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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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experienced executioner could have done, thanks to the marvellous
temper of his Damascus blade.  At this sight all who had till then
stood their ground took to flight, Poul at their heels, slashing with
his sword unceasingly, till they disappeared among the mountains.  He
then returned to the field of battle, picked up the two heads, and
fastening them to his saddlebow, rejoined his soldiers with his
bloody trophies,--that is to say, he joined the largest group of
soldiers he could find; for the fight had turned into a number of
single combats, every soldier fighting for himself.  Here he found
three prisoners who were about to be shot; but Poul ordered that they
should not be touched: not that he thought for an instant of sparing
their lives, but that he wished to reserve them for a public
execution.  These three men were Nouvel, a parishioner of Vialon,
Moise Bonnet of Pierre-Male, and Esprit Seguier the prophet.

Captain Poul returned to Barre carrying with him his two heads and
his three prisoners, and immediately reported to M. Just de Baville,
intendant of Languedoc, the important capture he had made.  The
prisoners were quickly tried.  Pierre Nouvel was condemned to be
burnt alive at the bridge of Montvert, Molise Bonnet to be broken on
the wheel at Deveze, and Esprit Seguier to be hanged at
Andre-de-Lancise.  Thus those who were amateurs in executions had a
sufficient choice.

However, Moise Bonnet saved himself by becoming Catholic, but Pierre
Nouvel and Esprit Seguier died as martyrs, making profession of the
new faith and praising God.

Two days after the sentence on Esprit Seguier had been carried out,
the body disappeared from the gallows.  A nephew of Laporte named
Roland had audaciously carried it off, leaving behind a writing
nailed to the gibbet.  This was a challenge from Laporte to Poul, and
was dated from the "Camp of the Eternal God, in the desert of
Cevennes," Laporte signing himself "Colonel of the children of God
who seek liberty of conscience."  Poul was about to accept the
challenge when he learned that the insurrection was spreading on
every side.  A young man of Vieljeu, twenty-six years of age, named
Solomon Couderc, had succeeded Esprit Seguier in the office of
prophet, and two young lieutenants had joined Laporte.  One of these
was his nephew Roland, a man of about thirty, pock-marked, fair,
thin, cold, and reserved; he was not tall, but very strong, and of
inflexible courage.  The other, Henri Castanet of Massevaques, was a
keeper from the mountain of Laygoal, whose skill as a marksman was so
well known that it was said he never missed a shot.  Each of these
lieutenants had fifty men under him.

Prophets and prophetesses too increased apace, so that hardly a day
passed without reports being heard of fresh ones who were rousing
whole villages by their ravings.

In the meantime a great meeting of the Protestants of Languedoc had
been held in the fields of Vauvert, at which it had been resolved to
join forces with the rebels of the Cevennes, and to send a messenger
thither to make this resolution known.

Laporte had just returned from La Vaunage, where he had been making
recruits, when this good news arrived; he at once sent his nephew
Roland to the new allies with power to pledge his word in return for
theirs, and to describe to them, in order to attract them, the
country which he had chosen as the theatre of the coming war, and
which, thanks to its hamlets, its woods, its defiles, its valleys,
its precipices, and its caves, was capable of affording cover to as
many bands of insurgents as might be employed, would be a good
rallying-ground after repulse, and contained suitable positions for
ambuscades.  Roland was so successful in his mission that these new
"soldiers of the Lord," as they called themselves, on learning that
he had once been a dragoon, offered him the post of leader, which he
accepted, and returned to his uncle at the head of an army.

Being thus reinforced, the Reformers divided themselves into three
bands, in order to spread abroad their beliefs through the entire
district.  One went towards Soustele and the neighbourhood of Alais,
another towards St. Privat and the bridge of Montvert, while the
third followed the mountain slope down to St. Roman le Pompidou, and

The first was commanded by Castanet, the second by Roland, and the
third by Laporte.

Each party ravaged the country as it passed, returning deathblow for
deathblow and conflagration for conflagration, so that hearing one
after another of these outrages Captain Poul demanded reinforcements
from M. de Broglie and M. de Baville, which were promptly despatched.

