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Urbain Grandier by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

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This etext was produced by David Widger


By Alexandre Dumas, Pere




On Sunday, the 26th of November, 1631, there was great excitement in
the little town of Loudun, especially in the narrow streets which led
to the church of Saint-Pierre in the marketplace, from the gate of
which the town was entered by anyone coming from the direction of the
abbey of Saint-Jouin-les-Marmes. This excitement was caused by the
expected arrival of a personage who had been much in people's mouths
latterly in Loudun, and about whom there was such difference of
opinion that discussion on the subject between those who were on his
side and those who were against him was carried on with true
provincial acrimony. It was easy to see, by the varied expressions
on the faces of those who turned the doorsteps into improvised
debating clubs, how varied were the feelings with which the man would
be welcomed who had himself formally announced to friends and enemies
alike the exact date of his return.

About nine o'clock a kind of sympathetic vibration ran through the
crowd, and with the rapidity of a flash of lightning the words,
"There he is! there he is!" passed from group to group. At this cry
some withdrew into their houses and shut their doors and darkened
their windows, as if it were a day of public mourning, while others
opened them wide, as if to let joy enter. In a few moments the
uproar and confusion evoked by the news was succeeded by the deep
silence of breathless curiosity.

Then, through the silence, a figure advanced, carrying a branch of
laurel in one hand as a token of triumph. It was that of a young man
of from thirty-two to thirty-four years of age, with a graceful and
well-knit frame, an aristocratic air and faultlessly beautiful
features of a somewhat haughty expression. Although he had walked
three leagues to reach the town, the ecclesiastical garb which he
wore was not only elegant but of dainty freshness. His eyes turned
to heaven, and singing in a sweet voice praise to the Lord, he passed
through the streets leading to the church in the market-place with a
slow and solemn gait, without vouchsafing a look, a word, or a
gesture to anyone. The entire crowd, falling into step, marched
behind him as he advanced, singing like him, the singers being the
prettiest girls in Loudun, for we have forgotten to say that the
crowd consisted almost entirely of women.

Meanwhile the object of all this commotion arrived at length at the
porch of the church of Saint-Pierre. Ascending the steps, he knelt
at the top and prayed in a low voice, then rising he touched the
church doors with his laurel branch, and they opened wide as if by
magic, revealing the choir decorated and illuminated as if for one of
the four great feasts of the year, and with all its scholars, choir
boys, singers, beadles, and vergers in their places. Glancing
around, he for whom they were waiting came up the nave, passed
through the choir, knelt for a second time at the foot of the altar,
upon which he laid the branch of laurel, then putting on a robe as
white as snow and passing the stole around his neck, he began the
celebration of the mass before a congregation composed of all those
who had followed him. At the end of the mass a Te Deum was sung.

He who had just rendered thanks to God for his own victory with all
the solemn ceremonial usually reserved for the triumphs of kings was
the priest Urbain Grandier. Two days before, he had been acquitted,
in virtue of a decision pronounced by M. d'Escoubleau de Sourdis,
Archbishop of Bordeaux, of an accusation brought against him of which
he had been declared guilty by a magistrate, and in punishment of
which he had been condemned to fast on bread and water every Friday
for three months, and forbidden to exercise his priestly functions in
the diocese of Poitiers for five years and in the town of Loudun for

These are the circumstances under which the sentence had been passed
and the judgment reversed.

Urbain Grandier was born at Rovere, a village near Sable, a little
town of Bas-Maine. Having studied the sciences with his father
Pierre and his uncle Claude Grandier, who were learned astrologers
and alchemists, he entered, at the age of twelve, the Jesuit college
at Bordeaux, having already received the ordinary education of a
young man. The professors soon found that besides his considerable
attainments he had great natural gifts for languages and oratory;
they therefore made of him a thorough classical scholar, and in order
to develop his oratorical talent encouraged him to practise
preaching. They soon grew very fond of a pupil who was likely to
bring them so much credit, and as soon as he was old enough to take
holy orders they gave him the cure of souls in the parish of Saint-
Pierre in Loudun, which was in the gift of the college. When he had
been some months installed there as a priest-in-charge, he received a
prebendal stall, thanks to the same patrons, in the collegiate church
of Sainte-Croix.

It is easy to understand that the bestowal of these two positions on
so young a man, who did not even belong to the province, made him
seem in some sort a usurper of rights and privileges belonging to the
people of the country, and drew upon him the envy of his brother-
ecclesiastics. There were, in fact, many other reasons why Urbain
should be an object of jealousy to these: first, as we have already
said, he was very handsome, then the instruction which he had
received from his father had opened the world of science to him and
given him the key to a thousand things which were mysteries to the
ignorant, but which he fathomed with the greatest ease. Furthermore,
the comprehensive course of study which he had followed at the Jesuit
college had raised him above a crowd of prejudices, which are sacred
to the vulgar, but for which he made no secret of his contempt; and
lastly, the eloquence of his sermons had drawn to his church the
greater part of the regular congregations of the other religious
communities, especially of the mendicant orders, who had till then,
in what concerned preaching, borne away the palm at Loudun. As we
have said, all this was more than enough to excite, first jealousy,
and then hatred. And both were excited in no ordinary degree.

We all know how easily the ill-natured gossip of a small town can
rouse the angry contempt of the masses for everything which is beyond
or above them. In a wider sphere Urbain would have shone by his many
gifts, but, cooped up as he was within the walls of a little town and
deprived of air and space, all that might have conduced to his
success in Paris led to his destruction at Loudun.

It was also unfortunate for Urbain that his character, far from
winning pardon for his genius, augmented the hatred which the latter
inspired. Urbain, who in his intercourse with his friends was
cordial and agreeable, was sarcastic, cold, and haughty to his
enemies. When he had once resolved on a course, he pursued it
unflinchingly; he jealously exacted all the honour due to the rank at
which he had arrived, defending it as though it were a conquest; he
also insisted on enforcing all his legal rights, and he resented the
opposition and angry words of casual opponents with a harshness which
made them his lifelong enemies.

The first example which Urbain gave of this inflexibility was in
1620, when he gained a lawsuit against a priest named Meunier. He
caused the sentence to be carried out with such rigour that he awoke
an inextinguishable hatred in Meunier's mind, which ever after burst
forth on the slightest provocation.

