French tongue to France, and publicly sold them there; for which he was brought to trial, sentenced, and executed a few days afterward. Soon after, a cripple of Meaux, a schoolmaster of Fera, named Stephen Poliot, and a man named John English, were burnt for the faith.
Monsieur Blondel, a rich jeweler, was, in A.D. 1548, apprehended at Lyons, and sent to Paris; there he was burnt for the faith by order of the court, A.D. 1549. Herbert, a youth of nineteen years of age, was committed to the flames at Dijon; as was also Florent Venote in the same year.
In the year 1554, two men of the reformed religion, with the son and daughter of one of them, were apprehended and committed to the castle of Niverne. On examination, they confessed their faith, and were ordered to execution; being smeared with grease, brimstone, and gunpowder, they cried, "Salt on, salt on this sinful and rotten flesh." Their tongues were then cut out, and they were afterward committed to the flames, which soon consumed them, by means of the combustible matter with which they were besmeared.
The Bartholomew Massacre at Paris, etc.
On the twenty second day of August, 1572, commenced this diabolical act of sanguinary brutality. It was intended to destroy at one stroke the root of the Protestant tree, which had only before partially suffered in its branches. The king of France had artfully proposed a marriage, between his sister and the prince of Navarre, the captain and prince of the Protestants. This imprudent marriage was publicly celebrated at Paris, August 18, by the cardinal of Bourbon, upon a high stage erected for the purpose. They dined in great pomp with the bishop, and supped with the king at Paris. Four days after this, the prince (Coligny), as he was coming from the Council, was shot in both arms; he then said to Maure, his deceased mother's minister, "O my brother, I do now perceive that I am indeed beloved of my God, since for His most holy sake I am wounded." Although the Vidam advised him to fly, yet he abode in Paris, and was soon after slain by Bemjus; who afterward declared he never saw a man meet death more valiantly than the admiral.
The soldiers were appointed at a certain signal to burst out instantly to the slaughter in all parts of the city. When they had killed the admiral, they threw him out at a window into the street, where his head was cut off, and sent to the pope. The savage papists, still raging against him, cut off his arms and private members, and, after dragging him three days through the streets, hung him by the heels without the city. After him they slew many great and honorable persons who were Protestants; as Count Rochfoucault, Telinius, the admiral's son-in-law, Antonius, Clarimontus, marquis of Ravely, Lewes Bussius, Bandineus, Pluvialius, Burneius, etc., and falling upon the common people, they continued the slaughter for many days; in the three first they slew of all ranks and conditions to the number of ten thousand. The bodies were thrown into the rivers, and blood ran through the streets with a strong current, and the river appeared presently like a stream of blood. So furious was their hellish rage, that they slew all papists whom they suspected to be not very staunch to their diabolical religion. From Paris the destruction spread to all quarters of the realm.
At Orleans, a thousand were slain of men, women, and children, and six thousand at Rouen.
At Meldith, two hundred were put into prison, and later brought out by units, and cruelly murdered.
At Lyons, eight hundred were massacred. Here children hanging about their parents, and parents affectionately embracing their children, were pleasant food for the swords and bloodthirsty minds of those who call themselves the Catholic Church. Here three hundred were slain in the bishop's house; and the impious monks would suffer none to be buried.
At Augustobona, on the people hearing of the massacre at Paris, they shut their gates that no Protestants might escape, and searching diligently for every individual of the reformed Church, imprisoned and then barbarously murdered them. The same curelty they practiced at Avaricum, at Troys, at Toulouse, Rouen and many other places, running from city to city, towns, and villages, through the kingdom.
As a corroboration of this horrid carnage, the following interesting narrative, written by a sensible and learned Roman Catholic, appears in this place, with peculiar propriety.
"The nuptials (says he) of the young king of Navarre with the French king's sister, was solemnized with pomp; and all the endearments, all the assurances of friendship, all the oaths sacred among men, were profusely lavished by Catharine, the queen-mother, and by the king; during which, the rest of the court thought of nothing but festivities, plays, and masquerades. At last, at twelve o'clock at night, on the eve of St. Bartholomew, the signal was given. Immediately all the houses of the Protestants were forced open at once. Admiral Coligny, alarmed by the uproar jumped out of bed, when a company of assassins rushed in his chamber. They were headed by one Besme, who had been bred up as a domestic in the family of the Guises. This wretch thrust his sword into the admiral's breast, and also cut him in the face. Besme was a German, and being afterwards taken by the Protestants, the Rochellers would have brought him, in order to hang and quarter him; but he was killed by one Bretanville. Henry, the young duke of Guise, who afterwards framed the Catholic league, and was murdered at Blois, standing at the door until the horrid butchery should be completed, called aloud, 'Besme! is it done?' Immediately after this, the ruffians threw the body out of the window, and Coligny expired at Guise's feet.
"Count de Teligny also fell a sacrifice. He had married, about ten months before, Coligny's daughter. His countenance was so engaging, that the ruffians, when they advanced in order to kill him, were struck with compassion; but others, more barbarous, rushing forward, murdered him.
"In the meantime, all the friends of Coligny were assassinated throughout Paris; men, women, and children were promiscuously slaughtered and every street was strewed with expiring bodies. Some priests, holding up a crucifix in one hand, and a dagger in the other, ran to the chiefs of the murderers, and strongly exhorted them to spare neither relations nor friends.
"Tavannes, marshal of France, an ignorant, superstitious soldier, who joined the fury of religion to the rage of party, rode on horseback through the streets of Paris, crying to his men, 'Let blood! let blood! bleeding is as wholesome in August as in May.' In the memories of the life of this enthusiastic, written by his son, we are told that the father, being on his deathbed, and making a general confession of his actions, the priest said to him, with surprise, 'What! no mention of St. Bartholomew's massacre?' to which Tavannes replied, 'I consider it as a meritorious action, that will wash away all my sins.' Such horrid sentiments can a false spirit of religion inspire!
"The king's palace was one of the chief scenes of the butchery; the king of Navarre had his lodgings in the Louvre, and all his domestics were Protestants. Many of these were killed in bed with their wives; others, running away naked, were pursued by the soldiers through the several rooms of the palace, even to the king's antichamber. The young wife of Henry of Navarre, awaked by the dreadful uproar, being afraid for her consort, and for her own life, seized with horror, and half dead, flew from her bed, in order to throw herself at the feet of the king her brother. But scarce had she opened her chamber door, when some of her Protestant domestics rushed in for refuge. The soldiers immediately followed, pursued them in sight of the princess, and killed one who crept under her bed. Two others, being wounded with halberds, fell at the queen's feet, so that she was covered with blood.
"Count de la Rochefoucault, a young nobleman, greatly in the king's favor for his comely air, his politeness, and a certain peculiar happiness in the turn of his conversation, had spent the evening until eleven o'clock with the monarch, in pleasant familiarity; and had given a loose, with the utmost mirth, to the sallies of his imagination. The monarch felt some remorse, and being touched with a kind of compassion, bid him, two or three times, not to go home, but lie in the Louvre. The count said he must go to his wife; upon which the king pressed him no farther, but said, 'Let him go! I see God has decreed his death.' And in two hours after he was murdered.
"Very few of the Protestants escaped the fury of their enthusiastic persecutors. Among these was young La Force (afterwards the famous Marshal de la Force) a child about ten years of age, whose deliverance was exceedingly remarkable. His father, his elder brother, and he himself were seized together by the Duke of Anjou's soldier. These murderers flew at all three, and struck them at random, when they all fell, and lay one upon another. The youngest did not receive a single blow, but appearing as if he was dead, escaped the next day; and his life, thus wonderfully preserved, lasted four score and five years.
"Many of the wretched victims fled to the water side, and some swam over the Seine to the suburbs of St. Germaine. The king saw them from his window, which looked upon the river, and fired upon them with a carbine that had been loaded for that purpose by one of his pages; while the queen-mother, undisturbed and serene in the midst of slaughter, looking down from a balcony, encouraged the murderers and laughed at the dying groans of the slaughtered. This barbarous queen was fired with a restless ambition, and she perpetually shifted her party in order to satiate it.
"Some days after this horrid transaction, the French court endeavored to palliate it by forms of law. They pretended to justify the massacre by a calumny, and accused the admiral of a conspiracy, which no one believed. The parliament was commended to proceed against the memory of Coligny; and his dead body was hanged in chains on Montfaucon gallows. The king himself went to view this shocking spectacle. So one of his courtiers advised him to retire, and complaining of the stench of the corpse, he replied, 'A dead enemuy smells well.' The massacres on St. Bartholomew's day are painted in the royal saloon of the Vatican at Rome, with the following inscription: Pontifex, Coligny necem probat, i.e., 'The pope approves of Coligny's death.'
"The young king of Navarre was spared through policy, rather than from the pity of the queen-mother, she keeping him prisoner until the king's death, in order that he might be as a security and pledge for the submission of such Protestants as might effect their escape.
"This horrid butchery was not confined merely to the city of Paris. The like orders were issued from court to the governors of all the provinces in France; so that, in a week's time, about one hundred thousand Protestants were cut to pieces in different parts of the kingdom! Two or three governors only refused to obey the king's orders. One of these, named Montmorrin, governor of Auvergne, wrote the king the following letter, which deserves to be transmitted to the latest posterity.
"SIRE: I have received an order, under your majesty's seal, to put to death all the Protestants in my province. I have too much respect for your majesty, not to believe the letter a forgery; but if (which God forbid) the order should be genuine, I have too much respect for your majesty to obey it."
At Rome the horrid joy was so great, that they appointed a day of high festival, and a jubilee, with great indulgence to all who kept it and showed every expression of gladness they could devise! and the man who first carried the news received 1000 crowns of the cardinal of Lorraine for his ungodly message. The king also commanded the day to be kept with every demonstration of joy, concluding now that the whole race of Huguenots was extinct.
Many who gave great sums of money for their ransom were immediately after slain; and several towns, which were under the king's promise of protection and safety, were cut off as soon as they delivered themselves up, on those promises, to his generals or captains.
At Bordeaux, at the instigation of a villainous monk, who used to urge the papists to slaughter in his sermons, two hundred and sixty-four were cruelly murdered; some of them senators. Another of the same pious fraternity produced a similar slaughter at Agendicum, in Maine, where the populace at the holy inquisitors' satanical suggestion, ran upon the Protestants, slew them, plundered their houses, and pulled down their church.
The duke of Guise, entering into Blois, suffered his soldiers to fly upon the spoil, and slay or drown all the Protestants they could find. In this they spared neither age nor sex; defiling the women, and then murdering them; from whence he went to Mere, and committed the same outrages for many days together. Here they found a minister named Cassebonius, and threw him into the river.
At Anjou, they slew Albiacus, a minister; and many women were defiled and murdered there; among whom were two sisters, abused before their father, whom the assassins bound to a wall to see them, and then slew them and him.
The president of Turin, after giving a large sum for his life, was cruelly beaten with clubs, stripped of his clothes, and hung feet upwards, with his head and breast in the river: before he was dead, they opened his belly, plucked out his entrails, and threw them into the river; and then carried his heart about the city upon a spear.
At Barre great cruelty was used, even to young children, whom they cut open, pulled out their entrails, which through very rage they gnawed with their teeth. Those who had fled to the castle, when they yielded, were almost hanged. Thus they did at the city of Matiscon; counting it sport to cut off their arms and legs and afterward kill them; and for the entertainment of their visitors, they often threw the Protestants from a high bridge into the river, saying, "Did you ever see men leap so well?"
At Penna, after promising them safety, three hundred were inhumanly butchered; and five and forty at Albia, on the Lord's Day. At Nonne, though it yielded on conditions of safeguard, the most horrid spectacles were exhibited. Persons of both sexes and conditions were indiscriminately murdered; the streets ringing with doleful cries, and flowing with blood; and the houses flaming with fire, which the abandoned soldiers had thrown in. One woman, being dragged from her hiding place with her husband, was first abused by the brutal soldiers, and then with a sword which they commanded her to draw, they forced it while in her hands into the bowels of her husband.
At Samarobridge, they murdered above one hundred Protestants, after promising them peace; and at Antsidor, one hundred were killed, and cast part into a jakes, and part into a river. One hundred put into a prison at Orleans, were destroyed by the furious multitude.
The Protestants at Rochelle, who were such as had miraculously escaped the rage of hell, and fled there, seeing how ill they fared who submitted to those holy devils, stood for their lives; and some other cities, encouraged thereby, did the like. Against Rochelle, the king sent almost the whole power of France, which besieged it seven months; though by their assaults, they did very little execution on the inhabitants, yet by famine, they destroyed eighteen thousand out of two and twenty. The dead, being too numerous for the living to bury, became food for vermin and carnivorous birds. Many took their coffins into the church yard, laid down in them, and breathed their last. Their diet had long been what the minds of those in plenty shudder at; even human flesh, entrails, dung, and the most loathsome things, became at last the only food of those champions for that truth and liberty, of which the world was not worthy. At every attack, the besiegers met with such an intrepid reception, that they left one hundred and thirty-two captains, with a proportionate number of men, dead in the field. The siege at last was broken up at the request of the duke of Anjou, the king's brother, who was proclaimed king of Poland, and the king, being wearied out, easily complied, whereupon honorable conditions were granted them.
It is a remarkable interference of Providence, that, in all this dreadful massacre, not more than two ministers of the Gospel were involved in it.
The tragical sufferings of the Protestants are too numerous to detail; but the treatment of Philip de Deux will give an idea of the rest. After the miscreants had slain this martyr in his bed, they went to his wife, who was then attended by the midwife, expecting every moment to be delivered. The midwife entreated them to stay the murder, at least till the child, which was the twentieth, should be born. Notwithstanding this, they thrust a dagger up to the hilt into the poor woman. Anxious to be delivered, she ran into a corn loft; but hither they pursued her, stabbed her in the belly, and then threw her into the street. By the fall, the child came from the dying mother, and being caught up by one of the Catholic ruffians, he stabbed the infant, and then threw it into the river.
An Account of the Persecutions of Calabria
In the fourteenth century, many of the Waldenses of Pragela and Dauphiny, emigrated to Calabria, and settling some waste lands, by the permission of the nobles of that country, they soon, by the most industrious cultivation, made several wild and barren spots appear with all the beauties of verdure and fertility.
The Calabrian lords were highly pleased with their new subjects and tenants, as they were honest, quiet, and industrious; but the priests of the country exhibited several negative complaints against them; for not being able to accuse them of anythying bad which they did do, they founded accusations on what they did not do, and charged them,
With not being Roman Catholics. With not making any of their boys priests. With not making any of their girls nuns. With not going to Mass. With not giving wax tapers to their priests as offerings. With not going on pilgrimages. With not bowing to images.
The Calabrian lords, however, quieted the priests, by telling them that these people were extremely harmless; that they gave no offence to the Roman Catholics, and cheerfully paid the tithes to the priests, whose revenues were considerably increased by their coming into the country, and who, of consequence, ought to be the last persons to complain of them.
Things went on tolerably well after this for a few years, during which the Waldenses formed themselves into two corporate towns, annexing several villages to the jurisdiction of them. At length they sent to Geneva for two clergymen; one to preach in each town, as they determined to make a public profession of their faith. Intelligence of this affair being carried to the pope, Pius the Fourth, he determined to exterminate them from Calabria.
To this end he sent Cardinal Alexandrino, a man of very violent temper and a furious bigot, together with two monks, to Calabria, where they were to act as inquisitors. These authorized persons came to St. Xist, one of the towns built by the Waldenses, and having assembled the people, told them that they should receive no injury, if they would accept of preachers appointed by the pope; but if they would not, they should be deprived both of their properties and lives; and that their intentions might be known, Mass should be publicly said that afternoon, at which they were ordered to attend.
The people of St. Xist, instead of attending Mass, fled into the woods, with their families, and thus disappointed the cardinal and his coadjutors. The cardinal then proceeded to La Garde, the other town belonging to the Waldenses, where, not to be served as he had been at St. Xist, he ordered the gates to be locked, and all avenues guarded. The same proposals were then made to the inhabitants of La Garde, as had previously been offered to those of St. Xist, but with this additional piece of artifice: the cardinal assured them that the inhabitants of St. Xist had immediately come into his proposals, and agreed that the pope should appoint them preachers. This falsehood succeeded; for the people of La Garde, thinking what the cardinal had told them to be the truth, said they would exactly follow the example of their brethren at St. Xist.
The cardinal, having gained his point by deluding the people of one town, sent for troops of soldiers, with a view to murder those of the other. He, accordingly, despatched the soldiers into the woods, to hunt down the inhabitants of St. Xist like wild beasts, and gave them strict orders to spare neither age nor sex, but to kill all they came near. The troops entered the woods, and many fell a prey to their ferocity, before the Waldenses were properly apprised of their design. At length, however, they determined to sell their lives as dear as possible, when several conflicts happened, in which the half-armed Waldenses performed prodigies of valor, and many were slain on both sides. The greatest part of the troops being killed in the different rencontres, the rest were compelled to retreat, which so enraged the cardinal that he wrote to the viceroy of Naples for reinforcements.
The viceroy immediately ordered a proclamation to be made thorughout all the Neapolitan territories, that all outlaws, deserters, and other proscribed persons should be surely pardoned for their respective offences, on condition of making a campaign against the inhabitants of St. Xist, and continuing under arms until those people were exterminated.
Many persons of desperate fortunes came in upon this proclamation, and being formed into light companies, were sent to scour the woods, and put to death all they could meet with of the reformed religion. The viceroy himself likewise joined the cardinal, at the head of a body of regular forces; and, in conjunction, they did all they could to harass the poor people in the woods. Some they caught and hanged up upon trees, cut down boughs and burnt them, or ripped them open and left their bodies to be devoured by wild beasts, or birds of prey. Many they shot at a distance, but the greatest number they hunted down by way of sport. A few hid themselves in caves, but famine destroyed them in their retreat; and thus all these poor people perished, by various means, to glut the bigoted malice of their merciless persecutors.
The inhabitants of St. Xist were no sooner exterminated, than those of La Garde engaged the attention of the cardinal and viceroy.
It was offered, that if they should embrace the Roman Catholic persuasion, themselves and families should not be injured, but their houses and properties should be restored, and none would be permitted to molest them; but, on the contrary, if they refused this mercy, (as it was termed) the utmost extremities would be used, and the most cruel deaths the certain consequence of their noncompliance.
Notwithstanding the promises on one side, and menaces on the other, these worthy people unanimously refused to renounce their religion, or embrace the errors of popery. This exasperated the cardinal and viceroy so much, that thirty of them were ordered to be put immediately to the rack, as a terror to the rest.
Those who were put to the rack were treated with such severity that several died under the tortures; one Charlin, in particular, was so cruelly used that his belly burst, his bowels came out, and he expired in the greatest agonies. These barbarities, however, did not answer the purposes for which they were intended; for those who remained alive after the rack, and those who had not felt the rack, remained equally constant in their faith, and boldly declared that no tortures of body, or terrors of mind, should ever induce them to renounce their God, or worship images.
Several were then, by the cardinal's order, stripped stark naked, and whipped to death iron rods; and some were hacked to pieces with large knives; others were thrown down from the top of a large tower, and many were covered over with pitch, and burnt alive.
One of the monks who attended the cardinal, being naturally of a savage and cruel disposition, requested of him that he might shed some of the blood of these poor people with his own hands; when his request being granted, the barbarous man took a large sharp knife, and cut the throats of fourscore men, women, and children, with as little remorse as a butcher would have killed so many sheep. Every one of these bodies were then ordered to be quartered, the quarters placed upon stakes, and then fixed in different parts of the country, within a circuit of thirty miles.
The four principal men of La Garde were hanged, and the clergyman was thrown from the top of his church steeple. He was terribly mangled, but not quite killed by the fall; at which time the viceroy passing by, said, "Is the dog yet living? Take him up, and give him to the hogs," when, brutal as this sentence may appear, it was executed accordingly.
Sixty women were racked so violently, that the cords pierced their arms and legs close to the bone; when, being remanded to prison, their wounds mortified, and they died in the most miserable manner. Many others were put to death by various cruel means; and if any Roman Catholic, more compassionate than the rest, interceded for any of the reformed, he was immediately apprehended, and shared the same fate as a favorer of heretics.
The viceroy being obliged to march back to Naples, on some affairs of moment which required his presence, and the cardinal being recalled to Rome, the marquis of Butane was ordered to put the finishing stroke to what they had begun; which he at length effected, by acting with such barbarous rigor, that there was not a single person of the reformed religion left living in all Calabria.
Thus were a great number of inoffensive and harmless people deprived of their possessions, robbed of their property, driven from their homes, and at length murdered by various means, only because they would not sacrifice their consciences to the superstitions of others, embrace idolatrous doctrines which they abhorred, and accept of teachers whom they could not believe.
Tyranny is of three kinds, viz., that which enslaves the person, that which seizes the property, and that which prescribes and dictates to the mind. The two first sorts may be termed civil tyranny, and have been practiced by arbitrary sovereigns in all ages, who have delighted in tormenting the persons, and stealing the properties of their unhappy subjects. But the third sort, viz., prescribing and dictating to the mind, may be called ecclesiastical tyranny: and this is the worst kind of tyranny, as it includes the other two sorts; for the Romish clergy not only do torture the body and seize the effects of those they persecute, but take the lives, torment the minds, and, if possible, would tyrannize over the souls of the unhappy victims.
Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont
Many of the Waldenses, to avoid the persecutions to which they were continually subjected in France, went and settled in the valleys of Piedmont, where they increased exceedingly, and flourished very much for a considerable time.
Though they were harmless in their behavior, inoffensive in their conversation, and paid tithes to the Roman clergy, yet the latter could not be contented, but wished to give them some distrubance: they, accordingly, complained to the archbishop of Turin that the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont were heretics, for these reasons:
1. That they did not believe in the doctrines of the Church of Rome.
2. That they made no offerings or prayers for the dead. 3. That they did not go to Mass. 4. That they did not confess, and receive absolution. 5. That they did not believe in purgatory, or pay money to get the souls of their friends out of it.
Upon these charges the archbishop ordered a persecution to be commenced, and many fell martyrs to the superstitious rage of the priests and monks.
At Turin, one of the reformed had his bowels torn out, and put in a basin before his face, where they remained in his view until he expired. At Revel, Catelin Girard being at the stake, desired the executioner to give him a stone; which he refused, thinking that he meant to throw it at somebody; but Girard assuring him that he had no such design, the executioner complied, when Girard, looking earnestly at the stone, said, "When it is in the power of a man to eat and digest this solid stone, the religion for which I am about to suffer shall have an end, and not before." He then threw the stone on the ground, and submitted cheerfully to the flames. A great many more of the reformed were oppressed, or put to death, by various means, until the patience of the Waldenses being tired out, they flew to arms in their own defence, and formed themselves into regular bodies.
Exasperated at this, the bishop of Turin procured a number of troops, and sent against them; but in most of the skirmishes and engagements the Waldenses were successful, which partly arose from their being better acquainted with the passes of the valleys of Piedmont than their adversaries, and partly from the desperation with which they fought; for they well knew, if they were taken, they should not be considered as prisoners of war, but tortured to death as heretics.
At length, Philip VII, duke of Savoy, and supreme lord of Piedmont, determined to interpose his authority, and stop these bloody wars, which so greatly disturbed his dominions. He was not willing to disoblige the pope, or affront the archbishop of Turin; nevertheless, he sent them both messages, importing that he could not any longer tamely see his dominions overrun with troops, who were directed by priests instead of officers, and commanded by prelates instead of generals; nor would he suffer his country to be depopulated, while he himself had not been even consulted upon the occasion.
The priests, finding the resolution of the duke, did all they could to prejudice his mind against the Waldenses; but the duke told them, that though he was unacquainted with the religious tenets of these people, yet he had always found them quiet, faithful, and obedient, and therefore he determined they should be no longer persecuted.
The priests now had recourse to the most palpable and absurd falsehoods:
they assured the duke that he was mistaken in the Waldenses for they were a wicked set of people, and highly addicted to intemperance, uncleanness, blasphemy, adultery, incest, and many other abominable crimes; and that they were even monsters in nature, for their children were born with black throats, with four rows of teeth, and bodies all over hairy.
The duke was not so devoid of common sense as to give credit to what the priests said, though they affirmed in the most solemn manner the truth of their assertions. He, however, sent twelve very learned and sensible gentlemen into the Piedmontese valleys, to examine into the real character of the inhabitants.
