Urbain Grandier
Alexandre Dumas, Pere

Part 2 out of 2

the demon which we have drawn up in terms which are in accordance
with what is prescribed in the ritual. I am sure you will not
refuse," he added, turning with a bow to Marescot, "to make this
experiment in the presence of the queen's chaplain, since by that
means all those suspicions of imposture can be removed which are
unfortunately so rife concerning this business."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The archbishop accepted the petition, and wrote below it:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

De Laubardemont was at once granted the following commission:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M. de Laubardemont was present at this scene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The said bishop having replied--

"'These maidens.'

" Grandier again asked--

"'What maidens?'

"'The possessed maidens,' was the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'Obmutescas!' (Hold thy peace).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We have declared, and do hereby declare, Urbain Grandier duly
accused and convicted of the crimes of magic and witchcraft, and of
causing the persons of certain Ursuline nuns of this town and of
other females to become possessed of evil spirits, wherefrom other
crimes and offences have resulted. By way of reparation therefor, we
have sentenced, and do hereby sentence, the said Grandier to make
public apology, bareheaded, with a cord around his neck, holding a
lighted torch of two pounds weight in his hand, before the west door
of the church of Saint-Pierre in the Market Place and before--that of
Sainte-Ursule, both of this town, and there on bended knee to ask
pardon of God and the king and the law, and this done, to be taken to
the public square of Sainte-Croix and there to be attached to a
stake, set in the midst of a pile of wood, both of which to be
prepared there for this purpose, and to be burnt alive, along with
the pacts and spells which remain in the hands of the clerk and the
manuscript of the book written by the said Grandier against a
celibate priesthood, and his ashes, to be scattered to the four winds
of heaven. And we have declared, and do hereby declare, all and
every part of his property confiscate to the king, the sum of one
hundred and fifty livres being first taken therefrom to be employed
in the purchase of a copper plate whereon the substance of the
present decree shall be engraved, the same to be exposed in a
conspicuous place in the said church of Sainte-Ursule, there to
remain in perpetuity; and before this sentence is carried out, we
order the said Grandier to be put to the question ordinary and
extraordinary, so that his accomplices may become known.

"Pronounced at Loudun against the said Grandier this 18th day of
August 1634."

On the morning of the day on which this sentence was passed, M. de
Laubardemont ordered the surgeon Francois Fourneau to be arrested at
his own house and taken to Grandier's cell, although he was ready to
go there of his own free will. In passing through the adjoining room
he heard the voice of the accused saying:--

"What do you want with me, wretched executioner? Have you come to
kill me? You know how cruelly you have already tortured my body.
Well I am ready to die."

On entering the room, Fourneau saw that these words had been
addressed to the surgeon Mannouri.

One of the officers of the 'grand privot de l'hotel', to whom M. de
Laubardemont lent for the occasion the title of officer of the king's
guard, ordered the new arrival to shave Grandier, and not leave a
single hair on his whole body. This was a formality employed in
cases of witchcraft, so that the devil should have no place to hide
in; for it was the common belief that if a single hair were left, the
devil could render the accused insensible to the pains of torture.
From this Urbain understood that the verdict had gone against him and
that he was condemned to death.

Fourneau having saluted Grandier, proceeded to carry out his orders,
whereupon a judge said it was not sufficient to shave the body of the
prisoner, but that his nails must also be torn out, lest the devil
should hide beneath them. Grandier looked at the speaker with an
expression of unutterable pity, and held out his hands to Fourneau;
but Forneau put them gently aside, and said he would do nothing of
the kind, even were the order given by the cardinal-duke himself, and
at the same time begged Grandier's pardon for shaving him. At, these
words Grandier, who had for so long met with nothing but barbarous
treatment from those with whom he came in contact, turned towards the
surgeon with tears in his eyes, saying--

"So you are the only one who has any pity for me."

"Ah, sir," replied Fourneau, "you don't see everybody."

Grandier was then shaved, but only two marks found on him, one as we
have said on the shoulder blade, and the other on the thigh. Both
marks were very sensitive, the wounds which Mannouri had made not
having yet healed. This point having been certified by Fourneau,
Grandier was handed, not his own clothes, but some wretched garments
which had probably belonged to some other condemned man.

Then, although his sentence had been pronounced at the Carmelite
convent, he was taken by the grand provost's officer, with two of his
archers, accompanied by the provosts of Loudun and Chinon, to the
town hall, where several ladies of quality, among them Madame de
Laubardemont, led by curiosity, were sitting beside the judges,
waiting to hear the sentence read. M. de Laubardemont was in the
seat usually occupied by the clerk, and the clerk was standing before
him. All the approaches were lined with soldiers.

Before the accused was brought in, Pere Lactance and another
Franciscan who had come with him exorcised him to oblige the devils
to leave him; then entering the judgment hall, they exorcised the
earth, the air, "and the other elements." Not till that was done was
Grandier led in.

At first he was kept at the far end of the hall, to allow time for
the exorcisms to have their full effect, then he was brought forward
to the bar and ordered to kneel down. Grandier obeyed, but could
remove neither his hat nor his skull-cap, as his hands were bound
behind his back, whereupon the clerk seized on the one and the
provost's officer on the other, and flung them at de Laubardemont's
feet. Seeing that the accused fixed his eyes on the commissioner as
if waiting to see what he was about to do, the clerk said

"Turn your head, unhappy man, and adore the crucifix above the

Grandier obeyed without a murmur and with great humility, and
remained sunk in silent prayer for about ten minutes; he then resumed
his former attitude.

The clerk then began to read the sentence in a trembling voice, while
Grandier listened with unshaken firmness and wonderful tranquillity,
although it was the most terrible sentence that could be passed,
condemning the accused to be burnt alive the same day, after the
infliction of ordinary and extraordinary torture. When the clerk had
ended, Grandier said, with a voice unmoved from its usual calm

"Messeigneurs, I aver in the name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost, and the Blessed Virgin, my only hope, that I have never
been a magician, that I have never committed sacrilege, that I know
no other magic than that of the Holy Scriptures, which I have always
preached, and that I have never held any other belief than that of
our Holy Mother the Catholic Apostolic Church of Rome; I renounce the
devil and all his works; I confess my Redeemer, and I pray to be
saved through the blood of the Cross; and I beseech you,
messeigneurs, to mitigate the rigour of my sentence, and not to drive
my soul to despair."

The concluding words led de Laubardemont to believe that he could
obtain some admission from Grandier through fear of suffering, so he
ordered the court to be cleared, and, being left alone with Maitre
Houmain, criminal lieutenant of Orleans, and the Franciscans, he
addressed Grandier in a stern voice, saying there was only one way to
obtain any mitigation of his sentence, and that was to confess the
names of his accomplices and to sign the confession. Grandier
replied that having committed no crime he could have no accomplices,
whereupon Laubardemont ordered the prisoner to be taken to the
torture chamber, which adjoined the judgment hall--an order which was
instantly obeyed.


The mode of torture employed at Loudun was a variety of the boot, and
one of the most painful of all. Each of the victim's legs below the
knee was placed between two boards, the two pairs were then laid one
above the other and bound together firmly at the ends; wedges were
then driven in with a mallet between the two middle boards; four such
wedges constituted ordinary and eight extraordinary torture; and this
latter was seldom inflicted, except on those condemned to death, as
almost no one ever survived it, the sufferer's legs being crushed to
a pulp before he left the torturer's bands. In this case M. de
Laubardemont on his own initiative, for it had never been done
before, added two wedges to those of the extraordinary torture, so
that instead of eight, ten were to be driven in.

Nor was this all: the commissioner royal and the two Franciscans
undertook to inflict the torture themselves.

Laubardemont ordered Grandier to be bound in the usual manner, I and
then saw his legs placed between the boards. He then dismissed the
executioner and his assistants, and directed the keeper of the
instruments to bring the wedges, which he complained of as being too
small. Unluckily, there were no larger ones in stock, and in spite
of threats the keeper persisted in saying he did not know where to
procure others. M. de Laubardemont then asked how long it would take
to make some, and was told two hours; finding that too long to wait,
he was obliged to put up with those he had.

Thereupon the torture began. Pere Lactance having exorcised the
instruments, drove in the first wedge, but could not draw a murmur
from Grandier, who was reciting a prayer in a low voice; a second was
driven home, and this time the victim, despite his resolution, could
not avoid interrupting his devotions by two groans, at each of which
Pere Lactance struck harder, crying, "Dicas! dicas!" (Confess,
confess!), a word which he repeated so often and so furiously, till
all was over, that he was ever after popularly called "Pere Dicas."

When the second wedge was in, de Laubardemont showed Grandier his
manuscript against the celibacy of the priests, and asked if he
acknowledged it to be in his own handwriting. Grandier answered in
the affirmative. Asked what motive he had in writing it, he said it
was an attempt to restore peace of mind to a poor girl whom he had
loved, as was proved by the two lines written at the end--

"Si ton gentil esprit prend bien cette science,
Tu mettras en repos ta bonne conscience."

[If thy sensitive mind imbibe this teaching,
It will give ease to thy tender conscience]

Upon this, M. de Laubardemont demanded the girl's name; but Grandier
assured him it should never pass his lips, none knowing it but
himself and God. Thereupon M. de Laubardemont ordered Pere Lactance
to insert the third wedge. While it was being driven in by the
monk's lusty arm, each blow being accompanied by the word "'Dicas'!"
Grandier exclaimed--

"My God! they are killing me, and yet I am neither a sorcerer nor

At the fourth wedge Grandier fainted, muttering--

"Oh, Pere Lactance, is this charity?"

Although his victim was unconscious, Pere Lactance continued to
strike; so that, having lost consciousness through pain, pain soon
brought him back to life.

De Laubardemont took advantage of this revival to take his turn at
demanding a confession of his crimes; but Grandier said--

"I have committed no crimes, sir, only errors. Being a man, I have
often gone astray; but I have confessed and done penance, and believe
that my prayers for pardon have been heard; but if not, I trust that
God will grant me pardon now, for the sake of my sufferings."

At the fifth wedge Grandier fainted once more, but they restored him
to consciousness by dashing cold water in his face, whereupon he
moaned, turning to M. de Laubardemont

"In pity, sir, put me to death at once! I am only a man, and I cannot
answer for myself that if you continue to torture me so I shall not
give way to despair."

"Then sign this, and the torture shall cease," answered the
commissioner royal, offering him a paper.

"My father," said Urbain, turning towards the Franciscan, "can you
assure me on your conscience that it is permissible for a man, in
order to escape suffering, to confess a crime he has never

"No," replied the monk; "for if he die with a lie on his lips he dies
in mortal sin."

"Go on, then," said Grandier; "for having suffered so much in my
body, I desire to save my soul."

As Pere Lactance drove in the sixth wedge Grandier fainted anew.

When he had been revived, Laubardemont called upon him to confess
that a certain Elisabeth Blanchard had been his mistress, as well as
the girl for whom he had written the treatise against celibacy; but
Grandier replied that not only had no improper relations ever existed
between them, but that the day he had been confronted with her at his
trial was the first time he had ever seen her.

At the seventh wedge Grandier's legs burst open, and the blood
spurted into Pere Lactance's face; but he wiped it away with the
sleeve of his gown.

"O Lord my God, have mercy on me! I die!" cried Grandier, and
fainted for the fourth time. Pere Lactance seized the opportunity to
take a short rest, and sat down.

When Grandier had once more come to himself, he began slowly to utter
a prayer, so beautiful and so moving that the provost's lieutenant
wrote it down; but de Laubardemont noticing this, forbade him ever to
show it to anyone.

At the eighth wedge the bones gave way, and the marrow oozed out of
the wounds, and it became useless to drive in any more wedges, the
legs being now as flat as the boards that compressed them, and
moreover Pere Lactance was quite worn out.

Grandier was unbound and laid upon the flagged floor, and while his
eyes shone with fever and agony he prayed again a second prayer--a
veritable martyr's prayer, overflowing with faith and enthusiasm; but
as he ended his strength failed, and he again became unconscious.
The provost's lieutenant forced a little wine between his lips, which
brought him to; then he made an act of contrition, renounced Satan
and all his works once again, and commended his soul to God.

Four men entered, his legs were freed from the boards, and the
crushed parts were found to be a mere inert mass, only attached to
the knees by the sinews. He was then carried to the council chamber,
and laid on a little straw before the fire.

In a corner of the fireplace an Augustinian monk was seated. Urbain
asked leave to confess to him, which de Laubardemont refused, holding
out the paper he desired to have signed once more, at which Grandier

"If I would not sign to spare myself before, am I likely to give way
now that only death remains?"

"True," replied Laubardemont; "but the mode of your death is in our
hands: it rests with us to make it slow or quick, painless or
agonising; so take this paper and sign?"

Grandier pushed the paper gently away, shaking his head in sign of
refusal, whereupon de Laubardemont left the room in a fury, and
ordered Peres Tranquille and Claude to be admitted, they being the
confessors he had chosen for Urbain. When they came near to fulfil
their office, Urbain recognised in them two of his torturers, so he
said that, as it was only four days since he had confessed to Pere
Grillau, and he did not believe he had committed any mortal sin since
then, he would not trouble them, upon which they cried out at him as
a heretic and infidel, but without any effect.

At four o'clock the executioner's assistants came to fetch him; he
was placed lying on a bier and carried out in that position. On the
way he met the criminal lieutenant of Orleans, who once more exhorted
him to confess his crimes openly; but Grandier replied--

"Alas, sir, I have avowed them all; I have kept nothing back."

"Do you desire me to have masses said for you?" continued the

"I not only desire it, but I beg for it as a great favour," said

A lighted torch was then placed in his hand: as the procession
started he pressed the torch to his lips; he looked on all whom he
met with modest confidence, and begged those whom he knew to
intercede with God for him. On the threshold of the door his
sentence was read to him, and he was then placed in a small cart and
driven to the church of St. Pierre in the market-place. There he was
awaited by M. de Laubardemont, who ordered him to alight. As he
could not stand on his mangled limbs, he was pushed out, and fell
first on his knees and then on his face. In this position he
remained patiently waiting to be lifted. He was carried to the top
of the steps and laid down, while his sentence was read to him once
more, and just as it was finished, his confessor, who had not been
allowed to see him for four days, forced a way through the crowd and
threw himself into Grandier's arms. At first tears choked Pere
Grillau's voice, but at last he said, "Remember, sir, that our
Saviour Jesus Christ ascended to His Father through the agony of the
Cross: you are a wise man, do not give way now and lose everything.
I bring you your mother's blessing; she and I never cease to pray
that God may have mercy on you and receive you into Paradise."

These words seemed to inspire Grandier with new strength; he lifted
his head, which pain had bowed, and raising his eyes to heaven,
murmured a short prayer. Then turning towards the worthy, friar, he

"Be a son to my mother; pray to God for me constantly; ask all our
good friars to pray for my soul; my one consolation is that I die
innocent. I trust that God in His mercy may receive me into

"Is there nothing else I can do for you?" asked Pere Grillau.

"Alas, my father!" replied Grandier, "I am condemned to die a most
cruel death; ask the executioner if there is no way of shortening
what I must undergo."

"I go at once," said the friar; and giving him absolution in
'articulo mortis', he went down the steps, and while Grandier was
making his confession aloud the good monk drew the executioner aside
and asked if there were no possibility of alleviating the death-agony
by means of a shirt dipped in brimstone. The executioner answered
that as the sentence expressly stated that Grandier was to be burnt
alive, he could not employ an expedient so sure to be discovered as
that; but that if the friar would give him thirty crowns he would
undertake to strangle Grandier while he was kindling the pile. Pere
Grillau gave him the money, and the executioner provided himself with
a rope. The Franciscan then placed himself where he could speak to
his penitent as he passed, and as he embraced him for the last time,
whispered to him what he had arranged with the executioner, whereupon
Grandier turned towards the latter and said in a tone of deep

"Thanks, my brother."

At that moment, the archers having driven away Pere Grillau, by order
of M. de Laubardemont, by beating him with their halberts, the
procession resumed its march, to go through the same ceremony at the
Ursuline church, and from there to proceed to the square of Sainte-
Croix. On the way Urbain met and recognised Moussant, who was
accompanied by his wife, and turning towards him, said--

"I die your debtor, and if I have ever said a word that could offend
you I ask you to forgive me."

When the place of execution was reached, the provost's lieutenant
approached Grandier and asked his forgiveness.

"You have not offended me," was the reply; "you have only done what
your duty obliged you to do."

The executioner then came forward and removed the back board of the
cart, and ordered his assistants to carry Grandier to where the pile
was prepared. As he was unable to stand, he was attached to the
stake by an iron hoop passed round his body. At that moment a flock
of pigeons seemed to fall from the sky, and, fearless of the crowd,
which was so great that the archers could not succeed even by blows
of their weapons in clearing a way for the magistrates, began to fly
around Grandier, while one, as white as the driven snow, alighted on
the summit of the stake, just above his head. Those who believed in
possession exclaimed that they were only a band of devils come to
seek their master, but there were many who muttered that devils were
not wont to assume such a form, and who persisted in believing that
the doves had come in default of men to bear witness to Grandier's

In trying next day to combat this impression, a monk asserted that he
had seen a huge fly buzzing round Grandier's head, and as Beelzebub
meant in Hebrew, as he said, the god of flies, it was quite evident
that it was that demon himself who, taking upon him the form of one
of his subjects, had come to carry off the magician's soul.

When everything was prepared, the executioner passed the rope by
which he meant to strangle him round Grandier's neck; then the
priests exorcised the earth, air, and wood, and again demanded of
their victim if he would not publicly confess his crimes. Urbain
replied that he had nothing to say, but that he hoped through the
martyr's death he was about to die to be that day with Christ in

The clerk then read his sentence to him for the fourth time, and
asked if he persisted in what he said under torture.

"Most certainly I do," said Urbain; "for it was the exact truth."

Upon this, the clerk withdrew, first informing Grandier that if he
had anything to say to the people he was at liberty to speak.

But this was just what the exorcists did not want: they knew
Grandier's eloquence and courage, and a firm, unshaken denial at the
moment of death would be most prejudicial to their interests. As
soon, therefore, as Grandier opened his lips to speak, they dashed
such a quantity of holy water in his face that it took away his
breath. It was but for a moment, however, and he recovered himself,
and again endeavoured to speak, a monk stooped down and stifled the
words by kissing him on the lips. Grandier, guessing his intention,
said loud enough for those next the pile to hear, "That was the kiss
of Judas!"

At these words the monks become so enraged that one of them struck
Grandier three times in the face with a crucifix, while he appeared
to be giving it him to kiss; but by the blood that flowed from his
nose and lips at the third blow those standing near perceived the
truth: all Grandier could do was to call out that he asked for a
Salve Regina and an Ave Maria, which many began at once to repeat,
whilst he with clasped hands and eyes raised to heaven commended
himself to God and the Virgin. The exorcists then made one more
effort to get him to confess publicly, but he exclaimed--

"My fathers, I have said all I had to say; I hope in God and in His

At this refusal the anger of the exorcists surpassed all bounds, and
Pere Lactance, taking a twist of straw, dipped it in a bucket of
pitch which was standing beside the pile, and lighting it at a torch,
thrust it into his face, crying--

"Miserable wretch! will nothing force you to confess your crimes and
renounce the devil?"

"I do not belong to the devil," said Grandier, pushing away the straw
with his hands; "I have renounced the devil, I now renounce him and
all his works again, and I pray that God may have mercy on me."

At this, without waiting for the signal from the provost's
lieutenant, Pere Lactance poured the bucket of pitch on one corner of
the pile of wood and set fire to it, upon which Grandier called the
executioner to his aid, who, hastening up, tried in vain to strangle
him, while the flames spread apace.

"Ah! my brother," said the sufferer, "is this the way you keep your

"It's not my fault," answered the executioner; "the monks have
knotted the cord, so that the noose cannot slip."

"Oh, Father Lactance! Father Lactance! have you no charity?" cried

The executioner by this time was forced by the increasing heat to
jump down from the pile, being indeed almost overcome; and seeing
this, Grandier stretched forth a hand into the flames, and said--

"Pere Lactance, God in heaven will judge between thee and me; I
summon thee to appear before Him in thirty days."

Grandier was then seen to make attempts to strangle himself, but
either because it was impossible, or because he felt it would be
wrong to end his life by his own hands, he desisted, and clasping his
hands, prayed aloud--

"Deus meus, ad te vigilo, miserere me."

A Capuchin fearing that he would have time to say more, approached
the pile from the side which had not yet caught fire, and dashed the
remainder of the holy water in his face. This caused such smoke that
Grandier was hidden for a moment from the eyes of the spectators;
when it cleared away, it was seen that his clothes were now alight;
his voice could still be heard from the midst of the flames raised in
prayer; then three times, each time in a weaker voice, he pronounced
the name of Jesus, and giving one cry, his head fell forward on his

At that moment the pigeons which had till then never ceased to circle
round the stake, flew away, and were lost in the clouds.

Urbain Grandier had given up the ghost.


This time it was not the man who was executed who was guilty, but the
executioners; consequently we feel sure that our readers will be
anxious to learn something of their fate.

Pere Lactance died in the most terrible agony on September 18th,
1634, exactly a month from the date of Grandier's death. His
brother-monks considered that this was due to the vengeance of Satan;
but others were not wanting who said, remembering the summons uttered
by Grandier, that it was rather due to the justice of God. Several
attendant circumstances seemed to favour the latter opinion. The
author of the History of the Devils of Loudzin gives an account of
one of these circumstances, for the authenticity of which he vouches,
and from which we extract the following:

"Some days after the execution of Grandier, Pere Lactance fell ill of
the disease of which he died. Feeling that it was of supernatural
origin, he determined to take a pilgrimage to Notre Dame des
Andilliers de Saumur, where many miracles were wrought, and which was
held in high estimation in the neighbourhood. A place in the
carriage of the Sieur de Canaye was offered him for the journey; for
this gentleman, accompanied by a large party on pleasure bent, was
just then setting out for his estate of Grand Fonds, which lay in the
same direction. The reason for the offer was that Canaye and his
friends, having heard that the last words of Grandier had affected
Pere Lactance's mind, expected to find a great deal of amusement in
exciting the terrors of their travelling-companion. And in truth,
for a day or two, the boon companions sharpened their wits at the
expense of the worthy monk, when all at once, on a good road and
without apparent cause, the carriage overturned. Though no one was
hurt, the accident appeared so strange to the pleasure-seekers that
it put an end to the jokes of even the boldest among them. Pere
Lactance himself appeared melancholy and preoccupied, and that
evening at supper refused to eat, repeating over and over again--

"'It was wrong of me to deny Grandier the confessor he asked for; God
is punishing me, God is punishing me!'

"On the following morning the journey was resumed, but the evident
distress of mind under which Pere Lactance laboured had so damped the
spirits of the party that all their gaiety had disappeared.
Suddenly, just outside Fenet, where the road was in excellent
condition and no obstacle to their progress apparent, the carriage
upset for the second time. Although again no one was hurt, the
travellers felt that there was among them someone against whom God's
anger was turned, and their suspicions pointing to Pere Lactance,
they went on their way, leaving him behind, and feeling very
uncomfortable at the thought that they had spent two or three days in
his society.

"Pere Lactance at last reached Notre-Dame des Andilliers; but however
numerous were the miracles there performed, the remission of the doom
pronounced by the martyr on Pere Lactance was not added to their
number; and at a quarter-past six on September 18th, exactly a month
to the very minute after Grandier's death, Pere Lactance expired in
excruciating agony."

Pere Tranquille's turn came four years later. The malady which
attacked him was so extraordinary that the physicians were quite at a
loss, and forced to declare their ignorance of any remedy. His
shrieks and blasphemies were so distinctly heard in the streets, that
his brother Franciscans, fearing the effect they would have on his
after-reputation, especially in the minds of those who had seen
Grandier die with words of prayer on his lips, spread abroad the
report that the devils whom he had expelled from the bodies of the
nuns had entered into the body of the exorcist. He died shrieking--

"My God! how I suffer! Not all the devils and all the damned
together endure what I endure!" His panegyrist, in whose book we
find all the horrible details of his death employed to much purpose
to illustrate the advantages of belonging to the true faith,

"Truly big generous heart must have been a hot hell for those fiends
who entered his body to torment it."

