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Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe by Sabine Baring-Gould

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For presently they howl;
Upon which signal they do muster
Their naked forces in a cluster
Led forth by Roger Rowle."

I extract the following from the _Daily Express_ of May 10, 1910:

"It was stated at an inquest held on Richard Manford at Market Drayton
yesterday, that he was over eighty years of age, and had for the
greater part of his life dwelt in a cave near Hawkstone. He was found
dying by the roadside."

Elsewhere [Footnote: "An Old English Home," Methuen, 1898.] I have
given an account of the North Devon savages, to whom Mr. Greenwood
first drew attention. Till a very few years ago there lived on the
Cornish moors a quarryman--he may be living still for aught I have
heard to the contrary---in a solitary hut piled up of granite. He would
allow no one to approach, threatening visitors with a gun. His old
mother lived with him. By some means the rumour got about that she was
dead, but as the man said nothing, it was not till this rumour became
persistent that the authorities took cognisance of it, and visited the
hovel. They found that the old woman's bed had been a hole scooped out
of the bank that formed part of the wall; that she had been dead some
considerable time, and that her face was eaten away by rats. Daniel
Gumb was a stone-cutter who lived near the Cheese Wring on the Cornish
moors in the eighteenth century. He inhabited a cave composed of masses
of granite. It is an artificial cell about twelve feet deep and not
quite that breadth. The roof consists of one flat stone of many tons
weight. On the right hand of the entrance is cut "D. Gumb," with a date
1783 (or 5). On the upper part of the covering stone channels are cut
to carry off the rain. Here he dwelt for several years with his wife
and children, several of whom were born and died there.

How instinctively the man of the present day will revert to primitive
usages and to the ground as his natural refuge may be illustrated by a
couple of instances. Mr. Hamerton, in "A Painter's Camp," says that
near Sens on a height is a little pleasure-house and the remnant of a
forgotten chapel dedicated to S. Bondus. This belonged of late years to
a gentleman of Sens who was passionately attached to the spot. "Near my
tent there is a hole in the chalk leading to the very bowels of the
earth. A long passage, connecting cells far apart, winds till it
arrives under the house, and it is said that the late owner intended to
cut other passages and cells, but wherefore no man knows. One thing is
certain, he loved the place, and spent money there for the love of it.
Night and day he came up here from his little city on the plain, sat in
his pleasant octagon room, and descended into his winding subterranean
passages, and hermit-like visited the hollow cells." On his death he
bequeathed it to the Archbishop of Sens. [Footnote: "A Painter's Camp,"
Lond. 1862, Bk. iii. c. 1.]

Another instance is from our own country. Mr. L.P. Jacks' very
remarkable book, "Mad Shepherds," gives an account of one Toller of
Clun Downs, who went deranged, took to the moors and lived for a
considerable time, stealing sheep and poultry. "Beyond the furthest
outpost of the Perryman farm lie extensive wolds rising rapidly into
desolate regions where sheep can scarcely find pasture. In this region
Toller concealed himself. About two miles beyond the old quarry, on a
slaty hillside, he found a deep pit; and here he built himself a hut.
He made the walls out of stones of a ruined sheepfold; he roofed them
with a sheet of corrugated iron, stolen from the outbuildings of a
neighbouring farm, and covered the iron with sods; he built a fireplace
with a flue, but no chimney; he caused water from a spring to flow into
a hollow beside the door. Then he collected slates, loose stones and
casks; and by heaping these against the walls of the hut, he gave the
whole structure the appearance of a mound of rubbish. Human eyes rarely
came within sight of the spot; but even a keen observer of casual
objects would not have suspected that the mound represented any sort of
human dwelling. It was a masterpiece of protective imitation.... His
implements were all of flint, neatly bound in their handles with strips
of hide. There was an axe for slaughter, a dagger for cutting meat, a
hammer for breaking bones, a saw and scrapers of various size--the
plunder of some barrow on Clun Downs." There Toller lived for several
months, and there he died, his hiding-place being known to one other
shepherd, and to him alone; and there after his death he was buried.
"My 'usband dug his grave wi' his own hands," said the widow of this
shepherd, "close beside the hut, and buried him next day. He put the
axe and slings just as he told him, wi' the stones and all the bits of
flint things as he found 'em in the hut." [Footnote: "Mad Shepherds,
and other Human Studies," Lond. 1910, p. 137 _et seq_.]



In the year 1866 the Prussian Army of the Elbe broke into Bohemia, when
it was found that the inhabitants of a certain district had vanished
along with their cattle and goods, leaving behind empty houses and
stables. It had been the same during the Thirty Years' War, and again
in the Seven Years' War, when the invaders found not a living soul, and
contented themselves with destroying the crops and burning the villages
and farms. Even the Government officials had disappeared. Whither had
they gone? Into the rock labyrinths of Adersbach and Wickelsdorf, each
accessible only through a single gap closed by a door. The mountain of
what the Germans call Quadersandstein is four miles long by two broad,
and was at one time an elevated plateau, but is now torn into gullies,
forming a tangled skein of ravines, wherein a visitor without a guide
might easily lose himself. The existence of this labyrinth was unknown
save to the peasants till the year 1824, when a forest fire revealed
it, but for some time it remained unexplored. [Footnote: It had indeed
been mentioned by Dr. Kausch in his _Nachrichten ueber Boehmen_,
1794; but he lamented its inaccessibility.]

As Adersbach and Wickelsdorf lie on the frontier of Bohemia and
Silesia, the existence of this region of cliffs and natural refuges had
been kept secret by the natives, who looked upon it as a secure hiding-
place for themselves and their chattels when the storm of war swept
over the Riesen Gebirge. But the fatal fire of 1824 betrayed their
secret to the world, and after a little hesitation, thinking to make
profit out of it as a show-place, paths were cut through it, and it was
advertised in 1847. When, in 1866, the Prussians passed by, they
incurred neither the risk nor the trouble of hunting out the refugees
from their place of concealment.

The rocks run up to 200 feet, the loftiest being 280 feet. They assume
the most fantastic shapes. The passage through the fissures is so
narrow that in some places it can be threaded by one man alone at a
time, the others following in single file. A rivulet, clear as crystal,
traverses the network of gullies, and in one place forms a tiny
cascade. One nook is called the Southern Siberia, because in it the
snow lies unmelted throughout the summer.

At intervals the rocks fall back and form open spaces, and at one
describe an amphitheatre upon a vista of rolling forest.

But if this "petrified forest," as it has been called, served as a
refuge for the peasants in troublous times, it has also been employed
by brigands as their fastness whence to ravage the country and render
the roads perilous. But of their exploits I shall have more to say in
the chapter on robber-dens.

Caverns, as well as chasms, have always served this same purpose.

There is something remarkably human and significant in the prophecy of
Isaiah relative to the coming of the Judge of all the earth: "They
shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth,
for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty." And in the
Book of Revelation: "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and
the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every
bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the
rocks of the mountains."

As the first men found their refuges and homes in caves and rock
shelters, so the last men, with the instinct implanted in them from the
first and never eradicated, will fly to the earth as a hiding-place,
just as a frightened child flies to the lap of its mother.

When Ahab persecuted the prophets, Obadiah hid them by fifties in a
cave. After the battle of Bethhoron the five kings of the Amorites hid
themselves in the cave of Makkedah. When the Midianites oppressed
Israel, the latter "made them the dens which are in the mountains, and
caves and strongholds." From the Philistines "the people did hide
themselves in caves and in thickets and in high places, and in pits."
Twice did Elijah take refuge in a cave.

What took place in Palestine, took place in every part of the world
wherever there are limestone and chalk and volcanic breccia and
sandstone. It would seem as though a merciful Providence had not only
provided the first shelters for man against the inclemency of the
weather, but had also furnished him with places of secure refuge
against the violence of his fellow-man. As sure as the rabbit runs to
its hole on the sight of the sportsman, so did the oppressed and
timorous when the slayer and the marauder appeared.

In the South of France, where caves abound, the unhappy Gauls fled from
Caesar and concealed themselves in them. He bade his lieutenant Crassus
wall up the entrances. When the Armenians fled before Corbulo--"fuere
qui se speluncis et carissima secum abderent"--he filled the mouths of
the caverns with faggots and burned them out. [Footnote: Tacit.,
"Annals," xvi. 23.]

When Civilis rose in insurrection against Vespasian, he was joined by a
young native, Julius Sabinus from Langres, who boasted that, in the
great war with the Gauls, his great-grandmother had taken the fancy of
Julius Caesar, and that to him he owed his name.

After the death of Nero, the Druids had come forth from the retreats
where they had remained concealed since their proscription by Claudius,
and proclaimed that "the Roman Empire was at an end, and that the
Gallic Empire was come to its birth." Insurgents rose on every side,
and Julius Sabinus assumed the title of Caesar. War broke out;
confusion, hesitation, and actual desertion extended through the
Colonies, and reached the legions. Several towns submitted to the
insurgents. Some legions yielding to persuasion, bribery, or
discontent, killed their officers and went over to the rebels. The
gravity of the situation was perceived in Rome, and Petilius Cerealis
was despatched to crush the revolt. The struggle that ensued was fierce
but brief, and Civilis was constrained to surrender. Vespasian being
disinclined to drive men or matters to an extremity, pardoned him; but
no mercy was to be extended to Julius Sabinus. After the ruin of his
cause, Sabinus took refuge underground in one of those retreats
excavated in the chalk beneath his villa, and two of his freedmen were
alone privy to the secret. The further to conceal him, they set fire to
his house, and gave out that he had poisoned himself and that his dead
body had been consumed in the flames. His young wife, named Eponia, was
in frantic despair at the news; but one of the freedmen informed her of
the place of his retreat, and advised her to assume the habit and
exhibit the desolation of widowhood, so as to confirm the report they
had disseminated. "Well did she play her part," says Plutarch, "in this
tragedy of woe." She visited her husband in his cave at night, and left
him at daybreak, but at last refused to leave him at all. At the end of
seven months, hearing talk of the clemency of Vespasian, she set out
for Rome taking her husband with her, disguised as a slave, with shaven
head and a dress that rendered him unrecognisable. But friends who were
in her confidence dissuaded her from prosecuting the journey. The
imperial clemency was not a quality to be calculated upon with
confidence. They accordingly returned to their subterranean abode.
There they lived for nine years, during which, "as a lioness in her
den," says Plutarch, "Eponia gave birth to two young whelps, and
suckled them at her own breast." At length they were discovered, and
Sabinus and his wife were brought before Vespasian.

"Caesar," said Eponia, showing him her children, "I conceived and
suckled them in a tomb, that there might be more of us to entreat thy
mercy." But the Emperor was not disposed to be clement to one who
pretended to inherit the sacred Julian blood, and he ordered Sabinus to
be led to the block. Eponia asked that she might die with her husband,
saying: "Caesar, do me this grace, for I have lived more happily
underground and in darkness than thou hast done in the splendour of thy

Vespasian fulfilled her desire by sending her also to execution; and
Plutarch, their contemporary, expressed the general feeling in Rome,
when he adds: "In all the long reign of this Emperor there was no deed
done so cruel, and so piteous to look upon; and he was afterwards
punished for it, for in a brief time all his posterity was cut off."

In 731 the Saracens, masters of the peninsula, poured over the
Pyrenees, and entered the Septimania. They had come not to conquer and
pillage, but to conquer and occupy. They had brought with them
accordingly their wives and children. They took Narbonne, Carcassone
and Nimes, besieged Toulouse, and almost totally destroyed Bordeaux.
Thrusting up further, they reached Burgundy on one side and Poitou on
the other. Autun was sacked, and the church of S. Hilary in Poitiers
given to the flames. The Christians, wherever met with, were hewn down
with their curved scimitars; they passed on like a swarm of locusts
leaving desolation in their wake. Those of the natives who escaped did
so by taking advantage of the subterranean refuges either natural or
artificial that abounded. And that they did so is shown by the relics
of Merovingian times that have been found in them.

The Mussulmans were routed at Poitiers by Charles Martel. Three hundred
thousand Saracens, say the old chroniclers, with their usual
exaggeration, fell before the swords of the Christians. The rest fled
under the walls of Narbonne.

Between 752 and 759 Pepin the Short resolved on the conquest of
Septimania, _i.e._ Lower Languedoc. The Goths there had risen
against the Arabs and appealed for his aid. Nimes, Agde, Beziers,
Carcassonne opened their gates, but Narbonne resisted for seven years.
When it surrendered in 759, the Empire of the Franks for the first time
touched the Eastern Pyrenees. Pepin now picked a quarrel with Waifre,
Duke of Aquitaine, and crossing the Loire made of the unhappy country a
hunting-ground for the Franks. He delivered the land over to a
systematic devastation. From the Loire to the Garonne the houses were
burnt, and the trees cut down. "The churches, the monasteries, and
secular buildings were reduced to ashes. Vineyards and fields were
ravaged, and the inhabitants put to the edge of the sword. Only a few
strong places escaped the fury of the soldiers.... The city of Cahors
fell into the power of the conqueror and was reduced to the same
pitiable condition into which it had been brought by the Saracens. The
inhabitants of Quercy who survived owed this to the subterranean
retreats which they had made and to the caverns in the rocks that had
served them as refuges during the incursion of the infidels. The
principal caves are situated on the Banks of the Lot at Cami, Luzech,
Vers, Bouzier, S. Cirq, La Toulsanie, Larnagol, Calvignac, S. Jean de
Laur, Cajarc and Laroque-Toirac, to above Capdenac; on the banks of the
Cele, at Roquefort, Espagnac, Brengues, S. Sulpice, Marcillac, Liauzun,
Sauliac, Cabrerets; on the banks of the Dordogne at Belcastel, La Cave,
Le Bon Sairon, Mayronne, Blansaguet, Montvalent, Gluges, Saint Denis,
&c., and between the rivers, Autoire, Gramat, S. Cirq d'Alzou,
Rocamadour, S. Martin de Vers, Crass Guillot, to Vers among the high
cliffs athwart which runs the Roman aqueduct, which in certain places,
behind its high walls, could shelter a great number of the inhabitants.
These caverns are still called Gouffios, Gouffieros, or Waiffers, from
the name of Duke Waifre. [Footnote: Lacoste's derivation is absurd;
Gouffieros comes from Gouffre, a chasm.] They were closed by a wall, of
which there are remains at Canis, at Brengues, and at S. Jean de Laur,
on the rock that commands the abyss of Lantoui. This last cavern is the
most remarkable of all, as it is at but a little distance from the
castle of Cenevieres, which was one of the principal strongholds of the
Duke of Aquitaine in Quercy." [Footnote: Lacoste, _Histoire de
Quercy_, Cahors, 1883, i. pp. 267-8.]

The wretched country had to suffer next from the expedition of the
Northmen, who pushed up every river, destroying, pillaging, and showing
no mercy to man or beast. The most redoutable of these pirates was
Hastings, who ravaged the banks of the Loire between 843 and 850,
sacked Bordeaux and Saintes and menaced Tarbes. In 866 he was again in
the Loire, and penetrated as far as Clermont Ferrand. There seemed to
be no other means of appeasing him than by granting him the country of
Chartres. But this did not content his turbulent spirit, and at the age
of nearly seventy he abandoned his county to resume his piracies.

An Icelandic Saga relating the adventures of a Viking, Orvar Odd in
Aquitaine, describes how he saw some of the natives taking refuge in an
underground retreat, and how he pursued and killed them all. [Footnote:
_Fornmanna Soegwr_, Copenhagen, 1829, ii. p. 229.]

In the persecution of the Albigenses at the instigation of Pope
Innocent III. the unfortunate heretics fled to the caves, but were
hunted, or smoked out and massacred by the Papal emissaries.
Nevertheless, a good many escaped, and in 1325, when John XXII. was
reigning in Avignon, he ordered a fresh _battu_ of heretics. A
great number fled to the cave of Lombrive near Ussat in Ariege. It
consists of an immense hall, and runs to the length of nearly four
miles. In 1328 the papal troops, to save themselves the trouble or risk
of penetrating into these recesses after their prey, built up the
entrance, and left from four to five hundred Albigenses along with
their bishops to perish therein of starvation. Of late years the bones
have been collected, removed, and buried. From 1152, the Bordelois,
Saintonge, Agenois, Perigord, and the Limousin were nominally under the
English crown. But the people did not bear their subjection with
patience, and often rose in revolt, and their revolts were put down
with ferocity. As to the Barons and Seigneurs of Guyenne, they took
which side suited their momentary convenience, and shifted their
allegiance as seemed most profitable to them. But the worst season was
after the Treaty of Bretigny in 1360, when a vast part of France, from
the Loire to the Pyrenees was made over to the English. The Hundred
Years' War was the consequence, of which more shall be said in the
fifth chapter. Froissart describes the condition of the country:
"Matters were so woven together there and the lords and knights were so
divided, that the strong trampled down the weak, and neither law nor
reason was measured out to any man. Towns and castles were intermixed
inextricably; some were English, others French, and they attacked one
another and ransomed and pillaged one another incessantly."

Under these circumstances it may well be understood that if Nature
herself had not of her own accord furnished the miserable, harassed
people with refuges, they would themselves have contrived some. As we
shall see they did this, as well as make use of the natural provision
supplied for their safety.

Of refuges there are two kinds, those patiently and laboriously
excavated under the surface of the soil, and those either natural or
contrived high up in the face of inaccessible cliffs.

Each shall be dealt with; they are different in character. The town of
Saint Macaire on the Garonne is walled about. But the walls did not
give to the citizens all the security they desired; the ramparts might
be battered down, escaladed, or the gates burst open. Accordingly they
excavated, beneath the town, a complete labyrinth of passages,
chambers, halls, and store-rooms into which they might either retreat
themselves or where they might secure their valuables in the event of
the town being sacked.

At Alban in Tarn there are retreats of like nature under the houses,
refuges at one time of the persecuted Albigenses, at another of the
inhabitants secreting themselves and their goods from the Routiers. At
Molieres in Lot they are beneath the church, and the approximate date
can be fixed when these were excavated, as Molieres was founded in

Bourg-sur-Garonne is likewise honeycombed with such retreats, so is
Aubeterre, of which more hereafter. The network of underground
galleries and chambers is now closed, because the soft chalk rock has
fallen in in several places. At Ingrandes-sur-Vienne there are three
groups of these refuges, extending to a considerable distance. At
Chateau Robin in the Touraine is a chalk cliff that rises above the
road to the height of sixty feet and is crowned by a tumulus. In its
face are two sets of caves, one superposed over the other. This upper
cave or shelter is the most ancient, and dates from prehistoric times,
but has been utilised much later. The lower cave is exposed by the
widening of the road which has obliterated the original face of the
cliff and the original entrance, having made three openings by cutting
into a chamber to which formerly there was but a single entrance. The
plan of the excavation was made by M. Antoine and communicated to the
"Bulletin de la Societe Archeologique de Touraine," in 1858, but I will
give a description from the pen of a later visitor.

"The upper rock-shelter has been dug out or enlarged with a pick. The
stone is a tender tufa, containing a quantity of little cores of black
silex, giving it a spotty appearance. It was quite impossible to cut
the stone so as to give a smooth surface.

"The most mysterious portion, however, of the whole is certainly the
lower range of vaults, a subject of terror to the inhabitants of the
neighbourhood, who believe them to be the abode of the devil. Some
persons have visited them, but very few have explored them. Having
calculated on the assistance of a poacher of some repute as a fearless
fellow, he pointblank refused to accompany me when I proposed an
expedition into the cave. I applied to a man of more resolution, a
landowner at Arzay-le-Rideau, who readily volunteered his assistance;
but when we arrived on the spot, contented himself with showing me the
entrance, but declined to adventure himself within, though he assured
me he had visited the interior some five-and-twenty or thirty years

"These excavations have now several openings upon the road; the two
principal are accessible enough, if one is suitably dressed, for beyond
the entrance one has to crawl on hands and knees, and this is but the
initiation of other discomforts.

"The entrances are, so to speak, in the ditch of the road to Azay. The
most practicable of them, and that by which M. Antoine and I
penetrated, is the easternmost of the three, and is marked A on the
plan, and it gives access to a small triangular chamber C; but the
entrance is so low that one can only enter on one's knees or in a
doubled position. Further on it is loftier. On advancing to the end one
leaves on the right a sort of staircase B cut in the rock, but very
worn, which formerly ascended spirally to the upper cave, but is now
without issue.

[Illustration: Plan of the Refuge of Chateau Robin (Indre et Loire).]

"At the bottom of the chamber C a very narrow passage turns at a right
angle and gives access to a large hall E that is sustained by a pillar
F. This pillar is three feet square and the vaulted chamber may be 15
to 18 feet square and 5 feet high. On the left a great pier G allows of
two passages I I which lead to the other openings that gape upon the
road, and turning to the right give access to the further depths of the
underground retreat. A passage H is, however, the most direct means of
communication between the cavern E and the larger hall J to which also
access is obtained through the openings I I separated by the pillar S.

"The cavern J, the largest of all, is 25 feet long by 15 feet wide at
the one end and 24 feet at the other. It is supported by the pillar K,
shaped to suit the widening of the hall. At the bottom of this chamber
is a staircase L descending from the floor and without any breastwork
to protect it, and therefore dangerous, as it goes down 6 feet, and is
but about a foot and a half wide. This staircase is 12 feet long, and
the passage M that is a continuation of it is hardly more than 4 feet
high at the entrance, and is nearly 20 feet long, so that one has to
creep along it, bent double, assisted by one's hands.

"In this position it is absolutely impossible for one to turn round, so
narrow is the passage. At this point a difficulty that is not
anticipated arrests many a visitor. Water rises through the stones that
form the floor and contributes to reduce the height of the gallery. If
one elects to continue, there is no choice but to take a bath that
reaches to one's middle. At a distance of nearly 7 feet comes a right
angle, and the passage goes on for 6 feet, then turns to the left by an
obtuse angle and pursues its course for 12 feet, then again turns to
the right by another obtuse angle, and for 15 feet more one is still
half under water, till N is reached, after which the level of the floor
rises, as does also the ceiling; one is able to stand erect alongside
of another person. In face of one, the wall is cut perpendicularly and
seems abruptly to close the passage. However, at a few inches above the
soil is a little opening D, formed like the mouth of an oven, and
giving indications of a space beyond. In diameter it is about 1 foot 6
inches; by crawling through this hole, an achievement difficult to
accomplish, as one cannot even use the elbows to work one's way
forward, the explorer descends into a semicircular hall P whose vault
is arched and is supported by two oval pillars, 7 feet high. The hall
is 24 feet deep and 18 feet wide at the entrance, and is rounded at the
further extremity. The soil in this chamber is encumbered with stones
and rubbish thrown in from an opening at R, which seems to communicate
with other subterranean excavations." Nothing was found in these
chambers and passages that could give an approximate date, but in the
upper "abris" was some Gaulish pottery. The water that had half filled
the lower passage is due to the river having been dammed up for a mill,
and so having raised the level considerably. Originally the passage was
certainly dry.

Although this _souterrain refuge_ is curious, yet it does not
present some of the peculiarities noticeable in others--that is to say,
elaborate preparations for defence, by contriving pitfalls for the
enemy and means of assailing him in flank and rear.

The usual artifice for protection was this. The entrance from without
led by a gallery or vestibule to an inner doorway that opened into the
actual refuge. The passage to this interior doorway was made to descend
at a rapid incline, and as it descended it became lower, so that an
enemy entering would probably advance at a run, and doubled, and would
pitch head foremost into a well, from 20 to 30 feet deep, bottle-
shaped, sunk in the floor immediately before the closed and barred
door, and which was gaping to receive him. Such a well-mouth would
usually have a plank crossing it, but in time of danger this plank
would be removed. To make doubly sure of precipitating the assailant
into it, a side-chamber was contrived with slots commanding the
doorway, through which slots pikes, spears and swords could be thrust.

Beside these contrivances there were also lateral recesses in which the
defenders might lurk in ambush, to rush forth to hew at the enemy, or
at least to extinguish his torch. Almost invariably these hypogees have
two exits or entrances, so that those within could escape by one should
the enemy force the other, or endeavour to smoke them out. Moreover, to
keep up a circulation of air, and to obviate the contingency of being
smoked out, these underground retreats are almost invariably supplied
with ventilating shafts. The marks made by the implements employed in
hewing the rock are always distinctly recognisable. Moreover within,
sunk in the floor, are silos for the storage of grain, the soil often
somewhat higher about their orifices than elsewhere, and sometimes
provided with covers. Niches for lamps may be seen, also cupboards for
provisions, in which have been found collections of acorns, walnuts,
hazel-nuts and chestnuts carbonized by age.

[Illustration: Sections.

Chateau of Fayrolle (Dordogne).

A. Entrance.
B. Continuation, unexplored.
C. Shaft.
DD. Doorways.
E. Modern entrance.
FF. Store chambers.
G. Large chamber.
H. Slot for stabbing assailants.
K. Ventilating shaft.]

A typical _souterrain refuge_ is that of the Chateau de Fayrolle,
not far from Riberac on the Dordogne.

It was accidentally discovered when the proprietor was levelling for
terraces and gardens. A glance at the plan will save a description.

A refuge at S. Gauderic has been explored. The region is one of
lacustrine deposits called the Sandstone of Carcassonne; it is friable,
argilaceous marl. The opening into the hypogee is in the middle of a
field, and there are no indications around of the deposition of the
material extracted in the formation of the retreat, so as to betray its
presence. The visitor descends by a dozen steps into a long corridor,
sinuous, and inclining downwards, about 1 foot 8 inches wide, and 4
feet 6 inches high. The passage exhibits rebates in several places,
into which door-frames had been fitted, as well as square holes into
which the beams were run that fastened the doors. It leads past several
side-chambers into which the defenders might retire, so as to burst
forth suddenly and unexpectedly on the foe, smite him and extinguish
any torch he bore. The corridor leads to a rectangular hall 22 feet
long and 7 feet high, vaulted and ventilated by three circular
airholes, 6 inches in diameter. There are numerous silos in the floor,
and fragments of coarse grey pottery turned on the wheel have been
found there. [Footnote: _Revue de l'Art Chretienne_, Paris, 1868,
p. 498 _et seq_.]

M. L. Druyn, in his _La Guyenne Militaire_, Bordeaux, 1865, gives
the following account of a refuge he explored. "Ascending the valley
that separates the castle of Roquefort from the church of Lugasson,
after having passed the village of Fauroux, one reaches, on the left
side of the road, a splendid quarry of hard stone, but a few paces
further on, upon the same side, the stone becomes soft. Here on the
right, in a little coppice beside the road, is found a place of refuge
of which I give the plan as accurately as it was possible for me to
take it where one had to crawl on hands and knees, and sometimes
wriggle forward lying on one's stomach, over earth that was damp and
rubble fallen from above, and in corridors completely filled by one
human body.

"The entrance is at A on a level with the soil outside against the
rock, but this cannot have been the original place of admission. It is
a round hole and very narrow. The real entrance was at K, where one can
distinguish a circular opening like the orifice of a silo, but which is
now in the open and is choked with stones; or else at the end of the
gallery H B. The chamber Y containing silos for preservation of grain
must have been the furthest extremity. It is 6 feet 3 inches high, and
the floor is higher above the mouth of the silos than elsewhere. The
cavern is hewn out of the rock. All the chambers are circular. They are
vaulted for the most part in the form of low cupolas. The domes of some
are so low that one cannot stand upright in them. The corridors are
still lower than the chambers, and one can only get along them by
creeping. The extremities of the corridors and the entrances to the
chambers had doors originally. One can see the notches for the
reception of the closing beams. I saw no trace of hinges. The passages
are all arched over in semicircle."

[Illustration: Cluseau de Fauroux.]

Lacoste, speaking of the Saracen invasion and devastation of Quercy,
says that "in Lower Quercy, where caverns are not common as they are in
Upper Quercy, the inhabitants dug _souterrains_ with a labour that
only love of life could prompt. Three of vast extent have been
discovered at Fontanes, Mondoumerc, and Olmie. That of Mondoumerc is
cut in the tufa, and is about 20 feet deep. It consists of an infinity
of cells, or small chambers, united by a corridor. But the vastest and
most remarkable for its extent and the labour devoted on it, is that of
Olmie. The chambers are scooped out of a very hard sandstone. In some
of them are little wells or reservoirs that were filled with water as a
precaution against thirst, if refugees were obliged to remain long in
this asylum. The passages, with their turns, constitute a veritable
labyrinth whence it would be hard to find one's way out without the
assistance of a guide."

The entrance to these hiding-places was either under a ledger stone in
a church, or through a cellar, or half-way down a well, or in a

It must be remembered that it was the duty of every feudal seigneur to
provide for the safety of his vassels, and the security of their goods.
Consequently a great number of such _souterrains_ are under
castles or in the grounds of a feudal lord. The rock on which his
towers stood was often drilled through and through with galleries,
chambers, and store places, for this purpose. On the alarm being given
of the approach of an army marching through the land, of a raid by a
marauding neighbour, or the hovering of a band of brigands over the
spot, within a few hours all this underground world was filled with
ploughs, looms, bedding, garments, household stuff of every
description, and rang with the bleating of sheep, the lowing of oxen,
the neighing of horses, and the whimpering of women and children. At
Vendome, the rock on which stands the castle is riddled with passages
and halls, access to which is obtained not from the castle, but from
the town. At Lavardin by Montoire it is the same. At Paulin in Tarn is
a noble castle standing on a rock 300 feet high, and in this rock are
storerooms, halls, a kitchen, a winding staircase. At Montvalon-
Tauriac, in the same department, under the castle are refuges and
granaries. At Murat in Cantal is the castle of Anterroche, and the
rocks about it are traversed with galleries leading to chambers
containing silos. At Salles-la-Source in Aveyron, in a cleft of the
plateau, is the castle of the Count of Armagnac, and here also there is
the same provision. At S. Sulpice in Tarn are the remains of a castle
built in 1247, with its chapel over crypts and galleries carved out of
the living stone. At Contigne, in Maine-et-Loire, is the manor of
Gatines, underneath which are _souterrains_ that extend for a
mile, with store-chambers and chapels, hewn out of the tufa. I might
mention a hundred more. But all these pertain to a period before the
feudal system had sunk into one of oppression, and when the vassals had
confidence in their seigneur. In process of time the conditions
altered, and then they contrived their own private hiding-places from
their lords and masters.

The stories everywhere prevalent where there are castles, that there
are under them passages connecting them with a church, a river, or
another castle, are probably due to the fact of there having been these
subterranean retreats intended for the use of the vassals. But when
these latter ceased to look to their lords to protect them, and cast
about instead to shelter themselves from their lords, the original
purport of these _souterrains_ was forgotten and misinterpreted.

One has but to look through the brief notices of towns and villages in
Joanne's Departmental Geographies to see what a number of these refuges
are already known to exist in France. And he records, be it remembered,
only the most interesting. There are thousands more that have either
not yet been discovered or remain unexplored. Some are revealed by
accident; a peasant is ploughing, when his oxen are suddenly engulfed,
and he finds that they have broken through the roof of one of these
hiding-places. A gentleman is building his chateau, when in sinking his
foundations he finds the rock like a petrified sponge--but not like a
sponge in this, that the galleries are artificial. A _paysan_ lets
himself down his well to clean it out, as the water is foul. He finds
that in the side of the shaft is the opening of a passage; he enters,
follows it, and finds a labyrinth of galleries.

As an instance of the abundance of the _souterrains_ in France, I
will take the department of Vienne and give in a note below a list of
the communes where they are known to be, from _De Longuemar,
Geographie du dep. de la Vienne_, Poitiers, 1882, and also from
several editions of Joanne's Geography. [Footnote: Natural grottoes
that may have served as refuges are not included. Availles, Bellefonds,
Bethines, Beruges, Bonnes, Bussieres, Chateau Gamier, Champniers,
Curzay, Civeaux, Gouex, Ingrandes, S. Julien Lars, Jazneuil, Leugny-
sur-Creuse, Loudun, Lautiers, Lusignan, Marnay, Maire-le-Gautier, S.
Martin-Lars, S. Martin-la-Riviere, Maslou Montmorillon, Mazerolles,
Mondion, Maulay, Montreuil-Bonnin, Naintre, Princai, Romagne, S. Remy-
sur-Creuse, Saulge, Nouvaille, Persac, S. Savin, Sossais, Thure, Usson,
Varennes, Le Vigean, Veniers, Velleches, Verrieres, Venneuil-sur-Biard.
Several of these are under churches, others under castles. At some of
these places are three or more distinct _souterrains._]

Victor Hugo, in his _Quatrevingt Treise_, speaking of the war in
La Vendee, says: "It is difficult to picture to oneself what these
Breton forests really were. They were towns. Nothing could be more
secret, more silent, and more savage. There were wells round and small,
masked by coverings of stones or by branches. The interiors at first
vertical, then carried horizontally, spread out underground like
tunnels, and ended in dark chambers." These excavations, he states, had
been there from time immemorial. He continues: "One of the wildest
glades of the wood at Misdon, perforated by galleries and cells, out of
which came and went a mysterious society, was called 'The Great City.'
The gloomy Breton forests were servants and accomplices of rebellion.
The subsoil of every forest was a sort of sponge, pierced and traversed
in all directions by a secret highway of mines, cells and galleries.
Each of these blind cells could shelter five or six men. Usually the
cover, made of moss and branches, was so artistically fashioned that,
although impossible on the outside to distinguish it from the
surrounding turf, it was very easy to open and close from the inside.
In several of these forests and woods there were not only subterranean
villages grouped about the burrow of the chief, but also actual hamlets
of low huts hidden under the trees. These underground belligerents were
kept perfectly informed of what was going on. Nothing could be more
rapid, nothing more mysterious, than their means of communication.
Sometimes they raised the cover of their hiding-places and listened to
hear if there was fighting in the distance." He mentions the ability of
the ambushed men to spring up, as it were, under the feet of the armies
sent against them. And to show the numbers of the concealed forces, he
continues: "There are in existence lists which enable one to understand
the powerful organisation of that vast peasant rebellion. In Isle-et-
Villaine, in the forest of Pertre, not a human trace was to be found,
yet there were collected 6000 men under Focard. In the forest of
Meullac, in Morhiban, not a soul was to be seen, yet it held 8000 men.
These deceptive copses were filled with fighters, lurking in an
underground labyrinth."

On March 26, 1807, Napoleon demanded a fresh conscription of 80,000
men. This was the third levy that had been called for since the
Prussian War began. The three conscriptions supplied no less than
240,000 men in seven months, and the call for the third produced
consternation throughout France. The number of young men who reached
the age of eighteen annually in half a year, more than the entire
annual generation, had been swept off to lay their bones in the East of
Europe. Great numbers of young fellows fled to the woods, caves, and
secret refuges, and concealed themselves; and the gendarmes were
employed in hunting them out, but not often with success unless aided
by a traitor. Again in 1812, when Napoleon meditated an invasion of
Russia, fresh calls were made on the male population. Every male
capable of bearing arms was forced to assume them, and again, as in
1807, the young men disappeared as rabbits underground. It is quite
possible that the peasants, who have found these refuges so convenient
in the past, should know more about them and where they are situated
than they pretend, thinking that at some future time, another
revolution or another German invasion, the knowledge may prove

And now let us turn to Picardy, perhaps the one of the ancient
provinces of France most undermined. On the night of February 13, 1834,
after heavy rains, a portion of the wall of the apse of the parish
church of Gapennes, half-way between Aussy-le-Chateau and S. Ricquier,
collapsed, and in the morning the inhabitants of the commune were
stupefied to see the desolation of the holy place. Not only was a large
breach gaping in the sanctuary, but all the walls of the chancel were
fissured, and the pavement of the nave was upheaved in places and in
others rent.

At first it was supposed that this was the result of an earthquake, but
after a while the true cause was discovered. The church had been
erected over a vast network of subterranean passages and chambers, and
the roofs of some of these had given way. This led to an exploration,
and the plan of this subterranean refuge--for such it had been--was
traced as far as possible.

But Gapennes is not the only place where such retreats exist throughout
the province. Something like a hundred have been found, and more are
every now and then coming to light. Indeed, it may safely be said that
there is scarcely a village between Arras and Amiens and between Roye
and the sea, betwixt the courses of the Somme and Authie, that was not
provided with these underground refuges. The character of all is very
much the same. They consist of passages communicating with square or
circular chambers that served as stores. They have been described at
length by M. Bouthers in _Memoires de la Societe d'Archeologie du
departement de la Somme_, Amiens, 1834, t. i.

To what date, or period rather, do they belong?

Some doubtless are of extreme antiquity, but the majority are
comparatively modern. It is a significant fact that the entrance to
perhaps the majority is in the sacristy of the parish church, and in
that at Gapennes care was taken not to undermine the tower of the
church. M. de Carpentin, who explored and reported on the excavation at
Gapennes, remarks on the care taken to so distribute the chalk brought
up from these passages and vaults that no heaps were anywhere visible.

"The motive that can have induced the undertaking of such an extensive
work can only have been that necessity drove the inhabitants to create
for themselves a refuge in time of war." In it he found two pieces of
common pottery, a lock and a hinge of iron, some straw and leather
soles of women's shoes. He adds: "At the entrance of several of the
chambers the stone is worked to receive doors, and here portions of
decayed wood were found. And many of the chambers had their walls
blackened by smoke as of lamps."

At Naours in Somme, the underground galleries have been explored
thoroughly; there are several circular chambers for stores, and corn
has been found in them, also fourteen gold coins of Charles VI or Louis
XIV. In all there are 201 galleries and 300 chambers and the labyrinth
extends to the distance of 6000 feet. At Santerre, which possesses
three of these refuges, that portion of its territory was called
_Territorium Sanctae Libertatis_.

The north-east of France, Picardy and Artois, were always exposed to
attack from pirates by sea, Northmen and Saxon, and from invaders over
the border. But none of these can have exceeded in barbarity that of
1635 to 1641, when Spanish armies--the first under John de Werth and
Piccolomini, 40,000 in number, and made up of Germans, Hungarians,
Croats as well as Spaniards--poured over the provinces committing the
most frightful atrocities. And precisely to this period some of the
refuges may be referred.

A MS. account of this invasion, by a priest of Hiermont, named Claude
Godde, leaves this in no manner of doubt. He says: "The Spaniards
committed great outrages in Picardy, as they did later in 1658. These
wars compelled the inhabitants of Hiermont in 1647 to construct the
quarry which we now see. This quarry or cavern, which is a great
masterpiece, was first undertaken by five or six of the inhabitants "--
he gave their names. "They first of all dug out the entrance in 1647,
but owing to its having given way several times, had to be repaired,
and was not completed till 1648. The other inhabitants, seeing its
great utility, wanted also to have their chambers, but they were not
admitted unless they contributed to the cost of the undertaking, and to
this they willingly agreed. This quarry was of great service to the
inhabitants in the Wars of Louis XIV. against England, Holland, and the
Empire during the years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711, which were the days
of Marlborough. It was accordingly made by the inhabitants of Hiermont,
to hide themselves, their cattle, their grain and their furniture, to
preserve them from pillage by the soldiers, whether of the enemy or
French. Each family had its own chamber."

In a proces of 1638, one of those interrogated, a nun named Martha
Tondu, stated that at Reneval and the neighbouring villages "the
peasants are on the look out, and if alarmed, retire and conceal their
cattle in ditches and quarries, without abandoning their houses or
neglecting their agricultural work."

Some, accordingly, of these subterranean refuges are of comparatively
late date; but this does not apply to all. At every period of danger,
instinctively the peasants would take advantage of the nature of the
chalk to form in it suitable hiding-places, and although some of the
finds in these labyrinths are of recent date, others go back to the
Gallo-Roman period. In the Arras and Cambrai Chronicle of Balderic
(1051), we are told that in the fifth century in those parts a
persecution of the Christians occurred, on the invasion of the
barbarians, and that the priests celebrated the Divine Mysteries in
secret hiding-places. "Many," he adds, "were suffocated in caves and in
subterranean passages."

There is, in fact, evidence both from archaeology and from history that
these refuges were taken advantage of, and doubtless extended from a
remote antiquity down to the eighteenth century.

It was not against the foreign foe only that the peasants excavated
their underground retreats. Froissart paints the chivalry of his time
in the brightest colours, and only here and there by a few touches lets
us see what dark shadows set them off. Who paid for the gay
accoutrements of the knights? Who were the real victims of the
incessant wars? From whom came the ransom of King John and of the
nobles taken at Crecy and Poitiers? From the peasant. The prisoners
allowed to return on parole came to their territories to collect the
sums demanded for their release, and the peasant had to find them. He
had his cattle, his plough and tumbril. They were taken from him; no
more corn was left him than enough to sow his field. He knew how he
would be exploited, and he hid his precious grain that was to make
bread for his wife and children. The seigneur endeavoured to extort
from him the secret as to where it was concealed. He exposed the man's
bare feet before the fire; he loaded him with chains. But the peasant
bore fire and iron rather than reveal the hiding-place. Here is
Michelet's account of the seigneur in the first half of the fifteenth
century. "The seigneur only revisited his lands at the head of his
soldiery to extort money by violence. He came down on them as a storm
of hail. All hid at his approach. Throughout his lands alarm resounded
--it was a _sauve-qui-peut_. The seigneur is no longer a true
seigneur; he is a rude captain, a barbarian, hardly even a Christian.
_Ecorcheur_ is the true name for such, ruining what was already
ruined, snatching the shirt off the back of him who had one; if he had
but his skin, of that he was flayed. It would be a mistake to suppose
that it was only the captains of the _ecorcheurs_--the bastards,
the seigneurs without a seigneurie, who showed themselves so ferocious.
The grandees, the princes in these hideous wars, had acquired a strange
taste for blood. What can one say when one sees Jean de Ligny, of the
house of Luxembourg, exercise his nephew, the Count of Saint-Pol, a
child of fifteen, in massacring those who fled? They treated their
kinsfolk in the same manner as their enemies. For safety--better be a
foe than a relation. The Count d'Harcourt kept his father prisoner all
his life. The Countess of Foix poisoned her sister; the Sire de Gial
his wife. The Duke of Brittany made his brother die of starvation, and
that publicly; passers-by heard with a shudder the lamentable voice
pleading piteously for a little bread. One evening, the 10th of
January, the Count Adolphus of Gueldres dragged his old father out of
bed, drew him on foot, unshod, through the snow for five leagues to
cast him finally into a moat. It was the same in all the great families
of the period--in those of the Low Countries, in those of Bar, Verdun,
Armagnac, &c. The English had gone, but France was exterminating
herself. The terrible miseries of the time find expression, feeble as
yet, in the 'Complaint of the poor Commoner; and of the poor
Labourers.' It comprises a mixture of lamentations and threats; the
starving wretches warn the Church, the King, the Burgesses, the
Merchants, the Seigneurs above all, that 'fire is drawing nigh to their
hostels.' They appeal to the king for help. But what could Charles VII.
do? How impose respect and obedience on so many daring men? Where could
he find the means to repress these flayers of the country, these
terrible little kings of castles? They were his own captains. It was
with their aid that he made war against the English." [Footnote:
_Mist, de France,_ v. p. 184 _et seq._]

Thus, the subterranean refuges that had served at one time as hiding-
places against Saracens, Normans, English, became places of retreat for
the wretched people against their own masters. They no longer carried
their goods into the _souterrains_ under the castles, but into
refuges contrived by themselves in the depths of forests, known only to
themselves; hidden, above all, from their seigneurs.

The peasantry might have said then, what was said long after by
Voltaire: "Il faut etre dans ce monde enclume ou marteau; j'etais ne
enclume." Voltaire, however, speedily became a hammer, and after 1789
the Tiers Etat also became a hammer, and the Noblesse the anvil.

In Iceland there were underground retreats, as we learn from the same
Saga that tells us of those in Aquitaine. Orvar Odd found a king's
daughter concealed in one. So, also, a very large one in Ireland is
spoken of in the Landnama Bok. In England we have, both in Essex and in
Kent, subterranean passages and chambers very similar to those
described in Picardy and in Aquitaine. These also are excavated in the
chalk. They are the so-called Dene Holes, of which there are many in
Darenth Wood and near Chislehurst, and they have given occasion to a
lively controversy. Some have supposed them to be retreats of the
Druids, some that they were places of refuge during the invasions of
the Saxons first, and then of the Danes, and others again contend that
they were merely quarries for the excavation of chalk to burn into

Here is an account of the Dene Hole at Chislehurst by Mr. W. J.
Nichols. [Footnote: Nichols (W. J.), "The Chislehurst Caves,"
_Journal of the Archaeological Association_, Dec. 1903.] "At the
foot of the hill is a gap, which is the present entrance to the caves.
A guide meets us here, who, unlocking a door, and switching on the
electric light, introduces the visitor to a gallery or tunnel, about
150 feet long, 10 feet to 12 feet high, and with a width of 12 feet to
15 feet, narrowing to about 7 feet at the roof. This, and the galleries
so far explored, have been cut through the chalk bed, at a depth of
about 6 feet below the Thanet sand which covers it. At the end of the
gallery, extending both right and left, are passages of like character.
These again open into others so numerous that the visitor is fairly
bewildered, and loses all idea of the direction in which he is
travelling. The effect of the coloured electric lamps on the old chalk
walling is remarkably beautiful. Proceeding on our way we get beyond
the range of the electric lamps. Here candles or hand-lamps are
lighted; and we pass, in Cimmerian gloom, through a succession of
galleries of various dimensions, some of which, being only 4 feet wide
and 5 feet high, are possibly of earlier construction than those
already described. There is one gallery of the last-mentioned height
and width 63 feet long, with several sharp turns which formerly
terminated in a chamber about 12 feet high and 10 feet wide, and a like
length, and near it is a seat cut into an angle of the walling. At no
great distance from this chamber and near a Dene-hole shaft is a short
gallery, at the end of which is a shaft originally level with the
flooring, but now bricked round and further protected by an iron cover.
On removing the cover and lowering a lamp, a well of excellent
workmanship is discovered. Owing to the quantity of material thrown
down from time to time by explorers, its present depth is no more than
43 feet. Further progress is made, and presently we notice a streak of
daylight some distance ahead; here we find that we have reached the
foot of a shaft 85 feet deep, which, though now partly covered in, had
its mouth in what is at the present time the garden of a modern villa."

There are numerous other Dene Holes or Danes' Pits at East Tilbury,
Crayford, and Little Thurrock. As to the theory that they were places
of Druidical worship, we may dismiss it as not deserving serious

At East Tilbury the entrance to the Danes' pit is from above, by narrow
passages that widen and communicate with several apartments, all of
regular forms. One of these pits consists of a shaft descending to
chambers arranged like a sixfoiled flower. The shaft is 3 feet in
diameter and 85 feet deep. This may be likened to one at Doue-la-
Fontaine (Maine et Loire), where a descent is made under a private
house into an area from which radiate on all sides chambers, some of
which contain tombs.

That these Dene Holes were used as hiding-places when the sails of the
Danish Vikings appeared on the horizon is probable enough, but
originally they were chalk quarries--some very ancient--for British
coins have been found in them. The existence of old lime-kilns near the
Chislehurst caves places their origin beyond a doubt. Chalk was largely
exported in early times from the Thames to Zealand, whence it was
passed through the Low Countries and used in dressing the fields.
Altars to Nethalennia, the patroness of the chalk quarries, have been
found in the sand on the coast of Zealand; some bear votive
inscriptions from dealers in British chalk, and Pliny, writing of the
finer quality of chalk (_argentaria_) employed by silversmiths,
obtained from pits sunk like wells, with narrow mouths, to the depth of
a hundred feet, whence they branch out like the adits of mines, adds,
"Hoc maxime Britannia utitur." [Footnote: Roach Smith, _Collectanea
Antiqua_, vi. p. 243, "British Archaeological Assoc. Journal," N.S.,
ix.-x. (1903 and 1904).]

In Cornwall, moreover, there are what are locally called _fogous_.
These are either excavated in the rock with passages leading to the sea
or to houses, or else they are built of stone slabs standing erect,
parallel and covered with other slabs leading to chambers similarly
constructed, and all buried under turf or sand. Of the former
description there is a very interesting example at Porthcothan in S.
Ervan; of the latter the most remarkable is at Trelowaren. The former
may have been excavated by smugglers. An interesting account of the
excavation of two caves at Archerfield, in Haddingtonshire, is given in
the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for 1909.
Both caves are natural, but one had been walled up in front, with a
doorway and window and with oven; both had paved hearths in the centre,
and there was evidence that they had been tenanted some time after the
Roman occupation of Britain, as among the fragments of pottery found
was some Samian ware. It would appear that both had been inhabited
simultaneously, but not consecutively, for a lengthy period, and no
doubt can exist that they were mere rock refuges. In a note to the
article we read: "On the coast of Island Magee (Ireland) there is a
cave, south of the Gobbins, which has been frequently used as a place
of refuge. So late as 1798 it was inhabited by outlaws, who constructed
a kind of fortification at the entrance, the remains of which still
exist." [Footnote: Cree (J. R.), "Excavation of Two Caves," in
"Proceedings of the Soc. of Arch. of Scotland," Edin., 1909, vol.

A cave in the Isle of Egg, one of the Hebrides, has a very narrow
entrance, through which one can creep only upon hands and knees, but it
rises steeply within and soon becomes lofty, and runs into the bowels
of the rock for 225 feet. The stony, pebbly bottom of this cavern was
for long strewn with the bones of men, women and children, the relics
of the ancient inhabitants of, the island, two hundred in number, of
whose destruction the following account is given. "The Macdonalds, of
the Isle of Egg, a people dependent on Clanranald, had done some injury
to the Lord of Macleod. The tradition of the isle says that it was by a
personal attack on the chieftain, in which his back was broken; but
that of the two other isles bears that the injury was offered by two or
three of the Macleods, who, landing upon Egg and behaving insolently
towards the islanders, were bound hand and foot, and turned adrift in a
boat, which the winds safely conducted to Skye. To avenge the offence
given, Macleod sailed with such a body of men as rendered resistance
hopeless. The natives, fearing his vengeance, concealed themselves in
the cavern; and, after strict search, the Macleods went on board their
galleys after doing what mischief they could, concluding the
inhabitants had left the isle. But next morning they espied from their
vessels a man upon the island, and immediately landing again, they
traced his retreat by means of a light snow on the ground to the
cavern. Macleod then summoned the subterranean garrison, and demanded
that the inhabitants who had offended him should be delivered up. This
was peremptorily refused. The chieftain thereupon caused his people to
divert the course of a rill of water, which, falling over the mouth of
the cave, would have prevented his purposed vengeance. He then kindled
at the entrance of the cavern a large fire, and maintained it until all
within were destroyed by suffocation." [Footnote: Lockhart's "Life of
Sir Walter Scott," Edin., 1844, p.285.]

A no less horrible deed was committed during the campaign of Essex
against the Irish rebels in 1575. This shall be given in the words of
Froude. [Footnote: "Hist. of England," 1870, x. p. 527 _et seq._]

"On the coast of Antrim, not far from the Giant's Causeway, lies the
singular island of Rathlin. It is formed of basaltic rock, encircled
with precipices, and is accessible only at a single spot. It contains
an area of about 4000 acres, of which a thousand are sheltered and
capable of cultivation, the rest being heather and rock. The approach
is at all times dangerous; the tide sets fiercely through the strait
which divides the island from the mainland, and when the wind is from
the west, the Atlantic swell renders it impossible to land. The
situation and the difficulty of access had thus long marked Rathlin as
a place of refuge for Scotch or Irish fugitives, and besides its
natural strength it was respected as a sanctuary, having been the abode
at one time of Saint Columba. A mass of broken masonry on a cliff
overhanging the sea is a remnant of the castle, in which Robert Bruce
watched the leap of the legendary spider. To this island, when Essex
entered Antrim, Macconnell and the other Scots had sent their wives and
children, their aged, and their sick, for safety. On his way through
Carrickfergus, when returning from Dublin, the Earl ascertained that
they had not yet been brought back to their homes. The officer in
command of the English garrison was John Norris, Lord Norris's second
son. Three small frigates were in the harbour. The sea was smooth;
there was a light and favourable air from the east; and Essex directed
Norris to take a company of soldiers with him, cross over, and kill
whatever he could find. The run up the Antrim coast was rapidly and
quietly accomplished. Before an alarm could be given the English had
landed, close to the ruins of the church that bears Saint Columba's
name. Bruce's castle was then standing, and was occupied by a
detachment of Scots, who were in charge of the women. But Norris had
brought cannon with him. The weak defences were speedily destroyed, and
after a fierce assault, in which several of the garrison were killed,
the chief who was in command offered to surrender if he and his people
were allowed to return to Scotland. The conditions were rejected; the
Scots yielded at discretion, and every living creature in the place,
except the chief and his family, who were probably reserved for ransom,
were immediately put to the sword. Two hundred were killed in the
castle. It was then discovered that several hundred more, chiefly
mothers and their little ones, were hidden in the caves about the
shore. There was no remorse--not even the faintest perception that the
occasion called for it. They were hunted out as if they had been seals
or otters, and all destroyed. Surleyboy and the other chiefs, Essex
coolly wrote, 'stood upon the mainland of Glynnes and saw the taking of
the island, and was likely to have run mad for sorrow, tearing and
tormenting himself, and saying that he had there lost all that ever he
had.' According to Essex's own account, six hundred were thus
massacred. He described the incident as one of the exploits with which
he was most satisfied; and Queen Elizabeth in answer to his letters
bade him tell John Norris, 'the executioner of his well-designed
enterprise, that she would not be unmindful of his services.'" The
neighbourhood of Gortyna in Crete has a mountain labyrinth, and during
the revolt of the Cretans against the Turks in 1822-28, the Christian
inhabitants of the adjacent villages, for months together, lived in
these caves, sallying forth by day to till their farms or gather in
their crops, when it was safe so to do. None could approach within
range of the muskets pointed from the loopholes at the entrance without
being immediately shot down; nor could either fire or smoke suffocate
or dislodge the inmates, as the caves have many openings.

Less happy were the Christian refugees in the cave of Melidoni. In
1822, when Hussein Bey marched against the neighbouring village, the
inhabitants, to the number of three hundred, fled to the cave, taking
their valuables with them. Hussein ordered a quantity of combustibles
to be piled at the entrance and set on fire. The poor wretches within
were all smothered. The Turks waited a few days, and then entered and
rifled the bodies. A week later, three natives of the village crept
into the cavern to see what had become of their relatives. It is said
that they were so overcome by the horror of what they witnessed, that
two of them died within a few days. Years after, the Archbishop of
Crete blessed the cavern, and the bones of the victims of Turkish
barbarity were collected and buried in the outer hall, which has in its
centre a lofty stalagmite reaching to the summit, and the walls on all
sides are draped with stalactites.

We must not pass over without a word the treatment of the Arabs in
Algeria by the French troops, when General Lamorciere suffocated the
unfortunate refugees in the caves whither they had fled, in the same
way as Caesar's general had suffocated the Gauls.



I have divided Refuges into two classes--those that have been burrowed
under the soil, and those that open in the face of a cliff.
Occasionally they run one into another, and yet they materially differ.
The first have their entrances elaborately concealed, whereas the
latter are bare to the face of day, and no concealment is possible or
attempted. Those who had recourse to the first trusted in being able,
should the entrance be discovered or betrayed, to defend themselves by
various devices, whereas those who resorted to the latter relied on
their inaccessibility.

Where a cliff stood up precipitous or overhanging, and in its face
gaped caverns, those who sought refuge in time of danger naturally
looked to them, and contrived means of reaching them, therein to
ensconce their goods and secure their persons. They might have to
contemplate the devastation of their fields, and their farms burning,
from their eyries, but they knew that their persons were safe. There
were various ways by which these caves could be reached; one was by
cutting notches in the face of the cliff for fingers and toes, so that
it could be climbed to from below, but not accessible to an enemy
exposed to the thrust of pikes, and to stones being cast down upon him.
Or else the notches were cut laterally from an accessible ledge, but if
so, then this mode of approach was carefully guarded. A second method
was by ladders, but as some of these caves are so high up that no
single ladder could reach their mouths, a succession was contrived
notched below and above into the rock where ledges either existed
naturally or were contrived artificially, so as to enable the climber
to step from one ladder to the next. In the event of danger the ladders
could be withdrawn. A third method was by a windlass, rope and basket,
and this was employed where the ascent by finger and toe notches was
peculiarly perilous, for the conveyance of goods or of children and old
people. But cattle had also to be saved from the depredators, and in
some of the cliff refuges are stables for horses and cowstalls, with
mangers and silos; places also where the windlass was fixed and there
the sharp edge of the rock has been smoothed to an easy slope to
facilitate the landing of the beasts, that were hauled up by bands
placed under their bellies. Provision was also made for the baking of
bread and the storage of water, this latter in the same way as already
described in the account of the contrivances for permanent rock-
dwellings. These cliff refuges can have been had recourse to only on
emergencies, on account of their inaccessibility.

At Cazelles in the commune of Sireuil (Dordogne) is a cliff 1200 feet
long, and about 150 feet high. It has been worn into a deep furrow some
twenty or thirty feet from the top, horizontal and running its entire
length. The whole cliff overhangs its base. The entire groove has been
occupied as a refuge, and there have been excavations in the back of
the groove for additional chambers. In front, moreover, there must have
been a balcony of wood, sustained by beams and props. In three places
the edge of the terrace has been cut through for the convenience of
hauling up cattle and farm produce. At the time when this was in use
there was a hamlet at the foot of the cliff, as is shown by the furrows
cut in the rock into which the tile roofing was let, and notches for
the reception of the roof timbers.

No trace of a stair remains; in fact no stair could have been cut in
the face of a rock that overhangs as does this. Another very remarkable
cliff-refuge is Le Peuch Saint Sour on the Vezere. It is not mentioned
in any chronicle as having been a resort of the English in the Hundred
Years' War, and we may accordingly conclude that it was a refuge for
the inhabitants of the hamlet at its feet.

[Illustration: LA ROCHE GAGEAC. A town and castles on the Dordogne,
never captured by the English, but afterwards sacked and ruined by the

[Illustration: LE PEUCH S. SOUR. A series of refuges in the face of the
cliff. Originally a place of retreat of S. Sour, a hermit.]

S. Sorus or Sour was a hermit, born about the year 500; he set off with
two companions, Amandus and Cyprian, to find a desert place where he
might take up his abode. I will quote from the Latin life. "All at once
in their wanderings they arrived at a place in the midst of vast
forests, and dens of wild beasts, a place so barren and abrupt, of
access so difficult, that surely no one had ever hitherto ventured to
reach it either to dwell there, or for pleasure, even to visit it for
curiosity. A rock very lofty furnished him above with a shelter that
sufficed; out of the flanks of the rock issued a spring and watered the
little valley that was on the other side surrounded by the Vezere."

I think that it was in the Peuch S. Sour that the hermit settled,
though afterwards through the favour of King Gontram he moved to lands
granted him at Terrasson. And now for a story. Here he resolved to live
alone, and here he parted with his companions. But before they
separated, "Let us have a love feast together," said he. But he had
with him only a bit of fat bacon. He divided it into three parts, and
gave a share to each of his companions. Now it was Lent, and one of
them was scandalized at the idea of eating bacon in Lent, so he put the
bit of meat into his bosom, where it was at once transformed into a
serpent, which enwrapped him in its coils. Terrified, he screamed to
Sour to deliver him, which the hermit did, and the monster was at once
resolved into a bit of bacon. "Eat it," said the hermit, "and remember
that Charity is above all rules."

The description of the place so well accords with the Peuch that bears
his name, that I cannot doubt but that Sour occupied for some years the
cave high up in the cliff, and only to be reached by crawling to it
sideways, holding on to the rock by fingers and toes. But afterwards it
was greatly enlarged to serve as a place of retreat by the peasants of
the hamlet below. It consists of three groups of chambers cut in the
rock, one reached by a very long, forty-round ladder, when a chamber is
entered which has a hole in the roof through which, by another ladder,
one can mount to a whole series of chambers communicating one with
another. The face of some of these was originally walled up. A second
group is now inaccessible. A third is reached by climbing along the
face of the cliff, with fingers and toes placed in niches cut in the
cleft to receive them.

[Illustration: Beginning of a Gallery.]

[Illustration: The Pick employed.]

A recess at the foot of the crag, arched above, contains three
perpendicular grooves. This was the beginning of another artificial
cave, never completed, begun maybe in 1453 and suddenly abandoned, as
the glad tidings rang through the land that the English had abandoned
Aquitaine and that the Companies were disbanded.

At the Roc d'Aucor, in the valley of the Vers (Lot), a gaping cave is
visible far above where any ladder could reach and inaccessible by
climbing from the top of the crag, as that overhangs like a wave about
to break. Nevertheless, athwart the opening are, and have been from
time immemorial, two stout beams let into the rock horizontally. Dimly
visible in the depth of the cavern is some tall white figure, and the
peasants declare that it is that of a man--a statue in marble, keeping
guard over a golden calf.

In 1894, M. Martel and three friends, taking with them Armand, the
trusty help in descending _avens_, pot-holes, and exploring the
course of subterranean rivers, resolved on an attempt at the
exploration of this mysterious cavern.

The mouth is 90 feet from the ground, and its floor is about 95 feet
from the summit of the cliff, [Footnote: Martel (A.), Le Refuge du Roc
d'Aucor, Brive, 1895.] which is crowned by the _oppidurn_ of
Murcens, the best preserved of all Gaulish strongholds in France, and
was held by the English in 1370. The only possible way to obtain access
to the interior would be from above, as the plumb-line let down from
the summit fell 44 feet wide from the base of the cliff. Accordingly a
rope ladder was attached to a tree on the top, and Armand descended
furnished with a plumb-line, the end of which was attached to a cord.
"Having descended 77 feet, he swung free in the air at the level of the
transverse poles. Then he endeavoured to throw the lead-weight beyond
one of the poles. He succeeded only after the seventh or eighth
attempt, and was well pleased when the weight running over it swung
down to our feet, as the position of the poles and the slope of the
floor of the fissure did not allow it to rest in the cavern. 'Pull the
cord,' shouted Armand. 'What for?' 'You will soon see. Pull'--and
speedily the string drew after it one of our stout ropes. 'Now do you
understand?' asked Armand. 'I have fastened my rope ladder to the cord
that goes over the pole. Four or five of you pull and draw me in
towards that pole, and so we shall get the better of the situation.
When I have fixed the ladder to the pole you may all mount by the grand

By good fortune that beam held firm, and first Armand got into the cave
and then the others mounted from below. What made the entrance
treacherous was that the floor at the orifice sloped rapidly downwards
and outwards.

When within, it was seen that the posts were still solid and firmly
planted in notches cut in the rock on both sides. In line with them
were two rows of similar notches for the reception of beams extending
inwards for about twenty feet, as though at one time there had been
rafters to divide the cave into two storeys, but of such rafters none
remained. The back of the cave was occupied by a gleaming white
stalagmitic column that certainly from below bore some resemblance to a
human figure, but the floor of the cavern was so deep in birds' nests,
and droppings of bats, leaves and branches, that it was not possible at
the time to explore it. This, however, was done by M. Martel in 1905,
but nothing of archaeological interest was found. However, he noticed a
sort of ascending chimney that extended too far to be illumined to its
extremity by the magnesium wire, and he conjectured that it extended to
the surface of the rock above, where was the original entrance, now
choked with earth and stone.

But an investigation by M. A. Vire has solved the mystery of how access
was obtained to this refuge. The beams visible from below are, as
already said, two in number. The upper and largest is square, and
measures seven by eight inches. The lower is nearly round and is four
inches in diameter, and shows distinct traces of having been fretted by
a rope having passed over it. It must have been used for the drawing up
of food or other objects likely to excite the cupidity of robbers and
_routiers_. The number of notches for beams of a floor in the
sides of the cave is remarkable, but no floor can have been erected
there, otherwise it would not have rotted away, whilst the two cross-
beams at the entrance remain sound. The chimney supposed by Martel to
communicate with the surface does not do so. Spade work at the foot of
the rock revealed the manner in which the cavern had been reached. A
tradition existed in the Vers valley that at one time there had been a
tower at the foot of the rock, and old men remembered the removal of
some of its ruins for the construction of a mill. By digging, the
foundations of the tower were disclosed. It had been square and
measured 44 feet on each side. It had stood about 60 feet high, and had
been topped with a lean-to tiled roof resting against the uppermost
beam in the cave and thereby masking it. [Footnote: "Le Roc d'Aucour,"
in _Bulletin de la Soc. des Antiquaires de Quercy_, Cahors, 1901,
t. xxvi.]

A somewhat similar cave is that of Boundoulaou in the Causse de Larzac
(Lozere). Although this has an opening in the face of the precipice,
which is partly walled up, it can be entered from another and more
accessible cave. At a considerably lower level flows a stream that at
one time issued from it, but has worked its way downwards, and now
gushes forth many feet below. However, apparently in times of heavy
rain, the overflow did burst forth from the upper cavern, for in it
were found the skeletons of a whole family that had perished on one
such occasion.

At nearly 180 feet up the face of a sheer perpendicular cliff near
Milau is the cave of Riou Ferrand, 45 feet below the brow of the
precipice. The mouth of the grotto is partly blocked by a well-
constructed wall. It has been entered from above and explored. It
yields delicately fine pottery and a spindle-whorl, so that a woman
must have taken refuge here, and here sat spinning and looking down
from this dizzy height on the ruffians ravaging the valley below and
setting fire to her house. Bones of sheep and pigs in the cave showed
that it had been tenanted for some time, and tiles of distinctly Roman
character indicated the period of its occupation. The only possible
means of entering this cavern is, and was, by a rope or a ladder from
above. [Footnote: Martel, _Les Abimes_, Paris, 1894.]

I was in the valley of the Cele in 1892 with my friend M. Raymond Pons,
a daring explorer of _avens_ and caves. There was one cavern in a
precipice on the left bank near Brengues that showed tokens of having
been a refuge, from having a pole across the entrance. M. Pons obtained
a stout rope, and the assistance of half-a-dozen peasants, and was let
down over the brink, and by swinging succeeded in obtaining a foothold
within. He there found evident traces of former occupation. But how was
it entered and left in ancient times? From below it was quite
inaccessible, and from above only by the means he employed--a rope.

At Les Mees in the Basses-Alpes is a very similar cave, with two beams
across fastened at the ends into the rock, which is a conglomerate, at
the height of 350 feet, and quite inaccessible. They are mentioned by
the historian Bartel in 1636 as inexplicable by him, and by the
residents in the place.

A not less perplexing rock shelter is that of Fadarelles in the Gorges
of the Tarn.

Of this M. Martel writes: "In a superb cliff of dolomitic limestone of
the _cirque_ of the Beaumes Chauds, M. l'Abbe Solanet was good
enough to conduct me beneath the Baume des Fadarelles, a chasm
inaccessible, at the height of something like 1770 feet in the face of
the precipice, something like the openings of Boundoulaou, but much

"In it one can see three coarse beams or rather trunks of trees from
which the boughs have been cut away, each about 12 feet long. As this
opening might well have been that of discharge of a stream, now choked,
for the Baumes Chauds and its adjoining fissures, one is led at first
to suppose that water had brought down these logs that had fallen into
some pot-hole. But this hypothesis is untenable, for it can be seen
that these poles have been artificially pointed at each end, and that
they have been made firm by cross pieces of metal, either bronze or
iron. This may be the remains of a roof or a floor destined to
supplement the insufficiency of the overhanging rock--and of the size
of the fissure, so as to convert it into some sort of shelter. To study
the matter, a ladder of nearly 50 feet would be needed (to be let down
from above). In the absence of all tradition, these beams of Les
Fadarelles remain a mystery. As the face of the cliff is absolutely
smooth above the opening, below and on both sides, completely devoid of
anything like a ledge by which access could be obtained to it, the
question presents itself to one for the third time, as at Boundoulaou
and at Riou Ferrand, were these cliff-dwellers in the Causses like
those in the Canon of Colorado, or has the demolition of ledges by
weather on these limestone cliffs proceeded with great rapidity?"

Two apparently inaccessible caves, that have been the habitation of man
as a temporary refuge, and that have been explored by M. Philibert
Lalande, show that there was a way in which some, though by no means
all, were reached. The grottoes of Puy Labrousse near Brive, comprising
five or six chambers, have isolated from the rest one that opens in the
face of a sheer precipice at a considerable height above the valley. It
can be entered only from behind, by a very small oval opening, preceded
by a gallery very narrow, and masked at the entrance by enormous rocks,
and which could be barricaded by stout beams, hollows for the reception
of which are visible.

The other is at Soulier-de-Chasteaux on the Couze, an affluent of the
Vezere. Here are two caverns excavated by the hand of man. The most
curious is on the right bank near the top of a Jurassic cliff that is
absolutely precipitous, and this also can be entered _a retro_. A
narrow path leads to an opening very small, excavated in the vault of
the cavern, through which a man could squeeze himself so as to descend
into it by means of a ladder. The gaping mouth of this grotto, which is
from 15 to 18 feet square, is in part closed by a breastwork of stone.

Below this cave is a very large shelter cut out square-headed in the
cliff, but not deep; and this is used by the peasants of Soulier as a
place for stacking their hay. Square hollows wrought in the rock show
that formerly some building was accommodated to it, and the roof ran
back under it. In Auvergne are many _souterrains_ that have served
as places of concealment in times of war. The Puy de Clierson occupies
the centre of an area of four volcanoes. It is shaped like a bell, the
slopes are covered with brushwood, and a ring of broken rocks forms the
precipitous wall of the circular and flattish cap. The hill is composed
of trachyte, and the upper portion is perforated in all directions by
galleries and vaults that served formerly as a quarry for the
extraction of stone of which the Romans formed their sarcophagi, in
consequence of its powers of absorption of the moisture exuding from
the bodies laid in their stone chests. The same may be said of Le Grand
Sarcoui, shaped like a kettle turned bottom upwards. In some of the
galleries are unfinished sarcophagi. But although originally quarries,
they were used as refuges in later times. At Corent, on the Allier near
Veyre-Mouton, are refuges in caves, so also at Blot-l'Eglise near
Menat, which served the purpose during the troubles of the League.

Meschers is a village in Charante Inferieure, lying in the lap of a
chalk hill that extends to a bluff above the Gironde. This cliff is
honeycombed with caves, excavated perhaps originally as quarries, but
several certainly served as habitations; the several chambers or
dwellings are reached by a ledge running along the face of the cliff,
but the chambers of each particular cave-house have doors of
intercommunication cut through this rock. The Grottes de Meschers are
said to have been used by the Huguenots at a time when it was perilous
to assemble in a house for preaching or psalm-singing. But it is also
quite possible that they served as refuges as well to the Catholics,
when the Calvinists had the upper hand; as, indeed, they had for long.
Their attempts at proselytising was not with velvet gloves, but with
fire-brand, sword, and the hangman's rope. In that horrible period,
exceeding far in barbarity that of the _routiers_ in the Hundred
Years' War, it is hard to decide on which side the worst atrocities
were committed.

[Illustration: CAVES OF MESCHERS. In these caves overlooking the
Atlantic, the Huguenot refugees congregated to hear their preachers.
During the Revolution and Reign of Terror they were occupied by priests
and Royalists.]

is accessible by a secret way opening on to the plateau above. Below
are indications of buildings having been constructed against, and in
part into the rock.]

Later still, in the Reign of Terror, the grottoes may have harboured
priests and nobles hiding for their lives. But now they shelter none
but the peaceful dreamer, who sits there at eventide looking out over
the yellow waters of the Gironde, ever agitated by the tide, at the
setting sun that sends shafts of fire into these recesses--and sets him
wishing that the light would reveal the details of tragic stories
connected with these caves.

In the department of Ariege are a vast number of natural caverns, many
of which have served as places of retreat for the Albigenses. Between
Tarascon and Cabannes are some that were defended by crenellated walls,
and are supposed to date from the Wars of Religion, but probably go
back beyond the time of the English occupation. It is also said that
the Huguenots met in them for their assemblies. In the country they go
by the name of _gleizetos_, or _petites eglises_. They are found on
the left bank of the Ariege. In the fourth century the Priscillianist
heretics expelled from Spain settled in the mountains on the north slope
of the Pyrenees, and propagated their doctrines throughout the country
and among the population more than half pagan, and this explains the
spread of Albigensian Manichaeism later. In 407 the Vandals, Suevi and
Alani, during three years in succession swept the country, committing
frightful ravages, as they passed on their way into Spain; and no doubt
can be entertained that at this time the numerous grottoes were used by
the natives as refuges. In 412 there was another influx of barbarians,
this time Visigoths; their king Walla made Toulouse his capital, and
gave over two-thirds of the land to his followers. After the battle of
Voulon, in 507, Clovis took possession of Toulouse. In 715 the Saracens
poured through the gaps in the Pyrenees, occupied the basin of the
Ariege, and destroyed the city of Couserans. In 731 more arrived in a
veritable invasion of multitudes, and ravaged all the south of France.
Again the caves served their end as places of hiding. The south of
France, rich and dissolute, was steeped in heresy. This heresy was a
compound of Priscillianism, the dualism of Manes, Oriental and Gnostic
fancies, Gothic Arianism, and indigenous superstition, all fused
together in what was known as Albigensianism, and which was hardly
Christian even in name. The terrible and remorseless extermination of
these unfortunate people, who knew no better, by order of Innocent III.
and John XXIII., presents one of the most horrible passages in history.
The country reeked with the smoke of pyres at which the heretics were
burnt, and was drenched with their blood. In 1244 their last stronghold,
the Montsegur, was taken, when two hundred of them were burnt alive.
Only some few who had concealed themselves in the dens and caves of the
earth survived this terrible time. The last heard of them is in 1328,
when some of the proscribed took refuge in the grottoes of Lombrive,
when 500 or 600 were walled in and starved to death, as already related.

In Derbyshire are numerous caves--at Castleton, Bradwell Eyam, Matlock,
and Buxton--but they are all natural, except such as are old mine-

Poole's Hole, the Buxton cavern, may be traced underground for the
distance of something like half a mile. It is now lighted with gas, its
inner ways have been made smooth, and it is even possible for invalids
in bath-chairs to enter. But it was at one time the haunt of an outlaw
named Poole, in the reign of Henry IV., who made it his home, and here
accumulated his stores. But it was inhabited long before his time, and
proves to have been a prehistoric dwelling-place, and was later
occupied by the Romans.

Reynard's Cave is high up on the Derbyshire side of Dove Dale, and the
way to it is steep and dangerous. It is approached through a natural
archway in a sheer cliff of limestone, about 20 feet wide and twice as
high, beyond which a difficult pathway gives access to the cave itself.
Near it is a smaller cavity, called Reynard's Kitchen. This cavern has
undoubtedly served as a shelter, it is said, to persecuted Royalists.
Here it was that the Dean of Clogher, Mr. Langton, lost his life a
century ago. He foolishly tried to ride his horse up the steep side of
the Dale to the cave, and carry a young lady, Miss La Roche, behind
him. The horse lost its foothold among the loose stones, and the rash
equestrian fell. The Dean died two days afterwards, but the young lady
recovered, saved by her hair having caught in the thorns of a bramble
bush. High up, among the rocks on the Staffordshire side in a most
secluded spot, is a cleft called Cotton's Cave, which extends something
like 40 feet within the rock. Here it was that Charles Cotton, the
careless, impecunious poet, the friend of Isaac Walton, was wont to
conceal himself from his creditors. On the top of Lovers' Leap, a sheer
precipice, is what was once a garden where the two anglers sat and
smoked their pipes. Close by is an ancient watch-tower, from which was
seen Cotton's wife's beacon-fire lit to announce to him that the coast
was clear of duns, and to light him home in the black nights of winter.

Thor's Cave is in a lofty rock on the Manifold River. The cliff rises
to an altitude of four or five hundred feet, terminating in a bold and
lofty peak; and the cave is situated about half-way up the face of the
precipice. The cave is arched at the entrance, a black yawning mouth in
the white face of the limestone. It is a natural phenomenon, but
appears to have been enlarged by cave-dwellers. It has been explored by
a local antiquary, and has yielded evidence of having been inhabited
from prehistoric times.

The name of Thor's Cavern carries us back to the time when the Norsemen
occupied Deira and Derbyshire, and Jordas Cave in Yorkshire does the
same--for the name signifies an Earth-Giant.

In the crevices of Bottor Rock in Hennock, Devon, John Cann, a
Royalist, found refuge. He had made himself peculiarly obnoxious to the
Roundheads at Bovey Tracey, and here he lay concealed, and provisions
were secretly conveyed to him. Here also he hid his treasure. A path is
pointed out, trodden by him at night as he paced to and fro. He was at
last tracked by bloodhounds to his hiding-place, seized, carried to
Exeter and hanged. His treasure has never been recovered, and his
spirit still walks the rocks.

At Sheep's Tor, where is now the reservoir of the Plymouth waterworks,
may be seen by the side of the sheet of water the ruins of the ancient
mansion of the Elfords. The Tor of granite towers above the village.
Among the rocks near the summit is a cave in which an old Squire Elford
was concealed when the Parliamentary troopers were in search of him.
Polwheel in his "Devon" mentions it. "Here, I am informed, Elford used
to hide himself from the search of Cromwell's party, to whom he was
obnoxious. Hence he could command the whole country, and having some
talent for painting, he amused himself with that art on the walls of
his cavern, which I have been told by an elderly gentleman who had
visited the place was very fresh in his time." None of the paintings
now remain on the sides of the rock.

The cave is formed by two slabs of granite resting against each other.
It is only about 6 feet long, 4 wide, and 5 feet high, and is entered
by a very narrow opening.



From a very early period in the Middle Ages--in fact from the
dissolution of the Carlovingian dynasty--we find communities
everywhere grouped about a centre, and that centre the residence of the
feudal chief to whom the members of the community owed allegiance and
paid certain dues, in exchange for which he undertook to protect his
vassals from robbery and outrage. By the Edict of Mersen, in 847, every
freeman was suffered to choose his own lord, whether the King or one of
his vassals, and no vassal of the King was required to follow him in
war, unless against a foreign enemy. Consequently the subjects were
able to make merchandise of their obedience. In civil broils the King
was disarmed, helpless; and as he was incapable of defending the weak
against their oppressors, the feeble banded themselves under any lord
who could assure them of protection. The sole token that the great
nobles showed of vassalage to the Crown was that they dated their
charters by the year of the Sovereign's reign.

As the security of the community depended on the security of the
seigneur, it behoved that his residence should be made inexpugnable. To
this end, where possible, a projecting tongue of land or an isolated
hill was selected and rendered secure by cutting through any neck that
connected it with other high ground, or by carving the sides into
precipices. Like a race of eagles, these lords dwelt on the top of the
rocks, and their vassals crouched at their feet.

But although the dues paid to a seigneur were fixed by custom, it not
infrequently happened that the receipts were inadequate to his wants.
He had to maintain armed men to guard his castle and his tenants, and
these armed men had to be paid and kept in good humour. The lord
accordingly was disposed to increase the burdens laid on his serfs, and
that to such an extent as to drive them into revolt. He on his part was
not unaware of the fact that he held a wolf by the ears, and his
impregnable position was chosen not solely as a defence against foreign
enemies, but also against his rebellious vassals.

The village of Les Eyzies is dominated by the ruins of a castle of the
tenth or eleventh century, that was restored in the fifteenth, when a
graceful turret was added. The keep is planted on a precipitous rock,
and rises to the overhanging roof of chalk that is pierced with rafter-
holes for the reception of roof beams, and with openings only to be
reached by ladders leading to caves that served as storehouses. At the
junction of the Beune with the Vezere, a little further down is a rock
standing by itself, shaped like a gigantic fungus. This is called the
Roche de la Peine, as from the top of it the Sieur de Beynac, who was
also lord of Les Eyzies, precipitated malefactors. But under that
designation he was disposed to reckon all such as in any way offended
him. In 1594 the Sieur, to punish two of his peasant vassals who had
committed a trifling offence, killed one, and dragged the other over
stones, attached to the tail of his horse. This act of barbarity roused
public indignation, and a deputation waited on the seneschal of
Perigord to demand retribution. But having received no satisfaction
from this officer, in 1595, the peasants took the matter into their own
hands, revolted and besieged the castle. As they failed to take it,
they turned on the property of the seigneur, tore up his vines, cut
down his woods, and burnt his granges.

The incessant wars that swept France, its dismemberment into duchies
and counties and seigneuries, practically independent, and above all
the English domination in Guyenne for three hundred years, enabled the
petty nobles to shake off the very semblance of submission to their
liege lords, and to prosecute their private feuds without hindrance.
After Poitiers, 1356, and the captivity of King John, anarchy reigned
in the land; bands of plunderers ranged to and fro, threatening persons
and ravaging lands; and the magistrates could not, or would not,
exercise their authority. Local quarrels among rival landowners, the
turbulent and brutal passions of the castle-holders, filled the land
with violence and spread universal misery, from which there seemed to
be no escape, as against the wrongdoers there was no redress. After the
Treaty of Bretigny in 1360, Aquitaine ceased to be a French fief, and
was exalted in the interests of the King of England into an independent
sovereignty, together with the provinces of Poitou, the Saintonge,
Aunis, Agenois, Perigord, Limousin, Quercy, Bigorre, Angoumois and
Rouergue, greatly to the dissatisfaction of the people, who
remonstrated against being handed over to a foreign lord. Charles V.
and Charles VII. sought on every available occasion to escape from its
obligations, and the towns were in periodic revolt. William de Nangis
says of the condition of the country under Charles V.: "There was not
in Anjou, in Touraine, in Beauce, in Orleans, and up to the very
approaches of Paris, any corner of the country that was free from
plunderers. They were so numerous everywhere, either in little castles
occupied by them, or in villages and the countryside, that peasants and
tradesmen could not travel except at great expense and in mighty peril.
The very guards told off to protect the cultivators of the soil and the
travellers on the highways, most shamefully took part in harassing and
despoiling them. It was the same in Burgundy and the neighbouring
countries. Some knights who called themselves friends of the King,
whose names I am not minded to set down here, kept brigands in their
service, who were every whit as bad. What is more strange is that, when
these ruffians went into the cities, Paris, or anywhere else, everybody
knew them and pointed them out, but none durst lay hands on them."

The condition of Germany was but little superior to that of France. The
central authority, if that can be called central which was always
shifting its position, was unequal to restrain the violent. Its
pretensions were in inverse proportion to its efficiency. The Emperor
was too far off to see to the policing of the Empire, too weak to
enforce order; and his long absences in Italy left the German lords and
lordlings to pursue their own courses unrestrained. When the Emperor
Frederick Barbarossa visited the Baron van Kingen in his castle near
Constance, the freiherr received him seated, because, as he said, he
held his lands in fee of none but the sun. Although he was willing to
receive the Emperor as a guest, he refused to acknowledge him as his
lord. If this was the temper of the petty nobility in a green tree,
what must it have been in the dry. After that the great houses of
Saxony and Swabia had been crushed out by the policy of the Papacy, it
was to the interest of the electors to keep the Emperor weak; and the
fact that the Imperial Crown was elective enabled the electors to sell
their votes for extended privileges. At last, against the raids of the
petty nobles, whom the Emperor could not control, the cities leagued
together, took the matter in hand, attacked the fortresses, levelled
them and gave to the inmates short shrift, a halter and a tree. In
Italy the towns proceeded in a less summary manner. Surrounded as they
were on all sides by a serried rank of castles, where the nobles held
undisputed sway over their serfs and controlled the arteries of trade,
the cities were compelled to proceed against them; but instead of
sending them to the gallows, they contented themselves with forcing
them to take up their residence within the town walls. But though the
feudal lordship of these nobles had been destroyed, their opulence,
their lands, the prestige of their names remained untouched, and in
place of disturbing the roads they filled the streets with riot. They
reared in the towns those wonderful towers that we still see at
Bologna, San Gemigniano, Savona, &c. "From the eighth to the thirteenth
century," says Ruskin, "there was little change in the form;--four-
square, rising high and without tapering into the air, storey above
storey, they stood like giants beside the piles of the basilicas and
the Lombardic churches... their ruins still frown along the crests of
every promontory of the Apennines, and are seen from far away in the
great Lombard plain, from distances of half a day's journey, dark
against the amber sky of the horizon." [Footnote: Lectures on
Architecture, 1853.]

I propose dividing my subject of cliff castles into four heads:--

1. Those that were seigneural strongholds.
2. Those that with castle and town occupied a rock.
3. The fastnesses of the _routiers_, the Companies in the Hundred
Years' War.
4. Outpost stations guarding fords, roads into a town, and passes into
a country.

And I shall begin with No. 3--The Castles of the _routiers_.

The face of a country is like that of a woman. It tells the story of
its past. The many-windowed English mansion sleeping among turfy lawns
to the plash of a fountain, and the cawing of rooks in the beechwood,
tell of a tranquil past life-record broken only by transient unrest;
whereas the towers on the Continent with their _meurtrieres_ and
frowning machicolations, bristling on every hill, frequent as church
spires, now gutted and ruinous, proclaim a protracted reign of
oppression and then a sudden upheaval in resentment and a firebrand
applied to them all. The old English mansion has its cellars, but never
an _oubliette_, its porch-door always open to welcome a neighbour
and to relieve the indigent. It was not insulated by a dyke, and its
doors clenched with a portcullis. The spoils of the chase were not a
drove of "lifted" cattle taken from a peasant left stark upon his
threshold, but foxes' masks and the antlers of deer. The pigeons coo
about the English gables and the peacock dreams in the sun on the
balustrade of the terrace, as in past centuries, but the castle of the
French noble and the burg of the German ritter are given over to the
bats and owls, and are quarries whence the peasants pick out the
heraldic carvings for the construction of their pig-styes.

Nowhere did tears so stain and furrow the face of the land as in that
portion of France that was ceded to England. De Quincey says: "Within
fifty years in three pitched battles that resounded to the ends of the
earth, the chivalry of France had been exterminated. Her oriflamme had
been dragged through the dust. The Eldest Son of Baptism had been
prostrated. The daughter of France had been surrendered on coercion as
a bride to her English conqueror. The child of that marriage, so
ignominious to the land, was King of France by the consent of
Christendom; that child's uncle domineered as regent of France; and
that child's armies were in military possession of the land. But were
they undisputed masters? No!--under a perfect conquest there would have
been repose; whereas the presence of the English armies did but furnish
a plea, making strong in patriotism, for gathering everywhere of
lawless marauders, of soldiers that had deserted their banners, and of
robbers by profession. This was the woe of France more even than the
military dishonour." [Footnote: Essay on Charles Lamb.]

The Hundred Years' War, that has left ineffaceable traces in the south
of France, began in 1336 before the conclusion of the Treaty of
Bretigny, which was in 1360, and it lasted till 1443--over a century,
though not without interruption; and it desolated the fields of
Perigord, Quercy, and to a less degree Rouergue and the Limousin, and
wrought havoc to the gates of Paris.

The close of the fourteenth century saw no hope anywhere, only
gathering storms. In France, to the prudent Charles V. succeeded the
mad fool Charles VI. In England the strong King Edward III. was
followed by the incompetent Richard II. In Germany the Emperor Charles
IV., a statesman, had as his successor the drunken sot Wenceslas. In
England the Wars of the Roses were looming in the future. Agincourt
proved more disastrous to England than to France. There was hopeless
turmoil everywhere. As Luther said when a somewhat similar condition
existed in Germany--"God, tiring of the game, has thrown the cards on
the table." In France the free Companies ran riot unrestrained. About
them one word.

