Monstrous Outrage Upon Females

At Nismes it is well known that the women wash their clothes either at

the fountains, or on the banks of streams. There is a large basin near

the fountain, where numbers of women may be seen every day, kneeling at

the edge of the water, and beating the clothes with heavy pieces of wood

in the shape of battledoors. This spot became the scene of the most

shameful and indecent practices. The catholic rabble turned the women's
/> petticoats over their heads, and so fastened them as to continue their

exposure, and their subjection to a newly invented species of

chastisement; for nails being placed in the wood of the battoirs in

the form of fleur-de-lis, they beat them till the blood streamed from

their bodies, and their cries rent the air. Often was death demanded as

a commutation of this ignominious punishment, but refused with a

malignant joy. To carry their outrage to the highest possible degree,

several who were in a state of pregnancy were assailed in this manner.

The scandalous nature of these outrages prevented many of the sufferers

from making them public, and, especially, from relating the most

aggravating circumstances. "I have seen," says M. Durand, "a catholic

avocat, accompanying the assassins in the fauxbourg Bourgade, arm a

battoir with sharp nails in the form of fleur-de-lis; I have seen them

raise the garments of females, and apply, with heavy blows, to the

bleeding body this battoir or battledoor, to which they gave a name

which my pen refuses to record. The cries of the sufferers--the streams

of blood--the murmurs of indignation which were suppressed by

fear--nothing could move them. The surgeons who attended on those women

who are dead, can attest, by the marks of their wounds, the agonies

which they must have endured, which, however horrible, is most strictly


Nevertheless, during the progress of these horrors and obscenities, so

disgraceful to France and the catholic religion, the agents of

government had a powerful force under their command, and by honestly

employing it they might have restored tranquility. Murder and robbery,

however, continued, and were winked at, by the catholic magistrates,

with very few exceptions; the administrative authorities, it is true,

used words in their proclamations, &c. but never had recourse to actions

to stop the enormities of the persecutors, who boldly declared that, on

the 24th, the anniversary of St. Bartholomew, they intended to make a

general massacre. The members of the reformed church were filled with

terror, and, instead of taking part in the election of deputies, were

occupied as well as they could in providing for their own personal