Make your own free website on

List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

In spite of the admissions wrung from Castanet in March, nearly a
month passed without any sign of fresh intrigues or any attempt at
rebellion.  But on the 17th of April, about seven o'clock in the
evening, M. de Baville received intelligence that several Camisards
had lately returned from abroad, and were in hiding somewhere, though
their retreat was not known.  This information was laid before the
Duke of Berwick, and he and M. de Baville ordered certain houses to
be searched, whose owners were in their opinion likely to have given
refuge to the malcontents.  At midnight all the forces which they
could collect were divided into twelve detachments, composed of
archers and soldiers, and at the head of each detachment was placed a
man that could be depended upon.  Dumayne, the king's lieutenant,
assigned to each the districts they were to search, and they all set
out at once from the town hall, at half-past twelve, marching in
silence, and separating at signs from their leaders, so anxious were
they to make no noise.  At first all their efforts were of no avail,
several houses being searched without any result; but at length
Jausserand, the diocesan provost, having entered one of the houses
which he and Villa, captain of the town troops, had had assigned to
them, they found three men sleeping on mattresses laid on the floor.
The provost roused them by asking them who they were, whence they
came, and what they were doing at Montpellier, and as they, still
half asleep, did not reply quite promptly, he ordered them to dress
and follow him.

These three men were Flessiere, Gaillard, and Jean-Louis.  Flessiere
was a deserter from the Fimarcon regiment: he it was who knew most
about the plot.  Gaillard had formerly served in the Hainault
regiment; and Jean-Louis, commonly called "the Genevois," was a
deserter from the Courten regiment.

Flessiere, who was the leader, felt that it would be a great disgrace
to let themselves be taken without resistance; he therefore pretended
to obey, but in lifting up his clothes, which lay upon a trunk, he
managed to secure two pistols, which he cocked.  At the noise made by
the hammers the provost's suspicions were aroused, and throwing
himself on Flessiere, he seized him round the waist from behind.
Flessiere, unable to turn, raised his arm and fired over his
shoulder.  The shot missed the provost, merely burning a lock of his
hair, but slightly wounded one of his servants, who was carrying a
lantern.  He then tried to fire a second shot, but Jausserand,
seizing him by the wrist with one hand, blew out his brains with the
other.  While Jausserand and Flessiere were thus struggling, Gaillard
threw himself on Villa, pinning his arms to his sides.  As he had no
weapons, he tried to push him to the wall, in order to stun him by
knocking his head against it; but when the servant, being wounded,
let the lantern fall, he took advantage of the darkness to make a
dash for the door, letting go his hold of his antagonist.
Unfortunately for him, the doors, of which there were two, were
guarded, and the guards, seeing a half-naked man running away at the
top of his speed, ran after him, firing several shots.  He received a
wound which, though not dangerous, impeded his flight, so that he was
boon overtaken and captured.  They brought him back a prisoner to the
town hall, where Flessiere's dead body already lay.

Meanwhile Jean-Louis had had better luck.  While the two struggles as
related above were going on, he slipped unnoticed to an open window
and got out into the street.  He ran round the corner of the house,
and disappeared like a shadow in the darkness before the eyes of the
guards.  For a long time he wandered from street to street, running
down one and up another, till chance brought him near
La Poissonniere.  Here he perceived a beggar propped against a post
and fast asleep; he awoke him, and proposed that they should exchange
clothes.  As Jean-Louis' suit was new and the beggar's in rags, the
latter thought at first it was a joke.  Soon perceiving, however,
that the offer was made in all seriousness, he agreed to the
exchange, and the two separated, each delighted with his bargain.
Jean-Louis approached one of the gates of the town, in order to be
able to get out as soon as it was opened, and the begger hastened off
in another direction, in order to get away from the man who had let
him have so good a bargain, before he had time to regret the exchange
he had made.

But the night's adventures were far from being over.  The beggar was
taken a prisoner, Jean-Louis' coat being recognised, and brought to
the town hall, where the mistake was discovered.  The Genevois
meantime got into a dark street, and lost his way.  Seeing three men
approach, one of whom carried a lantern, he went towards the light,
in order to find out where he was, and saw, to his surprise, that one
of the men was the servant whom Flessiere had wounded, and who was
now going to have his wound dressed.  The Genevois tried to draw back
into the shade, but it was too late: the servant had recognised him.
He then tried to fly; but the wounded man soon overtook him, and
although one of his hands was disabled, he held him fast with the
other, so that the two men who were with him ran up and easily
secured him.  He also was brought to the town hall, where he found
the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville, who were awaiting the result
of the affray.

Hardly had the prisoner caught sight of them than, seeing himself
already hanged, which was no wonder considering the marvellous
celerity with which executions were conducted at that epoch, he threw
himself on his knees, confessed who he was, and related for what
reason he had joined the fanatics.  He went on to say that as he had
not joined them of his own free will, but had been forced to do so,
he would, if they would spare his life, reveal important secrets to
them, by means of which they could arrest the principal conspirators.

His offer was so tempting and his life of so little worth that the
duke and de Baville did not long hesitate, but pledged their word to
spare his life if the revelations he was about to make proved to be
of real importance.  The bargain being concluded, the Genevois made
the following statement:

"That several letters having arrived from foreign countries
containing promises of men and money, the discontented in the
provinces had leagued together in order to provoke a fresh rebellion.
By means of these letters and other documents which were scattered
abroad, hopes were raised that M. de Miremont, the last Protestant
prince of the house of Bourbon, would bring them reinforcements five
or six thousand strong.  These reinforcements were to come by sea and
make a descent on Aigues-Mortes or Cette,--and two thousand Huguenots
were to arrive at the same time by way of Dauphine and join the
others as they disembarked.

"That in this hope Catinat, Clary, and Jonquet had left Geneva and
returned to France, and having joined Ravanel had gone secretly
through those parts of the country known to be infected with
fanaticism, and made all necessary arrangements, such as amassing
powder and lead, munitions of war, and stores of all kinds, as well
as enrolling the names of all those who were of age to bear arms.
Furthermore, they had made an estimate of what each city, town, and
village ought to contribute in money or in kind to the--League of the
Children of God, so that they could count on having eight or ten
thousand men ready to rise at the first signal.  They had furthermore
resolved that there should be risings in several places at the same
time, which places were already chosen, and each of those who were to
take part in the movement knew his exact duty.  At Montpellier a
hundred of the most determined amongst the disaffected were to set
fire in different quarters to the houses of the Catholics, killing
all who attempted to extinguish the fires, and with the help of the
Huguenot inhabitants were, to slaughter the garrison, seize the
citadel, and carry off the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville.  The
same things were to be done at Nimes, Uzes, Alais, Anduze,
Saint-Hippolyte, and Sommieres.  Lastly, he said, this conspiracy had
been going on for more than three months, and the conspirators, in
order not to be found out, had only revealed their plans to those
whom they knew to be ready to join them: they had not admitted a
single woman to their confidence, or any man whom it was possible to
suspect.  Further, they had only met at night and a few persons at a
time, in certain country houses, to which admittance was gained by
means of a countersign; the 25th of April was the day fixed for the
general rising and the execution of these projects."

As may be seen, the danger was imminent, as there was only six days'
interval between the revelation and the expected outburst; so the
Genevois was consulted, under renewed promises of safety for himself,
as to the best means of seizing on the principal chiefs in the
shortest possible time.  He replied that he saw no other way but to
accompany them himself to Nimes, where Catinat and Ravanel were in
hiding, in a house of which he did not know the number and in a
street of which he did not know the name, but which he was sure of
recognising when he saw them.  If this advice were to be of any
avail, there was no time to be lost, for Ravanel and Catinat were to
leave Nimes on the 20th or the 21st at latest; consequently, if they
did not set off at once, the chiefs would no longer be there when
they arrived.  The advice seemed good, so the marechal and the
intendant hastened to follow it: the informer was sent to Nimes
guarded by six archers, the conduct of the expedition was given to
Barnier, the provost's lieutenant, a man of intellect and common
sense, and in whom the provost had full confidence.  He carried
letters for the Marquis of Sandricourt.

As they arrived late on the evening of the 19th, the Genevois was at
once led up and down the streets of Nimes, and, as he had promised,
he pointed out several houses in the district of Sainte-Eugenie.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: