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Letters From Louvois To Marillac

"The king rejoices to learn from your letters, that there are so many
conversions in your department; and he desires that you would continue
your efforts, and employ the same means that have been hitherto so
successful. His majesty has ordered me to send a regiment of cavalry,
the greatest part of which he wishes to be quartered upon the
protestants, but he does not think it prudent that they should be all
lodged with them; that is to say, of twenty-six masters, of which a
company is composed, if, by a judicious distribution, ten ought to be
received by the protestants, give them twenty, and put them all on the
rich, making this pretence, that when there are not soldiers enough in a
town for all to have some, the poor ought to be exempt, and the rich
burdened. His majesty has also thought proper to order, that all
converts be exempted from lodging soldiers for two years. This will
occasion numerous conversions if you take care that it is rigorously
executed, and that in all the distributions and passage of troops, by
far the greatest number are quartered on the rich protestants. His
majesty particularly enjoins that your orders on this subject, either by
yourself or your sub-delegates, be given by word of mouth to the mayors
and sheriffs, without letting them know that his majesty intends by
these means to force to become converts, and only explaining to them,
that you give these orders on the information you have received, that in
these places the rich are excepted by their influence, to the prejudice
of the poor."

The merciless treatment of the women, in this persecution at Nismes, was
such as would have disgraced any savages ever heard of. The widows Rivet
and Bernard, were forced to sacrifice enormous sums; and the house of
Mrs. Lecointe was ravaged, and her goods destroyed. Mrs. F. Didier had
her dwelling sacked and nearly demolished to the foundation. A party of
these bigots visited the widow Perrin, who lived on a little farm at the
windmills; having committed every species of devastation, they attacked
even the sanctuary of the dead, which contained the relics of her
family. They dragged the coffins out, and scattered the contents over
the adjacent grounds. In vain this outraged widow collected the bones of
her ancestors and replaced them: they were again dug up; and, after
several useless efforts, they were reluctantly left spread over the
surface of the fields.

Till the period announced for the sequestration of the property of the
fugitives by authority, murder and plunder were the daily employment
of what was called the army of Beaucaire, and the catholics of Nismes.
M. Peyron, of Brossan, had all his property carried off; his wine, oil,
seed, grain, several score of sheep, eight mules, three carts, his
furniture and effects, all the cash that could be found and he had only
to congratulate himself that his habitation was not consumed, and his
vineyards rooted up. A similar process against several other protestant
farmers, was also regularly carried on during several days. Many of the
protestants thus persecuted were well known as staunch royalists; but it
was enough for their enemies to know that they belonged to the reformed
communion; these fanatics were determined not to find either royalists
or citizens worthy the common protection of society. To accuse, condemn,
and destroy a protestant, was a matter that required no hesitation. The
house of M. Vitte, near the barracks at Nismes, was broken open, and
every thing within the walls demolished. A Jew family of lodgers was
driven out, and all their goods thrown out of the windows. M. Vitte was
seized, robbed of his watch and money, severely wounded, and left for
dead. After he had been fourteen hours in a state of insensibility, a
commissary of police, touched by his misfortunes, administered some
cordials to revive him; and, as a measure of safety, conducted him to
the citadel, where he remained many days, whilst his family lamented him
as dead. At length, as there was not the slightest charge against him,
he obtained his liberation from M. Vidal; but when the Austrians
arrived, one of the aids-de-camp, who heard of his sufferings and his
respectability, sought him out, and furnished an escort to conduct his
family to a place of safety. Dalbos, the only city beadle who was a
protestant, was dragged from his home and led to prison. His niece threw
herself on the neck of one of them and begged for mercy; the ruffian
dashed her to the ground. His sister was driven away by the mob; and he
being shot, his body remained a long time exposed to the insults of the

Next: Royal Decree In Favour Of The Persecuted

Previous: Interference Of Government Against The Protestants

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