These gentlemen, after travelling through all their towns and villages, and conversing with people of every rank among the Waldenses returned to the duke, and gave him the most favorable account of these people; affirming, before the faces of the priests who vilified them, that they were harmless, inoffensive, loyal, friendly, industrious, and pious: that they abhorred the crimes of which they were accused; and that, should an individual, through his depravity, fall into any of those crimes, he would, by their laws, be punished in the most exemplary manner. "With respect to the children," the gentlemen said, "the priests had told the most gross and ridiculous falsities, for they were neither born with black throats, teeth in their mouths, nor hair on their bodies, but were as fine children as could be seen. And to convince your highness of what we have said, (continued one of the gentlemen) we have brought twelve of the principal male inhabitants, who are come to ask pardon in the name of the rest, for having taken up arms without your leave, though even in their own defence, and to preserve their lives from their merciless enemies. And we have likewise brought several women, with children of various ages, that your highness may have an opportunity of personally examining them as much as you please."
The duke, after accepting the apology of the twelve delegates, conversing with the women, and examining the children, graciously dismissed them. He then commanded the priests, who had attempted to mislead him, immediately to leave the court; and gave strict orders, that the persecution should cease throughout his dominions.
The Waldenses had enjoyed peace many years, when Philip, the seventh duke of Savoy, died, and his successor happened to be a very bigoted papist. About the same time, some of the principal Waldenses proposed that their clergy should preach in public, that every one might know the purity of their doctrines: for hitherto they had preached only in private, and to such congregations as they well knew to consist of none but persons of the reformed religion.
On hearing these proceedings, the new duke was greatly exasperated, and sent a considerable body of troops into the valleys, swearing that if the people would not change their religion, he would have them flayed alive. The commander of the troops soon found the impracticability of conquering them with the number of men he had with him, he, therefore, sent word to the duke that the idea of subjugating the Waldenses, with so small a force, was ridiculous; that those people were better acquainted with the country than any that were with him; that they had secured all the passes, were well armed, and resolutely determined to defend themselves; and, with respect to flaying them alive, he said, that every skin belonging to those people would cost him the lives of a dozen of his subjects.
Terrified at this information, the duke withdrew the troops, determining to act not by force, but by stratagem. He therefore ordered rewards for the taking of any of the Waldenses, who might be found straying from their places of security; and these, when taken, were either flayed alive, or burnt.
The Waldenses had hitherto only had the New Testament and a few books of the Old, in the Waldensian tongue; but they determined now to have the sacred writings complete in their own language. They, therefore, employed a Swiss printer to furnish them with a complete edition of the Old and New Testaments in the Waldensian tongue, which he did for the consideration of fifteen hundred crowns of gold, paid him by those pious people.
Pope Paul the third, a bigoted papist, ascending the pontifical chair, immediately solicited the parliament of Turin to persecute the Waldenses, as the most pernicious of all heretics.
The parliament readily agreed, when several were suddenly apprehended and burnt by their order. Among these was Bartholomew Hector, a bookseller and stationer of Turin, who was brought up a Roman Catholic, but having read some treatises written by the reformed clergy, was fully convinced of the errors of the Church of Rome; yet his mind was, for some time, wavering, and he hardly knew what persuasion to embrace.
At length, however, he fully embraced the reformed religion, and was apprehended, as we have already mentioned, and burnt by order of the parliament of Turin.
A consultation was now held by the parliament of Turin, in which it was agreed to send deputies to the valleys of Piedmont, with the following propositions: 1. That if the Waldenses would come to the bosom of the Church of Rome, and embrace the Roman Catholic religion, they should enjoy their houses, properties, and lands, and live with their families, without the least molestation. 2. That to prove their obedience, they should send twelve of their principal persons, with all their ministers and schoolmasters, to Turin, to be dealt with at discretion. 3. That the pope, the king of France, and the duke of Savoy, approved of, and authorized the proceedings of the parliament of Turin, upon this occasion. 4. That if the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont refused to comply with these propositions, persecution should ensue, and certain death be their portion.
To each of these propositions the Waldenses nobly replied in the following manner, answering them respectively: 1. That no considerations whatever should make them renounce their religion. 2. That they would never consent to commit their best and most respectable friends, to the custody and discretion of their worst and most inveterate enemies. 3. That they valued the approbation of the King of kings, who reigns in heaven, more than any temporal authority. 4. That their souls were more precious than their bodies.
These pointed and spirited replies greatly exasperated the parliament of Turin; they continued, with more avidity than ever, to kidnap such Waldenses as did not act with proper precaution, who were sure to suffer the most cruel deaths. Among these, it unfortunately happened, that they got hold of Jeffery Varnagle, minister of Angrogne, whom they committed to the flames as a heretic.
They then solicited a considerable body of troops of the king of France, in order to exterminate the reformed entirely from the valleys of Piedmont; but just as the troops were going to march, the Protestant princes of Germany interposed, and threatened to send troops to assist the Waldenses, if they should be attacked. The king of France, not caring to enter into a war, remanded the troops, and sent word to the parliament of Turin that he could not spare any troops at present to act in Piedmont. The members of the parliament were greatly vexed at this disappointment, and the persecution gradually ceased, for as they could only put to death such of the reformed as they caught by chance, and as the Waldenses daily grew more cautious, their cruelty was obliged to subside, for want of objects on whom to exercise it.
After the Waldenses had enjoyed a few years tranquillity, they were again disturbed by the following means: the pope's nuncio coming to Turin to the duke of Savoy upon business, told that prince he was astonished he had not yet either rooted out the Waldenses from the valleys of Piedmont entirely, or compelled them to enter into the bosom of the Church of Rome. That he could not help looking upon such conduct with a suspicious eye, and that he really thought him a favorer of those heretics, and should report the affair accordingly to his holiness the pope.
Stung by this reflection, and unwilling to be misrepresented to the pope, the duke determined to act with the greatest severity, in order to show his zeal, and to make amends for former neglect by future cruelty. He, accordingly, issued express orders for all the Waldenses to attend Mass regularly on pain of death. This they absolutely refused to do, on which he entered the Piedmontese valleys, with a formidable body of troops, and began a most furious persecution, in which great numbers were hanged, drowned, ripped open, tied to trees, and pierced with prongs, thrown from precipices, burnt, stabbed, racked to death, crucified with their heads downwards, worried by dogs, etc.
Those who fled had their goods plundered, and their houses burnt to the ground: they were particularly cruel when they caught a minister or a schoolmaster, whom they put to such exquisite tortures, as are almost incredible to conceive. If any whom they took seemed wavering in their faith, they did not put them to death, but sent them to the galleys, to be made converts by dint of hardships.
The most cruel persecutors, upon this occasion, that attended the duke, were three in number, viz. 1. Thomas Incomel, an apostate, for he was brought up in the reformed religion, but renounced his faith, embraced the errors of popery, and turned monk. He was a great libertine, given to unnatural crimes, and sordidly solicitous for plunder of the Waldenses. 2. Corbis, a man of a very ferocious and cruel nature, whose business was to examine the prisoners. 3. The provost of justice, who was very anxious for the execution of the Waldenses, as every execution put money in his pocket.
These three persons were unmerciful to the last degree; and wherever they came, the blood of the innocent was sure to flow. Exclusive of the cruelties exercised by the duke, by these three persons, and the army, in their different marches, many local barbarities were committed. At Pignerol, a town in the valleys, was a monastery, the monks of which, finding they might injure the reformed with impunity, began to plunder the houses and pull down the churches of the Waldenses. Not meeting with any opposition, they seized upon the persons of those unhappy people, murdering the men, confining the women, and putting the children to Roman Catholic nurses.
The Roman Catholic inhabitants of the valley of St. Martin, likewise, did all they could to torment the neighboring Waldenses: they destroyed their churches, burnt their houses, seized their properties, stole their cattle, converted their lands to their own use, committed their ministers to the flames, and drove the Waldenses to the woods, where they had nothing to subsist on but wild fruits, roots, the bark of trees, etc.
Some Roman Catholic ruffians having seized a minister as he was going to preach, determined to take him to a convenient place, and burn him. His parishioners having intelligence of this affair, the men armed themselves, pursued the ruffians, and seemed determined to rescue their minister; which the ruffians no sooner perceived than they stabbed the poor gentleman, and leaving him weltering in his blood, made a precipitate retreat. The astonished parishioners did all they could to recover him, but in vain: for the weapon had touched the vital parts, and he expired as they were carrying him home.
The monks of Pignerol having a great inclination to get the minister of a town in the valleys, called St. Germain, into their power, hired a band of ruffians for the purpose of apprehending him. These fellows were conducted by a treacherous person, who had formerly been a servant to the clergyman, and who perfectly well knew a secret way to the house, by which he could lead them without alarming the neighborhood. The guide knocked at the door, and being asked who was there, answered in his own name. The clergyman, not expecting any injury from a person on whom he had heaped favors, immediately opened the door; but perceiving the ruffians, he started back, and fled to a back door; but they rushed in, followed, and seized him. Having murdered all his family, they made him proceed towards Pignerol, goading him all the way with pikes, lances, swords, etc. He was kept a considerable time in prison, and then fastened to the stake to be burnt; when two women of the Waldenses, who had renounced their religion to save their lives, were ordered to carry fagots to the stake to burn him; and as they laid them down, to say, "Take these, thou wicked heretic, in recompense for the pernicious doctrines thou hast taught us." These words they both repeated to him; to which he calmly replied, "I formerly taught you well, but you have since learned ill." The fire was then put to the fagots, and he was speedily consumed, calling upon the name of the Lord as long as his voice permitted.
As the troops of ruffians, belonging to the monks, did great mischief about the town of St. Germain, murdering and plundering many of the inhabitants, the reformed of Lucerne and Angrogne, sent some bands of armed men to the assistance of their brethren of St. Germain. These bodies of armed men frequently attacked the ruffians, and often put them to the rout, which so terrified the monks, that they left the monastery of Pignerol for some time, until they could procure a body of regular troops to guard them.
The duke not thinking himself so successful as he at first imagined he should be, greatly augmented his forces; he ordered the bands of ruffians, belonging to the monks, to join him, and commanded that a general jail-delivery should take place, provided the persons released would bear arms, and form themselves into light companies, to assist in the extermination of the Waldenses.
The Waldenses, being informed of the proceedings, secured as much of their properties as they could, and quitted the valleys, retired to the rocks and caves among the Alps; for it is to be understood that the valleys of Piedmont are situated at the foot of those prodigious mountains called the Alps, or the Alpine hills.
The army now began to plunder and burn the towns and villages wherever they came; but the troops could not force the passes to the Alps, which were gallantly defended by the Waldenses, who always repulsed their enemies: but if any fell into the hands of the troops, they were sure to be treated with the most barbarous severity.
A soldier having caught one of the Waldenses, bit his right ear off, saying, "I will carry this member of that wicked heretic with me into my own country, and preserve it as a rarity." He then stabbed the man and threw him into a ditch.
A party of the troops found a venerable man, upwards of a hundred years of age, together with his granddaughter, a maiden, of about eighteen, in a cave. They butchered the poor old man in the most inhuman manner, and then attempted to ravish the girl, when she started away and fled from them; but they pursuing her, she threw herself from a precipice and perished.
The Waldenses, in order the more effectually to be able to repel force by force, entered into a league with the Protestant powers of Germany, and with the reformed of Dauphiny and Pragela. These were respectively to furnish bodies of troops; and the Waldenses determined, when thus reinforced, to quit the mountains of the Alps, (where they must soon have perished, as the winter was coming on,) and to force the duke's army to evacuate their native valleys.
The duke of Savoy was now tired of the war; it had cost him great fatigue and anxiety of mind, a vast number of men, and very considerable sums of money. It had been much more tedious and bloody than he expected, as well as more expensive than he could at first have imagined, for he thought the plunder would have dischanged the expenses of the expedition; but in this he was mistaken, for the pope's nuncio, the bishops, monks, and other ecclesiastics, who attended the army and encouraged the war, sunk the greatest part of the wealth that was taken under various pretences. For these reasons, and the death of his duchess, of which he had just received intelligence, and fearing that the Waldenses, by the treaties they had entered into, would become more powerful than ever, he determined to return to Turin with his army, and to make peace with the Waldenses.
This resolution he executed, though greatly against the will of the ecclesiastics, who were the chief gainers, and the best pleased with revenge. Before the articles of peace could be ratified, the duke himself died, soon after his return to Turin; but on his deathbed he strictly enjoined his son to perform what he intended, and to be as favorable as possible to the Waldenses.
The duke's son, Charles Emmanuel, succeeded to the dominions of Savoy, and gave a full ratification of peace to the Waldenses, according to the last injunctions of his father, though the ecclesiastics did all they could to persuade him to the contrary.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century
Pope Clement the Eighth, sent missionaries into the valleys of Piedmont, to induce the Protestants to renounce their religion; and these missionaries having erected monasteries in several parts of the valleys, became exceedingly troublesome to those of the reformed, where the monasteries appeared, not only as fortresses to curb, but as sanctuaries for all such to fly to, as had any ways injured them.
The Protestants petitioned the duke of Savoy against these missionaries, whose insolence and ill-usage were become intolerable; but instead of getting any redress, the interest of the missionaries so far prevailed, that the duke published a decree, in which he declared, that one witness should be sufficient in a court of law against a Protestant, and that any witness, who convicted a Protestant of any crime whatever, should be entitled to one hundred crowns.
It may be easily imagined, upon the publication of a decree of this nature, that many Protestants fell martyrs to perjury and avarice; for several villainous papists would swear any thing against the Protestants for the sake of the reward, and then fly to their own priests for absolution from their false oaths. If any Roman Catholic, of more conscience than the rest, blamed these fellows for their atrocious crimes, they themselves were in danger of being informed against and punished as favorers of heretics.
The missionaries did all they could to get the books of the Protestants into their hands, in order to burn them; when the Protestants doing their utmost endeavors to conceal their books, the missionaries wrote to the duke of Savoy, who, for the heinous crime of not surrendering their Bibles, prayer books, and religious treatises, sent a number of troops to be quartered on them. These military gentry did great mischief in the houses of the Protestants, and destroyed such quantities of provisions, that many families were thereby ruined.
To encourage, as much as possible, the apostasy of the Protestants, the duke of Savoy published a proclamation wherein he said, "To encourage the heretics to turn Catholics, it is our will and pleasure, and we do hereby expressly command, that all such as shall embrace the holy Roman Catholic faith, shall enjoy an exemption, from all and every tax for the space of five years, commencing from the day of their conversion." The duke of Savoy, likewise established a court, called the council for extirpating the heretics. This court was to enter into inquiries concerning the ancient privileges of the Protestant churches, and the decrees which had been, from time to time, made in favor of the Protestants. But the investigation of these things was carried on with the most manifest partiality; old charters were wrested to a wrong sense, and sophistry was used to pervert the meaning of everything, which tended to favor the reformed.
As if these severities were not sufficient, the duke, soon after, published another edict, in which he strictly commanded, that no Protestant should act as a schoolmaster, or tutor, either in public or private, or dare to teach any art, science, or language, directly or indirectly, to persons of any persuasion whatever. [keep their religion to themselves, eh?--ed's note]
This edict was immediately followed by another, which decreed that no Protestant should hold any place of profit, trust, or honor; and to wind up the whole, the certain token of an approaching persecution came forth in a final edict, by which it was positively ordered, that all Protestants should diligently attend Mass.
The publication of an edict, containing such an injunction, may be compared to unfurling the bloody flag; for murder and rapine were sure to follow. One of the first objects that attracted the notice of the papists was Mr. Sebastian Basan, a zealous Protestant, who was seized by the missionaries, confined, tormented for fifteen months, and then burnt.
Previous to the persecution, the missionaries employed kidnappers to steal away the Protestants' children, that they might privately be brought up Roman Catholics; but now they took away the children by open force, and if they met with any resistance, they murdered the parents.
To give greater vigor to the persecution, the duke of Savoy called a general assembly of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry when a solemn edict was published against the reformed, containing many heads, and including several reasons for extirpating the Protestants, among which were the following:
1. For the preservation of the papal authority. 2. That the church livings may be all under one mode of government. 3. To make a union among all parties. 4. In honor of all the saints, and of the ceremonies of the Church of Rome.
This severe edict was followed by a most cruel order, published on January 25, A.D. 1655, under the duke's sanction, by Andrew Gastaldo, doctor of civil laws. This order set forth, "That every head of a family, with the individuals of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St. Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti.
"And all this to be done on pain of death, and confiscation of house and goods, unless within the limited time they turned Roman Catholics."
A flight with such speed, in the midst of winter, may be conceived as no agreeable task, especially in a country almost surrounded by mountains. The sudden order affected all, and things, which would have been scarcely noticed at another time, now appeared in the most conspicuous light. Women with child, or women just lain-in, were not objects of pity on this order for sudden removal, for all were included in the command; and it unfortunately happened, that the winter was remarkably severe and rigorous.
The papists, however, drove the people from their habitations at the time appointed, without even suffering them to have sufficient clothes to cover them; and many perished in the mountains through the severity of the weather, or for want of food. Some, however, who remained behind after the decree was published, met with the severest treatment, being murdered by the popish inhabitants, or shot by the troops who were quartered in the valleys. A particular description of these cruelties is given in a letter, written by a Protestant, who was upon the spot, and who happily escaped the carnage. "The army (says he) having got footing, became very numerous, by the addition of a multitude of the neighboring popish inhabitants, who finding we were the destined prey of the plunderers, fell upon us with an impetuous fury. Exclusive of the duke of Savoy's troops, and the popish inhabitants, there were several regiments of French auxiliaries, some companies belonging to the Irish brigades, and several bands formed of outlaws, smugglers, and prisoners, who had been promised pardon and liberty in this world, and absolution in the next, for assisting to exterminate the Protestants from Piedmont.
"This armed multitude being encouraged by the Roman Catholic bishops and monks fell upon the Protestants in a most furious manner. Nothing now was to be seen but the face of horror and despair, blood stained the floors of the houses, dead bodies bestrewed the streets, groans and cries were heard from all parts. Some armed themselves, and skirmished with the troops; and many, with their families, fled to the mountains. In one village they cruelly tormented one hundred and fifty women and children after the men were fled, beheading the women, and dashing out the brains of the children. In the towns of Vilario and Bobbio, most of those who refused to go to Mass, who were upwards of fifteen years of age, they crucified with their heads downwards; and the greatest number of those who were under that age were strangled."
Sarah Ratignole des Vignes, a woman of sixty years of age, being seized by some soldiers, they ordered her to say a prayer to some saints, which she refusing, they thrust a sickle into her belly, ripped her up, and then cut off her head.
Martha Constantine, a handsome young woman, was treated with great indecency and cruelty by several of the troops, who first ravished, and then killed her by cutting off her breasts. These they fried, and set before some of their comrades, who ate them without knowing what they were. When they had done eating, the others told them what they had made a meal of, in consequence of which a quarrel ensued, swords were drawn, and a battle took place. Several were killed in the fray, the greater part of whom were those concerned in the horrid massacre of the woman, and who had practiced such an inhuman deception on their companions.
Some of the soldiers seized a man of Thrassiniere, and ran the points of their swords through his ears, and through his feet. They then tore off the nails of his fingers and toes with red-hot pincers, tied him to the tail of an ass, and dragged him about the streets; they finally fastened a cord around his head, which they twisted with a stick in so violent a manner as to wring it from his body.
Peter Symonds, a Protestant, of about eighty years of age, was tied neck and heels, and then thrown down a precipice. In the fall the branch of a tree caught hold of the ropes that fastened him, and suspended him in the midway, so that he languished for several days, and at length miserably perished of hunger.
Esay Garcino, refusing to renounce his religion, was cut into small pieces; the soldiers, in ridicule, saying, they had minced him. A woman, named Armand, had every limb separated from each other, and then the respective parts were hung upon a hedge. Two old women were ripped open, and then left in the fields upon the snow, where they perished; and a very old woman, who was deformed, had her nose and hands cut off, and was left, to bleed to death in that manner.
A great number of men, women, and children, were flung from the rocks, and dashed to pieces. Magdalen Bertino, a Protestant woman of La Torre, was stripped stark naked, her head tied between her legs, and thrown down one of the precipices; and Mary Raymondet, of the same town, had the flesh sliced from her bones until she expired.
Magdalen Pilot, of Vilario, was cut to pieces in the cave of Castolus; Ann Charboniere had one end of a stake thrust up her body; and the other being fixed in the ground, she was left in that manner to perish, and Jacob Perrin the elder, of the church of Vilario, and David, his brother, were flayed alive.
An inhabitant of La Torre, named Giovanni Andrea Michialm, was apprehended, with four of his children, three of them were hacked to pieces before him, the soldiers asking him, at the death of every child, if he would renounce his religion; this he constantly refused. One of the soldiers then took up the last and youngest by the legs, and putting the same question to the father, he replied as before, when the inhuman brute dashed out the child's brains. The father, however, at the same moment started from them, and fled; the soldiers fired after him, but missed him; and he, by the swiftness of his heels, escaped, and hid himself in the Alps.
A Narrative of the Piedmontese War
The massacres and murders already mentioned to have been committed in the valleys of Piedmont, nearly depopulated most of the towns and villages. One place only had not been assaulted, and that was owing to the difficulty of approaching it; this was the little commonalty of Roras, which was situated upon a rock.
As the work of blood grew slack in other places, the earl of Christople, one of the duke of Savoy's officers, determined, if possible, to make himself master of it; and, with that view, detached three hundred men to surprise it secretly.
The inhabitants of Roras, however, had intelligence of the approach of these troops, when captain Joshua Gianavel, a brave Protestant officer, put himself at the head of a small body of the citizens, and waited in ambush to attack the enemy in a small defile.
When the troops appeared, and had entered the defile, which was the only place by which the town could be approached, the Protestants kept up a smart and well-directed fire against them, and still kept themselves concealed behind bushes from the sight of the enemy. A great number of the soldiers were killed, and the remainder receiving a continued fire, and not seeing any to whom they might return it, thought proper to retreat.
The members of this little community then sent a memorial to the marquis of Pianessa, one of the duke's general officers, setting forth, 'That they were sorry, upon any occasion, to be under the necessity of taking up arms; but that the secret approach of a body of troops, without any reason assigned, or any previous notice sent of the purpose of their coming, had greatly alarmed them; that as it was their custom never to suffer any of the military to enter their little community, they had repelled force by force, and should do so again; but in all other respects, they professed themselves dutiful, obedient, and loyal subjects to their sovereign, the duke of Savoy.'
The marquis of Pianessa, that he might have the better opportunity of deluding and surprising the Protestants of Roras, sent them word in answer, 'That he was perfectly satisfied with their behavior, for they had done right, and even rendered a service to their country, as the men who had attempted to pass the defile were not his troops, or sent by him, but a band of desperate robbers, who had, for some time, infested those parts, and been a terror to the neighboring country.' To give a greater color to his treachery, he then published an ambiguous proclamation seemingly favorable to the inhabitants.
Yet, the very day after this plausible proclamation, and specious conduct, the marquis sent five hundred men to possess themselves of Roras, while the people as he thought, were lulled into perfect security by his specious behavior.
Captain Gianavel, however, was not to be deceived so easily: he, therefore, laid an ambuscade for this body of troops, as he had for the former, and compelled them to retire with very considerable loss.
Though foiled in these two attempts, the marquis of Pianessa determined on a third, which should be still more formidable; but first he imprudently published another proclamation, disowning any knowledge of the second attempt.
Soon after, seven hundred chosen men were sent upon the expedition, who, in spite of the fire from the Protestants, forced the defile, entered Roras, and began to murder every person they met with, without distinction of age or sex. The Protestant captain Gianavel, at the head of a small body, though he had lost the defile, determined to dispute their passage through a fortified pass that led to the richest and best part of the town. Here he was successful, by keeping up a continual fire, and by means of his men being all complete marksmen. The Roman Catholic commander was greatly staggered at this opposition, as he imagined that he had surmounted all difficulties. He, however, did his endeavors to force the pass, but being able to bring up only twelve men in front at a time, and the Protestants being secured by a breastwork, he found he should be baffled by the handful of men who opposed him.
Enraged at the loss of so many of his troops, and fearful of disgrace if he persisted in attempting what appeared so impracticable, he thought it the wisest thing to retreat. Unwilling, however, to withdraw his men by the defile at which he had entered, on account of the difficulty and danger of the enterprise, he determined to retreat towards Vilario, by another pass called Piampra, which though hard of access, was easy of descent. But in this he met with disappointment, for Captain Gianavel having posted his little band here, greatly annoyed the troops as they passed, and even pursued their rear until they entered the open country.