A second lawsuit, which he likewise gained; was one which he
undertook against the chapter of Sainte-Croix with regard to a house,
his claim to which the chapter, disputed. Here again he displayed
the same determination to exact his strict legal rights to the last
iota, and unfortunately Mignon, the attorney of the unsuccessful
chapter, was a revengeful, vindictive, and ambitious man; too
commonplace ever to arrive at a high position, and yet too much above
his surroundings to be content with the secondary position which he
occupied. This man, who was a canon of the collegiate church of
Sainte-Croix and director of the Ursuline convent, will have an
important part to play in the following narrative. Being as
hypocritical as Urbain was straightforward, his ambition was to gain
wherever his name was known a reputation for exalted piety; he
therefore affected in his life the asceticism of an anchorite and the
self-denial of a saint. As he had much experience in ecclesiastical
lawsuits, he looked on the chapter's loss of this one, of which he
had in some sort guaranteed the success, as a personal humiliation,
so that when Urbain gave himself airs of triumph and exacted the last
letter of his bond, as in the case of Meunier, he turned Mignon into
an enemy who was not only more relentless but more dangerous than the

In the meantime, and in consequence of this lawsuit, a certain Barot,
an uncle of Mignon and his partner as well, got up a dispute with
Urbain, but as he was a man below mediocrity, Urbain required in
order to crush him only to let fall from the height of his
superiority a few of those disdainful words which brand as deeply as
a red-hot iron. This man, though totally wanting in parts, was very
rich, and having no children was always surrounded by a horde of
relatives, every one of whom was absorbed in the attempt to make
himself so agreeable that his name would appear in Barot's will.
This being so, the mocking words which were rained down on Barot
spattered not only himself but also all those who had sided with him
in the quarrel, and thus added considerably to the tale of Urbain's

About this epoch a still graver event took place. Amongst the most
assiduous frequenters of the confessional in his church was a young
and pretty girl, Julie by name, the daughter of the king's attorney,
Trinquant--Trinquant being, as well as Barot, an uncle of Mignon.
Now it happened that this young girl fell into such a state of
debility that she was obliged to keep her room. One of her friends,
named Marthe Pelletier, giving up society, of which she was very
fond, undertook to nurse the patient, and carried her devotion so far
as to shut herself up in the same room with her. When Julie
Trinquant had recovered and was able again to take her place in the
world, it came out that Marthe Pelletier, during her weeks of
retirement, had given birth to a child, which had been baptized and
then put out to nurse. Now, by one of those odd whims which so often
take possession of the public mind, everyone in Loudun persisted in
asserting that the real mother of the infant was not she who had
acknowledged herself as such--that, in short, Marthe Pelletier had
sold her good name to her friend Julie for a sum of money; and of
course it followed as a matter about which there could be no possible
doubt, that Urbain was the father.

Trinquant hearing of the reports about his daughter, took upon
himself as king's attorney to have Marthe Pelletier arrested and
imprisoned. Being questioned about the child, she insisted that she
was its mother, and would take its maintenance upon herself. To have
brought a child into the world under such circumstances was a sin,
but not a crime; Trinquant was therefore obliged to set Marthe at
liberty, and the abuse of justice of which he was guilty served only
to spread the scandal farther and to strengthen the public in the
belief it had taken up.

Hitherto, whether through the intervention of the heavenly powers, or
by means of his own cleverness, Urbain Grandier had come out victor
in every struggle in which he had engaged, but each victor had added
to the number of his enemies, and these were now so numerous that any
other than he would have been alarmed, and have tried either to
conciliate them or to take precautions against their malice; but
Urbain, wrapped in his pride, and perhaps conscious of his innocence,
paid no attention to the counsels of his most faithful followers, but
went on his way unheeding.

All the opponents whom till now Urbain had encountered had been
entirely unconnected with each other, and had each struggled for his
own individual ends. Urbain's enemies, believing that the cause of
his success was to be found in the want of cooperation among
themselves, now determined to unite in order to crush him. In
consequence, a conference was held at Barot's, at which, besides
Barot himself, Meunier, Trinquant, and Mignon took part, and the
latter had also brought with him one Menuau, a king's counsel and his
own most intimate friend, who was, however, influenced by other
motives than friendship in joining the conspiracy. The fact was,
that Menuau was in love with a woman who had steadfastly refused to
show him any favour, and he had got firmly fixed in his head that the
reason for her else inexplicable indifference and disdain was that
Urbain had been beforehand with him in finding an entrance to her
heart. The object of the meeting was to agree as to the best means
of driving the common enemy out of Loudon and its neighbourhood.

Urbain's life was so well ordered that it presented little which his
enemies could use as a handle for their purpose. His only foible
seemed to be a predilection for female society; while in return all
the wives and daughters of the place, with the unerring instinct of
their sex, seeing, that the new priest was young, handsome, and
eloquent, chose him, whenever it was possible, as their spiritual
director. As this preference had already offended many husbands and
fathers, the decision the conspirators arrived at was that on this
side alone was Grandier vulnerable, and that their only chance of
success was to attack him where he was weakest. Almost at once,
therefore, the vague reports which had been floating about began to
attain a certain definiteness: there were allusions made, though no
name was mentioned, to a young girl in Loudun; who in spite of
Grandier's frequent unfaithfulness yet remained his mistress-in-
chief; then it began to be whispered that the young girl, having had
conscientious scruples about her love for Urbain, he had allayed them
by an act of sacrilege--that is to say, he had, as priest, in the
middle of the night, performed the service of marriage between
himself and his mistress. The more absurd the reports, the more
credence did they gain, and it was not long till everyone in Loudun
believed them true, although no one was able to name the mysterious
heroine of the tale who had had the courage to contract a marriage
with a priest; and considering how small Loudun was, this was most

Resolute and full of courage as was Grandier, at length he could not
conceal from himself that his path lay over quicksands: he felt that
slander was secretly closing him round, and that as soon as he was
well entangled in her shiny folds, she would reveal herself by
raising her abhorred head, and that then a mortal combat between them
would begin. But it was one of his convictions that to draw back was
to acknowledge one's guilt; besides, as far as he was concerned, it
was probably too late for him to retrace his steps. He therefore
went on his way, as unyielding, as scornful, and as haughty as ever.

Among those who were supposed to be most active in spreading the
slanders relative to Urbain was a man called Duthibaut, a person of
importance in the province, who was supposed by the townspeople to
hold very advanced views, and who was a "Sir Oracle" to whom the
commonplace and vulgar turned for enlightenment. Some of this man's
strictures on Grandier were reported to the latter, especially some
calumnies to which Duthibaut had given vent at the Marquis de
Bellay's; and one day, Grandier, arrayed in priestly garments, was
about to enter the church of Sainte-Croix to assist in the service,
he encountered Duthibaut at the entrance, and with his usual haughty
disdain accused him of slander. Duthibaut, who had got into the
habit of saying and doing whatever came into his head without fear of
being called to account, partly because of his wealth and partly
because of the influence he had gained over the narrow-minded, who
are so numerous in a small provincial town, and who regarded him as
being much above them, was so furious at this public reprimand, that
he raised his cane and struck Urbain.

The opportunity which this affront afforded Grandier of being
revenged on all his enemies was too precious to be neglected, but,
convinced, with too much reason, that he would never obtain justice
from the local authorities, although the respect due to the Church
had been infringed, in his person he decided to appeal to King Louis
XIII, who deigned to receive him, and deciding that the insult
offered to a priest robed in the sacred vestments should be expiated,
sent the cause to the high court of Parliament, with instructions
that the case against Duthibaut should be tried and decided there.

