List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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necessary for the success of a new lawsuit for libel and forgery
which he intended to begin.  It was in vain that his friends assured
him that the vindication of his innocence had been complete and
brilliant, it was in vain that they tried to convince him of the
danger of driving the vanquished to despair, Urbain replied that he
was ready to endure all the persecutions which his enemies might
succeed in inflicting on him, but as long as he felt that he had
right upon his side he was incapable of drawing back.

Grandier's adversaries soon became conscious of the storm which was
gathering above their heads, and feeling that the struggle between
themselves and this man would be one of life or death, Mignon, Barot,
Meunier, Duthibaut, and Menuau met Trinquant at the village of
Pindadane, in a house belonging to the latter, in order to consult
about the dangers which threatened them.  Mignon had, however,
already begun to weave the threads of a new intrigue, which he
explained in full to the others; they lent a favourable ear, and his
plan was adopted.  We shall see it unfold itself by degrees, for it
is the basis of our narrative.

We have already said that Mignon was the director of the convent of
Ursulines at Loudun: Now the Ursuline order was quite modern, for the
historic controversies to which the slightest mention of the
martyrdom of St.  Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins gave rise,
had long hindered the foundation of an order in the saint's honour.
However, in 1560 Madame Angele de Bresse established such an order in
Italy, with the same rules as the Augustinian order.  This gained the
approbation of Pope Gregory XIII in 1572.  In 1614, Madeleine
Lhuillier, with the approval of Pope Paul V, introduced this order
into France, by founding a convent at Paris, whence it rapidly spread
over the whole kingdom, so-that in 1626, only six years before the
time when the events just related took place, a sisterhood was
founded in the little town of Loudun.

Although this community at first consisted entirely of ladies of good
family, daughters of nobles, officers, judges, and the better class
of citizens, and numbered amongst its founders Jeanne de Belfield,
daughter of the late Marquis of Cose, and relative of M. de
Laubardemont, Mademoiselle de Fazili, cousin of the cardinal-duke,
two ladies of the house of Barbenis de Nogaret, Madame de Lamothe,
daughter of the Marquis Lamothe-Barace of Anjou, and Madame
d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, of the same family as the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, yet as these nuns had almost all entered the convent
because of their want of fortune, the community found itself at the
time of its establishment richer in blood than in money, and was
obliged instead of building to purchase a private house.  The owner
of this house was a certain Moussaut du Frene, whose brother was a
priest.  This brother, therefore, naturally became the first director
of these godly women.  Less than a year after his appointment he
died, and the directorship became vacant.

The Ursulines had bought the house in which they lived much below its
normal value, for it was regarded as a haunted house by all the town.
The landlord had rightly thought that there was no better way of
getting rid of the ghosts than to confront them with a religious
sisterhood, the members of which, passing their days in fasting and
prayer, would be hardly likely to have their nights disturbed by bad
spirits; and in truth, during the year which they had already passed
in the house, no ghost had ever put in an appearance--a fact which
had greatly increased the reputation of the nuns for sanctity.

When their director died, it so happened that the boarders took
advantage of the occasion to indulge in some diversion at the expense
of the older nuns, who were held in general detestation by the youth
of the establishment on account of the rigour with which they
enforced the rules of the order.  Their plan was to raise once more
those spirits which had been, as everyone supposed, permanently
relegated to outer darkness.  So noises began to be heard on the roof
of the house, which resolved themselves into cries and groans; then
growing bolder, the spirits entered the attics and garrets,
announcing their presence by clanking of chains; at last they became
so familiar that they invaded the dormitories, where they dragged the
sheets off the sisters and abstracted their clothes.

Great was the terror in the convent, and great the talk in the town,
so that the mother superior called her wisest, nuns around her and
asked them what, in their opinion, would be the best course to take
in the delicate circumstances in which they found themselves.
Without a dissentient voice, the conclusion arrived at was, that the
late director should be immediately replaced by a man still holier
than he, if such a man could be found, and whether because he
possessed a reputation for sanctity, or for some other reason, their
choice fell on Urbain Grandier.  When the offer of the post was
brought to him, he answered that he was already responsible for two
important charges, and that he therefore had not enough time to watch
over the snow-white flock which they wished to entrust to him, as a
good shepherd should, and he recommended the lady superior to seek
out another more worthy and less occupied than himself.

