Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period
Paul Lacroix

Part 7 out of 8

[Illustration: Fig. 334.--Member of the Brotherhood of Death, whose duty
it was to accompany those sentenced to death.--From Cesare Vecellio.]

"If any workman shall practise in a foreign land any art or craft to the
detriment of the Republic, he shall be ordered to return to his country;
and should he not obey, all his nearest relatives shall be imprisoned, in
order that his affection for them may bring him to obedience. Should he
still persist in his disobedience, secret measures shall be taken to put
him to death, wherever he may be.

"If a Venetian noble reveal to the tribunal propositions which have been
made to him by some foreign ambassador, the agent, excepting it should be
the ambassador himself, shall be immediately carried off and drowned.

"If a patrician having committed any misdeed shall take refuge under the
protection of a foreign ambassador, he shall be put to death forthwith.

"If any noble in full senate take upon himself to question the authority
of the Council of Ten, and persist in attacking it, he shall be allowed to
speak without interruption; immediately afterwards he shall be arrested,
and instructions as to his trial shall be given, so that he may be judged
by the ordinary tribunals; and, if this does not succeed in preventing his
proceedings, he shall be put to death secretly.

"In case of a complaint against one of the heads of the Council of Ten,
the instructions shall be made secretly, and, in case of sentence of
death, poison shall be the agent selected.

"Should any dissatisfied noble speak ill of the Government, he shall first
be forbidden to appear in the councils and public places for two years.
Should he not obey, or should he repeat the offence after the two years,
he shall be drowned as incorrigible...." &c.

One can easily understand that in order to carry out these laws the most
careful measures were taken to organize a system of espionage. The nobles
were subjected to a rigorous supervision; the privacy of letters was not
respected; an ambassador was never lost sight of, and his smallest acts
were narrowly watched. Any one who dared to throw obstacles in the way of
the spies employed by the Council of Ten, was put on the rack, and "made
afterwards to receive the punishment which the State inquisitors might
consider befitting." Whole pages of the secret statutes bear witness that
lying and fraud formed the basis of all the diplomatic relations of the
Venetian Government. Nevertheless the Council of Ten, which was solely
instituted with the view of watching over the safety of the Republic,
could not inter-meddle in civil cases, and its members were forbidden to
hold any sort of communication with foreigners.

[Illustration: Figs. 335 and 336.--Chiefs of Sbirri, in the Secret
Service of the Council of Ten.--From Cesare Vecellio.]

The list of names of Venetian nobles and distinguished persons who became
victims to the suspicions tyranny of the Council of Ten, and of the State
inquisitors, would be very long and of little interest. We may mention a
few, however. We find that in 1385, Peter Justiniani, and, in 1388,
Stephen Monalesco, were punished for holding secret transactions with the
Lord of Padua; in 1413, John Nogarola, for having tried to set fire to
Verona; in 1471, Borromeo Memo, for having uttered defamatory speeches
against the Podestat of Padua. Not only was this Borromeo Memo punished,
but three witnesses of the crime which was imputed to him were condemned
to a year's imprisonment and three years' banishment, for not having
denounced the deed "between evening and morning." In 1457 we find the
Council of Ten attacking the Doge himself, by requiring the abdication of
Francis Foscari. A century earlier it had caused the Doge, Marino Faliero,
who was convicted of having taken part in a plot to destroy the influence
of the nobility, to be executed on the very staircase of the ducal palace,
where allegiance to the Republic was usually sworn.

[Illustration: Fig. 337.--Doge of Venice. Costume before the Sixteenth
Century. From Cesare Vecellio.]

[Illustration: Fig. 338.--Doge of Venice in Ceremonial Costume of the
Sixteenth Century. From Cesare Vecellio.]

Like the Holy Vehme, the Council of Ten compromised its authority by the
abuse of power. In 1540, unknown to the Senate, and in spite of the
well-prescribed limit of its authority, it concluded a treaty with the
Turkish Sultan, Soliman II. The Senate at first concealed its indignation
at this abuse of power, but, in 1582, it took measures so as considerably
to restrain the powers of the Council of Ten, which, from that date, only
existed in name.

[Illustration: Fig. 339.--Seal of the Free Count Heinrich Beckmann, of
Medebach. (1520--1533).]


Refinements of Penal Cruelty.--Tortures for different Purposes.--Water,
Screw-boards, and the Rack.--The Executioner.--Female
Executioners.--Tortures.--Amende Honorable.--Torture of Fire, Real and
Feigned.--Auto-da-fe.--Red-hot Brazier or
Whip.--The Pillory.--The
of Prisons.--The Iron Cage.--The Leads of Venice.

"It is very sad," says the learned M. de Villegille, "to observe the
infinite variety of tortures which have existed since the beginning of the
world. It is, in fact, difficult to realise the amount of ingenuity
exercised by men in inventing new tortures, in order to give themselves
the satisfaction of seeing their fellow-creatures agonizing in the most
awful sufferings."

In entering upon the subject of ancient modes of punishment, we must first
speak of the torture, which, according to the received phrase, might be
either _previous_ or _preparatory: previous_, when it consisted of a
torture which the condemned had to endure previous to capital punishment;
and _preparatory_, when it was applied in order to elicit from the culprit
an avowal of his crime, or of that of his accomplices. It was also called
_ordinary_, or _extraordinary_, according to the duration or violence with
which it was inflicted. In some cases the torture lasted five or six
consecutive hours; in others, it rarely exceeded an hour. Hippolyte de
Marsillis, the learned and venerable jurisconsult of Bologna, who lived at
the beginning of the fifteenth century, mentions fourteen ways of
inflicting torture. The compression of the limbs by special instruments,
or by ropes only; injection of water, vinegar, or oil, into the body of
the accused; application of hot pitch, and starvation, were the processes
most in use. Other means, which were more or less applied according to the
fancy of the magistrate and the tormentor or executioner, were remarkable
for their singular atrocities. For instance, placing hot eggs under the
arm-pits; introducing dice between the skin and flesh; tying lighted
candles to the fingers, so that they might be consumed simultaneously with
the wax; letting water trickle drop by drop from a great height on the
stomach; and also the custom, which was, according to writers on criminal
matters, an indescribable torture, of watering the feet with salt water
and allowing goats to lick them. However, every country had special
customs as to the manner of applying torture.

In France, too, the torture varied according to the provinces, or rather
according to the parliaments. For instance, in Brittany the culprit, tied
in an iron chair, was gradually brought near a blazing furnace. In
Normandy, one thumb was squeezed in a screw in the ordinary, and both
thumbs in the extraordinary torture. At Autun, after high boots made of
spongy leather had been placed on the culprit's feet, he was tied on to a
table near a large fire, and a quantity of boiling water was poured on the
boots, which penetrated the leather, ate away the flesh, and even
dissolved the bones of the victim.

At Orleans, for the ordinary torture the accused was stripped half naked,
and his hands were tightly tied behind his back, with a ring fixed between
them. Then by means of a rope fastened to this ring, they raised the poor
man, who had a weight of one hundred and eighty pounds attached to his
feet, a certain height from the ground. For the extraordinary torture,
which then took the name of _estrapade_, they raised the victim, with two
hundred and fifty pounds attached to his feet, to the ceiling by means of
a capstan; he was then allowed to fall several times successively by jerks
to the level of the ground, by which means his arms and legs were
completely dislocated (Fig. 340).

At Avignon, the ordinary torture consisted in hanging the accused by the
wrists, with a heavy iron ball at each foot; for the extraordinary
torture, which was then much in use in Italy under the name of _veglia_,
the body was stretched horizontally by means of ropes passing through
rings riveted into the wall, and attached to the four limbs, the only
support given to the culprit being the point of a stake cut in a diamond
shape, which just touched the end of the back-bone. A doctor and a surgeon
were always present, feeling the pulse at the temples of the patient, so
as to be able to judge of the moment when he could not any longer bear the

[Illustration: Fig. 340.--The Estrapade, or Question
Extraordinary.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Work of J. Millaeus,
"Praxis Criminis Persequendi." folio, Paris, 1541.]

[Illustration: Fig. 341.--The Water Torture.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
J. Damhoudere's "Praxis Rerum Criminalium:" in 4to, Antwerp, 1556.]

At that moment he was untied, hot fomentations were used to revive him,
restoratives were administered, and, as soon as he had recovered a little
strength, he was again put to the torture, which went on thus for six
consecutive hours.

In Paris, for a long time, the _water torture_ was in use; this was the
most easily borne, and the least dangerous. A person undergoing it was
tied to a board which was supported horizontally on two trestles. By means
of a horn, acting as a funnel, and whilst his nose was being pinched, so
as to force him to swallow, they slowly poured four _coquemars_ (about
nine pints) of water into his mouth; this was for the ordinary torture.
For the extraordinary, double that quantity was poured in (Fig. 341). When
the torture was ended, the victim was untied, "and taken to be warmed in
the kitchen," says the old text.

At a later period, the _brodequins_ were preferred. For this torture, the
victim was placed in a sitting posture on a massive bench, with strong
narrow boards fixed inside and outside of each leg, which were tightly
bound together with strong rope; wedges were then driven in between the
centre boards with a mallet; four wedges in the ordinary and eight in the
extraordinary torture. Not unfrequently during the latter operation the
bones of the legs were literally burst.

The _brodequins_ which were often used for ordinary torture were stockings
of parchment, into which it was easy enough to get the feet when it was
wet, but which, on being held near the fire, shrunk so considerably that
it caused insufferable agony to the wearer.

Whatever manner of torture was applied, the accused, before undergoing it,
was forced to remain eight or ten hours without eating. Damhoudere, in his
famous technical work, called "Practique et Enchiridion des Causes
Criminelles" (1544), also recommends that the hair should be carefully
shaved from the bodies of persons about to undergo examination by torture,
for fear of their concealing some countercharm which would render them
insensible to bodily pain. The same author also recommends, as a rule,
when there are several persons "to be placed on the rack" for the same
deed, to begin with those from whom it would be most probable that
confession would be first extorted. Thus, for instance, when a man and a
woman were to suffer one after the other, he recommended that the woman be
first tortured, as being the weaker of the two; when a father and son were
concerned, the son should be tortured in presence of the father, "who
naturally fears more for his son than for himself." We thereby see that
the judges were adepts in the art of adding moral to physical tortures.
The barbarous custom of punishment by torture was on several occasions
condemned by the Church. As early as 866, we find, from Pope Nicholas V.'s
letter to the Bulgarians, that their custom of torturing the accused was
considered contrary to divine as well as to human law: "For," says he, "a
confession should be voluntary, and not forced. By means of the torture,
an innocent man may suffer to the utmost without making any avowal; and,
in such a case, what a crime for the judge! Or the person may be subdued
by pain, and may acknowledge himself guilty, although he be not so, which
throws an equally great sin upon the judge."

[Illustration: Fig. 342.--Type of Executioner in the Decapitation of John
the Baptist (Thirteenth Century).--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Psalm-book of St. Louis. Manuscript preserved in the Musee des

After having endured the _previous_ torture, the different phases of which
were carried out by special tormentors or executioners, the condemned was
at last handed over to the _maistre des haultes oeuvres_--that is to say,
the _executioner_--whose special mission was that of sending culprits to
another world (Fig. 342).

[Illustration: Fig. 343.--Swiss Grand Provost (Fifteenth Century).--From a
Painting in the "Danse des Morts" of Basle, engraved by Merian.]

The executioner did not hold the same position in all countries. For
whereas in France, Italy, and Spain, a certain amount of odium was
attached to this terrible craft, in Germany, on the contrary, successfully
carrying out a certain number of capital sentences was rewarded by titles
and the privileges of nobility (Fig. 343). At Reutlingen, in Suabia, the
last of the councillors admitted into the tribunal had to carry out the
sentence with his own hand. In Franconia, this painful duty fell upon the
councillor who had last taken a wife.

In France, the executioner, otherwise called the _King's Sworn Tormentor,_
was the lowest of the officers of justice. His letters of appointment,
which he received from the King, had, nevertheless, to be registered in
Parliament; but, after having put the seal on them, it is said that the
chancellor threw them under the table, in token of contempt. The
executioner was generally forbidden to live within the precincts of the
city, unless it was on the grounds where the pillory was situated; and, in
some cases, so that he might not be mistaken amongst the people, he was
forced to wear a particular coat, either of red or yellow. On the other
hand, his duties ensured him certain privileges. In Paris, he possessed
the right of _havage_, which consisted in taking all that he could hold in
his hand from every load of grain which was brought into market; however,
in order that the grain might be preserved from ignominious contact, he
levied his tax with a wooden spoon. He enjoyed many similar rights over
most articles of consumption, independently of benefiting by several taxes
or fines, such as the toll on the Petit-Pont, the tax on foreign traders,
on boats arriving with fish, on dealers in herrings, watercress, &c.; and
the fine of five sous which was levied on stray pigs (see previous
chapter), &c. And, lastly, besides the personal property of the condemned,
he received the rents from the shops and stalls surrounding the pillory,
in which the retail fish trade was carried on.

It appears that, in consequence of the receipts from these various duties
forming a considerable source of revenue, the prestige of wealth by
degrees dissipated the unfavourable impressions traditionally attached to
the duties of executioner. At least, we have authority for supposing this,
when, for instance, in 1418, we see the Paris executioner, who was then
captain of the bourgeois militia, coming in that capacity to touch the
hand of the Duke of Burgundy, on the occasion of his solemn entry into
Paris with Queen Isabel of Bavaria. We may add that popular belief
generally ascribed to the executioner a certain practical knowledge of
medicine, which was supposed inherent in the profession itself; and the
acquaintance with certain methods of cure unknown to doctors, was
attributed to him; people went to buy from him the fat of culprits who had
been hung, which was supposed to be a marvellous panacea. We may also
remark that, in our day, the proficiency of the executioner in setting
dislocated limbs is still proverbial in many countries.

[Illustration: Fig. 344.--Amende Honorable before the
Tribunal.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in J. Damhoudere's "Praxis Rerum
Criminalium:" in 4to, Antwerp, 1556.]

More than once during the thirteenth century the duties of the executioner
were performed by women, but only in those cases in which their own sex
was concerned; for it is expressly stated in an order of St. Louis, that
persons convicted of blasphemy shall be beaten with birch rods, "the men
by men, and the women by women only, without the presence of men." This,
however, was not long tolerated, for we know that a period soon arrived
when women were exempted from a duty so little adapted to their physical
weakness and moral sensitiveness.

The learned writer on criminal cases, Josse Damhoudere, whom we have
already mentioned, and whom we shall take as our special guide in the
enumeration of the various tortures, specifies thirteen ways in which the
executioner "carries out his executions," and places them in the following
order:--"Fire"--"the sword"--"mechanical force"--"quartering"--"the
wheel"--"the fork"--"the gibbet"--"drawing"--"spiking"--"cutting off the
ears"--"dismembering"--"flogging or beating"--and the "pillory."

[Illustration: Fig. 345.--The Punishment by Fire.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
of the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

But before entering upon the details of this revolting subject, we must
state that, whatever punishment was inflicted upon a culprit, it was very
rare that its execution had not been preceded by the _amende honorable_,
which, in certain cases, constituted a distinct punishment, but which
generally was but the prelude to the torture itself. The _amende
honorable_ which was called _simple_ or _short_, took place without the
assistance of the executioner in the council chamber, where the condemned,
bareheaded and kneeling, had to state that "he had falsely said or done
something against the authority of the King or the honour of some person"
(Fig. 344). For the _amende honorable in figuris_--that is to say, in
public--the condemned, in his shirt, barefooted, the rope round his neck,
followed by the executioner, and holding in his hand a wax taper, with a
weight, which was definitely specified in the sentence which had been
passed upon him, but which was generally of two or four pounds,
prostrated himself at the door of a church, where in a loud voice he had
to confess his sin, and to beg the pardon of God and man.

When a criminal had been condemned to be burnt, a stake was erected on the
spot specially designed for the execution, and round it a pile was
prepared, composed of alternate layers of straw and wood, and rising to
about the height of a man. Care was taken to leave a free space round the
stake for the victim, and also a passage by which to lead him to it.
Having been stripped of his clothes, and dressed in a shirt smeared with
sulphur, he had to walk to the centre of the pile through a narrow
opening, and was then tightly bound to the stake with ropes and chains.
After this, faggots and straw were thrown into the empty space through
which he had passed to the stake, until he was entirely covered by them;
the pile was then fired on all sides at once (Fig. 345).

Sometimes, the sentence was that the culprit should only be delivered to
the flames after having been previously strangled. In this case, the dead
corpse was then immediately placed where the victim would otherwise have
been placed alive, and the punishment lost much of its horror. It often
happened that the executioner, in order to shorten the sufferings of the
condemned, whilst he prepared the pile, placed a large and pointed iron
bar amongst the faggots and opposite the stake breast high, so that,
directly the fire was lighted, the bar was quickly pushed against the
victim, giving a mortal blow to the unfortunate wretch, who would
otherwise have been slowly devoured by the flames. If, according to the
wording of the sentence, the ashes of the criminal were to be scattered to
the winds, as soon as it was possible to approach the centre of the
burning pile, a few ashes were taken in a shovel and sprinkled in the air.

They were not satisfied with burning the living, they also delivered to
the flames the bodies of those who had died a natural death before their
execution could be carried out, as if an anticipated death should not be
allowed to save them from the punishment which they had deserved. It also
happened in certain cases, where a person's guilt was only proved after
his decease, that his body was disinterred, and carried to the stake to be

The punishment by fire was always inflicted in cases of heresy, or
blasphemy. The Spanish Inquisition made such a constant and cruel use of
it, that the expression _auto-da-fe_ (act of faith), strangely perverted
from its original meaning, was the only one employed to denote the
punishment itself. In France, in the beginning of the fourteenth century,
fifty-nine Templars were burned at the same time for the crimes of heresy
and witchcraft. And three years later, on the 18th March, 1314, Jacques
Molay, and a few other dignitaries of the Order of the Templars, also
perished in the flames at the extremity of the island of Notre Dame, on
the very spot where the equestrian statue of Henry IV. now stands.

Every one is acquainted with the fact that judges were found iniquitous
enough to condemn Joan of Arc to death by fire as a witch and a heretic.
Her execution, which took place in the market-place of Rouen, is
remarkable from a circumstance which is little known, and which had never
taken place on any other occasion. When it was supposed that the fire
which surrounded the young heroine on all sides had reached her and no
doubt suffocated her, although sufficient time had not elapsed for it to
consume her body, a part of the blazing wood was withdrawn, "in order to
remove any doubts from the people," and when the crowd had satisfied
themselves by seeing her in the middle of the pile, "chained to the post
and quite dead, the executioner replaced the fire...." It should be stated
in reference to this point, that Joan having been accused of witchcraft,
there was a general belief among the people that the flames would be
harmless to her, and that she would be seen emerging from her pile

The sentence of punishment by fire did not absolutely imply death at the
stake, for there was a punishment of this description which was specially
reserved for base coiners, and which consisted in hurling the criminals
into a cauldron of scalding water or oil.

We must include in the category of punishment by fire certain penalties,
which were, so to speak, but the preliminaries of a more severe
punishment, such as the sulphur-fire, in which the hands of parricides, or
of criminals accused of high treason, were burned. We must also add
various punishments which, if they did not involve death, were none the
less cruel, such as the red-hot brazier, _bassin ardent_, which was passed
backwards and forwards before the eyes of the culprit, until they were
destroyed by the scorching heat; and the process of branding various marks
on the flesh, as an ineffaceable stigma, the use of which has been
continued to the present day.

In certain countries decapitation was performed with an axe; but in
France, it was carried out usually by means of a two-handed sword or
glave of justice, which was furnished to the executioner for that purpose
(Fig. 346). We find it recorded that in 1476, sixty sous parisis were paid
to the executioner of Paris "for having bought a large _espee a feuille_,"
used for beheading the condemned, and "for having the old sword done up,
which was damaged, and had become notched whilst carrying out the sentence
of justice upon Messire Louis de Luxembourg."

[Illustration: Fig. 346.--Beheading.--Fac-simile of a Miniature on Wood in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Originally, decapitation was indiscriminately inflicted on all criminals
condemned to death; at a later period, however, it became the particular
privilege of the nobility, who submitted to it without any feeling of
degradation. The victim--unless the sentence prescribed that he should be
blindfolded as an ignominious aggravation of the penalty--was allowed to
choose whether he would have his eyes covered or not. He knelt down on the
scaffold, placed his head on the block, and gave himself up to the
executioner (Fig. 347). The skill of the executioner was generally such
that the head was almost invariably severed from the body at the first
blow. Nevertheless, skill and practice at times failed, for cases are on
record where as many as eleven blows were dealt, and at times it happened
that the sword broke. It was no doubt the desire to avoid this mischance
that led to the invention of the mechanical instrument, now known under
the name of the _guillotine_, which is merely an improvement on a
complicated machine which was much more ancient than is generally
supposed. As early as the sixteenth century the modern guillotine already
existed in Scotland under the name of the _Maiden_, and English historians
relate that Lord Morton, regent of Scotland during the minority of James
VI., had it constructed after a model of a similar machine, which had long
been in use at Halifax, in Yorkshire. They add, and popular tradition also
has invented an analogous tale in France, that this Lord Morton, who was
the inventor or the first to introduce this kind of punishment, was
himself the first to experience it. The guillotine is, besides, very
accurately described in the "Chronicles of Jean d'Auton," in an account of
an execution which took place at Genoa at the beginning of the sixteenth
century. Two German engravings, executed about 1550 by Pencz and
Aldegrever, also represent an instrument of death almost identical with
the guillotine; and the same instrument is to be found on a bas-relief of
that period, which is still existing in one of the halls of the Tribunal
of Luneburg, in Hanover.

[Illustration: Decapitation of Guillaume de Pommiers.

[Illustration: Fig. 347.--Public Executions.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the Latin Work of J. Millaeus, "Praxis Criminis Persequendi:" small folio,
Parisis, Simon de Colines, 1541.]

And his Confessor, at Bordeaux in 1377, by order of the King of England's
Lieutenant. _Froissart's Chronicles._ No. 2644, Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

Possibly the invention of such a machine was prompted by the desire to
curtail the physical sufferings of the victim, instead of prolonging them,
as under the ancient system. It is, however, difficult to believe that the
mediaeval judges were actuated by any humane feelings, when we find that,
in order to reconcile a respect for _propriety_ with a due compliance with
the ends of justice, the punishment of burying alive was resorted to for
women, who could not with decency be hung up to the gibbets. In 1460, a
woman named Perette, accused of theft and of receiving stolen goods, was
condemned by the Provost of Paris to be "buried alive before the gallows,"
and the sentence was literally carried out.

_Quartering_ may in truth be considered the most horrible penalty invented
by judicial cruelty. This punishment really dates from the remotest ages,
but it was scarcely ever inflicted in more modern times, except on
regicides, who were looked upon as having committed the worst of crimes.
In almost all cases, the victim had previously to undergo various
accessory tortures: sometimes his right hand was cut off, and the
mutilated stump was burnt in a cauldron of sulphur; sometimes his arms,
thighs, or breasts were lacerated with red-hot pincers, and hot oil,
pitch, or molten lead was poured into the wounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 348.--Demons applying the Torture of the
Wheel.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Grand Kalendrier ou Compost des
Bergers:" small folio, Troyes, Nicholas le Rouge, 1529.]

After these horrible preliminaries, a rope was attached to each of the
limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the
knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were
then fastened to four bars, to each of which a strong horse was harnessed,
as if for towing a barge. These horses were first made to give short
jerks; and when the agony had elicited heart-rending cries from the
unfortunate man, who felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken,
the four horses were all suddenly urged on with the whip in different
directions, and thus all the limbs were strained at one moment. If the
tendons and ligaments still resisted the combined efforts of the four
horses, the executioner assisted, and made several cuts with a hatchet on
each joint. When at last--for this horrible torture often lasted several
hours--each horse had drawn out a limb, they were collected and placed
near the hideous trunk, which often still showed signs of life, and the
whole were burned together. Sometimes the sentence was, that the body
should be hung to the gibbet, and that the limbs should be displayed on
the gates of the town, or sent to four principal towns in the extremities
of the kingdom. When this was done, "an inscription was placed on each of
the limbs, which stated the reason of its being thus exposed."

The _wheel_ is the name applied to a torture of very ancient origin, but
which was applied during the Middle Ages to quite a different torture from
that used in olden times. The modern instrument might indeed have been
called the cross, for it only served for the public exhibition of the body
of the criminal whose limbs had been previously broken alive. This
torture, which does not date earlier than the days of Francis I., is thus
described:--The victim was first tied on his back to two joists forming a
St. Andrew's cross, each of his limbs being stretched out on its arms. Two
places were hollowed out under each limb, about a foot apart, in order
that the joints alone might touch the wood. The executioner then dealt a
heavy blow over each hollow with a square iron bar, about two inches broad
and rounded at the handle, thus breaking each limb in two places. To the
eight blows required for this, the executioner generally added two or
three on the chest, which were called _coups de grace_, and which ended
this horrible execution. It was only after death that the broken body was
placed on a wheel, which was turned round on a pivot. Sometimes, however,
the sentence ordered that the condemned should be strangled before being
broken, which was done in such cases by the instantaneous twist of a rope
round the neck.

