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The Complete Celebrated Crimes by Alexander Dumas, Pere

Part 16 out of 33

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repetition of the slanders or the infliction on Urbain of any injury.

Thanks to this document, a change of parts took place: Mignon, the
accuser, became the accused. Feeling that he had powerful support
behind him, he had the audacity to appear before the bailiff the same
day. He said that he did not acknowledge his jurisdiction, as in
what concerned Grandier and himself, they being both priests, they
could only be judged by their bishop; he nevertheless protested
against the complaint lodged by Grandier, which characterised him as
a slanderer, and declared that he was ready to give himself up as a
prisoner, in order to show everyone that he did not fear the result
of any inquiry. Furthermore, he had taken an oath on the sacred
elements the day before, in the presence of his parishioners who had
come to mass, that in all he had hitherto done he had been moved, not
by hatred of Grandier, but by love of the truth, and by his desire
for the triumph of the Catholic faith; and he insisted that the
bailiff should give him a certificate of his declaration, and served
notice of the same on Grandier that very day.


Since October 13th, the day on which the demons had been expelled,
life at the convent seemed to have returned to its usual quiet; but
Grandier did not let himself be lulled to sleep by the calm: he knew
those with whom he was contending too well to imagine for an instant
that he would hear no more of them; and when the bailiff expressed
pleasure at this interval of repose, Grandier said that it would not
last long, as the nuns were only conning new parts, in order to carry
on the drama in a more effective manner than ever. And in fact, on
November 22nd, Rene Mannouri, surgeon to the convent, was sent to one
of his colleagues, named Gaspard Joubert, to beg him to come,
bringing some of the physicians of the town with him, to visit the
two sisters, who were again tormented by evil spirits. Mannouri,
however, had gone to the wrong man, for Joubert had a frank and loyal
character, and hated everything that was underhand. Being determined
to take no part in the business, except in a public and judicial
manner, he applied at once to the bailiff to know if it was by his
orders that he was called in. The bailiff said it was not, and
summoned Mannouri before him to ask him by whose authority he had
sent for Joubert. Mannouri declared that the 'touriere' had run in a
fright to his house, saying that the nuns had never been worse
possessed than now, and that the director, Mignon, begged him to come
at once to the convent, bringing with him all the doctors he could

The bailiff, seeing that fresh plots against Grandier were being
formed, sent for him and warned him that Barre had come over from
Chinon the day before, and had resumed his exorcisms at the convent,
adding that it was currently reported in the town that the mother
superior and Sister Claire were again tormented by devils. The news
neither astonished nor discouraged Grandier, who replied, with his
usual smile of disdain, that it was evident his enemies were hatching
new plots against him, and that as he had instituted proceedings
against them for the former ones, he would take the same course with
regard to these. At the same time, knowing how impartial the bailiff
was, he begged him to accompany the doctors and officials to the
convent, and to be present at the exorcisms, and should any sign of
real possession manifest itself, to sequester the afflicted nuns at
once, and cause them to be examined by other persons than Mignon and
Barre, whom he had such good cause to distrust.

The bailiff wrote to the king's attorney, who, notwithstanding his
bias against Grandier, was forced to see that the conclusions arrived
at were correct, and having certified this in writing, he at once
sent his clerk to the convent to inquire if the superior were still
possessed. In case of an affirmative reply being given, the clerk
had instructions to warn Mignon and Barre that they were not to
undertake exorcisms unless in presence of the bailiff and of such
officials and doctors as he might choose to bring with him, and that
they would disobey at their peril; he was also to tell them that
Grandier's demands to have the nuns sequestered and other exorcists
called in were granted.

Mignon and Barre listened while the clerk read his instructions, and
then said they refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the bailiff
in this case; that they had been summoned by the mother superior and
Sister Claire when their strange illness returned, an illness which
they were convinced was nothing else than possession by evil spirits;
that they had hitherto carried out their exorcisms under the
authority of a commission given them by the Bishop of Poitiers; and
as the time for which they had permission had not yet expired; they
would continue to exorcise as often as might be necessary. They had,
however, given notice to the worthy prelate of what was going on, in
order that he might either come himself or send other exorcists as
best suited him, so that a valid opinion as to the reality, of the
possession might be procured, for up to the present the worldly and
unbelieving had taken upon themselves to declare in an off-hand
manner that the whole affair was a mixture of fraud and delusion, in
contempt of the glory of God and the Catholic religion. As to the
rest of the message, they would not, in any way prevent the bailiff
and the other officials, with as many medical men as they chose to
bring, from seeing the nuns, at least until they heard from the
bishop, from whom they expected a letter next day. But it was for
the nuns themselves to say whether it was convenient for them to
receive visitors; as far as concerned themselves, they desired to
renew their protest, and declared they could not accept the bailiff
as their judge, and did not think that it could be legal for them to
refuse to obey a command from their ecclesiastical superiors, whether
with relation to exorcism or any other thing of which the
ecclesiastical courts properly took cognisance. The clerk brought
this answer to the bailiff, and he, thinking it was better to wait
for the arrival of the bishop or of fresh orders from him, put off
his visit to the convent until the next day. But the next day came
without anything being heard of the prelate himself or of a messenger
from him.

Early in the morning the bailiff went to the convent, but was not
admitted; he then waited patiently until noon, and seeing that no
news had arrived from Dissay, and that the convent gates were still
closed against him, he granted a second petition of Grandier's, to
the effect that Byre and Mignon should be prohibited from questioning
the superior and the other nuns in a manner tending to blacken the
character of the petitioner or any other person. Notice of this
prohibition was served the same day on Barre and on one nun chosen to
represent the community. Barre did not pay the slightest attention
to this notice, but kept on asserting that the bailiff had no right
to prevent his obeying the commands of his bishop, and declaring that
henceforward he would perform all exorcisms solely under
ecclesiastical sanction, without any reference to lay persons, whose
unbelief and impatience impaired the solemnity with which such rites
should be conducted.

The best part of the day having gone over without any sign of either
bishop or messenger, Grandier presented a new petition to the
bailiff. The bailiff at once summoned all the officers of the
bailiwick and the attorneys of the king, in order to lay it before
them; but the king's attorneys refused to consider the matter,
declaring upon their honour that although they did not accuse
Grandier of being the cause, yet they believed that the nuns were
veritably possessed, being convinced by the testimony of the devout
ecclesiastics in whose presence the evil spirits had come out. This
was only the ostensible reason for their refusal, the real one being
that the advocate was a relation of Mignon's, and the attorney a son-
in-law of Trinquant's, to whose office he had succeeded. Thus
Grandier, against whom were all the ecclesiastical judges, began to
feel as if he were condemned beforehand by the judges of the royal
courts, for he knew how very short was the interval between the
recognition of the possession as a fact and the recognition of
himself as its author.

Nevertheless, in spite of the formal declarations of the king's
advocate and attorney, the bailiff ordered the superior and the lay
sister to be removed to houses in town, each to be accompanied by a
nun as companion. During their absence from the convent they were to
be looked after by exorcists, by women of high character and
position, as well as by physicians and attendants, all of whom he
himself would appoint, all others being forbidden access to the nuns
without his permission.

The clerk was again sent to the convent with a copy of this decision,
but the superior having listened to the reading of the document,
answered that in her own name and that of the sisterhood she refused
to recognise the jurisdiction of the bailiff; that she had already
received directions from the Bishop of Poitiers, dated 18th November,
explaining the measures which were to be taken in the matter, and she
would gladly send a copy of these directions to the bailiff, to
prevent his pleading ignorance of them; furthermore, she demurred to
the order for her removal, having vowed to live always secluded in a
convent, and that no one could dispense her from this vow but the
bishop. This protest having been made in the presence of Madame de
Charnisay, aunt of two of the nuns, and Surgeon Mannouri, who was
related to another, they both united in drawing up a protest against
violence, in case the bailiff should insist on having his orders
carried out, declaring that, should he make the attempt, they would
resist him, as if he were a mere private individual. This document
being duly signed and witnessed was immediately sent to the bailiff
by the hand of his own clerk, whereupon the bailiff ordered that
preparations should be made with regard to the sequestration, and
announced that the next day, the 24th November, he would repair to
the convent and be present at the exorcisms.

The next day accordingly, at the appointed hour, the bailiff summoned
Daniel Roger, Vincent de Faux, Gaspard Joubert, and Matthieu Fanson,
all four physicians, to his presence, and acquainting them with his
reasons for having called them, asked them to accompany him to the
convent to examine, with the most scrupulous impartiality, two nuns
whom he would point out, in order to discover if their illness were
feigned, or arose from natural or supernatural causes. Having thus
instructed them as to his wishes, they all set out for the convent.

They were shown into the chapel and placed close to the altar, being
separated by a grating from the choir, in which the nuns who sang
usually sat. In a few moments the superior was carried in on a small
bed, which was laid down before the grating. Barre then said mass,
during which the superior went into violent convulsions. She threw
her arms about, her fingers were clenched, her cheeks enormously
inflated, and her eyes turned up so that only the whites could be

The mass finished, Barre approached her to administer the holy
communion and to commence the exorcism. Holding the holy wafer in
his hand, he said--

"Adora Deum tuum, creatorem tuum" (Adore God, thy Creator).

The superior hesitated, as if she found great difficulty in making
this act of love, but at length she said--

"Adoro te" (I adore Thee).

"Quem adoras?" (Whom dost thou adore?)

"Jesus Christus" (Jesus Christ), answered the nun, quite unconscious
that the verb adorn governs accusative.

This mistake, which no sixth-form boy would make, gave rise to bursts
of laughter in the church; and Daniel Douin, the provost's assessor,
was constrained to say aloud--

"There's a devil for you, who does not know much about transitive

Barre perceiving the bad impression that the superior's nominative
had made, hastened to ask her--

"Quis est iste quem adoras?" (Who is it whom thou dost adore?)

His hope was that she would again reply "Jesus Christus," but he was

"Jesu Christe," was her answer.

Renewed shouts of laughter greeted this infraction of one of the most
elementary rules of syntax, and several of those present exclaimed:

"Oh, your reverence, what very poor Latin!"

Barre pretended not to hear, and next asked what was the name of the
demon who had taken possession of her. The poor superior, who was
greatly confused by the unexpected effect of her last two answers,
could not speak for a long time; but at length with great trouble she
brought out the name Asmodee, without daring to latinise it. The
exorcist then inquired how many devils the superior had in her body,
and to this question she replied quite fluently

"Sex" ( Six).

The bailiff upon this requested Barre to ask the chief devil how many
evil spirits he had with him. But the need for this answer had been
foreseen, and the nun unhesitatingly returned

"Quinque" (Five).

This answer raised Asmodee somewhat in the opinion of those present;
but when the bailiff adjured the superior to repeat in Greek what she
had just said in Latin she made no reply, and on the adjuration being
renewed she immediately recovered her senses.

The examination of the superior being thus cut short, a little nun
who appeared for the first time in public was brought forward. She
began by twice pronouncing the name of Grandier with a loud laugh;
then turning to the bystanders, called out--

"For all your number, you can do nothing worth while."

As it was easy to see that nothing of importance was to be expected
from this new patient, she was soon suppressed, and her place taken
by the lay sister Claire who had already made her debut in the mother
superior's room

Hardly had she entered the choir than she uttered a groan, but as
soon as they placed her on the little bed on which the other nuns had
lain, she gave way to uncontrollable laughter, and cried out between
the paroxysms

"Grandier, Grandier, you must buy some at the market."

Barre at once declared that these wild and whirling words were a
proof of possession, and approached to exorcise the demon; but Sister
Claire resisted, and pretending to spit in the face of the exorcist,
put out her tongue at him, making indecent gestures, using a word in
harmony with her actions. This word being in the vernacular was
understood by everyone and required no interpretation.

The exorcist then conjured her to give the name of the demon who was
in her, and she replied


But Barre by repeating his question gave her to understand that she
had made a mistake, whereupon she corrected herself and said


Nothing in the world could induce her to reveal the number of evil
spirits by whom Elimi was accompanied, so that Barre, seeing that it
was useless to press her on this point, passed on to the next

"Quo pacto ingressus est daemon"(By what pact did the demon get in?).

"Duplex" (Double), returned Sister Claire.

This horror of the ablative, when the ablative was absolutely
necessary, aroused once more the hilarity of the audience, and proved
that Sister Claire's devil was just as poor a Latin scholar as the
superior's, and Barre, fearing some new linguistic eccentricity on
the part of the evil spirit, adjourned the meeting to another day.

The paucity of learning shown in the answers of the nuns being
sufficient to convince any fairminded person that the whole affair
was a ridiculous comedy, the bailiff felt encouraged to persevere
until he had unravelled the whole plot. Consequently, at three
o'clock in the afternoon, he returned to the convent, accompanied by
his clerk, by several magistrates, and by a considerable number of
the best known people of Loudun, and asked to see the superior.
Being admitted, he announced to Barre that he had come to insist on
the superior being separated from Sister Claire, so that each could
be exorcised apart. Barre dared not refuse before such a great
number of witnesses, therefore the superior was isolated and the
exorcisms begun all over again. Instantly the convulsions returned,
just as in the morning, only that now she twisted her feet into the
form of hooks, which was a new accomplishment.

Having adjured her several times, the exorcist succeeded in making
her repeat some prayers, and then sounded her as to the name and
number of the demons in possession, whereupon she said three times
that there was one called Achaos. The bailiff then directed Barre to
ask if she were possessed 'ex pacto magi, aut ex Aura voluntate Dei'
(by a pact with a sorcerer or by the pure will of God), to which the
superior answered

"Non est voluutas Dei" (Not by the will of God).

Upon this, Barre dreading more questions from the bystanders, hastily
resumed his own catechism by asking who was the sorcerer.

"Urbanus," answered the superior.

"Est-ne Urbanus papa" (Is it Pope Urban?), asked the exorcist.

"Grandier," replied the superior.

"Quare ingressus es in corpus hujus puellae" (Why did you enter the
body of this maiden?), said Barre.

"Propter praesentiam tuum" (Because of your presence), answered the

At this point the bailiff, seeing no reason why the dialogue between
Barre and the superior should ever come to an end, interposed and
demanded that questions suggested by him and the other officials
present should be put to the superior, promising that if she answered
three of four such questions correctly, he, and those with him, would
believe in the reality of the possession, and would certify to that
effect. Barre accepted the challenge, but unluckily just at that
moment the superior regained consciousness, and as it was already
late, everyone retired.


The next day, November 25th, the bailiff and the majority of the
officers of the two jurisdictions came to the convent once more, and
were all conducted to the choir. In a few moments the curtains
behind the grating were drawn back, and the superior, lying on her
bed, came to view. Barre began, as usual, by the celebration of
mass, during which the superior was seized with convulsions, and
exclaimed two or three times, "Grandier! Grandier! false priest!"
When the mass was over, the celebrant went behind the grating,
carrying the pyx; then, placing it on his head and holding it there,
he protested that in all he was doing he was actuated by the purest
motives and the highest integrity; that he had no desire to harm
anyone on earth; and he adjured God to strike him dead if he had been
guilty of any bad action or collusion, or had instigated the nuns to
any deceit during the investigation.

The prior of the Carmelites next advanced and made the same
declaration, taking the oath in the same manner, holding the pyx over
his head; and further calling down on himself and his brethren the
curse of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram if they had sinned during this
inquiry. These protestations did not, however, produce the salutary
effect intended, some of those present saying aloud that such oaths
smacked of sacrilege.

Barre hearing the murmurs, hastened to begin the exorcisms, first
advancing to the superior to offer her the holy sacrament: but as
soon as she caught sight of him she became terribly convulsed, and
attempted to drag the pyx from his hands. Barre, however, by
pronouncing the sacred words, overcame the repulsion of the superior,
and succeeded in placing the wafer in her mouth; she, however, pushed
it out again with her tongue, as if it made her sick; Barge caught it
in his fingers and gave it to her again, at the same time forbidding
the demon to make her vomit, and this time she succeeded in partly
swallowing the sacred morsel, but complained that it stuck in her
throat. At last, in order to get it down, Barge three times gave her
water to drink; and then, as always during his exorcisms, he began by
interrogating the demon.

"Per quod pactum ingressus es in corpus hujus puellae?" (By what pact
didst thou enter the body of this maiden?)

"Aqua" ( By water), said the superior.

One of those who had accompanied the bailiff was a Scotchman called
Stracan, the head of the Reformed College of Loudun. Hearing this
answer, he called on the demon to translate aqua into Gaelic, saying
if he gave this proof of having those linguistic attainments which
all bad spirits possess, he and those with him would be convinced
that the possession was genuine and no deception. Barre, without
being in the least taken aback, replied that he would make the demon
say it if God permitted, and ordered the spirit to answer in Gaelic.
But though he repeated his command twice, it was not obeyed; on the
third repetition the superior said--

"Nimia curiositas" (Too much curiosity), and on being asked again,

"Deus non volo."

This time the poor devil went astray in his conjugation, and
confusing the first with the third person, said, "God, I do not
wish," which in the context had no meaning. "God does not wish,"
being the appointed answer.

The Scotchman laughed heartily at this nonsense, and proposed to
Barre to let his devil enter into competition with the boys of his
seventh form; but Barre, instead of frankly accepting the challenge
in the devil's name, hemmed and hawed, and opined that the devil was
justified in not satisfying idle curiosity.

"But, sir, you must be aware," said the civil lieutenant, "and if you
are not, the manual you hold in your hand will teach you, that the
gift of tongues is one of the unfailing symptoms of true possession,
and the power to tell what is happening at a distance another."

"Sir," returned Barre, "the devil knows the language very well, but,
does not wish to speak it; he also knows all your sins, in proof of
which, if you so desire, I shall order him to give the list."

"I shall be delighted to hear it," said the civil lieutenant; "be so
good as to try the experiment."

Barre was about to approach the superior, when he was held back by
the bailiff, who remonstrated with him on the impropriety of his
conduct, whereupon Barre assured the magistrate that he had never
really intended to do as he threatened.

However, in spite of all Barre's attempts to distract the attention
of the bystanders from the subject, they still persisted in desiring
to discover the extent of the devil's knowledge of foreign languages,
and at their suggestion the bailiff proposed to Barre to try him in
Hebrew instead of Gaelic. Hebrew being, according to Scripture, the
most ancient language of all, ought to be familiar to the demon,
unless indeed he had forgotten it. This idea met with such general
applause that Barre was forced to command the possessed nun to say
aqua in Hebrew. The poor woman, who found it difficult enough to
repeat correctly the few Latin words she had learned by rote, made an
impatient movement, and said--

"I can't help it; I retract" (Je renie).

These words being heard and repeated by those near her produced such
an unfavourable impression that one of the Carmelite monks tried to
explain them away by declaring that the superior had not said "Je
renie," but "Zaquay," a Hebrew word corresponding to the two Latin
words, "Effudi aquam" (I threw water about). But the words "Je
renie" had been heard so distinctly that the monk's assertion was
greeted with jeers, and the sub-prior reprimanded him publicly as a
liar. Upon this, the superior had a fresh attack of convulsions, and
as all present knew that these attacks usually indicated that the
performance was about to end, they withdrew, making very merry over a
devil who knew neither Hebrew nor Gaelic, and whose smattering of
Latin was so incorrect.

However, as the bailiff and civil lieutenant were determined to clear
up every doubt so far as they still felt any, they went once again to
the convent at three o'clock the same afternoon. Barre came out to
meet them, and took them for a stroll in the convent grounds. During
their walk he said to the civil lieutenant that he felt very much
surprised that he, who had on a former occasion, by order of the
Bishop of Poitiers, laid information against Grandier should be now
on his side. The civil lieutenant replied that he would be ready to
inform against him again if there were any justification, but at
present his object was to arrive at the truth, and in this he felt
sure he should be successful. Such an answer was very unsatisfactory
to Barre; so, drawing the bailiff aside, he remarked to him that a
man among whose ancestors were many persons of condition, several of
whom had held positions of much dignity in the Church, and who
himself held such an important judicial position, ought to show less
incredulity in regard to the possibility of a devil entering into a
human body, since if it were proved it would redound to the glory of
God and the good of the Church and of religion. The bailiff received
this remonstrance with marked coldness, and replied that he hoped
always to take justice for his guide, as his duty commanded. Upon
this, Barre pursued the subject no farther, but led the way to the
superior's apartment.

Just as they entered the room, where a large number of people were
already gathered, the superior, catching sight of the pyx which Barre
had brought with him, fell once more into convulsions. Barre went
towards her, and having asked the demon as usual by what pact he had
entered the maiden's body, and received the information that it was
by water, continued his examination as follows:

"Quis finis pacti" (What is the object of this pact?)

"Impuritas" (Unchastity).

At these words the bailiff interrupted the exorcist and ordered him
to make the demon say in Greek the three words, 'finis, pacti,
impuritas'. But the superior, who had once already got out of her
difficulties by an evasive answer, had again recourse to the same
convenient phrase, "Nimia curiositas," with which Barre agreed,
saying that they were indeed too much given to curiosity. So the
bailiff had to desist from his attempt to make the demon speak Greek,
as he had before been obliged to give up trying to make him speak
Hebrew and Gaelic. Barre then continued his examination.

"Quis attulit pactum?" (Who brought the pact?)

"Magus" (The sorcerer).

"Quale nomen magi?" (What is the sorcerer's name?)

"Urbanus" (Urban).

"Quis Urbanus? Est-ne Urbanus papa?"

(What Urban? Pope Urban?)


"Cujus qualitatis?" (What is his profession?)


The enriching of the Latin language by this new and unknown word
produced a great effect on the audience; however, Barre did not pause
long enough to allow it to be received with all the consideration it
deserved, but went on at once.

"Quis attulit aquam pacti?" (Who brought the water of the pact?)

"Magus" (The magician).

"Qua hora?" (At what o'clock?)

"Septima" (At seven o'clock).

"An matutina?" (In the morning?)

"Sego" (In the evening).

"Quomodo intravit?" (How did he enter?)

"Janua" (By the door).

"Quis vidit?" (Who saw him?)

"Tres" (Three persons).

Here Barre stopped, in order to confirm the testimony of the devil,
assuring his hearers that the Sunday after the superior's deliverance
from the second possession he along with Mignon and one of the
sisters was sitting with her at supper, it being about seven o'clock
in the evening, when she showed them drops of water on her arm, and
no one could tell where they came from. He had instantly washed her
arm in holy water and repeated some prayers, and while he was saying
them the breviary of the superior was twice dragged from her hands
and thrown at his feet, and when he stooped to pick it up for the
second time he got a box on the ear without being able to see the
hand that administered it. Then Mignon came up and confirmed what
Barre had said in a long discourse, which he wound up by calling down
upon his head the most terrible penalties if every word he said were
not the exact truth. He then dismissed the assembly, promising to
drive out the evil spirit the next day, and exhorting those present
to prepare themselves, by penitence and receiving the holy communion,
for the contemplation of the wonders which awaited them.


The last two exorcisms had been so much talked about in the town,
that Grandier, although he had not been present, knew everything that
had happened, down to the smallest detail, so he once more laid a
complaint before the bailiff, in which he represented that the nuns
maliciously continued to name him during the exorcisms as the author
of their pretended possession, being evidently influenced thereto by
his enemies, whereas in fact not only had he had no communication
with them, but had never set eyes on them; that in order to prove
that they acted under influence it was absolutely necessary that they
should be sequestered, it being most unjust that Mignon and Barre,
his mortal enemies, should have constant access to them and be able
to stay with them night and day, their doing so making the collusion
evident and undeniable; that the honour of God was involved, and also
that of the petitioner, who had some right to be respected, seeing
that he was first in rank among the ecclesiastics of the town.

Taking all this into consideration, he consequently prayed the
bailiff to be pleased to order that the nuns buffering from the so-
called possession should at once be separated from each other and
from their present associates, and placed under the control of
clerics assisted by physicians in whose impartiality the petitioner
could have confidence; and he further prayed that all this should be
performed in spite of any opposition or appeal whatsoever (but
without prejudice to the right of appeal), because of the importance
of the matter. And in case the bailiff were not pleased to order the
sequestration, the petitioner would enter a protest and complaint
against his refusal as a withholding of justice.

The bailiff wrote at the bottom of the petition that it would be at
once complied with.

After Urbain Grandier had departed, the physicians who had been
present at the exorcisms presented themselves before the bailiff,
bringing their report with them. In this report they said that they
had recognised convulsive movements of the mother superior's body,
but that one visit was not sufficient to enable them to make a
thorough diagnosis, as the movements above mentioned might arise as
well from a natural as from supernatural causes; they therefore
desired to be afforded opportunity for a thorough examination before
being called on to pronounce an opinion. To this end they required
permission to spend several days and nights uninterruptedly in the
same room with the patients, and to treat them in the presence of
other nuns and some of the magistrates. Further, they required that
all the food and medicine should pass through the doctors' hands, and
that no one, should touch the patients except quite openly, or speak
to them except in an audible voice. Under these conditions they
would undertake to find out the true cause of the convulsions and to
make a report of the same.

It being now nine o'clock in the morning, the hour when the exorcisms
began, the bailiff went over at once to the convent, and found Barre
half way through the mass, and the superior in convulsions. The
magistrate entered the church at the moment of the elevation of the
Host, and noticed among the kneeling Catholics a young man called
Dessentier standing up with his hat on. He ordered him either to
uncover or to go away. At this the convulsive movements of the
superior became more violent, and she cried out that there were
Huguenots in the church, which gave the demon great power over her.
Barre asked her how many there were present, and she replied, "Two,"
thus proving that the devil was no stronger in arithmetic than in
Latin; for besides Dessentier, Councillor Abraham Gauthier, one of
his brothers, four of his sisters, Rene Fourneau, a deputy, and an
attorney called Angevin, all of the Reformed faith, were present.

As Barre saw that those present were greatly struck, by this
numerical inaccuracy, he tried to turn their thoughts in another
direction by asking the superior if it were true that she knew no
Latin. On her replying that she did not know a single word, he held
the pyx before her and ordered her to swear by the holy sacrament.
She resisted at first, saying loud enough for those around her to

"My father, you make me take such solemn oaths that I fear God will
punish me."

To this Barre replied--

"My daughter, you must swear for the glory of God."

And she took the oath.

Just then one of the bystanders remarked that the mother superior was
in the habit of interpreting the Catechism to her scholars. This she
denied, but acknowledged that she used to translate the Paternoster
and the Creed for them. As the superior felt herself becoming
somewhat confused at this long series of embarrassing questions, she
decided on going into convulsions again, but with only moderate
success, for the bailiff insisted that the exorcists should ask her
where Grandier was at that very moment. Now, as the ritual teaches
that one of the proofs of possession is the faculty of telling, when
asked, where people are, without seeing them, and as the question was
propounded in the prescribed terms, she was bound to answer, so she
said that Grandier was in the great hall of the castle.

"That is not correct," said the bailiff, "for before coming here I
pointed out a house to Grandier and asked him to stay in it till I
came back. If anybody will go there, they will be sure to find him,
for he wished to help me to discover the truth without my being
obliged to resort to sequestration, which is a difficult measure to
take with regard to nuns."

Barre was now ordered to send some of the monks present to the
castle, accompanied by a magistrate and a clerk. Barre chose the
Carmelite prior, and the bailiff Charles Chauvet, assessor of the
bailiwick, Ismael Boulieau a priest, and Pierre Thibaut, an articled
clerk, who all set out at once to execute their commission, while the
rest of those present were to await their return.

Meanwhile the superior, who had not spoken a word since the bailiff's
declaration, remained, in spite of repeated exorcisms, dumb, so Barre
sent for Sister Claire, saying that one devil would encourage the
other. The bailiff entered a formal protest against this step,
insisting that the only result of a double exorcism would be to cause
confusion, during which suggestions might be conveyed to the
superior, and that the proper thing to do was, before beginning new
conjurations, to await the return of the messengers. Although the
bailiff's suggestion was most reasonable, Barre knew better than to
adopt it, for he felt that no matter what it cost he must either get
rid of the bailiff and all the other officials who shared his doubts,
or find means with the help of Sister Claire to delude them into
belief. The lay sister was therefore brought in, in spite of the
opposition of the bailiff and the other magistrates, and as they did
not wish to seem to countenance a fraud, they all withdrew, declaring
that they could no longer look on at such a disgusting comedy. In
the courtyard they met their messengers returning, who told them they
had gone first to the castle and had searched the great hall and all
the other rooms without seeing anything of Grandier; they had then
gone to the house mentioned by the bailiff, where they found him for
whom they were looking, in the company of Pere Veret, the confessor
of the nuns, Mathurin Rousseau, and Nicolas Benoit, canons, and
Conte, a doctor, from whom they learned that Grandier had not been an
instant out of their sight for the last two hours. This being all
the magistrates wanted to know, they went home, while their envoys
went upstairs and told their story, which produced the effect which
might be expected. Thereupon a Carmelite brother wishing to weaken
the impression, and thinking that the devil might be more lucky in
his, second guess than the first, asked the superior where Grandier
was just then. She answered without the slightest hesitation that he
was walking with the bailiff in the church of Sainte-Croix. A new
deputation was at once sent off, which finding the church empty, went
on to the palace, and saw the bailiff presiding at a court. He had
gone direct from the convent to the palace, and had not yet seen
Grandier. The same day the nuns sent word that they would not
consent to any more exorcisms being performed in the presence of the
bailiff and the officials who usually accompanied him, and that for
the future they were determined to answer no questions before such

Grandier learning of this piece of insolence, which prevented the
only man on whose impartiality he could reckon from being
henceforward present at the exorcisms, once more handed in a petition
to the bailiff, begging for the sequestration of the two nuns, no
matter at what risk. The bailiff, however, in the interests of the
petitioner himself, did not dare to grant this request, for he was
afraid that the ecclesiastical authorities would nullify his
procedure, on the ground that the convent was not under his

He, however, summoned a meeting of the principal inhabitants of the
town, in order to consult with them as to the best course to take for
the public good. The conclusion they arrived at was to write to the
attorney-general and to the Bishop of Poitiers, enclosing copies of
the reports which had been drawn up, and imploring them to use their
authority to put an end to these pernicious intrigues. This was
done, but the attorney-general replied that the matter being entirely
ecclesiastical the Parliament was not competent to take cognisance of
it. As for the bishop, he sent no answer at all.

He was not, however, so silent towards Grandier's enemies; for the
ill-success of the exorcisms of November 26th having made increased
precautions necessary, they considered it would be well to apply to
the bishop for a new commission, wherein he should appoint certain
ecclesiastics to represent him during the exorcisms to come. Barre
himself went to Poitiers to make this request. It was immediately
granted, and the bishop appointed Bazile, senior-canon of Champigny,
and Demorans, senior canon of Thouars, both of whom were related to
some of Grandier's adversaries. The following is a copy of the new

"Henri-Louis le Chataignier de la Rochepezai, by the divine will
Bishop of Poitiers, to the senior canons of the Chatelet de
Saint-Pierre de Thouars et de Champigny-sur-Vese, greeting:

"We by these presents command you to repair to the town of Loudun, to
the convent of the nuns of Sainte-Ursule, to be present at the
exorcisms which will be undertaken by Sieur Barre upon some nuns of
the said convent who are tormented by evil spirits, we having thereto
authorised the said Barre. You are also to draw up a report of all
that takes place, and for this purpose are to take any clerk you may
choose with you.

" Given and done at Poitiers, November 28th, 1632.

"(Signed) HENRI LOUIS, Bishop of Poitiers.
"(Countersigned) By order of the said Lord Bishop,

These two commissioners having been notified beforehand, went to
Loudun, where Marescot, one of the queen's chaplains, arrived at the
same time; for the pious queen, Anne of Austria, had heard so many
conflicting accounts of the possession of the Ursuline nuns, that she
desired, for her own edification, to get to the bottom of the affair.
We can judge what importance the case was beginning to assume by its
being already discussed at court.

In spite of the notice which had been sent them that the nuns would
not receive them, the bailiff and the civil lieutenant fearing that
the royal envoy would allow himself to be imposed on, and would draw
up an account which would cast doubt on the facts contained in their
reports, betook themselves to the convent on December 1st, the day on
which the exorcisms were to recommence, in the presence of the new
commissioners. They were accompanied by their assessor, by the
provost's lieutenant, and a clerk. They had to knock repeatedly
before anyone seemed to hear them, but at length a nun opened the
door and told them they could not enter, being suspected of bad
faith, as they had publicly declared that the possession was a fraud
and an imposture. The bailiff, without wasting his time arguing with
the sister, asked to see Barre, who soon appeared arrayed in his
priestly vestments, and surrounded by several persons, among whom was
the queen's chaplain. The bailiff complained that admittance had
been refused to him and those with him, although he had been
authorised to visit the convent by the Bishop of Poitiers. Barre'
replied that he would not hinder their coming in, as far as it
concerned him.

"We are here with the intention of entering," said the bailiff, "and
also for the purpose of requesting you to put one or two questions to
the demon which we have drawn up in terms which are in accordance
with what is prescribed in the ritual. I am sure you will not
refuse," he added, turning with a bow to Marescot, "to make this
experiment in the presence of the queen's chaplain, since by that
means all those suspicions of imposture can be removed which are
unfortunately so rife concerning this business."

"In that respect I shall do as I please, and not as you order me,"
was the insolent reply of the exorcist.

"It is, however, your duty to follow legal methods in your
procedure," returned the bailiff, "if you sincerely desire the truth;
for it would be an affront to God to perform a spurious miracle in
His honour, and a wrong to the Catholic faith, whose power is in its
truth, to attempt to give adventitious lustre to its doctrines by the
aid of fraud and deception."

"Sir," said Barre, "I am a man of honour, I know my duty and I shall
discharge it; but as to yourself, I must recall to your recollection
that the last time you were here you left the chapel in anger and
excitement, which is an attitude of mind most unbecoming in one whose
duty it is to administer justice."

Seeing that these recriminations would have no practical result, the
magistrates cut them short by reiterating their demand for
admittance; and on this being refused, they reminded the exorcists
that they were expressly prohibited from asking any questions tending
to cast a slur on the character of any person or persons whatever,
under pain of being treated as disturbers of the public peace. At
this warning Barre, saying that he did not acknowledge the bailiff's
jurisdiction, shut the door in the faces of the two magistrates.

As there was no time to lose if the machinations of his enemies were
to be brought to nought, the bailiff and the civil lieutenant advised
Grandier to write to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who had once already
extricated him from imminent danger, setting forth at length his
present predicament; this letter; accompanied by the reports drawn up
by the bailiff and the civil lieutenant, were sent off at once by a
trusty messenger to His Grace of Escoubleau de Sourdis. As soon as
he received the despatches, the worthy prelate seeing how grave was
the crisis, and that the slightest delay might be fatal to Grandier,
set out at once for his abbey of Saint-Jouinles-Marmes, the place in
which he had already vindicated in so striking a manner the upright
character of the poor persecuted priest by a fearless act of justice.

It is not difficult to realise what a blow his arrival was to those
who held a brief for the evil spirits in possession; hardly had he
reached Saint-Jouin than he sent his own physician to the convent
with orders to see the afflicted nuns and to test their condition, in
order to judge if the convulsions were real or simulated. The
physician arrived, armed with a letter from the archbishop, ordering
Mignon to permit the bearer to make a thorough examination into the
position of affairs. Mignon received the physician with all the
respect due to him who sent him, but expressed great regret that he
had not come a little sooner, as, thanks to his (Mignon's) exertions
and those of Barre, the devils had been exorcised the preceding day.
He nevertheless introduced the archbishop's envoy to the presence of
the superior and Sister Claire, whose demeanour was as calm as if
they had never been disturbed by any agitating' experiences.
Mignon's statement being thus confirmed, the doctor returned to
Saint-Jouin, the only thing to which he could bear testimony being
the tranquillity which reigned at the moment in the convent.

The imposture being now laid so completely bare, the archbishop was
convinced that the infamous persecutions to which it had led would
cease at once and for ever; but Grandier, better acquainted with the
character of his adversaries, arrived on the 27th of December at the
abbey and laid a petition at the archbishop's feet. In this document
he set forth that his enemies having formerly brought false and
slanderous accusations, against him of which, through the justice of
the archbishop, he had been able to clear himself, had employed
themselves during the last three months in inventing and publishing
as a fact that the petitioner had sent evil spirits into the bodies
of nuns in the Ursuline convent of Loudun, although he had never
spoken to any of the sisterhood there; that the guardianship of the
sisters who, it was alleged, were possessed, and the task of
exorcism, had been entrusted to Jean Mignon and Pierre Barre, who had
in the most unmistakable manner shown themselves to be the mortal
enemies of the petitioner; that in the reports drawn up by the said
Jean Mignon and Pierre Barre, which differed so widely from those
made by the bailiff and the civil lieutenant, it was boastfully
alleged that three or four times devils had been driven out, but that
they had succeeded in returning and taking possession of their
victims again and again, in virtue of successive pacts entered into
between the prince of darkness and the petitioner; that the aim of
these reports and allegations was to destroy the reputation of the
petitioner and excite public opinion against him; that although the
demons had been put to flight by the arrival of His Grace, yet it was
too probable that as soon as he was gone they would return to the
charge; that if, such being the case, the powerful support of the
archbishop were not available, the innocence of the petitioner, no
matter how strongly established, would by the cunning tactics of his
inveterate foes be obscured and denied: he, the petitioner, therefore
prayed that, should the foregoing reasons prove on examination to be
cogent, the archbishop would be pleased to prohibit Barre, Mignon,
and their partisans, whether among the secular or the regular clergy,
from taking part in any future exorcisms, should such be necessary,
or in the control of any persons alleged to be possessed;
furthermore, petitioner prayed that His Grace would be pleased to
appoint as a precautionary measure such other clerics and lay persons
as seemed to him suitable, to superintend the administration of food
and medicine and the rite of exorcism to those alleged to be
possessed, and that all the treatment should be carried out in the
presence of magistrates.

The archbishop accepted the petition, and wrote below it:

"The present petition having been seen by us and the opinion of our
attorney having been taken in the matter, we have sent the petitioner
in advance of our said attorney back to Poitiers, that justice may be
done him, and in the meantime we have appointed Sieur Barre, Pere
l'Escaye, a Jesuit residing in Poitiers, Pere Gaut of the Oratory,
residing at Tours, to conduct the exorcisms, should such be
necessary, and have given them an order to this effect.

"It is forbidden to all others to meddle with the said exorcisms, on
pain of being punished according to law."

It will be seen from the above that His Grace the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, in his enlightened and generous exercise of justice, had
foreseen and provided for every possible contingency; so that as soon
as his orders were made known to the exorcists the possession ceased
at once and completely, and was no longer even talked of. Barre
withdrew to Chinon, the senior canons rejoined their chapters, and
the nuns, happily rescued for the time, resumed their life of
retirement and tranquillity. The archbishop nevertheless urged on
Grandier the prudence of effecting an exchange of benefices, but he
replied that he would not at that moment change his simple living of
Loudun for a bishopric.


The exposure of the plot was most prejudicial to the prosperity of
the Ursuline community: spurious possession, far from bringing to
their convent an increase of subscriptions and enhancing their
reputation, as Mignon had promised, had ended for them in open shame,
while in private they suffered from straitened circumstances, for the
parents of their boarders hastened to withdraw their daughters from
the convent, and the nuns in losing their pupils lost their sole
source of income. Their, fall in the estimation of the public filled
them with despair, and it leaked out that they had had several
altercations with their director, during which they reproached him
for having, by making them commit such a great sin, overwhelmed them
with infamy and reduced them to misery, instead of securing for them
the great spiritual and temporal advantages he had promised them.
Mignon, although devoured by hate, was obliged to remain quiet, but
he was none the less as determined as ever to have revenge, and as he
was one of those men who never give up while a gleam of hope remains,
and whom no waiting can tire, he bided his time, avoiding notice,
apparently resigned to circumstances, but keeping his eyes fixed on
Grandier, ready to seize on the first chance of recovering possession
of the prey that had escaped his hands. And unluckily the chance
soon presented itself.

It was now 1633: Richelieu was at the height of his power, carrying
out his work of destruction, making castles fall before him where he
could not make heads fall, in the spirit of John Knox's words,
"Destroy the nests and the crows will disappear." Now one of these
nests was the crenellated castle of Loudun, and Richelieu had
therefore ordered its demolition.

The person appointed to carry out this order was a man such as those
whom Louis XI. had employed fifty years earlier to destroy the feudal
system, and Robespierre one hundred and fifty years later to destroy
the aristocracy. Every woodman needs an axe, every reaper a sickle,
and Richelieu found the instrument he required in de Laubardemont,
Councillor of State.

But he was an instrument full of intelligence, detecting by the
manner in which he was wielded the moving passion of the wielder, and
adapting his whole nature with marvellous dexterity to gratify that
passion according to the character of him whom it possessed; now by a
rough and ready impetuosity, now by a deliberate and hidden advance;
equally willing to strike with the sword or to poison by calumny, as
the man who moved him lusted for the blood or sought to accomplish
the dishonour of his victim.

M. de Laubardemont arrived at Loudun during the month of August 1633,
and in order to carry out his mission addressed himself to Sieur
Memin de Silly, prefect of the town, that old friend of the
cardinal's whom Mignon and Barre, as we have said, had impressed so
favourably. Memin saw in the arrival of Laubardemont a special
intimation that it was the will of Heaven that the seemingly lost
cause of those in whom he took such a warm interest should ultimately
triumph. He presented Mignon and all his friends to M. Laubardemont,
who received them with much cordiality. They talked of the mother
superior, who was a relation, as we have seen, of M. de Laubardemont,
and exaggerated the insult offered her by the decree of the
archbishop, saying it was an affront to the whole family; and before
long the one thing alone which occupied the thoughts of the
conspirators and the councillor was how best to draw down upon
Grandier the anger of the cardinal-duke. A way soon opened.

The Queen mother, Marie de Medici, had among her attendants a woman
called Hammon, to whom, having once had occasion to speak, she had
taken a fancy, and given a post near her person. In consequence of
this whim, Hammon came to be regarded as a person of some importance
in the queen's household. Hammon was a native of Loudun, and had
passed the greater part of her youth there with her own people, who
belonged to the lower classes. Grandier had been her confessor, and
she attended his church, and as she was lively and clever he enjoyed
talking to her, so that at length an intimacy sprang up between them.
It so happened at a time when he and the other ministers were in
momentary disgrace, that a satire full of biting wit and raillery
appeared, directed especially against the cardinal, and this satire
had been attributed to Hammon, who was known to share, as was
natural, her mistress's hatred of Richelieu. Protected as she was by
the queen's favour, the cardinal had found it impossible to punish
Hammon, but he still cherished a deep resentment against her.

It now occurred to the conspirators to accuse Grandier of being the
real author of the satire; and it was asserted that he had learned
from Hammon all the details of the cardinal's private life, the
knowledge of which gave so much point to the attack on him; if they
could once succeed in making Richelieu believe this, Grandier was

This plan being decided on, M. de Laubardemont was asked to visit the
convent, and the devils knowing what an important personage he was,
flocked thither to give him a worthy welcome. Accordingly, the nuns
had attacks of the most indescribably violent convulsions, and M. de
Laubardemont returned to Paris convinced as to the reality of their

The first word the councillor of state said to the cardinal about
Urbain Grandier showed him that he had taken useless trouble in
inventing the story about the satire, for by the bare mention of his
name he was able to arouse the cardinal's anger to any height he
wished. The fact was, that when Richelieu had been Prior of Coussay
he and Grandier had had a quarrel on a question of etiquette, the
latter as priest of Loudun having claimed precedence over the prior,
and carried his point. The cardinal had noted the affront in his
bloodstained tablets, and at the first hint de Laubardemont found him
as eager to bring about Grandier's ruin as was the councillor

De Laubardemont was at once granted the following commission:

"Sieur de Laubardemont, Councillor of State and Privy Councillor,
will betake himself to Loudun, and to whatever other places may be
necessary, to institute proceedings against Grandier on all the
charges formerly preferred against him, and on other facts which have
since come to light, touching the possession by evil spirits of the
Ursuline nuns of Loudun, and of other persons, who are said like wise
to be tormented of devils through the evil practices of the said
Grandier; he will diligently investigate everything from the
beginning that has any bearing either on the said possession or on
the exorcisms, and will forward to us his report thereon, and the
reports and other documents sent in by former commissioners and
delegates, and will be present at all future exorcisms, and take
proper steps to obtain evidence of the said facts, that they may be
clearly established; and, above all, will direct, institute, and
carry through the said proceedings against Grandier and all others
who have been involved with him in the said case, until definitive
sentence be passed; and in spite of any appeal or countercharge this
cause will not be delayed (but without prejudice to the right of
appeal in other causes), on account of the nature of the crimes, and
no regard will be paid to any request for postponement made by the
said Grandier. His majesty commands all governors, provincial
lieutenant-generals, bailiffs, seneschals, and other municipal
authorities, and all subjects whom it may concern, to give every
assistance in arresting and imprisoning all persons whom it may be
necessary to put under constraint, if they shall be required so to

Furnished with this order, which was equivalent to a condemnation, de
Laubardemont arrived at Laudun, the 5th of December, 1633, at nine
o'clock in the evening; and to avoid being seen he alighted in a
suburb at the house of one maitre Paul Aubin, king's usher, and son-
in-law of Memin de Silly. His arrival was kept so secret that
neither Grandier nor his friends knew of it, but Memin, Herve Menuau,
and Mignon were notified, and immediately called on him. De
Laubardemont received them, commission in hand, but broad as it was,
it did not seem to them sufficient, for it contained no order for
Grandier's arrest, and Grandier might fly. De Laubardemont, smiling
at the idea that he could be so much in fault, drew from his pocket
an order in duplicate, in case one copy should be lost, dated like
the commission, November 30th, signed LOUIS, and countersigned
PHILIPPEAUX. It was conceived in the following terms:

LOUIS, etc. etc.
"We have entrusted these presents to Sieur de Laubardemont, Privy
Councillor, to empower the said Sieur de Laubardemont to arrest
Grandier and his accomplices and imprison them in a secure place,
with orders to all provosts, marshals, and other officers, and to all
our subjects in general, to lend whatever assistance is necessary to
carry out above order; and they are commanded by these presents to
obey all orders given by the said Sieur; and all governors and
lieutenants-general are also hereby commanded to furnish the said
Sieur with whatever aid he may require at their hands."

This document being the completion of the other, it was immediately
resolved, in order to show that they had the royal authority at their
back, and as a preventive measure, to arrest Grandier at once,
without any preliminary investigation. They hoped by this step to
intimidate any official who might still be inclined to take
Grandier's part, and any witness who might be disposed to testify in
his favour. Accordingly, they immediately sent for Guillaume Aubin,
Sieur de Lagrange arid provost's lieutenant. De Laubardemont
communicated to him the commission of the cardinal and the order of
the king, and requested him to arrest Grandier early next morning.
M. de Lagrange could not deny the two signatures, and answered that
he would obey; but as he foresaw from their manner of going to work
that the proceedings about to be instituted would be an assassination
and not a fair trial, he sent, in spite of being a distant connection
of Memin, whose daughter was married to his (Lagrange's) brother, to
warn Grandier of the orders he had received. But Grandier with his
usual intrepidity, while thanking Lagrange for his generous message,
sent back word that, secure in his innocence and relying on the
justice of God, he was determined to stand his ground.

So Grandier remained, and his brother, who slept beside him, declared
that his sleep that night was as quiet as usual. The next morning he
rose, as was his habit, at six o'clock, took his breviary in his
hand, and went out with the intention of attending matins at the
church of Sainte-Croix. He had hardly put his foot over the
threshold before Lagrange, in the presence of Memin, Mignon, and the
other conspirators, who had come out to gloat over the sight,
arrested him in the name of the king. He was at once placed in the
custody of Jean Pouguet, an archer in His Majesty's guards, and of
the archers of the provosts of Loudun and Chinon, to be taken to the
castle at Angers. Meanwhile a search was instituted, and the royal
seal affixed to the doors of his apartments, to his presses, his
other articles of furniture-in fact, to every thing and place in the
house; but nothing was found that tended to compromise him, except an
essay against the celibacy of priests, and two sheets of paper
whereon were written in another hand than his, some love-poems in the
taste of that time.


For four months Grandier languished in prison, and, according to the
report of Michelon, commandant of Angers, and of Pierre Bacher, his
confessor, he was, during the whole period, a model of patience and
firmness, passing his days in reading good books or in writing
prayers and meditations, which were afterwards produced at his trial.
Meanwhile, in spite of the urgent appeals of Jeanne Esteye, mother of
the accused, who, although seventy years of age, seemed to recover
her youthful strength and activity in the desire to save her son,
Laubardemont continued the examination, which was finished on April
4th. Urbain was then brought back from Angers to Loudun.

An extraordinary cell had been prepared for him in a house belonging
to Mignon, and which had formerly been occupied by a sergeant named
Bontems, once clerk to Trinquant, who had been a witness for the
prosecution in the first trial. It was on the topmost story; the
windows had been walled up, leaving only one small slit open, and
even this opening was secured by enormous iron bars; and by an
exaggeration of caution the mouth of the fireplace was furnished with
a grating, lest the devils should arrive through the chimney to free
the sorcerer from his chains. Furthermore, two holes in the corners
of the room, so formed that they were unnoticeable from within,
allowed a constant watch to be kept over Grandier's movements by
Bontem's wife, a precaution by which they hoped to learn something
that would help them in the coming exorcisms. In this room, lying on
a little straw, and almost without light, Grandier wrote the
following letter to his mother:

"MY MOTHER,--I received your letter and everything you sent me except
the woollen stockings. I endure any affliction with patience, and
feel more pity for you than for myself. I am very much
inconvenienced for want of a bed; try and have mine brought to me,
for my mind will give way if my body has no rest: if you can, send me
a breviary, a Bible, and a St. Thomas for my consolation; and above
all, do not grieve for me. I trust that, God will bring my innocence
to light. Commend me to my brother and sister, and all our good
friends.--I am, mother, your dutiful son and servant,


While Grandier had been in prison at Angers the cases of possession
at the convent had miraculously multiplied, for it was no longer only
the superior and Sister Claire who had fallen a prey to the evil
spirits, but also several other sisters, who were divided into three
groups as follows, and separated:--

The superior, with Sisters Louise des Anges and Anne de Sainte-Agnes,
were sent to the house of Sieur Delaville, advocate, legal adviser to
the sisterhood; Sisters Claire and Catherine de la Presentation were
placed in the house of Canon Maurat; Sisters Elisabeth de la Croix,
Monique de Sainte-Marthe, Jeanne du Sainte-Esprit, and Seraphique
Archer were in a third house.

A general supervision was undertaken by Memin's sister, the wife of
Moussant, who was thus closely connected with two of the greatest
enemies of the accused, and to her Bontems' wife told all that the
superior needed to know about Grandier. Such was the manner of the

The choice of physicians was no less extraordinary. Instead of
calling in the most skilled practitioners of Angers, Tours, Poitiers,
or Saumur, all of them, except Daniel Roger of Loudun, came from the
surrounding villages, and were men of no education: one of them,
indeed, had failed to obtain either degree or licence, and had been
obliged to leave Saumur in consequence; another had been employed in
a small shop to take goods home, a position he had exchanged for the
more lucrative one of quack.

There was just as little sense of fairness and propriety shown in the
choice of the apothecary and surgeon. The apothecary, whose name was
Adam, was Mignon's first cousin, and had been one of the witnesses
for the prosecution at Grandier's first trial; and as on that
occasion--he had libelled a young girl of Loudun, he had been
sentenced by a decree of Parliament to make a public apology. And
yet, though his hatred of Grandier in consequence of this humiliation
was so well known,--perhaps for that very reason, it was to him the
duty of dispensing and administering the prescriptions was entrusted,
no one supervising the work even so far as to see that the proper
doses were given, or taking note whether for sedatives he did not
sometimes substitute stimulating and exciting drugs, capable of
producing real convulsions. The surgeon Mannouri was still more
unsuitable, for he was a nephew of Memin de Silly, and brother of the
nun who had offered the most determined opposition to Grandier's
demand for sequestration of the possessed sisters, during the second
series of exorcisms. In vain did the mother and brother of the
accused present petitions setting forth the incapacity of the doctors
and the hatred of Grandier professed by the apothecary; they could
not, even at their own expense, obtain certified copies of any of
these petitions, although they had witnesses ready to prove that Adam
had once in his ignorance dispensed crocus metallorum for crocus
mantis--a mistake which had caused the death of the patient for whom
the prescription was made up. In short, so determined were the
conspirators that this time Grandier should be done to death, that
they had not even the decency to conceal the infamous methods by
which they had arranged to attain this result.

The examination was carried on with vigour. As one of the first
formalities would be the identification of the accused, Grandier
published a memorial in which he recalled the case of Saint-
Anastasius at the Council of Tyre, who had been accused of immorality
by a fallen woman whom he had never seen before. When this woman
entered the hall of justice in order to swear to her deposition, a
priest named Timothy went up to her and began to talk to her as if he
were Anastasius; falling into the trap, she answered as if she
recognised him, and thus the innocence of the saint was shown forth.
Grandier therefore demanded that two or three persons of his own
height and complexion should be dressed exactly like himself, and
with him should be allowed to confront the nuns. As he had never
seen any of them, and was almost certain they had never seen him,
they would not be able, he felt sure, to point him out with
certainty, in spite of the allegations of undue intimacy with
themselves they brought against him. This demand showed such
conscious innocence that it was embarrassing to answer, so no notice
was taken of it.

Meanwhile the Bishop of Poitiers, who felt much elated at getting the
better of the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who of course was powerless
against an order issued by the cardinal-duke, took exception to Pere
l'Escaye and Pere Gaut, the exorcists appointed by his superior, and
named instead his own chaplain, who had been judge at Grandier's
first trial, and had passed sentence on him, and Pere Lactance, a
Franciscan monk. These two, making no secret of the side with which
they sympathised, put up on their arrival at Nicolas Moussant's, one
of Grandier's most bitter enemies; on the following day they went to
the superior's apartments and began their exorcisms. The first time
the superior opened her lips to reply, Pere Lactance perceived that
she knew almost no Latin, and consequently would not shine during the
exorcism, so he ordered her to answer in French, although he still
continued to exorcise her in Latin; and when someone was bold enough
to object, saying that the devil, according to the ritual, knew all
languages living and dead, and ought to reply in the same language in
which he was addressed, the father declared that the incongruity was
caused by the pact, and that moreover some devils were more ignorant
than peasants.

Following these exorcists, and two Carmelite monks, named Pierre de
Saint-Thomas and Pierre de Saint-Mathurin, who had, from the very
beginning, pushed their way in when anything was going on, came four
Capuchins sent by Pere Joseph, head of the Franciscans, "His grey
Eminence," as he was called, and whose names were Peres Luc,
Tranquille, Potais, and Elisee; so that a much more rapid advance
could be made than hitherto by carrying on the exorcisms in four
different places at once--viz., in the convent, and in the churches
of Sainte-Croix, Saint-Pierre du Martroy, and Notre-Dame du Chateau.
Very little of importance took place, however, on the first two
occasions, the 15th and 16th of April; for the declarations of the
doctors were most vague and indefinite, merely saying that the things
they had seen were supernatural, surpassing their knowledge and the
rules of medicine.

The ceremony of the 23rd April presented, however, some points of
interest. The superior, in reply to the interrogations of Pere
Lactance, stated that the demon had entered her body under the forms
of a cat, a dog, a stag, and a buck-goat.

"Quoties?" (How often?), inquired the exorcist.

"I didn't notice the day," replied the superior, mistaking the word
quoties for quando (when).

It was probably to revenge herself for this error that the superior
declared the same day that Grandier had on his body five marks made
by the devil, and that though his body was else insensible to pain,
he was vulnerable at those spots. Mannouri, the surgeon, was
therefore ordered to verify this assertion, and the day appointed for
the verification was the 26th.

In virtue of this mandate Mannouri presented himself early on that
day at Grandier's prison, caused him to be stripped naked and cleanly
shaven, then ordered him to be laid on a table and his eyes bandaged.
But the devil was wrong again: Grandier had only two marks, instead
of five--one on the shoulder-blade, and the other on the thigh.

Then took place one of the most abominable performances that can be
imagined. Mannouri held in his hand a probe, with a hollow handle,
into which the needle slipped when a spring was touched: when
Mannouri applied the probe to those parts of Grandier's body which,
according to the superior, were insensible, he touched the spring,
and the needle, while seeming to bury itself in the flesh, really
retreated into the handle, thus causing no pain; but when he touched
one of the marks said to be vulnerable, he left the needle fixed, and
drove it in to the depth of several inches. The first time he did
this it drew from poor Grandier, who was taken unprepared, such a
piercing cry that it was heard in the street by the crowd which had
gathered round the door. From the mark on the shoulder-blade with
which he had commenced, Mannouri passed to that on the thigh, but
though he plunged the needle in to its full depth Grandier uttered
neither cry nor groan, but went on quietly repeating a prayer, and
notwithstanding that Mannouri stabbed him twice more through each of
the two marks, he could draw nothing from his victim but prayers for
his tormentors.

M. de Laubardemont was present at this scene.

The next day the devil was addressed in such forcible terms that an
acknowledgment was wrung from him that Grandier's body bore, not
five, but two marks only; and also, to the vast admiration of the
spectators, he was able this time to indicate their precise

Unfortunately for the demon, a joke in which he indulged on this
occasion detracted from the effect of the above proof of cleverness.
Having been asked why he had refused to speak on the preceding
Saturday, he said he had not been at Loudun on that day, as the whole
morning he had been occupied in accompanying the soul of a certain Le
Proust, attorney to the Parliament of Paris, to hell. This answer
awoke such doubts in the breasts of some of the laymen present that
they took the trouble to examine the register of deaths, and found
that no one of the name of Le Proust, belonging to any profession
whatever, had died on that date. This discovery rendered the devil
less terrible, and perhaps less amusing.

Meantime the progress of the other exorcisms met with like
interruptions. Pere Pierre de Saint Thomas, who conducted the
operations in the Carmelite church, asked one of the possessed
sisters where Grandier's books of magic were; she replied that they
were kept at the house of a certain young girl, whose name she gave,
and who was the same to whom Adam had been forced to apologise. De
Laubardemont, Moussant, Herve, and Meunau hastened at once to the
house indicated, searched the rooms and the presses, opened the
chests and the wardrobes and all the secret places in the house, but
in vain. On their return to the church, they reproached the devil
for having deceived them, but he explained that a niece of the young
woman had removed the books. Upon this, they hurried to the niece's
dwelling, but unluckily she was not at home, having spent the whole
day at a certain church making her devotions, and when they went
thither, the priests and attendants averred that she had not gone out
all day; so notwithstanding the desire of the exorcists to oblige
Adam they were forced to let the matter drop.

These two false statements increased the number of unbelievers; but
it was announced that a most interesting performance would take place
on May 4th; indeed, the programme when issued was varied enough to
arouse general curiosity. Asmodeus was to raise the superior two
feet from the ground, and the fiends Eazas and Cerberus, in emulation
of their leader, would do as much for two other nuns; while a fourth
devil, named Beherit, would go farther still, and, greatly daring,
would attack M. de Laubardemont himself, and, having spirited his
councillor's cap from his head, would hold it suspended in the air
for the space of a Misereye. Furthermore, the exorcists announced
that six of the strongest men in the town would try to prevent the
contortions of the, weakest of the convulsed nuns, and would fail.

It need hardly be said that the prospect of such an entertainment
filled the church on the appointed day to overflowing. Pere Lactance
began by calling on Asmodeus to fulfil his promise of raising the
superior from the ground. She began, hereupon, to perform various
evolutions on her mattress, and at one moment it seemed as if she
were really suspended in the air; but one of the spectators lifted
her dress and showed that she was only standing on tiptoe, which,
though it might be clever, was not miraculous. Shouts of laughter
rent the air, which had such an intimidating effect on Eazas and
Cerberus that not all the adjurations of the exorcists could extract
the slightest response. Beherit was their last hope, and he replied
that he was prepared to lift up M. de Laubardemont's cap, and would
do so before the expiration of a quarter of an hour.

We must here remark that this time the exorcisms took place in the
evening, instead of in the morning as hitherto; and it was now
growing dark, and darkness is favourable to illusions. Several of
the unbelieving ones present, therefore, began to call attention to
the fact that the quarter of an hour's delay would necessitate the
employment of artificial light during the next scene. They also
noticed that M. de Laubardemont had seated himself apart and
immediately beneath one of the arches in the vaulted roof, through
which a hole had been drilled for the passage of the bell-rope. They
therefore slipped out of the church, and up into the belfry, where
they hid. In a few moments a man appeared who began to work at
something. They sprang on him and seized his wrists, and found in
one of his hands a thin line of horsehair, to one end of which a hook
was attached. The holder being frightened, dropped the line and
fled, and although M. de Laubardemont, the exorcists, and the
spectators waited, expecting every moment that the cap would rise
into the air, it remained quite firm on the owner's head, to the no
small confusion of Pere Lactance, who, all unwitting of the fiasco,
continued to adjure Beherit to keep his word--of course without the
least effect.

Altogether, this performance of May 4th, went anything but smoothly.
Till now no trick had succeeded; never before had the demons been
such bunglers. But the exorcists were sure that the last trick would
go off without a hitch. This was, that a nun, held by six men chosen
for their strength, would succeed in extricating herself from their
grasp, despite their utmost efforts. Two Carmelites and two
Capuchins went through the audience and selected six giants from
among the porters and messengers of the town.

This time the devil answered expectations by showing that if he was
not clever he was strong, for although the six men tried to hold her
down upon her mattress, the superior was seized with such terrible
convulsions that she escaped from their hands, throwing down one of
those who tried to detain her. This experiment, thrice renewed,
succeeded thrice, and belief seemed about to return to the assembly,
when a physician of Saumur named Duncan, suspecting trickery, entered
the choir, and, ordering the six men to retire, said he was going to
try and hold the superior down unaided, and if she escaped from his
hands he would make a public apology for his unbelief. M. de
Laubardemont tried to prevent this test, by objecting to Duncan as an
atheist, but as Duncan was greatly respected on account of his skill
and probity, there was such an outcry at this interference from the
entire audience that the commissioner was forced to let him have his
way. The six porters were therefore dismissed, but instead of
resuming their places among the spectators they left the church by
the sacristy, while Duncan approaching the bed on which the superior
had again lain down, seized her by the wrist, and making certain that
he had a firm hold, he told the exorcists to begin.

Never up to that time had it been so clearly shown that the conflict
going on was between public opinion and the private aims of a few. A
hush fell on the church; everyone stood motionless in silent

The moment Pere Lactance uttered the sacred words the convulsions of
the superior recommenced; but it seemed as if Duncan had more
strength than his six predecessors together, for twist and writhe and
struggle as she would, the superior's wrist remained none the less
firmly clasped in Duncan's hand. At length she fell back on her bed
exhausted, exclaiming!"

"It's no use, it's no use! He's holding me!"

Release her arm! "shouted Pere Lactance in a rage. "How can the
convulsions take place if you hold her that way?"

"If she is really possessed by a demon," answered Duncan aloud, "he
should be stronger than I; for it is stated in the ritual that among
the symptoms of possession is strength beyond one's years, beyond
one's condition, and beyond what is natural."

"That is badly argued," said Lactance sharply: "a demon outside the
body is indeed stronger than you, but when enclosed in a weak frame
such as this it cannot show such strength, for its efforts are
proportioned to the strength of the body it possesses."

"Enough!" said M. de Laubardemont; "we did not come here to argue
with philosophers, but to build up the faith of Christians."

With that he rose up from his chair amidst a terrible uproar, and the
assembly dispersed in the utmost disorder, as if they were leaving a
theatre rather than a church.

The ill success of this exhibition caused a cessation of events of
interest for some days. The result was that a great number of
noblemen and other people of quality who had come to Loudun expecting
to see wonders and had been shown only commonplace transparent
tricks, began to think it was not worth while remaining any longer,
and went their several ways--a defection much bewailed by Pere
Tranquille in a little work which he published on this affair.

"Many," he says, "came to see miracles at Loudun, but finding the
devils did not give them the signs they expected, they went away
dissatisfied, and swelled the numbers of the unbelieving."

It was determined, therefore, in order to keep the town full, to
predict some great event which would revive curiosity and increase
faith. Pere Lactance therefore announced that on the 20th of May
three of the seven devils dwelling in the superior would come out,
leaving three wounds in her left side, with corresponding holes in
her chemise, bodice, and dress. The three parting devils were
Asmodeus, Gresil des Trones, and Aman des Puissances. He added that
the superior's hands would be bound behind her back at the time the
wounds were given.

On the appointed day the church of Sainte-Croix was filled to
overflowing with sightseers curious to know if the devils would keep
their promises better this time than the last. Physicians were
invited to examine the superior's side and her clothes; and amongst
those who came forward was Duncan, whose presence guaranteed the
public against deception; but none of the exorcists ventured to
exclude him, despite the hatred in which they held him--a hatred
which they would have made him feel if he had not been under the
special protection of Marshal Breze. The physicians having completed
their examination, gave the following certificate:--

"We have found no wound in the patient's side, no rent in her
vestments, and our search revealed no sharp instrument hidden in the
folds of her dress."

These preliminaries having been got through, Pere Lactance questioned
her in French for nearly two hours, her answers being in the same
language. Then he passed from questions to adjurations: on this,
Duncan came forward, and said a promise had been given that the
superior's hands should be tied behind her back, in order that there
might be no room for suspicion of fraud, and that the moment had now
arrived to keep that promise. Pere Lactance admitted the justice of
the demand, but said as there were many present who had never seen
the superior in convulsions such as afflicted the possessed, it would
be only fair that she should be exorcised for their satisfaction
before binding her. Accordingly he began to repeat the form of
exorcism, and the superior was immediately attacked by frightful
convulsions, which in a few minutes produced complete exhaustion, so
that she fell on her face to the ground, and turning on her left arm
and side, remained motionless some instants, after which she uttered
a low cry, followed by a groan. The physicians approached her, and
Duncan seeing her take away her hand from her left side, seized her
arm, and found that the tips of her fingers were stained with blood.
They then examined her clothing and body, and found her dress,
bodice, and chemise cut through in three places, the cuts being less
than an inch long. There were also three scratches beneath the left
breast, so slight as to be scarcely more than skin deep, the middle
one being a barleycorn in length; still, from all three a sufficient
quantity of blood had oozed to stain the chemise above them.

This time the fraud was so glaring that even de Laubardemont
exhibited some signs of confusion because of the number and quality
of the spectators. He would not, however, allow the doctors to
include in their report their opinion as to the manner in which the
wounds were inflicted; but Grandier protested against this in a
Statement of Facts, which he drew up during the night, and which was
distributed next day.

It was as follows:

"That if the superior had not groaned the physicians would not have
removed her clothes, and would have suffered her to be bound, without
having the least idea that the wounds were already made; that then
the exorcists would have commanded the devils to come forth, leaving
the traces they had promised; that the superior would then have gone
through the most extraordinary contortions of which she was capable,
and have had a long fit of, convulsions, at the end of which she
would have been delivered from the three demons, and the wounds would
have been found in her body; that her groans, which had betrayed her,
had by God's will thwarted the best-laid plans of men and devils.
Why do you suppose," he went on to ask, "that clean incised wounds,
such as a sharp blade would make, 'were chosen for a token, seeing
that the wounds left by devils resemble burns? Was it not because it
was easier for the superior to conceal a lancet with which to wound
herself slightly, than to conceal any instrument sufficiently heated
to burn her? Why do you think the left side was chosen rather than
the forehead and nose, if not because she could not give herself a
wound in either of those places without being seen by all the
spectators? Why was the left side rather than the right chosen, if
it were not that it was easier for the superior to wound herself with
her right hand, which she habitually used, in the left side than in
the right? Why did she turn on her left side and arm and remain so
long in that position, if it were not to hide from the bystanders the
instrument with which she wounded herself? What do you think caused
her to groan, in spite of all her resolution, if it were not the pain
of the wound she gave herself? for the most courageous cannot repress
a shudder when the surgeon opens a vein. Why were her finger-tips
stained with blood, if it were not that the secreted blade was so
small that the fingers which held it could not escape being reddened
by the blood it caused to flow? How came it that the wounds were so
superficial that they barely went deeper than the cuticle, while
devils are known to rend and tear demoniacs when leaving them, if it
were not that the superior did not hate herself enough to inflict
deep and dangerous wounds?"

Despite this logical protest from Grandier and the barefaced knavery
of the exorcist, M. de Laubardemont prepared a report of the
expulsion of the three devils, Asmodeus, Gresil, and Aman, from the
body of sister Jeanne des Anges, through three wounds below the
region of the heart; a report which was afterwards shamelessly used
against Grandier, and of which the memorandum still exists, a
monument, not so much of credulity and superstition, as of hatred and
revenge. Pere Lactance, in order to allay the suspicions which the
pretended miracle had aroused among the eye-wittnesses, asked Balaam,
one of the four demons who still remained in the superior's body, the
following day, why Asmodeus and his two companions had gone out
against their promise, while the superior's face and hands were
hidden from the people.

"To lengthen the incredulity of certain people," answered Balaam.

As for Pere Tranquille, he published a little volume describing the
whole affair, in which, with the irresponsible frivolity of a true
Capuchin, he poked fun at those who could not swallow the miracles

"They had every reason to feel vexed," he said, "at the small
courtesy or civility shown by the demons to persons of their merit
and station; but if they had examined their consciences, perhaps they
would have found the real reason of their discontent, and, turning
their anger against themselves, would have done penance for having
come to the exorcisms led by a depraved moral sense and a prying

Nothing remarkable happened from the 20th May till the 13th June, a
day which became noteworthy by reason of the superior's vomiting a
quill a finger long. It was doubtless this last miracle which
brought the Bishop of Poitiers to Loudun, "not," as he said to those
who came to pay their respects to him, "to examine into the
genuineness of the possession, but to force those to believe who
still doubted, and to discover the classes which Urbain had founded
to teach the black art to pupils of both sexes."

Thereupon the opinion began to prevail among the people that it would
be prudent to believe in the possession, since the king, the
cardinal-duke, and the bishop believed in it, and that continued
doubt would lay them open to the charges of disloyalty to their king
and their Church, and of complicity in the crimes of Grandier, and
thus draw down upon them the ruthless punishment of Laubardemont.

"The reason we feel so certain that our work is pleasing to God is
that it is also pleasing to the king," wrote Pere Lactance.

The arrival of the bishop was followed by a new exorcism; and of this
an eye-witness, who was a good Catholic and a firm believer in
possession, has left us a written description, more interesting than
any we could give. We shall present it to our readers, word for
word, as it stands:--

"On Friday, 23rd June 1634, on the Eve of Saint John, about 3 p.m.,
the Lord Bishop of Poitiers and M. de Laubardemont being present in
the church of Sainte-Croix of Loudun, to continue the exorcisms of
the Ursuline nuns, by order of M, de Laubardemont, commissioner,
Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge, accused and denounced as a
magician by the said possessed nuns, was brought from his prison to
the said church.

"There were produced by the said commissioner to the said Urbain
Grandier four pacts mentioned several times by the said possessed
nuns at the preceding exorcisms, which the devils who possessed the
nuns declared they had made with the said Grandier on several
occasions: there was one in especial which Leviathan gave up on
Saturday the 17th inst., composed of an infant's heart procured at a
witches' sabbath, held in Orleans in 1631; the ashes of a consecrated
wafer, blood, etc., of the said Grandier, whereby Leviathan asserted
he had entered the body of the sister, Jeanne des Anges, the superior
of the said nuns, and took possession of her with his coadjutors
Beherit, Eazas, and Balaam, on December 8th, 1632. Another such pact
was composed of the pips of Grenada oranges, and was given up by
Asmodeus and a number of other devils. It had been made to hinder
Beherit from keeping his promise to lift the commissioner's hat two
inches from his head and to hold it there the length of a Miseyere,
as a sign that he had come out of the nun. On all these pacts being
shown to the said Grandier, he said, without astonishment, but with
much firmness and resolution, that he had no knowledge of them
whatever, that he had never made them, and had not the skill by which
to make them, that he had held no communication with devils, and knew
nothing of what they were talking about. A report of all this being
made and shown to him, he signed it.

"This done, they brought all the possessed nuns, to the number of
eleven or twelve, including three lay sisters, also possessed, into
the choir of the said church, accompanied by a great many monks,
Carmelites, Capuchins, and Franciscans; and by three physicians and a
surgeon. The sisters on entering made some wanton remarks, calling
Grandier their master, and exhibiting great delight at seeing him.

"Thereupon Pere Lactance and Gabriel, a Franciscan brother, and one
of the exorcists, exhorted all present with great fervour to lift up
their hearts to God and to make an act of contrition for the offences
committed against His divine majesty, and to pray that the number of
their sins might not be an obstacle to the fulfilment of the plans
which He in His providence had formed for the promotion of His glory
on that occasion, and to give outward proof of their heartfelt grief
by repeating the Confiteor as a preparation for the blessing of the
Lord Bishop of Poitiers. This having been done, he went on to say
that the matter in question was of such moment and so important in
its relation to the great truths of the Roman Catholic Church, that
this consideration alone ought to be sufficient to excite their
devotion; and furthermore, that the affliction of these poor sisters
was so peculiar and had lasted so long, that charity impelled all
those who had the right to work for their deliverance and the
expulsion of the devils, to employ the power entrusted to them with
their office in accomplishing so worthy a task by the forms of
exorcism prescribed by the Church to its ministers; then addressing
Grandier, he said that he having been anointed as a priest belonged
to this number, and that he ought to help with all his power and with
all his energy, if the bishop were pleased to allow him to do so, and
to remit his suspension from authority. The bishop having granted
permission, the Franciscan friar offered a stole to Grandier, who,
turning towards the prelate, asked him if he might take it. On
receiving a reply in the affirmative, he passed it round his neck,
and on being offered a copy of the ritual, he asked permission to
accept it as before, and received the bishop's blessing, prostrating
himself at his feet to kiss them; whereupon the Veni Creator Spiritus
having been sung, he rose, and addressing the bishop, asked--

"'My lord, whom am I to exorcise?'"

The said bishop having replied--

"'These maidens.'

" Grandier again asked--

"'What maidens?'

"'The possessed maidens,' was the answer.

"'That is to say, my lord,' said he; "that I am obliged to believe in
the fact of possession. The Church believes in it, therefore I too
believe; but I cannot believe that a sorcerer can cause a Christian
to be possessed unless the Christian consent.'

"Upon this, some of those present exclaimed that it was heretical to
profess such a belief; that the contrary was indubitable, believed by
the whole Church and approved by the Sorbonne. To which he replied
that his mind on that point was not yet irrevocably made up, that
what he had said was simply his own idea, and that in any case he
submitted to the opinion of the whole body of which he was only a
member; that nobody was declared a heretic for having doubts, but
only for persisting in them, and that what he had advanced was only
for the purpose of drawing an assurance from the bishop that in doing
what he was about to do he would not be abusing the authority of the
Church. Sister Catherine having been brought to him by the
Franciscan as the most ignorant of all the nuns, and the least open
to the suspicion of being acquainted with Latin, he began the
exorcism in the form prescribed by the ritual. But as soon as he
began to question her he was interrupted, for all the other nuns were
attacked by devils, and uttered strange and terrible noises. Amongst
the rest, Sister Claire came near, and reproached him for his
blindness and obstinacy, so that he was forced to leave the nun with
whom he had begun, and address his words to the said Sister Claire,
who during the entire duration of the exorcism continued to talk at
random, without paying any heed to Grandier's words, which were also
interrupted by the mother superior, to whom he of last gave
attention, leaving Sister Claire. But it is to be noted that before
beginning to exorcise the superior, he said, speaking in Latin as
heretofore, that knowing she understood Latin, he would question her
in Greek. To which the devil replied by the mouth of the possessed

"'Ah! how clever you are! You know it was one of the first
conditions of our pact that I was not to answer in Greek.'

"Upon this, he cried, 'O pulchra illusio, egregica evasio!'
( O superb fraud, outrageous evasion!)

"He was then told that he was permitted to exorcise in Greek,
provided he first wrote down what he wished to say, and the superior
hereupon said that he should be answered in what language he pleased;
but it was impossible, for as soon as he opened his mouth all the
nuns recommenced their shrieks and paroxysms, showing unexampled
despair, and giving way to convulsions, which in each patient assumed
a new form, and persisting in accusing Grandier of using magic and
the black art to torment them; offering to wring his neck if they
were allowed, and trying to outrage his feelings in every possible
way. But this being against the prohibitions of the Church, the
priests and monks present worked with the utmost zeal to calm the
frenzy which had seized on the nuns. Grandier meanwhile remained
calm and unmoved, gazing fixedly at the maniacs, protesting his
innocence, and praying to God for protection. Then addressing
himself to the bishop and M. de Laubardemont, he implored them by the
ecclesiastical and royal authority of which they were the ministers
to command these demons to wring his neck, or at least to put a mark
in his forehead, if he were guilty of the crime of which they accused
him, that the glory of God might be shown forth, the authority of the
Church vindicated, and himself brought to confusion, provided that
the nuns did not touch him with their hands. But to this the bishop
and the commissioner would not consent, because they did not want to
be responsible for what might happen to him, neither would they
expose the authority of the Church to the wiles of the devils, who
might have made some pact on that point with Grandier. Then the
exorcists, to the number of eight, having commanded the devils to be
silent and to cease their tumult, ordered a brazier to be brought,
and into this they threw the pacts one by one, whereupon the
convulsions returned with such awful violence and confused cries,
rising into frenzied shrieks, and accompanied by such horrible
contortions, that the scene might have been taken for an orgy of
witches, were it not for the sanctity of the place and the character
of those present, of whom Grandier, in outward seeming at least, was
the least amazed of any, although he had the most reason. The devils
continued their accusations, citing the places, the days, and the
hours of their intercourse with him; the first spell he cast on them,
his scandalous behaviour, his insensibility, his abjurations of God
and the faith. To all this he calmly returned that these accusations
were calumnies, and all the more unjust considering his profession;
that he renounced Satan and all his fiends, having neither knowledge
nor comprehension of them; that in spite of all he was a Christian,
and what was more, an anointed priest; that though he knew himself to
be a sinful man, yet his trust was in God and in His Christ; that he
had never indulged in such abominations, end that it would be
impossible to furnish any pertinent and convincing proof of his

"At this point no words could express what the senses perceived; eyes
and ears received an impression of being surrounded by furies such as
had never been gathered together before; and unless accustomed to
such ghastly scenes as those who sacrifice to demons, no one could
keep his mind free from astonishment and horror in the midst of such
a spectacle. Grandier alone remained unchanged through it all,
seemingly insensible to the monstrous exhibitions, singing hymns to
the Lord with the rest of the people, as confident as if he were
guarded by legions of angels. One of the demons cried out that
Beelzebub was standing between him and Pere Tranquille the Capuchin,
upon which Grandier said to the demon--

"'Obmutescas!' (Hold thy peace).

"Upon this the demon began to curse, and said that was their
watchword; but they could not hold their peace, because God was
infinitely powerful, and the powers of hell could not prevail against
Him. Thereupon they all struggled to get at Grandier, threatening to
tear him limb from limb, to point out his marks, to strangle him
although he was their master; whereupon he seized a chance to say he
was neither their master nor their servant, and that it was
incredible that they should in the same breath acknowledge him for
their master and express a desire to strangle him: on hearing this,
the frenzy of the nuns reached its height, and they kicked their
slippers into his face.

"'Just look!' said he; 'the shoes drop from the hoofs of their own

"At length, had it not been for the help and interposition of people
in the choir, the nuns in their frenzy would have taken the life of
the chief personage in this spectacle; so there was no choice but to
take him away from the church and the furies who threatened his life.
He was therefore brought back to prison about six o'clock in the
evening, and the rest of the day the exorcists were employed in
calming the poor sisters--a task of no small difficulty."

Everyone did not regard the possessed sisters with the indulgent eye
of the author of the above narrative, and many saw in this terrible
exhibition of hysteria and convulsions an infamous and sacrilegious
orgy, at which revenge ran riot. There was such difference of
opinion about it that it was considered necessary to publish the
following proclamation by means of placards on July 2nd:

"All persons, of whatever rank or profession, are hereby expressly
forbidden to traduce, or in any way malign, the nuns and other
persons at Loudun possessed by evil spirits; or their exorcists; or
those who accompany them either to the places appointed for exorcism
or elsewhere; in any form or manner whatever, on pain of a fine of
ten thousand livres, or a larger sum and corporal punishment should
the case so require; and in order that no one may plead ignorance
hereof, this proclamation will be read and published to-day from the
pulpits of all the churches, and copies affixed to the church doors
and in other suitable public places.

" Done at Loudun, July 2nd, 1634."

This order had great influence with worldly folk, and from that
moment, whether their belief was strengthened or not, they no longer
dared to express any incredulity. But in spite of that, the judges
were put to shame, for the nuns themselves began to repent; and on
the day following the impious scene above described, just as Pere
Lactanee began to exorcise Sister Claire in the castle chapel, she
rose, and turning towards the congregation, while tears ran down her
cheeks, said in a voice that could be heard by all present, that she
was going to speak the truth at last in the sight of Heaven.
Thereupon she confessed that all that she had said during the last
fortnight against Grandier was calumnious and false, and that all her
actions had been done at the instigation of the Franciscan Pere
Lactance, the director, Mignon, and the Carmelite brothers. Pere
Lactance, not in the least taken aback, declared that her confession
was a fresh wile of the devil to save her master Grandier. She then
made an urgent appeal to the bishop and to M. de Laubardemont, asking
to be sequestered and placed in charge of other priests than those
who had destroyed her soul, by making her bear false witness against
an innocent man; but they only laughed at the pranks the devil was
playing, and ordered her to be at once taken back to the house in
which she was then living. When she heard this order, she darted out
of the choir, trying to escape through the church door, imploring
those present to come to her assistance and save her from everlasting
damnation. But such terrible fruit had the proclamation borne that
noon dared respond, so she was recaptured and taken back to the house
in which she was sequestered, never to leave it again.


The next day a still more extraordinary scene took place. While M.
de Laubardemont was questioning one of the nuns, the superior came
down into the court, barefooted; in her chemise, and a cord round her
neck; and there she remained for two hours, in the midst of a fearful
storm, not shrinking before lightning, thunder, or rain, but waiting
till M. de Laubardemont and the other exorcists should come out. At
length the door opened and the royal commissioner appeared, whereupon
Sister Jeanne des Anges, throwing herself at his feet, declared she
had not sufficient strength to play the horrible part they had made
her learn any longer, and that before God and man she declared Urbain
Grandier innocent, saying that all the hatred which she and her
companions had felt against him arose from the baffled desires which
his comeliness awoke--desires which the seclusion of conventional
life made still more ardent. M. de Laubardemont threatened her with
the full weight of his displeasure, but she answered, weeping
bitterly, that all she now dreaded was her sin, for though the mercy
of the Saviour was great, she felt that the crime she had committed
could never be pardoned. M. de Laubardemont exclaimed that it was
the demon who dwelt in her who was speaking, but she replied that the
only demon by whom she had even been possessed was the spirit of
vengeance, and that it was indulgence in her own evil thoughts, and
not a pact with the devil, which had admitted him into her heart.

With these words she withdrew slowly, still weeping, and going into
the garden, attached one end of the cord round her neck to the branch
of a tree, and hanged herself. But some of the sisters who had
followed her cut her down before life was extinct.

The same day an order for her strict seclusion was issued for her as
for Sister Claire, and the circumstances that she was a relation of
M. de Laubardemont did not avail to lessen her punishment in view of
the gravity of her fault.

It was impossible to continue the exorcisms other nuns might be
tempted to follow the example, of the superior and Sister Claire, and
in that case all would be lost. And besides, was not Urbain Grandier
well and duly convicted? It was announced, therefore, that the
examination had proceeded far enough, and that the judges would
consider the evidence and deliver judgment.

This long succession of violent and irregular breaches of law
procedure, the repeated denials of his claim to justice, the refusal
to let his witnesses appear, or to listen to his defence, all
combined to convince Grandier that his ruin was determined on; for
the case had gone so far and had attained such publicity that it was
necessary either to punish him as a sorcerer and magician or to
render a royal commissioner, a bishop, an entire community of nuns,
several monks of various orders, many judges of high reputation, and
laymen of birth and standing, liable to the penalties incurred by
calumniators. But although, as this conviction grew, he confronted
it with resignation, his courage did not fail,--and holding it to be
his duty as a man and a Christian to defend his life and honour to
the end, he drew up and published another memorandum, headed Reasons
for Acquittal, and had copies laid before his judges. It was a
weighty and, impartial summing up of the whole case, such as a
stranger might have written, and began, with these words.

"I entreat you in all humility to consider deliberately and with
attention what the Psalmist says in Psalm 82, where he exhorts judges
to fulfil their charge with absolute rectitude; they being themselves
mere mortals who will one day have to appear before God, the
sovereign judge of the universe, to give an account of their
administration. The Lord's Anointed speaks to you to-day who are
sitting in judgment, and says--

"'God standeth in the congregation of the mighty: He judgeth among
the gods.

"'How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the

"'Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and

"'Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

"'I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most

"'But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.'"

But this appeal, although convincing and dignified, had no influence
upon the commission; and on the 18th of August the following verdict
and sentence was pronounced:--

"We have declared, and do hereby declare, Urbain Grandier duly
accused and convicted of the crimes of magic and witchcraft, and of
causing the persons of certain Ursuline nuns of this town and of
other females to become possessed of evil spirits, wherefrom other
crimes and offences have resulted. By way of reparation therefor, we
have sentenced, and do hereby sentence, the said Grandier to make
public apology, bareheaded, with a cord around his neck, holding a
lighted torch of two pounds weight in his hand, before the west door
of the church of Saint-Pierre in the Market Place and before--that of
Sainte-Ursule, both of this town, and there on bended knee to ask
pardon of God and the king and the law, and this done, to be taken to
the public square of Sainte-Croix and there to be attached to a
stake, set in the midst of a pile of wood, both of which to be
prepared there for this purpose, and to be burnt alive, along with

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