The marquis of Pianessa, finding that all his attempts were frustrated, and that every artifice he used was only an alarm signal to the inhabitants of Roras, determined to act openly, and therefore proclaimed that ample rewards should be given to any one who would bear arms against the obstinate heretics of Roras, as he called them; and that any officer who would exterminate them should be rewarded in a princely manner.
This engaged Captain Mario, a bigoted Roman Catholic, and a desperate ruffian, to undertake the enterprise. He, therefore, obtained leave to raise a regiment in the following six towns: Lucerne, Borges, Famolas, Bobbio, Begnal, and Cavos.
Having completed his regiment, which consisted of one thousand men, he laid his plan not to go by the defiles or the passes, but to attempt gaining the summit of a rock, whence he imagined he could pour his troops into the town without much difficulty or opposition.
The Protestants suffered the Roman Catholic troops to gain almost the summit of the rock, without giving them any opposition, or ever appearing in their sight: but when they had almost reached the top they made a most furious attack upon them; one party keeping up a well-directed and constant fire, and another party rolling down huge stones.
This stopped the career of the papist troops: many were killed by the musketry, and more by the stones, which beat them down the precipices. Several fell sacrifices to their hurry, for by attempting a precipitate retreat they fell down, and were dashed to pieces; and Captain Mario himself narrowly escaped with his life, for he fell from a craggy place into a river which washed the foot of the rock. He was taken up senseless, but afterwards recovered, though he was ill of the bruises for a long time; and, at length he fell into a decline at Lucerne, where he died.
Another body of troops was ordered from the camp at Vilario, to make an attempt upon Roras; but these were likewise defeated, by means of the Protestants' ambush fighting, and compelled to retreat again to the camp at Vilario.
After each of these signal victories, Captain Gianavel made a suitable discourse to his men, causing them to kneel down, and return thanks to the Almighty for his providential protection; and usually concluded with the Eleventh Psalm, where the subject is placing confidence in God.
The marquis of Pianessa was greatly enraged at being so much baffled by the few inhabitants of Roras: he, therefore, determined to attempt their expulsion in such a manner as could hardly fail of success.
With this view he ordered all the Roman Catholic militia of Piedmont to be raised and disciplined. When these orders were completed, he joined to the militia eight thousand regular troops, and dividing the whole into three distinct bodies, he designed that three formidable attacks should be made at the same time, unless the people of Roras, to whom he sent an account of his great preparations, would comply with the following conditions:
1. To ask pardon for taking up arms. 2. To pay the expenses of all the expeditions sent against them. 3. To acknowledge the infallibility of the pope. 4. To go to Mass. 5. To pray to the saints. 6. To wear beards. 7. To deliver up their ministers. 8. To deliver up their schoolmasters. 9. To go to confession. 10. To pay loans for the delivery of souls from purgatory. 11. To give up Captain Gianavel at discretion. 12. To give up the elders of their church at discretion.
The inhabitants of Roras, on being acquainted with these conditions, were filled with an honest indignation, and, in answer, sent word to the marquis that sooner than comply with them they would suffer three things, which, of all others, were the most obnoxious to mankind, viz.
1. Their estates to be seized. 2. Their houses to be burned. 3. Themselves to be murdered.
Exasperated at this message, the marquis sent them this laconic epistle:
To the Obstinate Heretics Inhabiting Roras
You shall have your request, for the troops sent against you have strict injunctions to plunder, burn, and kill. PIANESSA.
The three armies were then put in motion, and the attacks ordered to be made thus: the first by the rocks of Vilario; the second by the pass of Bagnol; and the third by the defile of Lucerne.
The troops forced their way by the superiority of numbers, and having gained the rocks, pass, and defile, began to make the most horrid depradations, and exercise the greatest cruelties. Men they hanged, burned, racked to death, or cut to pieces; women they ripped open, crucified, drowned, or threw from the precipices; and children they tossed upon spears, minced, cut their throats, or dashed out their brains. One hundred and twenty-six suffered in this manner on the first day of their gaining the town.
Agreeable to the marquis of Pianessa's orders, they likewise plundered the estates, and burned the houses of the people. Several Protestants, however, made their escape, under the conduct of Captain Gianavel, whose wife and children were unfortunately made prisoners and sent under a strong guard to Turin.
The marquis of Pianessa wrote a letter to Captain Gianavel, and released a Protestant prisoner that he might carry it him. The contents were, that if the captain would embrace the Roman Catholic religion, he should be indemnified for all his losses since the commencement of the war; his wife and children should be immediately released, and himself honorably promoted in the duke of Savoy's army; but if he refused to accede to the proposals made him, his wife and children should be put to death; and so large a reward should be given to take him, dead or alive, that even some of his own confidential friends should be tempted to betray him, from the greatness of the sum.
To this epistle, the brave Gianavel sent the following answer.
My Lord Marquis, There is no torment so great or death so cruel, but what I would prefer to the abjuration of my religion: so that promises lose their effects, and menaces only strengthen me in my faith.
With respect to my wife and children, my lord, nothing can be more afflicting to me than the thought of their confinement, or more dreadful to my imagination, than their suffering a violent and cruel death. I keenly feel all the tender sensations of husband and parent; my heart is replete with every sentiment of humanity; I would suffer any torment to rescue them from danger; I would die to preserve them.
But having said thus much, my lord, I assure you that the purchase of their lives must not be the price of my salvation. You have them in your power it is true; but my consolation is that your power is only a temporary authority over their bodies: you may destroy the mortal part, but their immortal souls are out of your reach, and will live hereafter to bear testimony against you for your cruelties. I therefore recommend them and myself to God, and pray for a reformation in your heart. -- JOSHUA GIANAVEL.
This brave Protestant officer, after writing the above letter, retired to the Alps, with his followers; and being joined by a great number of other fugitive Protestants, he harassed the enemy by continual skirmishes.
Meeting one day with a body of papist troops near Bibiana, he, though inferior in numbers, attacked them with great fury, and put them to the rout without the loss of a man, though himself was shot through the leg in the engagement, by a soldier who had hid himself behind a tree; but Gianavel perceiving whence the shot came, pointed his gun to the place, and despatched the person who had wounded him.
Captain Gianavel hearing that a Captain Jahier had collected together a considerable body of Protestants, wrote him a letter, proposing a junction of their forces. Captain Jahier immediately agreed to the proposal, and marched directly to meet Gianavel.
The junction being formed, it was proposed to attack a town, (inhabited by Roman Catholics) called Garcigliana. The assault was given with great spirit, but a reinforcement of horse and foot having lately entered the town, which the Protestants knew nothing of, they were repulsed; yet made a masterly retreat, and only lost one man in the action.
The next attempt of the Protestant forces was upon St. Secondo, which they attacked with great vigor, but met with a strong resistance from the Roman Catholic troops, who had fortified the streets and planted themselves in the houses, from whence they poured musket balls in prodigious numbers. The Protestants, however, advanced, under cover of a great number of planks, which some held over their heads, to secure them from the shots of the enemy from the houses, while others kept up a well-directed fire; so that the houses and entrenchments were soon forced, and the town taken.
In the town they found a prodigious quantity of plunder, which had been taken from Protestants at various times, and different places, and which were stored up in the warehouses, churches, dwelling houses, etc. This they removed to a place of safety, to be distributed, with as much justice as possible, among the sufferers.
This successful attack was made with such skill and spirit that it cost very little to the conquering party, the Protestants having only seventeen killed, and twenty-six wounded; while the papists suffered a loss of no less than four hundred and fifty killed, and five hundred and eleven wounded.
Five Protestant officers, viz., Gianavel, Jahier, Laurentio, Genolet and Benet, laid a plan to surprise Biqueras. To this end they marched in five respective bodies, and by agreement were to make the attack at the same time. The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, passed through two defiles in the woods, and came to the place in safety, under covert; but the other three bodies made their approaches through an open country, and, consequently, were more exposed to an attack.
The Roman Catholics taking the alarm, a great number of troops were sent to relieve Biqueras from Cavors, Bibiana, Feline, Campiglione, and some other neighboring places. When these were united, they determined to attack the three Protestant parties, that were marching through the open country.
The Protestant officers perceiving the intent of the enemy, and not being at a great distance from each other, joined forces with the utmost expedition, and formed themselves in order of battle.
In the meantime, the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, had assaulted the town of Biqueras, and burnt all the out houses, to make their approaches with the greater ease; but not being supported as they expected by the other three Protestant captains, they sent a messenger, on a swift horse, towards the open country, to inquire the reason.
The messenger soon returned and informed them that it was not in the power of the three Protestant captains to support their proceedings, as they were themselves attacked by a very superior force in the plain, and could scarce sustain the unequal conflict.
The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, on receiving this intelligence, determined to discontinue the assault on Biqueras, and to proceed, with all possible expedition, to the relief of their friends on the plain. This design proved to be of the most essential service, for just as they arrived at the spot where the two armies were engaged, the papist troops began to prevail, and were on the point of flanking the left wing, commanded by Captain Gianavel. The arrival of these troops turned the scale in favor of the Protestants: and the papist forces, though they fought with the most obstinate intrepidity, were totally defeated. A great number were killed and wounded, on both sides, and the baggage, military stores, etc., taken by the Protestants were very considerable.
Captain Gianavel, having information that three hundred of the enemy were to convoy a great quantity of stores, provisions, etc., from La Torre to the castle of Mirabac, determined to attack them on the way. He, accordingly, began the assault at Malbec, though with a very inadequate force. The contest was long and bloody, but the Protestants at length were obliged to yield to the superiority of numbers, and compelled to make a retreat, which they did with great regularity, and but little loss.
Captain Gianavel advanced to an advantageous post, situated near the town of Vilario, and then sent the following information and commands to the inhabitants. 1. That he should attack the town in twenty-four hours. 2. That with respect to the Roman Catholics who had borne arms, whether they belonged to the army or not, he should act by the law of retaliation, and put them to death, for the numerous depredations and many cruel murders they had committed. 3. That all women and children, whatever their religion might be, should be safe. 4. That he commanded all male Protestants to leave the town and join him. 5. That all apostates, who had, through weakness, abjured their religion, should be deemed enemies, unless they renounced their abjuration.
6. That all who returned to their duty to God, and themselves, should be received as friends.
The Protestants, in general immediately left the town, and joined Captain Gianavel with great satisfaction, and the few, who through weakness or fear, had abjured their faith, recanted their abjuration and were received into the bosom of the Church. As the marquis of Pianessa had removed the army, and encamped in quite a different part of the country, the Roman Catholics of Vilario thought it would be folly to attempt to defend the place with the small force they had. They, therefore, fled with the utmost precipitation, leaving the town and most of their property to the discretion of the Protestants.
The Protestant commanders having called a council of war, resolved to make an attempt upon the town of La Torre.
The papists being apprised of the design, detached some troops to defend a defile, through which the Protestants must make their approach; but these were defeated, compelled to abandon the pass, and forced to retreat to La Torre.
The Protestants proceeded on their march, and the troops of La Torre, on their approach, made a furious sally, but were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to seek shelter in the town. The governor now only thought of defending the place, which the Protestants began to attack in form; but after many brave attempts, and furious assaults, the commanders determined to abandon the enterprise for several reasons, particularly, because they found the place itself too strong, their own number too weak, and their cannon not adequate to the task of battering down the walls.
This resolution taken, the Protestant commanders began a masterly retreat, and conducted it with such regularity that the enemy did not choose to pursue them, or molest their rear, which they might have done, as they passed the defiles.
The next day they mustered, reviewed the army, and found the whole to amount to four hundred and ninety-five men. They then held a council of war, and planned an easier enterprise: this was to make an attack on the commonalty of Crusol, a place inhabited by a number of the most bigoted Roman Catholics, and who had exercised, during the persecutions, the most unheard-of cruelties on the Protestants.
The people of Crusol, hearing of the design against them, fled to a neighboring fortress, situated on a rock, where the Protestants could not come to them, for a very few men could render it inaccessible to a numerous army. Thus they secured their persons, but were in too much hurry to secure their property, the principal part of which, indeed, had been plundered from the Protestants, and now luckily fell again to the possession of the right owners. It consisted of many rich and valuable articles, and what, at that time, was of much more consequence, viz., a great quantity of military stores.
The day after the Protestants were gone with their booty, eight hundred troops arrived to the assistance of the people of Crusol, having been despatched from Lucerne, Biqueras, Cavors, etc. But finding themselves too late, and that pursuit would be vain, not to return empty handed, they began to plunder the neighboring villages, though what they took was from their friends. After collecting a tolerable booty, they began to divide it, but disagreeing about the different shares, they fell from words to blows, did a great deal of mischief, and then plundered each other.
On the very same day in which the Protestants were so successful at Crusol, some papists marched with a design to plunder and burn the little Protestant village of Rocappiatta, but by the way they met with the Protestant forces belonging to the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, who were posted on the hill of Angrogne. A trivial engagement ensued, for the Roman Catholics, on the very first attack, retreated in great confusion, and were pursued with much slaughter. After the pursuit was over, some straggling papist troops meeting with a poor peasant, who was a Protestant, tied a cord round his head, and strained it until his skull was quite crushed.
Captain Gianavel and Captain Jahier concerted a design together to make an attack upon Lucerne; but Captain Jahier, not bringing up his forces at the time appointed, Captain Gianavel determined to attempt the enterprise himself.
He, therefore, by a forced march, proceeded towards that place during the whole, and was close to it by break of day. His first care was to cut the pipes that conveyed water into the town, and then to break down the bridge, by which alone provisions from the country could enter.
He then assaulted the place, and speedily possessed himself of two of the outposts; but finding he could not make himself master of the place, he prudently retreated with very little loss, blaming, however, Captain Jahier, for the failure of the enterprise.
The papists being informed that Captain Gianavel was at Angrogne with only his own company, determined if possible to surprise him. With this view, a great number of troops were detached from La Torre and other places: one party of these got on top of a mountain, beneath which he was posted; and the other party intended to possess themselves of the gate of St. Bartholomew.
The papists thought themselves sure of taking Captain Gianavel and every one of his men, as they consisted but of three hundred, and their own force was two thousand five hundred. Their design, however, was providentially frustrated, for one of the popish soldiers imprudently blowing a trumpet before the signal for attack was given, Captain Gianavel took the alarm, and posted his little company so advantageously at the gate of St. Bartholomew and at the defile by which the enemy must descend from the mountains, that the Roman Catholic troops failed in both attacks, and were repulsed with very considerable loss.
Soon after, Captain Jahier came to Angrogne, and joined his forces to those of Captain Gianavel, giving sufficient reasons to excuse his before-mentioned failure. Captain Jahier now made several secret excursions with great success, always selecting the most active troops, belonging both to Gianavel and himself. One day he had put himself at the head of forty-four men, to proceed upon an expedition, when entering a plain near Ossac, he was suddenly surrounded by a large body of horse. Captain Jahier and his men fought desperately, though oppressed by odds, and killed the commander-in-chief, three captains, and fifty-seven private men, of the enemy. But Captain Jahier himself being killed, with thirty-five of his men, the rest surrendered. One of the soldiers cut off Captain Jahier's head, and carrying it to Turin, presented it to the duke of Savoy, who rewarded him with six hundred ducatoons.
The death of this gentleman was a signal loss to the Protestants, as he was a real friend to, and companion of, the reformed Church. He possessed a most undaunted spirit, so that no difficulties could deter him from undertaking an enterprise, or dangers terrify him in its execution. He was pious without affectation, and humane without weakness; bold in a field, meek in a domestic life, of a penetrating genius, active in spirit, and resolute in all his undertakings.
To add to the affliction of the Protestants, Captain Gianavel was, soon after, wounded in such a manner that he was obliged to keep his bed. They, however, took new courage from misfortunes, and determining not to let their spirits droop attacked a body of popish troops with great intrepidity; the Protestants were much inferior in numbers, but fought with more resolution than the papists, and at length routed them with considerable slaughter. During the action, a sergeant named Michael Bertino was killed; when his son, who was close behind him, leaped into his place, and said, "I have lost my father; but courage, fellow soldiers, God is a father to us all."
Several skirmishes likewise happened between the troops of La Torre and Tagliaretto, and the Protestant forces, which in general terminated in favor of the latter.
A Protestant gentleman, named Andrion, raised a regiment of horse, and took the command of it himself. The sieur John Leger persuaded a great number of Protestants to form themselves into volunteer companies; and an excellent officer, named Michelin, instituted several bands of light troops. These being all joined to the remains of the veteran Protestant troops, (for great numbers had been lost in the various battles, skirmishes, sieges, etc.) composed a respectable army, which the officers thought proper to encamp near St. Giovanni.
The Roman Catholic commanders, alarmed at the formidable appearance and increased strength of the Protestant forces, determined, if possible, to dislodge them from their encampment. With this view they collected together a large force, consisting of the principal part of the garrisons of the Roman Catholic towns, the draft from the Irish brigades, a great number of regulars sent by the marquis of Pianessa, the auxiliary troops, and the independent companies.
These, having formed a junction, encamped near the Protestants, and spent several days in calling councils of war, and disputing on the most proper mode of proceeding. Some were for plundering the country, in order to draw the Protestants from their camp; others were for patiently waiting till they were attacked; and a third party were for assaulting the Protestant camp, and trying to make themselves master of everything in it.
The last of them prevailed, and the morning after the resolution had been taken was appointed to put it into execution. The Roman Catholic troops were accordingly separated into four divisions, three of which were to make an attack in different places; and the fourth to remain as a body of reserve to act as occasion might require.
One of the Roman Catholic officers, previous to the attack, thus haranged his men:
"Fellow-soldiers, you are now going to enter upon a great action, which will bring you fame and riches. The motives of your acting with spirit are likewise of the most important nature; namely, the honor of showing your loyalty to your sovereign, the pleasure of spilling heretic blood, and the prospect of plundering the Protestant camp. So, my brave fellows, fall on, give no quarter, kill all you meet, and take all you come near."
After this inhuman speech the engagement began, and the Protestant camp was attacked in three places with inconceivable fury. The fight was maintained with great obstinacy and perseverance on both sides, continuing without intermission for the space of four hours: for the several companies on both sides relieved each other alternately, and by that means kept up a continual fire during the whole action.
During the engagement of the main armies, a detachment was sent from the body of reserve to attack the post of Castelas, which, if the papists had carried, it would have given them the command of the valleys of Perosa, St. Martino, and Lucerne; but they were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to return to the body of reserve, from whence they had been detached.
Soon after the return of this detachment, the Roman Catholic troops, being hard pressed in the main battle, sent for the body of reserve to come to their support. These immediately marched to their assistance, and for some time longer held the event doubtful, but at length the valor of the Protestants prevailed, and the papists were totally defeated, with the loss of upwards of three hundred men killed, and many more wounded.
When the Syndic of Lucerne, who was indeed a papist, but not a bigoted one, saw the great number of wounded men brought into that city, he exclaimed, "Ah! I thought the wolves used to devour the heretics, but now I see the heretics eat the wolves." This expression being reported to M. Marolles, the Roman Catholic commander-in-chief at Lucerne, he sent a very severe and threatening letter to the Syndic, who was so terrified, that the fright threw him into a fever, and he died in a few days.
This great battle was fought just before the harvest was got in, when the papists, exasperated at their disgrace, and resolved on any kind of revenge, spread themselves by night in detached parties over the finest corn fields of the Protestants, and set them on fire in sundry places. Some of these straggling parties, however, suffered for their conduct; for the Protestants, being alarmed in the night by the blazing of the fire among the corn, pursued the fugitives early in the morning, and overtaking many, put them to death. The Protestant captain Bellin, likewise, by way of retaliation, went with a body of light troops, and burnt the suburbs of La Torre, making his retreat afterward with very little loss.
A few days later, Captain Bellin, with a much stronger body of troops, attacked the town of La Torre itself, and making a breach in the wall of the convent, his men entered, driving the garrison into the citadel and burning both town and convent. After having effected this, they made a regular retreat, as they could not reduce the citadel for want of cannon.
Persecution of Zisca
The real name of this zealous servant of Christ was John de Trocznow, that of Zisca is a Bohemian word, signifying one-eyed, as he had lost an eye. He was a native of Bohemia, of a good family and left the court of Winceslaus, to enter into the service of the king of Poland against the Teutonic knights. Having obtained a badge of honor and a purse of ducats for his gallantry, at the close of the war, he returned to the court of Winceslaus, to whom he boldly avowed the deep interest he took in the bloody affront offered to his majesty's subjects at Constance in the affair of Huss [John Huss, perhaps?]. Winceslaus lamented it was not in his power to revenge it; and from this moment Zisca is said to have formed the idea of asserting the religious liberties of his country. In the year 1418, the Council was dissolved, having done more mischief than good, and in the summer of that year a general meeting was held of the friends of religious reformation, at the castle of Wisgrade, who, conducted by Zisca, repaired to the emperor with arms in their hands, and offered to defend him against his enemies. The king bid them use their arms properly, and this stroke of policy first insured to Zisca the confidence of his party.
Winceslaus was succeeded by Sigismond, his brother, who rendered himself odious to the reformers; and removed all such as were obnoxious to his government. Zisca and his friends, upon this, immediately flew to arms, declared war against the emperor and the pope, and laid siege to Pilsen with 40,000 men. They soon became masters of the fortress, and in a short time all the southwest part of Bohemia submitted, which greatly increased the army of the reformers. The latter having taken the pass of Muldaw, after a severe conflict of five days and nights, the emperor became alarmed, and withdrew his troops from the confines of Turkey, to march them into Bohemia. At Berne in Moravia, he halted, and sent despatches to treat of peace, as a preliminary to which Zisca gave up Pilsen and all the fortresses he had taken. Sigismond proceeding in a manner that clearly manifested he acted on the Roman doctrine, that no faith was to be kept with heretics, and treating some of the authors of the late disturbances with severity, the alarm-bell of revolt was sounded from one end of Bohemia to the other. Zisca took the castle of Prague by the power of money, and on August 19, 1420, defeated the small army the emperor had hastily got together to oppose him. He next took Ausea by assault, and destroyed the town with a barbarity that disgraced the cause in which he fought.
Winter approaching, Zisca fortified his camp on a strong hill about forty miles from Prague, which he called Mount Tabor, whence he surprised a body of horse at midnight, and made a thousand men prisoners. Shortly after, the emperor obtained possession of the strong fortress of Prague, by the same means Zisca had before done: it was blockaded by the latter, and want began to threaten the emperor, who saw the necessity of a retreat.
Determined to make a desperate effort, Sigismond attacked the fortified camp of Zisca on Mount Tabor, and carried it with great slaughter. Many other fortresses also fell, and Zisca withdrew to a craggy hill, which he strongly fortified, and whence he so annoyed the emperor in his approaches against the town of Prague, that he found he must either abandon the siege or defeat his enemy. The marquis of Misnia was deputed to effect this with a large body of troops, but the event was fatal to the imperialists; they were defeated, and the emperor having lost nearly one third of his army, retreated from the siege of Prague, harassed in his rear by the enemy.
In the spring of 1421, Zisca commenced the campaign, as before, by destroying all the monasteries in his way. He laid siege to the castle of Wisgrade, and the emperor coming to relieve it, fell into a snare, was defeated with dreadful slaughter, and this important fortress was taken. Our general had now leisure to attend to the work of reformation, but he was much disgusted with the gross ignorance and superstition of the Bohemian clergy, who rendered themselves contemptible in the eyes of the whole army. When he saw any symptoms of uneasiness in the camp, he would spread alarm in order to divert them, and draw his men into action. In one of these expeditions, he encamped before the town of Rubi, and while pointing out the place for an assault, an arrow shot from the wall struck him in the eye. At Prague it was extracted, but, being barbed, it tore the eye out with it. A fever succeeded, and his life was with difficulty preserved. He was now totally blind, but still desirous of attending the army. The emperor, having summoned the states of the empire to assist him, resolved, with their assistance, to attack Zisca in the winter, when many of his troops departed until the return of spring.
