The Bartholomew Massacre At Paris &c
On the 22d of August, 1572, commenced this diabolical act of sanguinary
brutality. It was intended to destroy at one stroke the root of the
protestant tree, which had only before partially suffered in its
branches. The king of France had artfully proposed a marriage between
his sister and the prince of Navarre, the captain and prince of the
protestants. This imprudent marriage was publicly celebrated at Paris,
August 18, by the cardinal of Bourbon, upon a high stage erected for the
purpose. They dined in great pomp with the bishop, and supped with the
king at Paris. Four days after this, the prince, as he was coming from
the council, was shot in both arms; he then said to Maure, his deceased
mother's minister, "O my brother, I do now perceive that I am indeed
beloved of my God, since for his most holy sake I am wounded." Although
the Vidam advised him to fly, yet he abode in Paris, and was soon after
slain by Bemjus; who afterward declared he never saw a man meet death
more valiantly than the admiral. The soldiers were appointed at a
certain signal to burst out instantly to the slaughter in all parts of
the city. When they had killed the admiral, they threw him out at a
window into the street, where his head was cut off, and sent to the
pope. The savage papists, still raging against him, cut off his arms and
private members, and, after dragging him three days through the streets,
hung him up by the heels without the city. After him they slew many
great and honourable persons who were protestants; as count
Rochfoucault, Telinius, the admiral's son-in-law, Antonius, Clarimontus,
marquis of Ravely, Lewes Bussius, Bandineus, Pluvialius, Burneius, &c.
&c. and falling upon the common people, they continued the slaughter for
many days; in the three first, they slew of all ranks and conditions to
the number of 10,000. The bodies were thrown into the rivers, and blood
ran through the streets with a strong current, and the river appeared
presently like a stream of blood. So furious was their hellish rage,
that they slew all papists whom they suspected to be not very staunch to
their diabolical religion. From Paris the destruction spread to all
quarters of the realm.
At Orleans, a thousand were slain of men, women, and children, and 6000
At Meldith, two hundred were put into prison, and brought out by units,
and cruelly murdered.
At Lyons, eight hundred were massacred. Here children hanging about
their parents, and parents affectionately embracing their children, were
pleasant food for the swords and blood-thirsty minds of those who call
themselves the catholic church. Here 300 were slain only in the bishop's
house; and the impious monks would suffer none to be buried.
At Augustobona, on the people hearing of the massacre at Paris, they
shut their gates that no protestants might escape, and searching
diligently for every individual of the reformed church, imprisoned and
then barbarously murdered them. The same cruelty they practised at
Avaricum, at Troys, at Thoulouse, Rouen and many other places, running
from city to city, towns, and villages, through the kingdom.
As a corroboration of this horrid carnage, the following interesting
narrative, written by a sensible and learned Roman catholic, appears in
this place, with peculiar propriety.
"The nuptials (says he) of the young king of Navarre with the French
king's sister, was solemnized with pomp; and all the endearments, all
the assurances of friendship, all the oaths sacred among men, were
profusely lavished by Catharine, the queen-mother, and by the king;
during which, the rest of the court thought of nothing but festivities,
plays, and masquerades. At last, at twelve o'clock at night, on the eve
of St. Bartholomew, the signal was given. Immediately all the houses of
the protestants were forced open at once. Admiral Coligni, alarmed by
the uproar jumped out of bed; when a company of assassins rushed in his
chamber. They were headed by one Besme, who had been bred up as a
domestic in the family of the Guises. This wretch thrust his sword into
the admiral's breast, and also cut him in the face. Besme was a German,
and being afterwards taken by the protestants, the Rochellers would have
bought him, in order to hang and quarter him; but he was killed by one
Bretanville. Henry, the young duke of Guise, who afterwards framed the
catholic league, and was murdered at Blois, standing at the door till
the horrid butchery should be completed, called aloud, 'Besme! is it
done?' Immediately after which, the ruffians threw the body out of the
window, and Coligni expired at Guise's feet.
"Count de Teligny also fell a sacrifice. He had married, about ten
months before, Coligni's daughter. His countenance was so engaging, that
the ruffians, when they advanced in order to kill him, were struck with
compassion; but others, more barbarous, rushing forward, murdered him.
"In the meantime, all the friends of Coligni were assassinated
throughout Paris; men, women, and children, were promiscuously
slaughtered; every street was strewed with expiring bodies. Some
priests, holding up a crucifix in one hand, and a dagger in the other,
ran to the chiefs of the murderers, and strongly exhorted them to spare
neither relations nor friends.