The following epitaph which was placed over his grave was
interpreted, according to the prepossessions of those who read it,
either as a testimony to his sanctity or as a proof of his

"Here lies Pere Tranquille, of Saint-Remi; a humble Capuchin
preacher. The demons no longer able to endure his fearlessly
exercised power as an exorcist, and encouraged by sorcerers, tortured
him to death, on May 31st, 1638."

But a death about which there could be no doubt as to the cause was
that of the surgeon Mannouri, the same who had, as the reader may
recollect, been the first to torture Grandier. One evening about ten
o'clock he was returning from a visit to a patient who lived on the
outskirts of the town, accompanied by a colleague and preceded by his
surgery attendant carrying a lantern. When they reached the centre
of the town in the rue Grand-Pave, which passes between the walls of
the castle grounds and the gardens of the Franciscan monastery,
Mannouri suddenly stopped, and, staring fixedly at some object which
was invisible to his companions, exclaimed with a start--

"Oh! there is Grandier!

"Where? where?" cried the others.

He pointed in the direction towards which his eyes were turned, and
beginning to tremble violently, asked--

"What do you want with me, Grandier? What do you want?"

A moment later he added

"Yes-yes, I am coming."

Immediately it seemed as if the vision vanished from before his eyes,
but the effect remained. His brother-surgeon and the servant brought
him home, but neither candles nor the light of day could allay his
fears; his disordered brain showed him Grandier ever standing at the
foot of his bed. A whole week he continued, as was known all over
the town, in this condition of abject terror; then the spectre seemed
to move from its place and gradually to draw nearer, for he kept on
repeating, "He is coming! he is coming!" and at length, towards
evening, at about the same hour at which Grandier expired, Surgeon
Mannouri drew his last breath.

We have still to tell of M. de Laubardemont. All we know is thus
related in the letters of M. de Patin:--

"On the 9th inst., at nine o'clock in the evening, a carriage was
attacked by robbers; on hearing the noise the townspeople ran to the
spot, drawn thither as much by curiosity as by humanity. A few shots
were exchanged and the robbers put to flight, with the exception of
one man belonging to their band who was taken prisoner, and another
who lay wounded on the paving-stones. This latter died next day
without having spoken, and left no clue behind as to who he was. His
identity was, however, at length made clear. He was the son of a
high dignitary named de Laubardemont, who in 1634, as royal
commissioner, condemned Urbain Grandier, a poor, priest of Loudun, to
be burnt alive, under the pretence that he had caused several nuns of
Loudun to be possessed by devils. These nuns he had so tutored as to
their behaviour that many people foolishly believed them to be
demoniacs. May we not regard the fate of his son as a chastisement
inflicted by Heaven on this unjust judge--an expiation exacted for
the pitilessly cruel death inflicted on his victim, whose blood still
cries unto the Lord from the ground?"

Naturally the persecution of Urbain Grandier attracted the attention
not only of journalists but of poets. Among the many poems which
were inspired by it, the following is one of the best. Urbain

"From hell came the tidings that by horrible sanctions
I had made a pact with the devil to have power over women:
Though not one could be found to accuse me.
In the trial which delivered me to torture and the stake,
The demon who accused me invented and suggested the crime,

And his testimony was the only proof against me.

The English in their rage burnt the Maid alive;
Like her, I too fell a victim to revenge;
We were both accused falsely of the same crime;
In Paris she is adored, in London abhorred;
In Loudun some hold me guilty of witchcraft,
Some believe me innocent; some halt between two minds.

Like Hercules, I loved passionately;
Like him, I was consumed by fire;
But he by death became a god.
The injustice of my death was so well concealed
That no one can judge whether the flames saved or destroyed me;
Whether they blackened me for hell, or purified me for heaven.

In vain did I suffer torments with unshaken resolution;
They said that I felt no pain, being a sorcerer died unrepentant;
That the prayers I uttered were impious words;
That in kissing the image on the cross I spat in its face;
That casting my eyes to heaven I mocked the saints;
That when I seemed to call on God, I invoked the devil

Others, more charitable, say, in spite of their hatred of my crime,
That my death may be admired although my life was not blameless;
That my resignation showed that I died in hope and faith;
That to forgive, to suffer without complaint or murmur,
Is perfect love; and that the soul is purified
From the sins of life by a death like mine."


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