Hereupon Urbain's enemies saw they had no time to lose, and took
advantage of his absence to make counter accusations against him.
Two worthies beings, named Cherbonneau and Bugrau, agreed to become
informers, and were brought before the ecclesiastical magistrate at
Poitiers. They accused Grandier of having corrupted women and girls,
of indulging in blasphemy and profanity, of neglecting to read his
breviary daily, and of turning God's sanctuary into a place of
debauchery and prostitution. The information was taken down, and
Louis Chauvet, the civil lieutenant, and the archpriest of Saint-
Marcel and the Loudenois, were appointed to investigate the matter,
so that, while Urbain was instituting proceedings against Duthibaut
in Paris, information was laid against himself in Loudun. This
matter thus set going was pushed forward with all the acrimony so
common in religious prosecutions; Trinquant appeared as a witness,
and drew many others after him, and whatever omissions were found in
the depositions were interpolated according to the needs of the
prosecution. The result was that the case when fully got up appeared
to be so serious that it was sent to the Bishop of Poitiers for
trial. Now the bishop was not only surrounded by the friends of
those who were bringing the accusations against Grandier, but had
himself a grudge against him. It had happened some time before that
Urbain, the case being urgent, had dispensed with the usual notice of
a marriage, and the bishop, knowing this, found in the papers laid
before him, superficial as they were, sufficient evidence against
Urbain to justify him in issuing a warrant for his apprehension,
which was drawn up in the following words:

"Henri-Louis, Chataignier de la Rochepezai, by divine mercy Bishop of
Poitiers, in view of the charges and informations conveyed to us by
the archpriest of Loudun against Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge of
the Church of Saint-Pierre in the Market-Place at Loudun, in virtue
of a commission appointed by us directed to the said archpriest, or
in his absence to the Prior of Chassaignes, in view also of the
opinion given by our attorney upon the said charges, have ordered and
do hereby order that Urbain Grandier, the accused, be quietly taken
to the prison in our palace in Poitiers, if it so be that he be taken
and apprehended, and if not, that he be summoned to appear at his
domicile within three days, by the first apparitor-priest, or
tonsured clerk, and also by the first royal sergeant, upon this
warrant, and we request the aid of the secular authorities, and to
them, or to any one of them, we hereby give power and authority to
carry out this decree notwithstanding any opposition or appeal, and
the said Grandier having been heard, such a decision will be given by
our attorney as the facts may seem to warrant.

"Given at Dissay the 22nd day of October 1629, and signed in the
original as follows:

"HENRI-LOUIS, Bishop of Poitiers."

Grandier was, as we have said, at Paris when these proceedings were
taken against him, conducting before the Parliament his case against
Duthibaut. The latter received a copy of the decision arrived at by
the bishop, before Grandier knew of the charges that had been
formulated against him, and having in the course of his defence drawn
a terrible picture of the immorality of Grandier's life, he produced
as a proof of the truth of his assertions the damning document which
had been put into his hands. The court, not knowing what to think of
the turn affairs had taken, decided that before considering the
accusations brought by Grandier, he must appear before his bishop to
clear himself of the charges, brought against himself. Consequently
he left Paris at once, and arrived at Loudun, where he only stayed
long enough to learn what had happened in his absence, and then went
on to Poitiers in order to draw up his defence. He had, however, no
sooner set foot in the place than he was arrested by a sheriff's
officer named Chatry, and confined in the prison of the episcopal

It was the middle of November, and the prison was at all times cold
and damp, yet no attention was paid to Grandier's request that he
should be transferred to some other place of confinement. Convinced
by this that his enemies had more influence than he had supposed, he
resolved to possess his soul in patience, and remained a prisoner for
two months, during which even his warmest friends believed him lost,
while Duthibaut openly laughed at the proceedings instituted against
himself, which he now believed would never go any farther, and Barot
had already selected one of his heirs, a certain Ismael Boulieau, as
successor to Urbain as priest and prebendary.

It was arranged that the costs of the lawsuit should be defrayed out
of a fund raised by the prosecutors, the rich paying for the poor;
for as all the witnesses lived at Loudun and the trial was to take
place at Poitiers, considerable expense would be incurred by the
necessity of bringing so many people such a distance; but the lust of
vengeance proved stronger than the lust of gold; the subscription
expected from each being estimated according to his fortune, each
paid without a murmur, and at the end of two months the case was

In spite of the evident pains taken by the prosecution to strain the
evidence against the defendant, the principal charge could not be
sustained, which was that he had led astray many wives and daughters
in Loudun. No one woman came forward to complain of her ruin by
Grandier; the name of no single victim of his alleged immorality was
given. The conduct of the case was the most extraordinary ever seen;
it was evident that the accusations were founded on hearsay and not
on fact, and yet a decision and sentence against Grandier were
pronounced on January 3rd, 1630. The sentence was as follows: For
three months to fast each Friday on bread and water by way of
penance; to be inhibited from the performance of clerical functions
in the diocese of Poitiers for five years, and in the town of Loudun
for ever.

Both parties appealed from this decision: Grandier to the Archbishop
of Bordeaux, and his adversaries, on the advice of the attorney to
the diocese, pleading a miscarriage of justice, to the Parliament of
Paris; this last appeal being made in order to overwhelm Grandier and
break his spirit. But Grandier's resolution enabled him to face this
attack boldly: he engaged counsel to defend his case before the
Parliament, while he himself conducted his appeal to the Archbishop
of Bordeaux. But as there were many necessary witnesses, and it was
almost impossible to bring them all such a great distance, the
archiepiscopal court sent the appeal to the presidial court of
Poitiers. The public prosecutor of Poitiers began a fresh
investigation, which being conducted with impartiality was not
encouraging to Grandier's accusers. There had been many conflicting
statements made by the witnesses, and these were now repeated: other
witnesses had declared quite openly that they had been bribed; others
again stated that their depositions had been tampered with; and
amongst these latter was a certain priest named Mechin, and also that
Ishmael Boulieau whom Barot had been in such a hurry to select as
candidate for the reversion of Grandier's preferments. Boulieau's
deposition has been lost, but we can lay Mechin's before the reader,
for the original has been preserved, just as it issued from his pen:

"I, Gervais Mechin, curate-in-charge of the Church of Saint-Pierre in
the Market Place at Loudun, certify by these presents, signed by my
hand, to relieve my conscience as to a certain report which is being
spread abroad, that I had said in support of an accusation brought by
Gilles Robert, archpriest, against Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge
of Saint-Pierre, that I had found the said Grandier lying with women
and girls in the church of Saint Pierre, the doors being closed.

"ITEM, that on several different occasions, at unsuitable hours both
day and night, I had seen women and girls disturb the said Grandier
by going into his bedroom, and that some of the said women remained
with him from one o'clock in the after noon till three o'clock the
next morning, their maids bringing them their suppers and going away
again at once.

"ITEM, that I had seen the said Grandier in the church, the doors
being open, but that as soon as some women entered he closed them.

"As I earnestly desire that such reports should cease, I declare by
these presents that I have never seen the said Grandier with women or
girls in the church, the doors being closed; that I have never found
him there alone with women or girls; that when he spoke to either
someone else was always present, and the doors were open; and as to
their posture, I think I made it sufficiently clear when in the
witness-box that Grandier was seated and the women scattered over the
church; furthermore, I have never seen either women or girls enter
Grandier's bedroom either by day or night, although it is true that I
have heard people in the corridor coming and going late in the
evening, who they were I cannot say, but a brother of the said
Grandier sleeps close by; neither have I any knowledge that either
women or girls, had their suppers brought to the said room. I have
also never said that he neglected the reading of his breviary,
because that would be contrary to the truth, seeing that on several
occasions he borrowed mine and read his hours in it. I also declare
that I have never seen him close the doors of the church, and that
whenever I have seen him speaking to women I have never noticed any
impropriety; I have not ever seen him touch them in any way, they
have only spoken together; and if anything is found in my deposition
contrary to the above, it is without my knowledge, and was never read
to me, for I would not have signed it, and I say and affirm all this
in homage to the truth.

"Done the last day of October 1630,
"(Signed) G. MECHIN."

In the face of such proofs of innocence none of the accusations could
be considered as established and so, according to the decision of the
presidial court of Poitiers, dated the 25th of May 1634, the decision
of the bishop's court was reversed, and Grandier was acquitted of the
charges brought against him. However, he had still to appear before
the Archbishop of Bordeaux, that his acquittal might be ratified.
Grandier took advantage of a visit which the archbishop paid to his
abbey at Saint-Jouin-les-Marmes, which was only three leagues from
Loudun, to make this appearance; his adversaries, who were
discouraged by the result of the proceedings at Poitiers, scarcely
made any defence, and the archbishop, after an examination which
brought clearly to light the innocence of the accused, acquitted and
absolved him.

The rehabilitation of Grandier before his bishop had two important
results: the first was that it clearly established his innocence, and
the second that it brought into prominence his high attainments and
eminent qualities. The archbishop seeing the persecutions to which
he was subjected, felt a kindly interest in him, and advised him to
exchange into some other diocese, leaving a town the principal
inhabitants of which appeared to have vowed him a relentless hate.
But such an abandonment of his rights was foreign to the character of
Urbain, and he declared to his superior that, strong in His Grace's
approbation and the testimony of his own conscience, he would remain
in the place to which God had called him. Monseigneur de Sourdis did
not feel it his duty to urge Urbain any further, but he had enough
insight into his character to perceive that if Urbain should one day
fall, it would be, like Satan, through pride; for he added another
sentence to his decision, recommending him to fulfil the duties of
his office with discretion and modesty, according to the decrees of
the Fathers and the canonical constitutions. The triumphal entry of
Urbain into Loudun with which we began our narrative shows the spirit
in which he took his recommendation.


Urbain Granadier was not satisfied with the arrogant demonstration by
which he signalised his return, which even his friends had felt to be
ill advised; instead of allowing the hate he had aroused to die away
or at least to fall asleep by letting the past be past, he continued
with more zeal than ever his proceedings against Duthibaut, and
succeeded in obtaining a decree from the Parliament of La Tournelle,
by which Duthibaut was summoned before it, and obliged to listen
bareheaded to a reprimand, to offer apologies, and to pay damages and

Having thus got the better of one enemy, Urbain turned on the others,
and showed himself more indefatigable in the pursuit of justice than
they had been in the pursuit of vengeance. The decision of the
archbishop had given him a right to a sum of money for compensation,
and interest thereon, as well as to the restitution of the revenues
of his livings, and there being some demur made, he announced
publicly that he intended to exact this reparation to the uttermost
farthing, and set about collecting all the evidence which was
necessary for the success of a new lawsuit for libel and forgery
which he intended to begin. It was in vain that his friends assured
him that the vindication of his innocence had been complete and
brilliant, it was in vain that they tried to convince him of the
danger of driving the vanquished to despair, Urbain replied that he
was ready to endure all the persecutions which his enemies might
succeed in inflicting on him, but as long as he felt that he had
right upon his side he was incapable of drawing back.

Grandier's adversaries soon became conscious of the storm which was
gathering above their heads, and feeling that the struggle between
themselves and this man would be one of life or death, Mignon, Barot,
Meunier, Duthibaut, and Menuau met Trinquant at the village of
Pindadane, in a house belonging to the latter, in order to consult
about the dangers which threatened them. Mignon had, however,
already begun to weave the threads of a new intrigue, which he
explained in full to the others; they lent a favourable ear, and his
plan was adopted. We shall see it unfold itself by degrees, for it
is the basis of our narrative.

We have already said that Mignon was the director of the convent of
Ursulines at Loudun: Now the Ursuline order was quite modern, for the
historic controversies to which the slightest mention of the
martyrdom of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins gave rise,
had long hindered the foundation of an order in the saint's honour.
However, in 1560 Madame Angele de Bresse established such an order in
Italy, with the same rules as the Augustinian order. This gained the
approbation of Pope Gregory XIII in 1572. In 1614, Madeleine
Lhuillier, with the approval of Pope Paul V, introduced this order
into France, by founding a convent at Paris, whence it rapidly spread
over the whole kingdom, so-that in 1626, only six years before the
time when the events just related took place, a sisterhood was
founded in the little town of Loudun.

Although this community at first consisted entirely of ladies of good
family, daughters of nobles, officers, judges, and the better class
of citizens, and numbered amongst its founders Jeanne de Belfield,
daughter of the late Marquis of Cose, and relative of M. de
Laubardemont, Mademoiselle de Fazili, cousin of the cardinal-duke,
two ladies of the house of Barbenis de Nogaret, Madame de Lamothe,
daughter of the Marquis Lamothe-Barace of Anjou, and Madame
d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, of the same family as the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, yet as these nuns had almost all entered the convent
because of their want of fortune, the community found itself at the
time of its establishment richer in blood than in money, and was
obliged instead of building to purchase a private house. The owner
of this house was a certain Moussaut du Frene, whose brother was a
priest. This brother, therefore, naturally became the first director
of these godly women. Less than a year after his appointment he
died, and the directorship became vacant.

The Ursulines had bought the house in which they lived much below its
normal value, for it was regarded as a haunted house by all the town.
The landlord had rightly thought that there was no better way of
getting rid of the ghosts than to confront them with a religious
sisterhood, the members of which, passing their days in fasting and
prayer, would be hardly likely to have their nights disturbed by bad
spirits; and in truth, during the year which they had already passed
in the house, no ghost had ever put in an appearance--a fact which
had greatly increased the reputation of the nuns for sanctity.

When their director died, it so happened that the boarders took
advantage of the occasion to indulge in some diversion at the expense
of the older nuns, who were held in general detestation by the youth
of the establishment on account of the rigour with which they
enforced the rules of the order. Their plan was to raise once more
those spirits which had been, as everyone supposed, permanently
relegated to outer darkness. So noises began to be heard on the roof
of the house, which resolved themselves into cries and groans; then
growing bolder, the spirits entered the attics and garrets,
announcing their presence by clanking of chains; at last they became
so familiar that they invaded the dormitories, where they dragged the
sheets off the sisters and abstracted their clothes.

Great was the terror in the convent, and great the talk in the town,
so that the mother superior called her wisest, nuns around her and
asked them what, in their opinion, would be the best course to take
in the delicate circumstances in which they found themselves.
Without a dissentient voice, the conclusion arrived at was, that the
late director should be immediately replaced by a man still holier
than he, if such a man could be found, and whether because he
possessed a reputation for sanctity, or for some other reason, their
choice fell on Urbain Grandier. When the offer of the post was
brought to him, he answered that he was already responsible for two
important charges, and that he therefore had not enough time to watch
over the snow-white flock which they wished to entrust to him, as a
good shepherd should, and he recommended the lady superior to seek
out another more worthy and less occupied than himself.

This answer, as may be supposed, wounded the self-esteem of the
sisters: they next turned their eyes towards Mignon, priest and canon
of the collegiate church of Sainte-Croix, and he, although he felt
deeply hurt that they had not thought first of him, accepted the
position eagerly; but the recollection that Grandier had been
preferred before himself kept awake in, him one of those bitter
hatreds which time, instead of soothing, intensifies. From the
foregoing narrative the reader can see to what this hate led.

As soon as the new director was appointed, the mother superior
confided to him the kind of foes which he would be expected to
vanquish. Instead of comforting her by the assurance that no ghosts
existing, it could not be ghosts who ran riot in the house, Mignon
saw that by pretending to lay these phantoms he could acquire the
reputation for holiness he so much desired. So he answered that the
Holy Scriptures recognised the existence of ghosts by relating how
the witch of Endor had made the shade of Samuel appear to Saul. He
went on to say that the ritual of the Church possessed means of
driving away all evil spirits, no matter how persistent they were,
provided that he who undertook the task were pure in thought and
deed, and that he hoped soon, by the help of God, to rid the convent
of its nocturnal visitants, whereupon as a preparation for their
expulsion he ordered a three days' fast, to be followed by a general

It does not require any great cleverness to understand how easily
Mignon arrived at the truth by questioning the young penitents as
they came before him. The boarders who had played at being ghosts
confessed their folly, saying that they had been helped by a young
novice of sixteen years of age, named Marie Aubin. She acknowledged
that this was true; it was she who used to get up in the middle of
the night, and open the dormitory door, which her more timid room-
mates locked most carefully from within every night, before going to
bed--a fact which greatly increased their terror when, despite their
precautions, the ghosts still got in. Under pretext of not exposing
them to the anger of the superior, whose suspicions would be sure to
be awakened if the apparitions were to disappear immediately after
the general confession, Mignon directed them to renew their nightly
frolics from time to time, but at longer and longer intervals. He
then sought an interview with the superior, and assured her that he
had found the minds of all those under her charge so chaste and pure
that he felt sure through his earnest prayers he would soon clear the
convent of the spirits which now pervaded it.

Everything happened as the director had foretold, and the reputation
for sanctity of the holy man, who by watching and praying had
delivered the worthy Ursulines from their ghostly assailants,
increased enormously in the town of Loudun.


Hardly had tranquillity been restored when Mignon, Duthibaut, Menuau,
Meunier, and Barot, having lost their cause before the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, and finding themselves threatened by Grandier with a
prosecution for libel and forgery, met together to consult as to the
best means of defending themselves before the unbending severity of
this man, who would, they felt, destroy them if they did not destroy

The result of this consultation was that very shortly afterwards
queer reports began to fly about; it was whispered that the ghosts
whom the pious director had expelled had again invaded the convent,
under an invisible and impalpable form, and that several of the nuns
had given, by their words and acts, incontrovertible proofs of being

When these reports were mentioned to Mignon, he, instead of denying
their truth, cast up his eyes to heaven and said that God was
certainly a great and merciful God, but it was also certain that
Satan was very clever, especially when he was barked by that false
human science called magic. However, as to the reports, though they
were not entirely without foundation, he would not go so far as to
say that any of the sisters were really possessed by devils, that
being a question which time alone could decide.

The effect of such an answer on minds already prepared to listen to
the most impossible things, may easily be guessed. Mignon let the
gossip go its rounds for several months without giving it any fresh
food, but at length, when the time was ripe, he called on the priest
of Saint-Jacques at Chinon, and told him that matters had now come to
such a pass in the Ursuline convent that he felt it impossible to
bear up alone under the responsibility of caring for the salvation of
the afflicted nuns, and he begged him to accompany him to the
convent. This priest, whose name was Pierre Barre, was exactly the
man whom Mignon needed in such a crisis. He was of melancholy
temperament, and dreamed dreams and saw visions; his one ambition was
to gain a reputation for asceticism and holiness. Desiring to
surround his visit with the solemnity befitting such an important
event, he set out for Loudun at the head of all his parishioners, the
whole procession going on foot, in order to arouse interest and
curiosity; but this measure was quite needless it took less than that
to set the town agog.

While the faithful filled the churches offering up prayers for the
success of the exorcisms, Mignon and Barre entered upon their task at
the convent, where they remained shut up with the nuns for six hours.
At the end of this time Barre appeared and announced to his
parishioners that they might go back to Chinon without him, for he
had made up his mind to remain for the present at Loudun, in order to
aid the venerable director of the Ursuline convent in the holy work
he had undertaken; he enjoined on them to pray morning and evening,
with all possible fervour, that, in spite of the serious dangers by
which it was surrounded, the good cause might finally triumph. This
advice, unaccompanied as it was by any explanation, redoubled the
curiosity of the people, and the belief gained ground that it was not
merely one or two nuns who were possessed of devils, but the whole
sisterhood. It was not very long before the name of the magician who
had worked this wonder began to be mentioned quite openly: Satan, it
was said, had drawn Urbain Grandier into his power, through his
pride. Urbain had entered into a pact with the Evil Spirit by which
he had sold him his soul in return for being made the most learned
man on earth. Now, as Urbain's knowledge was much greater than that
of the inhabitants of Loudun, this story gained general credence in
the town, although here and there was to be found a man sufficiently
enlightened to shrug his shoulders at these absurdities, and to laugh
at the mummeries, of which as yet he saw only the ridiculous side,

For the next ten or twelve days Mignon and Barre spent the greater
part of their time at the convent; sometimes remaining there for six
hours at a stretch, sometimes the entire day. At length, on Monday,
the 11th of October, 1632, they wrote to the priest of Venier, to
Messire Guillaume Cerisay de la Gueriniere, bailiff of the Loudenois,
and to Messire Louis Chauvet, civil lieutenant, begging them to visit
the Ursuline convent, in order to examine two nuns who were possessed
by evil spirits, and to verify the strange and almost incredible
manifestations of this possession. Being thus formally appealed to,
the two magistrates could not avoid compliance with the request. It
must be confessed that they were not free from curiosity, and felt
far from sorry at being able to get to the bottom of the mystery of
which for some time the whole town was talking. They repaired,
therefore, to the convent, intending to make a thorough investigation
as to the reality of the possession and as to the efficacy of the
exorcisms employed. Should they judge that the nuns were really
possessed, and that those who tried to deliver them were in earnest,
they would authorise the continuation of the efforts at exorcism; but
if they were not satisfied on these two points, they would soon put
an end to the whole thing as a comedy. When they reached the door,
Mignon, wearing alb and stole, came to meet them. He told them that
the feelings of the nuns had for more than two weeks been harrowed by
the apparition of spectres and other blood-curdling visions, that the
mother superior and two nuns had evidently been possessed by evil
spirits for over a week; that owing to the efforts of Barre and same
Carmelite friars who were good enough to assist him against their
common enemies, the devils had been temporarily driven out, but on
the previous Sunday night, the 10th of October, the mother superior,
Jeanne de Belfield, whose conventual name was Jeanne des Anges, and a
lay sister called Jeanne Dumagnoux, had again been entered into by
the same spirits. It had, however, been discovered by means of
exorcisms that a new compact, of which the symbol and token was a
bunch of roses, had been concluded, the symbol and token of the first
having been three black thorns. He added that during the time of the
first possession the demons had refused to give their names, but by
the power of his exorcisms this reluctance had been overcome, the
spirit which had resumed possession of the mother superior having at
length revealed that its name was Ashtaroth, one of the greatest
enemies of God, while the devil which had entered into the lay sister
was of a lower order, and was called Sabulon. Unfortunately,
continued Mignon, just now the two afflicted nuns were resting, and
he requested the bailiff and the civil lieutenant to put off their
inspection till a little later. The two magistrates were just about
to go away, when a nun appeared, saying that the devils were again
doing their worst with the two into whom they had entered.
Consequently, they accompanied Mignon and the priest from Venier to
an upper room, in which were seven narrow beds, of which two only
were occupied, one by the mother superior and the other by the lay
sister. The superior, who was the more thoroughly possessed of the
two, was surrounded by the Carmelite monks, the sisters belonging to
the convent, Mathurin Rousseau, priest and canon of Sainte-Croix, and
Mannouri, a surgeon from the town.