This answer, as may be supposed, wounded the self-esteem of the
sisters: they next turned their eyes towards Mignon, priest and canon
of the collegiate church of Sainte-Croix, and he, although he felt
deeply hurt that they had not thought first of him, accepted the
position eagerly; but the recollection that Grandier had been
preferred before himself kept awake in, him one of those bitter
hatreds which time, instead of soothing, intensifies.  From the
foregoing narrative the reader can see to what this hate led.

As soon as the new director was appointed, the mother superior
confided to him the kind of foes which he would be expected to
vanquish.  Instead of comforting her by the assurance that no ghosts
existing, it could not be ghosts who ran riot in the house, Mignon
saw that by pretending to lay these phantoms he could acquire the
reputation for holiness he so much desired.  So he answered that the
Holy Scriptures recognised the existence of ghosts by relating how
the witch of Endor had made the shade of Samuel appear to Saul.  He
went on to say that the ritual of the Church possessed means of
driving away all evil spirits, no matter how persistent they were,
provided that he who undertook the task were pure in thought and
deed, and that he hoped soon, by the help of God, to rid the convent
of its nocturnal visitants, whereupon as a preparation for their
expulsion he ordered a three days' fast, to be followed by a general

It does not require any great cleverness to understand how easily
Mignon arrived at the truth by questioning the young penitents as
they came before him.  The boarders who had played at being ghosts
confessed their folly, saying that they had been helped by a young
novice of sixteen years of age, named Marie Aubin.  She acknowledged
that this was true; it was she who used to get up in the middle of
the night, and open the dormitory door, which her more timid room-
mates locked most carefully from within every night, before going to
bed--a fact which greatly increased their terror when, despite their
precautions, the ghosts still got in.  Under pretext of not exposing
them to the anger of the superior, whose suspicions would be sure to
be awakened if the apparitions were to disappear immediately after
the general confession, Mignon directed them to renew their nightly
frolics from time to time, but at longer and longer intervals.  He
then sought an interview with the superior, and assured her that he
had found the minds of all those under her charge so chaste and pure
that he felt sure through his earnest prayers he would soon clear the
convent of the spirits which now pervaded it.

Everything happened as the director had foretold, and the reputation
for sanctity of the holy man, who by watching and praying had
delivered the worthy Ursulines from their ghostly assailants,
increased enormously in the town of Loudun.


Hardly had tranquillity been restored when Mignon, Duthibaut, Menuau,
Meunier, and Barot, having lost their cause before the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, and finding themselves threatened by Grandier with a
prosecution for libel and forgery, met together to consult as to the
best means of defending themselves before the unbending severity of
this man, who would, they felt, destroy them if they did not destroy

The result of this consultation was that very shortly afterwards
queer reports began to fly about; it was whispered that the ghosts
whom the pious director had expelled had again invaded the convent,
under an invisible and impalpable form, and that several of the nuns
had given, by their words and acts, incontrovertible proofs of being

When these reports were mentioned to Mignon, he, instead of denying
their truth, cast up his eyes to heaven and said that God was
certainly a great and merciful God, but it was also certain that
Satan was very clever, especially when he was barked by that false
human science called magic.  However, as to the reports, though they
were not entirely without foundation, he would not go so far as to
say that any of the sisters were really possessed by devils, that
being a question which time alone could decide.

The effect of such an answer on minds already prepared to listen to
the most impossible things, may easily be guessed.  Mignon let the
gossip go its rounds for several months without giving it any fresh
food, but at length, when the time was ripe, he called on the priest
of Saint-Jacques at Chinon, and told him that matters had now come to
such a pass in the Ursuline convent that he felt it impossible to
bear up alone under the responsibility of caring for the salvation of
the afflicted nuns, and he begged him to accompany him to the

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