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

the Gardon below that town: just as M. de Villars had foreseen, the
Camisards did everything necessary for the success of his plans, and
ended by walking right into the trap set for them.

On emerging from the wood of St. Benazet, they caught sight of a
detachment of royals drawn up and waiting for them between Marvejols
and a mill called the Moulin-du-Pont. Seeing the road closed in this
direction, they turned sharp to the left, and gained a rocky valley
which ran parallel to the Gardon. This they followed till they came
out below Marvejols, where they crossed the river.  They now thought
themselves out of danger, thanks to this manoeuvre, but suddenly they
saw another detachment of royals lying on the grass near the mill of
La Scie.  They at once halted again, and then, believing themselves
undiscovered, turned back, moving as noiselessly as possible,
intending to recross the river and make for Cardet.  But they only
avoided one trap to fall into another, for in this direction they
were met by the Hainault battalion, which swooped down upon them.
A few of these ill-fated men rallied at the sound of Ravanel's voice
and made an effort to defend themselves in spite of the prevailing
confusion; but the danger was so imminent, the foes so numerous, and
their numbers decreased so rapidly under the fierce assault, that
their example failed of effect, and flight became general: every man
trusted to chance for guidance, and, caring nothing for the safety of
others, thought only of his own.

Then it ceased to be a battle and become a massacre, for the royals
were ten to one; and among those they encountered, only sixty had
firearms, the rest, since the discovery of their various magazines,
having been reduced to arm themselves with bad swords, pitchforks,
and bayonets attached to sticks.  Hardly a man survived the fray.
Ravanel himself only succeeded in escaping by throwing himself into
the river, where he remained under water between two rocks for seven
hours, only coming to the surface to breathe.  When night fell and
the dragoons had retired, he also fled.

This was the last battle of the war, which had lasted four years.
With Cavalier and Roland, those two mountain giants, the power of the
rebels disappeared.  As the news of the defeat spread, the Camisard
chiefs and soldiers becoming convinced that the Lord had hidden His
face from them, surrendered one by one.  The first to set an example
was Castanet.  On September 6th, a week after the defeat of Ravanel,
he surrendered to the marechal.  On the 19th, Catinat and his
lieutenant, Franqois Souvayre, tendered their submission; on the
22nd, Amet, Roland's brother, came in; on October 4th, Joanny; on the
9th, Larose, Valette, Salomon, Laforet, Moulieres, Salles, Abraham
and Marion; on the 20th, Fidele; and on the 25th, Rochegude.

Each made what terms he could; in general the conditions were
favourable.  Most of those who submitted received rewards of money,
some more, some less; the smallest amount given being 200 livres.
They all received passports, and were ordered to leave the kingdom,
being sent, accompanied by an escort and at the king's expense, to
Geneva.  The following is the account given by Marion of the
agreement he came to with the Marquis Lalande; probably all the
others were of the same nature.

"I was deputed," he says, "to treat with this lieutenant-general in
regard to the surrender of my own troops and those of Larose, and to
arrange terms for the inhabitants of thirty-five parishes who had
contributed to our support during the war.  The result of the
negotiations was that all the prisoners from our cantons should be
set at liberty, and be reinstated in their possessions, along with
all the others.  The inhabitants of those parishes which had been
ravaged by fire were to be exempt from land-tax for three years; and
in no parish were the inhabitants to be taunted with the past, nor
molested on the subject of religion, but were to be free to worship
God in their own houses according to their consciences."

These agreements were fulfilled with such punctuality, that Larose
was permitted to open the prison doors of St. Hippolyte to forty
prisoners the very day he made submission.

As we have said, the Camisards, according as they came in, were sent
off to Geneva.  D'Aygaliers, whose fate we have anticipated, arrived
there on September 23rd, accompanied by Cavalier's eldest brother,
Malpach, Roland's secretary, and thirty-six Camisards.  Catinat and
Castanet arrived there on the 8th October, along with twenty-two
other persons, while Larose, Laforet, Salomon, Moulieres, Salles,
Marion, and Fidele reached it under the escort of forty dragoons from
Fimarcon in the month of November.

