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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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the consuls; the very wind which blew upon Nimes breathed heresy.

For the moment Nimes was in full revolt, and the spirit of
organisation spread: Moget assumed the titles of pastor and minister
of the Christian Church.  Captain Bouillargues melted down the sacred
vessels of the Catholic churches, and paid in this manner the
volunteers of Nimes and the German mercenaries; the stones of the
demolished religious houses were used in the construction of
fortifications, and before anyone thought of attacking it the city
was ready for a siege.  It was at this moment that Guillaume
Calviere, who was at the head of the Presidial Court, Moget being
president of the Consistory, and Captain Bouillargues
commander-in-chief of the armed forces, suddenly resolved to create a
new authority, which, while sharing the powers hitherto vested solely
in the consuls, should be, even more than they, devoted to Calvin:
thus the office of les Messieurs came into being.  This was neither
more nor less than a committee of public safety, and having been
formed in the stress of revolution it acted in a revolutionary
spirit, absorbing the powers of the consuls, and restricting the
authority of the Consistory to things spiritual.  In the meantime the
Edict of Amboise, was promulgated, and it was announced that the
king, Charles IX, accompanied by Catherine de Medicis, was going to
visit his loyal provinces in the South.

Determined as was Captain Bouillargues, for once he had to give way,
so strong was the party against him; therefore, despite the murmurs
of the fanatics, the city of Nimes resolved, not only to open its
gates to its sovereign, but to give him such a reception as would
efface the bad impression which Charles might have received from the
history of recent events.  The royal procession was met at the Pont
du Gare, where young girls attired as nymphs emerged from a grotto
bearing a collation, which they presented to their Majesties, who
graciously and heartily partook of it.  The repast at an end, the
illustrious travellers resumed their progress; but the imagination of
the Nimes authorities was not to be restrained within such narrow
bounds: at the entrance to the city the king found the Porte de la
Couronne transformed into a mountain-side, covered with vines and
olive trees, under which a shepherd was tending his flock.  As the
king approached the mountain parted as if yielding to the magic of
his power, the most beautiful maidens and the most noble came out to
meet their sovereign, presenting him the keys of the city wreathed
with flowers, and singing to the accompaniment of the shepherd's
pipe.  Passing through the mountain, Charles saw chained to a palm
tree in the depths of a grotto a monster crocodile from whose jaws
issued flames: this was a representation of the old coat of arms
granted to the city by Octavius Caesar Augustus after the battle of
Actium, and which Francis I had restored to it in exchange for a
model in silver of the amphitheatre presented to him by the city.
Lastly, the king found in the Place de la Salamandre numerous
bonfires, so that without waiting to ask if these fires were made
from the remains of the faggots used at the martyrdom of Maurice
Secenat, he went to bed very much pleased with the reception accorded
him by his good city of Nimes, and sure that all the unfavourable
reports he had heard were calumnies.

Nevertheless, in order that such rumours, however slight their
foundation, should not again be heard, the king appointed Damville
governor of Languedoc, installing him himself in the chief city of
his government; he then removed every consul from his post without
exception, and appointed in their place Guy-Rochette, doctor and
lawyer; Jean Beaudan, burgess; Francois Aubert, mason; and Cristol
Ligier, farm labourer--all Catholics.  He then left for Paris, where
a short time after he concluded a treaty with the Calvinists, which
the people with its gift of prophecy called "The halting peace of
unsure seat," and which in the end led to the massacre of St.

Gracious as had been the measures taken by the king to secure the
peace of his good city of Nimes, they had nevertheless been
reactionary; consequently the Catholics, feeling the authorities were
now on their side, returned in crowds: the householders reclaimed
their houses, the priests their churches; while, rendered ravenous
by the bitter bread of exile, both the clergy and the laity pillaged
the treasury.  Their return was not, however; stained by bloodshed,
although the Calvinists were reviled in the open street.  A few stabs
from a dagger or shots from an arquebus might, however, have been
better; such wounds heal while mocking words rankle in the memory.

On the morrow of Michaelmas Day--that is, on the 31st September
1567--a number of conspirators might have been seen issuing from a
house and spreading themselves through the streets, crying "To arms!
Down with the Papists!" Captain Bouillargues was taking his revenge.

As the Catholics were attacked unawares, they did not make even a
show of resistance: a number of Protestants--those who possessed the
best arms--rushed to the house of Guy-Rochette, the first consul, and
seized the keys of the city.  Guy Rochette, startled by the cries of
the crowds, had looked out of the window, and seeing a furious mob
approaching his house, and feeling that their rage was directed
against himself, had taken refuge with his brother Gregoire.  There,
recovering his courage and presence of mind, he recalled the
important responsibilities attached to his office, and resolving to
fulfil them whatever might happen, hastened to consult with the other
magistrates, but as they all gave him very excellent reasons for not
meddling, he soon felt there was no dependence to be placed on such
cowards and traitors.  He next repaired to the episcopal palace,
where he found the bishop surrounded by the principal Catholics of
the town, all on their knees offering up earnest prayers to Heaven,
and awaiting martyrdom.  Guy-Rochette joined them, and the prayers
were continued.

A few instants later fresh noises were heard in the street, and the
gates of the palace court groaned under blows of axe and crowbar.
Hearing these alarming sounds, the bishop, forgetting that it was his
duty to set a brave example, fled through a breach in the wall of the
next house; but Guy-Rochette and his companions valiantly resolved
not to run away, but to await their fate with patience.  The gates
soon yielded, and the courtyard and palace were filled with
Protestants: at their head appeared Captain Bouillargues, sword in
hand.  Guy-Rochette and those with him were seized and secured in a
room under the charge of four guards, and the palace was looted.
Meantime another band of insurgents had attacked the house of the
vicar-general, John Pebereau, whose body pierced by seven stabs of a
dagger was thrown out of a window, the same fate as was meted out to
Admiral Coligny eight years later at the hands of the Catholics.  In
the house a sum of 800 crowns was found and taken.  The two bands
then uniting, rushed to the cathedral, which they sacked for the
second time.

Thus the entire day passed in murder and pillage: when night came the
large number of prisoners so imprudently taken began to be felt as an
encumbrance by the insurgent chiefs, who therefore resolved to take
advantage of the darkness to get rid of them without causing too much
excitement in the city.  They were therefore gathered together from
the various houses in which they had been confined, and were brought
to a large hall in the Hotel de Ville, capable of containing from
four to five hundred persons, and which was soon full.  An irregular
tribunal arrogating to itself powers of life and death was formed,
and a clerk was appointed to register its decrees.  A list of all the
prisoners was given him, a cross placed before a name indicating that
its bearer was condemned to death, and, list in hand, he went from
group to group calling out the names distinguished by the fatal sign.
Those thus sorted out were then conducted to a spot which had been
chosen beforehand as the place of execution.

This was the palace courtyard in the middle of which yawned a well
twenty-four feet in circumference and fifty deep.  The fanatics thus
found a grave ready-digged as it were to their hand, and to save
time, made use of it.

The unfortunate Catholics, led thither in groups, were either stabbed
with daggers or mutilated with axes, and the bodies thrown down the
well.  Guy-Rochette was one of the first to be dragged up.  For
himself he asked neither mercy nor favour, but he begged that the
life of his young brother might be spared, whose only crime was the
bond of blood which united them; but the assassins, paying no heed to
his prayers, struck down both man and boy and flung them into the
well.  The corpse of the vicar-general, who had been killed the day
before, was in its turn dragged thither by a rope and added to the
others.  All night the massacre went on, the crimsoned water rising
in the well as corpse after corpse was thrown in, till, at break of
day, it overflowed, one hundred and twenty bodies being then hidden
in its depths.

Next day, October 1st, the scenes of tumult were renewed: from early
dawn Captain Bouillargues ran from street to street crying, "Courage,
comrades!  Montpellier, Pezenas, Aramon, Beaucaire, Saint-Andeol, and
Villeneuve are taken, and are on our side.  Cardinal de Lorraine is
dead, and the king is in our power."  This aroused the failing
energies of the assassins.  They joined the captain, and demanded
that the houses round the palace should be searched, as it was almost
certain that the bishop, who had, as may be remembered, escaped the
day before, had taken refuge in one of them.  This being agreed to, a
house-to-house visitation was begun: when the house of M. de
Sauvignargues was reached, he confessed that the bishop was in his
cellar, and proposed to treat with Captain Bouillargues for a ransom.
This proposition being considered reasonable, was accepted, and after

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