Part 7 out of 33
breath as the night fell."
In obedience to Cavalier's orders, the four criminals were taken and
brought before him. He was then with his troops near Saint-Maurice
de Casevielle; he called a council of war, and having had the
prisoners tried for their atrocious deed, he summed up the evidence
in as clear a manner as any lawyer could have done, and called upon
the judges to pronounce sentence. All the judges agreed that the
prisoners should be put to death, but just as the sentence was made
known one of the assassins pushed aside the two men who guarded him,
and jumping down a rock, disappeared in the forest before any attempt
could be made to stop him. The three others were shot.
The Catholics also condemned many to be executed, but the trials
conducted by then were far from being as remarkable for honour and
justice as was that which we have just described. We may instance
the trial of a poor boy of fourteen, the son of a miller of
Saint-Christol who had been broken the wheel just a month before.
For a moment the judges hesitated to condemn so young a boy to death,
but a witness presented himself who testified that the little fellow
was employed by the fanatics to strangle Catholic children. Although
no one believed the evidence, yet it was seized-on as a pretext: the
unfortunate boy was condemned to death, and hanged without mercy an
A great many people from the parishes devastated by M. de Julien had
taken refuge in Aussilargues, in the parish of St. Andre. Driven by
hunger and misery, they went beyond the prescribed limits in search
of means of subsistence. Planque hearing of this, in his burning
zeal for the Catholic faith resolved not to leave such a crime
unpunished. He despatched a detachment of soldiers to arrest the
culprits: the task was easy, for they were all once more inside the
barrier and in their beds. They were seized, brought to St. Andre's
Church and shut in; then, without trial of any kind,--they were
taken, five at a time, and massacred: some were shot and some cut
down with sword or axe; all were killed without exception--old and
young women and children. One of the latter, who had received three
shots was still able to raise his head and cry, "Where is father?
Why doesn't he come and take me away."
Four men and a young girl who had taken refuge in the town of
Lasalle, one of the places granted to the houseless villagers as an
asylum, asked and received formal permission from the captain of the
Soissonais regiment, by name Laplace, to go home on important private
business, on condition that they returned the same night. They
promised, and in the intention of keeping this promise they all met
on their way back at a small farmhouse. Just as they reached it a
terrible storm came on. The men were for continuing their way in
spite of the weather, but the young girl besought them to wait till
daylight, as she did not dare to venture out in the dark during such
a storm, and would die of fright if left alone at the farm. The men,
ashamed to desert their companion, who was related to one of them,
yielded to her entreaties and remained, hoping that the storm would
be a sufficient excuse for the delay. As soon as it was light, the
five resumed their journey. But the news of their crime had reached
the ears of Laplace before they got back. They were arrested, and
all their excuses were of no avail. Laplace ordered the men to be
taken outside the town and shot. The young girl was condemned to be
hanged; and the sentence was to be carried out that very day, but
some nuns who had been sent for to prepare her for death, having
vainly begged Laplace to show mercy, entreated the girl to declare
that she would soon become a mother. She indignantly refused to save
her life at the cost of her good name, so the nuns took the lie on
themselves and made the necessary declaration before the captain,
begging him if he had no pity for the mother to spare the child at
least, by granting a reprieve till it should be born. The captain
was/not for a moment deceived, but he sent for a midwife and ordered
her to examine the young girl. At the end of half an hour she
declared that the assertion of the nuns was true.
"Very well," said the captain: "let them both be kept in prison for
three months; if by the end of that time the truth of this assertion
is not self-evident, both shall be hanged." When this decision was
made known to the poor woman, she was overcome by fear, and asked to
see the, captain again, to whom she confessed that, led away by the
entreaties of the nuns, she had told a lie.
Upon this, the woman was sentenced to be publicly whipped, and the
young girl hanged on a gibbet round which were placed the corpses of
the four men of whose death she was the cause.
As may easily be supposed, the "Cadets of the Cross" vied with both
Catholics and Protestants in the work of destruction. One of their
bands devoted itself to destroying everything belonging to the new
converts from Beaucaire to Nimes. They killed a woman and two
children at Campuget, an old man of eighty at a farm near
Bouillargues, several persons at Cicure, a young girl at Caissargues,
a gardener at Nimes, and many other persons, besides carrying off all
the flocks, furniture, and other property they could lay hands on,
and burning down the farmhouses of Clairan, Loubes, Marine, Carlot,
Campoget Miraman, La Bergerie, and Larnac--all near St. Gilies and
Manduel. "They stopped travellers on the highways," says
Louvreloeil, "and by way of finding out whether they were Catholic or
not, made them say in Latin the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, the
Symbol of the Faith, and the General Confession, and those who were
unable to do this were put to the sword. In Dions nine corpses were
found supposed to have been killed by their hands, and when the body
of a shepherd who had been in the service of the Sieur de Roussiere,
a former minister, was found hanging to a tree, no one doubted who
were the murderers. At last they went so far that one of their bands
meeting the Abbe de Saint Gilles on the road, ordered him to deliver
up to them one of his servants, a new convert, in order to put him to
death. It was in vain that the abbe remonstrated with them, telling
them it was a shame to put such an affront on a man of his birth and
rank; they persisted none the less in their determination, till at
last the abbe threw his arms round his servant and presented his own
body to the blows directed at the other."
The author of The Troubles in the Cevennes relates something
surpassing all this which took place at Montelus on the 22nd February
"There were a few Protestants in the place," he says, "but they were
far outnumbered by the Catholics; these being roused by a Capuchin
from Bergerac, formed themselves into a body of 'Cadets of the
Cross,' and hastened to serve their apprenticeship to the work of
assassination at the cost of their countrymen. They therefore
entered the house of one Jean Bernoin, cut off his ears and further
mutilated him, and then bled him to death like a pig. On coming out
of this house they met Jacques Clas, and shot him in the abdomen, so
that his intestines obtruded; pushing them back, he reached his house
in a terrible condition, to the great alarm of his wife, who was near
her confinement, and her children, who hastened to the help of
husband and father. But the murderers appeared on the threshold,
and, unmoved by the cries and tears of the unfortunate wife and the
poor little children, they finished the wounded man, and as the wife
made an effort to prevent them, they murdered her also, treating her
dead body, when they discovered her condition, in a manner too
revolting for description; while a neighbour, called Marie Silliot,
who tried to rescue the children, was shot dead; but in her case they
did not pursue their vengeance any further. They then went into the
open country and meeting Pierre and Jean Bernard, uncle and nephew,
one aged forty-five and the other ten, seized on them both, and
putting a pistol into the hands of the child, forced him to shoot his
uncle. In the meantime the boy's father had come up, and him they
tried to constrain to shoot his son; but finding that no threats had
any effect, they ended by killing both, one by the sword, the other
by the bayonet.
"The reason why they put an end to father and son so quickly was that
they had noticed three young girls of Bagnols going towards a grove
of mulberry trees, where they were raising silk-worms. The men
followed them, and as it was broad daylight and the girls were
therefore not afraid, they soon came up with them. Having first
violated them, they hung them by the feet to a tree, and put them to
death in a horrible manner."
All this took place in the reign of Louis the Great, and for the
greater glory of the Catholic religion.
History has preserved the names of the five wretches who perpetrated
these crimes: they were Pierre Vigneau, Antoine Rey, Jean d'Hugon,
Guillaume, and Gontanille.
Such crimes, of which we have only described a few, inspired horror
in the breasts of those who were neither maddened by fanaticism nor
devoured by the desire of vengeance. One of these, a Protestant,
Baron d'Aygaliers, without stopping to consider what means he had at
his command or what measures were the best to take to accomplish his
object, resolved to devote his life to the pacification of the
Cevennes. The first thing to be considered was, that if the
Camisards were ever entirely destroyed by means of Catholic troops
directed by de Baville, de Julien, and de Montrevel, the Protestants,
and especially the Protestant nobles who had never borne arms, would
be regarded as cowards, who had been prevented by fear of death or
persecution from openly taking the part of the Huguenots: He was
therefore convinced that the only course to pursue was to get, his
co-religionists to put an end to the struggle themselves, as the one
way of pleasing His Majesty and of showing him how groundless were
the suspicions aroused in the minds of men by the Catholic clergy.
This plan presented, especially to Baron d'Aygaliers, two apparently
insurmountable difficulties, for it could only be carried out by
inducing the king to relax his rigorous measures and by inducing the
Camisards to submit. Now the baron had no connection with the court,
and was not personally acquainted with a single Huguenot chief.
The first thing necessary to enable the baron to begin his efforts
was a passport for Paris, and he felt sure that as he was a
Protestant neither M. de Baville nor M. de Montrevel would give him
one. A lucky accident, however, relieved his embarrassment and
strengthened his resolution, for he thought he saw in this accident
the hand of Providence.
Baron d'Aygaliers found one day at the house of a friend a M. de
Paratte, a colonel in the king's army, and who afterwards became
major-general, but who at the time we are speaking of was commandant
at Uzes. He was of a very impulsive disposition, and so zealous in
matters relating to the Catholic religion and in the service of the
king, that he never could find himself in the presence of a
Protestant without expressing his indignation at those who had taken
up arms against their prince, and also those who without taking up
arms encouraged the rebels in their designs. M. d'Aygaliers
understood that an allusion was meant to himself, and he resolved to
take advantage of it.
So the next day he paid a visit to M. de Paratte, and instead of
demanding satisfaction, as the latter quite expected, for the
rudeness of his remarks on the previous day, he professed himself
very much obliged for what he had said, which had made such a deep
impression on him that he had made up his mind to give proof of his
zeal and loyalty by going to Paris and petitioning the king for a
position at court. De Paratte, charmed with what he had heard, and
enchanted with his convert, embraced d'Aygaliers, and gave him, says
the chronicler, his blessing; and with the blessing a passport, and
wished him all the success that a father could wish for his son.
D'Aygaliers had now attained his object, and furnished with the lucky
safe-conduct, he set out for Paris, without having communicated his
intentions to anyone, not even to his mother.
On reaching Paris he put up at a friend's house, and drew up a
statement of his plan: it was very short and very clear.
"The undersigned has the honour to point out humbly to His Majesty:
"That the severities and the persecutions which have been employed by
some of the village priests have caused many people in the country
districts to take up arms, and that the suspicions which new converts
excited have driven a great many of them to join the insurgents. In
taking this step they were also impelled by the desire to avoid
imprisonment or removal from their homes, which were the remedies
chosen to keep them in the old faith. This being the case, he thinks
that the best means of putting an end to this state of things would
be to take measures exactly the contrary of those which produced it,
such as putting an end to the persecutions and permitting a certain
number of those of the Reformed religion to bear arms, that they
might go to the rebels and tell them that far from approving of their
actions the Protestants as a whole wished to bring them back to the
right way by setting them a good example, or to fight against them in
order to show the king and France, at the risk of their lives, that
they disapproved of the conduct of their co-religionists, and that
the priests had been in the wrong in writing to the court that all
those of the Reformed religion were in favour of revolt."
D'Aygaliers hoped that the court would adopt this plan; for if they
did, one of two things must happen: either the Camisards, by refusing
to accept the terms offered to them, would make themselves odious to
their brethren (for d'Aygaliers intended to take with him on his
mission of persuasion only men of high reputation among the
Reformers, who would be repelled by the Camisards if they refused to
submit), or else; by laying down their arms and submitting, they
would restore peace to the South of France, obtain liberty of
worship, set free their brethren from the prisons and galleys, and
come to the help of the king in his war against the allied powers, by
supplying him in a moment with a large body of disciplined troops
ready to take the field against his enemies; for not only would the
Camisards, if they were supplied with officers, be available for this
purpose, but also those troops which were at the moment employed in
hunting down the Camisards would be set free for this important duty.
This proposition was so clear and promised to produce such useful
results, that although the prejudice against the Reformers was very
strong, Baron d'Aygaliers found supporters who were at once
intelligent and genuine in the Duke de Chevreuse and the Duke de
Montfort, his son. These two gentlemen brought about a meeting
between the baron and Chamillard, and the latter presented him to the
Marechal de Villars, to whom he showed his petition, begging him to
bring it to the notice of the king; but M, de Villars, who was well
acquainted with the obstinacy of Louis, who, as Baron de Peken says,
"only saw the Reformers through the spectacles of Madame de
Maintenon," told d'Aygaliers that the last thing he should do would
be to give the king any hint of his plans, unless he wished to see
them come to nothing; on the contrary, he advised him to go at once
to Lyons and wait there for him, M. de Villars; for he would probably
be passing through that town in a few days, being almost certain to
be appointed governor of Languedoc in place of M. de Montrevel, who
had fallen under the king's displeasure and was about to be recalled.
In the course of the three interviews which d'Aygaliers had had with
M. de Villars, he had become convinced that de Villars was a man
capable of understanding his object; he therefore followed his
advice, as he believed his knowledge of the king to be correct, and
left Paris for Lyons.
The recall of M. de Montrevel had been brought about in the following
manner:--M. de Montrevel having just come to Uzes, learned that
Cavalier and his troops were in the neighbourhood of Sainte-Chatte;
he immediately sent M. de La Jonquiere, with six hundred picked
marines and some companies of dragoons from the regiment of Saint-
Sernin, but half an hour later, it having occurred to him that these
forces were not sufficient, he ordered M. de Foix, lieutenant of the
dragoons of Fimarqon, to join M. de La Jonquiere at Sainte-Chatte
with a hundred soldiers of his regiment, and to remain with him if he
were wanted; if not, to return the same night.
M. de Foix gave the necessary orders, chose a hundred of his bravest
men, put himself at their head, and joined M. de La Jonquiere,
showing him his orders; but the latter, confiding in the courage of
his soldiers and unwilling to share with anyone the glory of a
victory of which he felt assured, not only sent away M. de Foix, but
begged him to go back to Uzes, declaring to him that he had enough
troops to fight and conquer all the Camisards whom he might
encounter; consequently the hundred dragoons whom the lieutenant had
brought with him were quite useless at Sainte-Chatte, while on the
contrary they might be very necessary somewhere else. M. de Foix did
not consider that it was his duty to insist on remaining under these
circumstances, and returned to Uzes, while M. de La Jonquiere
continued his route in order to pass the night at Moussac. Cavalier
left the town by one gate just as M. de La Jonquiere entered at the
other. The wishes of the young Catholic commander were thus in a
fair way to be fulfilled, for in all probability he would come up
with his enemy the next day.
As the village was inhabited for the most part by new converts, the
night instead of being spent in repose was devoted to pillage.
The next day the Catholic troops reached Moussac, which they found
deserted, so they went on to Lascours-de-Gravier, a little village
belonging to the barony of Boucairan, which M. de La Jonquiere gave
up to pillage, and where he had four Protestants shot--a man, a
woman, and two young girls. He then resumed his route. As it had
rained, he soon came on the trail of the Camisards, the terrible game
which he was hunting down. For three hours he occupied himself in
this pursuit, marching at the head of his troops, lest someone else
less careful than he should make some mistake, when, suddenly raising
his eyes, he perceived the Camisards on a small eminence called Les
Devois de Maraignargues. This was the spot they had chosen to await
attack in, being eager for the approaching combat.
As soon as Cavalier saw the royals advancing, he ordered his men,
according to custom, to offer up prayers to God, and when these were
finished he disposed his troops for battle. His plan was to take up
position with the greater part of his men on the other side of a
ravine, which would thus form a kind of moat between him and the
king's soldiers; he also ordered about thirty horsemen to make a
great round, thus reaching unseen a little wood about two hundred
yards to his left, where they could conceal themselves; and lastly,
he sent to a point on the right sixty foot-soldiers chosen from his
best marksmen, whom he ordered not to fire until the royal forces
were engaged in the struggle with him.
M. de La Jonquiere having approached to within a certain distance,
halted, and sent one of his lieutenants named de Sainte-Chatte to
make a reconnaissance, which he did, advancing beyond the men in
ambush, who gave no sign of their existence, while the officer
quietly examined the ground. But Sainte-Chatte was an old soldier of
fortune and not easily taken in, so on his return, while explaining
the plan of the ground chosen by Cavalier for the disposition of his
troops to M. de La Jonquiere, he added that he should be very much
astonished if the young Camisard had not employed the little wood on
his left and the lie of the ground on his right as cover for soldiers
in ambush; but M. de La Jonquiere returned that the only thing of
importance was to know the position of the principal body of troops
in order to attack it at once. Sainte-Chatte told him that the
principal body was that which was before his eyes, and that on this
subject there could be no mistake; for he had approached near enough
to recognise Cavalier himself in the front rank.
This was enough for M. de La Jonquiere: he put himself at the head of
his men and rode straight to the ravine, beyond which Cavalier and
his comrades awaited him in order of battle. Having got within a
pistol-shot, M. de La Jonquiere gave the order to fire, but he was so
near that Cavalier heard the words and saw the motion made by the men
as they made ready; he therefore gave a rapid sign to his men, who
threw themselves on their faces, as did their leader, and the bullets
passed over them without doing any harm M.M. de La Jonquiere, who
believed them all dead, was astonished when Cavalier and his
Camisards rose up and rushed upon the royal troops, advancing to the
sound of a psalm. At a distance of ten paces they fired, and then
charged the enemy at the point of the bayonet. At this moment the
sixty men in ambush to the right opened fire, while the thirty
horsemen to the left, uttering loud shouts, charged at a gallop.
Hearing this noise, and seeing death approach them in three different
directions, the royals believed themselves surrounded, and did not
attempt to make a stand; the men, throwing away their weapons, took
to their heels, the officers alone and a few dragoons whom they had
succeeded in rallying making a desperate resistance.
Cavalier was riding over the field of battle, sabring all the
fugitives whom he met, when he caught sight of a group, composed of
ten naval officers; standing close together and back to back,
spontoon in hand, facing the Camisards, who surrounded them. He
spurred up to them, passing through the ranks of his soldiers, and
not pausing till he was within fifteen paces of them, although they
raised their weapons to fire. Then making a sign with his hand that
he wished to speak to them, he said, "Gentlemen, surrender. I shall
give quarter, and in return for the ten lives I now spare you, will
ask that my father, who is in prison at Nimes, be released."
For sole answer, one of the officers fired and wounded the young
chief's horse in the head. Cavalier drew a pistol from his belt,
took aim at the officer and killed him, then turning again to the
others, he asked, "Gentlemen, are you as obstinate as your comrade,
or do you accept my offer? "A second shot was the reply, and a
bullet grazed his shoulder. Seeing that no other answer was to be
hoped for, Cavalier turned to his soldiers. "Do your duty," said he,
and withdrew, to avoid seeing the massacre. The nine officers were
M. de La Jonquiere, who had received a slight wound in the cheek,
abandoned his horse in order to climb over a wall. On the other side
he made a dragoon dismount and give him his horse, on which he
crossed the river Gardon, leaving behind him on the battlefield
twenty-five officers and six hundred soldiers killed. This defeat
was doubly disastrous to the royal cause, depriving it of the flower
of its officers, almost all of those who fell belonging to the
noblest families of France, and also because the Camisards gained
what they so badly needed, muskets, swords, and bayonets in great
quantities, as well as eighty horses, these latter enabling Cavalier
to complete the organisation of a magnificent troop of cavalry.
The recall of the Marechal de Montrevel was the consequence of this
defeat, and M. de Villars, as he had anticipated, was appointed in
his place. But before giving up his governorship Montrevel resolved
to efface the memory of the check which his lieutenant's
foolhardiness had caused, but for which, according to the rules of
war, the general had to pay the penalty. His plan was by spreading
false rumours and making feigned marches to draw the Camisards into a
trap in which they, in their turn, would be caught. This was the
less difficult to accomplish as their latest great victory had made
Cavalier over confident both in himself and his men.
In fact, since the incident connected with the naval officers the
troops of Cavalier had increased enormously in numbers, everyone
desiring to serve under so brave a chief, so that he had now under
him over one thousand infantry and two hundred cavalry; they were
furnished, besides, just like regular troops, with a bugler for the
cavalry, and eight drums and a fife for the infantry.
The marechal felt sure that his departure would be the signal for
some expedition into the level country under Cavalier, so it was
given out that he had left for Montpellier, and had sent forward some
of his baggage-waggons to that place. On April 15th he was informed
that Cavalier, deceived by the false news, had set out on the 16th
April, intending to pass the night at Caveyrac, a small town about a
league from Nimes, that he might be ready next day to make a descent
on La Vannage. This news was brought to M. de Montrevel by a village
priest called Verrien, who had in his pay vigilant and faithful spies
in whom he had every confidence.
Montrevel accordingly ordered the commandant of Lunel, M. de
Grandval, to set out the next day, very early in the morning, with
the Charolais regiment and five companies of the Fimarcon and Saint-
Sernin dragoons, and to repair to the heights of Boissieres, where
instructions would await him. Sandricourt, governor of Nimes, was at
the same time directed to withdraw as many men as possible from the
garrison, both Swiss and dragoons, and send them by night towards
Saint-Come and Clarensac; lastly, he himself set out, as he had said,
but instead of going on to Montpellier, he stopped at Sommieres,
whence he could observe the movements of Cavalier.
Cavalier, as M. de Montrevel already knew, was to sleep on the 15th
at Caveyrac. On this day Cavalier reached the turning-point in his
magnificent career. As he entered the town with his soldiers, drums
beating and flags flying, he was at the zenith of his power. He rode
the splendid horse M. de La Jonquiere had abandoned in his flight;
behind him, serving as page, rode his young brother, aged ten,
followed by four grooms; he was preceded by twelve guards dressed in
red; and as his colleague Roland had taken the title of Comte, he
allowed himself to be called Duke of the Cevennes.
At his approach half of the garrison, which was commanded by M. de
Maillan, took possession of the church and half of the citadel; but
as Cavalier was more bent on obtaining food and rest for his soldiers
than of disturbing the town, he billeted his men on the townspeople,
and placed sentinels at the church and fortress, who exchanged shots
all the night through with the royal troops. The next morning,
having destroyed the fortifications, he marched out of the town
again, drums beating and flags flying as before. When almost in
sight of Nimes he made his troops, which had never before been so
numerous or so brilliant, perform a great many evolutions, and then
continued his way towards Nages.
M. de Montrevel received a report at nine o'clock in the morning of
the direction Cavalier and his troops had taken, and immediately left
Sommieres, followed by six companies of Fimarqon dragoons, one
hundred Irish free-lances, three hundred rank and file of the
Hainault regiment, and one company each of the Soissonnais,
Charolais, and Menon regiments, forming in all a corps over nine
hundred strong. They took the direction of Vaunages, above
Clarensac; but suddenly hearing the rattle of musketry behind them,
they wheeled and made for Langlade.
They found that Grandval had already encountered the Camisards.
These being fatigued had withdrawn into a hollow between Boissieres
and the windmill at Langlade, in order to rest. The infantry lay
down, their arms beside them; the cavalry placed themselves at the
feet of their horses, the bridle on arm. Cavalier himself, Cavalier
the indefatigable, broken by the fatigues of the preceding days, had
fallen asleep, with his young brother watching beside him. Suddenly
he felt himself shaken by the arm, and rousing up, he heard on all
sides cries of "Kill! Kill!" and "To arms! To arms!" Grandval and
his men, who had been sent to find out where the Camisards were, had
suddenly come upon them.
The infantry formed, the cavalry sprang to their saddles, Cavalier
leaped on his horse, and drawing his sword, led his soldiers as usual
against the dragoons, and these, as was also usual, ran away, leaving
twelve of their number dead on the field. The Camisard cavalry soon
gave up the pursuit, as they found themselves widely separated from
the infantry and from their leader; for Cavalier had been unable to
keep up with them, his horse having received a bullet through its
Still they followed the flying dragoons for a good hour, from time to
time a wounded dragoon falling from his horse, till at last the
Camisard cavalry found itself confronted by the Charolais regiment,
drawn up in battle array, and behind them the royal dragoons, who had
taken refuge there, and were re-forming.
Carried on by the rapidity of their course, the Camisards could not
pull up till they were within a hundred yards of the enemy; they
fired once, killing several, then turned round and retreated.
When a third of the way, back had been covered, they met their chief,
who had found a fresh horse by the wayside standing beside its dead
master. He arrived at full gallop, as he was anxious to unite his
cavalry and infantry at once, as he had seen the forces of the
marechal advancing, who, as we have already said, had turned in the
direction of the firing. Hardly had Cavalier effected the desired
junction of his forces than he perceived that his retreat was cut
off. He had the royal troops both before and behind him.
The young chief saw that a desperate dash to right or left was all
that remained to him, and not knowing this country as well as the
Cevennes, he asked a peasant the way from Soudorgues to Nages, that
being the only one by which he could escape. There was no time to
inquire whether the peasant was Catholic or Protestant; he could only
trust to chance, and follow the road indicated. But a few yards from
the spot where the road from Doudorgues to Nages joins the road to
Nimes he found himself in face of Marechal Montrevel's troops under
the command of Menon. However, as they hardly outnumbered the
Camisards, these did not stop to look for another route, but bending
forward in their saddles, they dashed through the lines at full
gallop, taking the direction of Nages, hoping to reach the plain
round Calvisson. But the village, the approaches, the issues were
all occupied by royal troops, and at the same time Grandval and the
marechal joined forces, while Menon collected his men together and
pushed forward. Cavalier was completely surrounded: he gave the
situation a comprehensive glance--his foes, were five to one.
Rising in his stirrups, so that he could see over every head,
Cavalier shouted so loud that not only his own men heard but also
those of the enemy: "My children, if our hearts fail us now, we
shall be taken and broken on the wheel. There is only one means of
safety: we must cut our way at full gallop through these people.
Follow me, and keep close order!"
So speaking, he dashed on the nearest group, followed by all his men,
who formed a compact mass; round which the three corps of royal
troops closed. Then there was everywhere a hand-to-hand battle there
was no time to load and fire; swords flashed and fell, bayonets
stabbed, the royals and the Camisards took each other by the throat
and hair. For an hour this demoniac fight lasted, during which
Cavalier lost five hundred men and slew a thousand of the enemy. At
last he won through, followed by about two hundred of his troops, and
drew a long breath; but finding himself in the centre of a large
circle of soldiers, he made for a bridge, where alone it seemed
possible to break through, it being only guarded by a hundred
He divided his men into two divisions, one to force the bridge, the
other to cover the retreat. Then he faced his foes like a wild boar
driven to bay.
Suddenly loud shouts behind him announced that the bridge was forced;
but the Camisards, instead of keeping the passage open for their
leader, scattered over the plain and sought safety in flight. But
a child threw himself before them, pistol in hand. It was Cavalier's
young brother, mounted on one of the small wild horses of Camargues
of that Arab breed which was introduced into Languedoc by the Moors
from Spain. Carrying a sword and carbine proportioned to his size,
the boy addressed the flying men. "Where are you going?" he cried,
"Instead of running away like cowards, line the river banks and
oppose the enemy to facilitate my brother's escape." Ashamed of
having deserved such reproaches, the Camisards stopped, rallied,
lined the banks of the river, and by keeping up a steady fire,
covered Cavalier's retreat, who crossed without having received a
single wound, though his horse was riddled with bullets and he had
been forced to change his sword three times.
Still the combat raged; but gradually Cavalier managed to retreat: a
plain cut by trenches, the falling darkness, a wood which afforded
cover, all combined to help him at last. Still his rearguard,
harassed by the enemy, dotted the ground it passed over with its
dead, until at last both victors and vanquished were swallowed up by
night. The fight had lasted ten hours, Cavalier had lost more than
five hundred men, and the royals about a thousand.
"Cavalier," says M. de Villars, in his Memoirs, "acted on this day in
a way which astonished everyone. For who could help being astonished
to see a nobody, inexperienced in the art of warfare, bear himself in
such difficult and trying circumstances like some great general? At
one period of the day he was followed everywhere by a dragoon;
Cavalier shot at him and killed his horse. The dragoon returned the
shot, but missed. Cavalier had two horses killed under him; the
first time he caught a dragoon's horse, the second time he made one
of his own men dismount and go on foot."
M. de Montrevel also showed himself to be a gallant soldier; wherever
there was danger there was he, encouraging officers and soldiers by
his example: one Irish captain was killed at his side, another
fatally wounded, and a third slightly hurt. Grandval, on his part,
had performed miracles: his horse was shot under him, and M. de
Montrevel replaced it by one of great value, on which he joined in
the pursuit of the Camisards. After this affair M, de Montrevel gave
up his place to M. de Villars, leaving word for Cavalier that it was
thus he took leave of his friends.
Although Cavalier came out of this battle with honour, compelling
even his enemies to regard him as a man worthy of their steel, it had
nevertheless destroyed the best part of his hopes. He made a
halt-near Pierredon to gather together the remnant of his troops, and
truly it was but a remnant which remained. Of those who came back
the greater number were without weapons, for they had thrown them
away in their flight. Many were incapacitated for service by their
wounds; and lastly, the cavalry could hardly be said to exist any
longer, as the few men who survived had been obliged to abandon their
horses, in order to get across the high ditches which were their only
cover from the dragoons during the flight.
Meantime the royalists were very active, and Cavalier felt that it
would be imprudent to remain long at Pierredon, so setting out during
the night, and crossing the Gardon, he buried himself in the forest
of Hieuzet, whither he hoped his enemies would not venture to follow
him. And in fact the first two days were quiet, and his troops
benefited greatly by the rest, especially as they were able to draw
stores of all kinds--wheat, hay, arms, and ammunition--from an
immense cave which the Camisards had used for a long time as a
magazine and arsenal. Cavalier now also employed it as a hospital,
and had the wounded carried there, that their wounds might receive
Unfortunately, Cavalier was soon obliged to quit the forest, in spite
of his hopes of being left in peace; for one day on his way back from
a visit to the wounded in the cave, whose existence was a secret, he
came across a hundred miquelets who had penetrated thus far, and who
would have taken him prisoner if he had not, with his, accustomed
presence of mind and courage, sprung from a rock twenty feet high.
The miquelets fired at him, but no bullet reached him. Cavalier
rejoined his troops, but fearing to attract the rest of the royalists
to the place,--retreated to some distance from the cave, as it was of
the utmost importance that it should not be discovered, since it
contained all his resources.
Cavalier had now reached one of those moments when Fortune, tired of
conferring favours, turns her back on the favourite. The royalists
had often noticed an old woman from the village of Hieuzet going
towards the forest, sometimes carrying a basket in her hand,
sometimes with a hamper on her head, and it occurred to them that she
was supplying the hidden Camisards with provisions. She was arrested
and brought before General Lalande, who began his examination by
threatening that he would have her hanged if she did not at once
declare the object of her frequent journeys to the forest without
reserve. At first she made use of all kinds of pretexts, which only
strengthened the suspicions of Lalande, who, ceasing his questions,
ordered her to be taken to the gallows and hanged. The old woman
walked to the place of execution with such a firm step that the
general began to think he would get no information from her, but at
the foot of the ladder her courage failed. She asked to be taken
back before the general, and having been promised her life, she
M. de Lalande put himself at once at the head of a strong detachment
of miquelets, and forced the woman to walk before them till they
reached the cavern, which they never would have discovered without a
guide, so cleverly was the entrance hidden by rocks and brushwood.
On entering, the first thing that met their eye was the wounded,
about thirty in number. The miquelets threw themselves upon them and
slaughtered them. This deed accomplished, they went farther into the
cave, which to their great surprise contained a thousand things they
never expected to find there--heaps of grain, sacks of flour, barrels
of wine, casks of brandy, quantities of chestnuts and potatoes; and
besides all this, chests containing ointments, drugs and lint, and
lastly a complete arsenal of muskets, swords, and bayonets, a
quantity of powder ready-made, and sulphur, saltpetre, and
charcoal-in short, everything necessary for the manufacture of more,
down to small mills to be turned by hand. Lalande kept his word: the
life of an old woman was not too much to give in return for such a
Meantime M. de Villars, as he had promised, took up Baron d'Aygaliers
in passing through Lyons, so that during the rest of the journey the
peacemaker had plenty of time to expatiate on his plans. As M. de
Villars was a man of tact and a lover of justice, and desired above
all things to bring a right spirit to bear on the performance of the
duties of his new office, in which his two predecessors had failed,
he promised the baron "to keep," as he expressed himself, his "two
ears open" and listen to both sides, and as a first proof of
impartiality--he refused to give any opinion until he had heard M, de
Julien, who was coming to meet him at Tournon.
When they arrived at Tournon, M. de Julien was there to receive them,
and had a very different story to tell from that which M. de Villars
had heard from d'Aygaliers. According to him, the only pacific
ration possible was the complete extermination of the Camisards. He
felt himself very hardly treated in that he had been allowed to
destroy only four hundred villages and hamlets in the Upper Cevennes,
--assuring de Villars with the confidence of a man who had studied
the matter profoundly, that they should all have been demolished
without exception, and all the peasants killed to the last man.
So it came to pass that M. de Villars arrived at Beaucaire placed
like Don Juan between the spirits of good and evil, the one advising
clemency and the other murder. M. de Villars not being able to make
up his mind, on reaching Nimes, d'Aygaliers assembled the principal
Protestants of the town, told them of his plan, showing them its
practicability, so that also joined in the good work, and drew up a
document in which they asked the marechal to allow them to take up
arms and march against the rebels, as they were determined either to
bring them back into the good way by force of example or to fight
them as a proof of their loyalty.
This petition, which was signed by several nobles and by almost all
the lawyers and merchants of the city of Nimes, was presented to M.
de Villars on Tuesday, 22nd April, 1704, by M. de Albenas, at the
head of seven or eight hundred persons of the Reformed religion.
M. de Villars received the request kindly, thanked its bearer and
those who accompanied him, assuring them that he had no doubt of the
sincerity of their professions, and that if he were in want of help
he would have recourse to them with as much confidence as if they
were old Catholics. He hoped, however, to win the rebels back by
mildness, and he begged them to second his efforts in this direction
by spreading abroad the fact that an amnesty was offered to all those
who would lay down arms and return to their houses within a week.
The very next day but one, M. de Villars set out from Nimes to visit
all the principal towns, in order to make himself acquainted with
men, things, and places.
Although the answer to the petition had been a delicate refusal,
d'Aygaliers was not discouraged, but followed M. de Villars
everywhere. When the latter arrived at Alais, the new governor sent
for MM. de Lalande and de Baville, in order to consult them as to the
best means of inducing the Camisards to lay down their arms. Baron
d'Aygaliers was summoned to this consultation, and described his plan
to the two gentlemen. As he expected, both were opposed to it;
however, he tried to bring them over to his side by presenting to
them what seemed to him to be cogent reasons for its adoption. But
de Lalande and de Baville made light of all his reasons, and rejected
his proposals with such vehemence, that the marechal, however much
inclined to the side of d'Aygaliers, did not venture to act quite
alone, and said he would not decide on any course until he reached
D'Aygaliers saw clearly that until he had obtained the approbation of
either the general or the intendant, he would get nothing from the
marechal. He therefore considered which of the two he should try to
persuade, and although de Baville was his personal enemy, having
several times shown his hatred for him and his family, he decided to
address himself to him.
In consequence, the next day, to the great astonishment of M. de
Baville, d'Aygaliers paid him a visit. The intendant received him
coldly but politely, asked him to sit down, and when he was seated
begged to know the motive which had brought him. "Sir," replied the
baron, "you have given my family and me such cause of offence that I
had come to the firm resolution never to ask a favour of you, and as
perhaps you may have remarked during the journey we have taken with
M. le marechal, I would rather have died of thirst than accept a
glass of water from you. But I have come here to-day not upon any
private matter, to obtain my own ends, but upon a matter which
concerns the welfare of the State. I therefore beg you to put out of
your mind the dislike which you have to me and mine, and I do this
the more earnestly that your dislike can only have been caused by the
fact that our religion is different from yours--a thing which could
neither have been foreseen nor prevented. My entreaty is that you do
not try to set M. le marechal against the course which I have
proposed to him, which I am convinced would bring the disorders in
our province to an end, stop the occurrence of the many unfortunate
events which I am sure you look on with regret, and spare you much
trouble and embarrassment."
The intendant was much touched by this calm speech, and above all by
the confidence which M. d'Aygaliers had shown him, and replied that
he had only offered opposition to the plan of pacification because he
believed it to be impracticable. M. d'Aygaliers then warmly pressed
him to try it before rejecting it for ever, and in the end M. de
Baville withdrew his opposition.
M, d'Aygaliers hastened to the marechal, who finding himself no
longer alone in his favourable opinion, made no further delay, but
told the baron to call together that very day all the people whom he
thought suitable for the required service, and desired that they
should be presented to him the next morning before he set out for
The next day, instead of the fifty men whom the marachal had thought
could be gathered together, d'Aygaliers came to him followed by
eighty, who were almost all of good and many of noble family. The
meeting took place, by the wish of the baron, in the courtyard of the
episcopal palace. "This palace," says the baron in his Memoirs,
"which was of great magnificence, surrounded by terraced gardens and
superbly furnished, was occupied by Monseigneur Michel Poncet de La
Riviere. He was a man passionately devoted to pleasures of all
kinds, especially to music, women, and good cheer. There were always
to be found in his house good musicians, pretty women, and excellent
wines. These latter suited him so well that he never left the table
without being in a pleasant humour, and at such a moment if it came
into his head that anyone in his diocese was not as good a Christian
as himself, he would sit down and write to M. de Baville, urging that
the delinquent ought to be sent into exile. He often did this honour
to my late father." M. d'Aygaliers goes on to say that "on seeing
such a great number of Huguenots in the court who were all declaring
that they were better servants of the king than the Catholics, he
almost fell from his balcony with vexation and surprise. This
vexation increased when he saw M. de Villars and M. de Baville, who
had apartments in the palace, come down into the court and talk to
these people. One hope still remained to him: it was that the
marechal and the intendant had come down to send them away; but this
last hope was cruelly disappointed when he heard M. de Villars say
that he accepted their service and expected them to obey d'Aygaliers
in all matters concerning the service of the king."
But this was not all that had to be accomplished arms were necessary
for the Protestants, and though their number was not great, there was
a difficulty in finding them weapons. The unfortunate Calvinists had
been disarmed so often that even their table-knives had been carried
off, so it was useless to search their houses for guns and sabres.
D'Aygaliers proposed that they should take the arms of the
townspeople, but M. de Villars considered that it would offend the
Catholics to have their arms taken from them and given to the
Protestants. In the end, however, this was the course that had to be
adopted: M. de Paratte was ordered to give fifty muskets and the same
number of bayonets to M. d'Aygaliers, who also received, as the
reward of his long patience, from M. de Villars, before the latter
left for Nimes, the following commission:
"We, Marechal de Villars, general in the armies of the king, etc.,
etc., have given permission to M. d'Aygaliers, nobleman and
Protestant of the town of Uzes, and to fifty men chosen by him, to
make war on the Camisards.
"Given at Uzes, the 4th of May 1704"
Hardly had M. de Villars set out for Nimes than d'Aygaliers met with
fresh difficulties. The bishop, who could not forget that his
episcopal palace had been turned into barracks for Huguenots, went
from house to house threatening those who had promised to countenance
d'Aygaliers' plans, and strictly forbidding the captains of the town
troops to deliver any weapons to the Protestants. Fortunately,
d'Aygaliers had not accomplished so much. without having learned not
to draw back when the road grew rough, so he also on his side went
about confirming the strong and encouraging the feeble, and called on
M. de Paratte to beg him to carry out the orders of M. de Villars.
De Paratte was happily an old soldier, whose one idea was that
discipline should be maintained, so that he gave the guns and
bayonets to d'Aygaliers on the spot, without a word of objection, and
thus enabled the latter to start at five o'clock next morning with
his little band.
Meantime de Baville and de Lalande had been reflecting what great
influence d'Aygaliers would gain in the province should he succeed in
his aims, and their jealousy had made them resolve to forestall him
in his work, by themselves inducing Cavalier to abandon his present
course. They did not conceal from themselves that this would be
difficult, but as they could command means of corruption which were
not within the power of d'Aygaliers, they did not despair of success.
They therefore sent for a countryman called Lacombe, in order to
enlist him on their side; for Cavalier, when a boy, had been his
shepherd for two years, and both had remained friends ever since:
this man undertook to try and bring about a meeting between the two
gentlemen and Cavalier--an enterprise which would have been dangerous
for anyone else. He promised first of all to explain to Cavalier the
offers of MM. de Baville and de Lalande.
Lacombe kept his word: he set off the same day, and two days later
appeared before Cavalier. The first feeling of the young chief was
astonishment, the second pleasure. Lacombe could not have chosen a
better moment to speak of peace to his former shepherd.
"Indeed," says Cavalier in his Memoirs, "the loss which I had just
sustained at Nages was doubly painful to me because it was
irreparable. I had lost at one blow not only a great number of
weapons, all my ammunition, and all my money, but also a body of men,
inured to danger and fatigue, and capable of any undertaking;
--besides all this, I had been robbed of my stores--a loss which made
itself felt more than all the others put together, because as long as
the secret of the cavern was kept, in all our misfortunes we were
never without resources; but from the moment it got into the
possession of our enemies we were quite destitute. The country was
ravaged, my friends had grown cold, their purses were empty, a
hundred towns had been sacked and burned, the prisons were full of
Protestants, the fields were uncultivated. Added to all this, the
long promised help from England had never arrived, and the new
marechal had appeared in the province accompanied by fresh troops."
Nevertheless, in spite of his desperate position, Cavalier listened
to the propositions laid before him by Lacombe with cold and haughty
front, and his reply was that he would never lay down arms till the
Protestants had obtained the right to the free exercise of their
Firm as was this answer, Lalande did not despair of inducing Cavalier
to come to terms: he therefore wrote him a letter with his own hand,
asking him for an interview, and pledging his word that if they came
to no agreement Cavalier should be free to retire without any harm
being done him; but he added that, if he refused this request, he
should regard him as an enemy to peace, and responsible for all the
blood which might be shed in future.
This overture, made with a soldier's frankness, had a great effect on
Cavalier, and in order that neither his friends nor his enemies
should have the least excuse for blaming him, he resolved to show
everyone that he was eager to seize the first chance of making peace
on advantageous terms.
He therefore replied to Lalande, that he would come to the bridge of
Avene on that very day, the 12th May, at noon, and sent his letter by
Catinat, ordering him to deliver it into the hands of the Catholic
Catinat was worthy of his mission. He was a peasant from Cayla,
whose real name was Abdias Maurel. He had served under Marshal
Catinat in Italy, the same who had maintained so gallant a struggle
against Prince Eugene. When Maurel returned home he could talk of
nothing but his marshal and his campaigns, so that he soon went among
his neighbours by the name of "Catinat." He was, as we have seen,
Cavalier's right hand, who had placed him in command of his cavalry,
and who now entrusted him with a still more dangerous post, that of
envoy to a man who had often said that he would give 2000 livres to
him who would bring him the head of Cavalier, and 1000 livres each
for the heads of his two lieutenants. Catinat was quite well aware
of this offer of Lalande's, yet he appeared before the general
perfectly cool and calm; only, either from a feeling of propriety or
of pride, he was dressed in full uniform.
The bold and haughty expression of the man who presented Cavalier's
letter astonished the general, who asked him his name.
"I am Catinat," he answered.
"Catinat!" exclaimed Lalande in surprise.
"Yes, Catinat, commander of the cavalry of Cavalier."
"What!" said Lalande, "are you the Catinat who massacred so many
people in Beaucaire?"
"Yes, I am. I did it, but it was my duty."
"Well," exclaimed M. de Lalande, "you show great hardihood in daring
to appear before me."
"I came," said Catinat proudly, "trusting to your honour and to the
promise that Brother Cavalier gave me that nothing should happen to
"He was quite right," returned Lalande, taking the letter. Having
read it, he said, "Go back to Cavalier and assure him that I shall be
at the bridge of Avene at noon, accompanied only by a few officers
and thirty dragoons. I expect to find him there with a similar
number of men."
"But," answered Catinat, "it is possible that Brother Cavalier may
not wish-to come with so poor a following."
"If so," returned Lalande, "then tell him that he may bring his whole
army if he likes, but that I shall not take a single man with me more
than I have said; as Cavalier has confidence in me, I have confidence
Catinat reported Lalande's answer to his chief it was of a kind that
he understood and liked, so leaving the rest of his troops at
Massanes, he chose sixty men from his infantry, and eight horsemen as
escort. On coming in sight of the bridge, he saw Lalande approaching
from the other side. He at once ordered his sixty men to halt, went
a few steps farther with his eight horsemen, and then ordered them in
their turn to stop, and advanced alone towards the bridge. Lalande
had acted in the same manner with regard to his dragoons and
officers, and now dismounting, came towards Cavalier.
The two met in the middle of the bridge, and saluted with the
courtesy of men who had learned to esteem each other on the field of
battle. Then after a short silence, during which they examined each
other, Lalande spoke.
"Sir," said he, "the king in his clemency desires to put an end to
the war which is going on between his subjects, and which can only
result in the ruin of his kingdom. As he knows that this war has
been instigated and supported by the enemies of France, he hopes to
meet no opposition to his wishes among those of his subjects who were
momentarily led astray, but to whom he now offers pardon."
"Sir," answered Cavalier, "the war not having been begun by the
Protestants, they are always ready for peace--but a real peace,
without restriction or reserve. They have no right, I know, to lay
down conditions, but I hope they will be permitted to discuss those
which may be laid down for them. Speak openly, sir, and let me know
what the offers are that you have been authorised to make to us, that
I may judge if we can accept them."
"But how would it be," said Lalande, "if you were mistaken, and if
the king desired to know what conditions you would consider
"If that is so," answered Cavalier, "I will tell you our conditions
at once, in order not to prolong the negotiations; for every minute's
delay, as you know, costs someone his life or fortune."
"Then tell me what your conditions are," returned Lalande.
"Well," said Cavalier, "our demands are three first, liberty of
conscience; secondly, the release of all prisoners who have been
condemned to imprisonment or the galleys because of their religion;
and thirdly, that if we are not granted liberty of conscience we may
be at least permitted to leave the kingdom."
"As far as I can judge," replied Lalande, "I do not believe that the
king will accept the first proposition, but it is possible that he
may accede to the third. In that case, how many Protestants would
you take with you?"
"Ten thousand of all ages and both sexes."
"The number is excessive, sir. I believe that His Majesty is not
disposed to go beyond three thousand."
"Then," replied Cavalier, "there is nothing more to be said, for I
could not accept passports for any smaller number, and I could accept
for the ten thousand only on condition that the king would grant us
three months in which to dispose of our possessions and withdraw from
the country without being molested. Should His Majesty, however, not
be pleased to allow us to leave the kingdom, then we beg that our
edicts be re-enacted and our privileges restored, whereupon we shall
become once more, what we were formerly, His Majesty's loyal and
"Sir," said Lalande, "I shall lay your conditions before M. le
Marechal, and if no satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at, it will
be to me a matter of profound regret. And now, sir, will you permit
me to inspect more closely the gallant men with whose help you have
done such astounding deeds?" Cavalier smiled; for these "gallant
men" when caught had been broken on the wheel, burnt at the stake, or
hanged like brigands. His sole answer was an inclination of the head
as he turned and led the way to his little escort. M. de Lalande
followed him with perfect confidence, and, passing by the eight
horsemen who were grouped on the road, he walked up to the infantry,
and taking out of his pocket a handful of gold, he scattered it
before them, saying:
"There, my men! that is to drink the king's health with."
Not a man stooped to pick the money up, and one of them said, shaking
"It is not money we want, but liberty of conscience."
"My men," answered Lalande, "it is unfortunately not in my power to
grant your demand, but I advise you to submit to the king's will and
trust in his clemency."
"Sir," answered Cavalier, "we are all ready to obey him, provided
that he graciously grant us our just demands; if not, we shall die
weapon in hand, rather than expose ourselves once more to such
outrages as have already been inflicted on us."
"Your demands shall be transmitted word for word to M. de Villars,
who will lay them before the king," said Lalande, "and you may be
sure, sir, that my most sincere wish is that His Majesty may not find
With these words, M. de Lalande saluted Cavalier, and turned to
rejoin his escort; but Cavalier, wishing to return confidence with
confidence, crossed the bridge with him, and accompanied the general
to where his soldiers had halted. There, with another salute, the
two chiefs parted, M. de Lalande taking the road to Uzes, while
Cavalier rejoined his comrades.
Meantime d'Aygaliers, who, as we have seen, had not left Uzes until
the 5th May, in order to join Cavalier, did not come up with him
until the 13th, that is to say, the day after his conference with
Lalande. D'Aygaliers gives us an account of their interview, and we
cannot do better than quote it.
"Although it was the first time that we had met face to face, we
embraced each other as if we were old acquaintances. My little band
mixed with his and sang psalms together, while Cavalier and I talked.
I was very much pleased with what, he said, and convinced him without
difficulty that he should submit for the sake of the brethren, who
could then choose whichever course best suited them, and either leave
the kingdom or serve the king. I said that I believed the last
course to be the best, provided we were allowed to worship God
according to our consciences; because I hoped that, seeing their
faithful service, His Majesty would recognise that he had been
imposed upon by those who had described us as disloyal subjects, and
that we should thus obtain for the whole nation that liberty of
conscience which had been granted to us; that in no other way, as far
as I could see, could our deplorable condition be ameliorated, for
although Cavalier and his men might be able to exist for some time
longer in the forests and mountains, they would never be strong
enough to save the inhabitants of towns and other enclosed places
"Upon this he replied, that although the Catholics seldom kept a
promise made to those of our religion, he was willing to risk his
life for the welfare of his brethren and the province but that he
trusted if he confided in the clemency of the king for whom he had
never ceased to pray, no harm would happen him."
Thereupon d'Aygaliers, delighted to find him so well inclined, begged
him to give him a letter for M. de Villars, and as Cavalier knew the
marechal to be loyal and zealous, and had great confidence in him, he
wrote without any hesitation the following letter:
"MONSEIGNEUR,--Permit me to address your Excellency in order to beg
humbly for the favour of your protection for myself and for my
soldiers. We are filled with the most ardent desire to repair the
fault which we have committed by bearing arms, not against the king,
as our enemies have so falsely asserted, but to defend our lives
against those who persecuted us, attacking us so fiercely that we
believed it was done by order of His Majesty. We know that it was
written by St. Paul that subjects ought to submit themselves to their
king, and if in spite of these sincere protestations our sovereign
should still demand our blood, we shall soon be ready to throw
ourselves on his justice or his mercy; but we should, Monseigneur,
regard ourselves as happy, if His Majesty, moved by our repentance,
would grant us his pardon and receive us into his service, according
to the example of the God of mercy whose representative His Majesty
is on earth. We trust, Monseigneur, by our faithfulness and zeal to
acquire the honour of your protection, and we glory in the thought of
being permitted, under the command of such an illustrious and
noble-minded general as yourself, to shed our blood for the king;
this being so, I hope that your Excellency will be pleased to allow
me to inscribe myself with profound respect and humility,
Monseigneur, your most humble and obedient servant,
D'Aygaliers, as soon as he got possession of this letter, set out for
Nimes in the best of spirits; for he felt sure that he was bringing
M. de Villars more than he had expected. And, indeed, as soon as the
marechal saw how far things had gone, in spite of everything that
Lalande could say, who in his jealousy asserted that d'Aygaliers
would spoil everything, he sent him back to Cavalier with an
invitation to come to Nimes. D'Aygaliers set out at once, promising
to bring the young chief back with him, at which Lalande laughed
loudly, pretending to be very much amused at the baron's confident
way of speaking, and protesting that Cavalier would not come.
In the meantime events were happening in the mountains which might
easily have changed the state of mind of the young chief. The Comte
de Tournan, who was in command at Florae, had encountered Roland's
army in the plain of Fondmortes, and had lost two hundred men, a
considerable sum of money, and eighty mules loaded with provisions.
The anxiety which this news caused to M. de Villars was soon
relieved; for six days after the defeat he received a letter from
Cavalier by the hands of Lacombe, the same who had brought about the
interview on the bridge of Avenes. In this letter Cavalier expressed
the greatest regret for what had just happened.
D'Aygaliers therefore found Cavalier in the best of humours when he
joined him at Tarnac. The first feeling that the young chief felt on
receiving the invitation was one of stupefaction; for an interview
with the marechal was an honour so unexpected and so great, that his
impression was that some treason lay behind it; but he was soon
reassured when he recalled the character for loyalty which the
marechal bore, and how impossible it was that d'Aygaliers should lend
himself to treachery. So Cavalier sent back word that he would obey
the marechal's orders; and that he put himself entirely into his
hands in what concerned the arrangements for the interview. M. de
Villars let him know that he would expect him on the 16th in the
garden of the convent of the Recollets of Nimes, which lay just
outside the city, between the gates of Beaucaire and the Madeleine,
and that Lalande would meet him beyond Carayrac to receive him and to
bring him hostages.
On the 15th May Cavalier set out from Tarnac at the head of one
hundred and sixty foot-soldiers and fifty horse; he was accompanied
by his young brother and by d'Aygaliers and Lacombe. They all passed
the night at Langlade.
The next day they set out for Nimes, and, as had been agreed upon,
were met by Lalande between Saint-Cesaire and Carayrac. Lalande
advanced to greet Cavalier and present the hostages to him. These
hostages were M. de La Duretiere, captain of the Fimarcon regiment, a
captain of infantry, several other officers, and ten dragoons.
Cavalier passed them over to his lieutenant, Ravanel, who was in
command of the infantry, and left them in his charge at
Saint-Cesaire. The cavalry accompanied him to within a musket-shot
of Nimes, and encamped upon the heights. Besides this, Cavalier
posted sentinels and mounted orderlies at all the approaches to the
camp, and even as far off as the fountain of Diana and the tennis-
court. These precautions taken, he entered the city, accompanied by
his brother, d'Aygaliers, Lacombe, and a body-guard of eighteen
cavalry, commanded by Catinat. Lalande rode on before to announce
their arrival to the marechal, whom he found waiting with MM. de
Baville and Sandricourt, in the garden of the Recollets, dreading
every moment to receive word that Cavalier had refused to come; for
he expected great results from this interview. Lalande, however,
reassured him by telling him the young Huguenot was behind.
In a few minutes a great tumult was heard: it was the people
hastening to welcome their hero. Not a Protestant, except paralytic
old people and infants in the cradle, remained indoors; for the
Huguenots, who had long looked on Cavalier as their champion, now
considered him their saviour, so that men and women threw themselves
under the feet of his horse in their efforts to kiss the skirts of
his coat. It was more like a victor making his entry into a
conquered town than a rebel chief coming to beg for an amnesty for
himself and his adherents. M. de Villars heard the outcry from the
garden of Recollets, and when he learned its cause his esteem for
Cavalier rose higher, for every day since his arrival as governor had
showed him more and more clearly how great was the young chief's
influence. The tumult increased as Cavalier came nearer, and it
flashed through the marechal's mind that instead of giving hostages
he should have claimed them. At this moment Cavalier appeared at the
gate, and seeing the marechal's guard drawn up in line, he caused his
own to form a line opposite them. The memoirs of the time tell us
that he was dressed in a coffee-coloured coat, with a very full white
muslin cravat; he wore a cross-belt from which depended his sword,
and on his head a gold-laced hat of black felt. He was mounted on a
magnificent bay horse, the same which he had taken from M. de La
Jonquiere on the bloody day of Vergenne.
The lieutenant of the guard met him at the gate. Cavalier quickly
dismounted, and throwing the bridle of his horse to one of his men,
he entered the garden, and advanced towards the expectant group,
which was composed, as we have said, of Villars, Baville, and
Sandricourt. As he drew near, M. de Villars regarded him with
growing astonishment; for he could not believe that in the young
man, or rather boy, before him he saw the terrible Cevenol chief,
whose name alone made the bravest soldiers tremble. Cavalier at this
period had just completed his twenty-fourth year, but, thanks to his
fair hair which fell in long locks over his shoulders, and to the
gentle expression of his eyes he did not appear more than eighteen.
Cavalier was acquainted with none of the men in whose presence he
stood, but he noticed M. de Villars' rich dress and air of command.
He therefore saluted him first; afterwards, turning towards the
others, he bowed to each, but less profoundly, then somewhat
embarrassed and with downcast eyes be stood motionless and silent.
The marechal still continued to look at him in silent astonishment,
turning from time to time to Baville and Sandricourt, as if to assure
himself that there was no mistake and that it was really the man whom
they expected who stood before them. At last, doubting still, in
spite of the signs they made to reassure him, he asked--
"Are you really Jean Cavalier?"
"Yes, monseigneur," was the reply, given in an unsteady voice.
"But I mean Jean Cavalier, the Camisard general, he who has assumed
the title of Duke of the Cevennes."
"I have not assumed that title, monseigneur, only some people call me
so in joke: the king alone has the right to confer titles, and I
rejoice exceedingly, monseigneur, that he has given you that of
governor of Languedoc."
"When you are speaking of the king, why do you not say 'His
Majesty'?" said M. de Baville. "Upon my soul, the king is too good
to treat thus with a rebel."
The blood rushed to Cavalier's head, his face flamed, and after a
moment's pause, fixing his eye boldly upon M. de Baville, and
speaking in a voice which was now as firm as it had been tremulous a
moment before, he said, "If you have only brought me here, sir, to
speak to me in such a manner, you might better have left me in my
mountains, and come there yourself to take a lesson in hospitality.
If I am a rebel, it is not I who am answerable, for it was the
tyranny and cruelty of M. de Baville which forced us to have recourse
to arms; and if history takes exception to anything connected with
the great monarch for whose pardon I sue to-day, it will be, I hope,
not that he had foes like me, but friends like him."
M. de Baville grew pale with anger; for whether Cavalier knew to whom
he was speaking or not, his words had the effect of a violent blow
full in his face; but before he could reply M. de Villars interposed.
"Your business is only with me, sir," he said; "attend to me alone,
I beg: I speak in the name of the king; and the king, of his
clemency, wishes to spare his subjects by treating them with
Cavalier opened his mouth to reply, but the intendant cut him short.
"I should hope that that suffices," he said contemptuously: "as
pardon is more than you could have hoped for, I suppose you are not
going to insist on the other conditions you laid down?"
"But it is precisely those other conditions," said Cavalier,
addressing himself to M. de Villars, and not seeming to see that
anyone else was present, "for which we have fought. If I were alone,
sir, I should give myself up, bound hand and foot, with entire
confidence in your good faith, demanding no assurances and exacting
no conditions; but I stand here to defend the interests of my
brethren and friends who trust me; and what is more, things have gone
so far that we must either die weapon in hand, or obtain our rights."
The intendant was about to speak, but the marechal stopped him with
such an imperative gesture that he stepped back as if to show that he
washed his hands of the whole matter.
"What are those rights? Are they those which M. Lalande has
transmitted to me by word of mouth?"
"It would be well to commit them to writing."
"I have done so, monseigneur, and sent a copy to M. d'Aygaliers."
"I have not seen it, sir; make me another copy and place it in my
hands, I beg."
"I shall go and set about it directly, monseigneur," stepping back as
if about to withdraw.
"One moment!" said the marechal, detaining him by a smile. "Is it
true that you are willing to enter the king's army?"
"I am more than willing, I desire it with all my heart," exclaimed
Cavalier, with the frank enthusiasm natural to his age, "but I cannot
do so till our just demands are granted."
"But if they were granted--?"
"Then, sir," replied Cavalier, "the king has never had more loyal
subjects than we shall be."
"Well, have a little patience and everything will be arranged, I
"May God grant it!" said Cavalier. "He is my witness that we desire
peace beyond everything." And he took another step backwards.
"You will not go too far away, I hope," said the marechal.
"We shall remain wherever your excellency may appoint," said
Very well," continued M. de Villars; "halt at Calvisson, and try all
you can to induce the other leaders to follow your example."
"I shall do my best, monseigneur; but while we await His Majesty's
reply shall we be allowed to fulfil our religious duties unimpeded?"
"Yes, I shall give orders that you are to have full liberty in that
Cavalier bowed once more, and was about to go; but M. de Villars
accompanied him and Lalande, who had now joined them, and who stood
with his hand on Cavalier's shoulder, a few steps farther. Catinat
seeing that the conference was at an end, entered the garden with his
men. Thereupon M. de Villars took leave, saying distinctly, "Adieu,
Seigneur Cavalier," and withdrew, leaving the young chief surrounded
by a dozen persons all wanting to speak to him at once. For half an
hour he was detained by questions, to all of which he replied
pleasantly. On one finger was an emerald taken from a naval officer
named Didier, whom he had killed with his own hand in the action at
Devois de Martignargues; he kept time by a superb watch which had
belonged to M. d'Acqueville, the second in command of the marines;
and he offered his questioners from time to time perfumed snuff from
a magnificent snuffbox, which he had found in the holsters when he
took possession of M. de La Jonquiere's horse. He told everyone who
wished to listen that he had never intended to revolt against the
king; and that he was now ready to shed the last drop of his blood in
his service; that he had several times offered to surrender on
condition that liberty of conscience was granted to those of the new
faith, but that M. de Montrevel had always rejected his offers, so
that he had been obliged to remain under arms, in order to deliver
those who were in prison, and to gain permission for those who were
free to worship God in their own way.
He said these things in an unembarrassed and graceful manner, hat in
hand; then passing through the crowd which had gathered outside the
garden of the Recollets, he repaired to the Hotel de la Poste for
lunch, and afterwards walked along the Esplanade to the house of one
Guy Billard, a gardener, who was his head prophet's father. As he
thus moved about he was preceded by two Camisards with drawn swords,
who made way for him; and several ladies were presented to him who
were happy to touch his doublet. The visit over, he once again
passed along the Esplanade, still preceded by his two Camisards, and
just as he passed the Little Convent he and those with him struck up
a psalm tune, and continued singing till they reached Saint-Cesaire,
where the hostages were. These he at once sent back.
Five hundred persons from Nimes were awaiting him; refreshments were
offered to him, which he accepted gratefully, thanking all those who
had gathered together to meet him. At last he went off to St.
Denoise, where he was to sup and sleep; but before going to bed he
offered up supplications in a loud voice for the king, for M. de
Villars, for M. de Lalande, and even for M. de Baville.
The next morning, Cavalier, according to promise, sent a copy of his
demands to M. de Villars, who caused it to be laid before the king,
along with a full report of all that had passed at the interview at
Nimes. As soon as the young chief had sent off his missive, he
rejoined his troops at Tarnac, and related all that had passed to
Roland, urging him to follow his example. That night he slept at
Sauves, having passed through Durfort at the head of his men; a
captain of dragoons named Montgros, with twenty-five soldiers,
accompanying him everywhere, by M. de Villars' orders, and seeing
that the villages through which they passed furnished him with all
that was needed. They left Sauves on May 16th very early in the
morning, in order to get to Calvisson, which, as our readers may
remember, was the place appointed for the residence of Cavalier
during the truce. In passing through Quissac, where they stopped for
refreshments, they were joined by Castanet who delivered a long
sermon, at which all the Protestants of the neighbourhood were
The two battalions of the Charolais regiment which were quartered at
Calvisson had received orders on the evening of the 17th to march out
next morning, so as to make room for the Camisards.
On the 18th the head of the commissary department, Vincel, ordered
suitable accommodation to be provided for Cavalier and his troops;
the muster roll being in the hands of M. d'Aygaliers, it would be
sent by him or brought in the course of the day. In the meantime,
vans were arriving filled with all sorts of provisions, followed by
droves of cattle, while a commissary and several clerks, charged with
the distribution of rations, brought up the rear.
On the 19th, Catinat, accompanied by twelve Camisards, rode into the
town, and was met at the barrier by the commandant and eighty
townspeople. As soon as the little band came in sight the commandant
reiterated his orders that nothing should be said or done in the
town, on pain of corporal punishment, that could offend the
At one o'clock P. M. Baron d'Aygaliers arrived, followed in his turn
by the chief of the commissariat, Vincel, by Captain Cappon, two
other officers named Viala and Despuech, and six dragoons. These
were the hostages Cavalier had given.
At six o'clock there was heard a great noise; and shouts of
"Cavalier! Cavalier!" resounded on all sides. The young Cevenol was
in sight, and the whole population hastened to meet him. He rode at
the head of his cavalry, the infantry following, and the whole
number--about six hundred men--sang psalms in a loud voice.
When they reached the church, Cavalier drew up before it with all his
men in review order, and for some time the singing went on. When it
stopped, a long prayer was offered up, which was most edifying to all
the bystanders; and this being over, Cavalier went to the quarters
assigned him, which were in the best house in Calvisson. Arrived
there, he sent out for a dozen loaves that he might judge how his men
were going to be fed; not finding them white enough, he complained to
M. Vincel, whom he sent for, and who promised that in future the
bread should be of a better quality. Having received this assurance,
Cavalier gave orders that the loaves in hand should be distributed
for that day, but probably fearing poison, he first made M. de Vincel
and his clerks taste them in his presence. These duties
accomplished, he visited in person all the gates of the town, placed
guards and posted sentinels at all the entrances and along all the
avenues, the most advanced being three-quarters of a league from the
town. Besides this, he placed guards in the streets, and a sentinel
at each door of the house he occupied; in addition, thirty guards
always slept outside the door of his bedroom, and these accompanied
him as an escort when he went out; not that he was afraid, for he was
not of a mistrustful character, but that he thought it politic to
give people an exalted idea of his importance. As to his soldiers,
they were billeted on the inhabitants, and received each as daily
rations a pound of meat, a quart of wine, and two and a half pounds
The same day a convocation was held on the site of the old
meeting-house which had been destroyed by the Catholics. It was a
very numerous assembly, to which crowds of people came from all
parts; but on the following days it was still more numerous; for, as
the news spread, people ran with great eagerness to hear the
preaching of the word of which they had been so long deprived.
D'Aygaliers tells us in his Memoirs that--"No one could help being
touched to see a whole people just escaped from fire and sword,
coming together in multitudes to mingle their tears and sighs. So
famished were they for the manna divine, that they were like people
coming out of a besieged city, after a long and cruel famine, to whom
peace has brought food in abundance, and who, first devouring it with
their eyes, then throw themselves on it, devouring it bodily--meat,
bread, and fruit--as it comes to hand. So it was with the
unfortunate inhabitants of La Vannage, and even of places more
distant still. They saw their brethren assembling in the meadows and
at the gates of Calvisson, gathering in crowds and pressing round
anyone who started singing a psalm, until at last four or five
thousand persons, singing, weeping, and praying, were gathered
together, and remained there all day, supplicating God with a
devotion that went to every heart and made a deep impression. All
night the same things went on; nothing was to be heard but preaching,
singing, praying, and prophesying."
But if it was a time of joy for the Protestants, it was a time of
humiliation for the Catholics. "Certainly," says a contemporary
historian, "it was a very surprising thing, and quite a novelty, to
see in a province like Languedoc, where so many troops were
quartered, such a large number of villains--all murderers,
incendiaries, and guilty of sacrilege--gathered together in one place
by permission of those in command of the troops; tolerated in their
eccentricities, fed at the public expense, flattered by everyone, and
courteously, received by people sent specially to meet them."
One of those who was most indignant at this state of things was M. de
Baville. He was so eager to put an end to it that he went to see the
governor, and told him the scandal was becoming too great in his
opinion: the assemblies ought to be put an end to by allowing the
troops to fall upon them and disperse them; but the governor thought
quite otherwise, and told Baville that to act according to his advice
would be to set fire to the province again and to scatter for ever
people whom they had got together with such difficulty. In any case,
he reminded Baville that what he objected to would be over in a few
days. His opinion was that de Baville might stifle the expression of
his dissatisfaction for a little, to bring about a great good. "More
than that," added the marechal, "the impatience of the priests is
most ridiculous. Besides your remonstrances, of which I hope I have
now heard the last, I have received numberless letters full of such
complaints that it would seem as if the prayers of the Camisards not
only grated on the ears of the clergy but flayed them alive. I
should like above everything to find out the writers of these
letters, in order to have them flogged; but they have taken good care
to put no signatures. I regard it as a very great impertinence for
those who caused these disturbances to grumble and express their
disapproval at my efforts to bring them to an end." After this
speech, M, de Baville saw there was nothing for him to do but to let
things take their course.
The course that they took turned Cavalier's head more and more; for
thanks to the injunctions of M. de Villars, all the orders that
Cavalier gave were obeyed as if they had been issued by the governor
himself. He had a court like a prince, lieutenants like a general,
and secretaries like a statesman. It was the duty of one secretary
to give leave of absence to those Camisards who had business to
attend to or who desired to visit their relations. The following is
a copy of the form used for these passports:
"We, the undersigned, secretary to Brother Cavalier, generalissimo of
the Huguenots, permit by this order given by him to absent himself on
business for three days.
And these safe-conducts were as much respected as if they had been
signed "Marechal de Villars."
On the 22nd M. de Saint-Pierre arrived from the court, bringing the
reply of the king to the proposals which Cavalier had submitted to
M. de Lalande. What this reply was did not transpire; probably it
was not in harmony with the pacific intentions of the marechal. At
last, on the 25th, the answer to the demands which Cavalier had made
to M. de Villars himself arrived. The original paper written by the
Camisard chief himself had been sent to Louis XIV, and he returned it
with notes in his own writing; thus these two hands, to one of which
belonged the shepherd's crook and to the other the sceptre, had
rested on the same sheet of paper. The following is the text of the
agreement as given by Cavalier in his Memoirs:
"THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE REFORMERS OF
LANGUEDOC TO THE KING
"1. That it may please the king to grant us liberty of conscience
throughout the province, and to permit us to hold religious meetings
in every suitable place, except fortified places and walled cities.
'Granted, on condition that no churches be built.
"2. That all those in prison or at the galleys who have been sent
there since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, because of their
religion, be set at liberty within six weeks from the date of this
"3. That all those who have left the kingdom because of their
religion be allowed to return in freedom and safety, and that their
goods and privileges be restored to them.
'Granted on condition that they take the oath of fidelity to the
"4. That the Parliament of Languedoc be reestablished on its ancient
footing, and with all its former privileges.
'The king reserves decision on this point.
"5. That the province of Languedoc be exempted from the poll tax for
ten years, this to apply, to Catholics and Protestants alike, both
sides having equally suffered.
"6. That the cities of Perpignan, Montpellier, Cette, and
Aiguemortes be assigned us as cities of refuge.
"7. That the inhabitants of the Cevennes whose houses were burnt or
otherwise destroyed during the war be exempt from taxes for seven
"8. That it may please His Majesty to permit Cavalier to choose 2000
men, both from among his own troops and from among those who may be
delivered from the prisons and galleys, to form a regiment of
dragoons for the service of His Majesty, and that this regiment when
formed may at once be ordered to serve His Majesty in Portugal.
'Granted: and on condition that all the Huguenots everywhere lay down
their arms, the king will permit them to live quietly in the free
exercise of their religion.'"
"I had been a week at Calvisson," says Cavalier in his Memoirs, "when
I received a letter from M. le Marechal de Villars ordering me to
repair to Nimes, as he wished to see me, the answer to my demands.
having arrived. I obeyed at once, and was very much displeased to
find that several of my demands, and in particular the one relating
to the cities of refuge, had been refused; but M. le marechal assured
me that the king's word was better than twenty cities of refuge, and
that after all the trouble we had given him we should regard it as
showing great clemency on his part that he had granted us the greater
part of what we had asked. This reasoning was not entirely
convincing, but as there was no more time for deliberation, and as I
was as anxious for peace as the king himself, I decided to accept
gracefully what was offered."
All the further advantage that Cavalier could obtain from M. de
Villars was that the treaty should bear the date of the day on which
it had been drawn up; in this manner the prisoners who were to be set
at liberty in six weeks gained one week.
M. de Villars wrote at the bottom of the treaty, which was signed the
same day by him and M. de Baville on the part of the king, and by
Cavalier and Daniel Billard on the part of the Protestants, the
"In virtue of the plenary powers which we have received from the
king, we have granted to the Reformers of Languedoc the articles
above made known.
"MARECHAL DE VILLARS J. CAVALIER
"LAMOIGNON DE BAVILLE DANIEL BILLARD
"Given at Nimes, the 17th of May 1704"
These two signatures, all unworthy as they were to stand beside their
own, gave such great delight to MM. de Villars and de Baville, that
they at once sent off fresh orders to Calvisson that the wants of the
Camisards should be abundantly supplied until the articles of the
treaty were executed--that is to say, until the prisoners and the
galley slaves were set at liberty, which, according to article 2 of
the treaty, would be within the next six weeks. As to Cavalier, the
marechal gave him on the spot a commission as colonel, with a pension
of 1200 livres attached, and the power of nominating the subordinate
officers in his regiment, and at the same time he handed him a
captain's commission for his young brother.
Cavalier drew up the muster-roll of the regiment the same day, and
gave it to the marechal. It was to consist of seven hundred and
twelve men, forming fifteen companies, with sixteen captains, sixteen
lieutenants, a sergeant-major, and a surgeon-major.
While all this was happening, Roland, taking advantage of the
suspension of hostilities, was riding up and down the province as if
he were viceroy of the Cevennes, and wherever he appeared he had a
magnificent reception. Like Cavalier, he gave leave of absence and
furnished escorts, and held himself haughtily, sure that he too would
soon be negotiating treaties on terms of equality with marshals of
France and governors of provinces. But Roland was much mistaken: M.
de Villars had made great concessions to the popularity of Cavalier,
but they were the last he intended to make. So, instead of being in
his turn summoned to Nimes, or Uzes, to confer with M. de Villars,
Roland merely received an intimation from Cavalier that he desired to
speak with him on important business.
They met near Anduze, and Cavalier, faithful to the promise given to
M. de Villars, neglected no argument that he could think of to induce
Roland to follow his example; but Roland would listen to nothing.
Then, when Cavalier saw that arguments and promises were of no avail,
he raised his voice in anger; but Roland, laying his hand on his
shoulder, told him that his head was turned, that he should remember
that he, Roland, was his senior in command, and therefore bound by
nothing that had been promised in his name by his junior, and that he
had registered a vow in Heaven that nothing would persuade him to
make peace unless complete liberty of conscience were granted to all.
The young Cevenol, who was unaccustomed to such language, laid his
hand on the hilt of his sword, Roland, stepping back, drew his, and
the consultation would have ended in a duel if the prophets had not
thrown themselves between them, and succeeded in getting Roland to
consent to one of their number, a man much esteemed among the
Huguenots, named Salomon, going back to Nimes with Cavalier to learn
from M. de Villars' own mouth what the exact terms were which
Cavalier had accepted and now offered to Roland.
In a couple of hours Cavalier and Salomon set out together, and
arrived at Nimes on the 27th May, escorted by twenty-five men; they
halted at the tower of Magne, and the Protestants of the city came
out to meet them, bringing refreshments; then, after prayers and a
hasty meal, they advanced to the barracks and crossed the courtyards.
The concourse of people and the enthusiasm was no whit less than on
Cavalier's first entry, more than three hundred persons kissing his
hands and knees. Cavalier was dressed on this occasion in a doublet
of grey cloth, and a beaver hat, laced with gold, and adorned with a
Cavalier and his travelling-companion went direct to the garden of
the Recollets, and hardly had they got there than MM. de Villars and
de Baville, accompanied by Lalande and Sandricourt, came out to meet
them: the conference lasted three hours, but all that could be
learned of the result was that Salomon had declared that his brethren
would never lay down their arms till full liberty of conscience had
been secured to them. In consequence of this declaration, it was
decided that Cavalier and his regiment should be despatched to Spain
without delay, in order to weaken the Calvinist forces to that
extent; meantime Salomon was sent back to Roland with a positive
promise that if he would surrender, as Cavalier had done, he would be
granted the same conditions--that is to say, receive a commission as
colonel, have the right to name the officers of his regiment, and
receive a pension of 1200 livres. On quitting the garden of the
Recollets, Cavalier found as great a crowd as ever waiting for him,
and so closely did they press on him that two of his men were obliged
to ride before him with drawn sabres to clear a way for him till the
Montpellier road was reached. He lay that night at Langlade, in
order to rejoin his troops early next morning.
But during his absence things had happened among these men, who had
hitherto obeyed him blindly, which he little expected. He had left,
as usual, Ravanel in command; but hardly had he ridden away when
Ravanel began to take all kinds of precautions, ordering the men not
to lay aside their arms. The negotiations with M. de Villars had
made him most anxious; he looked upon all the promises given as
snares, and he regarded the compromise favoured by his chief as a
defection on Cavalier's part. He therefore called all the officers
and men together, told them of his fears, and ended by imbuing them
with his suspicions. This was all the more easily done, as it was
very well known that Cavalier had joined the Huguenots less from
devotion to the cause than to avenge a private wrong, and on many
occasions had given rise to the remark that he had more genius than
So, on getting back to Calvisson, the young chief found his principal
officers, Ravanel at their head, drawn up in the market-place,
waiting for him. As soon as he drew near they told him that they
were determined to know at once what were the conditions of the
treaty he had signed with the marechal; they had made up their minds
to have a plain answer without delay. Such a way of speaking to him
was so strange and unexpected, that Cavalier shrugged his shoulders
and replied that such matters were no business of theirs, being too
high for their intelligence; that it was his business to decide what
course to take and theirs to take it; it had always been so in the
past, and with the help of God and his own, Cavalier's, goodwill, it
should still be so in future; and having so spoken, he told them to
disperse. Ravanel upon this came forward, and in the name of all the
others said they would not go away until they knew what orders
Cavalier was about to give the troops, that they might consult among
themselves whether they should obey them or not. This
insubordination was too much for Cavalier's patience.
"The orders are," he said, "to put on the uniforms that are being
made for you, and to follow me to Portugal."
The effect of such words on men who were expecting nothing less than
the re-enactment of the Edict of Nantes, can be easily imagined; the
words "coward" and "traitor" could be distinguished above the
murmurs, as Cavalier noticed with increasing astonishment. Raising
himself in his stirrups, and glancing round with that look before
which they had been used to tremble, he asked in a voice as calm as
if all the demons of anger were not raging in his heart, "Who called
Jean Cavalier traitor and coward?"
"I," said Ravanel, crossing his arms on his breast.
Cavalier drew a pistol from his holsters, and striking those near him
with the butt end, opened a way towards his lieutenant, who drew his
sword; but at this moment the commissary-general, Vincel, and Captain
Cappon threw themselves between the two and asked the cause of the
"The cause," said Ravanel, "is that the Cadets of the Cross, led by
the 'Hermit,' have just knocked out the brains of two of our
brethren, who were coming to join us, and are hindering others front
attending our meetings to worship God: the conditions of the truce
having been thus broken, is it likely they will keep those of the
treaty? We refuse to accept the treaty."
"Sir," said Vincel, "if the 'Hermit' has done what you say, it is
against the orders of the marachal, and the misdoer will be punished;
besides, the large number of strangers at present in Calvisson ought
to be sufficient proof that no attempt has been made to prevent the
new converts from coming to the town, and it seems to me that you
have been too easily led to believe everything that malicious people
have told you."
"I believe what I choose to believe," said Ravanel impatiently; "but
what I know and say is, that I shall never lay down arms till the
king grants us full liberty of conscience, permission to rebuild our
places of worship, and sends us back all prisoners and exiles."
"But, judging by your tone," said Cavalier, who had till now remained
silent while toying with his pistol, "you seem to be in command here;
have we changed, parts without my being aware?"
"It is possible," said Ravanel.
Cavalier burst out laughing.
"It seems to astonish you," said Ravanel, "but it is true. Make
peace for yourself, lay down what conditions suit you, sell yourself
for whatever you will bring; my only reply is, You are a coward and a
traitor. But as to the troops, they will not lay down arms except on
the conditions formulated by me."
Cavalier tried to get at Ravanel, but seeing from his paleness and
his smile that terrible things would happen if he reached his
lieutenant, Vincel and Cappon, backed by some Camisards, threw
themselves before his horse. Just then the whole band shouted with
one voice, "No peace! no peace! no reconciliation till our temples
are restored!" Cavalier then saw for the first time that things were
more serious than he had believed, but Vincel, Cappon, Berlie, and
about twenty Camisards surrounded the young chief and forced him to
enter a house; it was the house of Vincel.
They had hardly got indoors when the 'generale' was sounded:
resisting all entreaties, Cavalier sprang to the door, but was
detained by Berlie, who said that the first thing he ought to do was
to write M. de Villars an account of what had happened, who would
then take measures to put things straight.
"You are right," said Cavalier; "as I have so many enemies, the
general might be told if I were killed that I had broken my word.
Give me pen and ink."
Writing materials were brought, and he wrote to M. de Villars.
"Here," he said, giving the letter unsealed to Vincel, "set out for
Nimes and give this to the marechal, and tell him, if I am killed in
the attempt I am about to make, I died his humble servant."
With these words, he darted out of the house and mounted his horse,
being met at the door by twelve to fifteen men who had remained
faithful to him. He asked them where Ravanel and his troops were,
not seeing a single Camisard in the streets; one of the soldiers
answered that they were probably still in town, but that they were
moving towards Les Garrigues de Calvisson. Cavalier set off at a
gallop to overtake them.
In crossing the market-place he met Catinat, walking between two
prophets, one called Moses and the other Daniel Guy; Catinat was just
back from a visit to the mountains, so that he had taken no part in
the scene of insubordination that had so lately been enacted.
Cavalier felt a ray of hope; he was sure he could depend on Catinat
as on himself. He hurried to greet him, holding out his hand; but
Catinat drew back his.
"What does this mean?" cried Cavalier, the blood mounting to his
"It means," answered Catinat, "that you are a traitor, and I cannot
give my hand to a traitor."
Cavalier gave a cry of rage, and advancing on Catinat, raised his
cane to strike him; but Moses and Daniel Guy threw themselves
between, so that the blow aimed at Catinat fell on Moses. At the
same moment Catinat, seeing Cavalier's gesture, drew a pistol from
his belt. As it was at full cock, it went off in his hand, a bullet
piercing Guy's hat, without, however, wounding him.
At the noise of the report shouts were heard about a hundred yards
away. It was the Camisards, who had been on the point of leaving the
town, but hearing the shot had turned back, believing that some of
their brethren were being murdered. On seeing them appear, Cavalier
forgot Catinat, and rode straight towards them. As soon as they
caught sight of him they halted, and Ravanel advanced before them
ready for every danger.
"Brethren," he cried, "the traitor has come once more to tempt us.
Begone, Judas! You have no business here."
"But I have," exclaimed Cavalier. "I have to punish a scoundrel
called Ravanel, if he has courage to follow me."
"Come on, then," cried Ravanel, darting down a small side-street,
"and let us have done with it." The Camisards made a motion as if to
follow them, but Ravanel turning towards them ordered them to remain
where they were.
They obeyed, and thus Cavalier could see that, insubordinate as they
had been towards him, they were ready to obey another.
Just at the moment as he turned into the narrow street where the
dispute was to be settled once for all, Moses and Guy came up, and
seizing the bridle of his horse stopped him, while the Camisards who
were on the side of Cavalier surrounded Ravanel and forced him to
return to his soldiers. The troops struck up a psalm, and resumed
their march, while Cavalier was held back by force.
At last, however, the young Cevenol succeeded in breaking away from
those who surrounded him, and as the street by which the Camisards
had retired was blocked, he dashed down another. The two prophets
suspecting his intention, hurried after the troops by the most direct
route, and got up with them, just as Cavalier, who had made the
circuit of the town, came galloping across the plain to intercept
their passage. The troops halted, and Ravanel gave orders to fire.
The first rank raised their muskets and took aim, thus indicating
that they were ready to obey. But it was not a danger of this kind
that could frighten Cavalier; he continued to advance. Then Moses
seeing his peril, threw himself between the Camisards and him,
stretching out his arms and shouting, "Stop! stop! misguided men!
Are you going to kill Brother Cavalier like a highwayman and thief?
You must pardon him, my brethren! you must pardon him! If he has
done wrong in the past, he will do better in future."
Then those who had taken aim at Cavalier grounded their muskets, and
Cavalier changing menace for entreaty, begged them not to break the
promise that he had made in their name; whereupon the prophets struck
up a psalm, and the rest of the soldiers joining in, his voice was
completely drowned. Nevertheless, Cavalier did not lose heart, but
accompanied them on their march to Saint-Esteve, about a league
farther on, unable to relinquish all hope. On reaching Saint-Esteve
the singing ceased for a moment, and he made another attempt to
recall them to obedience. Seeing, however, that it was all in vain,
he gave up hope, and calling out, "At least defend yourselves as
well as you can, for the dragoons will soon be on you," he set his
horse's head towards the town. Then turning to them for the last
time, he said, "Brethren, let those who love me follow me!" He
pronounced these words in tones so full of grief and affection that
many were shaken in their resolution; but Ravanel and Moses seeing
the effect he had produced, began to shout, "The sword of the Lord!"
Immediately all the troops turned their back on Cavalier except about
forty men who had joined him on his first appearance.
Cavalier went into a house near by, and wrote another letter to M. de
Villars, in which he told him what had just taken place, the efforts
he had made to win back his troops, and the conditions they demanded.
He ended by assuring him that he would make still further efforts,
and promised the marechal that he would keep him informed of
everything that went on. He then withdrew to Cardet, not venturing
to return to Calvisson.
Both Cavalier's letters reached M. de Villars at the same time; in
the first impulse of anger aroused by this unexpected check, he
issued the following order:
"Since coming to this province and taking over the government by
order of the king, our sole thought has been how to put an end to the
disorders we found existing here by gentle measures, and to restore
peace and to preserve the property of those who had taken no part in
the disturbances. To that end we obtained His Majesty's pardon for
those rebels who had, by the persuasion of their chiefs, been induced
to lay down their arms; the only condition exacted being that they
should throw themselves on the king's clemency and beg his permission
to expiate their crime by adventuring their lives in his service.
But, being informed that instead of keeping the engagements they had
made by signing petitions, by writing letters, and by speaking words
expressing their intentions, some among them have been trying to
delude the minds of the people with false hopes of full liberty for
the exercise of this so-called Reformed religion, which there has
never been any intention of granting, but which we have always
declared as clearly as we could, to be contrary to the will of the
king and likely to bring about great evils for which it would be
difficult to find a remedy, it becomes necessary to prevent those who
give belief to these falsehoods from expecting to escape from
well-deserved chastisement. We therefore declare hereby that all
religious assemblies are expressly forbidden under the penalties
proclaimed in the edicts and ordinances of His Majesty, and that
these will be more strictly enforced in the future than in the past.
"Furthermore, we order all the troops under our command to break up
such assemblies by force, as having been always illegal, and we
desire to impress on the new converts of this province that they are
to give their obedience where it is due, and we forbid them to give
any credence to the false reports which the enemies of their repose
are spreading abroad. If they let themselves be led astray, they
will soon find themselves involved in troubles and misfortunes, such
as the loss of their lands, the ruin of their families, and the
desolation of their country; and we shall take care that the true
authors of these misfortunes shall receive punishment proportioned to
"MARECHAL DE VILLARS
"Given at Nimes the 27th day of May 1704"
This order, which put everything back upon the footing on which it
had been in the time of M. de Montrevel, had hardly been issued than
d'Aygaliers, in despair at seeing the result of so much labour
destroyed in one day, set off for the mountains to try and find
Cavalier. He found him at Cardet, whither, as we have said, he had
retired after the day of Calvisson. Despite the resolution which
Cavalier had taken never to show his face again to the marechal, the
baron repeated to him so many times that M. de Villars was thoroughly
convinced that what had happened had not been his fault, he having
done everything that he could to prevent it, that the young chief
began to feel his self-confidence and courage returning, and hearing
that the marachal had expressed himself as very much pleased with his
conduct, to which Vincel had borne high testimony, made up his mind
to return to Nimes. They left Cardet at once, followed by the forty
men who had remained true to Cavalier, ten on horse and thirty on
foot, and arrived on the 3lst May at Saint-Genies, whither M. de
Villars had come to meet them.