The confederate princes undertook the siege of Soisin, but at the approach merely of the Bohemian general, they retreated. Sigismond nevertheless advanced with his formidable army, consisting of 15,000 Hungarian horse and 25,000 infantry, well equipped for a winter campaign. This army spread terror through all the east of Bohemia. Wherever Sigismond marched, the magistrates laid their keys at his feet, and were treated with severity or favor, according to their merits in his cause. Zisca, however, with speedy marches, approached, and the emperor resolved to try his fortune once more with that invincible chief. On the thirteenth of January, 1422, the two armies met on a spacious plain near Kremnitz. Zisca appeared in the center of his front line, guarded, or rather conducted, by a horseman on each side, armed with a pole-axe. His troops having sung a hymn, with a determined coolness drew their swords, and waited for a signal. When his officers had informed him that the ranks were all well closed, he waved his sabre round his head, which was the sign of battle.
This battle is described as a most awful sight. The extent of the plain was one continued scene of disorder. The imperial army fled towards the confines of Moravia, the Taborites, without intermission, galling their rear. The river Igla, then frozen opposed their flight. The enemy pressing furiously, many of the infantry and in a manner the whole body of the cavalry, attempted the river. The ice gave way, and not fewer than two thousand were swallowed up in the water. Zisca now returned to Tabor, laden with all the spoils and trophies which the most complete victory could give.
Zisca now began again to pay attention to the Reformation; he forbid all the prayers for the dead, images, sacerdotal vestments, fasts, and festivals. Priests were to be preferred according to their merits, and no one to be persecuted for religious opinions. In everything Zisca consulted the liberal minded, and did nothing without general concurrence. An alarming disagreement now arose at Prague between the magistrates who were Calixtans, or receivers of the Sacraments in both kinds, and the Taborites, nine of the chiefs of whom were privately arraigned, and put to death. The populace, enraged, sacrificed the magistrates, and the affair terminated without any particular consequence. The Calixtans having sunk into contempt, Zisca was solicited to assume the crown of Bohemia; but this he nobly refused, and prepared for the next campaign, in which Sigismond resolved to make his last effort. While the marquis of Misnia penetrated into Upper Saxony, the emperor proposed to enter Moravia, on the side of Hungary. Before the marquis had taken the field, Zisca sat down before the strong town of Aussig, situated on the Elbe. The marquis flew to its relief with a superior army, and, after an obstinate engagement, was totally defeated and Aussig capitulated. Zisca then went to the assistance of Procop, a young general whom he had appointed to keep Sigismond in check, and whom he compelled to abandon the siege of Pernitz, after laying eight weeks before it.
Zisca, willing to give his troops some respite from fatigue, now entered Prague, hoping his presence would quell any uneasiness that might remain after the late disturbance: but he was suddenly attacked by the people; and he and his troop having beaten off the citizens, effected a retreat to his army, whom he acquainted with the treacherous conduct of the Calixtans. Every effort of address was necessary to appease their vengeful animosity, and at night, in a private interview between Roquesan, an ecclesiastic of great eminence in Prague, and Zisca, the latter became reconciled, and the intended hostilities were done away.
Mutually tired of the war, Sigismond sent to Zisca, requesting him to sheath his sword, and name his conditions. A place of congress being appointed, Zisca, with his chief officers, set out to meet the emperor. Compelled to pass through a part of the country where the plague raged, he was seized with it at the castle of Briscaw, and departed this life, October 6, 1424. Like Moses, he died in view of the completion of his labors, and was buried in the great Church of Czaslow, in Bohemia, where a monument is erected to his memory, with this inscription on it-"Here lies John Zisca, who, having defended his country against the encroachments of papal tyranny, rests in this hallowed place, in despite of the pope."
After the death of Zisca, Procop was defeated, and fell with the liberties of his country.
After the death of Huss and Jerome, the pope, in conjunction with the Council of Constance, ordered the Roman clergy everywhere to excommunicate such as adopted their opinions, or commiserated their fate.
These orders occasioned great contentions between the papists and reformed Bohemians, which was the cause of a violent persecution against the latter. At Prague, the persecution was extremely severe, until, at length, the reformed being driven to desperation, armed themselves, attacked the senate-house, and threw twelve senators, with the speaker, out of the senate-house windows, whose bodies fell upon spears, which were held up by others of the reformed in the street, to receive them.
Being informed of these proceedings, the pope came to Florence, and publicly excommunicated the reformed Bohemians, exciting the emperor of Germany, and all kings, princes, dukes, etc., to take up arms, in order to extirpate the whole race; and promising, by way of encouragement, full remission of all sins whatever, to the most wicked person, if he did but kill one Bohemian Protestant.
This occasioned a bloody war; for several popish princes undertook the extirpation, or at least expulsion, of the proscribed people; and the Bohemians, arming themselves, prepared to repel force by force, in the most vigorous and effectual manner. The popish army prevailing against the Protestant forces at the battle of Cuttenburgh, the prisoners of the reformed were taken to three deep mines near that town, and several hundreds were cruelly thrown into each, where they miserably perished.
A merchant of Prague, going to Breslau, in Silesia, happened to lodge in the same inn with several priests. Entering into conversation upon the subject of religious controversy, he passed many encomiums upon the martyred John Huss, and his doctrines. The priests taking umbrage at this, laid an information against him the next morning, and he was committed to prison as a heretic. Many endeavors were used to persuade him to embrace the Roman Catholic faith, but he remained steadfast to the pure doctrines of the reformed Church. Soon after his imprisonment, a student of the university was committed to the same jail; when, being permitted to converse with the merchant, they mutually comforted each other. On the day appointed for execution, when the jailer began to fasten ropes to their feet, by which they were to be dragged through the streets, the student appeared quite terrified, and offered to abjure his faith, and turn Roman Catholic if he might be saved. The offer was accepted, his abjuration was taken by a priest, and he was set at liberty. A priest applying to the merchant to follow the example of the student, he nobly said, "Lose no time in hopes of my recantation, your expectations will be vain; I sincerely pity that poor wretch, who has miserably sacrificed his soul for a few more uncertain years of a troublesome life; and, so far from having the least idea of following his example, I glory in the very thoughts of dying for the sake of Christ." On hearing these words, the priest ordered the executioner to proceed, and the merchant being drawn through the city was brought to the place of execution, and there burnt.
Pichel, a bigoted popish magistrate, apprehended twenty-four Protestants, among whom was his daughter's husband. As they all owned they were of the reformed religion, he indiscriminately condemned them to be drowned in the river Abbis. On the day appointed for the execution, a great concourse of people attended, among whom was Pichel's daughter. This worthy wife threw herself at her father's feet, bedewed them with tears, and in the most pathetic manner, implored him to commisserate her sorrow, and pardon her husband. The obdurate magistrate sternly replied, "Intercede not for him, child, he is a heretic, a vile heretic." To which she nobly answered, "Whatever his faults may be, or however his opinions may differ from yours, he is still my husband, a name which, at a time like this, should alone employ my whole consideration." Pichel flew into a violent passion and said, "You are mad! cannot you, after the death of this, have a much worthier husband?" "No, sir, (replied she) my affections are fixed upon this, and death itself shall not dissolve my marriage vow." Pichel, however, continued inflexible, and ordered the prisoners to be tied with their hands and feet behind them, and in that manner be thrown into the river. As soon as this was put into execution, the young lady watched her opportunity, leaped into the waves, and embracing the body of her husband, both sank together into one watery grave. An uncommon instance of conjugal love in a wife, and of an inviolable attachment to, and personal affection for, her husband.
The emperor Ferdinand, whose hatred to the Bohemian Protestants was without bounds, not thinking he had sufficiently oppressed them, instituted a high court of reformers, upon the plan of the Inquisition, with this difference, that the reformers were to remove from place to place, and always to be attended by a body of troops.
These reformers consisted chiefly of Jesuits, and from their decision, there was no appeal, by which it may be easily conjectured, that it was a dreadful tribunal indeed.
This bloody court, attended by a body of troops, made the tour of Bohemia, in which they seldom examined or saw a prisoner, suffering the soldiers to murder the Protestants as they pleased, and then to make a report of the matter to them afterward.
The first victim of their cruelty was an aged minister, whom they killed as he lay sick in his bed; the next day they robbed and murdered another, and soon after shot a third, as he was preaching in his pulpit.
A nobleman and clergyman, who resided in a Protestant village, hearing of the approach of the high court of reformers and the troops, fled from the place, and secreted themselves. The soldiers, however, on their arrival, seized upon a schoolmaster, asked him where the lord of that place and the minister were concealed, and where they had hidden their treasures. The schoolmaster replied that he could not answer either of the questions. They then stripped him naked, bound him with cords, and beat him most unmercifully with cudgels. This cruelty not extorting any confession from him, they scorched him in various parts of his body; when, to gain a respite from his torments, he promised to show them where the treasures were hid. The soldiers gave ear to this with pleasure, and the schoolmaster led them to a ditch full of stones, saying, "Beneath these stones are the treasures ye seek for." Eager after money, they went to work, and soon removed those stones, but not finding what they sought after, they beat the schoolmaster to death, buried him in the ditch, and covered him with the very stones he had made them remove.
Some of the soldiers ravished the daughters of a worthy Protestant before his face, and then tortured him to death. A minister and his wife they tied back to back and burnt. Another minister they hung upon a cross beam, and making a fire under him, broiled him to death. A gentleman they hacked into small pieces, and they filled a young man's mouth with gunpowder, and setting fire to it, blew his head to pieces.
As their principal rage was directed against the clergy, they took a pious Protestant minister, and tormenting him daily for a month together, in the following manner, making their cruelty regular, systematic, and progressive.
They placed him amidst them, and made him the subject of their derision and mockery, during a whole day's entertainment, trying to exhaust his patience, but in vain, for he bore the whole with true Christian fortitude. They spit in his face, pulled his nose, and pinched him in most parts of his body. He was hunted like a wild beast, until ready to expire with fatigue. They made him run the gauntlet between two ranks of them, each striking him with a twig. He was beat with their fists. He was beat with ropes. They scourged him with wires. He was beat with cudgels. They tied him up by the heels with his head downwards, until the blood started out of his nose, mouth, etc. They hung him by the right arm until it was dislocated, and then had it set again. The same was repeated with his left arm. Burning papers dipped in oil were placed between his fingers and toes. His flesh was torn with red-hot pincers. He was put to the rack. They pulled off the nails of his right hand. The same repeated with his left hand. He was bastinadoed on his feet. A slit was made in his right ear. The same repeated on his left ear. His nose was slit. They whipped him through the town upon an ass. They made several incisions in his flesh. They pulled off the toe nails of his right foot. The same they repeated with his left foot. He was tied up by the loins, and suspended for a considerable time. The teeth of his upper jaw were pulled out. The same was repeated with his lower jaw. Boiling lead was poured upon his fingers. The same was repeated with his toes. A knotted cord was twisted about his forehead in such a manner as to force out his eyes.
During the whole of these horrid cruelties, particular care was taken that his wounds should not mortify, and not to injure him mortally until the last day, when the forcing out of his eyes proved his death.
Innumerable were the other murders and depredations committed by those unfeeling brutes, and shocking to humanity were the cruelties which they inflicted on the poor Bohemian Protestants. The winter being far advanced, however, the high court of reformers, with their infernal band of military ruffians, thought proper to return to Prague; but on their way, meeting with a Protestant pastor, they could not resist the temptation of feasting their barbarous eyes with a new kind of cruelty, which had just suggested itself to the diabolical imagination of one of the soldiers. This was to strip the minister naked, and alternately to cover him with ice and burning coals. This novel mode of tormenting a fellow creature was immediately put into practice, and the unhappy victim expired beneath the torments, which seemed to delight his inhuman persecutors.
A secret order was soon after issued by the emperor, for apprehending all noblemen and gentlemen, who had been principally concerned in supporting the Protestant cause, and in nominating Frederic elector Palatine of the Rhine, to be king of Bohemia. These, to the number of fifty, were apprehended in one night, and at one hour, and brought from the places where they were taken, to the castle of Prague, and the estates of those who were absent from the kingdom were confiscated, themselves were made outlaws, and their names fixed upon a gallows, as marks of public ignominy.
The high court of reformers then proceeded to try the fifty, who had been apprehended, and two apostate Protestants were appointed to examine them. These examinants asked a great number of unnecessary and impertinent questions, which so exasperated one of the noblemen, who was naturally of a warm temper, that he exclaimed, opening his breast at the same time, "Cut here, search my heart, you shall find nothing but the love of religion and liberty; those were the motives for which I drew my sword, and for those I am willing to suffer death."
As none of the prisoners would change their religion, or acknowledge they had been in error, they were all pronounced guilty; but the sentence was referred to the emperor. When that monarch had read their names, and an account of the respective accusations against them, he passed judgment on all, but in a different manner, as his sentences were of four kinds, viz. death, banishment, imprisonment for life, and imprisonment during pleasure.
Twenty being ordered for execution, were informed they might send for Jesuits, monks, or friars, to prepare for the awful change they were to undergo; but that no Protestants should be permitted to come near them. This proposal they rejected, and strove all they could to comfort and cheer each other upon the solemn occasion.
On the morning of the day appointed for the execution, a cannon was fired as a signal to bring the prisoners from the castle to the principal market place, in which scaffolds were erected, and a body of troops were drawn up to attend the tragic scene.
The prisoners left the castle with as much cheerfulness as if they had been going to an agreeable entertainment, instead of a violent death.
Exclusive of soldiers, Jesuits, priests, executioners, attendants, etc., a prodigious concourse of people attended, to see the exit of these devoted martyrs, who were executed in the following order.
Lord Schilik was about fifty years of age, and was possessed of great natural and acquired abilities. When he was told he was to be quartered, and his parts scattered in different places, he smiled with great serenity, saying, "The loss of a sepulchre is but a trifling consideration." A gentleman who stood by, crying, "Courage, my lord!" he replied, "I have God's favor, which is sufficient to inspire any one with courage: the fear of death does not trouble me; formerly I have faced him in fields of battle to oppose Antichrist; and now dare face him on a scaffold, for the sake of Christ." Having said a short prayer, he told the executioner he was ready. He cut off his right hand and his head, and then quartered him. His hand and his head were placed upon the high tower of Prague, and his quarters distributed in different parts of the city.
Lord Viscount Winceslaus, who had attained the age of seventy years, was equally respectable for learning, piety, and hospitality. His temper was so remarkably patient that when his house was broken open, his property seized, and his estates confiscated, he only said, with great composure, "The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away." Being asked why he could engage in so dangerous a cause as that of attempting to support the elector Palatine Frederic against the power of the emperor, he replied, "I acted strictly according to the dictates of my conscience, and, to this day, deem him my king. I am now full of years, and wish to lay down life, that I may not be a witness of the further evils which are to attend my country. You have long thirsted for my blood, take it, for God will be my avenger." Then approaching the block, he stroked his long, grey beard, and said, "Venerable hairs, the greater honor now attends ye, a crown of martyrdom is your portion." Then laying down his head, it was severed from his body at one stroke, and placed upon a pole in a conspicuous part of the city.
Lord Harant was a man of good sense, great piety, and much experience gained by travel, as he had visited the principal places in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hence he was free from national prejudices and had collected much knowledge.
The accusations against this nobleman, were, his being a Protestant, and having taken an oath of allegiance to Frederic, elector Palatine of the Rhine, as king of Bohemia. When he came upon the scaffold he said, "I have travelled through many countries, and traversed various barbarous nations, yet never found so much cruelty as at home. I have escaped innumerable perils both by sea and land, and surmounted inconceivable difficulties, to suffer innocently in my native place. My blood is likewise sought by those for whom I, and my forefathers, have hazarded our estates; but, Almighty God! forgive them, for they know not what they do." He then went to the block, kneeled down, and exclaimed with great energy, "Into Thy hands, O Lord! I commend my spirit; in Thee have I always trusted; receive me, therefore, my blessed Redeemer." The fatal stroke was then given, and a period put to the temporary pains of this life.
Lord Frederic de Bile suffered as a Protestant, and a promoter of the late war; he met his fate with serenity, and only said he wished well to the friends whom he left behind, forgave the enemies who caused his death, denied the authority of the emperor in that country, acknowledged Frederic to be the only true king of Bohemia, and hoped for salvation in the merits of his blessed Redeemer.
Lord Henry Otto, when he first came upon the scaffold, seemed greatly confounded, and said, with some asperity, as if addressing himself to the emperor, "Thou tyrant Ferdinand, your throne is established in blood; but if you will kill my body, and disperse my members, they shall still rise up in judgment against you." He then was silent, and having walked about for some time, seemed to recover his fortitude, and growing calm, said to a gentleman who stood near, "I was, a few minutes since, greatly discomposed, but now I feel my spirits revive; God be praised for affording me such comfort; death no longer appears as the king of terrors, but seems to invite me to participate of some unknown joys." Kneeling before the block, he said, "Almighty God! to Thee I commend my soul, receive it for the sake of Christ, and admit it to the glory of Thy presence." The executioner put this nobleman to considerable pain, by making several strokes before he severed the head from the body.
The earl of Rugenia was distinguished for his superior abilities, and unaffected piety. On the scaffold he said, "We who drew our swords fought only to preserve the liberties of the people, and to keep our consciences sacred: as we were overcome, I am better pleased at the sentence of death, than if the emperor had given me life; for I find that it pleases God to have his truth defended, not by our swords, but by our blood." He then went boldly to the block, saying, "I shall now be speedily with Christ," and received the crown of martyrdom with great courage.
Sir Gaspar Kaplitz was eighty-six years of age. When he came to the place of execution, he addressed the principal officer thus: "Behold a miserable ancient man, who hath often entreated God to take him out of this wicked world, but could not until now obtain his desire, for God reserved me until these years to be a spectacle to the world, and a sacrifice to himself; therefore God's will be done." One of the officers told him, in consideration of his great age, that if he would only ask pardon, he would immediately receive it. "Ask pardon, (exclaimed he) I will ask pardon of God, whom I have frequently offended; but not of the emperor, to whom I never gave any offence; should I sue for pardon, it might be justly suspected I had committed some crime for which I deserved this condemnation. No, no, as I die innocent, and with a clear conscience, I would not be separated from this noble company of martyrs:" so saying, he cheerfully resigned his neck to the block.
Procopius Dorzecki on the scaffold said, "We are now under the emperor's judgment; but in time he shall be judged, and we shall appear as witnesses against him." Then taking a gold medal from his neck, which was struck when the elector Frederic was crowned king of Bohemia, he presented it to one of the officers, at the same time uttering these words, "As a dying man, I request, if ever King Frederic is restored to the throne of Bohemia, that you will give him this medal. Tell him, for his sake, I wore it until death, and that now I willingly lay down my life for God and my king." He then cheerfully laid down his head and submitted to the fatal blow.
Dionysius Servius was brought up a Roman Catholic, but had embraced the reformed religion for some years. When upon the scaffold the Jesuits used their utmost endeavors to make him recant, and return to his former faith, but he paid not the least attention to their exhortations. Kneeling down he said, "They may destroy my body, but cannot injure my soul, that I commend to my Redeemer"; and then patiently submitted to martyrdom, being at that time fifty-six years of age.
Valentine Cockan, was a person of considerable fortune and eminence, perfectly pious and honest, but of trifling abilities; yet his imagination seemed to grow bright, and his faculties to improve on death's approach, as if the impending danger refined the understanding. Just before he was beheaded, he expressed himself with such eloquence, energy, and precision as greatly amazed those who knew his former deficiency in point of capacity.
Tobias Steffick was remarkable for his affability and serenity of temper.
He was perfectly resigned to his fate, and a few minutes before his death spoke in this singular manner, "I have received, during the whole course of my life, many favors from God; ought I not therefore cheerfully to take one bitter cup, when He thinks proper to present it? Or rather, ought I not to rejoice that it is his will I should give up a corrupted life for that of immortality!"
Dr. Jessenius, an able student of physic, was accused of having spoken disrespectful words of the emperor, of treason in swearing allegiance to the elector Frederic, and of heresy in being a Protestant. For the first accusation he had his tongue cut out; for the second he was beheaded; and for the third, and last, he was quartered, and the respective parts exposed on poles.
Christopher Chober, as soon as he stepped upon the scaffold said, "I come in the name of God, to die for His glory; I have fought the good fight, and finished my course; so, executioner, do your office." The executioner obeyed, and he instantly received the crown of martyrdom.
No person ever lived more respected or died more lamented than John Shultis. The only words he spoke, before receiving the fatal stroke, were, "The righteous seem to die in the eyes of fools, but they only go to rest. Lord Jesus! Thou hast promised that those who come to Thee shall not be cast off. Behold, I am come; look on me, pity me, pardon my sins, and receive my soul."
Maximilian Hostialick was famed for his learning, piety, and humanity. When he first came on the scaffold, he seemed exceedingly terrified at the approach of death. The officer taking notice of his agitation, Hostialick said, "Ah! sir, now the sins of my youth crowd upon my mind, but I hope God will enlighten me, lest I sleep the sleep of death and lest mine enemies say we have prevailed." Soon after he said, "I hope my repentance is sincere, and will be accepted, in which case the blood of Christ will wash me from my crimes." He then told the officer he should repeat the Song of Simeon; at the conclusion of which the executioner might do his duty. He accordingly, said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;" at which words his head was struck off at one blow.
When John Kutnaur came to the place of execution, a Jesuit said to him, "Embrace the Roman Catholic faith, which alone can save and arm you against the terrors of death." To which he replied, "Your superstitious faith I abhor, it leads to perdition, and I wish for no other arms against the terrors of death than a good conscience." The Jesuit turned away, saying, sarcastically, "The Protestants are impenetrable rocks." "You are mistaken," said Kutnaur, "it is Christ that is the Rock, and we are firmly fixed upon Him."
This person not being born independent, but having acquired a fortune by a mechanical employment, was ordered to be hanged. Just before he was turned off, he said, "I die, not for having committed any crime, but for following the dictates of my own conscience, and defending my country and religion."
Simeon Sussickey was father-in-law to Kutnaur, and like him, was ordered to be executed on a gallows. He went cheerfully to death, and appeared impatient to be executed, saying, "Every moment delays me from entering into the Kingdom of Christ."
Nathaniel Wodnianskey was hanged for having supported the Protestant cause, and the election of Frederic to the crown of Bohemia. At the gallows, the Jesuits did all in their power to induce him to renounce his faith. Finding their endeavors ineffectual, one of them said, "If you will not adjure your heresy, at least repent of your rebellion?" To which Wodnianskey replied, "You take away our lives under a pretended charge of rebellion; and, not content with that, seek to destroy our souls; glut yourselves with blood, and be satisfied; but tamper not with our consciences."
Wodnianskey's own son then approached the gallows, and said to his father, "Sir, if life should be offered to you on condition of apostasy, I entreat you to remember Christ, and reject such pernicious overtures." To this the father replied, "It is very acceptable, my son, to be exhorted to constancy by you; but suspect me not; rather endeavor to confirm in their faith your brothers, sisters, and children, and teach them to imitate that constancy of which I shall leave them an example." He had so sooner concluded these words than he was turned off, receiving the crown of martyrdom with great fortitude.
Winceslaus Gisbitzkey, during his whole confinement, had great hopes of life given him, which made his friends fear for the safety of his soul. He, however, continued steadfast in his faith, prayed fervently at the gallows, and met his fate with singular resignation.
Martin Foster was an ancient cripple; the accusations against whom were, being charitable to heretics, and lending money to the elector Frederic. His great wealth, however, seemed to have been his principal crime; and that he might be plundered of his treasures was the occasion of his being ranked in this illustrious list of martyrs.
General Persecutions in Germany
The general persecutions in Germany were principally occasioned by the doctrines and ministry of Martin Luther. Indeed, the pope was so terrified at the success of that courageous reformer, that he determined to engage the emperor, Charles V, at any rate, in the scheme to attempt their extirpation.
To this end
1. He gave the emperor two hundred thousand crowns in ready money.
2. He promised to maintain twelve thousand foot, and five thousand horse, for the space of six months, or during a campaign. 3. He allowed the emperor to receive one half the revenues of the clergy of the empire during the war. 4. He permitted the emperor to pledge the abbey lands for five hundred thousand crowns, to assist in carrying on hostilities against the Protestants.
Thus prompted and supported, the emperor undertook the extirpation of the Protestants, against whom, indeed, he was particularly enraged himself; and, for this purpose, a formidable army was raised in Germany, Spain, and Italy.
The Protestant princes, in the meantime, formed a powerful confederacy, in order to repel the impending blow. A great army was raised, and the command given to the elector of Saxony, and the landgrave of Hesse. The imperial forces were commanded by the emperor of Germany in person, and the eyes of all Europe were turned on the event of the war.