Of all the chiefs who had turned Languedoc for four years into a vast
arena, only Ravanel remained, but he refused either to surrender or
to leave the country.  On the 8th October the marechal issued an
order declaring he had forfeited all right to the favour of an
amnesty, and offering a reward of 150 Louis to whoever delivered him
up living, and 2400 livres to whoever brought in his dead body, while
any hamlet, village, or town which gave him refuge would be burnt to
the ground and the inhabitants put to the sword.

The revolt seemed to be at an end and peace established.  So the
marechal was recalled to court, and left Nimes on January the 6th.
Before his departure he received the States of Languedoc, who
bestowed on him not only the praise which was his due for having
tempered severity with mercy, but also a purse of 12,000 livres,
while a sum of 8000 livres was presented to his wife.  But all this
was only a prelude to the favours awaiting him at court.  On the day
he returned to Paris the king decorated him with all the royal orders
and created him a duke.  On the following day he received him, and
thus addressed him: "Sir, your past services lead me to expect much
of those you will render me in the future.  The affairs of my kingdom
would be better conducted if I had several Villars at my disposal.
Having only one, I must always send him where he is most needed.  It
was for that reason I sent you to Languedoc.  You have, while there,
restored tranquillity to my subjects, you must now defend them
against their enemies; for I shall send you to command my army on the
Moselle in the next campaign."

The, Duke of Berwick arrived at Montpellier on the 17th March to
replace Marechal Villars.  His first care was to learn from M. de
Baville the exact state of affairs.  M. de Baville told him that they
were not at all settled as they appeared to be on the surface.
In fact, England and Holland, desiring nothing so much as that an
intestine war should waste France, were making unceasing efforts to
induce the exiles to return home, promising that this time they would
really support them by lending arms, ammunition, and men, and it was
said that some were already on their way back, among the number

And indeed the late rebel chief, tired of inaction, had left Geneva
in the end of February, and arrived safely at Vivarais.  He had held
a religious meeting in a cave near La Goree, and had drawn to his
side Valette of Vals and Boyer of Valon.  Just as the three had
determined to penetrate into the Cevennes, they were denounced by
some peasants before a Swiss officer named Muller, who was in command
of a detachment of troops in the village of Riviere.  Muller
instantly mounted his horse, and guided by the informers made his way
into the little wood in which the Camisards had taken refuge, and
fell upon them quite unexpectedly.  Boyer was killed in trying to
escape; Castanet was taken and brought to the nearest prison, where
he was joined the next day by Valette, who had also been betrayed by
some peasants whom he had asked for assistance.

The first punishment inflicted on Castanet was, that he was compelled
to carry in his hand the head of Boyer all the way from La Goree to
Montpellier.  He protested vehemently at first, but in vain: it was
fastened to his wrist by the hair; whereupon he kissed it on both
cheeks, and went through the ordeal as if it were a religious act,
addressing words of prayer to the head as he might have done to a
relic of a martyr.

Arrived at Montpellier, Castanet was examined, and at first persisted
in saying that he had only returned from exile because he had not the
wherewithal to live abroad.  But when put to the torture he was made
to endure such agony that, despite his courage and constancy, he
confessed that he had formed a plan to introduce a band of Huguenot
soldiers with their officers into the Cevennes by way of Dauphine or
by water, and while waiting for their arrival he had sent on
emissaries in advance to rouse the people to revolt; that he himself
had also shared in this work; that Catinat was at the moment in
Languedoc or Vivarais engaged in the same task, and provided with a
considerable sum of money sent him by foreigners for distribution,
and that several persons of still greater importance would soon cross
the frontier and join him.

Castanet was condemned to be broken on the wheel.  As he was about to
be led to execution, Abbe Tremondy, the cure of Notre-Dame, and Abbe
Plomet, canon of the cathedral, came to his cell to make a last
effort to convert him, but he refused to speak.  They therefore went
on before, and awaited him on the scaffold.  There they appeared to
inspire Castanet with more horror than the instruments of torture,
and while he addressed the executioner as "brother," he called out to
the priests, "Go away out of my sight, imps from the bottomless pit!
What are you doing here, you accursed tempters?  I will die in the
religion in which I was born.  Leave me alone, ye hypocrites, leave
me alone!"  But the two abbes were unmoved, and Castanet expired
cursing, not the executioner but the two priests, whose presence
during his death-agony disturbed his soul, turning it away from
things which should have filled it.

Valette was sentenced to be hanged, and was executed on the same day
as Castanet.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: