Part 8 out of 33
The assurances of d'Aygaliers were justified. The marechal received
Cavalier as if he were still the chief of a powerful party and able
to negotiate with him on terms of equality. At Cavalier's request,
in order to prove to him that he stood as high in his good opinion as
ever, the marechal returned once more to gentle methods, and
mitigated the severity of his first proclamation by a second,
granting an extension of the amnesty:
"The principal chiefs of the rebels, with the greater number of their
followers, having surrendered, and having received the king's pardon,
we declare that we give to all those who have taken up arms until
next Thursday, the 5th instant inclusive, the opportunity of
receiving the like pardon, by surrendering to us at Anduze, or to M.
le Marquis de Lalande at Alais, or to M. de Menon at Saint Hippolyte,
or to the commandants of Uzes, Nimes, and Lunel. But the fifth day
passed, we shall lay a heavy hand on all rebels, pillaging and
burning all the places which have given them refuge, provisions, or
help of any kind; and that they may not plead ignorance of this
proclamation, we order it to be publicly read and posted up in every
"MARECHAL DE VILLARS
"At Saint-Genies, the 1st June 1704"
The next day, in order to leave no doubt as to his good intentions,
the marechal had the gibbets and scaffolds taken down, which until
then had been permanent erections.
At the same time all the Huguenots were ordered to make a last effort
to induce the Camisard chiefs to accept the conditions offered them
by M. de Villars. The towns of Alais, Anduze, Saint-Jean, Sauve,
Saint-Hippolyte, and Lasalle, and the parishes of Cros, Saint-Roman,
Manoblet, Saint-Felix, Lacadiere, Cesas, Cambo, Colognac, and Vabre
were ordered to send deputies to Durfort to confer as to the best
means of bringing about that peace which everyone desired. These
deputies wrote at once to M. de Villars to beg him to send them M.
d'Aygaliers, and to M. d'Aygaliers to request him to come.
Both consented to do as they were asked, and M. d'Aygaliers arrived
at Durfort on the 3rd of June 1704.
The deputies having first thanked him for the trouble which he had
taken to serve the common cause during the past year, resolved to
divide their assembly into two parts, one of which, was to remain
permanently sitting, while the other went to seek Roland and Ravanel
to try and obtain a cessation of hostilities. The deputies charged
with this task were ordered to make it quite clear to the two chiefs
that if they did not accept the proposals made by M. de Villars, the
Protestants in general would take up arms and hunt them down, and
would cease to supply them with the means of subsistence.
On hearing this, Roland made reply that the deputies were to go back
at once to those who sent them, and threatened, should they ever show
him their faces again, to fire on them.
This answer put an end to the assembly, the deputies dispersed, and
d'Aygaliers returned to the Marechal de Villars to make his report.
Hardly had he done this when a letter from Roland arrived, in which
the Camisard chief asked M. de Villars to grant him an interview,
such as he had granted to Cavalier. This letter was addressed to
d'Aygaliers, who immediately communicated its contents to the
marechal, from whom he received orders to set out at once to find
Roland and to spare no pains to bring him round.
D'Aygaliers, who was always indefatigable when working for his
country, started the same day, and went to a mountain about
three-quarters of a league from Anduze, where Roland awaited him.
After a conference of two hours, it was agreed that hostages should
be exchanged and negotiations entered upon.
Consequently, M. de Villars on his side sent Roland M. de Montrevel,
an officer commanding a battalion of marines, and M. de la
Maison-Blanche, captain of the Froulay regiment; while Roland in
return sent M. de Villars four of his principal officers with the
title of plenipotentiaries.
Unskilled in diplomacy as these envoys were, and laughable as they
appeared to contemporary historians, they received nevertheless the
marechal's consent to the following conditions:
1. That Cavalier and Roland should each be placed in charge of a
regiment serving abroad, and that each of them should be allowed a
2. That all the prisoners should be released and the exiles
3. That the Protestants should be permitted to leave the kingdom,
taking their effects with them.
4. That those Camisards who desired to remain might do so, on giving
up their arms.
5. That those who were abroad might return.
6. That no one should be molested on account of his religion
provided everyone remained quietly at home.
7. That indemnities should be borne by the whole province, and not
exacted specially from the Protestants.
8. That a general amnesty should be granted to all without reserve.
These articles were laid before Roland and Ravanel by d'Aygaliers.
Cavalier, who from the day he went back to Nimes had remained in the
governor's suite, asked leave to return with the baron, and was
permitted to do so. D'Aygaliers and he set out together in
consequence for Anduze, and met Roland and Ravanel about a quarter of
a league from the town, waiting to know the result of the
negotiations. They were accompanied by MM. de Montbel and de
Maison-Blanche, the Catholic hostages.
As soon as Cavalier and Roland met they burst out into recriminations
and reproaches, but through the efforts of d'Aygaliers they soon
became more friendly, and even embraced on parting.
But Ravanel was made of harder stuff: as soon as he caught sight of
Cavalier he called him "traitor," saying that for his part he would
never surrender till the Edict of Nantes was re-enacted; then, having
warned them that the governor's promises were not to be trusted, and
having predicted that a day would come when they would regret their
too great confidence in him, he left the conference and rejoined his
troops, which, with those of Roland, were drawn up on a mountain
about three-quarters of a league distant.
The negotiators did not, however, despair. Ravanel had gone away,
but Roland had debated with them at some length, so they determined
to speak to "the brethren"--that is, to the troops under Roland and
Ravanel, whose headquarters at the moment were at Leuzies, in order
that they might know exactly what articles had been agreed on between
Roland's envoys and the marechal. Those who made up their minds to
take this step were, Cavalier, Roland, Moise, Saint-Paul, Laforet,
Maille, and d'Aygaliers. We take the following account of what
happened in consequence of this decision from d'Aygaliers' Memoirs:
"We had no sooner determined on this plan, than, anxious to carry it
out, we set off. We followed a narrow mountain path on the face of
the cliff which rose up to our right; to our left flowed the Gardon.
"Having gone about a league, we came in sight of the troops, about
3000 strong; an advanced post barred our way.
"Thinking it was placed there in our honour, I was advancing
unsuspiciously, when suddenly we found our road cut off by Camisards
to right and left, who threw themselves on Roland and forced him in
among their troops. Maille and Malplach were dragged from their
horses. As to Cavalier, who was somewhat behind, as soon as he saw
people coming towards him with uplifted sabres and shouting Traitor!
he put spurs to his horse and went off at full gallop, followed by
some townspeople from Anduze who had come with us, and who, now that
they saw the reception we met with, were ready to die with fear.
"I was too far forward to escape: five or six muskets rested on my
breast and a pistol pressed each ear; so I made up my mind to be
bold. I told the troopers to fire; I was willing to die in the
service of my prince, my country, and my religion, as well as for
themselves, whom I was trying to benefit by procuring them the king's
"These words, which I repeated several times in the midst of the
greatest uproar, gave them pause.
"They commanded me to retire, as they did not want to kill me. I
said I should do nothing of the kind: I was going into the middle of
the troops to defend Roland against the charge of treason, or be put
to death myself, unless I could convince them that what I had
proposed to him and Cavalier was for the good of the country, of our
religion, and the brethren; and having thus expostulated at the top
of my voice against thirty voices all trying to drown mine for about
an hour, I offered to fight the man who had induced them to oppose
"At this offer they pointed their muskets at me once more; but
Maille, Malplach, and some others threw themselves before me, and
although they were unarmed, had enough influence to hinder my being
insulted; I was forced, however, to retreat.
"In leaving, I warned them that they were about to bring great
misfortunes on the province, whereupon a man named Claris stepped out
from among the troops, and approaching me exclaimed, 'Go on, sir, and
God bless you! We know that you mean well, and were the first to be
taken in. But go on working for the good of the country, and God
will bless you.'"
D'Aygaliers returned to the marechal, who, furious at the turn things
had taken, resolved instantly to break off all negotiations and have
recourse once more to measures of severity. However, before actually
carrying out this determination, he wrote the following letter to the
"SIRE,--It is always my glory to execute faithfully your Majesty's
orders, whatever those orders may be; but I should have been able, on
many occasions since coming here, to display my zeal for your
Majesty's service in other ways if I had not had to deal with madmen
on whom no dependence could be placed. As soon as we were ready to
attack them, they offered to submit, but a little later changed their
minds again. Nothing could be a greater proof of madness than their
hesitation to accept a pardon of which they were unworthy, and which
was so generously offered by your Majesty. If they do not soon make
up their minds, I shall bring them back to the paths of duty by
force, and thus restore this province to that state of peace which
has been disturbed by these fools."
The day after writing this letter to the king, Roland sent Maille to
M. de Villars to beg him to wait till Saturday and Sunday the 7th and
the 8th June were over, before resorting to severity, that being the
end of the truce. He gave him a solemn promise that he would, in the
interval, either bring in his troops to the last man, or would
himself surrender along with a hundred and fifty followers. The
marechal consented to wait till Saturday morning, but as soon as
Saturday arrived he gave orders to attack the Camisards, and the next
day led a considerable body of troops to Carnoulet, intending to take
the Huguenots by surprise, as word had been brought that they were
all gathered there. They, however, received intelligence of his
plan, and evacuated the village during the night.
The village had to pay dearly for its sin of hospitality; it was
pillaged and burnt down: the miquelets even murdered two women whom
they found there, and d'Aygaliers failed to obtain any satisfaction
for this crime. In this manner M, de Villars kept the fatal promise
he had given, and internecine war raged once more.
Furious at having missed the Camisards, de Menon having heard from
his scouts that Roland was to sleep next night at the chateau de
Prade, went to M. de Villars and asked leave to conduct an expedition
against the chief. He was almost sure of taking Roland by surprise,
having procured a guide whose knowledge of the country was minute.
The marechal gave him carte blanche. In the evening Menon set out
with two hundred grenadiers. He had already put three-quarters of
the way behind him without being discovered, when an Englishman met
them by chance. This man was serving under Roland, but had been
visiting his sweetheart in a neighbouring village, and was on his way
home when he fell among Menon's grenadiers. Without a thought for
his own safety, he fired off his gun, shouting, "Fly! fly! The
royals are upon you!"
The sentinels took up the cry, Roland jumped out of bed, and, without
staying for clothes or horse, ran off in his shirt, escaping by a
postern gate which opened on the forest just as de Menon entered by
another. He found Roland's bed still warm, and took possession of
his clothes, finding in a coat pocket a purse containing thirty-five
Louis, and in the stables three superb horses. The Camisards
answered this beginning of hostilities by a murder. Four of them,
thinking they had reasons for displeasure against one of M. de
Baville's subordinates, named Daude, who was both mayor and
magistrate; at Le Vigan, hid in a corn-field which he had to pass on
his way back from La Valette, his country place. Their measures
were successful: Daude came along just as was expected, and as he had
not the slightest suspicion of the impending danger, he continued
conversing with M, de Mondardier, a gentleman of the neighbourhood
who had asked for the; hand of Daude's daughter in marriage that very
day. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by four men, who,
upbraiding him for his exactions and cruelties, shot him twice
through the head with a pistol. They offered no violence to M. de
Mondardier except to deprive him of his laced hat and sword. The day
on which M. de Villars heard of its murder he set a price on the
heads of Roland, Ravanel, and Catinat. Still the example set by
Cavalier, joined to the resumption of hostilities, was not without
influence on the Camisards; every day letters arrived from single
troopers offering to lay down their arms, and in one day thirty
rebels came in and put themselves into Lalande's hands, while twenty
surrendered to Grandval; these were accorded not only pardon, but
received a reward, in hopes that they might be able to induce others
to do like them; and on the 15th June eight of the troops which had
abandoned Cavalier at Calvisson made submission; while twelve others
asked to be allowed to return to their old chief to follow him
wherever he went. This request was at once granted: they were sent
to Valabregues, where they found forty-two of their old comrades,
amongst whom were Duplan and Cavalier's young brother, who had been
ordered there a few days before. As they arrived they were given
quarters in the barracks, and received good pay--the chiefs forty
sous a day, and the privates ten. So they felt as happy as possible,
being well fed and well lodged, and spent their time preaching,
praying, and psalm-singing, in season and out of season. All this,
says La Baume, was so disagreeable to the inhabitants of the place,
who were Catholics, that if they had not been guarded by the king's
soldiers they would have been pitched into the Rhone.
Meantime the date of Cavalier's departure drew near. A town was to
be named in which he was to reside at a sufficient distance from the
theatre of war to prevent the rebels from depending on him any more;
in this town he was to organise his regiment, and as soon as it was
complete it was to go, under his command, to Spain, and fight for the
king. M. de Villars was still on the same friendly terms with him,
treating him, not like a rebel, but according to his new rank in the
French army. On the 21st June he told him that he was to get ready
to leave the next day, and at the same time he handed him an advance
on their future pay--fifty Louis for himself, thirty for Daniel
Billard, who had been made lieutenant-colonel in the place of
Ravanel, ten for each captain, five for each lieutenant, two for each
sergeant, and one for each private. The number of his followers had
then reached one hundred and fifty, only sixty of whom were armed.
M. de Vassiniac, major in the Fimarcn regiment, accompanied them with
fifty dragoons and fifty of the rank and file from Hainault.
All along the road Cavalier and his men met with a courteous
reception; at Macon they found orders awaiting them to halt.
Cavalier at once wrote to M. de Chamillard to tell him that he had
things of importance to communicate to him, and the minister sent a
courier of the Cabinet called Lavallee to bring Cavalier to
Versailles. This message more than fulfilled all Cavalier's hopes:
he knew that he had been greatly talked about at court, and in spite
of his natural modesty the reception he had met with at Times had
given him new ideas, if not of his own merit, at least of his own
importance. Besides, he felt that his services to the king deserved
The way in which Cavalier was received by Chamillard did not disturb
these golden dreams: the minister welcomed the young colonel like a
man whose worth he appreciated, and told him that the great lords and
ladies of the court were not less favourably disposed towards him.
The next day Chamillard announced to Cavalier that the king desired
to see him, and that he was to keep himself prepared for a summons to
court. Two days later, Cavalier received a letter from the minister
telling him to be at the palace at four o'clock in the afternoon, and
he would place him on the grand staircase, up which the king would
Cavalier put on his handsomest clothes, for the first time in his
life perhaps taking trouble with his toilet. He had fine features,
to which his extreme youth, his long fair hair, and the gentle
expression of his eyes lent much charm. Two years of warfare had
given him a martial air; in short, even among the most elegant, he
might pass as a beau cavalier.
At three o'clock he reached Versailles, and found Chamillard waiting
for him; all the courtiers of every rank were in a state of great
excitement, for they had learned that the great Louis had expressed a
wish to meet the late Cevenol chief, whose name had been pronounced
so loud and so often in the mountains of Languedoc that its echoes
had resounded in the halls of Versailles. Cavalier had not been
mistaken in thinking that everyone was curious to see him, only as no
one yet knew in what light the king regarded him, the courtiers dared
not accost him for fear of compromising their dignity; the manner of
his reception by His Majesty would regulate the warmth of his
reception by everyone else.
Met thus by looks of curiosity and affected silence, the young
colonel felt some embarrassment, and this increased when Chamillard,
who had accompanied him to his appointed place, left him to rejoin
the king. However, in a few moments he did what embarrassed people
so often do, hid his shyness under an air of disdain, and, leaning on
the balustrade, crossed his legs and played with the feather of his
When half an hour had passed in this manner, a great commotion was
heard: Cavalier turned in the direction from which it came, and
perceived the king just entering the vestibule. It was the first
time he had seen him, but he recognized him at once. Cavalier's
knees knocked together and his face flushed.
The king mounted the stairs step by step with his usual dignity,
stopping from time to time to say a word or make a sign with head or
hand. Behind him, two steps lower, came Chamillard, moving and
stopping as the king moved and stopped, and answering the questions
which His Majesty put to him in a respectful but formal and precise
Reaching the level on which Cavalier stood, the king stopped under
pretext of pointing out to Chamillard a new ceiling which Le Brun had
just finished, but really to have a good look at the singular man who
had maintained a struggle against two marshals of France and treated
with a third on equal terms. When he had examined him quite at his
ease, he turned to Chamillard, pretending he had only just caught
sight of the stranger, and asked:
"Who is this young gentleman?"
"Sire," answered the minister, stepping forward to present him to the
king, "this is Colonel Jean Cavalier."
"Ah yes," said the king contemptuously, "the former baker of Anduze!"
And shrugging his shoulders disdainfully, he passed on.
Cavalier on his side had, like Chamillard, taken a step forward, when
the scornful answer of the great king changed him into a statue. For
an instant he stood motionless and pale as death, then instinctively
he laid his hand on his sword, but becoming conscious that he was
lost if he remained an instant longer among these people, whom not
one of his motions escaped, although they pretended to despise him
too much to be aware of his presence, he dashed down the staircase
and through the hall, upsetting two or three footmen who were in his
way, hurried into the garden, ran across it at full speed, and
regaining his room at the hotel, threw himself on the floor, where he
rolled like a maniac, uttering cries of rage, and cursing the hour
when, trusting to the promises of M. de Villars, he had abandoned the
mountains where he was as much a king as Louis XIV at Versailles. The
same evening he received orders to leave Paris and rejoin his
regiment at Macon. He therefore set out the next morning, without
seeing M. de Chamillard again.
Cavalier on arriving at Macon found that his comrades had had a visit
from M. d'Aygaliers, who had come again to Paris, in the hope of
obtaining more from the king than M. de Villars could or would grant.
Cavalier, without telling his comrades of the strange manner in which
the king had received him, gave them to understand that he was
beginning to fear that not only would the promises they had received
be broken, but that some strange trick would be played upon them.
Thereupon these men, whose chief and oracle he had been for so long,
asked him what they ought to do; Cavalier replied that if they would
follow him, their best course and his would be to take the first
opportunity of gaining the frontier and leaving the country. They
all declared themselves ready to follow him anywhere. This caused
Cavalier a new pang of regret, for he could not help recollecting
that he had once had under his command fifteen hundred men like
The next day Cavalier and his comrades set out on their march without
knowing whither they were being taken, not having been able to obtain
any information as to their destination from their escort--a silence
which confirmed them in their resolution. As soon, therefore, as
they reached Onnan, Cavalier declared that he considered that the
looked-for opportunity had arrived, asking them if they were still in
the same mind: they returned that they would do whatever he advised.
Cavalier then ordered them to hold themselves in readiness, Daniel
offered up a prayer, and the prayer ended, the whole company deserted
in a body, and, crossing Mont Belliard, entered Porentruy, and took
the road to Lausanne.
Meantime d'Aygaliers, in his turn, arrived at Versailles, with
letters from M. de Villars for the Duke of Beauvilliers, president of
the king's council, and for Chamillard. The evening of his arrival
he delivered these letters to those to whom they were addressed, and
both gentlemen promised to present him to the king.
Four days later, Chamillard sent word to d'Aygaliers that he was to
be next day at the door of the king's chamber at the time when the
council entered. D'Aygaliers was punctual, the king appeared at the
usual hour, and as he paused before d'Aygaliers, Chamillard came
forward and said
Baron d'Aygaliers, sire."
"I am very glad to see you, sir," said the king, "for I am very much
pleased with the zeal you have displayed in Languedoc in my service
--very much pleased indeed."
"Sire," answered d'Aygaliers, "I consider myself most unfortunate in
that I have been able to accomplish nothing deserving of the gracious
words which your Majesty deigns to address me, and I pray God of His
grace to grant me in the future an opportunity of proving my zeal and
loyalty in your Majesty's service more clearly than hitherto."
"Never mind, never mind," said the king. "I repeat, sir, that I am
very much pleased with what you have done."
And he entered the room where the council was waiting.
D'Aygaliers went away only half satisfied: he had not come so far
only to receive commendation from the king, but in the hope of
obtaining some concession for his brethren; but with Louis XIV it was
impossible either to intercede or complain, one could only wait.
The same evening Chamillard sent for the baron, and told him that as
Marechal Villars had mentioned in his letter that the Camisards had
great confidence in him, d'Aygaliers, he wished to ask him if he were
willing to go once more to them and try and bring them back to the
path of duty.
"Certainly I am willing; but I fear things have now got so far that
there will be great difficulty in calming the general perturbation of
"But what can these people want?" asked Chamillard, as if he had just
heard them spoken of for the first time, "and by what means can we
"In my opinion," said the baron, "the king should allow to all his
subjects the free exercise of their religion."
"What! legalise once more the exercise of the so-called Reformed
religion!" exclaimed the minister. "Be sure you never mention such a
thing again. The king would rather see his kingdom destroyed than
consent to such a measure."
"Monseigneur," replied the baron, "if that is the case, then I must
say with great regret that I know of no other way to calm the
discontent which will ultimately result in the ruin of one of the
fairest provinces in France."
"But that is unheard-of obstinacy," said the minister, lost in
astonishment; "these people will destroy themselves, and drag their
country down with them. If they cannot conform to our religion, why
do they not worship God in their own way at home? No one will
disturb them as long as they don't insist on public worship."
"At first that was all they wanted, monseigneur; and I am convinced
that if people had not been dragged to confession and communion by
force, it would have been easy to keep them in that submissive frame
of mind from which they were only driven by despair; but at present
they say that it is not enough to pray at home, they want to be
married, to have their children baptised and instructed, and to die
and be buried according to the ordinances of their own faith."
"Where may you have seen anyone who was ever made to communicate by
force?" asked Chamillard.
D'Aygaliers looked at the minister in surprise, thinking he spoke in
joke; but seeing he was quite serious, he answered:
"Alas, monseigneur, my late father and my mother, who is still
living, are both instances of people subjected to this indignity."
"Are you, then, not a Catholic?" asked Chamillard.
"No, monseigneur," replied d'Aygaliers.
"Then how did you manage to return to France?"
"To speak the truth, sir, I only came back to help my mother to
escape; but she never could make up her mind to leave France, as such
a step was surrounded by many difficulties which she feared she could
never surmount. So she asked my other relations to persuade me to
remain. I yielded to their importunities on condition that they
would never interfere with my beliefs. To accomplish this end they
got a priest with whom they were intimate to say that I had changed
my views once more, and I did not contradict the report. It was a
great sin on my part, and I deeply repent it. I must add, however,
that whenever anyone has asked me the question your Excellency asked
me just now I have always given the same reply."
The minister did not seem to take the baron's frankness in bad part;
only he remarked, when dismissing him, that he hoped he would find
out some way of ridding the kingdom of those who refused to think in
religious matters as His Majesty commanded.
D'Aygaliers replied that it was a problem to which he had given much
thought, but without ever being able to find a solution, but that he
would think about it more earnestly in future. He then withdrew.
Some days later, Chamillard sent ward to d'Aygaliers that the king
would graciously give him a farewell audience. The baron relates
what took place at this second interview, as follows.
"His Majesty," says he, "received me in the council chamber, and was
so good as to repeat once more in the presence of all his ministers
that he was very much pleased with my services, but that there was
one thing about me he should like to correct. I begged His Majesty
to tell me what the fault was, and I should try to get rid of it at,
the peril of my life."
"'It is your religion,' said the king. 'I should like to have you
become a good Catholic, so that I might be able to grant you favours
and enable you to serve me better.' His Majesty added that I ought
to seek instruction, and that then I should one day recognise what a
great benefit he desired to bring within my reach.
"I answered that I would esteem myself happy if at the cost of my
life I could prove the burning zeal with which I was filled for the
service of the greatest of earthly kings, but that I should be
unworthy of the least of his favours if I obtained it by hypocrisy or
by anything of which my conscience did not approve, but that I was
grateful for the goodness which made him anxious for my salvation.
I told him also that I had already taken every opportunity of
receiving instruction, and had tried to put aside the prejudices
arising from my birth, such as often hindered people from recognising
the truth, with the result that I had at one time almost lost all
sense of religion, until God, taking pity on me, had opened my eyes
and brought me out of that deplorable condition, making me see that
the faith in which I had been born was the only one for me. 'And I
can assure your Majesty,' I added, 'that many of the Languedoc
bishops who ought, it seems to me, to try to make us Catholics, are
the instruments which Providence uses to prevent us from becoming so.
For instead of attracting us by gentleness and good example, they
ceaselessly subject us to all kinds of persecutions, as if to
convince us that God is punishing us for our cowardice in giving up a
religion which we know to be good, by delivering us up to pastors
who, far from labouring to assure our salvation, use all their
efforts to drive us to despair."
"At this the king shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Enough, do not
say any more.' I asked for his blessing as the king and father of all
his subjects. The king burst out laughing, and told me that M. de
Chamillard would give me his orders."
In virtue of this intimation d'Aygaliers went next day to the
minister's country house; for Chamillard had given him that address,
and there he learned that the king had granted him a pension of 800
livres. The baron remarked that, not having worked for money, he had
hoped for a better reward; as far as money was concerned, he desired
only the reimbursement of the actual expenses of his journeys to and
from, but Chamillard answered that the king expected all that he
offered and whatever he offered to be accepted with gratitude. To
this there was no possible reply, so the same evening d'Aygaliers set
out on his return to Languedoc.
Three months later, Chamillard forwarded him an order to leave the
kingdom, telling him that he was to receive a pension of four hundred
crowns per annum, and enclosing the first quarter in advance.
As there was no means of evading this command, D'Aygaliers set out
for Geneva, accompanied by thirty-three followers, arriving there on
the 23rd of September. Once rid of him, Louis the Magnificent
thought that he had done his part nobly and that he owed him nothing
further, so that d'Aygaliers waited a whole year in vain for the
second quarter of his pension.
At the end of this time, as his letters to Chamillard remained
unanswered, and finding himself without resources in a foreign
country, he believed himself justified in returning to France and
taking up his residence on his family estate. Unfortunately, on his
way through Lyons, the provost of merchants, hearing of his return,
had him arrested, and sent word to the king, who ordered him to be
taken to the chateau de Loches. After a year's imprisonment,
d'Aygaliers, who had just entered on his thirty-fifth year, resolved
to try and escape, preferring to die in the attempt rather than
remain a prisoner for life. He succeeded in getting possession of a
file with which he removed one of the bars of his window, and by
means of knotting his sheets together, he got down, taking the
loosened bar with him to serve, in case of need, as a weapon. A
sentinel who was near cried, "Who goes there?" but d'Aygaliers
stunned him with his bar. The cry, however, had given the alarm: a
second sentinel saw a man flying, fired at him, and killed him on the
Such was the reward of the devoted patriotism of Baron d'Aygaliers!
Meantime Roland's troops had increased greatly in number, having been
joined by the main body of those who had once been commanded by
Cavalier, so that he had, about eight hundred men at his disposal.
Some distance away, another chief, named Joanny, had four hundred;
Larose, to whom Castanet had transferred his command, found himself
at the head of three hundred; Boizeau de Rochegude was followed by
one hundred, Saltet de Soustel by two hundred, Louis Coste by fifty,
and Catinat by forty, so that, in spite of the victory of Montrevel
and the negotiations of M. de Villars, the Camisards still formed an
effective force of eighteen hundred and ninety men, not to speak of
many single troopers who owned no commander but acted each for
himself, and were none the less mischievous for that. All these
troops, except these latter, obeyed Roland, who since the defection
of Cavalier had been recognised as generalissimo of the forces.
M. de Villars thought if he could separate Roland from his troops as
he had separated Cavalier, his plans would be more easy to carry out.
So he made use of every means within his reach to gain over Roland,
and as soon as one plan failed he tried another. At one moment he
was almost sure of obtaining his object by the help of a certain
Jourdan de Mianet, a great friend of his, who offered his services as
an intermediary, but who failed like all the others, receiving from
Roland a positive refusal, so that it became evident that resort must
be had to other means than those of persuasion. A sum of 100 Louis
had already been set on Roland's head: this sum was now doubled.
Three days afterwards, a young man from Uzes, by name Malarte, in
whom Roland had every confidence, wrote to M. de Paratte that the
Camisard general intended to pass the night of the 14th of August at
the chateau Castelnau.
De Paratte immediately made his dispositions, and ordered
Lacoste-Badie, at the head of two companies of dragoons, and all the
officers at Uzes who were well mounted, to hold themselves in
readiness to start on an expedition at eight o'clock in the evening,
but not revealing its object to them till the time came. At eight
o'clock, having been told what they had to do, they set off at such a
pace that they came in sight of the chateau within an hour, and were
obliged to halt and conceal themselves, lest they should appear too
soon, before Roland had retired for the night. But they need not
have been afraid; the Camisard chief, who was accustomed to rely on
all his men as on himself, had gone to bed without any suspicion,
having full confidence in the vigilance of one of his officers, named
Grimaud, who had stationed himself as sentinel on the roof of the
chateau. Led by Malarte, Lacoste-Badie and his dragoons took a
narrow covered way, which led them to the foot of the walls, so that
when Grimaud saw them it was already too late, the chateau being
surrounded on all sides. Firing off his gun, he cried, "To arms!"
Roland, roused by the cry and the shot, leaped out of bed, and taking
his clothes in one hand and his sword in the other, ran out of his
room. At the door he met Grimaud, who, instead of thinking of his
own safety, had come to watch over that of his chief. They both ran
to the stables to get horses, but three of their men--Marchand,
Bourdalie, and Bayos--had been before them and had seized on the best
ones, and riding them bare-backed had dashed through the front gates
before the dragoons could stop them. The horses that were left were
so wretched that Roland felt there was no chance of out-distancing
the dragoons by their help, so he resolved to fly on foot, thus
avoiding the open roads and being able to take refuge in every ravine
and every bush as cover. He therefore hastened with Grimaud and four
other officers who had gathered round him towards a small back gate
which opened on the fields, but as there was, besides the troops
which entered the chateau, a ring of dragoons round it, they fell at
once into the hands of some men who had been placed in ambush.
Seeing himself surrounded, Roland let fall the clothes which he had
not yet had time to put on, placed his back against a tree, drew his
sword, and challenged the boldest, whether officer or private, to
approach. His features expressed such resolution, that when he thus,
alone and half naked, defied them all, there was a moment's
hesitation, during which no one ventured to take a forward step; but
this pause was broken by the report of a gun: the arm which Roland
had stretched out against his adversaries fell to his side, the sword
with which he had threatened them escaped from his hand, his knees
gave way, so that his body, which was only supported by the tree
against which he leaned, after remaining an instant erect, gradually
sank to the ground. Collecting all his strength, Roland raised his
two hands to Heaven, as if to call down the vengeance of God upon his
murderers, then, without having uttered a single word, he fell
forward dead, shot through the heart. The name of the dragoon who
killed him was Soubeyrand.
Maillie, Grimaud, Coutereau, Guerin, and Ressal, the five Camisard
officers, seeing their chief dead, let themselves be taken as if they
were children, without thinking of making any resistance.
The dead body of Roland was carried back in triumph to Uzes, and from
there to Nimes, where it was put upon trial as if still alive. It
was sentenced to be dragged on hurdles and then burnt. The execution
of this sentence was carried out with such pomp as made it impossible
for the one party to forget the punishment and for the other to
forget the martyrdom. At the end the ashes of Roland were scattered
to the four winds of heaven.
The execution of the five officers followed close on that of their
chief's body; they were condemned to be broken on the wheel, and the
sentence was carried out on all at once. But their death, instead of
inspiring the Calvinists with terror, gave them rather fresh courage,
for, as an eye-witness relates, the five Camisards bore their
tortures not only with fortitude, but with a light-heartedness which
surprised all present, especially those who had never seen a Camisard
Malarte received his 200 Louis, but to-day his name is coupled with
that of Judas in the minds of his countrymen.
>From this time on fortune ceased to smile on the Camisards. Genius
had gone with Cavalier, and, faith with Roland. The very day of the
death of the latter, one of their stores, containing more than eighty
sacks of corn, had been taken at Toiras. The next day, Catinat, who,
with a dozen men, was in hiding in a vineyard of La Vaunage, was
surprised by a detachment of Soissonnais; eleven of his men were
killed, the twelfth made prisoner, and he himself barely escaped with
a severe wound. The 25th of the same month, a cavern near Sauve,
which the rebels used as a store, and which contained one hundred and
fifty sacks of fine wheat, was discovered; lastly, Chevalier de
Froulay had found a third hiding-place near Mailet. In this, which
had been used not only as a store but as a hospital, besides a
quantity of salt beef, wine, and flour, six wounded Camisards were
found, who were instantly shot as they lay.
The only band which remained unbroken was Ravanel's, but since the
departure of Cavalier things had not gone well with his lieutenant.
In consequence of this, and also on account of the successive checks
which the other bodies of Camisard troops had met with, Ravanel
proclaimed a solemn fast, in order to intercede with God to protect
the Huguenot cause. On Saturday, the 13th September, he led his
entire force to the wood of St. Benazet, intending to pass the whole
of the next day with them there in prayer. But treason was rife.
Two peasants who knew of this plan gave information to M. Lenoir,
mayor of Le Vigan, and he sent word to the marechal and M. de
Saville, who were at Anduze.
Nothing could have been more welcome to the governor than this
important information: he made the most careful disposition of his
forces, hoping to destroy the rebellion at one blow. He ordered
M. de Courten, a brigadier-colonel in command at Alais, to take a
detachment of the troops under him and patrol the banks of the Gardon
between Ners and Castagnols. He was of opinion that if the Camisards
were attacked on the other side by a body of soldiers drawn from
Anduze, which he had stationed during the night at Dommersargues,
they would try to make good their retreat towards the river. The
force at Dommersargues might almost be called a small army; for it
was composed of a Swiss battalion, a battalion of the Hainault
regiment, one from the Charolais regiment, and four companies of
dragoons from Fimarcon and Saint-Sernin.
Everything took place as the peasants had said: on Saturday the 13th,
the Camisards entered, as we have seen, the wood of St. Benazet, and
passed the night there.
At break of day the royals from Dommersargues began their advance.
The Camisard outposts soon perceived the movement, and warned
Ravanel, who held his little council of war. Everyone was in favour
of instant retreat, so they retired towards Ners, intending to cross
the Gardon below that town: just as M. de Villars had foreseen, the
Camisards did everything necessary for the success of his plans, and
ended by walking right into the trap set for them.
On emerging from the wood of St. Benazet, they caught sight of a
detachment of royals drawn up and waiting for them between Marvejols
and a mill called the Moulin-du-Pont. Seeing the road closed in this
direction, they turned sharp to the left, and gained a rocky valley
which ran parallel to the Gardon. This they followed till they came
out below Marvejols, where they crossed the river. They now thought
themselves out of danger, thanks to this manoeuvre, but suddenly they
saw another detachment of royals lying on the grass near the mill of
La Scie. They at once halted again, and then, believing themselves
undiscovered, turned back, moving as noiselessly as possible,
intending to recross the river and make for Cardet. But they only
avoided one trap to fall into another, for in this direction they
were met by the Hainault battalion, which swooped down upon them.
A few of these ill-fated men rallied at the sound of Ravanel's voice
and made an effort to defend themselves in spite of the prevailing
confusion; but the danger was so imminent, the foes so numerous, and
their numbers decreased so rapidly under the fierce assault, that
their example failed of effect, and flight became general: every man
trusted to chance for guidance, and, caring nothing for the safety of
others, thought only of his own.
Then it ceased to be a battle and become a massacre, for the royals
were ten to one; and among those they encountered, only sixty had
firearms, the rest, since the discovery of their various magazines,
having been reduced to arm themselves with bad swords, pitchforks,
and bayonets attached to sticks. Hardly a man survived the fray.
Ravanel himself only succeeded in escaping by throwing himself into
the river, where he remained under water between two rocks for seven
hours, only coming to the surface to breathe. When night fell and
the dragoons had retired, he also fled.
This was the last battle of the war, which had lasted four years.
With Cavalier and Roland, those two mountain giants, the power of the
rebels disappeared. As the news of the defeat spread, the Camisard
chiefs and soldiers becoming convinced that the Lord had hidden His
face from them, surrendered one by one. The first to set an example
was Castanet. On September 6th, a week after the defeat of Ravanel,
he surrendered to the marechal. On the 19th, Catinat and his
lieutenant, Franqois Souvayre, tendered their submission; on the
22nd, Amet, Roland's brother, came in; on October 4th, Joanny; on the
9th, Larose, Valette, Salomon, Laforet, Moulieres, Salles, Abraham
and Marion; on the 20th, Fidele; and on the 25th, Rochegude.
Each made what terms he could; in general the conditions were
favourable. Most of those who submitted received rewards of money,
some more, some less; the smallest amount given being 200 livres.
They all received passports, and were ordered to leave the kingdom,
being sent, accompanied by an escort and at the king's expense, to
Geneva. The following is the account given by Marion of the
agreement he came to with the Marquis Lalande; probably all the
others were of the same nature.
"I was deputed," he says, "to treat with this lieutenant-general in
regard to the surrender of my own troops and those of Larose, and to
arrange terms for the inhabitants of thirty-five parishes who had
contributed to our support during the war. The result of the
negotiations was that all the prisoners from our cantons should be
set at liberty, and be reinstated in their possessions, along with
all the others. The inhabitants of those parishes which had been
ravaged by fire were to be exempt from land-tax for three years; and
in no parish were the inhabitants to be taunted with the past, nor
molested on the subject of religion, but were to be free to worship
God in their own houses according to their consciences."
These agreements were fulfilled with such punctuality, that Larose
was permitted to open the prison doors of St. Hippolyte to forty
prisoners the very day he made submission.
As we have said, the Camisards, according as they came in, were sent
off to Geneva. D'Aygaliers, whose fate we have anticipated, arrived
there on September 23rd, accompanied by Cavalier's eldest brother,
Malpach, Roland's secretary, and thirty-six Camisards. Catinat and
Castanet arrived there on the 8th October, along with twenty-two
other persons, while Larose, Laforet, Salomon, Moulieres, Salles,
Marion, and Fidele reached it under the escort of forty dragoons from
Fimarcon in the month of November.
Of all the chiefs who had turned Languedoc for four years into a vast
arena, only Ravanel remained, but he refused either to surrender or
to leave the country. On the 8th October the marechal issued an
order declaring he had forfeited all right to the favour of an
amnesty, and offering a reward of 150 Louis to whoever delivered him
up living, and 2400 livres to whoever brought in his dead body, while
any hamlet, village, or town which gave him refuge would be burnt to
the ground and the inhabitants put to the sword.
The revolt seemed to be at an end and peace established. So the
marechal was recalled to court, and left Nimes on January the 6th.
Before his departure he received the States of Languedoc, who
bestowed on him not only the praise which was his due for having
tempered severity with mercy, but also a purse of 12,000 livres,
while a sum of 8000 livres was presented to his wife. But all this
was only a prelude to the favours awaiting him at court. On the day
he returned to Paris the king decorated him with all the royal orders
and created him a duke. On the following day he received him, and
thus addressed him: "Sir, your past services lead me to expect much
of those you will render me in the future. The affairs of my kingdom
would be better conducted if I had several Villars at my disposal.
Having only one, I must always send him where he is most needed. It
was for that reason I sent you to Languedoc. You have, while there,
restored tranquillity to my subjects, you must now defend them
against their enemies; for I shall send you to command my army on the
Moselle in the next campaign."
The, Duke of Berwick arrived at Montpellier on the 17th March to
replace Marechal Villars. His first care was to learn from M. de
Baville the exact state of affairs. M. de Baville told him that they
were not at all settled as they appeared to be on the surface.
In fact, England and Holland, desiring nothing so much as that an
intestine war should waste France, were making unceasing efforts to
induce the exiles to return home, promising that this time they would
really support them by lending arms, ammunition, and men, and it was
said that some were already on their way back, among the number
And indeed the late rebel chief, tired of inaction, had left Geneva
in the end of February, and arrived safely at Vivarais. He had held
a religious meeting in a cave near La Goree, and had drawn to his
side Valette of Vals and Boyer of Valon. Just as the three had
determined to penetrate into the Cevennes, they were denounced by
some peasants before a Swiss officer named Muller, who was in command
of a detachment of troops in the village of Riviere. Muller
instantly mounted his horse, and guided by the informers made his way
into the little wood in which the Camisards had taken refuge, and
fell upon them quite unexpectedly. Boyer was killed in trying to
escape; Castanet was taken and brought to the nearest prison, where
he was joined the next day by Valette, who had also been betrayed by
some peasants whom he had asked for assistance.
The first punishment inflicted on Castanet was, that he was compelled
to carry in his hand the head of Boyer all the way from La Goree to
Montpellier. He protested vehemently at first, but in vain: it was
fastened to his wrist by the hair; whereupon he kissed it on both
cheeks, and went through the ordeal as if it were a religious act,
addressing words of prayer to the head as he might have done to a
relic of a martyr.
Arrived at Montpellier, Castanet was examined, and at first persisted
in saying that he had only returned from exile because he had not the
wherewithal to live abroad. But when put to the torture he was made
to endure such agony that, despite his courage and constancy, he
confessed that he had formed a plan to introduce a band of Huguenot
soldiers with their officers into the Cevennes by way of Dauphine or
by water, and while waiting for their arrival he had sent on
emissaries in advance to rouse the people to revolt; that he himself
had also shared in this work; that Catinat was at the moment in
Languedoc or Vivarais engaged in the same task, and provided with a
considerable sum of money sent him by foreigners for distribution,
and that several persons of still greater importance would soon cross
the frontier and join him.
Castanet was condemned to be broken on the wheel. As he was about to
be led to execution, Abbe Tremondy, the cure of Notre-Dame, and Abbe
Plomet, canon of the cathedral, came to his cell to make a last
effort to convert him, but he refused to speak. They therefore went
on before, and awaited him on the scaffold. There they appeared to
inspire Castanet with more horror than the instruments of torture,
and while he addressed the executioner as "brother," he called out to
the priests, "Go away out of my sight, imps from the bottomless pit!
What are you doing here, you accursed tempters? I will die in the
religion in which I was born. Leave me alone, ye hypocrites, leave
me alone!" But the two abbes were unmoved, and Castanet expired
cursing, not the executioner but the two priests, whose presence
during his death-agony disturbed his soul, turning it away from
things which should have filled it.
Valette was sentenced to be hanged, and was executed on the same day
In spite of the admissions wrung from Castanet in March, nearly a
month passed without any sign of fresh intrigues or any attempt at
rebellion. But on the 17th of April, about seven o'clock in the
evening, M. de Baville received intelligence that several Camisards
had lately returned from abroad, and were in hiding somewhere, though
their retreat was not known. This information was laid before the
Duke of Berwick, and he and M. de Baville ordered certain houses to
be searched, whose owners were in their opinion likely to have given
refuge to the malcontents. At midnight all the forces which they
could collect were divided into twelve detachments, composed of
archers and soldiers, and at the head of each detachment was placed a
man that could be depended upon. Dumayne, the king's lieutenant,
assigned to each the districts they were to search, and they all set
out at once from the town hall, at half-past twelve, marching in
silence, and separating at signs from their leaders, so anxious were
they to make no noise. At first all their efforts were of no avail,
several houses being searched without any result; but at length
Jausserand, the diocesan provost, having entered one of the houses
which he and Villa, captain of the town troops, had had assigned to
them, they found three men sleeping on mattresses laid on the floor.
The provost roused them by asking them who they were, whence they
came, and what they were doing at Montpellier, and as they, still
half asleep, did not reply quite promptly, he ordered them to dress
and follow him.
These three men were Flessiere, Gaillard, and Jean-Louis. Flessiere
was a deserter from the Fimarcon regiment: he it was who knew most
about the plot. Gaillard had formerly served in the Hainault
regiment; and Jean-Louis, commonly called "the Genevois," was a
deserter from the Courten regiment.
Flessiere, who was the leader, felt that it would be a great disgrace
to let themselves be taken without resistance; he therefore pretended
to obey, but in lifting up his clothes, which lay upon a trunk, he
managed to secure two pistols, which he cocked. At the noise made by
the hammers the provost's suspicions were aroused, and throwing
himself on Flessiere, he seized him round the waist from behind.
Flessiere, unable to turn, raised his arm and fired over his
shoulder. The shot missed the provost, merely burning a lock of his
hair, but slightly wounded one of his servants, who was carrying a
lantern. He then tried to fire a second shot, but Jausserand,
seizing him by the wrist with one hand, blew out his brains with the
other. While Jausserand and Flessiere were thus struggling, Gaillard
threw himself on Villa, pinning his arms to his sides. As he had no
weapons, he tried to push him to the wall, in order to stun him by
knocking his head against it; but when the servant, being wounded,
let the lantern fall, he took advantage of the darkness to make a
dash for the door, letting go his hold of his antagonist.
Unfortunately for him, the doors, of which there were two, were
guarded, and the guards, seeing a half-naked man running away at the
top of his speed, ran after him, firing several shots. He received a
wound which, though not dangerous, impeded his flight, so that he was
boon overtaken and captured. They brought him back a prisoner to the
town hall, where Flessiere's dead body already lay.
Meanwhile Jean-Louis had had better luck. While the two struggles as
related above were going on, he slipped unnoticed to an open window
and got out into the street. He ran round the corner of the house,
and disappeared like a shadow in the darkness before the eyes of the
guards. For a long time he wandered from street to street, running
down one and up another, till chance brought him near
La Poissonniere. Here he perceived a beggar propped against a post
and fast asleep; he awoke him, and proposed that they should exchange
clothes. As Jean-Louis' suit was new and the beggar's in rags, the
latter thought at first it was a joke. Soon perceiving, however,
that the offer was made in all seriousness, he agreed to the
exchange, and the two separated, each delighted with his bargain.
Jean-Louis approached one of the gates of the town, in order to be
able to get out as soon as it was opened, and the begger hastened off
in another direction, in order to get away from the man who had let
him have so good a bargain, before he had time to regret the exchange
he had made.
But the night's adventures were far from being over. The beggar was
taken a prisoner, Jean-Louis' coat being recognised, and brought to
the town hall, where the mistake was discovered. The Genevois
meantime got into a dark street, and lost his way. Seeing three men
approach, one of whom carried a lantern, he went towards the light,
in order to find out where he was, and saw, to his surprise, that one
of the men was the servant whom Flessiere had wounded, and who was
now going to have his wound dressed. The Genevois tried to draw back
into the shade, but it was too late: the servant had recognised him.
He then tried to fly; but the wounded man soon overtook him, and
although one of his hands was disabled, he held him fast with the
other, so that the two men who were with him ran up and easily
secured him. He also was brought to the town hall, where he found
the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville, who were awaiting the result
of the affray.
Hardly had the prisoner caught sight of them than, seeing himself
already hanged, which was no wonder considering the marvellous
celerity with which executions were conducted at that epoch, he threw
himself on his knees, confessed who he was, and related for what
reason he had joined the fanatics. He went on to say that as he had
not joined them of his own free will, but had been forced to do so,
he would, if they would spare his life, reveal important secrets to
them, by means of which they could arrest the principal conspirators.
His offer was so tempting and his life of so little worth that the
duke and de Baville did not long hesitate, but pledged their word to
spare his life if the revelations he was about to make proved to be
of real importance. The bargain being concluded, the Genevois made
the following statement:
"That several letters having arrived from foreign countries
containing promises of men and money, the discontented in the
provinces had leagued together in order to provoke a fresh rebellion.
By means of these letters and other documents which were scattered
abroad, hopes were raised that M. de Miremont, the last Protestant
prince of the house of Bourbon, would bring them reinforcements five
or six thousand strong. These reinforcements were to come by sea and
make a descent on Aigues-Mortes or Cette,--and two thousand Huguenots
were to arrive at the same time by way of Dauphine and join the
others as they disembarked.
"That in this hope Catinat, Clary, and Jonquet had left Geneva and
returned to France, and having joined Ravanel had gone secretly
through those parts of the country known to be infected with
fanaticism, and made all necessary arrangements, such as amassing
powder and lead, munitions of war, and stores of all kinds, as well
as enrolling the names of all those who were of age to bear arms.
Furthermore, they had made an estimate of what each city, town, and
village ought to contribute in money or in kind to the--League of the
Children of God, so that they could count on having eight or ten
thousand men ready to rise at the first signal. They had furthermore
resolved that there should be risings in several places at the same
time, which places were already chosen, and each of those who were to
take part in the movement knew his exact duty. At Montpellier a
hundred of the most determined amongst the disaffected were to set
fire in different quarters to the houses of the Catholics, killing
all who attempted to extinguish the fires, and with the help of the
Huguenot inhabitants were, to slaughter the garrison, seize the
citadel, and carry off the Duke of Berwick and M. de Baville. The
same things were to be done at Nimes, Uzes, Alais, Anduze,
Saint-Hippolyte, and Sommieres. Lastly, he said, this conspiracy had
been going on for more than three months, and the conspirators, in
order not to be found out, had only revealed their plans to those
whom they knew to be ready to join them: they had not admitted a
single woman to their confidence, or any man whom it was possible to
suspect. Further, they had only met at night and a few persons at a
time, in certain country houses, to which admittance was gained by
means of a countersign; the 25th of April was the day fixed for the
general rising and the execution of these projects."
As may be seen, the danger was imminent, as there was only six days'
interval between the revelation and the expected outburst; so the
Genevois was consulted, under renewed promises of safety for himself,
as to the best means of seizing on the principal chiefs in the
shortest possible time. He replied that he saw no other way but to
accompany them himself to Nimes, where Catinat and Ravanel were in
hiding, in a house of which he did not know the number and in a
street of which he did not know the name, but which he was sure of
recognising when he saw them. If this advice were to be of any
avail, there was no time to be lost, for Ravanel and Catinat were to
leave Nimes on the 20th or the 21st at latest; consequently, if they
did not set off at once, the chiefs would no longer be there when
they arrived. The advice seemed good, so the marechal and the
intendant hastened to follow it: the informer was sent to Nimes
guarded by six archers, the conduct of the expedition was given to
Barnier, the provost's lieutenant, a man of intellect and common
sense, and in whom the provost had full confidence. He carried
letters for the Marquis of Sandricourt.
As they arrived late on the evening of the 19th, the Genevois was at
once led up and down the streets of Nimes, and, as he had promised,
he pointed out several houses in the district of Sainte-Eugenie.
Sandricourt at once ordered the garrison officers, as well as those
of the municipal and Courten regiments, to put all their soldiers
under arms and to station them quietly throughout the town so as to
surround that district. At ten o'clock, the Marquis of Sandricourt,
having made certain that his instructions had been carefully carried
out, gave orders to MM. de L'Estrade, Barnier, Joseph Martin, Eusebe,
the major of the Swiss regiment, and several other officers, along
with ten picked men, to repair to the house of one Alison, a silk
merchant, this house having been specially pointed out by the
prisoner. This they did, but seeing the door open, they had little
hope of finding the chiefs of a conspiracy in a place so badly
guarded; nevertheless, determined to obey their instructions, they
glided softly into the hall. In a few moments, during which silence
and darkness reigned, they heard people speaking rather loudly in an
adjoining room, and by listening intently they caught the following
words: "It is quite sure that in less than three weeks the king will
be no longer master of Dauphine, Vivarais, and Languedoc. I am being
sought for everywhere, and here I am in Nimes, with nothing to fear."
It was now quite clear to the listeners that close at hand were some
at least of those for whom they were looking. They ran to the door,
which was ajar, and entered the room, sword in hand. They found
Ravanel, Jonquet, and Villas talking together, one sitting on a
table, another standing on the hearth, and the third lolling on a
Jonquet was a young man from Sainte-Chatte, highly thought of among
the Camisards. He had been, it may be remembered, one of Cavalier's
principal officers. Villas was the son of a doctor in Saint-
Hippolyte; he was still young, though he had seen ten years' service,
having been cornet in England in the Galloway regiment. As to
Ravanel, he is sufficiently known to our readers to make any words of
De l'Estrade threw himself on the nearest of the three, and, without
using his sword, struck him with his fist. Ravanel (for it was he)
being half stunned, fell back a step and asked the reason of this
violent assault; while Barnier exclaimed, "Hold him fast, M. de
l'Estrade; it is Ravanel!" "Well, yes, I am Ravanel," said the
Camisard," but that is no reason for making so much noise." As he
said these words he made an attempt to reach his weapons, but de
l'Estrade and Barnier prevented him by throwing themselves on him,
and succeeded in knocking him down after a fierce struggle. While,
this was going on, his two companions were secured, and the three
were removed to the fort, where their guard never left them night or
The Marquis of Sandricourt immediately sent off a courier to the Duke
of Berwick and M. de Baville to inform them of the important capture
he had made. They were so delighted at the news that they came next
day to Nimes.
They found the town intensely excited, soldiers with fixed bayonets
at every street corner, all the houses shut up, and the gates of the
town closed, and no one allowed to leave without written permission
from Sandricourt. On the 20th, and during the following night, more
than fifty persons were arrested, amongst whom were Alison, the
merchant in whose house Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet were found;
Delacroix, Alison's brother-in-law, who, on hearing the noise of the
struggle, had hidden on the roof and was not discovered till next
day; Jean Lauze, who was accused of having prepared Ravanel's supper;
Lauze's mother, a widow; Tourelle, the maid-servant; the host of the
Coupe d'Or, and a preacher named La Jeunesse.
Great, however, as was the joy felt by the duke, the marquis, and de
Baville, it fell short of full perfection, for the most dangerous man
among the rebels was still at large; in spite of every effort,
Catinat's hiding-place had not till now been discovered.
Accordingly, the duke issued a proclamation offering a reward of one
hundred Louis-d'or to whoever would take Catinat, or cause him to be
taken prisoner, and granting a free pardon to anyone who had
sheltered him, provided that he was denounced before the
house-to-house visitation which was about to be made took place.
After the search began, the master of the house in which he might be
found would be hung at his own door, his family thrown into prison,
his goods confiscated, his house razed to the ground, without any
form of trial whatever.
This proclamation had the effect expected by the duke: whether the
man in whose house Catinat was concealed grew frightened and asked
him to leave, or whether Catinat thought his best course would be to
try and get away from the town, instead of remaining shut up in it,
he dressed himself one morning in suitable clothes, and went to a
barber's, who shaved him, cut his hair, and made up his face so as to
give him as much the appearance of a nobleman as possible; and then
with wonderful assurance he went out into the streets, and pulling
his hat over his eyes and holding a paper in his hand as if reading
it, he crossed the town to the gate of St. Antoine. He was almost
through when Charreau, the captain of the guard, having his attention
directed to Catinat by a comrade to whom he was talking, stopped him,
suspecting he was trying to escape. Catinat asked what he wanted
with him, and Charreau replied that if he would enter the guard-house
he would learn; as under such circumstances any examination was to be
avoided, Catinat tried to force his way out; whereupon he was seized
by Charreau and his brother-officer, and Catinat seeing that
resistance would be not only useless but harmful, allowed himself to
be taken to the guard-room.
He had been there about an hour without being recognised by any of
those who, drawn by curiosity, came to look at him, when one of the
visitors in going out said he bore a strong resemblance to Catinat;
some children hearing these words, began to shout, "Catinat is taken!
Catinat is taken! "This cry drew a large crowd to the guard-house,
among others a man whose name was Anglejas, who, looking closely at
the prisoner, recognised him and called him by name.
Instantly the guard was doubled, and Catinat searched: a psalm-book
with a silver clasp and a letter addressed to "M. Maurel, called
Catinat," were found on him, leaving no doubt as to his identity;
while he himself, growing impatient, and desiring to end all these
investigations, acknowledged that he was Catinat and no other.
He was at once taken to the palace, where the Presidial Court was
sitting, M. de Baville and the president being occupied in trying
Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet. On hearing the news of this important
capture, the intendant, hardly daring to believe his ears, rose and
went out to meet the prisoner, in order to convince himself that it
was really Catinat.
>From the Presidial Court he was brought before the Duke of Berwick,
who addressed several questions to him, which Catinat answered; he
then told the duke he had something of importance to impart to him
and to him alone. The duke was not very anxious for a tete-a-tete
with Catinat; however, having ordered his hands to be securely bound,
and telling Sandricourt not to go away, he consented to hear what the
prisoner had to say.
Catinat then, in the presence of the duke and Sandricourt, proposed
that an exchange of prisoners should be made, the Marechal de
Tallard, who was a prisoner of war in England, being accepted in his
place. Catinat added that if this offer was not accepted, the
marechal would meet the same treatment from the English as might be
meted out to him, Catinat, in France. The duke, full of the
aristocratic ideas to which he was born, found the proposal insolent,
and said, "If that is all you have to propose, I can assure you that
your hours are numbered."
Thereupon Catinat was promptly sent back to the palace, where truly
his trial did not occupy much time. That of the three others was
already finished, and soon his was also at an end, and it only
remained to pronounce sentence on all four. Catinat and Ravanel, as
the most guilty, were condemned to be burnt at the stake. Some of
the councillors thought Catinat should have been torn apart by four
horses, but the majority were for the stake, the agony lasting
longer, being more violent and more exquisite than in the of other
Villars and Jonquet were sentenced to be broken on the wheel alive
--the only difference between them being that Jonquet was to be to
taken while still living and thrown into the fire lit round Catinat
and Ravael. It was also ordered that the four condemned men before
their execution should be put to the torture ordinary and
extraordinary. Catinat, whose temper was fierce, suffered with
courage, but cursed his torturers. Ravanel bore all the torments
that could be inflicted on him with a fortitude that was more than
human, so that the torturers were exhausted before he was. Jonquet
spoke little, and the revelations he made were of slight importance.
Villas confessed that the conspirators had the intention of carrying
off the duke and M. de Baville when they were out walking or driving,
and he added that this plot had been hatched at the house of a
certain Boeton de Saint-Laurent-d'Aigozre, at Milhaud, in Rouergue.
Meanwhile all this torturing and questioning had taken so much time
that when the stake and the scaffold were ready it was almost dark,
so that the duke put off the executions until the next day, instead
of carrying them out by torchlight. Brueys says that this was done
in order that the most disaffected amongst the fanatics should not be
able to say that it was not really Catinat, Ravanel, Villas, and
Jonquet who had been executed but some other unknown men; but it is
more probable that the duke and Baville were afraid of riots, as was
proved by their ordering the scaffold and the stake to be erected at
the end of the Cours and opposite the glacis of the fortress, so that
the garrison might be at hand in case of any disturbance.
Catinat was placed in a cell apart, and could be, heard cursing and
complaining all night through. Ravanel, Villas, and Jonquet were
confined together, and passed the night singing and praying.
The next day, the 22nd April, 1705, they were taken from the prison
and drawn to the place of execution in two carts, being unable to
walk, on account of the severe torture to which they had been
subjected, and which had crushed the bones of their legs. A single
pile of wood had been prepared for Catinat and Ravanel, who were to
be burnt together; they were in one cart, and Villas and Jonquet, for
whom two wheels had been prepared, were in the other.
The first operation was to bind Catinat and Ravanel back to back to
the same stake, care being taken to place Catinat with his face to
windward, so that his agony might last longer, and then the pile was
lit under Ravanel.
As had been foreseen, this precaution gave great pleasure to those
people who took delight in witnessing executions. The wind being
rather high, blew the flames away from Catinat, so that at first the
fire burnt his legs only--a circumstance which, the author of the
History of the Camisards tells us, aroused Catinat's impatience.
Ravanel, however, bore everything to the end with the greatest
heroism, only pausing in his singing to address words of
encouragement to his companion in suffering, whom he could not see,
but whose groans and curses he could hear; he would then return to
his psalms, which he continued to sing until his voice was stifled in
the flames. Just as he expired, Jonquet was removed from the wheel,
and carried, his broken limbs dangling, to the burning pile, on which
he was thrown. From the midst of the flames his voice was heard
saying, "Courage, Catinat; we shall soon meet in heaven." A few
moments later, the stake, being burnt through at the base, broke, and
Catinat falling into the flames, was quickly suffocated. That this
accident had not been forseen and prevented by proper precautions
caused great displeasure to spectators who found that the
three-quarter of an hour which the spectacle had lasted was much too
brief a time.
Villas lived three hours longer on his wheel, and expired without
having uttered a single complaint.
Two days later, there was another trial, at which six persons were
condemned to death and one to the galleys; these were the two
Alisons, in whose house Villas, Ravanel, and Jonquet had been found;
Alegre, who was accused of having concealed Catinat, and of having
been the Camisard treasurer; Rougier, an armourer who was found
guilty of having repaired the muskets of the rebels; Jean Lauze, an
innkeeper who had prepared meals for Ravanel; La Jeunesse, a
preacher, convicted of having preached sermons and sung psalms; and
young Delacroix, brother-in-law to one of the Alisons. The first
three were condemned to be broken on the wheel, their houses
demolished, and their goods confiscated. The next three were to be
hanged. Jean Delacroix, partly because of his youth, but more
because of the revelations he made, was only sent to the galleys.
Several years later he was liberated and returned to Arles, and was
carried off by the plague in 1720.
All these sentences were carried out with the utmost rigour.
Thus, as may be seen, the suppression of the revolt proceeded apace;
only two young Camisard chiefs were still at large, both of whom had
formerly served under Cavalier and Catinat. The name of the one was
Brun and of the other Francezet. Although neither of them possessed
the genius and influence of Catinat and Ravanel, yet they were both
men to be feared, the one on account of his personal strength, the
other for his skill and agility. Indeed, it was said of him that he
never missed a shot, and that one day being pursued by dragoons he
had escaped by jumping over the Gardon at a spot where it was
twenty-two feet wide.
For a long time all search was in vain, but one day the wife of a
miller named Semenil came into town ostensibly to buy provisions, but
really to denounce them as being concealed, with two other Camisards,
in her husband's house.
This information was received with an eager gratitude, which showed
the importance which the governor of Nimes attached to their capture.
The woman was promised a reward of fifty Louis if they were taken,
and the Chevalier de la Valla, Grandidier, and fifty Swiss, the major
of the Saint-Sernin regiment, a captain, and thirty dragoons, were
sent off to make the capture. When they were within a quarter of a
league of the mill, La Valla, who was in command of the expedition,
made the woman give him all the necessary topographical information.
Having learned that besides the door by which they hoped to effect an
entrance, the mill possessed only one other, which opened on a bridge
over the Vistre, he despatched ten dragoons and five Swiss to occupy
this bridge, whilst he and the rest of the troops bore down on the
main entrance. As soon as the four Camisards perceived the approach
of the soldiers, their first thought was to escape by the bridge, but
one of them having gone up to the roof to make sure that the way was
clear, came down exclaiming that the bridge was occupied. On hearing
this, the four felt that they were lost, but nevertheless resolved to
defend themselves as valiantly and to sell their lives as dearly as
possible. As soon as the royals were within musket range of the
mill, four shots were fired, and two dragoons, one Swiss, and one
horse, fell. M. de Valla thereupon ordered the troops to charge at
full gallop, but before the mill door was reached three other shots
were heard, and two more men killed. Nevertheless, seeing they could
not long hold out against such numbers, Francezet gave the signal for
retreat, calling out, "Sauve qui petit!" at the same instant he
jumped out of a lattice window twenty feet from the ground, followed
by Brun. Neither of them being hurt, both set off across country,
one trusting to his strength and the other to his fleetness of foot.
The two other Camisards, who had tried to escape by the door, were
The soldiers, horse and foot, being now free to give all their
attention to Brun and Francezet, a wonderful race began; for the two
fugitives, being strong and active, seemed to play with their
pursuers, stopping every now and then, when they had gained
sufficient headway, to shoot at the nearest soldiers; when Francezet,
proving worthy of his reputation, never missed a single shot. Then,
resuming their flight and loading their weapons as they ran, they
leaped rivers and ditches, taking advantage of the less direct road
which the troops were obliged to follow, to stop and take breath,
instead of making for some cover where they might have found safety.
Two or three times Brun was on the point of being caught, but each
time the dragoon or Swiss who had got up to him fell, struck by
Francezet's unerring bullet. The chase lasted four hours, during
which time five officers, thirty dragoons, and fifty Swiss were
baffled by two men, one of whom Francezet was almost a boy, being
only twenty years old! Then the two Camisards, having exhausted
their ammunition, gave each other the name of a village as a
rendezvous, and each taking a different direction, bounded away with
the lightness of a stag. Francezet ran in the direction of Milhaud
with such rapidity that he gained on the dragoons, although they put
their horses at full speed. He was within an inch of safety, when a
peasant named La Bastide, who was hoeing in a field, whence he had
watched the contest with interest from the moment he had first caught
sight of it, seeing the fugitive make for an opening in a wall, ran
along at the foot of the wall on the other side, and, just as
Francezet dashed through the opening like a flash of lightning,
struck him such a heavy blow on the head with his hoe that the skull
was laid open, and he fell bathed in blood.
The dragoons, who had seen in the distance what had happened, now
came up, and rescued Francezet from the hands of his assailant, who
had continued to rain blows upon him, desiring to put an end to him.
The unconscious Camisard was carried to Milhaud, where his wounds
were bandaged, and himself revived by means of strong spirits forced
into mouth and nostrils.
We now return to Brun. At first it seemed as if he were more
fortunate than his comrade; for, meeting with no obstacle, he was
soon not only out of reach, but out of sight of his enemies. He now,
however, felt broken by fatigue, and taught caution by the treachery
to which he had almost fallen a victim, he dared not ask for an
asylum, so, throwing himself down in a ditch, he was soon fast
asleep. The dragoons, who had not given up the search, presently
came upon him, and falling on him as he lay, overpowered him before
he was well awake.
When both Camisards met before the governor, Francezet replied to all
interrogations that since the death of brother Catinat his sole
desire had been to die a martyr's death like him; while Brun said
that he was proud and happy to die in the cause of the Lord along
with such a brave comrade as Francezet. This manner of defence led
to the application of the question both ordinary and extraordinary,
and to the stake; and our readers already know what such a double
sentence meant. Francezet and Brun paid both penalties on the 30th
of April, betraying no secrets and uttering no complaints.
Boeton, who had been denounced by Villas when under torture (and who
thereby abridged his agony) as the person in whose house the plot to
carry off the Duke of Berwick and de Baville had been arranged, still
remained to be dealt with.
He was moderate in his religious views, but firm and full of faith;
his principles resembled those of the Quakers in that he refused to
carry arms; he was, however, willing to aid the good cause by all
other means within his reach. He was at home waiting, with that calm
which perfect trust in God gives, for the day to come which had been
appointed for the execution of the plan, when suddenly his house was
surrounded during the night by the royals. Faithful to his
principles, he offered no resistance, but held out his hands to be
bound. He was taken in triumph to Nimes, and from there to the
citadel of Montpellier. On the way he encountered his wife and his
son, who were going to the latter town to intercede for him. When
they met him, they dismounted from their horse, for the mother was
riding on a pillion behind the son, and kneeling on the highroad,
asked for Boeton's blessing. Unfeeling though the soldiers were,
they yet permitted their prisoner to stop an instant, while he,
raising his fettered hands to heaven, gave the double blessing asked
for. So touched was Baron Saint-Chatte by the scene (be it remarked
in passing that the baron and Boeton were cousins by marriage) that
he permitted them to embrace one another, so for a few moments they
stood, the husband and father clasped to the hearts of his dear ones;
then, on a sign from Boeton, they tore themselves away, Boeton
commanding them to pray for M. de Saint-Chatte, who had given them
this consolation. As he resumed his march the prisoner set them the
example by beginning to sing a psalm for the benefit of M. de
The next day, despite the intercession of his wife and son, Boeton
was condemned to torture both ordinary and extraordinary, and then to
be broken on the wheel. On hearing this cruel sentence, he said that
he was ready to suffer every ill that God might send him in order to
prove the steadfastness of his faith.
And indeed he endured his torture with such firmness, that M. de
Baville, who was present in the hope of obtaining a confession,
became more impatient than the sufferer, and, forgetting his sacred
office, the judge struck and insulted the prisoner. Upon this Baeton
raised his eyes to heaven and cried, "Lord, Lord! how long shall the
wicked triumph? How long shall innocent blood be shed? How long
wilt Thou not judge and avenge our blood with cries to Thee?
Remember Thy jealousy, O Lord, and Thy loving-kindness of old!" Then
M. de Baville withdrew, giving orders that he was to be brought to
The scaffold was erected on the Esplanade: being, as was usual when
this sort of death was to be inflicted, a wooden platform five or six
feet high, on which was fastened flat a St. Andrew's cross, formed of
two beams of wood in the form of an X. In each of the four arms two
square pieces were cut out to about half the depth of the beam, and
about a foot apart, so that when the victim was bound on the cross
the outstretched limbs were easy to break by a blow at these points,
having no support beneath. Lastly, near the cross, at one corner of
the scaffold an upright wooden post was fixed, on which was fastened
horizontally a small carriage wheel, as on a pivot, the projecting
part of the nave being sawn off to make it flat. On this bed of pain
the sufferer was laid, so that the spectators might enjoy the sight
of his dying convulsions when, the executioner having accomplished
his part, the turn of death arrived.
Boeton was carried to execution in a cart, and drums were beaten that
his exhortations might not be heard. But above the roll of drums his
voice rose unfalteringly, as he admonished his brethren to uphold
their fellowship in Christ.
Half-way to the Esplanade a friend of the condemned man, who happened
to be in the street, met the procession, and fearing that he could
not support the sight, he took refuge in a shop. When Boeton was
opposite the door, he stopped the cart and asked permission of the
provost to speak to his friend. The request being granted, he called
him out, and as he approached, bathed in tears, Boeton said, "Why do
you run away from me? Is it because you see me covered with the
tokens of Jesus Christ? Why do you weep because He has graciously
called me to Himself, and all unworthy though I be, permits me to
seal my faith with my blood?" Then, as the friend threw himself into
Boeton's arms and some signs of sympathetic emotion appeared among
the crowd; the procession was abruptly ordered to move on; but though
the leave-taking was thus roughly broken short, no murmur passed the
lips of Boeton.
In turning out of the first street, the scaffold came in sight; the
condemned man raised his hands towards heaven, and exclaimed in a
cheerful voice, while a smile lit up his face, "Courage, my soul! I
see thy place of triumph, whence, released from earthly bonds, thou
shah take flight to heaven."
When he got to the foot of the scaffold, it was found he could not
mount without assistance; for his limbs, crushed in the terrible
"boot," could no longer sustain his weight. While they were
preparing to carry him up, he exhorted and comforted the Protestants,
who were all weeping round him. When he reached the platform he laid
himself of his own accord on the cross; but hearing from the
executioner that he must first be undressed, he raised himself again
with a smile, so that the executioner's assistant could remove his
doublet and small-clothes. As he wore no stockings, his legs being
bandaged the man also unwound these bandages, and rolled up Boeton's
shirts-sleeves to the elbow, and then ordered him to lay himself
again on the cross. Boeton did so with unbroken calm. All his limbs
were then bound to the beams with cords at every joint; this
accomplished, the assistant retired, and the executioner came
forward. He held in his hand a square bar of iron, an inch and a
half thick, three feet long, and rounded at one end so as to form a
When Boeton saw it he began singing a psalm, but almost immediately
the melody was interrupted by a cry: the executioner had broken a
bone of Boeton's right leg; but the singing was at once resumed, and
continued without interruption till each limb had been broken in two
places. Then the executioner unbound the formless but still living
body from the cross, and while from its lips issued words of faith in
God he laid it on the wheel, bending it back on the legs in such a
manner that the heels and head met; and never once during the
completion of this atrocious performance did the voice of the
sufferer cease to sound forth the praises of the Lord.
No execution till then had ever produced such an effect on the crowd,
so that Abbe Massilla, who was present, seeing the general emotion,
hastened to call M. de Baville's attention to the fact that, far from
Boeton's death inspiring the Protestants with terror, they were only
encouraged to hold out, as was proved by their tears, and the praises
they lavished on the dying man.
M, de Baville, recognising the truth of this observation, ordered
that Boeton should be put out of misery. This order being conveyed
to the executioner, he approached the wheel to break in Boeton's
chest with one last blow; but an archer standing on the scaffold
threw himself before the sufferer, saying that the Huguenot had not
yet suffered half enough. At this, Boeton, who had heard the
dreadful dispute going on beside him, interrupted his prayers for an
instant, and raising his head, which hung down over the edge of the
wheel, said, "Friend, you think I suffer, and in truth I do; but He
for whom I suffer is beside me and gives me strength to bear
everything joyfully." Just then M. de Baville's order was repeated,
and the archer, no longer daring to interfere, allowed the
executioner to approach. Then Boeton, seeing his last moment had
come, said, "My dear friends, may my death be an example to you, to
incite you to preserve the gospel pure; bear faithful testimony that
I died in the religion of Christ and His holy apostles." Hardly had
these words passed his lips, than the death-blow was given and his
chest crushed; a few inarticulate sounds, apparently prayers, were
heard; the head fell back, the martyrdom was ended.
This execution ended the war in Languedoc. A few imprudent preachers
still delivered belated sermons, to which the rebels listened
trembling with fear, and for which the preachers paid on the wheel or
gibbet. There were disturbances in Vivarais, aroused by Daniel
Billard, during which a few Catholics were found murdered on the
highway; there were a few fights, as for instance at Sainte-Pierre-
Ville, where the Camisards, faithful to the old traditions which had
come to them from Cavalier, Catinat, and Ravenal, fought one to
twenty, but they were all without importance; they were only the last
quiverings of the dying civil strife, the last shudderings of the
earth when the eruption of the volcano is over.
Even Cavalier understood that the end had come, for he left Holland
for England. There Queen Anne distinguished him by a cordial
welcome; she invited him to enter her service, an offer which he
accepted, and he was placed in command of a regiment of refugees; so
that he actually received in England the grade of colonel, which he
had been offered in France. At the battle of Almanza the regiment
commanded by Cavalier found itself opposed by a French regiment. The
old enemies recognised each other, and with a howl of rage, without
waiting for the word of command or executing any military evolutions,
they hurled themselves at each other with such fury that, if we may
believe the Duke of Berwick, who was present, they almost annihilated
each other in the conflict. Cavalier, however, survived the
slaughter, in which he had performed his part with energy; and for
his courage was made general and governor of the island of Jersey.
He died at Chelsea in May 1740, aged sixty years. "I must confess,"
says Malesherbes, "that this soldier, who without training became a
great general by means of his natural gifts; this Camisard, who dared
in the face of fierce troopers to punish a crime similar to those by
which the troopers existed; this rude peasant, who, admitted into the
best society; adopted its manners and gained its esteem and love;
this man, who though accustomed to an adventurous life, and who might
justly have been puffed up by success, had yet enough philosophy to
lead for thirty-five years a tranquil private existence, appears to
me to be one of the rarest characters to be met with in the pages of
At length Louis XIV, bowed beneath the weight of a reign of sixty
years, was summoned in his turn to appear before God, from whom, as
some said, he looked for reward, and others for pardon. But Nimes,
that city with the heart of fire, was quiet; like the wounded who
have lost the best part of their blood, she thought only, with the
egotism of a convalescent, of being left in peace to regain the
strength which had become exhausted through the terrible wounds which
Montrevel and the Duke of Berwick had dealt her. For sixty years
petty ambition had taken the place of sublime self-sacrifice, and
disputes about etiquette succeeded mortal combats. Then the
philosophic era dawned, and the sarcasms of the encyclopedists
withered the monarchical intolerance of Louis XIV and Charles IX.
Thereupon the Protestants resumed their preaching, baptized their
children and buried their dead, commerce flourished once more, and
the two religions lived side by side, one concealing under a peaceful
exterior the memory of its martyrs, the other the memory of its
triumphs. Such was the mood on which the blood-red orb of the sun of
'89 rose. The Protestants greeted it with cries of joy, and indeed
the promised liberty gave them back their country, their civil
rights, and the status of French citizens.
Nevertheless, whatever were the hopes of one party or the fears of
the other, nothing had as yet occurred to disturb the prevailing
tranquillity, when, on the 19th and 20th of July, 1789, a body of
troops was formed in the capital of La Gard which was to bear the
name of the Nimes Militia: the resolution which authorised this act
was passed by the citizens of the three orders sitting in the hall of
It was as follows:--
"Article 10. The Nimes Legion shall consist of a colonel, a
lieutenant-colonel, a major, a lieutenant-major, an adjutant,
twenty-four captains, twenty-four lieutenants, seventy-two sergeants,
seventy-two corporals, and eleven hundred and fifty-two privates--in
all, thirteen hundred and forty-nine men, forming eighty companies.
"Article 11. The place of general assembly shall be, the Esplanade.
"Article 12. The eighty companies shall be attached to the four
quarters of the town mentioned below--viz., place de l'Hotel-de-
Ville, place de la Maison-Carree, place Saint-Jean, and place du
"Article 13. The companies as they are formed by the permanent
council shall each choose its own captain, lieutenant, sergeants and
corporals, and from the date of his nomination the captain shall have
a seat on the permanent council."
The Nimes Militia was deliberately formed upon certain lines which
brought Catholics and Protestants closely together as allies, with
weapons in their hands; but they stood over a mine which was bound to
explode some day, as the slightest friction between the two parties
would produce a spark.
This state of concealed enmity lasted for nearly a year, being
augmented by political antipathies; for the Protestants almost to man
were Republicans, and the Catholics Royalists.
In the interval--that is to say, towards January, 1790--a Catholic
called Francois Froment was entrusted by the Marquis de Foucault with
the task of raising, organising, and commanding a Royalist party in
the South. This we learn from one of his own letters to the marquis,
which was printed in Paris in 1817. He describes his mode of action
in the following words:--
It is not difficult to understand that being faithful to my religion
and my king, and shocked at the seditious ideas which were
disseminated on all sides, I should try to inspire others with the
same spirit with which I myself was animated, so, during the year
1789, I published several articles in which I exposed the dangers
which threatened altar and throne. Struck with the justice of my
criticisms, my countrymen displayed the most zealous ardor in their
efforts to restore to the king the full exercise of all his rights.
Being anxious to take advantage of this favourable state of feeling,
and thinking that it would be dangerous to hold communication with
the ministers of Louis XVI, who were watched by the conspirators, I
went secretly to Turin to solicit the approbation and support of the
French princes there. At a consultation which was held just after my
arrival, I showed them that if they would arm not only the partisans
of the throne, but those of the altar, and advance the interests of
religion while advancing the interests of royalty, it would be easy
to save both.
"My plan had for sole object to bind a party together, and give it as
far as I was able breadth and stability.
"As the revolutionists placed their chief dependence on force, I felt
that they could only be met by force; for then as now I was convinced
of this great truth, that one strong passion can only be overcome by
another stronger, and that therefore republican fanaticism could only
be driven out by religious zeal.