As soon as Captain Poul found himself at the head of a sufficient
number of troops, he determined to attack the rebels.  He had
received intelligence that the band led by Laporte was just about to
pass through the valley of Croix, below Barre, near Temelague.  In
consequence of this information, he lay in ambush at a favourable
spot on the route.  As soon as the Reformers who were without
suspicion, were well within the narrow pass in which Poul awaited
them, he issued forth at the head of his soldiers, and charged the
rebels with such courage and impetuosity that they, taken by
surprise, made no attempt at resistance, but, thoroughly demoralised,
spread over the mountain-side, putting a greater and greater distance
at, every instant between themselves and the enemy, despite the
efforts of Laporte to make them stand their ground.  At last, seeing
himself deserted, Laporte began to think of his own safety.  But it
was already too late, for he was surrounded by dragoons, and the only
way of retreat open to him lay over a large rock.  This he
successfully scaled, but before trying to get down the other side he
raised his hands in supplication to Heaven; at that instant a volley
was fired, two bullets struck him, and he fell head foremost down the

When the dragoons reached the foot of the rock, they found him dead.
As they knew he was the chief of the rebels, his body was searched:
sixty Louis was found in his pockets, and a sacred chalice which he
was in the habit of using as an ordinary drinking-cup.  Poul cut off
his head and the heads of twelve other Reformers found dead on the
field of battle, and enclosing them in a wicker basket, sent them to
M. Just de Baville.

The Reformers soon recovered from this defeat and death, joined all
their forces into one body, and placed Roland at their head in the
place of Laporte.  Roland chose a young man called Couderc de Mazel-
Rozade, who had assumed the name of Lafleur, as his lieutenant, and
the rebel forces were not only quickly reorganised, but made complete
by the addition of a hundred men raised by the new lieutenant, and
soon gave a sign that they were again on the war-path by burning down
the churches of Bousquet, Cassagnas, and Prunet.

Then first it was that the consuls of Mende began to realise that it
was no longer an insurrection they had on hand but a war, and Mende
being the capital of Gevaudan and liable to be attacked at any
moment, they set themselves to bring into repair their counterscarps,
ravelins, bastions, gates, portcullises, moats, walls, turrets,
ramparts, parapets, watchtowers, and the gear of their cannon, and
having laid in a stock of firearms, powder and ball, they formed
eight companies each fifty strong, composed of townsmen, and a
further band of one hundred and fifty peasants drawn from the
neighbouring country.  Lastly, the States of the province sent an
envoy to the king, praying him graciously to take measures to check
the plague of heresy which was spreading from day to day.  The king
at once sent M. Julien in answer to the petition.  Thus it was no
longer simple governors of towns nor even chiefs of provinces who
were engaged in the struggle; royalty itself had come to the rescue.

M. de Julien, born a Protestant, was a, member of the nobility of
Orange, and in his youth had served against France and borne arms in
England and Ireland when William of Orange succeeded James II as King
of England, Julien was one of his pages, and received as a reward for
his fidelity in the famous campaign of 1688 the command of a regiment
which was sent to the aid of the Duke of Savoy, who had begged both
England and Holland to help him. He bore himself so gallantly that it
was in great part due to him that the French were forced to raise the
siege of Cony.

Whether it was that he expected too much from this success, or that
the Duke of Savoy did not recognise his services at their worth, he
withdrew to Geneva, where Louis XIV hearing of his discontent, caused
overtures to be made to him with a view to drawing him into the
French service.  He was offered the same rank in the French army as
he had held in the English, with a pension of 3000 livres.

M. de Julien accepted, and feeling that his religious belief would be
in the way of his advancement, when he changed his master he changed
his Church.  He was given the command of the valley of Barcelonnette,
whence he made many excursions against the Barbets; then he was
transferred to the command of the Avennes, of the principality of
Orange, in order to guard the passes, so that the French Protestants
could not pass over the frontier for the purpose of worshipping with
their Dutch Protestant brethren; and after having tried this for a
year, he went to Versailles to report himself to the king.  While he
was there, it chanced that the envoy from Gevaudan arrived, and the
king being satisfied with de Julien's conduct since he had entered
his service, made him major-general, chevalier of the military order
of St. Louis; and commander-in-chief in the Vivarais and the

M. de Julien from the first felt that the situation was very grave,
and saw that his predecessors had felt such great contempt for the
heretics that they had not realised the danger of the revolt.  He
immediately proceeded to inspect in person the different points where
M. de Broglie had placed detachments of the Tournon and Marsily

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