List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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ten thousand livres, or a larger sum and corporal punishment should
the case so require; and in order that no one may plead ignorance
hereof, this proclamation will be read and published to-day from the
pulpits of all the churches, and copies affixed to the church doors
and in other suitable public places.

" Done at Loudun, July 2nd, 1634."

This order had great influence with worldly folk, and from that
moment, whether their belief was strengthened or not, they no longer
dared to express any incredulity.  But in spite of that, the judges
were put to shame, for the nuns themselves began to repent; and on
the day following the impious scene above described, just as Pere
Lactanee began to exorcise Sister Claire in the castle chapel, she
rose, and turning towards the congregation, while tears ran down her
cheeks, said in a voice that could be heard by all present, that she
was going to speak the truth at last in the sight of Heaven.
Thereupon she confessed that all that she had said during the last
fortnight against Grandier was calumnious and false, and that all her
actions had been done at the instigation of the Franciscan Pere
Lactance, the director, Mignon, and the Carmelite brothers.  Pere
Lactance, not in the least taken aback, declared that her confession
was a fresh wile of the devil to save her master Grandier.  She then
made an urgent appeal to the bishop and to M. de Laubardemont, asking
to be sequestered and placed in charge of other priests than those
who had destroyed her soul, by making her bear false witness against
an innocent man; but they only laughed at the pranks the devil was
playing, and ordered her to be at once taken back to the house in
which she was then living.  When she heard this order, she darted out
of the choir, trying to escape through the church door, imploring
those present to come to her assistance and save her from everlasting
damnation.  But such terrible fruit had the proclamation borne that
noon dared respond, so she was recaptured and taken back to the house
in which she was sequestered, never to leave it again.


The next day a still more extraordinary scene took place.  While M.
de Laubardemont was questioning one of the nuns, the superior came
down into the court, barefooted; in her chemise, and a cord round her
neck; and there she remained for two hours, in the midst of a fearful
storm, not shrinking before lightning, thunder, or rain, but waiting
till M. de Laubardemont and the other exorcists should come out.  At
length the door opened and the royal commissioner appeared, whereupon
Sister Jeanne des Anges, throwing herself at his feet, declared she
had not sufficient strength to play the horrible part they had made
her learn any longer, and that before God and man she declared Urbain
Grandier innocent, saying that all the hatred which she and her
companions had felt against him arose from the baffled desires which
his comeliness awoke--desires which the seclusion of conventional
life made still more ardent.  M. de Laubardemont threatened her with
the full weight of his displeasure, but she answered, weeping
bitterly, that all she now dreaded was her sin, for though the mercy
of the Saviour was great, she felt that the crime she had committed
could never be pardoned.  M. de Laubardemont exclaimed that it was
the demon who dwelt in her who was speaking, but she replied that the
only demon by whom she had even been possessed was the spirit of
vengeance, and that it was indulgence in her own evil thoughts, and
not a pact with the devil, which had admitted him into her heart.

With these words she withdrew slowly, still weeping, and going into
the garden, attached one end of the cord round her neck to the branch
of a tree, and hanged herself.  But some of the sisters who had
followed her cut her down before life was extinct.

The same day an order for her strict seclusion was issued for her as
for Sister Claire, and the circumstances that she was a relation of
M. de Laubardemont did not avail to lessen her punishment in view of
the gravity of her fault.

It was impossible to continue the exorcisms other nuns might be
tempted to follow the example, of the superior and Sister Claire, and
in that case all would be lost.  And besides, was not Urbain Grandier
well and duly convicted?  It was announced, therefore, that the
examination had proceeded far enough, and that the judges would
consider the evidence and deliver judgment.

This long succession of violent and irregular breaches of law
procedure, the repeated denials of his claim to justice, the refusal
to let his witnesses appear, or to listen to his defence, all
combined to convince Grandier that his ruin was determined on; for
the case had gone so far and had attained such publicity that it was
necessary either to punish him as a sorcerer and magician or to
render a royal commissioner, a bishop, an entire community of nuns,
several monks of various orders, many judges of high reputation, and
laymen of birth and standing, liable to the penalties incurred by
calumniators.  But although, as this conviction grew, he confronted
it with resignation, his courage did not fail,--and holding it to be
his duty as a man and a Christian to defend his life and honour to
the end, he drew up and published another memorandum, headed Reasons
for Acquittal, and had copies laid before his judges.  It was a
weighty and, impartial summing up of the whole case, such as a
stranger might have written, and began, with these words.