"Tavannes, marshal of France, an ignorant, superstitious soldier, who
joined the fury of religion to the rage of party, rode on horseback
through the streets of Paris, crying to his men, 'Let blood! let blood!
bleeding is as wholesome in August as in May.' In the memoirs of the
life of this enthusiastic, written by his son, we are told, that the
father, being on his death-bed, and making a general confession of his
actions, the priest said to him, with surprise, 'What! no mention of St.
Bartholomew's massacre?' to which Tavannes replied, 'I consider it as a
meritorious action, that will wash away all my sins.' Such horrid
sentiments can a false spirit of religion inspire!
"The king's palace was one of the chief scenes of the butchery: the king
of Navarre had his lodgings in the Louvre, and all his domestics were
protestants. Many of these were killed in bed with their wives; others,
running away naked, were pursued by the soldiers through the several
rooms of the palace, even to the king's antichamber. The young wife of
Henry of Navarre, awaked by the dreadful uproar, being afraid for her
consort, and for her own life, seized with horror, and half dead, flew
from her bed, in order to throw herself at the feet of the king her
brother. But scarce had she opened her chamber-door, when some of her
protestant domestics rushed in for refuge. The soldiers immediately
followed, pursued them in sight of the princess, and killed one who had
crept under her bed. Two others, being wounded with halberds, fell at
the queen's feet, so that she was covered with blood.
"Count de la Rochefoucault, a young nobleman, greatly in the king's
favour for his comely air, his politeness, and a certain peculiar
happiness in the turn of his conversation, had spent the evening till
eleven o'clock with the monarch, in pleasant familiarity; and had given
a loose, with the utmost mirth, to the sallies of his imagination. The
monarch felt some remorse, and being touched with a kind of compassion,
bid him, two or three times, not to go home, but lie in the Louvre. The
count said, he must go to his wife; upon which the king pressed him no
farther, but said, 'Let him go! I see God has decreed his death.' And in
two hours after he was murdered.
"Very few of the protestants escaped the fury of their enthusiastic
persecutors. Among these was young La Force (afterwards the famous
Marshal de la Force) a child about ten years of age, whose deliverance
was exceedingly remarkable. His father, his elder brother, and himself
were seized together by the Duke of Anjou's soldiers. These murderers
flew at all three, and struck them at random, when they all fell, and
lay one upon another. The youngest did not receive a single blow, but
appearing as if he was dead, escaped the next day; and his life, thus
wonderfully preserved, lasted four score and five years.
"Many of the wretched victims fled to the water-side, and some swam over
the Seine to the suburbs of St. Germaine. The king saw them from his
window, which looked upon the river, and fired upon them with a carbine
that had been loaded for that purpose by one of his pages; while the
queen-mother, undisturbed and serene in the midst of slaughter, looking
down from a balcony, encouraged the murderers and laughed at the dying
groans of the slaughtered. This barbarous queen was fired with a
restless ambition, and she perpetually shifted her party in order to
"Some days after this horrid transaction, the French court endeavoured
to palliate it by forms of law. They pretended to justify the massacre
by a calumny, and accused the admiral of a conspiracy, which no one
believed. The parliament was commanded to proceed against the memory of
Coligni; and his dead body was hung in chains on Montfaucon gallows.
The king himself went to view this shocking spectacle; when one of his
courtiers advising him to retire, and complaining of the stench of the
corpse, he replied, 'A dead enemy smells well.'--The massacres on St.
Bartholomew's day are painted in the royal saloon of the Vatican at
Rome, with the following inscription: Pontifex Coligni necem probat,
i. e. 'The pope approves of Coligni's death.'
"The young king of Navarre was spared through policy, rather than from
the pity of the queen-mother, she keeping him prisoner till the king's
death, in order that he might be as a security and pledge for the
submission of such protestants as might effect their escape.
"This horrid butchery was not confined merely to the city of Paris. The
like orders were issued from court to the governors of all the provinces
in France; so that, in a week's time, about one hundred thousand
protestants were cut to pieces in different parts of the kingdom! Two or
three governors only refused to obey the king's orders. One of these,
named Montmorrin, governor of Auvergne, wrote the king the following
letter, which deserves to be transmitted to the latest posterity.
"SIRE--I have received an order, under your majesty's seal, to put to
death all the protestants in my province. I have too much respect for
your majesty, not to believe the letter a forgery; but if (which God
forbid) the order should be genuine, I have too much respect for your
majesty to obey it."
At Rome the horrid joy was so great, that they appointed a day of high
festival, and a jubilee, with great indulgence to all who kept it and
showed every expression of gladness they could devise! and the man who
first carried the news received 1000 crowns of the cardinal of Lorrain
for his ungodly message. The king also commanded the day to be kept with
every demonstration of joy, concluding now that the whole race of
Huguenots was extinct.