"The princes being convinced of the correctness of my reasoning and
the efficacy of my remedies, promised me the arms and supplies
necessary to stem the tide of faction, and the Comte d'Artois gave me
letters of recommendation to the chief nobles in Upper Languedoc,
that I might concert measures with them; for the nobles in that part
of the country had assembled at Toulouse to deliberate on the best
way of inducing the other Orders to unite in restoring to the
Catholic religion its useful influence, to the laws their power, and
to the king his liberty and authority.
"On my return to Languedoc, I went from town to town in order to meet
those gentlemen to whom the Comte d'Artois had written, among whom
were many of the most influential Royalists and some members of the
States of Parliament. Having decided on a general plan, and agreed
on a method of carrying on secret correspondence with each other, I
went to Nimes to wait for the assistance which I had been promised
from Turin, but which I never received. While waiting, I devoted
myself to awakening and sustaining the zeal of the inhabitants, who
at my suggestion, on the 20th April, passed a resolution, which was
signed by 5,000 inhabitants."
This resolution, which was at once a religious and political
manifesto, was drafted by Viala, M. Froment's secretary, and it lay
for signature in his office. Many of the Catholics signed it without
even reading it, for there was a short paragraph prefixed to the
document which contained all the information they seemed to desire.
"GENTLEMEN,--The aspirations of a great number of our Catholic and
patriotic fellow-citizens are expressed in the resolution which we
have the honour of laying before you. They felt that under present
circumstances such a resolution was necessary, and they feel
convinced that if you give it your support, as they do not doubt you
will, knowing your patriotism, your religious zeal, and your love for
our august sovereign, it will conduce to the happiness of France, the
maintenance of the true religion, and the rightful authority of the
"We are, gentlemen, with respect, your very humble and obedient
servants, the President and Commissioners of the Catholic Assembly of
"FROMENT, Commissioner LAPIERRE, President
FOLACHER, " LEVELUT, Commissioner
FAURE, " MELCHIOND, "
ROBIN, " VIGNE, " "
At the same time a number of pamphlets, entitled Pierre Roman to the
Catholics of Nines, were distributed to the people in the streets,
containing among other attacks on the Protestants the following
"If the door to high positions and civil and military honours were
closed to the Protestants, and a powerful tribunal established at
Nimes to see that this rule were strictly kept, you would soon see
"The Protestants demand to share all the privileges which you enjoy,
but if you grant them this, their one thought will then be to
dispossess you entirely, and they will soon succeed.
"Like ungrateful vipers, who in a torpid state were harmless, they
will when warmed by your benefits turn and kill you.
"They are your born enemies: your fathers only escaped as by a
miracle from their blood-stained hands. Have you not often heard of
the cruelties practised on them? It was a slight thing when the
Protestants inflicted death alone, unaccompanied by the most horrible
tortures. Such as they were such they are."
It may easily be imagined that such attacks soon embittered minds
already disposed to find new causes for the old hatred, and besides
the Catholics did not long confine themselves to resolutions and
pamphlets. Froment, who had already got himself appointed
Receiver-General of the Chapter and captain of one of the Catholic
companies, insisted on being present at the installation of the Town
Council, and brought his company with him armed with pitchforks, in
spite of the express prohibition of the colonel of the legion. These
forks were terrible weapons, and had been fabricated in a particular
form for the Catholics of Nimes, Uzes, and Alais. But Froment and
his company paid no attention to the prohibition, and this
disobedience made a great impression on the Protestants, who began to
divine the hostility of their adversaries, and it is very possible
that if the new Town Council had not shut their eyes to this act of
insubordination, civil war might have burst forth in Nimes that very
The next day, at roll-call, a sergeant of another company, one
Allien, a cooper by trade, taunted one of the men with having carried
a pitchfork the day before, in disobedience to orders. He replied
that the mayor had permitted him to carry it; Allien not believing
this, proposed to some of the men to go with him to the mayor's and
ask if it were true. When they saw M. Marguerite, he said that he
had permitted nothing of the kind, and sent the delinquent to prison.
Half an hour later, however, he gave orders for his release.
As soon as he was free he set off to find his comrades, and told them
what had occurred: they, considering that an insult to one was an
insult to the whole company, determined on having satisfaction at
once, so about eleven o'clock P.M. they went to the cooper's house,
carrying with them a gallows and ropes ready greased. But quietly as
they approached, Allien heard them, for his door being bolted from
within had to be forced. Looking out of the window, he saw a great
crowd, and as he suspected that his life was in danger, he got out of
a back window into the yard and so escaped. The militia being thus
disappointed, wreaked their vengeance on some passing Protestants,
whose unlucky stars had led them that way; these they knocked about,
and even stabbed one of them three times with a knife.
On the 22nd April, 1790, the royalists--that is to say, the
Catholics--assumed the white cockade, although it was no longer the
national emblem, and on the 1st May some of the militia who had
planted a maypole at the mayor's door were invited to lunch with him.
On the 2nd, the company which was on guard at the mayor's official
residence shouted several times during the day, "Long live the king!
Up with the Cross and down with the black throats!" (This was the
name which they had given to the Calvinists.) "Three cheers for the
white cockade! Before we are done, it will be red with the blood of
the Protestants!" However, on the 5th of May they ceased to wear it,
replacing it by a scarlet tuft, which in their patois they called the
red pouf, which was immediately adopted as the Catholic emblem.
Each day as it passed brought forth fresh brawls and provocations:
libels were invented by the Capuchins, and spread abroad by three of
their number. Meetings were held every day, and at last became so
numerous that the town authorities called in the aid of the
militia-dragoons to disperse them. Now these gatherings consisted
chiefly of those tillers of the soil who are called cebets, from a
Provencal word cebe, which means "onion," and they could easily be
recognised as Catholics by their red pouf, which they wore both in
and out of uniform. On the other hand, the dragoons were all
However, these latter were so very gentle in their admonitions, that
although the two parties found themselves, so to speak, constantly
face to face and armed, for several days the meetings were dispersed
without bloodshed. But this was exactly what the cebets did not
want, so they began to insult the dragoons and turn them into
ridicule. Consequently, one morning they gathered together in great
numbers, mounted on asses, and with drawn swords began to patrol the
At the same time, the lower classes, who were nearly all Catholics,
joined the burlesque patrols in complaining loudly of the dragoons,
some saying that their horses had trampled on their children, and
others that they had frightened their wives.
The Protestants contradicted them, both parties grew angry, swords
were half drawn, when the municipal authorities came on the scene,
and instead of apprehending the ringleaders, forbade the dragoons to
patrol the town any more, ordering them in future to do nothing more
than send twenty men every day to mount guard at the episcopal palace
and to undertake no other duty except at the express request of the
Town Council. Although it was expected that the dragoons would
revolt against such a humiliation, they submitted, which was a great
disappointment to the cebets, who had been longing for a chance to
indulge in new outrages. For all that, the Catholics did not
consider themselves beaten; they felt sure of being able to find some
other way of driving their quarry to bay.
Sunday, the 13th of June, arrived. This day had been selected by the
Catholics for a great demonstration. Towards ten o'clock in the
morning, some companies wearing the red tuft, under pretext of going
to mass, marched through the city armed and uttering threats. The
few dragoons, on the other hand, who were on guard at the palace, had
not even a sentinel posted, and had only five muskets in the guard-
house. At two o'clock P.M. there was a meeting held in the Jacobin
church, consisting almost exclusively of militia wearing the red
tuft. The mayor pronounced a panegyric on those who wore it, and was
followed by Pierre Froment, who explained his mission in much the
same words as those quoted above. He then ordered a cask of wine to
be broached and distributed among the cebets, and told them to walk
about the streets in threes, and to disarm all the dragoons whom they
might meet away from their post. About six o'clock in the evening a
red-tuft volunteer presented himself at the gate of the palace, and
ordered the porter to sweep the courtyard, saying that the volunteers
were going to get up a ball for the dragoons. After this piece of
bravado he went away, and in a few moments a note arrived, couched in
the following terms:
"The bishop's porter is warned to let no dragoon on horse or on foot
enter or leave the palace this evening, on pain of death.
"13th June 1790."
This note being brought to the lieutenant, he came out, and reminded
the volunteer that nobody but the town authorities could give orders
to the servants at the palace. The volunteer gave an insolent
answer, the lieutenant advised him to go away quietly, threatening if
he did not to put him out by force. This altercation attracted a
great many of the red-tufts from outside, while the dragoons, hearing
the noise, came down into the yard; the quarrel became more lively,
stones were thrown, the call to arms was heard, and in a few moments
about forty cebets, who were prowling around in the neighbourhood of
the palace, rushed into the yard carrying guns and swords. The
lieutenant, who had only about a dozen dragoons at his back, ordered
the bugle to sound, to recall those who had gone out; the volunteers
threw themselves upon the bugler, dragged his instrument from his
hands, and broke it to pieces. Then several shots were fired by the
militia, the dragoons returned them, and a regular battle began. The
lieutenant soon saw that this was no mere street row, but a
deliberate rising planned beforehand, and realising that very serious
consequences were likely to ensue, he sent a dragoon to the town hall
by a back way to give notice to the authorities.
M. de Saint-Pons, major of the Nimes legion, hearing some noise
outside, opened his window, and found the whole city in a tumult:
people were running in every direction, and shouting as they ran that
the dragoons were being killed at the palace. The major rushed out
into the streets at once, gathered together a dozen to fifteen
patriotic citizens without weapons, and hurried to the town hall:
There he found two officials of the town, and begged them to go at
once to the place de l'Eveche, escorted by the first company, which
was on guard at the town hall. They agreed, and set off. On the way
several shots were fired at them, but no one was hit. When they
arrived at the square, the cebets fired a volley at them with the
same negative result. Up the three principal streets which led to
the palace numerous red-tufts were hurrying; the first company took
possession of the ends of the streets, and being fired at returned
the fire, repulsing the assailants and clearing the square, with the
loss of one of their men, while several of the retreating cebets were
While this struggle was going on at the palace, the spirit of murder
broke loose in the town.
At the gate of the Madeleine, M. de Jalabert's house was broken into
by the red-tufts; the unfortunate old man came out to meet them and
asked what they wanted. "Your life and the lives of all the other
dogs of Protestants!" was the reply. Whereupon he was seized and
dragged through the streets, fifteen insurgents hacking at him with
At last he managed to escape from their hands, but died two days
later of his wounds.
Another old man named Astruc, who was bowed beneath the weight of
seventy-two years and whose white hair covered his shoulders, was met
as he was on his way to the gate of Carmes. Being recognised as a
Protestant, he received five wounds from some of the famous
pitchforks belonging to the company of Froment. He fell, but the
assassins picked him up, and throwing him into the moat, amused
themselves by flinging stones at him, till one of them, with more
humanity than his fellows, put a bullet through his head.
Three electors--M. Massador from near Beaucaire, M. Vialla from the
canton of Lasalle, and M. Puech of the same place-were attacked by
red-tufts on their way home, and all three seriously wounded. The
captain who had been in command of the detachment on guard at the
Electoral Assembly was returning to his quarters, accompanied by a
sergeant and three volunteers of his own company, when they were
stopped on the Petit-Cours by Froment, commonly called Damblay, who,
pressing the barrel of a pistol to the captain's breast, said,
"Stand, you rascal, and give up your arms." At the same time the
red-tufts, seizing the captain from behind by the hair, pulled him