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

a short discussion the sum of 120 crowns was agreed on.  The bishop
laid down every penny he had about him, his servants were despoiled,
and the sum made up by the Sieur de Sauvignargues, who having the
bishop in his house kept him caged.  The prelate, however, made no
objection, although under other circumstances he would have regarded
this restraint as the height of impertinence; but as it was he felt
safer in M. de Sauvignargues' cellar than in the palace.

But the secret of the worthy prelate's hiding place was but badly
kept by those with whom he had treated; for in a few moments a second
crowd appeared, hoping to obtain a second ransom.  Unfortunately, the
Sieur de Sauvignargues, the bishop, and the bishop's servants had
stripped themselves of all their ready money to make up the first, so
the master of the house, fearing for his own safety, having
barricaded the doors, got out into a lane and escaped, leaving the
bishop to his fate.  The Huguenots climbed in at the windows, crying,
"No quarter!  Down with the Papists!  "The bishop's servants were cut
down, the bishop himself dragged out of the cellar and thrown into
the street.  There his rings and crozier were snatched from him; he
was stripped of his clothes and arrayed in a grotesque and ragged
garment which chanced to be at hand; his mitre was replaced by a
peasant's cap; and in this condition he was dragged back to the
palace and placed on the brink of the well to be thrown in.  One of
the assassins drew attention to the fact that it was already full.
"Pooh!" replied another, "they won't mind a little crowding for a
bishop."  Meantime the prelate, seeing he need expect no mercy from
man, threw himself on his knees and commended his soul to God.
Suddenly, however, one of those who had shown himself most ferocious
during the massacre, Jean Coussinal by name, was touched as if by
miracle with a feeling of compassion at the sight of so much
resignation, and threw himself between the bishop and those about to
strike, and declaring that whoever touched the prelate must first
overcome himself, took him under his protection, his comrades
retreating in astonishment.  Jean Coussinal raising the bishop,
carried him in his arms into a neighbouring house, and drawing his
sword, took his stand on the threshold.

The assassins, however, soon recovered from their surprise, and
reflecting that when all was said and done they were fifty to one,
considered it would be shameful to let themselves be intimidated by a
single opponent, so they advanced again on Coussinal, who with a
back-handed stroke cut off the head of the first-comer.  The cries
upon this redoubled, and two or three shots were fired at the
obstinate defender of the poor bishop, but they all missed aim.  At
that moment Captain Bouillargues passed by, and seeing one man
attacked by fifty, inquired into the cause.  He was told of
Coussinal's odd determination to save the bishop.  "He is quite
right," said the captain; "the bishop has paid ransom, and no one has
any right to touch him."  Saying this, he walked up to Coussinal,
gave him his hand, and the two entered the house, returning in a few
moments with the bishop between them.  In this order they crossed the
town, followed by the murmuring crowd, who were, however, afraid to
do more than murmur; at the gate the bishop was provided with an
escort and let go, his defenders remaining there till he was out of

The massacres went on during the whole of the second day, though
towards evening the search for victims relaxed somewhat; but still
many isolated acts of murder took place during the night.  On the
morrow, being tired of killing, the people began to destroy, and this
phase lasted a long time, it being less fatiguing to throw stones
about than corpses.  All the convents, all the monasteries, all the
houses of the priests and canons were attacked in turn; nothing was
spared except the cathedral, before which axes and crowbars seemed to
lose their power, and the church of Ste. Eugenie, which was turned
into a powder-magazine.  The day of the great butchery was called
"La Michelade," because it took place the day after Michaelmas, and
as all this happened in the year 1567 the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew must be regarded as a plagiarism.

At last, however, with the help of M. Damville; the Catholics again
got the upper hand, and it was the turn of the Protestants to fly.
They took refuge in the Cevennes.  From the beginning of the troubles
the Cevennes had been the asylum of those who suffered for the
Protestant faith; and still the plains are Papist, and the mountains
Protestant.  When the Catholic party is in the ascendant at Nimes,
the plain seeks the mountain; when the Protestants come into power,
the mountain comes down into the plain.

However, vanquished and fugitive though they were, the Calvinists did
not lose courage: in exile one day, they felt sure their luck would
turn the next; and while the Catholics were burning or hanging them
in effigy for contumacy, they were before a notary, dividing the
property of their executioners.