At length the armies met, and a desperate engagement ensued, in which the Protestants were defeated, and the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse both taken prisoners. This fatal blow was succeeded by a horrid persecution, the severities of which were such that exile might be deemed a mild fate, and concealment in a dismal wood pass for happiness. In such times a cave is a palace, a rock a bed of down, and wild roots delicacies.
Those who were taken experienced the most cruel tortures that infernal imaginations could invent; and by their constancy evinced that a real Christian can surmount every difficulty, and despite every danger acquire a crown of martyrdom.
Henry Voes and John Esch, being apprehended as Protestants, were brought to examination. Voes, answering for himself and the other, gave the following answers to some questions asked by a priest, who examined them by order of the magistracy.
Priest. Were you not both, some years ago, Augustine friars?
Priest. How came you to quit the bosom of the Church at Rome?
Voes. On account of her abominations.
Priest. In what do you believe?
Voes. In the Old and New Testaments.
Priest. Do you believe in the writings of the fathers, and the decrees of the Councils?
Voes. Yes, if they agree with Scripture.
Priest. Did not Martin Luther seduce you both?
Voes. He seduced us even in the very same manner as Christ seduced the apostles; that is, he made us sensible of the frailty of our bodies, and the value of our souls.
This examination was sufficient. They were both condemned to the flames, and soon after suffered with that manly fortitude which becomes Christians when they receive a crown of martyrdom.
Henry Sutphen, an eloquent and pious preacher, was taken out of his bed in the middle of the night, and compelled to walk barefoot a considerable way, so that his feet were terribly cut. He desired a horse, but his conductors said, in derision, "A horse for a heretic! no no, heretics may go barefoot." When he arrived at the place of his destination, he was condemned to be burnt; but, during the execution, many indignities were offered him, as those who attended not content with what he suffered in the flames, cut and slashed him in a most terrible manner.
Many were murdered at Halle; Middleburg being taken by storm all the Protestants were put to the sword, and great numbers were burned at Vienna.
An officer being sent to put a minister to death, pretended, when he came to the clergyman's house, that his intentions were only to pay him a visit. The minister, not suspecting the intended cruelty, entertained his supposed guest in a very cordial manner. As soon as dinner was over, the officer said to some of his attendants, "Take this clergyman, and hang him." The attendants themselves were so shocked after the civility they had seen, that they hesitated to perform the commands of their master; and the minister said, "Think what a sting will remain on your conscience, for thus violating the laws of hospitality." The officer, however, insisted upon being obeyed, and the attendants, with reluctance, performed the execrable office of executioners.
Peter Spengler, a pious divine, of the town of Schalet, was thrown into the river, and drowned. Before he was taken to the banks of the stream which was to become his grave, they led him to the market place that his crimes might be proclaimed; which were, not going to Mass, not making confession, and not believing in transubstantiation. After this ceremony was over, he made a most excellent discourse to the people, and concluded with a kind hymn, of a very edifying nature.
A Protestant gentleman being ordered to lose his head for not renouncing his religion, went cheerfully to the place of execution. A friar came to him, and said these words in a low tone of voice, "As you have a great reluctance publicly to abjure your faith, whisper your confession in my ear, and I will absolve your sins." To this the gentleman loudly replied, "Trouble me not, friar, I have confessed my sins to God, and obtained absolution through the merits of Jesus Christ." Then turning to the executioner, he said, "Let me not be pestered with these men, but perform your duty," on which his head was struck off at a single blow.
Wolfgang Scuch, and John Huglin, two worthy ministers, were burned, as was Leonard Keyser, a student of the University of Wertembergh; and George Carpenter, a Bavarian, was hanged for refusing to recant Protestantism.
The persecutions in Germany having subsided many years, again broke out in 1630, on account of the war between the emperor and the king of Sweden, for the latter was a Protestant prince, and consequently the Protestants of Germany espoused his cause, which greatly exasperated the emperor against them.
The imperialists having laid siege to the town of Passewalk, (which was defended by the Swedes) took it by storm, and committed the most horrid cruelties on the occasion. They pulled down the churches, burnt the houses, pillaged the properties, massacred the ministers, put the garrison to the sword, hanged the townsmen, ravished the women, smothered the children, etc., etc.
A most bloody tragedy was transacted at Magdeburg, in the year 1631. The generals Tilly and Pappenheim, having taken that Protestant city by storm, upwards of twenty thousand persons, without distinction of rank, sex, or age, were slain during the carnage, and six thousand were drowned in attempting to escape over the river Elbe. After this fury had subsided, the remaining inhabitants were stripped naked, severely scourged, had their ears cropped, and being yoked together like oxen were turned adrift.
The town of Hoxter was taken by the popish army, and all the inhabitants as well as the garrison were put to the sword; the houses even were set on fire, the bodies being consumed in the flames.
At Griphenberg, when the imperial forces prevailed, they shut up the senators in the senate chamber, and surrounding it by lighted straw suffocated them.
Franhendal surrendered upon articles of capitulation, yet the inhabitants were as cruelly used as at other places; and at Heidelberg many were shut up in prison and starved.
The cruelties used by the imperial troops, under Count Tilly in Saxony, are thus enumerated.
Half strangling, and recovering the persons again repeatedly. Rolling sharp wheels over the fingers and toes. Pinching the thumbs in a vice. Forcing the most filthy things down the throat, by which many were choked. Tying cords round the head so tightly that the blood gushed out of the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Fastening burning matches to the fingers, toes, ears, arms, legs, and even the tongue. Putting powder in the mouth and setting fire to it, by which the head was shattered to pieces. Tying bags of powder to all parts of the body, by which the person was blown up. Drawing cords backwards and forwards through the fleshy parts. Making incisions with bodkins and knives in the skin. Running wires through the nose, ears, lips, etc. Hanging Protestants up by the legs, with their heads over a fire, by which they were smoke dried. Hanging up by one arm until it was dislocated. Hanging upon hooks by the ribs. Forcing people to drink until they burst. Baking many in hot ovens. Fixing weights to the feet, and drawing up several with pulleys. Hanging, stifling, roasting, stabbing, frying, racking, ravishing, ripping open, breaking the bones, rasping off the flesh, tearing with wild horses, drowning, strangling, burning, broiling, crucifying, immuring, poisoning, cutting off tongues, noses, ears, etc., sawing off the limbs, hacking to pieces, and drawing by the heels through the streets.
The enormous cruelties will be a perpetual stain on the memory of Count Tilly, who not only committed, but even commanded the troops to put them in practice. Wherever he came, the most horrid barbarities and cruel depredations ensued: famine and conflagration marked his progress: for he destroyed all the provisions he could not take with him, and burnt all the towns before he left them; so that the full result of his conquests were murder, poverty, and desolation.
An aged and pious divine they stripped naked, tied him on his back upon a table, and fastened a large, fierce cat upon his belly. They then pricked and tormented the cat in such a manner that the creature with rage tore his belly open, and gnawed his bowels.
Another minister and his family were seized by these inhuman monsters; they ravished his wife and daughter before his face; stuck his infant son upon the point of a lance, and then surrounding him with his whole library of books, they set fire to them, and he was consumed in the midst of the flames.
In Hesse-Cassel some of the troops entered an hospital, in which were principally mad women, when stripping all the poor wretches naked, they made them run about the streets for their diversion, and then put them all to death.
In Pomerania, some of the imperial troops entering a small town, seized upon all the young women, and girls of upwards of ten years, and then placing their parents in a circle, they ordered them to sing Psalms, while they ravished their children, or else they swore they would cut them to pieces afterward. They then took all the married women who had young children, and threatened, if they did not consent to the gratification of their lusts, to burn their children before their faces in a large fire, which they had kindled for that purpose.
A band of Count Tilly's soldiers meeting a company of merchants belonging to Basel, who were returning from the great market of Strassburg, attempted to surround them; all escaped, however, but ten, leaving their properties behind. The ten who were taken begged hard for their lives: but the soldiers murdered them saying, "You must die because you are heretics, and have got no money."
The same soldiers met with two countesses, who, together with some young ladies, the daughters of one of them, were taking an airing in a landau. The soldiers spared their lives, but treated them with the greatest indecency, and having stripped them all stark naked, bade the coachman drive on.
By means and mediation of Great Britain, peace was at length restored to Germany, and the Protestants remained unmolested for several years, until some new disturbances broke out in the Palatinate, which were thus occasioned:
The great Church of the Holy Ghost, at Heidelberg, had, for many years, been shared equally by the Protestants and Roman Catholics in this manner: the Protestants performed divine service in the nave or body of the church; and the Roman Catholics celebrated Mass in the choir. Though this had been the custom from time immemorial, the elector of the Palatinate, at length, took it into his head not to suffer it any longer, declaring, that as Heidelberg was the place of his residence, and the Church of the Holy Ghost the cathedral of his principal city, divine service ought to be performed only according to the rites of the Church of which he was a member. He then forbade the Protestants to enter the church, and put the papists in possession of the whole.
The aggrieved people applied to the Protestant powers for redress, which so much exasperated the elector, that he suppressed the Heidelberg catechism. The Protestant powers, however, unanimously agreed to demand satisfaction, as the elector, by this conduct, had broken an article of the treaty of Westphalia; and the courts of Great Britain, Prussia, Holland, etc., sent deputies to the elector, to represent the injustice of his proceedings, and to threaten, unless he changed his behavior to the Protestants in the Palatinate, that they would treat their Roman Catholic subjects with the greatest severity. Many violent disputes took place between the Protestant powers and those of the elector, and these were greatly augmented by the following incident: the coach of the Dutch minister standing before the door of the resident sent by the prince of Hesse, the host was by chance being carried to a sick person; the coachman took not the least notice, which those who attended the host observing, pulled him from his box, and compelled him to kneel; this violence to the domestic of a public minister was highly resented by all the Protestant deputies; and still more to heighten these differences, the Protestants presented to the deputies three additional articles of complaint. 1. That military executions were ordered against all Protestant shoemakers who should refuse to contribute to the Masses of St. Crispin. 2. that the Protestants were forbid to work on popish holy days, even in harvest time, under very heavy penalties, which occasioned great inconveniences, and considerably prejudiced public business.
3. That several Protestant ministers had been dispossessed of their churches, under pretence of their having been originally founded and built by Roman Catholics.
The Protestant deputies at length became so serious as to intimate to the elector, that force of arms should compel him to do the justice he denied to their representations. This menace brought him to reason, as he well knew the impossibility of carrying on a war against the powerful states who threatened him. He therefore agreed that the body of the Church of the Holy Ghost should be restored to the Protestants. He restored the Heidelberg catechism, put the Protestant ministers again in possession of the churches of which they had been dispossessed, allowed the Protestants to work on popish holy days, and, ordered, that no person should be molested for not kneeling when the host passed by.
These things he did through fear; but to show his resentment to his Protestant subjects, in other circumstances where Protestant states had no right to interfere, he totally abandoned Heidelberg, removing all the courts of justice to Mannheim, which was entirely inhabited by Roman Catholics. He likewise built a new palace there, making it his place of residence; and, being followed by the Roman Catholics of Heidelberg, Mannheim became a flourishing place.
In the meantime the Protestants of Heidelberg sunk into poverty and many of them became so distressed as to quit their native country, and seek an asylum in Protestant states. A great number of these coming into England, in the time of Queen Anne, were cordially received there, and met with a most humane assistance, both by public and private donations.
In 1732, above thirty thousand Protestants were, contrary to the treaty of Westphalia, driven from the archbishopric of Salzburg. They went away in the depth of winter, with scarcely enough clothes to cover them, and without provisions, not having permission to take anything with them. The cause of these poor people not being publicly espoused by such states as could obtain them redress, they emigrated to various Protestant countries, and settled in places where they could enjoy the free exercise of their religion, without hurting their consciences, and live free from the trammels of popish superstition, and the chains of papal tyranny.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Netherlands
The light of the Gospel having successfully spread over the Netherlands, the pope instigated the emperor to commence a persecution against the Protestants; when many thousand fell martyrs to superstitious malice and barbarous bigotry, among whom the most remarkable were the following: ...
An Account of the Life, Sufferings, and Death of Mr. George Wishart, Who Was Strangled and Afterward Burned, in Scotland, for Professing the Truth of the Gospel
About the year of our Lord 1543, there was, in the University of Cambridge, one Master George Wishart, commonly called Master George of Benet's College, a man of tall stature, polled-headed, and on the same a round French cap of the best; judged to be of melancholy complexion by his physiognomy, black-haired, long-bearded, comely of personage, well spoken after his country of Scotland, courteous, lowly, lovely, glad to teach, desirous to learn, and well travelled; having on him for his clothing a frieze gown to the shoes, a black millian fustian doublet, and plain black hosen, coarse new canvas for his shirts, and white falling bands and cuffs at his hands.
He was a man modest, temperate, fearing God, hating covetousness; for his charity had never end, night, noon, nor day; he forbare one meal in three, one day in four for the most part, except something to comfort nature. He lay hard upon a puff of straw and coarse, new canvas sheets, which, when he changed, he gave away. He had commonly by his bedside a tub of water, in the which (his people being in bed, the candle put out and all quiet) he used to bathe himself. He loved me tenderly, and I him. He taught with great modesty and gravity, so that some of his people thought him severe, and would have slain him; but the Lord was his defence. And he, after due correction for their malice, by good exhortation amended them and went his way. Oh, that the Lord had left him to me, his poor boy, that he might have finished what he had begun! for he went into scotland with divers of the nobility, that came for a treaty to King Henry.
In 1543, the archbishop of St. Andrews made a visitation into various parts of his diocese, where several persons were informed against at Perth for heresy. Among those the following were condemned to die, viz. William Anderson, Robert Lamb, James Finlayson, James Hunter, James Raveleson, and Helen Stark.
The accusations laid against these respective persons were as follow: The four first were accused of having hung up the image of St. Francis, nailing ram's horns on his head, and fastening a cow's tail to his rump; but the principal matter on which they were condemned was having regaled themselves with a goose on fast day.
James Reveleson was accused of having ornamented his house with the three crowned diadem of Peter, carved in wood, which the archbishop conceived to be done in mockery to his cardinal's cap.
Helen Stark was accused of not having accustomed herself to pray to the Virgin Mary, more especially during the time she was in childbed.
On these respective accusations they were all found guilty, and immediately received sentence of death; the four men, for eating the goose, to be hanged; James Raveleson to be burnt; and the woman, with her sucking infant, to be put into a sack and drowned.
The four men, with the woman and the child, suffered at the same time, but James Raveleson was not executed until some days after.
The martyrs were carried by a great band of armed men (for they feared rebellion in the town except they had their men of war) to the place of execution, which was common to all thieves, and that to make their cause appear more odious to the people. Every one comforting another, and assuring themselves that they should sup together in the Kingdom of Heaven that night, they commended themselves to God, and died constantly in the Lord.
The woman desired earnestly to die with her husband, but she was not suffered; yet, following him to the place of execution, she gave him comfort, exhorting him to perseverance and patience for Christ's sake, and, parting from him with a kiss, said, "Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we must die, ought to be most joyful unto us both, because we must have joy forever; therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the Kingdom of Heaven." The woman, after that, was taken to a place to be drowned, and albeit she had a child sucking on her breast, yet this moved nothing in the unmerciful hearts of the enemies. So, after she had commended her children to the neighbors of the town for God's sake, and the sucking bairn was given to the nurse, she sealed up the truth by her death.
Being desirous of propagating the true Gospel in his own country George Wishart left Cambridge in 1544, and on his arrival in Scotland he first preached at Montrose, and afterwards at Dundee. In this last place he made a public exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, which he went through with such grace and freedom, as greatly alarmed the papists.
In consequence of this, (at the instigation of Cardinal Beaton, the archbishop of St. Andrews) one Robert Miln, a principal man at Dundee, went to the church where Wishart preached, and in the middle of his discourse publicly told him not to trouble the town any more, for he was determined not to suffer it.
This sudden rebuff greatly surprised Wishart, who, after a short pause, looking sorrowfully on the speaker and the audience, said: "God is my witness, that I never minded your trouble but your comfort; yea, your trouble is more grievous to me than it is to yourselves: but I am assured to refuse God's Word, and to chase from you His messenger, shall not preserve you from trouble, but shall bring you into it: for God shall send you ministers that shall fear neither burning nor banishment. I have offered you the Word of salvation. With the hazard of my life I have remained among you; now you yourselves refuse me; and I must leave my innocence to be declared by my God. If it be long prosperous with you, I am not lede by the Spirit of truth; but if unlooked-for troubles come upon you, acknowledge the cause and turn to God, who is gracious and merciful. But if you turn not at the first warning, He will visit you with fire and sword." At the close of this speech he left the pulpit, and retired.
After this he went into the west of Scotland, where he preached God's Word, which was gladly received by many.
A short time after this Mr. Wishart received intelligence that the plague had broken out in Dundee. It began four days after he was prohibited from preaching there, and raged so extremely that it was almost beyond credit how many died in the space of twenty-four hours. This being related to him, he, notwithstanding the importunity of his friends to detain him, determined to go there, saying: "They are now in troubles, and need comfort. Perhaps this hand of God will make them now to magnify and reverence the Word of God, which before they lightly esteemed."
Here he was with joy received by the godly. He chose the east gate for the place of his preaching; so that the healthy were within, and the sick without the gate. He took his text from these words, "He sent His word and healed them," etc. In this sermon he chiefly dwelt upon the advantage and comfort of God's Word, the judgments that ensue upon the contempt or rejection of it, the freedom of God's grace to all His people, and the happiness of those of His elect, whom He takes to Himself out of this miserable world. The hearts of his hearers were so raised by the divine force of this discourse, as not to regard death, but to judge them the more happy who should then be called, not knowing whether he should have such comfort again with them.
After this the plague abated; though, in the midst of it, Wishart constantly visited those that lay in the greatest extremity, and comforted them by his exhortations.
When he took his leave of the people of Dundee, he said that God had almost put an end to that plague, and that he was now called to another place. He went from thence to Montrose; where he sometimes preached, but he spent most of his time in private meditation and prayer.
It is said that before he left Dundee, and while he was engaged in the labors of love to the bodies as well as to the souls of those poor afflicted people, Cardinal Beaton engaged a desperate popish priest, called John Weighton, to kill him; the attempt to execute which was as follows: one day, after Wishart had finished his sermon, and the people departed, a priest stood waiting at the bottom of the stairs, with a naked dagger in his hand under his gown. But Mr. Wishart, having a sharp, piercing eye, and seeing the priest as he came from the pulpit, said to him, "My friend, what would you have?" and immediately clapping his hand upon the dagger, took it from him. The priest being terrified, fell to his knees, confessed his intention, and craved pardon. A noise was hereupon raised, and it coming to the ears of those who were sick, they cried, "Deliver the traitor to us, we will take him by force"; and they burst in at the gate. But Wishart, taking the priest in his arms, said, "Whatsoever hurts him shall hurt me; for he hath done me no mischief, but much good, by teaching more heedfulness for the time to come." By this conduct he appeased the people and saved the life of the wicked priest.
Soon after his return to Montrose, the cardinal again conspired his death, causing a letter to be sent him as if it had been from his familiar friend, the laird of Kennier, in which it was desired with all possible speed to come to him, as he was taken with a sudden sickness. In the meantime the cardinal had provided sixty men armed to lie in wait within a mile and a half of Montrose, in order to murder him as he passed that way.
The letter came to Wishart's hand by a boy, who also brought him a horse for the journey. Wishart, accompanied by some honest men, his friends, set forward; but something particular striking his mind by the way, he returned, which they wondering at, asked him the cause; to whom he said, "I will not go; I am forbidden of God; I am assured there is treason. Let some of you go to yonder place, and tell me what you find." Which doing, they made the discovery; and hastily returning, they told Mr. Wishart; whereupon he said, "I know I shall end my life by that bloodthirsty man's hands, but it will not be in this manner."
A short time after this he left Montrose, and proceeded to Edinburgh, in order to propagate the Gospel in that city. By the way he lodged with a faithful brother, called James Watson of Inner-Goury. In the middle of the night he got up, and went into the yard, which two men hearing they privately followed him. While in the yard, he fell on his knees, and prayed for some time with the greatest fervency, after which he arose, and returned to his bed. Those who attended him, appearing as though they were ignorant of all, came and asked him where he had been. But he would not answer them. The next day they importuned him to tell them, saying "Be plain with us, for we heard your mourning, and saw your gestures."
On this he with a dejected countenance, said, "I had rather you had been in your beds." But they still pressing upon him to know something, he said, "I will tell you; I am assured that my warfare is near at an end, and therefore pray to God with me, that I shrink not when the battle waxeth most hot."
Soon after, Cardinal Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews, being informed that Mr. Wishart was at the house of Mr. Cockburn, of Ormistohn, in East Lothian, applied to the regent to cause him to be apprehended; with which, after great persuasion, and much against his will, he complied.
In consequence of this the cardinal immediately proceeded to the trial of Wishart, against whom no less than eighteen articles were exhibited. Mr. Wishart answered the respective articles with great composure of mind, and in so learned and clear a manner as greatly surprised most of those who were present.
After the examination was finished, the archbishop endeavored to prevail on Mr. Wishart to recant; but he was too firmly fixed in his religious principles and too much enlightened with the truth of the Gospel, to be in the least moved.
On the morning of his execution there came to him two friars from the cardinal; one of whom put on him a black linen coat, and the other brought several bags of gunpowder, which they tied about different parts of his body.
As soon as he arrived at the stake, the executioner put a rope round his neck and a chain about his middle, upon which he fell on his knees and thus exclaimed:
"O thou Savior of the world, have mercy upon me! Father of heaven, I commend my spirit into Thy holy hands."
After this he prayed for his accusers, saying, "I beseech thee, Father of heaven, forgive them that have, from ignorance or an evil mind, forged lies of me: I forgive them with all my heart. I beseech Christ to forgive them that have ignorantly condemned me."
He was then fastened to the stake, and the fagots being lighted immediately set fire to the powder that was tied about him, which blew into a flame and smoke.
The governor of the castle, who stood so near that he was singed with the flame, exhorted the martyr, in a few words, to be of good cheer, and to ask the pardon of God for his offences. To which he replied, "This flame occasions trouble to my body, indeed, but it hath in nowise broken my spirit. But he who now so proudly looks down upon me from yonder lofty place (pointing to the cardinal) shall, ere long, be ignominiously thrown down, as now he proudly lolls at his ease." Which prediction was soon after fulfilled.
The hangman, that was his tormentor, sat down upon his knees, and said, "Sir, I pray you to forgive me, for I am not guilty of your death." To whom he answered, "Come hither to me." When that he was come to him, he kissed his cheek, and said: "Lo, here is a token that I forgive thee. My heart, do thine office." And then he was put upon the gibbet and hanged, and burned to powder. When that the people beheld the great tormenting, they might not withhold from piteous mourning and complaining of this innocent lamb's slaughter.
It was not long after the martyrdom of this blessed man of God, Master George Wishart, who was put to death by David Beaton, the bloody archbishop and cardinal of Scotland, A.D. 1546, the first day of March, that the said David Beaton, by the just revenge of God's mighty judgment, was slain within his own castle of St. Andrews, by the hands of one Leslie and other gentlemen, who, by the Lord stirred up, brake in suddenly upon him, and in his bed murdered him the said year, the last day of May, crying out, "Alas! alas! slay me not! I am a priest!" And so, like a butcher he lived, and like a butcher he died, and lay seven months and more unburied, and at last like a carrion was buried in a dunghill.
The last who suffered martyrdom in Scotland, for the cause of Christ, was one Walter Mill, who was burnt at Edinburgh in the year 1558. ...
Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641
The gloom of popery had overshadowed Ireland from its first establishment there until the reign of Henry VIII when the rays of the Gospel began to dispel the darkness, and afford that light which until then had been unknown in that island. The abject ignorance in which the people were held, with the absurd and superstitious notions they entertained, were sufficiently evident to many; and the artifices of their priests were so conspicuous, that several persons of distinction, who had hitherto been strenuous papists, would willingly have endeavored to shake off the yoke, and embrace the Protestant religion; but the natural ferocity of the people, and their strong attachment to the ridiculous doctrines which they had been taught, made the attempt dangerous. It was, however, at length undertaken, though attended with the most horrid and disastrous consequences.