"I entreat you in all humility to consider deliberately and with
attention what the Psalmist says in Psalm 82, where he exhorts judges
to fulfil their charge with absolute rectitude; they being themselves
mere mortals who will one day have to appear before God, the
sovereign judge of the universe, to give an account of their
administration.  The Lord's Anointed speaks to you to-day who are
sitting in judgment, and says--

"'God standeth in the congregation of the mighty: He judgeth among
the gods.

"'How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the

"'Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and

"'Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

"'I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most

"'But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.'"

But this appeal, although convincing and dignified, had no influence
upon the commission; and on the 18th of August the following verdict
and sentence was pronounced:--

"We have declared, and do hereby declare, Urbain Grandier duly
accused and convicted of the crimes of magic and witchcraft, and of
causing the persons of certain Ursuline nuns of this town and of
other females to become possessed of evil spirits, wherefrom other
crimes and offences have resulted.  By way of reparation therefor, we
have sentenced, and do hereby sentence, the said Grandier to make
public apology, bareheaded, with a cord around his neck, holding a
lighted torch of two pounds weight in his hand, before the west door
of the church of Saint-Pierre in the Market Place and before--that of
Sainte-Ursule, both of this town, and there on bended knee to ask
pardon of God and the king and the law, and this done, to be taken to
the public square of Sainte-Croix and there to be attached to a
stake, set in the midst of a pile of wood, both of which to be
prepared there for this purpose, and to be burnt alive, along with
the pacts and spells which remain in the hands of the clerk and the
manuscript of the book written by the said Grandier against a
celibate priesthood, and his ashes, to be scattered to the four winds
of heaven.  And we have declared, and do hereby declare, all and
every part of his property confiscate to the king, the sum of one
hundred and fifty livres being first taken therefrom to be employed
in the purchase of a copper plate whereon the substance of the
present decree shall be engraved, the same to be exposed in a
conspicuous place in the said church of Sainte-Ursule, there to
remain in perpetuity; and before this sentence is carried out, we
order the said Grandier to be put to the question ordinary and
extraordinary, so that his accomplices may become known.

"Pronounced at Loudun against the said Grandier this 18th day of
August 1634."

On the morning of the day on which this sentence was passed, M. de
Laubardemont ordered the surgeon Francois Fourneau to be arrested at
his own house and taken to Grandier's cell, although he was ready to
go there of his own free will.  In passing through the adjoining room
he heard the voice of the accused saying:--

"What do you want with me, wretched executioner?  Have you come to
kill me?  You know how cruelly you have already tortured my body.
Well I am ready to die."

On entering the room, Fourneau saw that these words had been
addressed to the surgeon Mannouri.

One of the officers of the 'grand privot de l'hotel', to whom M. de
Laubardemont lent for the occasion the title of officer of the king's
guard, ordered the new arrival to shave Grandier, and not leave a
single hair on his whole body.  This was a formality employed in
cases of witchcraft, so that the devil should have no place to hide
in; for it was the common belief that if a single hair were left, the
devil could render the accused insensible to the pains of torture.
From this Urbain understood that the verdict had gone against him and
that he was condemned to death.

Fourneau having saluted Grandier, proceeded to carry out his orders,
whereupon a judge said it was not sufficient to shave the body of the
prisoner, but that his nails must also be torn out, lest the devil
should hide beneath them.  Grandier looked at the speaker with an
expression of unutterable pity, and held out his hands to Fourneau;
but Forneau put them gently aside, and said he would do nothing of
the kind, even were the order given by the cardinal-duke himself, and
at the same time begged Grandier's pardon for shaving him.  At, these
words Grandier, who had for so long met with nothing but barbarous

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