Many who gave great sums of money for their ransom were immediately
after slain; and several towns, which were under the king's promise of
protection and safety, were cut off as soon as they delivered themselves
up, on those promises, to his generals or captains.
At Bordeaux, at the instigation of a villanous monk, who used to urge
the papists to slaughter in his sermons, 264 were cruelly murdered; some
of them senators. Another of the same pious fraternity produced a
similar slaughter at Agendicum, in Maine, where the populace at the holy
inquisitors' satanical suggestion, ran upon the protestants, slew them,
plundered their houses, and pulled down their church.
The duke of Guise, entering into Bloise, suffered his soldiers to fly
upon the spoil, and slay or drown all the protestants they could find.
In this they spared neither age nor sex; defiling the women, and then
murdering them; from whence he went to Mere, and committed the same
outrages for many days together. Here they found a minister named
Cassebonius, and threw him into the river.
At Anjou, they slew Albiacus, a minister; and many women were defiled
and murdered there; among whom were two sisters, abused before their
father, whom the assassins bound to a wall to see them, and then slew
them and him.
The president of Turin, after giving a large sum for his life, was
cruelly beaten with clubs, stripped of his clothes, and hung feet
upwards, with his head and breast in the river: before he was dead, they
opened his belly, plucked out his entrails, and threw them into the
river; and then carried his heart about the city upon a spear.
At Barre great cruelty was used, even to young children, whom they cut
open, pulled out their entrails, which through very rage they knawed
with their teeth. Those who had fled to the castle, when they yielded,
were almost all hanged. Thus they did at the city of Matiscon; counting
it sport to cut off their arms and legs and afterward kill them; and for
the entertainment of their visiters, they often threw the protestants
from a high bridge into the river, saying, "Did you ever see men leap so
At Penna, after promising them safety, 300 were inhumanly butchered; and
five and forty at Albin, on the Lord's day. At Nonne, though it yielded
on conditions of safeguard, the most horrid spectacles were exhibited.
Persons of both sexes and conditions were indiscriminately murdered; the
streets ringing with doleful cries, and flowing with blood; and the
houses flaming with fire, which the abandoned soldiers had thrown in.
One woman, being dragged from her hiding place with her husband, was
first abused by the brutal soldiers, and then with a sword which they
commanded her to draw, they forced it while in her hands into the bowels
of her husband.
At Samarobridge, they murdered above 100 protestants, after promising
them peace; and at Antisidor, 100 were killed, and cast part into a
jakes, and part into a river. One hundred put into prison at Orleans,
were destroyed by the furious multitude.
The protestants at Rochelle, who were such as had miraculously escaped
the rage of hell, and fled there, seeing how ill they fared who
submitted to those holy devils, stood for their lives; and some other
cities, encouraged thereby, did the like. Against Rochelle, the king
sent almost the whole power of France, which besieged it seven months,
though, by their assaults, they did very little execution on the
inhabitants, yet, by famine, they destroyed eighteen thousand out of two
and twenty. The dead being too numerous for the living to bury, became
food for vermin and carnivorous birds. Many taking their coffins into
the church yard, laid down in them, and breathed their last. Their diet
had long been what the minds of those in plenty shudder at; even human
flesh entrails, dung, and the most loathsome things, became at last the
only food of those champions for that truth and liberty, of which the
world was not worthy. At every attack, the besiegers met with such an
intrepid reception, that they left 132 captains, with a proportionate
number of men, dead in the field. The siege at last was broken up at
the request of the duke of Anjou, the king's brother, who was proclaimed
king of Poland, and the king, being wearied out, easily complied,
whereupon honourable conditions were granted them.
It is a remarkable interference of Providence, that, in all this
dreadful massacre, not more than two ministers of the gospel were
involved in it.
The tragical sufferings of the protestants are too numerous to detail;
but the treatment of Philip de Deux will give an idea of the rest. After
the miscreants had slain this martyr in his bed, they went to his wife,
who was then attended by the midwife, expecting every moment to be
delivered. The midwife entreated them to stay the murder, at least till
the child, which was the twentieth, should be born. Notwithstanding
this, they thrust a dagger up to the hilt into the poor woman. Anxious
to be delivered, she ran into a corn loft; but hither they pursued her,
stabbed her in the belly, and then threw her into the street. By the
fall, the child came from the dying mother, and being caught up by one
of the catholic ruffians, he stabbed the infant, and then threw it into
Next: From The Revocation Of The Edict Of Nantes To The French Revolution In 1789
Previous: Persecutions Of The Albigenses