The introduction of the Protestant religion into Ireland may be principally attributed to George Browne, an Englishman, who was consecrated archbishop of Dublin on the nineteenth of March, 1535. He had formerly been an Augustine friar, and was promoted to the mitre on account of his merit.
After having enjoyed his dignity about five years, he, at the time that Henry VIII was suppressing the religious houses in England, caused all the relics and images to be removed out of the two cathedrals in Dublin, and the other churches in his diocese; in the place of which he caused to be put up the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments.
A short time after this he received a letter from Thomas Cromwell, lord-privy seal, informing him that Henry VIII having thrown off the papal supremacy in England, was determined to do the like in Ireland; and that he thereupon had appointed him (Archbishop Browne) one of the commissioners for seeing this order put in execution. The archbishop answered that he had employed his utmost endeavors at the hazard of his life, to cause the Irish nobility and gentry to acknowledge Henry as their supreme head, in matters both spiritual and temporal; but had met with a most violent opposition, especially from George, archbishop of Armagh; that this prelate had, in a speech to his clergy, laid a curse on all those who should own his highness' supremacy: adding, that their isle, called in the Chronicles Insula Sacra, or the Holy Island, belonged to none but the bishop of Rome, and that the king's progenitors had received it from the pope. He observed likewise, that the archbishop and clergy of Armagh had each despatched a courier to Rome; and that it would be necessary for a parliament to be called in Ireland, to pass an act of supremacy, the people not regarding the king's commission without the sanction of the legislative assembly. He concluded with observing, that the popes had kept the people in the most profound ignorance; that the clergy were exceedingly illiterate; that the common people were more zealous in their blindness than the saints and martyrs had been in the defence of truth at the beginning of the Gospel; and that it was to be feared that Shan O'Neal, a chieftain of great power in the northern part of the island, was decidedly opposed to the king's commission.
In pursuance of this advice, the following year a parliament was summoned to meet at Dublin, by order of Leonard Grey, at that time lord-lieutenant. At this assembly Archbishop Browne made a speech, in which he set forth that the bishops of Rome used, anciently, to acknowledge emperors, kings, and princes, to be supreme in their own dominions; and, therefore, that he himself would vote King Henry VIII as supreme in all matters, both ecclesiastical and temporal. He concluded with saying that whosoever should refuse to vote for this act, was not a true subject of the king. This speech greatly startled the other bishops and lords; but at length, after violent debates, the king's supremacy was allowed.
Two years after this, the archbishop wrote a second letter to Lord Cromwell, complaining of the clergy, and hinting at the machinations which the pope was then carrying on against the advocates of the Gospel. This letter is dated from Dublin, in April, 1538; and among other matters, the archbishop says, "A bird may be taught to speak with as much sense as many of the clergy do in this cvountry. These, though not scholars, yet are crafty to cozen the oor common people and to dissuade them from following his highness orders. The country folk here much hate your lordship, and despitefully call you, in their Irish tongue, the Blacksmith's Son. As a friend, I desire your lordship to look well to your noble person. Rome hath a great kindness for the duke of Norfolk, and great favors for this nation, purposely to oppose his highness."
A short time after this, the pope sent over to Ireland (directed to the archbishop of Armagh and his clergy) a bull of excommunication against all who had, or should own the king's supremacy within the Irish nation; denouncing a curse on all of them, and theirs, who should not, within forty days, acknowledge to their confessors, that they had done amiss in so doing.
Archbishop Browne gave notice of this in a letter dated, Dublin, May, 1538. Part of the form of confession, or vow, sent over to these Irish papists, ran as follows: "I do further declare him or here, father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, husband or wife, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, kinsman or kinswoman, master or mistress, and all others, nearest or dearest relations, friend or acquaintance whatsoever, accursed, that either do or shall hold, for the time to come, any ecclesiastical or civil power above the authority of the Mother Church; or that do or shall obey, for the time to come, any of her, the Mother of Churches' opposers or enemies, or contrary to the same, of which I have here sworn unto: so God, the Blessed Virgin, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Holy Evangelists, help me," etc. is an exact agreement with the doctrines promulgated by the Councils of Lateran and Constance, which expressly declare that no favor should be shown to heretics, nor faith kept with them; that they ought to be excommunicated and condemned, and their estates confiscated, and that princes are obliged, by a solemn oath, to root them out of their respective dominions.
How abominable a church must that be, which thus dares to trample upon all authority! How besotted the people who regard the injunctions of such a church!
In the archbishop's last-mentioned letter, dated May, 1538, he says: "His highness' viceroy of this nation is of little or no power with the old natives. Now both English and Irish begin to oppose your lordship's orders, and to lay aside their national quarrels, which I fear will (if anything will) cause a foreigner to invade this nation."
Not long after this, Archbishop Browne seized one Thady O'Brian, a Franciscan friar, who had in his possession a paper sent from Rome, dated May, 1538, and directed to O'Neal. In this letter were the following words: "His Holiness, Paul, now pope, and the council of the fathers, have lately found, in Rome, a prophecy of one St. Lacerianus, an Irish bishop of Cashel, in which he saith that the Mother Church of Rome falleth, when, in Ireland, the Catholic faith is overcome. Therefore, for the glory of the Mother Church, the honor of St. Peter, and your own secureness, suppress heresy, and his holiness' enemies."
This Thady O'Brian, after further examination and search made, was pilloried, and kept close prisoner until the king's orders arrived in what manner he should be further dispposed of. But order coming over from England that he was to be hanged, he laid violent hands on himself in the castle of Dublin. His body was afterwards carried to Gallows-green, where, after being hanged up for some time, it was interred.
After the accession of Edward VI to the throne of England, an order was directed to Sir Anthony Leger, the lord-deputy of Ireland, commanding that the liturgy in English be forthwith set up in Ireland, there to be observed within the several bishoprics, cathedrals, and parish churches; and it was first read in Christ-church, Dublin, on Easter day, 1551, before the said Sir Anthony, Archbishop Browne, and others. Part of the royal order for this purpose was as follows: "Whereas, our gracious father, King Henry VIII taking into consideration the bondage and heavy yoke that his true and faithful subjects sustained, under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome; how several fabulous stories and lying wonders misled our subjects; dispensing with the sins of our nations, by their indulgences and pardons, for gain; purposely to cherish all evil vices, as robberies, rebellions, thefts, whoredoms, blasphemy, idolatry, etc., our gracious father hereupon dissolved all priories, monasteries, abbeys, and other pretended religious houses; as being but nurseries for vice or luxury, more than for sacred learning," etc.
On the day after the Common Prayer was first used in Christchurch, Dublin, the following wicked scheme was projected by the papists:
In the church was left a marble image of Christ, holding a reed in his hand, with a crown of thorns on his head. Whilst the English service (the Common Prayer) was being read before the lord-lieutenant, the archbishop of Dublin, the privy-council, the lord-mayor, and a great congregation, blood was seen to run through the crevices of the crown of thorns, and trickle down the face of the image. On this, some of the contrivers of the imposture cried aloud, "See how our Savior's image sweats blood! But it must necessarily do this, since heresy is come into the church." Immediately many of the lower order of people, indeed the vulgar of all ranks, were terrified at the sight of so miraculous and undeniable an evidence of the divine displeasure; they hastened from the church, convinced that the doctrines of Protestantism emanated from an infernal source, and that salvation was only to be found in the bosom of their own infallible Church.
This incident, however ludicrous it may appear to the enlightened reader, had great influence over the minds of the ignorant Irish, and answered the ends of the impudent impostors who contrived it, so far as to check the progress of the reformed religion in Ireland very materially; many persons could not resist the conviction that there were many errors and corruptions in the Romish Church, but they were awed into silence by this pretended manifestation of Divine wrath, which was magnified beyond measure by the bigoted and interested priesthood.
We have very few particulars as to the state of religion in Ireland during the remaining portion of the reign of Edward VI and the greater part of that of Mary. Towards the conclusion of the barbarous sway of that relentless bigot, she attempted to extend her inhuman persecutions to this island; but her diabolical intentions were happily frustrated in the following providential manner, the particulars of which are related by historians of good authority.
Mary had appointed Dr. Pole (an agent of the bloodthirsty Bonner) one of the commissioners for carrying her barbarous intentions into effect. He having arrived at Chester with his commission, the mayor of that city, being a papist, waited upon him; when the doctor taking out of his cloak bag a leathern case, said to him, "Here is a commission that shall lash the heretics of Ireland." The good woman of the house being a Protestant, and having a brother in Dublin, named John Edmunds, was greatly troubled at what she heard. But watching her opportunity, whilst the mayor was taking his leave, and the doctor politely accompanying him downstairs, she opened the box, took out the commission, and in its stead laid a sheet of paper, with a pack of cards, and the knave of clubs at top. The doctor, not suspecting the trick that had been played him, put up the box, and arrived with it in Dublin, in September, 1558.
Anxious to accomplish the intentions of his "pious" mistress, he immediately waited upon Lord Fitz-Walter, at that time viceroy, and presented the box to him; which being opened, nothing was found in it but a pack of cards. This startling all the persons present, his lordship said, "We must procure another commission; and in the meantime let us shuffle the cards."
Dr. Pole, however, would have directly returned to England to get another commission; but waiting for a favorable wind, news arrived that Queen Mary was dead, and by this means the Protestants escaped a most cruel persecution. The above relation as we before observed, is confirmed by historians of the greatest credit, who add, that Queen Elizabeth settled a pension of forty pounds per annum upon the above mentioned Elizabeth Edmunds, for having thus saved the lives of her Protestant subjects.
During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, Ireland was almost constantly agitated by rebellions and insurrections, which, although not always taking their rise from the difference of religious opinions, between the English and Irish, were aggravated and rendered more bitter and irreconcilable from that cause. The popish priests artfully exaggerated the faults of the English government, and continually urged to their ignorant and prejudiced hearers the lawfulness of killing the Protestants, assuring them that all Catholics who were slain in the prosecution of so pious an enterprise, would be immediately received into everlasting felicity. The naturally ungovernable dispositions of the Irish, acted upon by these designing men, drove them into continual acts of barbarous and unjustifiable violence; and it must be confessed that the unsettled and arbitrary nature of the authority exercised by the English governors, was but little calculated to gain their affections. The Spaniards, too, by landing forces in the south, and giving every encouragement to the discontented natives to join their standard, kept the island in a continual state of turbulence and warfare. In 1601, they disembarked a body of four thousand men at Kinsale, and commenced what they called "the Holy War for the preservation of the faith in Ireland;" they were assisted by great numbers of the Irish, but were at length totally defeated by the deputy, Lord Mountjoy, and his officers.
This closed the transactions of Elizabeth's reign with respect to Ireland; an interval of apparent tranquillity followed, but the popish priesthood, ever restless and designing, sought to undermine by secret machinations that government and that faith which they durst no longer openly attack. The pacific reign of James afforded them the opportunity of increasing their strength and maturing their schemes, and under his successor, Charles I, their numbers were greatly increased by titular Romish archbishops, bishops, deans, vicars-general, abbots, priests, and friars; for which reason, in 1629, the public exercise of the popish rites and ceremonies was forbidden.
But notwithstanding this, soon afterwards, the Romish clergy erected a new popish university in the city of Dublin. They also proceeded to build monasteries and nunneries in various parts of the kingdom; in which places these very Romish clergy, and the chiefs of the Irish, held frequent meetings; and from thence, used to pass to and fro, to France, Spain, Flanders, Lorraine, and Rome; where the detestable plot of 1641 was hatching by the family of the O'Neals and their followers.
A short time before the horrid conspiracy broke out, which we are now going to relate, the papists in Ireland had presented a remonstrance to the lords-justice of that kingdom, demanding the free exercise of their religion, and a repeal of all laws to the contrary; to which both houses of parliament in England solemnly answered that they would never grant any toleration to the popish religion in that kingdom.
This further irritated the papists to put in execution the diabolical plot concerted for the destruction of the Protestants; and it failed not of the success wished for by its malicious and rancorous projectors.
The design of this horrid conspiracy was that a general insurrection should take place at the same time throughout the kingdom, and that all the Protestants, without exception, should be murdered. The day fixed for this horrid massacre, was the twenty-third of October, 1641, the feast of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits; and the chief conspirators in the principal parts of the kingdom made the necessary preparations for the intended conflict.
In order that this detested scheme might the more infallibly succeed, the most distinguished artifices were practiced by the papists; and their behavior in their visits to the Protestants, at this time, was with more seeming kindness than they had hitherto shown, which was done the more completely to effect the inhuman and treacherous designs then meditating against them.
The execution of this savage conspiracy was delayed until the approach of winter, that sending troops from England might be attended with greater difficulty. Cardinal Richelieu, the French minister, had promised the conspirators a considerable supply of men and money; and many Irish officers had given the strongest assurances that they would heartily concur with their Catholic brethren, as soon as the insurrection took place.
The day preceding that appointed for carrying this horrid design into execution was now arrived, when, happily, for the metropolis of the kingdom, the conspiracy was discovered by one Owen O'Connelly, an Irishman, for which most signal service the English Parliament voted him 500 pounds and a pension of 200 pounds during his life.
So very seasonably was this plot discovered, even but a few hours before the city and castle of Dublin were to have been surprised, that the lords-justice had but just time to put themselves, and the city, in a proper posture of defence. Lord M'Guire, who was the principal leader here, with his accomplices, was seized the same evening in the city; and in their lodgings were found swords, hatchets, pole-axes, hammers, and such other instruments of death as had been prepared for the destruction and extirpation of the Protestants in that part of the kingdom.
Thus was the metropolic happily preserved; but the bloody part of the intended tragedy was past prevention. The conspirators were in arms all over the kingdom early in the morning of the day appointed, and every Protestant who fell in their way was immediately murdered. No age, no sex, no condition, was spared. The wife weeping for her butchered husband, and embracing her helpless children, was pierced with them, and perished by the same stroke. The old, the young, the vigorous, and the infirm, underwent the same fate, and were blended in one common ruin. In vain did flight save from the first assault, destruction was everywhere let loose, and met the hunted victims at every turn. In vain was recourse had to relations, to companions, to friends; all connections were dissolved; and death was dealt by that hand from which protection was implored and expected. Without provocation, without opposition, the astonished English, living in profound peace, and, as they thought, full security, were massacred by their nearest neighbors, with whom they had long maintained a continued intercourse of kindness and good offices. Nay, even death was the slightest punishment inflicted by these monsters in human form; all the tortures which wanton cruelty could invent, all the lingering pains of body, the anguish of mind, the agonies of despair, could not satiate revenge excited without injury, and cruelly derived from no just cause whatever. Depraved nature, even perverted religion, though encouraged by the utmost license, cannot reach to a greater pitch of ferocity than appeared in these merciless barbarians. Even the weaker sex themselves, naturally tender to their own sufferings, and compassionate to those of others, have emulated their robust companions in the practice of every cruelty. The very children, taught by example and encouraged by the exhortation of their parents, dealt their feeble blows on the dead carcasses of the defenceless children of the English.
Nor was the avarice of the Irish sufficient to produce the least restraint on their cruelty. Such was their frenzy, that the cattle they had seized, and by repine had made their own, were, because they bore the name of English, wontonly slaughtered, or, when covered with wounds, turned loose into the woods, there to perish by slow and lingering torments.
The commodious habitations of the planters were laid in ashes, or levelled with the ground. And where the wretched owners had shut themselves up in the houses, and were preparing for defence, they perished in the flames together with their wives and children.
Such is the general description of this unparalleled massacre; but it now remains, from the nature of our work, that we proceed to particulars.
The bigoted and merciless papists had no sooner begun to imbrue their hands in blood than they repeated the horrid tragedy day after day, and the Protestants in all parts of the kingdom fell victims to their fury by deaths of the most unheard-of cruelty.
The ignorant Irish were more strongly instigated to execute the infernal business by the Jesuits, priests, and friars, who, when the day for the execution of the plot was agreed on, recommended in their prayers, diligence in the great design, which they said would greatly tend to the prosperity of the kingdom, and to the advancement of the Catholic cause. They everywhere declared to the common people, that the Protestants were heretics, and ought not to be suffered to live any longer among them; adding that it was no more sin to kill an Englishman than to kill a dog; and that the relieving or protecting them was a crime of the most unpardonable nature.
The papists having besieged the town and castle of Longford, and the inhabitants of the latter, who were Protestants, surrendering on condition of being allowed quarter, the besiegers, the instant the townspeople appeared, attacked them in a most unmerciful manner, their priest, as a signal for the rest to fall on, first ripping open the belly of the English Protestant minister; after which his followers murdered all the rest, some of whom they hanged, others were stabbed or shot, and great numbers knocked on the head with axes provided for the purpose.
The garrison at Sligo was treated in like manner by O'Connor Slygah; who, upon the Protestants quitting their holds, promised them quarter, and to convey them safe over the Curlew mountains, to Roscommon. But he first imprisoned them in a most loathsome jail, allowing them only grains for their food. Afterward, when some papists were merry over their cups, who were come to congratulate their wicked brethren for their victory over these unhappy creatures, those Protestants who survived were brought forth by the White-firars, and were either killed, or precipitated over the bridge into a swift river, where they were soon destroyed. It is added, that this wicked company of White-friars went, some time after, in solemn procession, with holy water in their hands, to sprinkle the river; on pretence of cleansing and purifying it from the stains and pollution of the blood and dead bodies of the heretics, as they called the unfortunate Protestants who were inhumanly slaughtered at this very time.
At Kilmore, Dr. Bedell, bishop of that see, had charitably settled and supported a great number of distressed Protestants, who had fled from their habitations to escape the diabolical cruelties committed by the papists. But they did not long enjoy the consolation of living together; the good prelate was forcibly dragged from his episcopal residence, which was immediately occupied by Dr. Swiney, the popish titular bishop of Kilmore, who said Mass in the church the Sunday following, and then seized on all the goods and effects belonging to the persecuted bishop.
Soon after this, the papists forced Dr. Bedell, his two sons, and the rest of his family, with some of the chief of the Protestants whom he had protected, into a ruinous castle, called Lochwater, situated in a lake near the sea. Here he remained with his companions some weeks, all of them daily expecting to be put to death. The greatest part of them were stripped naked, by which means, as the season was cold, (it being in the month of December) and the building in which they were confined open at the top, they suffered the most severe hardships. They continued in this situation until the seventh of January, when they were all released. The bishop was courteously received into the house of Dennis O'Sheridan, one of his clergy, whom he had made a convert to the Church of England; but he did not long survive this kindness. During his residence here, he spent the whole of his time in religious exercises, the better to fit and prepare himself and his sorrowful companions for their great change, as nothing but certain death was perpetually before their eyes. He was at this time in the seventy-first year of his age, and being afflicted with a violent ague caught in his late cold and desolate habitation on the lake, it soon threw him into a fever of the most dangerous nature. Finding his dissolution at hand, he received it with joy, like one of the primitive martyrs just hastening to his crown of glory. After having addressed his little flock, and exhorted them to patience, in the most pathetic manner, as they saw their own last day approaching, after having solemnly blessed his people, his family, and his children, he finished the course of his ministry and life together, on the seventh day of February 1642.
His friends and relations applied to the intruding bishop for leave to bury him, which was with difficulty obtained; he, at first telling them that the churchyard was holy ground, and should be no longer defiled with heretics: however, leave was at last granted, and though the church funeral service was not used at the solemnity, (for fear of the Irish papists) yet some of the better sort, who had the highest veneration for him while living, attended his remains to the grave. At this interment they discharged a volley of shot, crying out, Requiescat in pace ultimus Anglorum, that is, "May the last of the English rest in peace." Adding, that as he was one of the best so he should be the last English bishop found among them. His learning was very extensive; and he would have given the world a greater proof of it, had he printed all he wrote. Scarce any of his writings were saved; the papists having destroyed most of his papers and his library. He had gathered a vast heap of critical expositions of Scripture, all which with a great trunk full of his manuscripts, fell into the hands of the Irish. Happily his great Hebrew manuscript was preserved, and is now in the library of Emanuel College, Oxford.
In the barony of Terawley, the papists, at the instigation of the friars, compelled above forty English Protestants, some of whom were women and children, to the hard fate of either falling by the sword, or of drowning in the sea. These choosing the latter, were accordingly forced, by the naked weapons of their inexorable persecutors, into the deep, where, with their children in their arms, they first waded up to their chins, and afterwards sunk down and perished together.
In the castle of Lisgool upwards of one hundred and fifty men, women, and children, were all burnt together; and at the castle of Moneah not less than one hundred were all put to the sword. Great numbers were also murdered at the castle of Tullah, which was delivered up to M'Guire on condition of having fair quarter; but no sooner had that base villain got possession of the place than he ordered his followers to murder the people, which was immeidately done with the greatest cruelty.
Many others were put to deaths of the most horrid nature, and such as could have been invented only by demons instead of men. Some of them were laid with the center of their backs on the axle-tree of a carriage, with their legs resting on the ground on one side, and their arms and head on the other. In this position, one of the savages scourged the wretched object on the thighs, legs, etc., while another set on furious dogs, who tore to pieces the arms and upper parts of the body; and in this dreadful manner were they deprived of their existence. Great numbers were fastened to horses' tails, and the beasts being set on full gallop by their riders, the wretched victims were dragged along until they expired. Others were hung on lofty gibbets, and a fire being kindled under them, they finished their lives, partly by hanging, and partly by suffocation.
Nor did the more tender sex escape the least particle of cruelty that could be projected by their merciless and furious persecutors. Many women, of all ages, were put to deaths of the most cruel nature. Some, in particular, were fastened with their backs to strong posts, and being stripped to their waists, the inhuman monsters cut off their right breasts with shears, which, of course, put them to the most excruciating torments; and in this position they were left, until, from the loss of blood, they expired.
Such was the savage ferocity of these barbarians, that even unborn infants were dragged from the womb to become victims to their rage. Many unhappy mothers were hung naked in the branches of trees, and their bodies being cut open, the innocent offsprings were taken from them, and thrown to dogs and swine. And to increase the horrid scene, they would oblige the husband to be a spectator before suffering himself.
At the town of Issenskeath they hanged above a hundred Scottish Protestants, showing them no more mercy than they did to the English. M'Guire, going to the castle of that town, desired to speak with the governor, when being admitted, he immediately burnt the records of the county, which were kept there. He then demanded 1000 pounds of the governor, which, having received, he immediately compelled him to hear Mass. and to swear that he would continue to do so. And to complete his horrid barbarities, he ordered the wife and children of the governor to be hanged before his face; besides massacring at least one hundred of the inhabitants. Upwards of one thousand men, women, and children, were driven, in different companies, to Portadown bridge, which was broken in the middle, and there compelled to throw themselves into the water, and such as attempted to reach the shore were knocked on the head.
In the same part of the country, at least four thousand persons were drowned in different places. The inhuman papists, after first stripping them, drove them like beasts to the spot fixed on for their destruction; and if any, through fatigue, or natural infirmities, were slack in their pace, they pricked them with their swords and pikes; and to strike terror on the multitude, they murdered some by the way. Many of these poor wretches, when thrown into the water, endeavored to save themselves by swimming to the shore but their merciless persecutors prevented their endeavors taking effect, by shooting them in the water.
In one place one hundred and forty English, after being driven for many miles stark naked, and in the most severe weather, were all murdered on the same spot, some being hanged, others burnt, some shot, and many of them buried alive; and so cruel were their tormentors that they would not suffer them to pray before they robbed them of their miserable existence.
Other companies they took under pretence of safe conduct, who, from that consideration, proceeded cheerfully on their journey; but when the treacherous papists had got them to a convenient spot, they butchered them all in the most cruel manner.
One hundred and fifteen men, women, and children, were conducted, by order of Sir Phelim O'Neal, to Portadown bridge, where they were all forced into the river, and drowned. One woman, named Campbell, finding no probability of escaping, suddenly clasped one of the chief of the papists in her arms, and held him so fast that they were both drowned together.
In Killyman they massacred forty-eight families, among whom twenty-two were burnt together in one house. The rest were either hanged, shot, or drowned.
In Kilmore, the inhabitants, which consisted of about two hundred families, all fell victims to their rage. Some of them sat in the stocks until they confessed where their money was; after which they put them to death. The whole county was one common scene of butchery, and many thousands perished, in a short time, by sword, famine, fire, water, and others the most cruel deaths, that rage and malice could invent.
These bloody villains showed so much favor to some as to despatch them immediately; but they would by no means suffer them to pray. Others they imprisoned in filthy dungeons, putting heavy bolts on their legs, and keeping them there until they were starved to death.
At Casel they put all the Protestants into a loathsome dungeon, where they kept them together, for several weeks, in the greatest misery. At length they were released, when some of them were barbarously mangled, and left on the highways to perish at leisure; others were hanged, and some were buried in the ground upright, with their heads above the earth, and the papists, to increase their misery, treating them with derision during their sufferings. In the county of Antrim they murdered nine hundred and fifty-four Protestants in one morning; and afterwards about twelve hundred more in that county.
At a town called Lisnegary, they forced twenty-four Protestants into a house, and then setting fire to it, burned them together, counterfeiting their outcries in derision to the others.
Among other acts of cruelty they took two children belonging to an Englishwoman, and dashed out their brains before her face; after which they threw the mother into a river, and she was drowned. They served many other children in the like manner, to the great affliction of their parents, and the disgrace of human nature.
In Kilkenny all the Protestants, without exception, were put to death; and some of them in so cruel a manner, as, perhaps, was never before thought of.
They beat an Englishwoman with such savage barbarity, that she had scarce a whole bone left; after which they threw her into a ditch; but not satisfied with this, they took her child, a girl about six years of age, and after ripping up its belly, threw it to its mother, there to languish until it perished. They forced one man to go to Mass, after which they ripped open his body, and in that manner left him. They sawed another asunder, cut the throat of his wife, and after having dashed out the brains of their child, an infant, threw it to the swine, who greedily devoured it.
After committing these, and several other horrid cruelties, they took the heads of seven Protestants, and among them that of a pious minister, all of which they fixed up at the market cross. They put a gag into the minister's mouth, then slit his cheeks to his ears, and laying a leaf of a Bible before it, bid him preach, for his mouth was wide enough. They did several other things by way of derision, and expressed the greatest satisfaction at having thus murdered and exposed the unhappy Protestants.
It is impossible to conceive the pleasure these monsters took in excercising their cruelty, and to increase the misery of those who fell into their hands, when they butchered them they would say, "Your soul to the devil." One of these miscreants would come into a house with his hands imbued in blood, and boast that it was English blood, and that his sword had pricked the white skins of the Protestants, even to the hilt. When any one of them had killed a Protestant, others would come and receive a gratification in cutting and mangling the body; after which they left it exposed to be devoured by dogs; and when they had slain a number of them they would boast, that the devil was beholden to them for sending so many souls to hell. But it is no wonder they should thus treat the innocent Christians, when they hesitated not to commit blasphemy against God and His most holy Word.
In one place they burnt two Protestant Bibles, and then said they had burnt hell-fire. In the church at Powerscourt they burnt the pulpit, pews, chests, and Bibles belonging to it. They took other Bibles, and after wetting them with dirty water, dashed them in the faces of the Protestants, saying, "We know you love a good lesson; here is an excellent one for you; come to-morrow, and you shall have as good a sermon as this."
Some of the Protestants they dragged by the hair of their heads into the church, where they stripped and whipped them in the most cruel manner, telling them, at the same time, that if they came tomorrow, they should hear the like sermon.
In Munster they put to death several ministers in the most shocking manner. One, in particular, they stripped stark naked, and driving him before them, pricked him with swords and darts until he fell down, and expired.
In some places they plucked out the eyes, and cut off the hands of the Protestants, and in that manner turned them into the fields, there to wander out their miserable existence. They obliged many young men to force their aged parents to a river, where they were drowned; wives to assist in hanging their husbands; and mothers to cut the throats of their children.
In one place they compelled a young man to kill his father, and then immediately hanged him. In another they forced a woman to kill her husband, then obliged the son to kill her, and afterward shot him through the head.
At a place called Glaslow, a popish priest, with some others, prevailed on forty Protestants to be reconciled to the Church of Rome. They had no sooner done this than they told them they were in good faith, and that they would prevent their falling from it, and turning heretics, by sending them out of the world, which they did by immediately cutting their throats.
In the county of Tipperary upwards of thirty Protestants, men, women, and children, fell into the hands of the papists, who, after stripping them naked, murdered them with stones, pole-axes, swords, and other weapons.
In the county of Mayo about sixty Protestants, fifteen of whom were ministers, were, upon covenant, to be safely conducted to Galway, by one Edmund Burke and his soldiers; but that inhuman monster by the way drew his sword, as an intimation of his design to the rest, who immediately followed his example, and murdered the whole, some of whom they stabbed, others were run through the body with pikes, and several were drowned.
In Queen's County great numbers of Protestants were put to the most shocking deaths. Fifty or sixty were placed together in one house, which being set on fire, they all perished in the flames. Many were stripped naked, and being fastened to horses by ropes placed round their middles, were dragged through bogs until they expired. Some were hung by the feet to tenterhooks driven into poles; and in that wretched posture left until they perished. Others were fastened to the trunk of a tree, with a branch at top. Over this branch hung one arm, which principally supported the weight of the body; and one of the legs was turned up, and fastened to the trunk, while the other hung straight. In this dreadful and uneasy posture did they remain as long as life would permit, pleasing spectacles to their bloodthirsty persecutors.
At Clownes seventeen men were buried alive; and an Englishman, his wife, five children, and a servant maid, were all hanged together, and afterward thrown into a ditch. They hung many by the arms to branches of trees, with a weight to their feet; and others by the middle, in which posture they left them until they expired. Several were hanged on windmills, and before they were half dead, the barbarians cut them in pieces with their swords. Others, both men, women, and children, they cut and hacked in various parts of their bodies, and left them wallowing in their blood to perish where they fell. One poor woman they hanged on a gibbet, with her child, an infant about a twelve-month old, the latter of whom was hanged by the neck with the hair of its mother's head, and in that manner finished its short but miserable existence.
In the county of Tyrone no less than three hundred Protestants were drowned in one day; and many others were hanged, burned, and otherwise put to death. Dr. Maxwell, rector of Tyrone, lived at this time near Armagh, and suffered greatly from these merciless savages. This person, in his examination, taken upon oath before the king's commissioners, declared that the Irish papists owned to him, that they, at several times, had destroyed, in one place, 12,000 Protestants, whom they inhumanly slaughtered at Glynwood, in their flight from the county of Armagh.
As the river Bann was not fordable, and the bridge broken down, the Irish forced thither at different times, a great number of unarmed, defenceless Protestants, and with pikes and swords violently thrust about one thousand into the river, where they miserably perished.
Nor did the cathedral of Armagh escape the fury of those barbarians, it being maliciously set on fire by their leaders, and burnt to the ground. And to extirpate, if possible, the very race of those unhappy Protestants, who lived in or near Armagh, the Irish first burnt all their houses, and then gathered together many hundreds of those innocent people, young and old, on pretence of allowing them a guard and safe conduct to Colerain, when they treacherously fell on them by the way, and inhumanly murdered them.
The like horrid barbarities with those we have particularized, were practiced on the wretched Protestants in almost all parts of the kingdom; and, when an estimate was afterward made of the number who were sacrificed to gratify diabolical souls of the papists, it amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand. But it now remains that we proceed to the particulars that followed.
These desperate wretches, flushed and grown insolent with success, (though by methods attended with such excessive barbarities as perhaps not to be equalled) soon got possession of the castle of Newry, where the king's stores and ammunition were lodged; and, with as little difficulty, made themselves masters of Dundalk. They afterward took the town of Ardee, where they murdered all the Protestants, and then proceeded to Drogheda. The garrison of Drogheda was in no condition to sustain a siege, notwithstanding which, as often as the Irish renewed their attacks they were vigorously repulsed by a very unequal number of the king's forces, and a few faithful Protestant citizens under Sir Henry Tichborne, the governor, assisted by the Lord Viscount Moore. The siege of Drogheda began on the thirtieth of November, 1641, and held until the fourth of March, 1642, when Sir Phelim O'Neal, and the Irish miscreants under him were forced to retire.
In the meantime ten thousand troops were sent from Scotland to the remaining Protestants in Ireland, which being properly divided in the most capital parts of the kingdom, happily exclipsed the power of the Irish savages; and the Protestants for a time lived in tranquillity.
In the reign of King James II they were again interrupted, for in a parliament held at Dublin in the year 1689, great numbers of the Protestant nobility, clergy, and gentry of Ireland, were attainted of high treason. The government of the kingdom was, at that time, invested in the earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted papist, and an inveterate enemy to the Protestants. By his orders they were again persecuted in various parts of the kingdom. The revenues of the city of Dublin were seized, and most of the churches converted into prisons. And had it not been for the resolution and uncommon bravery of the garrisons in the city of Londonderry, and the town of Inniskillin, there had not one place remained for refuge to the distressed Protestants in the whole kingdom; but all must have been given up to King James, and to the furious popish party that governed him.
The remarkable siege of Londonderry was opened on the eighteenth of April, 1689, by twenty thousand papists, the flower of the Irish army. The city was not properly circumstanced to sustain a siege, the defenders consisting of a body of raw undisciplined Protestants, who had fled thither for shelter, and half a regiment of Lord Mountjoy's disciplined soldiers, with the principal part of the inhabitants, making it all only seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men.
The besieged hoped, at first, that their stores of corn and other necessaries, would be sufficient; but by the continuance of the siege their wants increased; and these became at last so heavy that for a considerable time before the siege was raised a pint of coarse barley, a small quantity of greens, a few spoonfuls of starch, with a very moderate proportion of horse flesh, were reckoned a week's provision for a soldier. And they were, at length, reduced to such extremities that they ate dogs, cats, and mice.
Their miseries increasing with the siege, many, through mere hunger and want, pined and languished away, or fell dead in the streets. And it is remarkable, that when their long-expected succors arrived from England, they were upon the point of being reduced to this alternative, either to preserve their existence by eating each other, or attempting to fight their way through the Irish, which must have infallibly produced their destruction.
These succors were most happily brought by the ship Mountjoy of Derry, and the Phoenix of Colerain, at which time they had only nine lean horses left with a pint of meal to each man. By hunger, and the fatigues of war, their seven thousand three hundred and sixty-one fighting men were reduced to four thousand three hundred, one fourth part of whom were rendered unserviceable.
As the calamities of the besieged were great, so likewise were the terrors and sufferings of their Protestant friends and relations; all of whom (even women and children) were forcibly driven from the country thirty miles round, and inhumanly reduced to the sad necessity of continuing some days and nights without food or covering, before the walls of the town; and were thus exposed to the continual fire both of the Irish army from without and the shot of their friends from within.
But the succors from England happily arriving put an end to their affliction; and the siege was raised on the thirty-first of July, having been continued upwards of three months.
The day before the siege of Londonderry was raised the Inniskillers engaged a body of six thousand Irish Roman Catholics, at Newton, Butler, or Crown-Castle, of whom near five thousand were slain. This, with the defeat at Londonderry, dispirited the papists, and they gave up all farther attempts to persecute the Protestants.
The year following, viz. 1690, the Irish took up arms in favor of the abdicated prince, King James II but they were totally defeated by his successor King William the Third. That monarch, before he left the country, reduced them to a state of subjection, in which they have ever since continued.
But notwithstanding all this, the Protestant interest at present stands upon a much stronger basis than it did a century ago. The Irish, who formerly led an unsettled and roving life, in the woods, bogs, and mountains, and lived on the depredation of their neighbors, they who, in the morning seized the prey, and at night divided the spoil, have, for many years past, become quiet and civilized. They taste the sweets of English society, and the advantages of civil government. They trade in our cities, and are employed in our manufactories. They are received also into English families; and treated with great humanity by the Protestants.
Persecutions of the French Protestants in the South of France, During the Years 1814 and 1820
The persecution in this Protestant part of France continued with very little intermission from the revocation of the edict of Nantes, by Louis XIV until a very short period previous to the commencement of the late French Revolution. In the year 1785, M. Rebaut St. Etienne and the celebrated M. de la Fayette were among the first persons who interested themselves with the court of Louis XVI in removing the scourge of persecution from this injured people, the inhabitants of the south of France. Such was the opposition on the part of the Catholics and the courtiers, that it was not until the end of the year 1790, that the Protestants were freed from their alarms. Previously to this, the Catholics at Nismes in particular, had taken up arms;
Nismes then presented a frightful spectacle; armed men ran through the city, fired from the corners of the streets, and attacked all they met with swords and forks.
A man named Astuc was wounded and thrown into the aqueduct;
Baudon fell under the repeated strokes of bayonets and sabers, and his body was also thrown into the water; Boucher, a young man only seventeen years of age, was shot as he was looking out of his window; three electors wounded, one dangerously; another elector wounded, only escaped death by repeatedly declaring he was a Catholic; a third received four saber wounds, and was taken home dreadfully mangled. The citizens that fled were arrested by the Catholics upon the roads, and obliged to give proofs of their religion before their lives were granted. M. and Madame Vogue were at their country house, which the zealots broke open, where they massacred both, and destroyed their dwelling. M. Blacher, a Protestant seventy years of age, was cut to pieces with a sickle; young Pyerre, carrying some food to his brother, was asked, "Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant," being the reply, a monster fired at the lad, and he fell. One of the murderer's compansions said, "You might as well have killed a lamb." "I have sworn," replied he, "to kill four Protestants for my share, and this will count for one." However, as these atrocities provoked the troops to unite in defence of the people, a terrible vengeance was retaliated upon the Catholic party that had used arms, which with other circumstances, especially the toleration exercised by Napoleon Bonaparte, kept them down completely until the year 1814, when the unexpected return of the ancient government rallied them all once more round the old banners.
The Arrival of King Louis XVIII at Paris
This was known at Nismes on the thirteenth of April, 1814.
In a quarter of an hour, the white cockade was seen in every direction, the white flag floated on the public buildings, on the splendid monuments of antiquity, and even on the tower of Mange, beyond the city walls. The Protestants, whose commerce had suffered materially during the war, were among the first to unite in the general joy, and to send in their adhesion to the senate, and the legislative body; and several of the Protestant departments sent addresses to the throne, but unfortunately, M. Froment was again at Nismes at the moment, when many bigots being ready to join him, the blindness and fury of the sixteenth century rapidly succeeded the intelligence and philanthropy of the nineteenth. A line of distinction was instantly traced between men of different religious opinions; the spirit of the old Catholic Church was again to regulate each person's share of esteem and safety.
The difference of religion was now to govern everything else; and even Catholic domestics who had served Protestants with zeal and affection began to neglect their duties, or to perform them ungraciously, and with reluctance. At the fetes and spectacles that were given at the public expense, the absence of the Protestants was charged on them as a proof of their disloyalty; and in the midst of the cries of Vive le Roi! the discordant sounds of A bas le Maire, down with the mayor, were heard. M. Castletan was a Protestant; he appeared in public with the prefect M. Ruland, a Catholic, when potatoes were thrown at him, and the people declared that he ought to resign his office. The bigots of Nismes, even succeeded in procuring an address to be presented to the king, stating that there ought to be in France but one God, one king, and one faith. In this they were imitated by the Catholics of several towns.
The History of the Silver Child
About this time, M. Baron, counsellor of the Cour Royale of Nismes, formed the plan of dedicating to God a silver child, if the Duchess d'Angouleme would give a prince to France. This project was converted into a public religious vow, which was the subject of conversation both in public and private, whilst persons, whose imaginations were inflamed by these proceedings, ran about the streets crying Vivent les Boubons, or "the Bourbons forever." In consequence of this superstitious frenzy, it is said that at Alais women were advised and insigated to poison their Protestant husbands, and at length it was found convenient to accuse them of political crimes. They could no longer appear in public without insults and injuries. When the mobs met with Protestants, they seized them, and danced round them with barbarous joy, and amidst repeated cries of Vive le Roi, they sang verses, the burden of which was, "We will wash our hands in Protestant blood, and make black puddings of the blood of Calvin's children."
The citizens who came to the promenades for air and refreshment from the close and dirty streets were chased with shouts of Vive le Roi, as if those shouts were to justify every excess. If Protestants referred to the charter, they were directly assured it would be of no use to them, and that they had only been managed to be more effectually destroyed. Persons of rank were heard to say in the public streets, "All the Huguenots must be killed; this time their children must be killed, that none of the accursed race may remain."
Still, it is true, they were not murdered, but cruelly treated; Protestant children could no longer mix in the sports of Catholics, and were not even permitted to appear without their parents. At dark their families shut themselves up in their apartments; but even then stones were thrown against their windows. When they arose in the mornin it was not uncommon to find gibbets drawn on their doors or walls; and in the streets the Catholics held cords already soaped before their eyes, and pointed out the insruments by which they hoped and designed to exterminate them. Small gallows or models were handed about, and a man who lived opposite to one of the pastors, exhibited one of these models in his window, and made signs sufficiently intelligible when the minister passed. A figure representing a Protestant preacher was also hung up on a public crossway, and the most atrocious songs were sung under his window.
Towards the conclusion of the carnival, a plan had even been formed to make a caricature of the four ministers of the place, and burn them in effigy; but this was prevented by the mayor of Nismes, a Protestant. A dreadful song presented to the prefect, in the country dialect, with a false translation, was printed by his approval, and had a great run before he saw the extent of the rror into which he had been betrayed. The sixty-third regiment of the line was publicly censured and insulted, for having, according to order, protected Protestants. In fact, the Protestants seemed to be as sheep destined for the slaughter.
The Catholic Arms at Beaucaire
In May, 1815, a federative association, similar to that of Lyons, Grenoble, Paris, Avignon, and Montpelier, was desired by many persons at Nismes; but this federation terminated here after an ephemeral and illusory existence of fourteen days. In the meanwhile a large party of Catholic zealots were in arms at Beaucaire, and who soon pushed their patroles so near the walls of Nismes, "so as to alarm the inhabitants." These Catholics applied to the English off Marseilles for assistance, and obtained the grant of one thousand muskets, ten thousand cartouches, etc. General Gilly, however, was soon sent against these partizans, who prevented them from coming to extremes by granting them an armistice; and yet when Louis XVIII had returned to Paris, after the expiration of Napoleon's reign of a hundred days, and peace and party spirit seemed to have been subdued, even at Nismes, bands from Beaucaire joined Trestaillon in this city, to glut the vengeance they had so long premeditated. General Gilly had left the department several days: the troops of the line left behind had taken the white cockade, and waited further orders, whilst the new commissioners had only to proclaim the cessation of hostilities and the complete establishment of the king's authority. In vain, no commissioners appeared, no despatches arrived to calm and regulate the public mind; but towards evening the advanced guard of the banditti, to the amount of several hundreds, entered the city, undesired but unopposed.
As they marched without order or discipline, covered with clothes or rags of all colors, decorated with cockades, not white, but white and green, armed with muskets, sabers, forks, pistols and reaping hooks, intoxicated with wine, and stained with the blood of the Protestants whom they had murdered on their route, they presented a most hideous and appealling spectacle. In the open place in the front of the barracks, this banditti was joined by the city armed mob, headed by Jaques Dupont, commonly called Trestaillon. To save the effusion of blood, this garrison of about five hundred men consented to capitulate, and marched out sad and defenceless; but when about fifty had passed, the rabble commenced a tremendous fire on their confiding and unprotected victims; nearly all were killed or wounded, and but very few could re-enter the yard before the garrison gates were again closed. These were again forced in an instant, and all were massacred who could not climb over roofs, or leap into the adjoining gardens. In a word, death met them in every place and in every shape, and this Catholic massacre rivalled in cruelty and surpassed in treachery the crimes of the September assassins of Paris, and the Jacobinical butcheries of Lyons and Avignon. It was marked not only by the fervor of the Revolution but by the subtlety of the league, and will long remain a blot upon the history of the second restoration.
Massacre and Pillage at Nismes
Nismes now exhibited a most awful scene of outrage and carnage, though many of the Protestants had fled to the Convennes and the Gardonenque. The country houses of Messrs. Rey, Guiret, and several others, had been pillaged, and the inhabitants treated with wanton barbarity. Two parties had glutted their savage appetites on the farm of Madame Frat: the first, after eating, drinking, and breaking the furniture, and stealing what they thought proper, took leave by announcing the arrival of their comrades, 'compared with whom,' they said, 'they should be thought merciful.' Three men and an old woman were left on the premises: at the sight of the second company two of the men fled. "Are you a Catholic?" said the banditti to the old woman. "Yes." "Repeat, then, your Pater and Ave." Being terrified, she hesitated, and was instantly knocked down with a musket. On recovering her senses, she stole out of the house, but met Ladet, the old valet de ferme, bringing in a salad which the depredators had ordered him to cut. In vain she endeavored to persuade him to fly. "Are you a Protestant?" they exclaimed; "I am." A musket being discharged at him, he fell wounded, but not dead. To consummate their work, the monsters lighted a fire with straw and boards, threw their living victim into the flames, and suffered him to expire in the most dreadful agonies. They then ate their salad, omelet, etc. The next day, some laborers, seeing the house open and deserted, entered, and discovered the half consumed body of Ladet. The prefect of the Gard, M. Darbaud Jouques, attempting to palliate the crimes of the Catholics, had the audacity to assert that Ladet was a Catholic; but this was publicly contradicted by two of the pastors at Nismes.
Another party committed a dreadful murder at St. Cezaire, upon Imbert la Plume, the husband of Suzon Chivas. He was met on returning from work in the fields. The chief promised him his life, but insisted that he must be conducted to the prison at Nismes. Seeing, however, that the party was determined to kill him, he resumed his natural character, and being a powerful and courageous man advanced and exclaimed, "You are brigands-fire!" Four of them fired, and he fell, but he was not dead; and while living they mutilated his body; and then passing a cord round it, drew it along, attached to a cannon of which they had possession. It was not until after eight days that his relatives were apprised of his death. Five individuals of the family of Chivas, all husbands and fathers, were massacred in the course of a few days.
The merciless treatment of the women, in this persecution at Nismes, was such as would have disgraced any savages ever heard of. The widows Rivet and Bernard were forced to sacrifice enormous sums; and the house of Mrs. Lecointe was ravaged, and her goods destroyed. Mrs. F. Didier had her dwelling sacked and nearly demolished to the foundation. A party of these bigots visited the widow Perrin, who lived on a litle farm at the windmills; having committed every species of devastation, they attacked even the sanctuary of the dead, which contained the relics of her family. They dragged the coffins out, and scattered the contents over the adjacent grounds. In vain this outraged widow collected the bones of her ancestors and replaced them: they were again dug up; and, after several useless efforts, they were reluctantly left spread over the surface of the fields.
Royal Decree in Favor of the Persecuted
At length the decree of Louis XVIII which annulled all the extraordinary powers conferred either by the king, the princes, or subordinate agents, was received at Nismes, and the laws were now to be administered by the regular organs, and a new prefect arrived to carry them into effect; but in spite of proclamations, the work of destruction, stopped for a moment, was not abandoned, but soon renewed with fresh vigor and effect. On the thirtieth of July, Jacques Combe, the father of a family, was killed by some of the natonal guards of Rusau, and the crime was so public, that the commander of the party restored to the family the pocketbook and papers of the deceased. On the following day tumultuous crowds roamed about the city and suburbs, threatening the wretched peasants; and on the first of August they butchered them without opposition.
About noon on the same day, six armed men, headed by Truphemy, the butcher, surrounded the house of Monot, a carpenter; two of the party, who were smiths, had been at work in the house the day before, and had seen a Protestant who had taken refuge there, M. Bourillon, who had been a lieutenant in the army, and had retired on a pension. He was a man of an excellent character, peaceable and harmless, and had never served the emperor Napoleon. Truphemy not knowing him, he was pointed out partaking of a frugal breakfast with the family. Truphemy ordered him to go along with him, adding, "Your friend, Saussine, is already in the other world." Truphemy placed him in the middle of his troop, and artfully ordered him to cry Vive l'Empereur he refused, adding, he had never served the emperor. In vain did the women and children of the house intercede for his life, and praise his amiable and virtuous qualities. He was marched to the Esplanade and shot, first by Truphemy and then by the others. Several persons, attracted by the firing approached, but were threatened with a similar fate.
After some time the wretches departed, shouting Vive le Roi. Some women met them, and one of them appearing affected, said, "I have killed seven to-day, for my share, and if you say a word, you shall be the eighth." Pierre Courbet, a stocking weaver, was torn from his loom by an armed band, and shot at his own door. His eldest daughter was knocked down with the butt end of a musket; and a poignard was held at the breast of his wife while the mob plundered her apartments. Paul Heraut, a silk weaver, was literally cut in pieces, in the presence of a large crowd, and amidst the unavailing cries and tears of his wife and four young children. The murderers only abandoned the corpse to return to Heraut's house and secure everything valuable. The number of murders on this day could not be ascertained. One person saw six bodies at the Cours Neuf, and nine were carried to the hospital.