Strangling, thus carried out, was called _garotting_. This method is still
in use in Spain, and is specially reserved for the nobility. The victim is
seated on a scaffold, his head leaning against a beam and his neck grasped
by an iron collar, which the executioner suddenly tightens from behind by
means of a screw.

For several centuries, and down to the Revolution, hanging was the most
common mode of execution in France; consequently, in every town, and
almost in every village, there was a permanent gibbet, which, owing to the
custom of leaving the bodies to hang till they crumbled into dust, was
very rarely without having some corpses or skeletons attached to it. These
gibbets, which were called _fourches patibulaires_ or _justices_, because
they represented the authority of the law, were generally composed of
pillars of stone, joined at their summit by wooden traverses, to which the
bodies of criminals were tied by ropes or chains. The gallows, the pillars
of which varied in number according to the will of the authorities, were
always placed by the side of frequented roads, and on an eminence.

[Illustration: Fig. 349.--The Gibbet of Montfaucon.--From an Engraving of
the Topography of Paris, in the Collection of Engravings of the National

According to prescribed rule, the gallows of Paris, which played such an
important part in the political as well as the criminal history of that
city, were erected on a height north of the town, near the high road
leading into Germany. Montfaucon, originally the name of the hill, soon
became that of the gallows itself. This celebrated place of execution
consisted of a heavy mass of masonry, composed of ten or twelve layers of
rough stones, and formed an enclosure of forty feet by twenty-five or
thirty. At the upper part there was a platform, which was reached by a
stone staircase, the entrance to which was closed by a massive door (Fig.
349). On three sides of this platform rested sixteen square pillars, about
thirty feet high, made of blocks of stone a foot thick. These pillars were
joined to one another by double bars of wood, which were fastened into
them, and bore iron chains three feet and a half long, to which the
criminals were suspended. Underneath, half-way between these and the
platform, other bars were placed for the same purpose. Long and solid
ladders riveted to the pillars enabled the executioner and his assistants
to lead up criminals, or to carry up corpses destined to be hung there.
Lastly, the centre of the structure was occupied by a deep pit, the
hideous receptacle of the decaying remains of the criminals.

One can easily imagine the strange and melancholy aspect of this
monumental gibbet if one thinks of the number of corpses continually
attached to it, and which were feasted upon by thousands of crows. On one
occasion only it was necessary to replace _fifty-two_ chains, which were
useless; and the accounts of the city of Paris prove that the expense of
executions was more heavy than that of the maintenance of the gibbet, a
fact easy to be understood if one recalls to mind the frequency of capital
sentences during the Middle Ages. Montfaucon was used not only for
executions, but also for exposing corpses which were brought there from
various places of execution in every part of the country. The mutilated
remains of criminals who had been boiled, quartered, or beheaded, were
also hung there, enclosed in sacks of leather or wickerwork. They often
remained hanging for a considerable time, as in the case of Pierre des
Essarts, who had been beheaded in 1413, and whose remains were handed over
to his family for Christian burial after having hung on Montfaucon for
three years.

The criminal condemned to be hanged was generally taken to the place of
execution sitting or standing in a waggon, with his back to the horses,
his confessor by his side, and the executioner behind him. He bore three
ropes round his neck; two the size of the little finger, and called
_tortouses_, each of which had a slip-knot; the third, called the _jet_,
was only used to pull the victim off the ladder, and so to launch him into
eternity (Fig. 350). When the cart arrived at the foot of the gallows, the
executioner first ascended the ladder backwards, drawing the culprit after
him by means of the ropes, and forcing him to keep pace with him; on
arriving at the top, he quickly fastened the two _tortouses_ to the arm of
the gibbet, and by a jerk of his knee he turned the culprit off the
ladder, still holding the _jet_ in his own hand. He then placed his feet
on the tied hands of the condemned, and suspending himself by his hands to
the gibbet, he finished off his victim by repeated jerks, thus ensuring
complete strangulation.

When the words "shall be hung until death doth ensue" are to be found in
a sentence, it must not be supposed that they were used merely as a form,
for in certain cases the judge ordered that the sentence should be only
carried out as far as would prove to the culprit the awful sensation of
hanging. In such cases, the victim was simply suspended by ropes passing
under the arm-pits, a kind of exhibition which was not free from danger
when it was too prolonged, for the weight of the body so tightened the
rope round the chest that the circulation might be stopped. Many culprits,
after hanging thus an hour, when brought down, were dead, or only survived
this painful process a short time.

[Illustration: Fig. 350.--Hanging to Music. (A Minstrel condemned to the
Gallows obtained permission that one of his companions should accompany
him to his execution, and play his favourite instrument on the ladder of
the Gallows.)--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Michault's "Doctrinal du Temps
Present:" small folio, goth., Bruges, about 1490.]

We have seen elsewhere (chapter on _Privileges and Rights, Feudal and
Municipal_) that, when the criminal passed before the convent of the
_Filles-Dieu_, the nuns of that establishment were bound to bring him out
a glass of wine and three pieces of bread, and this was called _le dernier
morceau des patients._ It was hardly ever refused, and an immense crowd
assisted at this sad meal. After this the procession went forward, and on
arriving near the gallows, another halt was made at the foot of a stone
cross, in order that the culprit might receive the religions exhortations
of his confessor. The moment the execution was over, the confessor and
the officers of justice returned to the Chatelet, where a repast provided
by the town awaited them.

[Illustration: Fig. 351.--View of the Pillory in the Market-place of Paris
in the Sixteenth Century, after a Drawing by an unknown Artist of 1670.]

Sometimes the criminals, in consequence of a peculiar wording of the
sentence, were taken to Montfaucon, whether dead or alive, on a ladder
fastened behind a cart. This was an aggravation of the penalty, which was
called _trainer sur la claie_.

The penalty of the lash was inflicted in two ways: first, under the
_custode_, that is to say within the prison, and by the hand of the gaoler
himself, in which case it was simply a correction; and secondly, in
public, when its administration became ignominious as well as painful. In
the latter case the criminal was paraded about the town, stripped to the
waist, and at each crossway he received a certain number of blows on the
shoulders, given by the public executioner with a cane or a knotted rope.

When it was only required to stamp a culprit with infamy he was put into
the _pillory_, which was generally a kind of scaffold furnished with
chains and iron collars, and bearing on its front the arms of the feudal
lord. In Paris, this name was given to a round isolated tower built in the
centre of the market. The tower was sixty feet high, and had large
openings in its thick walls, and a horizontal wheel was provided, which
was capable of turning on a pivot. This wheel was pierced with several
holes, made so as to hold the hands and head of the culprit, who, on
passing and repassing before the eyes of the crowd, came in full view, and
was subjected to their hootings (Fig. 351). The pillories were always
situated in the most frequented places, such as markets, crossways, &c.

Notwithstanding the long and dreadful enumeration we have just made of
mediaeval punishments, we are far from having exhausted the subject; for we
have not spoken of several more or less atrocious punishments, which were
in use at various times and in various countries; such as the _Pain of the
Cross_, specially employed against the Jews; the _Arquebusade_, which was
well adapted for carrying out prompt justice on soldiers; the
_Chatouillement_, which resulted in death after the most intense tortures;
the _Pal_ (Fig. 352), _flaying alive_, and, lastly, _drowning_, a kind of
death frequently employed in France. Hence the common expression, _gens de
sac et de corde_, which was derived from the sack into which persons were
tied who were condemned to die by immersion.... But we will now turn away
from these horrible scenes, and consider the several methods of penal
sequestration and prison arrangements.

It is unnecessary to state that in barbarous times the cruel and pitiless
feeling which induced legislators to increase the horrors of tortures,
also contributed to the aggravation of the fate of prisoners. Each
administrator of the law had his private gaol, which was entirely under
his will and control (Fig. 353). Law or custom did not prescribe any
fixed rules for the internal government of prisons. There can be little
doubt, however, that these prisons were as small as they were unhealthy,
if we may judge from that in the Rue de la Tannerie, which was the
property of the provost, the merchants, and the aldermen of Paris in 1383.
Although this dungeon was only eleven feet long by seven feet wide, from
ten to twenty prisoners were often immured in it at the same time.

[Illustration: Fig. 352.--Empalement.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Paris alone contained twenty-five or thirty special prisons, without
counting the _vade in pace_ of the various religious communities. The most
important were the Grand Chatelet, the Petit Chatelet, the Bastille, the
Conciergerie, and the For-l'Eveque, the ancient seat of the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris. Nearly all these places of
confinement contained subterranean cells, which were almost entirely
deprived of air and light. As examples of these may be mentioned the
_Chartres basses_ of the Petit Chatelet, where, under the reign of Charles
VI., it was proved that no man could pass an entire day without being
suffocated; and the fearful cells excavated thirty feet below the surface
of the earth, in the gaol of the Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres, the roof
of which was so low that a man of middle height could not stand up in
them, and where the straw of the prisoners' beds floated upon the stagnant
water which had oozed through the walls.

[Illustration: Fig. 353.--The Provost's Prison.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in J. Damhoudere's "Praxis Rerum Civilium."]

The Grand Chatelet was one of the most ancient prisons of Paris, and
probably the one which held the greatest number of prisoners. By a curious
and arbitrary custom, prisoners were compelled to pay a gaol fee on
entering and going out of this prison, which varied according to their
rank, and which was established by a law of the year 1425. We learn from
this enactment the names by which the various places of confinement
composing this spacious municipal prison were known. A prisoner who was
confined in the _Beauvoir, La Mate_ or _La Salle_, had the right of
"having a bed brought from his own house," and only had to pay the _droit
de place_ to the gaoler; any one who was placed in the _Boucherie_, in the
_Beaumont_, or in the _Griseche_, "which are closed prisons," had to pay
four deniers "_pour place_;" any one who was confined in the _Beauvais_,
"lies on mats or on layers of rushes or straw" (_gist sur nates ou sur
couche de feurre ou de paille_); if he preferred, he might be placed _au
Puis_, in the _Gourdaine_, in the _Bercueil_, or in the _Oubliette_, where
he did not pay more than in the _Fosse_. For this, no doubt, the smallest
charge was made. Sometimes, however, the prisoner was left between two
doors ("_entre deux huis_"), and he then paid much less than he would in
the _Barbarie_ or in the _Gloriette_. The exact meaning of these curious
names is no longer intelligible to us, notwithstanding the terror which
they formerly created, but their very strangeness gives us reason to
suppose that the prison system was at that time subjected to the most
odious refinement of the basest cruelty.

From various reliable sources we learn that there was a place in the Grand
Chatelet, called the _Chausse d'Hypocras_, in which the prisoners had
their feet continually in water, and where they could neither stand up nor
lie down; and a cell, called _Fin d'aise_, which was a horrible receptacle
of filth, vermin, and reptiles; as to the _Fosse_, no staircase being
attached to it, the prisoners were lowered down into it by means of a rope
and pulley.

By the law of 1425, the gaoler was not permitted to put more than _two or
three_ persons in the same bed. He was bound to give "bread and water" to
the poor prisoners who had no means of subsistence; and, lastly, he was
enjoined "to keep the large stone basin, which was on the pavement, full
of water, so that prisoners might get it whenever they wished." In order
to defray his expenses, he levied on the prisoners various charges for
attendance and for bedding, and he was authorised to detain in prison any
person who failed to pay him. The power of compelling payment of these
charges continued even after a judge's order for the release of a prisoner
had been issued.

[Illustration: Fig. 354.--The Bastille.--From an ancient Engraving of the
Topography of Paris, in the Collection of Engravings of the National

The subterranean cells of the Bastille (Fig. 354) did not differ much from
those of the Chatelet. There were several, the bottoms of which were
formed like a sugar-loaf upside down, thus neither allowing the prisoner
to stand up, nor even to adopt a tolerable position sitting or lying down.
It was in these that King Louis XI., who seemed to have a partiality for
filthy dungeons, placed the two young sons of the Duke de Nemours
(beheaded in 1477), ordering, besides, that they should be taken out twice
a week and beaten with birch rods, and, as a supreme measure of atrocity,
he had one of their teeth extracted every three months. It was Louis XI.,
too, who, in 1476, ordered the famous _iron cage_, to be erected in one of
the towers of the Bastille, in which Guillaume, Bishop of Verdun, was
incarcerated for fourteen years.

