List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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other nuns and some of the magistrates.  Further, they required that
all the food and medicine should pass through the doctors' hands, and
that no one, should touch the patients except quite openly, or speak
to them except in an audible voice.  Under these conditions they
would undertake to find out the true cause of the convulsions and to
make a report of the same.

It being now nine o'clock in the morning, the hour when the exorcisms
began, the bailiff went over at once to the convent, and found Barre
half way through the mass, and the superior in convulsions.  The
magistrate entered the church at the moment of the elevation of the
Host, and noticed among the kneeling Catholics a young man called
Dessentier standing up with his hat on.  He ordered him either to
uncover or to go away.  At this the convulsive movements of the
superior became more violent, and she cried out that there were
Huguenots in the church, which gave the demon great power over her.
Barre asked her how many there were present, and she replied, "Two,"
thus proving that the devil was no stronger in arithmetic than in
Latin; for besides Dessentier, Councillor Abraham Gauthier, one of
his brothers, four of his sisters, Rene Fourneau, a deputy, and an
attorney called Angevin, all of the Reformed faith, were present.

As Barre saw that those present were greatly struck, by this
numerical inaccuracy, he tried to turn their thoughts in another
direction by asking the superior if it were true that she knew no
Latin.  On her replying that she did not know a single word, he held
the pyx before her and ordered her to swear by the holy sacrament.
She resisted at first, saying loud enough for those around her to

"My father, you make me take such solemn oaths that I fear God will
punish me."

To this Barre replied--

"My daughter, you must swear for the glory of God."

And she took the oath.

Just then one of the bystanders remarked that the mother superior was
in the habit of interpreting the Catechism to her scholars.  This she
denied, but acknowledged that she used to translate the Paternoster
and the Creed for them.  As the superior felt herself becoming
somewhat confused at this long series of embarrassing questions, she
decided on going into convulsions again, but with only moderate
success, for the bailiff insisted that the exorcists should ask her
where Grandier was at that very moment.  Now, as the ritual teaches
that one of the proofs of possession is the faculty of telling, when
asked, where people are, without seeing them, and as the question was
propounded in the prescribed terms, she was bound to answer, so she
said that Grandier was in the great hall of the castle.

"That is not correct," said the bailiff, "for before coming here I
pointed out a house to Grandier and asked him to stay in it till I
came back.  If anybody will go there, they will be sure to find him,
for he wished to help me to discover the truth without my being
obliged to resort to sequestration, which is a difficult measure to
take with regard to nuns."

Barre was now ordered to send some of the monks present to the
castle, accompanied by a magistrate and a clerk.  Barre chose the
Carmelite prior, and the bailiff Charles Chauvet, assessor of the
bailiwick, Ismael Boulieau a priest, and Pierre Thibaut, an articled
clerk, who all set out at once to execute their commission, while the
rest of those present were to await their return.

Meanwhile the superior, who had not spoken a word since the bailiff's
declaration, remained, in spite of repeated exorcisms, dumb, so Barre
sent for Sister Claire, saying that one devil would encourage the
other.  The bailiff entered a formal protest against this step,
insisting that the only result of a double exorcism would be to cause
confusion, during which suggestions might be conveyed to the
superior, and that the proper thing to do was, before beginning new
conjurations, to await the return of the messengers.  Although the
bailiff's suggestion was most reasonable, Barre knew better than to
adopt it, for he felt that no matter what it cost he must either get
rid of the bailiff and all the other officials who shared his doubts,
or find means with the help of Sister Claire to delude them into
belief.  The lay sister was therefore brought in, in spite of the
opposition of the bailiff and the other magistrates, and as they did
not wish to seem to countenance a fraud, they all withdrew, declaring
that they could no longer look on at such a disgusting comedy.  In
the courtyard they met their messengers returning, who told them they
had gone first to the castle and had searched the great hall and all
the other rooms without seeing anything of Grandier; they had then
gone to the house mentioned by the bailiff, where they found him for
whom they were looking, in the company of Pere Veret, the confessor
of the nuns, Mathurin Rousseau, and Nicolas Benoit, canons, and
Conte, a doctor, from whom they learned that Grandier had not been an
instant out of their sight for the last two hours.  This being all
the magistrates wanted to know, they went home, while their envoys
went upstairs and told their story, which produced the effect which
might be expected.  Thereupon a Carmelite brother wishing to weaken
the impression, and thinking that the devil might be more lucky in
his, second guess than the first, asked the superior where Grandier
was just then.  She answered without the slightest hesitation that he
was walking with the bailiff in the church of Sainte-Croix.  A new
deputation was at once sent off, which finding the church empty, went
on to the palace, and saw the bailiff presiding at a court.  He had
gone direct from the convent to the palace, and had not yet seen
Grandier.  The same day the nuns sent word that they would not
consent to any more exorcisms being performed in the presence of the
bailiff and the officials who usually accompanied him, and that for
the future they were determined to answer no questions before such

