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
hem; 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