The Chateau de Loches also possessed one of these cages, which received
the name of _Cage de Balue_, because the Cardinal Jean de la Balue was
imprisoned in it. Philippe de Commines, in his "Memoires," declares that
he himself had a taste of it for eight months. Before the invention of
cages, Louis XI. ordered very heavy chains to be made, which were fastened
to the feet of the prisoners, and attached to large iron balls, called,
according to Commines, the King's little daughters (_les fillettes du

[Illustration: Fig. 355.--Movable Iron Cage.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, in folio, Basle, 1552.]

The prison known by the name of The Leads of Venice is of so notorious a
character that its mere mention is sufficient, without its being necessary
for us to describe it. To the subject of voluntary seclusions, to which
certain pious persons submitted themselves as acts of extreme religious
devotion, it will only be necessary to allude here, and to remark that
there are examples of this confinement having been ordered by legal
authority. In 1485, Renee de Vermandois, the widow of a squire, had been
condemned to be burnt for adultery and for murdering her husband; but, on
letters of remission from the King, Parliament commuted the sentence
pronounced by the Provost of Paris, and ordered that Renee de Vermandois
should be "shut up within the walls of the cemetery of the
Saints-Innocents, in a small house, built at her expense, that she might
therein do penance and end her days." In conformity with this sentence,
the culprit having been conducted with much pomp to the cell which had
been prepared for her, the door was locked by means of two keys, one of
which remained in the hands of the churchwarden (_marguillier_) of the
Church of the Innocents, and the other was deposited at the office of the
Parliament. The prisoner received her food from public charity, and it is
said that she became an object of veneration and respect by the whole

[Illustration: Fig. 356.--Cat-o'-nine-tails.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster.]


Dispersion of the Jews.--Jewish Quarters in the Mediaeval Towns.--The
_Ghetto_ of Rome.--Ancient Prague.--The _Giudecca_ of Venice.--Condition
of the Jews.--Animosity of the People against them--Severity and
vexatious Treatment of the Sovereigns.--The Jews of Lincoln.--The Jews
of Blois.--Mission of the _Pastoureaux_.--Extermination of the
Jews.--The Price at which the Jews purchased Indulgences.--Marks set
upon them.--Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and Financial Aptitude of the
Jews.--Regulations respecting Usury as practised by the
Jews.--Attachment of the Jews to their Religion.

A painful and gloomy history commences for the Jewish race from the day
when the Romans seized upon Jerusalem and expelled its unfortunate
inhabitants, a race so essentially homogeneous, strong, patient, and
religious, and dating its origin from the remotest period of the
patriarchal ages. The Jews, proud of the title of "the People of God,"
were scattered, proscribed, and received universal reprobation (Fig. 357),
notwithstanding that their annals, collected under divine inspiration by
Moses and the sacred writers, had furnished a glorious prologue to the
annals of all modern nations, and had given to the world the holy and
divine history of Christ, who, by establishing the Gospel, was to become
the regenerator of the whole human family.

Their Temple is destroyed, and the crowd which had once pressed beneath
its portico as the flock of the living God has become a miserable tribe,
restless and unquiet in the present, but full of hope as regards the
future. The Jewish _nation_ exists nowhere, nevertheless, the Jewish
_people_ are to be found everywhere. They are wanderers upon the face of
the earth, continually pursued, threatened, and persecuted. It would seem
as if the existence of the offspring of Israel is perpetuated simply to
present to Christian eyes a clear and awful warning of the Divine
vengeance, a special, and at the same time an overwhelming example of the
vicissitudes which God alone can determine in the life of a people.

[Illustration: Fig. 357.--Expulsion of the Jews in the Reign of the
Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 135): "How Heraclius turned the Jews out of
Jerusalem."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Histoire des Empereurs,"
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal,

M. Depping, an historian of this race so long accursed, after having been
for centuries blessed and favoured by God, says, "A Jewish community in an
European town during the Middle Ages resembled a colony on an island or on
a distant coast. Isolated from the rest of the population, it generally
occupied a district or street which was separated from the town or
borough. The Jews, like a troop of lepers, were thrust away and huddled
together into the most uncomfortable and most unhealthy quarter of the
city, as miserable as it vas disgusting. There, in ill-constructed houses,
this poor and numerous population was amassed; in some cases high walls
enclosed the small and dark narrow streets of the quarter occupied by this
branded race, which prevented its extension, though, at the same time, it
often protected the inhabitants from the fury of the populace."

In order to form a just appreciation of what the Jewish quarters were like
in the mediaeval towns, one must visit the _Ghetto_ of Rome or ancient
Prague. The latter place especially has, in all respects, preserved its
antique appearance. We must picture to ourselves a large enclosure of
wretched houses, irregularly built, divided by small streets with no
attempt at uniformity. The principal thoroughfare is lined with stalls, in
which are sold not only old clothes, furniture, and utensils, but also new
and glittering articles. The inhabitants of this enclosure can, without
crossing its limits, procure everything necessary to material life. This
quarter contains the old synagogue, a square building begrimed with the
dirt of ages, and so covered with dirt and moss that the stone of which it
is built is scarcely visible. The building, which is as mournful as a
prison, has only narrow loopholes by way of windows, and a door so low
that one must stoop to enter it. A dark passage leads to the interior,
into which air and light can scarcely penetrate. A few lamps contend with
the darkness, and lighted fires serve to modify a little the icy
temperature of this cellar. Here and there pillars seem to support a roof
which is too high and too darkened for the eye of the visitor to
distinguish. On the sides are dark and damp recesses, where women assist
at the celebration of worship, which is always carried on, according to
ancient custom, with much wailing and strange gestures of the body. The
book of the law which is in use is no less venerable than the edifice in
which it is contained. It appears that this synagogue has never undergone
the slightest repairs or changes for many centuries. The successive
generations who have prayed in this ancient temple rest under thousands
of sepulchral stones, in a cemetery which is of the same date as the
synagogue, and is about a league in circumference.

Paris has never possessed, properly speaking, a regular _Jewish quarter_;
it is true that the Israelites settled down in the neighbourhood of the
markets, and in certain narrow streets, which at some period or other took
the name of _Juiverie_ or _Vieille Juiverie (Old Jewry_); but they were
never distinct from the rest of the population; they only had a separate
cemetery, at the bottom or rather on the slope of the hill of
Sainte-Genevieve. On the other hand, most of the towns of France and of
Europe had their _Jewry_. In certain countries, the colonies of Jews
enjoyed a share of immunities and protections, thus rendering their life a
little less precarious, and their occupations of a rather more settled

In Spain and in Portugal, the Jews, in consequence of their having been on
several occasions useful to the kings of those two countries, were allowed
to carry on their trade, and to engage in money speculations, outside
their own quarters; a few were elevated to positions of responsibility,
and some were even tolerated at court.

In the southern towns of France, which they enriched by commerce and
taxes, and where they formed considerable communities, the Jews enjoyed
the protection of the nobles. We find them in Languedoc and Provence
buying and selling property like Christians, a privilege which was not
permitted to them elsewhere: this is proved by charters of contracts made
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which bear the signature of
certain Jews in Hebrew characters. On Papal lands, at Avignon, at
Carpentras, and at Cavaillon, they had _bailes_, or consuls of their
nation. The Jews of Rousillon during the Spanish rule (fifteenth century)
were governed by two syndics and a scribe, elected by the community. The
latter levied the taxes due to the King of Aragon. In Burgundy they
cultivated the vines, which was rather singular, for the Jews generally
preferred towns where they could form groups more compact, and more
capable of mutual assistance. The name of _Sabath_, given to a vineyard in
the neighbourhood of Macon, still points out the position of their
synagogue. The hamlet of _Mouys_, a dependency of the communes of Prissey,
owes its name to a rich Israelite, Moses, who had received that land as an
indemnity for money lent to the Count Gerfroy de Macon, which the latter
had been unable to repay. In Vienna, where the Israelites had a special
quarter, still called _the Jews'_

[Illustration: Fig. 358.--Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children,
for their Mystic Rites.--From a Pen-and-ink Drawing, illuminated, in the
Book of the Cabala of Abraham the Jew (Library of the Arsenal, Paris).]

_Square_, a special judge named by the duke was set over them. Exempted
from the city rates, they paid a special poil tax, and they contributed,
but on the same footing as Christian vassals, to extraordinary rates, war
taxes, and travelling expenses of the nobles, &c. This community even
became so rich that it eventually held mortgages on the greater part of
the houses of the town.

In Venice also, the Jews had their quarter--the _Giudecca_--which is still
one of the darkest in the town; but they did not much care about such
trifling inconveniences, as the republic allowed them to bank, that is, to
lend money at interest; and although they were driven out on several
occasions, they always found means to return and recommence their
operations. When they were authorised to establish themselves in the towns
of the Adriatic, their presence did not fail to annoy the Christian
merchants, whose rivals they were; but neither in Venice nor in the
Italian republics had they to fear court intrigues, nor the hatred of
corporations of trades, which were so powerful in France and in Germany.

It was in the north of Europe that the animosity against the Jews was
greatest. The Christian population continually threatened the Jewish
quarters, which public opinion pointed to as haunts and sinks of iniquity.
The Jews were believed to be much more amenable to the doctrines of the
Talmud than to the laws of Moses. However secret they may have kept their
learning, a portion of its tenets transpired, which was supposed to
inculcate the right to pillage and murder Christians; and it is to the
vague knowledge of these odious prescriptions of the Talmud that we must
attribute the readiness with which the most atrocious accusations against
the Jews were always welcomed.

Besides this, the public mind in those days of bigotry was naturally
filled with a deep antipathy against the Jewish deicides. When monks and
priests came annually in Holy week to relate from the pulpit to their
hearers the revolting details of the Passion, resentment was kindled in
the hearts of the Christians against the descendants of the judges and
executioners of the Saviour. And when, on going out of the churches,
excited by the sermons they had just heard, the faithful saw in pictures,
in the cemeteries, and elsewhere, representations of the mystery of the
death of our Saviour, in which the Jews played so odious a part, there was
scarcely a spectator who did not feel an increased hatred against the
condemned race. Hence it was that in many towns, even when the authorities
did not compel them to do so, the Israelites found it prudent to shut
themselves up in their own quarter, and even in their own houses, during
the whole of Passion week; for, in consequence of the public feeling
roused during those days of mourning and penance, a false rumour was quite
sufficient to give the people a pretext for offering violence to the Jews.

In fact, from the earliest days of Christianity, a certain number of
accusations were always being made, sometimes in one country, sometimes in
another, against the Israelites, which always ended in bringing down the
same misfortunes on their heads. The most common, and most easily credited
report, was that which attributed to them the murder of some Christian
child, said to be sacrificed in Passion week in token of their hatred of
Christ; and in the event of this terrible accusation being once uttered,
and maintained by popular opinion, it never failed to spread with
remarkable swiftness. In such cases, popular fury, not being on all
occasions satisfied with the tardiness of judicial forms, vented itself
upon the first Jews who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of their
enemies. As soon as the disturbance was heard the Jewish quarter was
closed; fathers and mothers barricaded themselves in with their children,
concealed whatever riches they possessed, and listened tremblingly to the
clamour of the multitude which was about to besiege them.

[Illustration: Fig. 359.--Secret Meeting of the Jews at the Rabbi's
House.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of the "Pelerinage de la Vie Humaine,"
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the National Library of Paris.]

In 1255, in Lincoln, the report was suddenly spread that a child of the
name of Hughes had been enticed into the Jewish quarter, and there
scourged, crucified, and pierced with lances, in the presence of all the
Israelites of the district, who were convoked and assembled to take part
in this horrible barbarity. The King and Queen of England, on their return
from a journey to Scotland, arrived in Lincoln at the very time when the
inhabitants were so much agitated by this mysterious announcement. The
people called for vengeance. An order was issued to the bailiffs and
officers of the King to deliver the murderer into the hands of justice,
and the quarter in which the Jews had shut themselves up, so as to avoid
the public animosity, was immediately invaded by armed men. The rabbi, in
whose house the child was supposed to have been tortured, was seized, and
at once condemned to be tied to the tail of a horse, and dragged through
the streets of the town. After this, his mangled body, which was only half
dead, was hung (Fig. 359). Many of the Jews ran away and hid themselves in
all parts of the kingdom, and those who had the misfortune to be caught
were thrown into chains and led to London. Orders were given in the
provinces to imprison all the Israelites who were accused or even
suspected of having taken any part, whether actively or indirectly, in the
murder of the Lincoln child; and suspicion made rapid strides in those
days. In a short space of time, eighteen Israelites in London shared the
fate of the rabbi of their community in Lincoln. Some Dominican monks, who
were charitable and courageous enough to interfere in favour of the
wretched prisoners, brought down odium on their own heads, and were
accused of having allowed themselves to be corrupted by the money of the
Jews. Seventy-one prisoners were retained in the dungeons of London, and
seemed inevitably fated to die, when the king's brother, Richard, came to
their aid, by asserting his right over all the Jews of the kingdom--a
right which the King had pledged to him for a loan of 5,000 silver marks.
The unfortunate prisoners were therefore saved, thanks to Richard's desire
to protect his securities. History does not tell what their liberty cost
them; but we must hope that a sense of justice alone guided the English
prince, and that the Jews found other means besides money by which to show
their gratitude.

There is scarcely a country in Europe which cannot recount similar tales.
In 1171, we find the murder of a child at Orleans, or Blois, causing
capital punishment to be inflicted on several Jews. Imputations of this
horrible character were continually renewed during the Middle Ages, and
were of very ancient origin; for we hear of them in the times of Honorius
and Theodosius the younger; we find them reproduced with equal vehemence
in 1475 at Trent, where a furious mob was excited against the Jews, who
were accused of having destroyed a child twenty-nine months old named
Simon. The tale of the martyrdom of this child was circulated widely, and
woodcut representations of it were freely distributed, which necessarily
increased, especially in Germany, the horror which was aroused in the
minds of Christians against the accursed nation (Fig. 361).

[Illustration: Fig. 360.--The Infant Richard crucified by the Jews, at
Pontoise.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut, with Figures by Wohlgemuth, in the
"Liber Chronicarum Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

[Illustration: Fig. 361.--Martyrdom of Simon at Trent.--Fac-simile,
reduced, of a Woodcut of Wohlgemuth, in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi:"
large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

The Jews gave cause for other accusations calculated to keep up this
hatred; such as the desecration of the consecrated host, the mutilation of
the crucifix. Tradition informs us of a miracle which took place in Paris
in 1290, in the Rue des Jardins, when a Jew dared to mutilate and boil a
consecrated host. This miracle was commemorated by the erection of a
chapel on the spot, which was afterwards replaced by the church and
convent of the Billettes. In 1370, the people of Brussels were startled in
consequence of the statements of a Jewess, who accused her co-religionists
of having made her carry a pyx full of stolen hosts to the Jews of
Cologne, for the purpose of submitting them to the most horrible
profanations. The woman added, that the Jews having pierced these hosts
with sticks and knives, such a quantity of blood poured from them that the
culprits were struck with terror, and concealed themselves in their
quarter. The Jews were all imprisoned, tortured, and burnt alive (Fig.
362). In order to perpetuate the memory of the miracle of the bleeding
hosts, an annual procession took place, which was the origin of the great
kermesse, or annual fair.

In the event of any unforeseen misfortune, or any great catastrophe
occurring amongst Christians, the odium was frequently cast on the Jews.
If the Crusaders met with reverses in Asia, fanatics formed themselves
into bands, who, under the name of _Pastoureaux_, spread over the country,
killing and robbing not only the Jews, but many Christians also. In the
event of any general sickness, and especially during the prevalence of
epidemics, the Jews were accused of having poisoned the water of fountains
and pits, and the people massacred them in consequence. Thousands perished
in this way when the black plague made ravages in Europe in the fourteenth
century. The sovereigns, who were tardy in suppressing these sanguinary
proceedings, never thought of indemnifying the Jewish families which so
unjustly suffered.

[Illustration: Fig. 362.--The Jews of Cologne burnt alive.--From a Woodcut
in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

In fact, it was then most religiously believed that, by despising and
holding the Jewish nation under the yoke, banished as it was from Judaea
for the murder of Jesus Christ, the will of the Almighty was being carried
out, so much so that the greater number of kings and princes looked upon
themselves as absolute masters over the Jews who lived under their
protection. All feudal lords spoke with scorn of _their Jews_; they
allowed them to establish themselves on their lands, but on the condition
that as they became the subjects and property of their lord, the latter
should draw his best income from them.

We have shown by an instance borrowed from the history of England that the
Jews were often mortgaged by the kings like land. This was not all, for
the Jews who inhabited Great Britain during the reign of Henry III., in
the middle of the thirteenth century, were not only obliged to
acknowledge, by voluntarily contributing large sums of money, the service
the King's brother had rendered them in clearing them from the imputation
of having had any participation in the murder of the child Richard, but
the loan on mortgage, for which they were the material and passive
security, became the cause of odious extortions from them. The King had
pledged them to the Earl of Cornwall for 5,000 marks, but they themselves
had to repay the royal loan by means of enormous taxes. When they had
succeeded in cancelling the King's debt to his brother, that necessitous
monarch again mortgaged them, but on this occasion to his son Edward. Soon
after, the son having rebelled against his father, the latter took back
his Jews, and having assembled six elders from each of their communities,
he told them that he required 20,000 silver marks, and ordered them to pay
him that sum at two stated periods. The payments were rigorously exacted;
those who were behind-hand were imprisoned, and the debtor who was in
arrear for the second payment was sued for the whole sum. On the King's
death his successor continued the same system of tyranny against the Jews.
In 1279 they were charged with having issued counterfeit coin, and on this
vague or imaginary accusation two hundred and eighty men and women were
put to death in London alone. In the counties there were also numerous
executions, and many innocent persons were thrown into dungeons; and, at
last, in 1290 King Edward, who wished to enrich himself by taking
possession of their properties, banished the Jews from his kingdom. A
short time before this, the English people had offered to pay an annual
fine to the King on condition of his expelling the Jews from the country;
but the Jews outbid them, and thus obtained the repeal of the edict of
banishment. However, on this last occasion there was no mercy shown, and
the Jews, sixteen thousand in number, were expelled from England, and the
King seized upon their goods.

At the same period Philippe le Bel of France gave the example of this
system of persecuting the Jews, but, instead of confiscating all their
goods, he was satisfied with taking one-fifth; his subjects, therefore,
almost accused him of generosity.

[Illustration: Fig. 363.--Jewish Conspiracy in France.--From a Miniature
in the "Pelerinage de la Vie Humaine" (Imperial Library, Paris).]

The Jews often took the precaution of purchasing certain rights and
franchises from their sovereign or from the feudal lord under whose sway
they lived; but generally these were one-sided bargains, for not being
protected by common rights, and only forming a very small part of the
population, they could nowhere depend upon promises or privileges which
had been made to them, even though they had purchased them with their own

To the uncertainty and annoyance of a life which was continually being
threatened, was added a number of vexatious and personal insults, even in
ordinary times, and when they enjoyed a kind of normal tolerance. They
were almost everywhere obliged to wear a visible mark on their dress,
such as a patch of gaudy colour attached to the shoulder or chest, in
order to prevent their being mistaken for Christians. By this or some
other means they were continually subject to insults from the people, and
only succeeded in ridding themselves of it by paying the most enormous
fines. Nothing was spared to humiliate and insult them. At Toulouse they
were forced to send a representative to the cathedral on every Good
Friday, that he might there publicly receive a box on the ears. At
Beziers, during Passion week, the mob assumed the right of attacking the
Jews' houses with stones. The Jews bought off this right in 1160 by paying
a certain sum to the Vicomte de Beziers, and by promising an annual
poll-tax to him and to his successors. A Jew, passing on the road of
Etampes, beneath the tower of Montlhery, had to pay an obole; if he had in
his possession a Hebrew book, he paid four deniers; and, if he carried his
lamp with him, two oboles. At Chateauneuf-sur-Loire a Jew on passing had
to pay twelve deniers and a Jewess six. It has been said that there were
various ancient rates levied upon Jews, in which they were treated like
cattle, but this requires authentication. During the Carnival in Rome they
were forced to run in the lists, amidst the jeers of the populace. This
public outrage was stopped at a subsequent period by a tax of 300 ecus,
which a deputation from the Ghetto presented on their knees to the
magistrates of the city, at the same time thanking them for their

When Pope Martin IV. arrived at the Council of Constance, in 1417, the
Jewish community, which was as numerous as it was powerful in that old
city, came in great state to present him with the book of the law (Fig.
364). The holy father received the Jews kindly, and prayed God to open
their eyes and bring them back into the bosom of his church. We know, too,
how charitable the popes were to the Jews.

In the face of the distressing position they occupied, it may be asked
what powerful motive induced the Jews to live amongst nations who almost
invariably treated them as enemies, and to remain at the mercy of
sovereigns whose sole object was to oppress, plunder, and subject them to
all kinds of vexations? To understand this it is sufficient to remember
that, in their peculiar aptness for earning and hoarding money, they
found, or at least hoped to find, a means of compensation whereby they
might be led to forget the servitude to which they were subjected.

There existed amongst them, and especially in the southern countries,
some very learned men, who devoted themselves principally to medicine; and
in order to avoid having to struggle against insuperable prejudice, they
were careful to disguise their nationality and religion in the exercise of
that art.

[Illustration: Fig. 364.--The Jewish Procession going to meet the Pope at
the Council of Constance, in 1417.--After a Miniature in the Manuscript
Chronicle of Ulrie de Reichental, in the Library of the Mansion-house of
Basle, in Switzerland.]

They pretended, in order not to arouse the suspicion of their patients, to
be practitioners from Lombardy or Spain, or even from Arabia; whether they
were really clever, or only made a pretence of being so, in an art which
was then very much a compound of quackery and imposture, it is difficult
to say, but they acquired wealth as well as renown in its practice. But
there was another science, to the study of which they applied themselves
with the utmost ardour and perseverance, and for which they possessed in a
marvellous degree the necessary qualities to insure success, and that
science was the science of finance. In matters having reference to the
recovering of arrears of taxes, to contracts for the sale of goods and
produce of industry, to turning a royalty to account, to making hazardous
commercial enterprises lucrative, or to the accumulating of large sums of
money for the use of sovereigns or poor nobles, the Jews were always at
hand, and might invariably be reckoned upon. They created capital, for
they always had funds to dispose of, even in the midst of the most
terrible public calamities, and, when all other means were exhausted, when
all expedients for filling empty purses had been resorted to without
success, the Jews were called in. Often, in consequence of the envy which
they excited from being known to possess hoards of gold, they were exposed
to many dangers, which they nevertheless faced, buoying themselves up with
the insatiable love of gain.

Few Christians in the Middle Ages were given to speculation, and they were
especially ignorant of financial matters, as demanding interest on loans
was almost always looked upon as usury, and, consequently, such dealings
were stigmatized as disgraceful. The Jews were far from sharing these
high-minded scruples, and they took advantage of the ignorance of
Christians by devoting themselves as much as possible to enterprises and
speculations, which were at all times the distinguishing occupation of
their race. For this reason we find the Jews, who were engaged in the
export trade from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, doing a most
excellent business, even in the commercial towns of the Mediterranean. We
can, to a certain extent, in speaking of the intercourse of the Jews with
the Christians of the Middle Ages, apply what Lady Montague remarked as
late as 1717, when comparing the Jews of Turkey with the Mussulmans: "The
former," she says, "have monopolized all the commerce of the empire,
thanks to the close ties which exist amongst them, and to the laziness and
want of industry of the Turks. No bargain is made without their
connivance. They are the physicians and stewards of all the nobility. It
is easy to conceive the unity which this gives to a nation which never
despises the smallest profits. They have found means of rendering
themselves so useful, that they are certain of protection at court,
whoever the ruling minister may be. Many of them are enormously rich, but
they are careful to make but little outward display, although living in
the greatest possible luxury."

[Illustration: Fig. 365.--Costume of an Italian Jew of the Fourteenth
Century.--From a Painting by Sano di Pietro, preserved in the Academy of
the Fine Arts, at Sienna.]

[Illustration: The Jews' Passover.

Fac-simile of a miniature from a missel of fifteenth century ornamented
with paintings of the School of Van Eyck. Bibl. de l'Arsenal, Th. lat., no

The condition of the Jews in the East was never so precarious nor so
difficult as it was in the West. From the Councils of Paris, in 615, down
to the end of the fifteenth century, the nobles and the civil and
ecclesiastical authorities excluded the Jews from administrative
positions; but it continually happened that a positive want of money,
against which the Jews were ever ready to provide, caused a repeal or
modification of these arbitrary measures. Moreover, Christians did not
feel any scruple in parting with their most valued treasures, and giving
them as pledges to the Jews for a loan of money when they were in need of
it. This plan of lending on pledge, or usury, belonged specially to the
Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages, and was both the cause of their
prosperity and of their misfortune. Of their prosperity, because they
cleverly contrived to become possessors of all the coin; and of their
misfortune, because their usurious demands became so detrimental to the
public welfare, and were often exacted with such unscrupulous severity,
that people not unfrequently became exasperated, and acts of violence were
committed, which as often fell upon the innocent as upon the guilty. The
greater number of the acts of banishment were those for which no other
motive was assigned, or, at all events, no other pretext was made, than
the usury practised by these strangers in the provinces and in the towns
in which they were permitted to reside. When the Christians heard that
these rapacious guests had harshly pressed and entirely stripped certain
poor debtors, when they learned that the debtors, ruined by usury, were
still kept prisoners in the house of their pitiless creditors, general
indignation often manifested itself by personal attacks. This feeling was
frequently shared by the authorities themselves, who, instead of
dispensing equal justice to the strangers and to the citizens, according
to the spirit of the law, often decided with partiality, and even with
resentment, and in some cases abandoned the Jews to the fury of the

The people's feelings of hatred against the sordid avarice of the Jews was
continually kept up by ballads which were sung, and legends which were
related, in the public streets of the cities and in the cottages of the
villages--ballads and legends in which usurers were depicted in hideous
colours (Fig. 366). The most celebrated of these popular compositions was
evidently that which must have furnished the idea to Shakespeare of the
_Merchant of Venice_, for in this old English drama mention is made of a
bargain struck between a Jew and a Christian, who borrows money of him, on
condition that, if he cannot refund it on a certain day, the lender shall
have the right of cutting a pound of flesh from his body. All the evil
which the people said and thought of the Jews during the Middle Ages seems
concentrated in the Shylock of the English poet.

The rate of interest for loans was, nevertheless, everywhere settled by
law, and at all times. This rate varied according to the scarcity of
gold, and was always high enough to give a very ample profit to the
lenders, although they too often required a very much higher rate. In
truth, the small security offered by those borrowing, and the arbitrary
manner in which debts were at times cancelled, increased the risks of the
lender and the normal difficulties of obtaining a loan. We find
everywhere, in all ancient legislations, a mass of rules on the rate of
pecuniary interest to be allowed to the Jews.

[Illustration: Fig. 366.--Legend of the Jew calling the Devil from a
Vessel of Blood.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Boaistuau's "Histoires
Prodigieuses:" in 4to, Paris, Annet Briere, 1560.]

In some countries, especially in England, precautionary measures were
taken for regulating the compacts entered into between Christians and
Jews. One of the departments of the Exchequer received the register of
these compacts, which thus acquired a legal value. However, it was not
unfrequent for the kings of England to grant, of their own free will,
letters of release to persons owing money to Jews; and these letters,
which were often equivalent to the cancelling of the entire debt, were
even at times actually purchased from the sovereign. Mention of sums
received by the royal treasury for the liberation of debtors, or for
enabling them to recover their mortgaged lands without payment, may still
be found in the registers of the Exchequer of London; at the same time,
Jews, on the other hand, also paid the King large sums, in order that he
might allow justice to take its course against powerful debtors who were
in arrear, and who could not be induced to pay. We thus see that if the
Jews practised usury, the Christians, and especially kings and powerful
nobles, defrauded the Jews in every way, and were too often disposed to
sell to them the smallest concessions at a great price. Indeed, Christians
often went so far as to persecute them, in order to obtain the greatest
possible amount from them; and the Jews of the Middle Ages put up with
anything provided they could enrich themselves.

[Illustration: Fig. 367.--View and Plan of Jerusalem.--Fac-simile of a
Woodout in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

It must not be supposed, however, that, great as were their capabilities,
the Jews exclusively devoted themselves to financial matters. When they
were permitted to trade they were well satisfied to become artisans or
agriculturists. In Spain they proved themselves most industrious, and that
kingdom suffered a great loss in consequence of their being expelled from
it. In whatever country they established themselves, the Jews carried on
most of the mechanical and manual industries with cleverness and success;
but they could not hope to become landed proprietors in countries where
they were in such bad odour, and where the possession of land, far from
offering them any security, could not fail to excite the envy of their

If, as is the case, Oriental people are of a serious turn of mind, it is
easy to understand that the Jews should have been still more so, since
they were always objects of hatred and abhorrence. We find a touching
allegory in the Talmud. Each time that a human being is created God orders
his angels to bring a soul before his throne, and orders this soul to go
and inhabit the body which is about to be born on earth. The soul is
grieved, and supplicates the Supreme Being to spare it that painful trial,
in which it only sees sorrow and affliction. This allegory may be suitably
applied to a people who have only to expect contempt, mistrust, and
hatred, everywhere. The Israelites, therefore, clung enthusiastically to
the hope of the advent of a Messiah who should bring back to them the
happy days of the land of promise, and they looked upon their absence from
Palestine as only a passing exile. "But," the Christians said to them,
"this Messiah has long since come." "Alas!" they answered, "if He had
appeared on earth should we still be miserable?" Fulbert, Bishop of
Chartres, preached three sermons to undeceive the Jews, by endeavouring to
prove to them that their Messiah was no other than Jesus Christ; but he
preached to the winds, for the Jews remained obstinately attached to their
illusion that the Messiah was yet to come.

In any case, the Jews, who mixed up the mysteries and absurdities of the
Talmud with the ancient laws and numerous rules of the religion of their
ancestors, found in the practice of their national customs, and in the
celebration of their mysterious ceremonies, the sweetest emotions,
especially when they could devote themselves to them in the peaceful
retirement of the Ghetto; for, in all the countries in which they lived
scattered and isolated amongst Christians, they were careful to conceal
their worship and to conduct their ceremonial as secretly as possible.

The clergy, in striving to convert the Jews, repeatedly had conferences
with the rabbis of a controversial character, which often led to quarrels,
and aggravated the lot of the Jewish community. If Catholic proselystism
succeeded in completely detaching a few individuals or a few families from
the Israelitish creed, these ardent converts rekindled the horror of the
people against their former co-religionists by revealing some of the
precepts of the Talmud. Sometimes the conversion of whole masses of Jews
was effected, but this happened much less through conviction on their part
than through the fear of exile, plunder, or execution.

These pretended conversions, however, did not always protect them from
danger. In Spain the Inquisition kept a close watch on converted Jews,
and, if they were not true to their new faith, severe punishment was
inflicted upon them. In 1506, the inhabitants of Abrantes, a town of
Portugal, massacred all the baptized Jews. Manoel, a king of Portugal,
forbad the converts from selling their goods and leaving his dominions.
The Church excluded them from ecclesiastical dignities, and, when they
succeeded in obtaining civil employments, they were received with
distrust. In France the Parliaments tried, with a show of justice, to
prevent converted Jews from being reproached for their former condition;
but Louis XII., during his pressing wants, did not scruple to exact a
special tax from them. And, in 1611, we again find that they were unjustly
denounced, and under the form of a _Remonstrance to the King and the
Parliament of Provence, on account of the great family alliances of the
new converts_, an appeal was made for the most cruel reprisals against
this unfortunate race, "which deserved only to be banished and their goods

[Illustration: Fig. 368.--Jewish Ceremony before the Ark.--Fac-simile of a woodcut
printed at Troyes.]

Gipsies, Tramps, Beggars, and Cours des Miracles.

First Appearance of Gipsies in the West.--Gipsies in Paris.--Manners and
Customs of these Wandering Tribes.--Tricks of Captain Charles.--Gipsies
expelled by Royal Edict.--Language of Gipsies.--The Kingdom of
Slang.--The Great Coesre, Chief of the Vagrants; his Vassals and
Subjects.--Divisions of the Slang People; its Decay and the Causes
thereof.--Cours des Miracles.--The Camp of Rognes.--Cunning Language, or
Slang.--Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets.

In the year 1417 the inhabitants of the countries situated near the mouth
of the Elbe were disturbed by the arrival of strangers, whose manners and
appearance were far from pre-possessing. These strange travellers took a
course thence towards the Teutonic Hanse, starting from Luneburg: they
subsequently proceeded to Hamburg, and then, going from east to west along
the Baltic, they visited the free towns of Lubeck, Wismar, Rostock,
Stralsund, and Greifswald.

These new visitors, known in Europe under the names of _Zingari, Cigani,
Gipsies, Gitanos, Egyptians_, or _Bohemians_, but who, in their own
language, called themselves _Romi_, or _gens maries_, numbered about three
hundred men and women, besides the children, who were very numerous. They
divided themselves into seven bands, all of which followed the same track.
Very dirty, excessively ugly, and remarkable for their dark complexions,
these people had for their leaders a duke and a count, as they were
called, who were superbly dressed, and to whom they acknowledged
allegiance. Some of them rode on horseback, whilst others went on foot.
The women and children travelled on beasts of burden and in waggons (Fig.
369). If we are to believe their own story, their wandering life was
caused by their return to Paganism after having been previously converted
to the Christian faith, and, as a punishment for their sin, they were to
continue their adventurous course for a period of seven years. They showed
letters of recommendation from various princes, among others from
Sigismund, King of the Romans, and these letters, whether authentic or
false, procured for them a welcome wherever they went. They encamped in
the fields at night, because the habit they indulged in of stealing
everything for which they had a fancy, caused them to fear being disturbed
in the towns. It was not long, however, before many of them were arrested
and put to death for theft, when the rest speedily decamped.

[Illustration: Fig. 369.--Gipsies on the March.--Fifteenth Century Piece
of old Tapestry in the Chateau d'Effiat, contributed by M.A. Jubinal.]

In the course of the following year we find them at Meissen, in Saxony,
whence they were driven out on account of the robberies and disturbances
they committed; and then in Switzerland, where they passed through the
countries of the Grisons, the cantons of Appenzell, and Zurich, stopping
in Argovie. Chroniclers who mention them at that time speak of their
chief, Michel, as Duke of Egypt, and relate that these strangers, calling
themselves Egyptians, pretended that they were driven from their country
by the Sultan of Turkey, and condemned to wander for seven years in want
and misery. These chroniclers add that they were very honest people, who
scrupulously followed all the practices of the Christian religion; that
they were poorly clad, but that they had gold and silver in abundance;
that they lived well, and paid for everything they had; and that, at the
end of seven years, they went away to return home, as they said. However,
whether because a considerable number remained on the road, or because
they had been reinforced by others of the same tribe during the year, a
troop of fifty men, accompanied by a number of hideous women and filthy
children, made their appearance in the neighbourhood of Augsburg. These
vagabonds gave out that they were exiles from Lower Egypt, and pretended
to know the art of predicting coming events. It was soon found out that
they were much less versed in divination and in the occult sciences than
in the arts of plundering, roguery, and cheating.

In the following year a similar horde, calling themselves Saracens,
appeared at Sisteron, in Provence; and on the 18th. of July, 1422, a
chronicler of Bologna mentions the arrival in that town of a troop of
foreigners, commanded by a certain Andre, Duke of Egypt, and composed of
at least one hundred persons, including women and children. They encamped
inside and outside the gate _di Galiera_, with the exception of the duke,
who lodged at the inn _del Re_. During the fifteen days which they spent
at Bologna a number of the people of the town went to see them, and
especially to see "the wife of the duke," who, it was said, knew how to
foretell future events, and to tell what was to happen to people, what
their fortunes would be, the number of their children, if they were good
or bad, and many other things (Fig. 370). Few men, however, left the house
of the so-called Duke of Egypt without having their purses stolen, and but
few women escaped without having the skirts of their dresses cut. The
Egyptian women walked about the town in groups of six or seven, and whilst
some were talking to the townspeople, telling them their fortunes, or
bartering in shops, one of their number would lay her hands on anything
which was within reach. So many robberies were committed in this way, that
the magistrates of the town and the ecclesiastical authorities forbad the
inhabitants from visiting the Egyptians' camp, or from having any
intercourse with them, under penalty of excommunication and of a fine of
fifty livres. Besides this, by a strange application of the laws of
retaliation, those who had been robbed by these foreigners were permitted
to rob them to the extent of the value of the things stolen. In
consequence of this, the Bolognians entered a stable in which several of
the Egyptians' horses were kept, and took out one of the finest of them.
In order to recover him the Egyptians agreed to restore what they had
taken, and the restitution was made. But perceiving that they could no
longer do any good for themselves in this province, they struck their
tents and started for Rome, to which city they said they were bound to go,
not only in order to accomplish a pilgrimage imposed upon them by the
Sultan, who had expelled them from their own land, but especially to
obtain letters of absolution from the Holy Father.

[Illustration: Fig. 370.--Gipsies Fortune-telling.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle,

In 1422 the band left Italy, and we find them at Basle and in Suabia.
Then, besides the imperial passports, of which they had up to that time
alone boasted, they pretended to have in their possession bulls which they
stated that they had obtained from the Pope. They also modified their
original tale, and stated that they were descendants of the Egyptians who
refused hospitality to the Holy Virgin and to St. Joseph during their
flight into Egypt: they also declared that, in consequence of this crime,
God had doomed their race to perpetual misery and exile.

Five years later we find them in the neighbourhood of Paris. "The Sunday
after the middle of August," says "The Journal of a Bourgeois of Paris,"
"there came to Paris twelve so-called pilgrims, that is to say, a duke, a
count, and ten men, all on horseback; they said that they were very good
Christians, and that they came from Lower Egypt; ... and on the 29th of
August, the anniversary of the beheading of St. John, the rest of the band
made their appearance. These, however, were not allowed to enter Paris,
but, by order of the provost, were lodged in the Chapel of St. Denis. They
did not number more than one hundred and twenty, including women and
children. They stated that, when they left their own country, they
numbered from a thousand to twelve hundred, but that the rest had died on
the road..... Whilst they were at the chapel never was such a concourse of
people collected, even at the blessing of the fair of Landit, as went from
Paris, St. Denis, and elsewhere, to see these strangers. Almost all of
them had their ears pierced, and in each one or two silver rings, which in
their country, they said, was a mark of nobility. The men were very
swarthy, with curly hair; the women were very ugly, and extremely dark,
with long black hair, like a horse's tail; their only garment being an old
rug tied round the shoulder by a strip of cloth or a bit of rope (Fig.
371). Amongst them were several fortune-tellers, who, by looking into
people's hands, told them what had happened or what was to happen to them,
and by this means often did a good deal to sow discord in families. What
was worse, either by magic, by Satanic agency, or by sleight of hand, they
managed to empty people's purses whilst talking to them.... So, at least,
every one said. At last accounts respecting them reached the ears of the
Bishop of Paris. He went to them with a Franciscan friar, called Le Petit
Jacobin, who, by the bishop's order, delivered an earnest address to them,
and excommunicated all those who had anything to do with them, or who had
their fortunes told. He further advised the gipsies to go away, and, on
the festival of Notre-Dame, they departed for Pontoise."

[Illustration: Fig. 371.--A Gipsy Family.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Here, again, the gipsies somewhat varied their story. They said that they
were originally Christians; but that, in consequence of an invasion by the
Saracens, they had been forced to renounce their religion; that, at a
subsequent period, powerful monarchs had come to free them from the yoke
of the infidels, and had decreed that, as a punishment to them for having
renounced the Christian faith, they should not be allowed to return to
their country before they had obtained permission from the Pope. They
stated that the Holy Father, to whom they had gone to confess their sins,
had then ordered them to wander about the world for seven years, without
sleeping in beds, at the same time giving direction to every bishop and
every priest whom they met to offer them ten livres; a direction which the
abbots and bishops were in no hurry to obey. These strange pilgrims stated
that they had been only five years on the road when they arrived in Paris.

Enough has been said to show that, although the object of their long
pilgrimage was ostensibly a pious one, the Egyptians or gipsies were not
very slow in giving to the people whom they visited a true estimate of
their questionable honesty, and we do not think it would be particularly
interesting to follow step by step the track of this odious band, which
from this period made its appearance sometimes in one country and
sometimes in another, not only in the north but in the south, and
especially in the centre of Europe. Suffice it to say that their quarrels
with the authorities, or the inhabitants of the countries which had the
misfortune to be periodically visited by them, have left numerous traces
in history.

On the 7th of November, 1453, from sixty to eighty gipsies, coming from
Courtisolles, arrived at the entrance of the town of Cheppe, near
Chalons-sur-Marne. The strangers, many of whom carried "javelins, darts,
and other implements of war," having asked for hospitality, the mayor of
the town informed them "that it was not long since some of the same
company, or others very like them, had been lodged in the town, and had
been guilty of various acts of theft." The gipsies persisted in their
demands, the indignation of the people was aroused, and they were soon
obliged to resume their journey. During their unwilling retreat, they were
pursued by many of the inhabitants of the town, one of whom killed a gipsy
named Martin de la Barre: the murderer, however, obtained the King's

In 1532, at Pleinpalais, a suburb of Geneva, some rascals from among a
band of gipsies, consisting of upwards of three hundred in number, fell
upon several of the officers who were stationed to prevent their entering
the town. The citizens hurried up to the scene of disturbance. The gipsies
retired to the monastery of the Augustin friars, in which they fortified
themselves: the bourgeois besieged them, and would have committed summary
justice on them, but the authorities interfered, and some twenty of the
vagrants were arrested, but they sued for mercy, and were discharged.

[Illustration: Fig. 372.--Gipsy Encampment.--Fac-simile of a Copper-plate
by Callot.]

In 1632, the inhabitants of Viarme, in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne,
made an onslaught upon a troop of gipsies who wanted to take up their
quarters in that town. The whole of them were killed, with the exception
of their chief, who was taken prisoner and brought before the Parliament
of Bordeaux, and ordered to be hung. Twenty-one years before this, the
mayor and magistrates of Bordeaux gave orders to the soldiers of the watch
to arrest a gipsy chief, who, having shut himself up in the tower of
Veyrines, at Merignac, ransacked the surrounding country. On the 21st of
July, 1622, the same magistrates ordered the gipsies to leave the parish
of Eysines within twenty-four hours, under penalty of the lash.

It was not often that the gipsies used violence or openly resisted
authority; they more frequently had recourse to artifice and cunning in
order to attain their end. A certain Captain Charles acquired a great
reputation amongst them for the clever trickeries which he continually
conceived, and which his troop undertook to carry out. A chronicler of the
time says, that by means of certain herbs which he gave to a half-starved
horse, he made him into a fat and sleek animal; the horse was then sold at
one of the neighbouring fairs or markets, but the purchaser detected the
fraud within a week, for the horse soon became thin again, and usually
sickened and died.

Tallemant des Reaux relates that, on one occasion, Captain Charles and his
attendants took up their quarters in a village, the cure of which being
rich and parsimonious, was much disliked by his parishioners. The cure
never left his house, and the gipsies could not, therefore, get an
opportunity to rob him. In this difficulty, they pretended that one of
them had committed a crime, and had been condemned to be hung a quarter of
a league from the village, where they betook themselves with all their
goods. The man, at the foot of the gibbet, asked for a confessor, and they
went to fetch the cure. He, at first, refused to go, but his parishioners
compelled him. During his absence some gipsies entered his house, took
five hundred ecus from his strong box, and quickly rejoined the troop. As
soon as the rascal saw them returning, he said that he appealed to the
king of _la petite Egypte_, upon which the captain exclaimed, "Ah! the
traitor! I expected he would appeal." Immediately they packed up, secured
the prisoner, and were far enough away from the scene before the cure
re-entered his house.

Tallemant relates another good trick. Near Roye, in Picardy, a gipsy who
had stolen a sheep offered it to a butcher for one hundred sous (about
sixty francs of our money), but the butcher declined to give more than
four livres for it. The butcher then went away; whereupon the gipsy pulled
the sheep from a sack into which he had put it, and substituted for it a
child belonging to his tribe. He then ran after the butcher, and said,
"Give me five livres, and you shall have the sack into the bargain." The
butcher paid him the money, and went away. When he got home he opened the
sack, and was much astonished when he saw a little boy jump out of it,
who, in an instant, caught up the sack and ran off. "Never was a poor man
so thoroughly hoaxed as this butcher," says Tallemant des Reaux.

The gipsies had thousands of other tricks in stock as good as the ones we
have just related, in proof of which we have but to refer to the testimony
of one of their own tribe, who, under the name of Pechon de Ruby,
published, towards the close of the sixteenth century, "La Vie Genereuse
des Mattois, Guex, Bohemiens, et Cagoux." "When they want to leave a place
where they have been stopping, they set out in an opposite direction to
that in which they are going, and after travelling about half a league
they take their right course. They possess the best and most accurate
maps, in which are laid down not only all the towns, villages, and rivers,
but also the houses of the gentry and others; and they fix upon places of
rendezvous every ten days, at twenty leagues from the point from whence
they set out.... The captain hands over to each of the chiefs three or
four families to take charge of, and these small bands take different
cross-roads towards the place of rendezvous. Those who are well armed and
mounted he sends off with a good almanac, on which are marked all the
fairs, and they continually change their dress and their horses. When they
take up their quarters in any village they steal very little in its
immediate vicinity, but in the neighbouring parishes they rob and plunder
in the most daring manner. If they find a sum of money they give notice to
the captain, and make a rapid flight from the place. They coin counterfeit
money, and put it into circulation. They play at all sorts of games; they
buy all sorts of horses; whether sound or unsound, provided they can
manage to pay for them in their own base coin. When they buy food they pay
for it in good money the first time, as they are held in such distrust;
but, when they are about to leave a neighbourhood, they again buy
something, for which they tender false coin, receiving the change in good
money. In harvest time all doors are shut against them; nevertheless they
contrive, by means of picklocks and other instruments, to effect an
entrance into houses, when they steal linen, cloaks, silver, and any other
movable article which they can lay their hands on. They give a strict
account of everything to their captain, who takes his share of all they
get, except of what they earn by fortune-telling. They are very clever at
making a good bargain; when they know of a rich merchant being in the
place, they disguise themselves, enter into communications with him, and
swindle him, ... after which they change their clothes, have their horses
shod the reverse way, and the shoes covered with some soft material lest
they should be heard, and gallop away."

[Illustration: Fig. 373.--The Gipsy who used to wash his Hands in Molten
Lead.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Histoires Merveilleuses" of Pierre
Boaistuau: in 4to, 1560.]

In the "Histoire Generale des Larrons" we read that the vagabonds called
gipsies sometimes played tricks with goblets, sometimes danced on the
tight-rope, turned double-somersaults, and performed other feats (Fig.
373), which proves that these adventurers adopted all kinds of methods of
gaining a livelihood, highway robbery not excepted. We must not,
therefore, be surprised if in almost all countries very severe police
measures were taken against this dangerous race, though we must admit that
these measures sometimes partook of a barbarous character.

After having forbidden them, with a threat of six years at the galleys, to
sojourn in Spain, Charles V. ordered them to leave Flanders under penalty
of death. In 1545, a gipsy who had infringed the sentence of banishment
was condemned by the Court of Utrecht to be flogged till the blood
appeared, to have his nostrils slit, his hair removed, his beard shaved
off, and to be banished for life. "We can form some idea," says the German
historian Grellman, "of the miserable condition of the gipsies from the
following facts: many of them, and especially the women, have been burned
by their own request, in order to end their miserable state of existence;
and we can give the case of a gipsy who, having been arrested, flogged,
and conducted to the frontier, with the threat that if he reappeared in
the country he would be hanged, resolutely returned after three successive
and similar threats, at three different places, and implored that the
capital sentence might be carried out, in order that he might be released
from a life of such misery. These unfortunate people," continues the
historian, "were not even looked upon as human beings, for, during a
hunting party, consisting of members of a small German court, the huntsmen
had no scruple whatever in killing a gipsy woman who was suckling her
child, just as they would have done any wild beast which came in their

M. Francisque Michel says, "Amongst the questions which arise from a
consideration of the existence of this remarkable people, is one which,
although neglected, is nevertheless of considerable interest, namely, how,
with a strange language, unlike any used in Europe, the gipsies could make
themselves understood by the people amongst whom they made their
appearance for the first time: newly arrived in the west, they could have
none of those interpreters who are only to be found amongst a
long-established people, and who have political and commercial intercourse
with other nations. Where, then, did the gipsies obtain interpreters? The
answer seems to us to be clear. Receiving into their ranks all those whom
crime, the fear of punishment, an uneasy conscience, or the charm of a
roaming life, continually threw in their path, they made use of them
either to find their way into countries of which they were ignorant, or to
commit robberies which would otherwise have been impracticable. Themselves
adepts in all sorts of bad practices, they were not slow to form an
alliance with profligate characters who sometimes worked in concert with
them, and sometimes alone, and who always framed the model for their own
organization from that of the gipsies."

[Illustration: Fig. 374.--Orphans, _Callots_, and the Family of the Grand
Coesre.--From painted Hangings and Tapestry from the Town of Rheims,
executed during the Fifteenth Century.]

This alliance--governed by statutes, the honour of compiling which has
been given to a certain Ragot, who styled himself captain--was composed of
_matois_, or sharpers; of _mercelots_, or hawkers, who were very little
better than the former; of _gueux_, or dishonest beggars, and of a host of
other swindlers, constituting the order or hierarchy of the _Argot_, or
Slang people. Their chief was called the _Grand Coesre_, "a vagabond
broken to all the tricks of his trade," says M. Francisque Michel, and who
frequently ended his days on the rack or the gibbet. History has furnished
us with the story of a "miserable cripple" who used to sit in a wooden
bowl, and who, after having been Grand Coesre for three years, was broken
alive on the wheel at Bordeaux for his crimes. He was called _Roi de
Tunes_ (Tunis), and was drawn about by two large dogs. One of his
successors, the Grand Coesre surnamed Anacreon, who suffered from the same
infirmity, namely, that of a cripple, rode about Paris on a donkey
begging. He generally held his court on the Port-au-Foin, where he sat on
his throne dressed in a mantle made of a thousand pieces. The Grand Coesre
had a lieutenant in each province called _cagou_, whose business it was to
initiate apprentices in the secrets of the craft, and who looked after,
in different localities, those whom the chief had entrusted to his care.
He gave an account of the property he received in thus exercising his
stewardship, and of the money as well as of the clothing which he took
from the _Argotiers_ who refused to recognise his authority. As a
remuneration for their duties, the cagoux were exempt from all tribute to
their chief; they received their share of the property taken from persons
whom they had ordered to be robbed, and they were free to beg in any way
they pleased. After the cagoux came the _archisuppots_, who, being
recruited from the lowest dregs of the clergy and others who had been in a
better position, were, so to speak, the teachers of the law. To them was
intrusted the duty of instructing the less experienced rogues, and of
determining the language of Slang; and, as a reward for their good and
loyal services, they had the right of begging without paying any fees to
their chiefs.

[Illustration: Fig. 375.--The Blind and the Poor Sick of St. John.--From
painted Hangings and Tapestry in the Town of Rheims, executed during the
Fifteenth Century.]

The Grand Coesre levied a tax of twenty-four sous per annum upon the young
rogues, who went about the streets pretending to shed tears (Fig. 374), as
"helpless orphans," in order to excite public sympathy. The _marcandiers_
had to pay an ecu; they were tramps clothed in a tolerably good doublet,
who passed themselves off as merchants ruined by war, by fire, or by
having been robbed on the highway. The _malingreux_ had to pay forty sous;
they were covered with sores, most of which were self-inflicted, or they
pretended to have swellings of some kind, and stated that they were about
to undertake a pilgrimage to St. Meen, in Brittany, in order to be cured.
The _pietres_, or lame rogues, paid half an ecu, and walked with crutches.
The _sabouleux_, who were commonly called the _poor sick of St. John_,
were in the habit of frequenting fairs and markets, or the vicinity of
churches; there, smeared with blood and appearing as if foaming at the
mouth by means of a piece of soap they had placed in it, they struggled on
the ground as if in a fit, and in this way realised a considerable amount
of alms. These consequently paid the largest fees to the Coesre (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 376.--The _Ruffes_ and the _Millards_.--From painted
Hangings and Tapestry of Rheims, executed about the Fifteenth Century.]

Besides these, there were the _callots_, who were either affected with a
scurfy disease or pretended to be so, and who were contributors to the
civil list of their chief to the amount of sevens sous; as also the
_coquillards_, or pretended pilgrims of St. James or St. Michael; and the
_hubins_, who, according to the forged certificate which they carried with
them, were going to, or returning from, St. Hubert, after having been
bitten by a mad dog. The _polissons_ paid two ecus to the Coesre, but they
earned a considerable amount, especially in winter; for benevolent people,
touched with their destitution and half-nakedness, gave them sometimes a
doublet, sometimes a shirt, or some other article of clothing, which of
course they immediately sold. The _francs mitoux_, who were never taxed
above five sous, were sickly members of the fraternity, or at all events
pretended to be such; they tied their arms above the elbow so as to stop
the pulse, and fell down apparently fainting on the public footpaths. We
must also mention the _ruffes_ and the _millards_, who went into the
country in groups begging (Fig. 376). The _capons_ were cut-purses, who
hardly ever left the towns, and who laid hands on everything within their
reach. The _courtauds de boutanche_ pretended to be workmen, and were to
be met with everywhere with the tools of their craft on their back, though
they never used them. The _convertis_ pretended to have been impressed by
the exhortations of some excellent preacher, and made a public profession
of faith; they afterwards stationed themselves at church doors, as
recently converted Catholics, and in this way received liberal

Lastly, we must mention the _drilles_, the _narquois_, or the people of
the _petite flambe_, who for the most part were old pensioners, and who
begged in the streets from house to house, with their swords at their
sides (Fig. 377). These, who at times lived a racketing and luxurious
life, at last rebelled against the Grand Coesre, and would no longer be
reckoned among his subjects--a step which gave a considerable shock to the
Argotic monarchy.

[Illustration: Fig. 377.--The _Drille_ or _Narquois_.--From painted
Hangings from the Town of Rheims (Fifteenth Century).]

[Illustration: Fig. 378.--Perspective View of Paris in 1607.--Fac-simile
of a Copper-plate by Leonard Gaultier. (Collection of M. Guenebault,

There was another cause which greatly contributed to diminish the power
as well as the prestige of this eccentric sovereign, and this was, that
the cut-purses, the night-prowlers and wood-thieves, not finding
sufficient means of livelihood in their own department, and seeing that
the Argotiers, on the contrary, were always in a more luxurious position,
tried to amalgamate robbery with mendicity, which raised an outcry amongst
these sections of their community. The archisuppots and the cagoux at
first declined such an alliance, but eventually they were obliged to admit
all, with the exception of the wood-thieves, who were altogether excluded.
In the seventeenth century, therefore, in order to become a thorough
Argotier, it was necessary not only to solicit alms like any mere beggar,
but also to possess the dexterity of the cut-purse and the thief. These
arts were to be learned in the places which served as the habitual
rendezvous of the very dregs of society, and which were generally known as
the _Cours des Miracles_. These houses, or rather resorts, had been so
called, if we are to believe a writer of the early part of the seventeenth
century, "Because rogues ... and others, who have all day been cripples,
maimed, dropsical, and beset with every sort of bodily ailment, come home
at night, carrying under their arms a sirloin of beef, a joint of veal, or
a leg of mutton, not forgetting to hang a bottle of wine to their belt,
and, on entering the court, they throw aside their crutches, resume their
healthy and lusty appearance, and, in imitation of the ancient
Bacchanalian revelries, dance all kinds of dances with their trophies in
their hands, whilst the host is preparing their suppers. Can there be a
greater _miracle_ than is to be seen in this court, where the maimed walk

[Illustration: Fig. 379.--_Cour des Miracles_ of Paris. Talebot the
Hunchback, a celebrated Scamp during the Seventeenth Century.--From an old
Engraving in the Collection of Engravings in the National Library of

In Paris there were several _Cours des Miracles_, but the most celebrated
was that which, from the time of Sauval, the singular historian of the
"Antiquities of Paris," to the middle of the seventeenth century,
preserved this generic name _par excellence_, and which exists to this day
(Fig. 379). He says, "It is a place of considerable size, and is in an
unhealthy, muddy, and irregular blind alley. Formerly it was situated on
the outskirts of Paris, now it is in one of the worst built, dirtiest, and
most out-of-the-way quarters of the town, between the Rue Montorgueil, the
convent of the Filles-Dieu, and the Rue Neuve-Saint-Sauveur. To get there
one must wander through narrow, close, and by-streets; and in order to
enter it, one must descend a somewhat winding and rugged declivity. In
this place I found a mud house, half buried, very shaky from old age and
rottenness, and only eight metres square; but in which, nevertheless,
some fifty families are living, who have the charge of a large number of
children, many of whom are stolen or illegitimate.... I was assured that
upwards of five hundred large families occupy that and other houses
adjoining.... Large as this court is, it was formerly even bigger....
Here, without any care for the future, every one enjoys the present; and
eats in the evening what he has earned during the day with so much
trouble, and often with so many blows; for it is one of the fundamental
rules of the Cour des Miracles never to lay by anything for the morrow.
Every one who lives there indulges in the utmost licentiousness; both
religion and law are utterly ignored.... It is true that outwardly they
appear to acknowledge a God; for they have set up in a niche an image of
God the Father, which they have stolen from some church, and before which
they come daily to offer up certain prayers; but this is only because they
superstitiously imagine that by this means they are released from the
necessity of performing the duties of Christians to their pastor and their
parish, and are even absolved from the sin of entering a church for the
purpose of robbery and purse-cutting."

Paris, the capital of the kingdom of rogues, was not the only town which
possessed a Cour des Miracles, for we find here and there, especially at
Lyons and Bordeaux, some traces of these privileged resorts of rogues and
thieves, which then flourished under the sceptre of the Grand Coesre.
Sauval states, on the testimony of people worthy of credit, that at
Sainte-Anne d'Auray, the most holy place of pilgrimage in Brittany, under
the superintendence of the order of reformed Carmelite friars, there was a
large field called the _Rogue's Field_. This was covered with mud huts;
and here the Grand Coesre resorted annually on the principal solemn
festivals, with his officers and subjects, in order "to hold his council
of state," that is to say, in order to settle and arrange respecting
robbery. At these _state_ meetings, which were not always held at
Sainte-Anne d'Auray, all the subjects of the Grand Coesre were present,
and paid homage to their lord and master. Some came and paid him the
tribute which was required of them by the statutes of the craft; others
rendered him an account of what they had done, and what they had earned
during the year. When they had executed their work badly, he ordered them
to be punished, either corporally or pecuniarily, according to the gravity
of their offences. When he had not himself properly governed his people,
he was dethroned, and a successor was appointed by acclamation.

[Illustration: Fig. 380.--Beggar playing the Fiddle, and his Wife
accompanying him with the Bones.--From an old Engraving of the Seventeenth

At these assemblies, as well as in the Cours des Miracles, French was not
spoken, but a strange and artificial language was used called _jargon_,
_langue matoise, narquois_, &c. This language, which is still in use under
the name of _argot_, or slang, had for the most part been borrowed from
the jargon or slang of the lower orders. To a considerable extent,
according to the learned philologist of this mysterious language, M.
Francisque Michel, it was composed of French words lengthened or
abbreviated; of proverbial expressions; of words expressing the symbols of
things instead of the things themselves; of terms either intentionally or
unintentionally altered from their true meaning; and of words which
resembled other words in sound, but which had not the same signification.
Thus, for mouth, they said _pantiere_, from _pain_ (bread), which they put
into it; the arms were _lyans_ (binders); an ox was a _cornant_ (horned);
a purse, a _fouille_, or _fouillouse_; a cock, a _horloge_, or timepiece;
the legs, _des quilles_ (nine-pins); a sou, a _rond_, or round thing; the
eyes, _des luisants_ (sparklers), &c. In jargon several words were also
taken from the ancient language of the gipsies, which testifies to the
part which these vagabonds played in the formation of the Argotic
community. For example, a shirt was called _lime_; a chambermaid,
_limogere;_ sheets, _limans_--words all derived from the gipsy word
_lima_, a shirt: they called an ecu, a _rusquin_ or _rougesme_, from
_rujia_, the common word for money; a rich man, _rupin_; a house, _turne_;
a knife, _chourin_, from _rup, turna_, and _chori_, which, in the gipsy
tongue, mean respectively silver, castle, and knife.

From what we have related about rogues and the Cours des Miracles, one
might perhaps be tempted to suppose that France was specially privileged;
but it was not so, for Italy was far worse in this respect. The rogues
were called by the Italians _bianti_, or _ceretani_, and were subdivided
into more than forty classes, the various characteristics of which have
been described by a certain Rafael Frianoro. It is not necessary to state
that the analogue of more than one of these classes is to be found in the
short description we have given of the Argotic kingdom in France. We will
therefore only mention those which were more especially Italian. It must
not be forgotten that in the southern countries, where religions
superstition was more marked than elsewhere, the numerous family of rogues
had no difficulty in practising every description of imposture, inasmuch
as they trusted to the various manifestations of religions feeling to
effect their purposes. Thus the _affrati_, in order to obtain more alms
and offerings, went about in the garb of monks and priests, even saying
mass, and pretending that it was the first time they had exercised their
sacred office. So the _morghigeri_ walked behind a donkey, carrying a bell
and a lamp, with their string of beads in their hands, and asking how they
were to pay for the bell, which they were always "just going to buy." The
_felsi_ pretended that they were divinely inspired and endowed with the
gift of second sight, and announced that there were hidden treasures in
certain houses under the guardianship of evil spirits. They asserted that
these treasures could not be discovered without danger, except by means of
fastings and offerings, which they and their brethren could alone make, in
consideration of which they entered into a bargain, and received a certain
sum of money from the owners. The _accatosi_ deserve mention on account of
the cleverness with which they contrived to assume the appearance of
captives recently escaped from slavery. Shaking the chains with which they
said they had been bound, jabbering unintelligible words, telling
heart-rending tales of their sufferings and privations, and showing the
marks of blows which they had received, they went on their knees, begging
for money that they might buy off their brethren or their friends, whom
they said they had left in the hands of the Saracens or the Turks, We must


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