Grandier learning of this piece of insolence, which prevented the
only man on whose impartiality he could reckon from being
henceforward present at the exorcisms, once more handed in a petition
to the bailiff, begging for the sequestration of the two nuns, no
matter at what risk.  The bailiff, however, in the interests of the
petitioner himself, did not dare to grant this request, for he was
afraid that the ecclesiastical authorities would nullify his
procedure, on the ground that the convent was not under his

He, however, summoned a meeting of the principal inhabitants of the
town, in order to consult with them as to the best course to take for
the public good.  The conclusion they arrived at was to write to the
attorney-general and to the Bishop of Poitiers, enclosing copies of
the reports which had been drawn up, and imploring them to use their
authority to put an end to these pernicious intrigues.  This was
done, but the attorney-general replied that the matter being entirely
ecclesiastical the Parliament was not competent to take cognisance of
it.  As for the bishop, he sent no answer at all.

He was not, however, so silent towards Grandier's enemies; for the
ill-success of the exorcisms of November 26th having made increased
precautions necessary, they considered it would be well to apply to
the bishop for a new commission, wherein he should appoint certain
ecclesiastics to represent him during the exorcisms to come.  Barre
himself went to Poitiers to make this request.  It was immediately
granted, and the bishop appointed Bazile, senior-canon of Champigny,
and Demorans, senior canon of Thouars, both of whom were related to
some of Grandier's adversaries.  The following is a copy of the new

"Henri-Louis le Chataignier de la Rochepezai, by the divine will
Bishop of Poitiers, to the senior canons of the Chatelet de
Saint-Pierre de Thouars et de Champigny-sur-Vese, greeting:

"We by these presents command you to repair to the town of Loudun, to
the convent of the nuns of Sainte-Ursule, to be present at the
exorcisms which will be undertaken by Sieur Barre upon some nuns of
the said convent who are tormented by evil spirits, we having thereto
authorised the said Barre.  You are also to draw up a report of all
that takes place, and for this purpose are to take any clerk you may
choose with you.

" Given and done at Poitiers, November 28th, 1632.

"(Signed) HENRI LOUIS, Bishop of Poitiers.
"(Countersigned) By order of the said Lord Bishop,

These two commissioners having been notified beforehand, went to
Loudun, where Marescot, one of the queen's chaplains, arrived at the
same time; for the pious queen, Anne of Austria, had heard so many
conflicting accounts of the possession of the Ursuline nuns, that she
desired, for her own edification, to get to the bottom of the affair.
We can judge what importance the case was beginning to assume by its
being already discussed at court.

In spite of the notice which had been sent them that the nuns would
not receive them, the bailiff and the civil lieutenant fearing that
the royal envoy would allow himself to be imposed on, and would draw
up an account which would cast doubt on the facts contained in their
reports, betook themselves to the convent on December 1st, the day on
which the exorcisms were to recommence, in the presence of the new
commissioners.  They were accompanied by their assessor, by the
provost's lieutenant, and a clerk.  They had to knock repeatedly
before anyone seemed to hear them, but at length a nun opened the
door and told them they could not enter, being suspected of bad
faith, as they had publicly declared that the possession was a fraud
and an imposture.  The bailiff, without wasting his time arguing with
the sister, asked to see Barre, who soon appeared arrayed in his
priestly vestments, and surrounded by several persons, among whom was
the queen's chaplain.  The bailiff complained that admittance had
been refused to him and those with him, although he had been

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