If murder some time after, became less frequent for a few days, pillage and forced contributions were actively enforced. M. Salle d'Hombro, at several visits was robbed of seven thousand francs; and on one occasion, when he pleaded the sacrifices he had made, "Look," said a bandit, pointing to his pipe, "this will set fire to your house; and this," brandishing his sword, "will finish you." No reply could be made to these arguments. M. Feline, a silk manufacturer, was robbed of thirty-two thousand francs in gold, three thousand francs in silver, and several bales of silk.
The small shopkeepers were continually exposed to visits and demands of provisions, drapyery, or whatever they sold; and the same hands that set fire to the houses of the rich, and tore up the vines of the cultivator, broke the looms of the weaver; and stole the tools of the artisan. Desolation reigned in the sanctuary and in the city. The armed bands, instead of being reduced, were increased; the fugitives, instead of returning, received constant accessions, and their friends who sheltered them were deemed rebellious. Those Protestants who remained were deprived of all their civil and religious rights, and even the advocates and huissiers entered into a resolution to exclude all of "the pretended reformed religion" from their bodies. Those who were employed in selling tobacco were deprived of their licenses. The Protestant deacons who had the charge of the poor were all scattered. Of five pastors only two remained; one of these was obliged to change his residence, and could only venture to admnister the consolations of religion, or perform the functions of his ministry under cover of the night.
Not content with these modes of torment, calumnious and inflammatory publications charged the Protestants with raising the proscribed standard in the communes, and invoking the fallen Napoleon; and, of course, as unworthy the protection of the laws and the favor of the monarch.
Hundreds after this were dragged to prison without even so much as a written order; and though an official newspaper, bearing the title of the Journal du Gard, was set up for five months, while it was influenced by the prefect, the mayor, and other functionaries, the word "charter" was never once used in it. One of the first numbers, on the contrary, represented the suffering Protestants, as "Crocodiles, only weeping from rage and regret that they had no more victims to devour; as persons who had surpassed Danton, Marat, and Robespierre, in doing mischief; and as having prostituted their daughters to the garrison to gain it over to Napoleon." An extract from this article, stamped with the crown and the arms of the Bourbons, was hawked about the streets, and the vender was adorned with the medal of the police.
Petition of the Protestant Refugees
To these reproaches it is proper to oppose the petition which the Protestant refugees in Paris presented to Louis XVIII in behalf of their brethren at Nismes.
"We lay at your feet, sire, our acute sufferings. In your name our fellow citizens are slaughtered, and their property laid waste. Misled peasants, in pretended obedience to your orders, had assembled at the command of a commissioner appointed by your august nephew. Although ready to attack us, they were received with the assurances of peace. On the fifteenth of July, 1815, we learned your majesty's entrance into Paris, and the white flag immediately waved on our edifices. The public tranquillity had not been disturbed, when armed peasants introduced themselves. The garrison capitulated, but were assailed on their departure, and almost totally massacred. Our national guard was disarmed, the city filled with strangers, and the houses of the principal inhabitants, professing the reformed religion, were attacked and plundered. We subjoin the list. Terror has driven from our city the most respectable inhabitants.
"Your majesty has been deceived if there has not been placed before you the picture of the horrors which make a desert of your good city of Nismes. Arrests and proscriptions are continually taking place, and difference of religious opinions is the real and only cause. The calumniated Protestants are the defenders of the throne. You nephew has beheld our children under his banners; our fortunes have been placed in his hands. Attacked without reason, the Protestants have not, even by a just resistance, afforded their enemies the fatal pretext for calumny. Save us, sire! extinguish the brand of civil war; a single act of your will would restore to political existence a city interesting for its population and its manufactures. Demand an account of their conduct from the chiefs who had brought our misfortunes upon us. We place before your eyes all the documents that have reached us. Fear paralyzes the hearts, and stifles the complaints of our fellow citizens. Placed in a more secure situation, we venture to raise our voice in their behalf," etc., etc.
Monstrous Outrage Upon Females
At Nismes it is well known that the women wash their clothes either at the fountains or on the banks of streams. There is a large basin near the fountain, where numbers of women may be seen every day, kneeling at the edge of the water, and beating the clothes with heavy pieces of wood in the shape of battledores. This spot became the scene of the most shameful and indecent practices. The Catholic rabble turned the women's petticoats over their heads, and so fastened them as to continue their exposure, and their subjection to a newly invented species of chastisement; for nails being placed in the wood of the battoirs in the form of fleur-de-lis, they beat them until the blood streamed from their bodies, and their cries rent the air. Often was death demanded as a commutation of this ignominious punishment, but refused with a malignant joy. To carry their outrage to the highest possible degree, several who were in a state of pregnancy were assailed in this manner. The scandalous nature of these outrages prevented many of the sufferers from making them public, and, especially, from relating the most aggravating circumstances. "I have seen," says M. Duran, "a Catholic advocat, accompanying the assassins of the fauxbourg Bourgade, arm a battoir with sharp nails in the form of fleur-de-lis; I have seen them raise the garments of females, and apply, with heavy blows, to the bleeding body this battoir or battledore, to which they gave a name which my pen refuses to record. The cries of the sufferers-the streams of blood-the murmurs of indignation which were suppressed by fear-nothing could move them. The surgeons who attended on those women who are dead, can attest, by the marks of their wounds, the agonies which they must have endured, which, however horrible, is most strictly true."
Nevertheless, during the progress of these horrors and obscenities, so disgraceful to France and the Catholic religion, the agents of government had a powerful force under their command, and by honestly employing it they might have restored tranquillity. Murder and robbery, however, continued, and were winked at, by the Catholic magistrates, with very few exceptions; the administrative authorities, it is true, used words in their proclamations, etc., but never had recourse to actions to stop the enormities of the persecutors, who boldly declared that, on the twenty-fourth, the anniversary of St. Bartholomew, they intended to make a general massacre. The members of the Reformed Church were filled with terror, and, instead of taking part in the election of deputies, were occupied as well as they could in providing for their own personal safety.
Outrages Committed in the Villages, etc.
We now quit Nismes to take a view of the conduct of the persecutors in the surrounding country. After the re-establishment of the royal government, the local authorities were distinguished for their zeal and forwardness in supporting their employers, and, under pretence of rebellion, concealment of arms, nonpayment of contributions, etc., troops, national guards, and armed mobs, were permitted to plunder, arrest, and murder peaceable citizens, not merely with impunity, but with encouragement and approbation. At the village of Milhaud, near Nismes, the inhabitants were frequently forced to pay large sums to avoid being pillaged. This, however, would not avail at Madame Teulon's: On Sunday, the sixteenth of July, her house and grounds were ravaged; the valuable furniture removed or destroyed, the hay and wood burnt, and the corpse of a child, buried in the garden, taken up and dragged round a fire made by the populace. It was with great difficulty that M. Teulon escaped with his life.
M. Picherol, another Protestant, had deposited some of his effects with a Catholic neighbor; this house was attacked, and though all the property of the latter was respected, that of his friend was seized and destroyed. At the same village, one of a party doubting whether M. Hermet, a tailor, was the man they wanted, asked, "Is he a Protestant?" this he acknowledged. "Good," said they, and he was instantly murdered. In the canton of Vauvert, where there was a consistory church, eighty thousand francs were extorted.
In the communes of Beauvoisin and Generac similar excesses were committed by a handful of licentious men, under the eye of the Catholic mayor, and to the cries of Vive le Roi! St. Gilles was the scene of the most unblushing villainy. The Protestants, the most wealthy of the inhabitants, were disarmed, whilst their houses were pillaged. The mayor was appealed to; but he laughed and walked away. This officer had, at his disposal, a national guard of several hundred men, organized by his own orders. It would be wearisome to read the lists of the crimes that occurred during many months. At Clavison the mayor prohibited the Protestants the practice of singing the Psalms commonly used in the temple, that, as he said, the Catholics might not be offended or disturbed.
At Sommieres, about ten miles from Nismes, the Catholics made a splendid procession through the town, which continued until evening and was succeeded by the plunder of the Protestants. On the arrival of foreign troops at Sommieres, the pretended search for arms was resumed; those who did not possess muskets were even compelled to buy them on purpose to surrender them up, and soldiers were quartered on them at six francs per day until they produced the articles in demand. The Protestant church which had been closed, was converted into barracks for the Austrians. After divine service had been suspended for six months at Nismes, the church, called the Temple by the Protestants, was re-opened, and public worship performed on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. On examining the belfry, it was discovered that some persons had carried off the clapper of the bell. As the hour of service approached, a number of men, women, and children collected at the house of M. Ribot, the pastor, and threatened to prevent the worship. At the appointed time, when he proceeded towards the church, he was surrounded; the most savage shouts were raised against him; some of the women seized him by the collar; but nothing could disturb his firmness, or excite his impatience; he entered the house of prayer, and ascended the pulpit. Stones were thrown in and fell among the worshippers; still the congregation remained calm and attentive, and the service was concluded amidst noise, threats, and outrage.
On retiring many would have been killed but for the chasseurs of the garrison, who honorably and zealously protected them. From the captain of these chasseurs, M. Ribot soon after received the following letter:
January 2, 1816.
"I deeply lament the prejudices of the Catholics against the Protestants, who they pretend do not love the king. Continue to act as you have hitherto done, and time and your conduct will convince the Catholics to the contrary: should any tumult occur similar to that of Saturday last inform me. I preserve my reports of these acts, and if the agitators prove incorrigible, and forget what they owe to the best of kings and the charter, I will do my duty and inform the government of their proceedings. Adieu, my dear sir; assure the consistory of my esteem, and of the sense I entertain of the moderation with which they have met the provocations of the evil-disposed at Sommieres. I have the honor to salute you with respect.
SUVAL DE LAINE."
Another letter to this worthy pastor from the Marquis de Montlord, was received on the sixth of January, to encourage him to unite with all good men who believe in God to obtain the punishment of the assassins, brigands, and disturbers of public tranquillity, and to read the instructions he had received from the government to this effect publicly. Notwithstanding this, on the twentieth of January, 1816, when the service in commemoration of the death of Louis XVI was celebrated, a procession being formed, the National Guards fired at the white flag suspended from the windows of the Protestants, and concluded the day by plundering their houses.
In the commune of Anguargues, matters were still worse; and in that of Fontanes, from the entry of the king in 1815, the Catholics broke all terms with the Protestants; by day they insulted them, and in the night broke open their doors, or marked them with chalk to be plundered or burnt. St. Mamert was repeatedly visited by these robberies; and at Montmiral, as lately as the sixteenth of June, 1816, the Protestants were attacked, beaten, and imprisoned, for daring to celebrate the return of a king who had sworn to preserve religious liberty and to maintain the charter.
Further Account of the Proceedings of the Catholics at Nismes
The excesses perpetrated in the country it seems did not by any means divert the attention of the persecutors from Nismes. October, 1815, commenced without any improvement in the principles or measures of the government, and this was followed by corresponding presumption on the part of the people. Several houses in the Quartier St. Charles were sacked, and their wrecks burnt in the streets amidst songs, dances, and shouts of Vive le Roi! The mayor appeared, but the merry multitude pretended not to know him, and when he ventured to remonstrate, they told him, 'his presence was unnecessary, and that he might retire.' During the sixteenth of October, every preparation seemed to announce a night of carnage; orders for assembling and signals for attack were circulated with regularity and confidence; Trestaillon reviewed his satellites, and urged them on to the perpetration of crimes, holding with one of those wretches the following dialogue:
Satellite. "If all the Protestants, without one exception, are to be killed, I will cheerfully join; but as you have so often deceived me, unless they are all to go I will not stir."
Trestaillon. "Come along, then, for this time not a single man shall escape."
This horrid purpose would have been executed had it not been for General La Garde, the commandant of the department. It was not until ten o'clock at night that he perceived the danger; he now felt that not a moment could be lost. Crowds were advancing through the suburbs, and the streets were filling with ruffians, uttering the most horrid imprecations. The generale sounded at eleven o'clock, and added to the confusion that was now spreading through the city. A few troops rallied round the Count La Garde, who was wrung with distress at the sight of the evil which had arrived at such a pitch. Of this M. Durand, a Catholic advocate, gave the following account:
"It was near midnight, my wife had just fallen asleep; I was writing by her side, when we were disturbed by a distant noise; drums seemed crossing the town in every direction. What could all this mean! To quiet her alarm, I said it probably announced the arrival or departure of some troops of the garrison. But firing and shouts were immediately audible; and on opening my window I distinguished horrible imprecations mingled with cries of Vive le Roi! I roused an officer who lodged in the house, and M. Chancel, Director of the Public Works. We went out together, and gained the Boulevarde. The moon shone bright, and almost every object was nearly as distinct as day; a furious crowd was pressing on vowing extermination, and the greater part half naked, armed with knives, muskets, sticks, and sabers. In answer to my inquiries I was told the massacre was general, that many had been already killed in the suburbs. M. Chancel retired to put on his uniform as captain of the Pompiers; the officers retired to the barracks, and anxious for my wife I returned home. By the noise I was convinced that persons followed. I crept along in the shadow of the wall, opened my door, entered, and closed it, leaving a small aperture through which I could watch the movements of the party whose arms shone in the moonlight. In a few moments some armed men appeared conducting a prisoner to the very spot where I was concealed. They stopped, I shut my door gently, and mounted on an alder tree planted against the garden wall. What a scene! a man on his knees imporing mercy from wretches who mocked his agony, and loaded him with abuse. 'In the name of my wife and children,' he said, 'spare me! What have I done? Why would you murder me for nothing?' I was on the point of crying out and menacing the murderers with vengeance. I had not long to deliberate, the discharge of several fusils terminated my suspense; the unhappy supplicant, struck in the loins and the head, fell to rise no more. The backs of the assassins were towards the tree; they retired immediately, reloading their pieces. I descended and approached the dying man, uttering some deep and dismal groans. Some national guards arrived at the moment, and I again retired and shut the door. 'I see,' said one, 'a dead man.' 'He sings still,' said another. 'It will be better,' said a third, 'to finish him and put him out of his misery.' Five or six muskets were fired instantly, and the groans ceased. On the following day crowds came to inspect and insult the deceased. A day after a massacre was always observed as a sort of fete, and every occupation was left to go and gaze upon the victims." This was Louis Lichare, the father of four children; and four years after the event, M. Durand verified this account by his oath upon the trial of one of the murderers.
Attack Upon the Protestant Churches
Some time before the death of General La Garde, the duke d'Angouleme had visited Nismes, and other cities in the south, and at the former place honored the members of the Protestant consistory with an interview, promising them protection, and encouraging them to re-open their temple so long shut up. They have two churches at Nismes, and it was agreed that the small one should be preferred on this occasion, and that the ringing of the bell should be omitted, General La Garde declared that he would answer with his head for the safety of his congregation. The Protestants privately informed each other that worship was once more to be celebrated at ten o'clock, and they began to assemble silently and cautiously. It was agreed that M. Juillerat Chasseur should perform the service, though such was his conviction of danger that he entreated his wife, and some of his flock, to remain with their families. The temple being opened only as a matter of form, and in compliance with the orders of the duke d'Angouleme, this pastor wished to be the only victim. On his way to the place he passed numerous groups who regarded him with ferocious looks. "This is the time," said some, "to give them the last blow." "Yes," added others, "and neither women nor children must be spared." One wretch, raising his voice above the rest, exclaimed, "Ah, I will go and get my musket, and ten for my share." Through these ominous sounds M. Juillerat pursued his course, but when he gained the temple the sexton had not the courage to open the door, and he was obliged to do it himself. As the worshippers arrived they found strange persons in possession of the adjacent streets, and upon the steps of the church, vowing their worship should not be performed, and crying, "Down with the Protestants! kill them! kill them!" At ten o'clock the church being nearly filled, M.J. Chasseur commenced the prayers; a calm that succeeded was of short duration. On a sudden the minister was interrupted by a violent noise, and a number of persons entered, uttering the most dreadful cries, mingled with Vive le Roi! but the gendarmed succeeded in excluding these fanatics, and closing the doors. The noise and tumult without now redoubled, and the blows of the populace trying to break open the doors, caused the house to resound with shrieks and groans. The voice of the pastors who endeavored to console their flock, was inaudible; they attempted in vain to sing the Forty-second Psalm.
Three quarters of an hour rolled heavily away. "I placed myself," said Madame Juillerat, "at the bottom of the pulpit, with my daughter in my arms; my husband at length joined and sustained me; I remembered that it was the anniversary of my marriage. After six years of happiness, I said, I am about to die with my husband and my daughter; we shall be slain at the altar of our God, the victims of a sacred duty, and heaven will open to receive us and our unhappy brethren. I blessed the Redeemer, and without cursing our murderers, I awaited their approach."
M. Oliver, son of a pastor, an officer in the royal troops of the line, attempted to leave the church, but the friendly sentinels at the door advised him to remain besieged with the rest. The national guards refused to act, and the fanatical crowd took every advantage of the absence of General La Garde, and of their increasing numbers. At length the sound of martial music was heard, and voices from without called to the beseiged, "Open, open, and save yourselves!" Their first impression was a fear of treachery, but they were soon assured that a detachment returning from Mass was drawn up in front of the church to favor the retreat of the Protestants. The door was opened, and many of them escaped among the ranks of the soldiers, who had driven the mob before them; but this street, as well as others through which the fugitives had to pass, was soon filled again. The venerable pastor, Olivier Desmond, between seventy and eighty years of age, was surrounded by murderers; they put their fists in his face, and cried, "Kill the chief of brigands." He was preserved by the firmness of some officers, among whom was his own son; they made a bulwark round him with their bodies, and amidst their naked sabers conducted him to his house. M. Juillerat, who had assisted at drivine service with his wife at his side and his child in his arms, was pursued and assailed with stones, his mother received a blow on the head, and her life was some time in danger. One woman was shamefully whipped, and several wounded and dragged along the streets; the number of Protestants more or less ill treated on this occasion amounted to between seventy and eighty.
Murder of General La Garde
At length a check was put to these excesses by the report of the murder of Count LaGarde, who, receiving an account of this tumult, mounted his horse, and entered one of the streets, to disperse a crowd. A villain seized his bridle; another presented the muzzle of a pistol close to his body, and exclaimed, "Wretch, you make me retire!" He immediately fired. The murderer was Louis Boissin, a sergeant in the national guard; but, though known to everyone, no person endeavored to arrest him, and he effected his escape. As soon as the general found himself wounded, he gave orders to the gendarmerie to protect the Protestants, and set off on a gallop to his hotel; but fainted immediately on his arrival. On recovering, he prevented the surgeon from searching his wound until he had written a letter to the government, that, in case of his death, it might be known from what quarter the blow came, and that none might dare to accuse the Protestants of the crime.
The probable death of this general produced a small degree of relaxation on the part of their enemies, and some calm; but the mass of the people had been indulged in licentiousness too long to be restrained even by the murder of the representative of their king. In the evening they again repaired to the temple, and with hatchets broke open the door; the dismal noise of their blows carried terror into the bosom of the Protestant families sitting in their houses in tears. The contents of the poor box, and the clothes prepared for distribution, were stolen; the minister's robes rent in pieces; the books torn up or carried away; the closets were ransacked, but the rooms which contained the archives of the church, and the synods, were providentially secured; and had it not been for the numerous patrols on foot, the whole would have become the prey of the flames, and the edifice itself a heap of ruins. In the meanwhile, the fanatics openly ascribed the murder of the general to his own self-devotion, and said, 'that iw as the will of God.' Three thousand francs were offered for the apprehension of Boissin; but it was well known that the Protestants dared not arrest him, and that the fanatics would not. During these transactions, the system of forced conversions to Catholicism was making regular and fearful progress.
Interference of the British Government
To the credit of England, the report of these cruel persecutions carried on against our Protestant brethren in France, produced such a senation on the part of the government as determined them to interfere; and now the persecutors of the Protestants made this spontaneous act of humanity and religion the pretext for charging the sufferers with a treasonable correspondence with England; but in this sate of their proceedings, to their great dismay, a letter appeared, sent some time before to England by the duke of Wellington, stating that 'much information existed on the events of the south.'
The ministers of the three denominations in London, anxious not to be misled, requested one of their brethren to visit the scenes of persecution, and examine with impartiality the nature and extent of the evils they were desirous to relieve. Rev. Clement Perot undertook this difficult task, and fulfilled their wishes with a zeal, prudence, and devotedness, above all praise. His return furnished abundant and incontestable proof of a shameful persecution, materials for an appeal to the British Parliament, and a printed report which was circulated through the continent, and which first conveyed correct information to the inhabitants of France.
Foreign interference was now found eminently useful; and the declarations of tolerance which it elicited from the French government, as well as the more cautious march of the Catholic persecutors, operated as decisive and involuntary acknowledgments of the importance of that interference, which some persons at first censured and despised, put through the stern voice of public opinion in England and elsewhere produced a resultant suspension of massacre and pillage, the murderers and plunderers were still left unpunished, and even caressed and rewarded for their crimes; and whilst Protestants in France suffered the most cruel and degrading pains and penalties for alleged trifling crimes, Catholics, covered with blood, and guilty of numerous and horrid murders, were acquitted.
Perhaps the virtuous indignation expressed by some of the more enlightened Catholics against these abominable proceedings, had no small share in restraining them. Many innocent Protestants had been condemned to the galleys and otherwise punished for supposed crimes, upon the oaths of wretches the most unprincipled and abandoned. M. Madier de Mongau, judge of the cour royale of Nismes, and president of the cour d'assizes of the Gard and Vaucluse, upon one occasion felt himself compelled to break up the court, rather than take the deposition of that notorious and sanguinary monster, Truphemy: "In a hall," says he, "of the Palace of Justice, opposite that in which I sat, several unfortunate persons persecuted by the faction were upon trial, every deposition tending to their crimination was applauded with the cries of Vive le Roi! Three times the explosion of this atrocious joy became so terrible that it was necessary to send for reinforcements from the barracks, and two hundred soldiers were often unable to restrain the people. On a sudden the shouts and cries of Vive le Roi! redoubled: a man arrived, caressed, appluaded, borne in triumph--it was the horrible Truphemy; he approached the tribunal--he came to depose against the prisoners--he was admitted as a witness--he raised his hand to take the oath! Seized with horror at the sight, I rushed from my seat, and entered the hall of council; my colleagues followed me; in vain they persuaded me to resume my seat; 'No!' exclaimed I, 'I will not consent to see that wretch admitted to give evidence in a court of justice in the city which he has filled with murders; in the palace, on the steps of which he has murdered the unfortunate Bourillon. I cannot admit that he should kill his victims by his testimonies no more than by his poignards. He an accuser! he a witness! No, never will I consent to see this monster rise, in the presence of magistrates, to take a sacrilegious oath, his hand still reeking with blood.' These words were repeated out of doors; the witness trembled; the factious also trembled; the factious who guided the tongue of Truphemy as they had directed his arm, who dictated calumny after they had taught him murder. These words penetrated the dungeons of the condemned, and inspired hope; they gave another couragious advocate the resolution to espouse the cause of the persecuted; he carried the prayers of innocence and misery to the foot of the throne; there he asked if the evidence of a Truphemy was not sufficient to annul a sentence. The king granted a full and free pardon."
Ultimate Resolution of the Proestants at Nismes
With respect to the conduct of the Protestants, these highly outraged citizens, pushed to extremities by their persecutors, felt at length that they had only to choose the manner in which they were to perish. They unanimously determined that they would die fighting in their own defense. This firm attitude apprised their butchers that they could no longer murder with impunity. Everything was immediately changed. Those, who for four years had filled others with terror, now felt it in their turn. They trembled at the force which men, so long resigned, found in despair, and their alarm was heightened when they heard that the inhabitants of the Cevennes, persuaded of the danger of their brethren, were marching to their assistance. But, without waiting for these reinforcements, the Protestants appeared at night in the same order and armed in the same manner as their enemies. The others paraded the Boulevards, with their usual noise and fury, but the Protestants remained silent and firm in the posts they had chosen. Three days these dangerous and ominous meetings continued; but the effusion of blood was prevented by the efforts of some worthy citizens distinguished by their rank and fortune. By sharing the dangers of the Protestant population, they obtained the pardon of an enemy who now trembled while he menaced.
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