The engagement of mercenaries in the war between England and France had
begun early. As Michelet says: "The population of the North saw appear
among them mercenary soldiers, the _routiers_, for the most part
in the service of England. Some came from Brabant, some from Aquitaine;
the Basque Marcader was one of the principal lieutenants of Richard
Coeur-de-Lion. The mountaineers of the South, who to-day descend into
France and Spain to gain a little money by huxtering, did so in the
Middle Ages, but then, their sole industry was war. They maltreated
priests as they did peasants, dressed their wives in consecrated
vestments, beat the clergy, and made them sing mass in mockery. It was
also one of their amusements to defile and break the images of Christ,
to smash the legs and arms, treating Him worse than did the Jews. These
_routiers_ were dear to the princes precisely on account of their
impiety, which rendered them insensible to ecclesiastical censures."
[Footnote: _Histoire de France_, ii. p. 362. The first to
introduce them was Henry Courtmantel when he rebelled against his
father. On his death in 1163 they disbanded, and then reunited under
elected captains, and pillaged the country.]

From 1204 to 1222 was the period of the Crusade against the Albigenses.
Pope Innocent III. poured over that beautiful land in the south of
France--beautiful as the Garden of God--a horde of ruffians, made up of
the riffraff of Europe, summoned to murder, pillage and outrage, with
the promise of Heaven as their reward. After committing atrocities such
as people Hell, these scoundrels, despising the religion they had been
summoned to defend, with every spark of humanity extinguished in their
breasts, looked about for fresh mischief, and found it, by enrolling
themselves under the banner of England; their tiger cubs grew up with
the lust of blood and rapine that had possessed their fathers.
Generation after generation of these fiends in human form ranged over
the soil of France committing intolerable havoc. A carpenter of Le Puy
formed an association for the extermination of these bands. Philip
Augustus encouraged him, furnished troops, and in one day slaughtered
ten thousand of them. But so long as the English claim on so large a
portion of the soil of France was maintained, the bands were
incessantly recruited. The French King hired them as well as the King
of England. So, later, did the Popes, when they quitted Avignon, and by
their aid recovered the patrimony of S. Peter.

The barons and seigneurs in the South were no better than the
_routiers_. They transferred their allegiance from the Leopards to
the Lilies, or _vice versa_, as suited their caprices. The Sieur
de Pons went over to the side of France because he quarrelled with his
wife, who was ardent on the English side. The local nobility helped the
_routiers_, and the _routiers_ assisted them in their private

The knights of the fourteenth century were no longer the protectors of
the weak, the redressers of wrongs, loyal to their liege lords,
observers of their oaths. They had reversed the laws of chivalry. Their
main function was the oppression of the weak. They forswore themselves
without scruple. The Sire d'Aubrecicourt plundered and slaughtered at
random _pour meriter de sa dame_, Isabella de Juliers, niece of
the Queen of England, "for he was young and outrageously in love." The
brother of the King of Navarre plundered like the rest. When the nobles
sold safe-conducts to the merchants who victualled the towns, they
excepted such articles as might suit themselves--silks, harness, plate.
A prince of the blood sent as hostage to England returned to France in
defiance of treaties, and if King John surrendered himself, it was
because of the ease and pleasures he enjoyed in London, and to be rid
of cares. The name given to the Companies in the South was Raobadous
(Ribauds)--the very name has come to us under the form of
_ribald_, as indicative of all that is brutal, profane, and

Among the commanders very few were English. There was the Welshman
Griffith, whom Froissart calls Ruffin, who ravaged the country between
the Seine and the Loire. Sir Robert Knollys, or Knolles, led a band of
English and Navarrese, "conquering every town and castle he came to. He
had followed this trade for some time, and by it gained upwards of
100,000 crowns. He kept a great many soldiers in his pay; and being
very liberal, was cheerfully obeyed." So says Froissart. Sir Robert
Cheney was another; so was Sir John Amery. Sir John Hawkwood was taken
into the service of Pope Gregory XI., and sent to ravage in Italy.
Bacon, a notorious brigand, may or may not have been English. The name
is common in lower Brittany. "This robber," says Froissart, "was always
mounted on handsome horses of a deep roan colour, apparelled like an
earl, and very richly armed."

But usually the free Companies enrolled themselves under some bastard
(Bourg) of a noble house in France or Guyenne. It was a bastard warfare
on their side; they stood in the same relation to the regular forces
that privateers do to a fleet of the Royal Navy. They paid no regard to
treaties. As the Bourg d'Espaign told Froissart: "The treaty of peace
being concluded, it was necessary for all men-at-arms and free
Companies, according to the treaty, to evacuate the fortresses and
castles they held. Great numbers collected together, with many poor
companions who had learnt the art of war under different commanders, to
hold councils as to what quarters they should march, and they said
among themselves that, though the kings had made peace with each other,
it was necessary for them to live. They marched into Burgundy, where
they had captains of all nations--Germans, Scots, and people from every
country--'and they agreed to disregard the treaty and to surprise towns
and castles as before.' A notorious Breton captain on his deathbed
said: 'Such has been my manner of carrying on war, in truth, I cared
not against whom. I did indeed make it under shadow of the King of
England's name, in preference to any other; but I always looked for
gain and conquest, wherever it was to be had.'"

When they captured a town or castle, nominally for the English, they
were quite ready to sell it to the French for a stipulated sum.

Froissart says that the Ribauds were "Germans, Brabantines, Flemings,
Gascons, and bad Frenchmen, who had been impoverished by the war" (i.
c. 204). He gives in one place the names of twenty of these captains,
not one English. [Footnote: Robert King of Puy Guihbem was an
Englishman, but an authorised governor and commander under the English
crown.] In another place he enumerates ten, all French or Gascons (ii.
c. 10). Among those who harassed the Languedoc, Quercy and Perigord,
not a single captain was English. The Bastard de Beby, the Bastard
d'Albret, Amadeu de Pons, Benezet Daguda, De l'Esparre, Menard de
Favas, l'Archipretre, Bertrand de la Salle, Le Non de Mauroux, Jean
l'Esclop, Nolibarba, Bertrand de Besserat, Perrot de Savoie, Ramonet
del Sort, and a score more, all base French or Gascon names. "These
brigands," says Lacoste, "were mainly composed of French soldiers to
whom the State had been unable to pay their wages." One whole company
was entitled that "des Bretons."

But it was not the captains of the Companies alone who were Gascons,
French, and Bretons. The nobles throughout Guyenne were more than half
of them on the English side. The famous commander who did so much
towards achieving the victory of Poitiers was a Frenchman, the Captal
de Buch, Jean de Greuilly, Constable of Aquitaine for the English
crown. Amandeu and Raymond de Montaut, the Sire de Duras, Petiton de
Courton, Jean de Seignol, the Sire de Mussidan, and many more.
"Following their interests or their passions, all these nobles passed
from side to side, now that of the English, then that of the French;
but they preferred the English side to the other, for war against the
French is more pleasant than that against the English,"--that is to
say, it was more profitable. The _Livre de Vie_ of Bergerac under
the date 5th April 1381, speaks of Perducat d'Albret as "loyally
French." But his loyalty lasted but for a moment. Froissart has a
characteristic passage upon the Gascons that deserves quotation. After
giving a list of towns and castles on the Garonne and the Dordogne, he
says: "Some of these being English, and others French, carried on a war
against each other; they would have it so, for the Gascons were never,
for thirty years running, steadily attached to any one lord. I once
heard the Lord d'Albret use an expression that I noted down. A knight
from Brittany inquired after his health, and how he managed to remain
steady to the French. He answered, 'Thank God my health is good, but I
had more money at command, as well as my people, when I made war for
the King of England, than I have now; for, whenever we took any
excursions in search of adventures, we never failed meeting some rich
merchants from Toulouse, Condom, La Reole, or Bergerac, whom we
squeezed, which made us gay and debonair, but now all that is at an
end.' On hearing this I concluded that the Lord d'Albret repented
having turned to the French in the same manner as the Lord of Mucidens,
who swore to the Duke of Anjou he would set out for Paris and become a
good Frenchman. He did go to Paris, when the King handsomely received
him; but he slunk away and returned to his own country, where he again
became an Englishman, and broke all his engagements with the Duke of
Anjou. The Lords of Rosem, Duras, Langurant, did the same" (iii. c.

As with the captains of the Companies, so with the knights and
seigneurs who fought in the South for the Crown of England--their names
are for the most part French and Gascon, and not English. [Footnote:
Let it not be forgotten that those who condemned Joan of Arc to be
burnt were Frenchmen. The University of Paris denounced her as a
heretic. Her judges were the Bishop of Beauvais, a Frenchman by birth,
Jean Graveraut, Professor of Theology at the University of Paris, Grand
Inquisitor of France, Jean Lemaitre, prior of the Dominicans at Rouen.
Her bitterest accuser was the Canon Jean d'Estivet, general procurator,
who after the execution drowned himself in a pool. The Bastard of
Vendome sold her to John of Luxembourg, and John of Luxembourg sold her
to the English for 10,000 francs. Charles VII. and his friends did not
raise a finger in her behalf. They forgot her at once, as a thing that
had answered its purpose and was no longer of use.]

The Companies formed their nests in the rocks, which they fortified, or
in castles they had captured, or in such as had been abandoned by the
French, from inability to garrison them. The Causse was in their
possession from the Dordogne to the Lot, and Perigord to the gates of
the capital. They overran Auvergne, the Gevaudan, Poitou, the
Angoumois, the Rouergue and the Saintonge, to speak only of provinces
south of the Loire. The Government exhibited incredible feebleness
towards them. In 1379 the Count d'Armagnac, Royal Lieutenant in the
south, paid 24,000 francs to one of the _routiers_ to evacuate the
castle of Carlat, and 12,500 to the Bastard of Albret for five others.
In 1387 he convened an assembly of the States of Auvergne, Velay,
Gevaudan, Rouergue, Quercy, &c., to debate what was to be done to rid
the country of these pests. Instead of resolving on an united effort to
put them down by force of arms, they agreed to pay them 250,000 francs
to quit. They took the money, but remained. Every town, every village
was forced to come to terms with the brigands, by means of a
_patis_ or convention to pay a certain sum annually, to save it
from pillage. Should the covenanted money not be forthcoming to the
day, the place was sacked and burnt.

At length the inhabitants, unable to endure the exaction of the
_routiers_ on one side and those of the King and the seigneurs on
the other, migrated to Spain and never returned. In 1415, as all the
inhabitants of Caudon had crossed the frontier, the cure applied to
have his cure united to that of Domme. He had no parishioners left.
Domme had been reduced from a thousand families to a hundred and
twenty, and these would have abandoned their homes unless stopped by
the Seneschal of Perigord.

In 1434 the inhabitants of Temniac and Carlux began to pack their goods
for leaving, but the citizens of Sarlat stopped them, by promising to
feed them till the conclusion of the war. Some of the large towns had
lost so many of their citizens that they were glad to receive peasants
out of the country and enrol them as burgesses. In 1378, as the Causse
of Quercy was almost denuded of its population and nothing remained to
be reaped, the Companies abandoned it for the Rouergue, the Gevaudan
and the Limousin and Upper Auvergne. Thence the wretched peasants fled
to the deserted limestone Causse of Quercy and occupied the abandoned
villages and farms. They obtained but a short respite, for in 1407 the
Companies returned to their former quarters. Charles VI. imposed a
heavy tax on the whole kingdom to enable him to carry on the war
against the English. But Quercy was wholly unable to meet the demands,
and the King, in a letter dated the last day of February 1415, gives a
graphic account of the condition to which the land had been reduced.

"Whereas, this land, at the time when it passed under the obedience of
the King of England, was the richest and most populous in all the Duchy
of Guyenne, and contained the finest cities, towns, and castles and
fortresses in the said duchy, which were free and quit of all taxes and
imposts, and with privileges conferred on them and confirmed by the
King of France when they shook off the English yoke; and the said land
of Quercy, after having returned to its legitimate sovereigns, has
testified to them the greatest loyalty; yet have its inhabitants been
grievously injured, assailed, beaten, robbed, pillaged, imprisoned,
killed, maltreated by the English in divers ways, which enemies have
since taken and occupied the greater part of the finest towns and
fortresses of the land; on which account the land of Quercy has since
continued in a condition of mortal warfare with the said enemies for
the space of fifty-five years; and this carried on without aid from us,
or from any one:--This unfortunate land has resisted to the utmost of
its powers and is doing so still; and it has been surrounded for long
by our said enemies, and is as it were destroyed and uninhabitable, and
the greater number of its towns, castles, and strongholds have become
desert and wild, covered with forest and scrub, inhabited by wild
beasts, with the exception of some few small places that are very poor
and miserable, and though at one time they were great and rich, they
have been to such an extent depopulated--partly through the war and
partly through pestilences that have ensued--there are now hardly one
hundredth part of the people remaining, and those who do remain are but
poor labourers and men of servile class; and these are kept night and

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