No sooner did the two magistrates join the others than the superior
was seized with violent convulsions, writhing and uttering squeals in
exact imitation of a sucking pig. The two magistrates looked on in
profound astonishment, which was greatly increased when they saw the
patient now bury herself in her bed, now spring right out of it, the
whole performance being accompanied by such diabolical gestures and
grimaces that, if they were not quite convinced that the possession
was genuine, they were at least filled with admiration of the manner
in which it was simulated. Mignon next informed the bailiff and the
civil lieutenant, that although the superior had never learned Latin
she would reply in that language to all the questions addressed to
her, if such were their desire. The magistrates answered that as
they were there in order to examine thoroughly into the facts of the
case, they begged the exorcists to give them every possible proof
that the possession was real. Upon this, Mignon approached the
mother superior, and, having ordered everyone to be silent, placed
two of his fingers in her mouth, and, having gone through the form of
exorcism prescribed by the ritual, he asked the following questions
word for word as they are given,

D. Why have you entered into the body of this young girl?
R. Causa animositatis. Out of enmity.
D. Per quod pactum? By what pact?
R. Per flores. By flowers.
D. Quales? What flowers?
R. Rosas. Roses.
D. Quis misfit? By whom wert thou sent?

At this question the magistrates remarked that the superior hesitated
to reply; twice she opened her mouth in vain, but the third time she
said in a weak voice

D. Dic cognomen? What is his surname?
R. Urbanus. Urbain.

Here there was again the same hesitation, but as if impelled by the
will of the exorcist she answered--

R. Grandier. Grandier.
D. Dic qualitatem? What is his profession?
R. Sacerdos. A priest.
D. Cujus ecclesiae? Of what church?
R. Sancti Petri. Saint-Pierre.
D. Quae persona attulit
flores? Who brought the flowers?
R. Diabolica. Someone sent by the devil.

As the patient pronounced the last word she recovered her senses, and
having repeated a prayer, attempted to swallow a morsel of bread
which was offered her; she was, however, obliged to spit it out,
saying it was so dry she could not get it down.

Something more liquid was then brought, but even of that she could
swallow very little, as she fell into convulsions every few minutes.

Upon this the two officials, seeing there was nothing more to be got
out of the superior, withdrew to one of the window recesses and began
to converse in a low tone; whereupon Mignon, who feared that they had
not been sufficiently impressed, followed them, and drew their
attention to the fact that there was much in what they had just seen
to recall the case of Gaufredi, who had been put to death a few years
before in consequence of a decree of the Parliament of Aix, in
Provence. This ill-judged remark of Mignon showed so clearly what
his aim was that the magistrates made no reply. The civil lieutenant
remarked that he had been surprised that Mignon had not made any
attempt to find out the cause of the enmity of which the superior had
spoken, and which it was so important to find out; but Mignon excused
himself by saying that he had no right to put questions merely to
gratify curiosity. The civil lieutenant was about to insist on the
matter being investigated, when the lay sister in her turn went into
a fit, thus extricating Mignon from his embarrassment. The
magistrates approached the lay sister's bed at once, and directed
Mignon to put the same questions to her as to the superior: he did
so, but all in vain; all she would reply was, "To the other! To the

Mignon explained this refusal to answer by saying that the evil
spirit which was in her was of an inferior order, and referred all
questioners to Ashtaroth, who was his superior. As this was the only
explanation, good or bad, offered them by Mignon, the magistrates
went away, and drew up a report of all they had seen and heard
without comment, merely appending their signatures.

But in the town very few people showed the same discretion and
reticence as the magistrates. The bigoted believed, the hypocrites
pretended to believe; and the worldly-minded, who were numerous,
discussed the doctrine of possession in all its phases, and made no
secret of their own entire incredulity. They wondered, and not
without reason it must be confessed, what had induced the devils to
go out of the nuns' bodies for two days only, and then come back and
resume possession, to the confusion of the exorcists; further, they
wanted to know why the mother superior's devil spoke Latin, while the
lay sister's was ignorant of that tongue; for a mere difference of
rank in the hierarchy of hell did not seem a sufficient explanation
of such a difference in education; Mignon's refusal to go on with his
interrogations as to the cause of the enmity made them, they said,
suspect that, knowing he had reached the end of Ashtaroth's classical
knowledge, he felt it useless to try to continue the dialogue in the
Ciceronian idiom. Moreover, it was well known that only a few days
before all Urbain's worst enemies had met in conclave in the village
of Puidardane; and besides, how stupidly Mignon had shown his hand by
mentioning Gaufredi, the priest who had been executed at Aix: lastly,
why had not a desire for impartiality been shown by calling in other
than Carmelite monks to be present at the exorcism, that order having
a private quarrel with Grandier? It must be admitted that this way
of looking at the case was not wanting in shrewdness.

On the following day, October 12th, the bailiff and the civil
lieutenant, having heard that exorcisms had been again tried without
their having been informed beforehand, requested a certain Canon
Rousseau to accompany them, and set out with him and their clerk for
the convent. On arriving, they asked for Mignon, and on his
appearance they told him that this matter of exorcism was of such
importance that no further steps were to be taken in it without the
authorities being present, and that in future they were to be given
timely notice of every attempt to get rid of the evil spirits. They
added that this was all the more necessary as Mignon's position as
director of the sisterhood and his well-known hate for Grandier would
draw suspicions on him unworthy of his cloth, suspicions which he
ought to be the first to wish to see dissipated, and that quickly;
and that, therefore, the work which he had so piously begun would be
completed by exorcists appointed by the court.

Mignon replied that, though he had not the slightest objection to the
magistrates being present at all the exorcisms, yet he could not
promise that the spirits would reply to anyone except himself and
Barre. Just at that moment Barre came on the scene, paler and more
gloomy than ever, and speaking with the air of a man whose word no
one could help believing, he announced that before their arrival some
most extraordinary things had taken place. The magistrates asked
what things, and Barre replied that he had learned from the mother
superior that she was possessed, not by one, but by seven devils, of
whom Ashtaroth was the chief; that Grandier had entrusted his pact
with the devil, under the symbol of a bunch of roses, to a certain
Jean Pivart, to give to a girl who had introduced it into the convent
garden by throwing it over the wall; that this took place in the
night between Saturday and Sunday "hora secunda nocturna" (two hours
after midnight); that those were the very words the superior had
used, but that while she readily named Pivart, she absolutely refused
to give the name of the girl; that on asking what Pivart was; she had
replied, "Pauper magus" (a poor magician); that he then had pressed
her as to the word magus, and that she had replied "Magicianus et
civis" (magician and citizen); and that just as she said those words
the magistrates had arrived, and he had asked no more questions.

The two officials listened to this information with the seriousness
befitting men entrusted with high judicial functions, and announced
to the two priests that they proposed to visit the possessed women
and witness for themselves the miracles that were taking place. The
clerics offered no opposition, but said they feared that the devils
were fatigued and would refuse to reply; and, in fact, when the
officials reached the sickroom the two patients appeared to have
regained some degree of calm. Mignon took advantage of this quiet
moment to say mass, to which the two magistrates listened devoutly
and tranquilly, and while the sacrifice was being offered the demons
did not dare to move. It was expected that they would offer some
opposition at the elevation of the Host, but everything passed off
without disturbance, only the lay sister's hands and feet twitched a
great deal; and this was the only fact which the magistrates thought
worthy of mention in their report for that morning. Barre assured
them, however, that if they would return about three o'clock the
devils would probably have recovered sufficiently from their fatigue
to give a second performance.

As the two gentlemen had determined to see the affair to the end,
they returned to the convent at the hour named, accompanied by
Messire Irenee de Sainte-Marthe, sieur Deshurneaux; and found the
room in which the possessed were lying full of curious spectators;
for the exorcists had been true prophets--the devils were at work

The superior, as always, was the more tormented of the two, as was
only to be expected, she having seven devils in her all at once; she
was terribly convulsed, and was writhing and foaming at the mouth as
if she were mad. No one could long continue in such a condition
without serious injury to health; Barre therefore asked the devil-in-
chief how soon he would come out. "Cras mane" (To-morrow morning),
he replied. The exorcist then tried to hurry him, asking him why he
would not come out at once; whereupon the superior murmured the word
"Pactum" (A pact); and then "Sacerdos" (A priest), and finally
"Finis," or "Finit," for even those nearest could not catch the word
distinctly, as the devil, afraid doubtless of perpetrating a
barbarism, spoke through the nun's closely clenched teeth. This
being all decidedly unsatisfying, the magistrates insisted that the
examination should continue, but the devils had again exhausted
themselves, and refused to utter another word. The priest even tried
touching the superior's head with the pyx, while prayers and litanies
were recited, but it was all in vain, except that some of the
spectators thought that the contortions of the patient became more
violent when the intercessions of certain saints were invoked, as for
instance Saints Augustine Jerome, Antony, and Mary Magdalene. Barre
next directed the mother superior to dedicate her heart and soul to
God, which she did without difficulty; but when he commanded her to
dedicate her body also, the chief devil indicated by fresh
convulsions that he was not going to allow himself to be deprived of
a domicile without resistance, and made those who had heard him say
that he would leave the next morning feel that he had only said so
under compulsion; and their curiosity as to the result became
heightened. At length, however, despite the obstinate resistance of
the demon, the superior succeeded in dedicating her body also to God,
and thus victorious her features resumed their usual expression, and
smiling as if nothing had happened, she turned to Barre and said that
there was no vestige of Satan left in her. The civil lieutenant then
asked her if she remembered the questions she had been asked and the
answers she had given, but she replied that she remembered nothing;
but afterwards, having taken some refreshment, she said to those
around her that she recollected perfectly how the first possession,
over which Mignon had triumphed, had taken place: one evening about
ten o'clock, while several nuns were still in her room, although she
was already in bed, it seemed to her that someone took her hand and
laid something in it, closing her fingers; at that instant she felt a
sharp pain as if she had been pricked by three pins, and hearing her
scream, the nuns came to her bedside to ask what ailed her. She held
out her hand, and they found three black thorns sticking in it, each
having made a tiny wound. Just as she had told this tale, the lay
sister, as if to prevent all commentary, was seized with convulsions,
and Barre recommenced his prayers and exorcisms, but was soon
interrupted by shrieks; for one of the persons present had seen a
black cat come down the chimney and disappear. Instantly everyone
concluded it must be the devil, and began to seek it out. It was not
without great difficulty that it was caught; for, terrified at the
sight of so many people and at the noise, the poor animal had sought
refuge under a canopy; but at last it was secured and carried to the
superior's bedside, where Barre began his exorcisms once more,
covering the cat with signs of the cross, and adjuring the devil to
take his true shape. Suddenly the 'touriere', (the woman who
received the tradespeople,) came forward, declaring the supposed
devil to be only her cat, and she immediately took possession of it,
lest some harm should happen to it.

The gathering had been just about to separate, but Barry fearing that
the incident of the cat might throw a ridiculous light upon the evil
spirits, resolved to awake once more a salutary terror by announcing
that he was going to burn the flowers through which the second spell
had been made to work. Producing a bunch of white roses, already
faded, he ordered a lighted brazier to be brought. He then threw the
flowers on the glowing charcoal, and to the general astonishment they
were consumed without any visible effect: the heavens still smiled,
no peal of thunder was heard, and no unpleasant odour diffused itself
through the room. Barre feeling that the baldness of this act of
destruction had had a bad effect, predicted that the morrow would
bring forth wondrous things; that the chief devil would speak more
distinctly than hitherto; that he would leave the body of the
superior, giving such clear signs of his passage that no one would
dare to doubt any longer that it was a case of genuine possession.
Thereupon the criminal lieutenant, Henri Herve, who had been present
during the exorcism, said they must seize upon the moment of his exit
to ask about Pivart, who was unknown at Loudun, although everyone who
lived there knew everybody else. Barre replied in Latin, "Et hoc
dicet epuellam nominabit" (He will not only tell about him, but he
will also name the young girl). The young girl whom the devil was to
name was, it may be recollected, she who had introduced the flowers
into the convent, and whose name the demon until now had absolutely
refused to give. On the strength of these promises everyone went
home to await the morrow with impatience.


That evening Grandier asked the bailiff for an audience. At first he
had made fun of the exorcisms, for the story had been so badly
concocted, and the accusations were so glaringly improbable, that he
had not felt the least anxiety. But as the case went on it assumed
such an important aspect, and the hatred displayed by his enemies was
so intense, that the fate of the priest Gaufredi, referred to by
Mignon, occurred to Urbain's mind, and in order to be beforehand with
his enemies he determined to lodge a complaint against them. This
complaint was founded on the fact that Mignon had performed the rite
of exorcism in the presence of the civil lieutenant, the bailiff, and
many other persons, and had caused the nuns who were said to be
possessed, in the hearing of all these people, to name him, Urbain,
as the author of their possession. This being a falsehood and an
attack upon his honour, he begged the bailiff, in whose hands the
conduct of the affair had been specially placed, to order the nuns to
be sequestered, apart from the rest of the sisterhood and from each
other, and then to have each separately examined. Should there
appear to be any evidence of possession, he hoped that the bailiff
would be pleased to appoint clerics of well-known rank and upright
character to perform whatever exorcisms were needful; such men having
no bias against him would be more impartial than Mignon and his
adherents. He also called upon the bailiff to have an exact report
drawn up of everything that took place at the exorcisms, in order
that, if necessary, he as petitioner might be able to lay it before
anyone to whose judgment he might appeal. The bailiff gave Grandier
a statement of the conclusions at which he had arrived, and told him
that the exorcisms had been performed that day by Barre, armed with
the authority of the Bishop of Poitiers himself. Being, as we have
seen, a man of common sense and entirely unprejudiced in the matter,
the bailiff advised Grandier to lay his complaint before his bishop;
but unfortunately he was under the authority of the Bishop of
Poitiers, who was so prejudiced against him that he had done
everything in his power to induce the Archbishop of Bordeaux to
refuse to ratify the decision in favour of Grandier, pronounced by
the presidial court. Urbain could not hide from the magistrate that
he had nothing to hope for from this quarter, and it was decided that
he should wait and see what the morrow would bring forth, before
taking any further step.

The impatiently expected day dawned at last, and at eight o'clock in
the morning the bailiff, the king's attorney, the civil lieutenant,
the criminal lieutenant, and the provost's lieutenant, with their
respective clerks, were already at the convent. They found the outer
gate open, but the inner door shut. In a few moments Mignon came to
them and brought them into a waiting-room. There he told them that
the nuns were preparing for communion, and that he would be very much
obliged to them if they would withdraw and wait in a house across the
street, just opposite the convent, and that he would send them word
when they could come back. The magistrates, having first informed
Mignon of Urbain's petition, retired as requested.

An hour passed, and as Mignon did not summon them, in spite of his
promise, they all went together to the convent chapel, where they
were told the exorcisms were already over. The nuns had quitted the
choir, and Mignon and Barre came to the grating and told them that
they had just completed the rite, and that, thanks to their
conjurations, the two afflicted ones were now quite free from evil
spirits. They went on to say that they had been working together at
the exorcism from seven o'clock in the morning, and that great
wonders, of which they had drawn up an account, had come to pass; but
they had considered it would not be proper to allow any one else to
be present during the ceremony besides the exorcists and the
possessed. The bailiff pointed out that their manner of proceedings
was not only illegal, but that it laid them under suspicion of fraud
and collusion, in the eyes of the impartial: Moreover, as the
superior had accused Grandier publicly, she was bound to renew and
prove her accusation also publicly, and not in secret; furthermore,
it was a great piece of insolence on the part of the exorcists to
invite people of their standing and character to come to the convent,
and having kept them waiting an hour, to tell them that they
considered them unworthy to be admitted to the ceremony which they.
had been requested to attend; and he wound up by saying that he would
draw up a report, as he had already done on each of the preceding
days, setting forth the extraordinary discrepancy between their
promises and their performance. Mignon replied that he and Barre had
had only one thing in view, viz. the expulsion of the, demons, and
that in that they had succeeded, and that their success would be of
great benefit to the holy Catholic faith, for they had got the demons
so thoroughly into their power that they had been able to command
them to produce within a week miraculous proofs of the spells cast on
the nuns by Urbain Grandier and their wonderful deliverance
therefrom; so that in future no one would be able to doubt as to the
reality of the possession. Thereupon the magistrates drew up a
report of all that had happened, and of what Barre and Mignon had
said. This was signed by all the officials present, except the
criminal lieutenant, who declared that, having perfect confidence in
the statements of the exorcists, he was anxious to do nothing to
increase the doubting spirit which was unhappily so prevalent among
the worldly.

The same day the bailiff secretly warned Urbain of the refusal of the
criminal lieutenant to join with the others in signing the report,
and almost at the same moment he learned that the cause of his
adversaries was strengthened by the adhesion of a certain Messire
Rene Memin, seigneur de Silly, and prefect of the town. This
gentleman was held in great esteem not only on account of his wealth
and the many offices which he filled, but above all on account of his
powerful friends, among whom was the cardinal-duke himself, to whom
he had formerly been of use when the cardinal was only a prior. The
character of the conspiracy had now become so alarming that Grandier
felt it was time to oppose it with all his strength. Recalling his
conversation with the bailiff the preceding day, during which he had
advised him to lay his complaint before the Bishop of Poitiers, he
set out, accompanied by a priest of Loudun, named Jean Buron, for the
prelate's country house at Dissay. The bishop, anticipating his
visit, had already given his orders, and Grandier was met by Dupuis,
the intendant of the palace, who, in reply to Grandier's request to
see the bishop, told him that his lordship was ill. Urbain next
addressed himself to the bishop's chaplain, and begged him to inform
the prelate that his object in coming was to lay before him the
official reports which the magistrates had drawn up of the events
which had taken place at the Ursuline convent, and to lodge a
complaint as to the slanders and accusations of which he was the
victim. Grandier spoke so urgently that the chaplain could not
refuse to carry his message; he returned, however, in a few moments,
and told Grandier, in the presence of Dupuis, Buron, and a certain
sieur Labrasse, that the bishop advised him to take his case to the
royal judges, and that he earnestly hoped he would obtain justice
from them. Grandier perceived that the bishop had been warned
against him, and felt that he was becoming more and more entangled in
the net of conspiracy around him; but he was not a man to flinch
before any danger. He therefore returned immediately to Loudun, and
went once more to the bailiff, to whom he related all that had
happened at Dissay; he then, a second time, made a formal complaint
as to the slanders circulated with regard to him, and begged the
magistrates to have recourse to the king's courts in the business.
He also said that he desired to be placed under the protection of the
king and his justice, as the accusations made against him were aimed
at his honour and his life. The bailiff hastened to make out a
certificate of Urbain's protest, which forbade at the same time the
repetition of the slanders or the infliction on Urbain of any injury.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Adoro te" (I adore Thee).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Jesu Christe," was her answer.

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

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

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

"Sex" ( Six).

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

"Quinque" (Five).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

"Duplex" (Double), returned Sister Claire.

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

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

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

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

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

"Urbanus," answered the superior.

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

"Grandier," replied the superior.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Deus non volo."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Impuritas" (Unchastity).

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

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

"Magus" (The sorcerer).

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

"Urbanus" (Urban).

"Quis Urbanus? Est-ne Urbanus papa?"

(What Urban? Pope Urban?)


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


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

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

"Magus" (The magician).

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

"Septima" (At seven o'clock).

"An matutina?" (In the morning?)

"Sego" (In the evening).

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

"Janua" (By the door).

"Quis vidit?" (Who saw him?)

"Tres" (Three persons).

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To this Barre replied--

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

And she took the oath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We are here with the intention of entering," said the bailiff, "and
also for the purpose of requesting you to put one or two questions to

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