But it was not enough for them to buy or sell this property amongst
each other, they wanted to enter into possession; they thought of
nothing else, and in 1569--that is, in the eighteenth month of their
exile--they attained their wish in the following manner:

One day the exiles perceived a carpenter belonging to a little
village called Cauvisson approaching their place of refuge.  He
desired to speak to M. Nicolas de Calviere, seigneur de St. Cosme,
and brother of the president, who was known to be a very enterprising
man.  To him the carpenter, whose name was Maduron, made the
following proposition:

In the moat of Nimes, close to the Gate of the Carmelites, there was
a grating through which the waters from the fountain found vent.
Maduron offered to file through the bars of this grating in such a
manner that some fine night it could be lifted out so as to allow a
band of armed Protestants to gain access to the city.  Nicolas de
Calviere approving of this plan, desired that it should be carried
out at once; but the carpenter pointed out that it would be necessary
to wait for stormy weather, when the waters swollen by the rain would
by their noise drown the sound of the file.  This precaution was
doubly necessary as the box of the sentry was almost exactly above
the grating.  M. de Calviere tried to make Maduron give way; but the
latter, who was risking more than anyone else, was firm.  So whether
they liked it or not, de Calviere and the rest had to await his good

Some days later rainy weather set in, and as usual the fountain
became fuller; Maduron seeing that the favourable moment had arrived,
glided at night into the moat and applied his file, a friend of his
who was hidden on the ramparts above pulling a cord attached to
Maduron's arm every time the sentinel, in pacing his narrow round,
approached the spot.  Before break of day the work was well begun.
Maduron then obliterated all traces of his file by daubing the bars
with mud and wax, and withdrew.  For three consecutive nights he
returned to his task, taking the same precautions, and before the
fourth was at an end he found that by means of a slight effort the
grating could be removed.  That was all that was needed, so he gave
notice to Messire Nicolas de Calviere that the moment had arrived.

Everything was favourable to the undertaking: as there was no moon,
the next night was chosen to carry out the plan, and as soon as it
was dark Messire Nicolas de Calviere set out with his men, who,
slipping down into the moat without noise, crossed, the water being
up to their belts, climbed up the other side, and crept along at the
foot of the wall till they reached the grating without being
perceived.  There Maduron was waiting, and as soon as he caught sight
of them he gave a slight blow to the loose bars; which fell, and the
whole party entered the drain, led by de Calviere, and soon found
themselves at the farther end--that is to say, in the Place de la
Fontaine.  They immediately formed into companies twenty strong, four
of which hastened to the principal gates, while the others patrolled
the streets shouting, "The city taken!  Down with the Papists!  A new
world!  "Hearing this, the Protestants in the city recognised their
co-religionists, and the Catholics their opponents: but whereas the
former had been warned and were on the alert, the latter were taken
by surprise; consequently they offered no resistance, which, however,
did not prevent bloodshed.  M. de St. Andre, the governor of the
town, who during his short period of office had drawn the bitter
hatred of the Protestants on him, was shot dead in his bed, and his
body being flung out of the window, was torn in pieces by the
populace.  The work of murder went on all night, and on the morrow
the victors in their turn began an organised persecution, which fell
more heavily on the Catholics than that to which they had subjected
the Protestants; for, as we have explained above, the former could
only find shelter in the plain, while the latter used the Cevennes as
a stronghold.

It was about this time that the peace, which was called, as we have
said, "the insecurely seated," was concluded.  Two years later this
name was justified by the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.

When this event took place, the South, strange as it may seem, looked
on: in Nimes both Catholics and Protestants, stained with the other's
blood, faced each other, hand on hilt, but without drawing weapon.
It was as if they were curious to see how the Parisians would get
through.  The massacre had one result, however, the union of the
principal cities of the South and West: Montpellier, Uzes, Montauban,
and La Rochelle, with Nimes at their head, formed a civil and
military league to last, as is declared in the Act of Federation,
until God should raise up a sovereign to be the defender of the
Protestant faith.  In the year 1775 the Protestants of the South
began to turn their eyes towards Henri IV as the coming defender.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: