FOX’S BOOK OF MARTYRS
An Account of the Persecutions in Italy, Under the Papacy
We shall now enter on an account of the persecutions in Italy, a country
which has been, and still is,
persecutions which have happened, and the cruelties which have been practised,
In the twelfth century, the first persecutions under the papacy began in Italy, at the time that Adrian, an Englishman, was pope, being occasioned by the following circumstances:
A learned man, and an excellent orator of Brescia, named Arnold, came to Rome, and boldly preached against the corruptions and innovations which had crept into the Church. His discourses were so clear, consistent, and breathed forth such a pure spirit of piety, that the senators and many of the people highly approved of, and admired his doctrines.
This so greatly enraged Adrian that he commanded Arnold instantly to leave the city, as a heretic. Arnold, however, did not comply, for the senators and some of the principal people took his part, and resisted the authority of the pope.
Adrian now laid the city of Rome under an interdict, which caused the whole body of clergy to interpose; and, at length he persuaded the senators and people to give up the point, and suffer Arnold to be banished. This being agreed to, he received the sentence of exile, and retired to Germany, where he continued to preach against the pope, and to expose the gross errors of the Church of Rome.
Adrian, on this account, thirsted for his blood, and made several attempts to get him into his hands; but Arnold, for a long time, avoided every snare laid for him. At length, Frederic Barbarossa arriving at the imperial dignity, requested that the pope would crown him with his own hand. This Adrian complied with, and at the same time asked a favor of the emperor, which was, to put Arnold into his hands. The emperor very readily delivered up the unfortunate preacher, who soon fell a martyr to Adrian’s vengeance, being hanged, and his body burnt to ashes, at Apulia. The same fate attended several of his old friends and companions.
Encenas, a Spaniard, was sent to Rome, to be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith; but having conversed with some of the reformed, and having read several treatises which they put into his hands, he became a Protestant. This, at length, being known, one of his own relations informed against him, when he was burnt by order of the pope, and a conclave of cardinals. The brother of Encenas had been taken up much about the same time, for having a New Testament in the Spanish language in his possession; but before the time appointed for his execution, he found means to escape out of prison, and retired to Germany.
Faninus, a learned layman, by reading controversial books, became of the reformed religion. An information being exhibited against him to the pope, he was apprehended, and cast into prison. His wife, children, relations, and friends visited him in his confinement, and so far wrought upon his mind, that he renounced his faith, and obtained his release. But he was no sooner free from confinement than his mind felt the heaviest of chains; the weight of a guilty conscience. His horrors were so great that he found them insupportable, until he had returned from his apostasy, and declared himself fully convinced of the errors of the Church of Rome. To make amends for his falling off, he now openly and strenuously did all he could to make converts to Protestantism, and was pretty successful in his endeavors. These proceedings occasioned his second imprisonment, but he had his life offered him if he would recant again. This proposal he rejected with disdain, saying that he scorned life upon such terms. Being asked why he would obstinately persist in his opinions, and leave his wife and children in distress, he replied, “I shall not leave them in distress;
I have recommended them to the care of an excellent trustee.” “What trustee?” said the person who had asked the question, with some surprise: to which Faninus answered, “Jesus Christ is the trustee I mean, and I think I could not commit them to the care of a better.” On the day of execution he appeared remarkably cheerful, which one observing, said, “It is strange you should appear so merry upon such an occasion, when Jesus Christ himself, just before his death, was in such agonies, that he sweated blood and water.” To which Faninus replied: “Christ sustained all manner of pangs and conflicts, with hell and death, on our accounts; and thus, by his sufferings, freed those who really believe in him from the fear of them.” He was then strangled, his body was burnt to ashes, and then scattered about by the wind.
Dominicus, a learned soldier, having read several controversial writings, became a zealous Protestant, and retiring to Placentia, he preached the Gospel in its utmost purity, to a very considerable congregation. One day, at the conclusion of his sermon, he said, “If the congregation will attend to-morrow, I will give them a description of Antichrist, and paint him out in his proper colors.”
A vast concourse of people attended the next day, but just as Dominicus was beginning his sermon, a civil magistrate went up to the pulpit, and took him into custody. He readily submitted; but as he went along with the magistrate, he made use of this expression: “I wonder the devil hath let me alone so long.” When he was brought to examination, this question was put to him: “Will you renounce your doctrines?” To which he replied: “My doctrines! I maintain no doctrines of my own; what I preach are the doctrines of Christ, and for those I will forfeit my blood, and even think myself happy to suffer for the sake of my Redeemer.” Every method was taken to make him recant for his faith, and embrace the errors of the Church of Rome; but when persuasions and menaces were found ineffectual, he was sentenced to death, and hanged in the market place.
Galeacius, a Protestant gentleman, who resided near the castle of St.
Angelo, was apprehended on account of his faith. Great endeavors being used by his friends he recanted, and subscribed to several of the superstitious doctrines propogated by the Church of Rome. Becoming, however, sensible of his error, he publicly renounced his recantation. Being apprehended for this, he was condemned to be burnt, and agreeable to the order was chained to a stake, where he was left several hours before the fire was put to the fagots, in order that his wife, relations, and friends, who surrounded him, might induce him to give up his opinions. Galeacius, however, retained his constancy of mind, and entreated the executioner to put fire to the wood that was to burn him. This at length he did, and Galeacius was soon consumed in the flames, which burnt with amazing rapidity and deprived him of sensation in a few minutes.
Soon after this gentleman’s death, a great number of Protestants were put to death in various parts of Italy, on account of their faith, giving a sure proof of their sincerity in their martyrdoms.
An Account of the Persecutions of Calabria
In the fourteenth century, many of the Waldenses of Pragela and Dauphiny, emigrated to Calabria, and settling some waste lands, by the permission of the nobles of that country, they soon, by the most industrious cultivation, made several wild and barren spots appear with all the beauties of verdure and fertility.
The Calabrian lords were highly pleased with their new subjects and
tenants, as they were honest, quiet, and industrious; but the priests of the
country exhibited several negative complaints against them; for not being able
to accuse them of anythying bad which they did do, they founded accusations on
what they did not do, and charged them,
With not being Roman Catholics.
With not making any of their boys priests.
With not making any of their girls nuns.
With not going to Mass.
With not giving wax tapers to their priests as offerings.
With not going on pilgrimages.
With not bowing to images.
The Calabrian lords, however, quieted the priests, by telling them that these people were extremely harmless; that they gave no offence to the Roman Catholics, and cheerfully paid the tithes to the priests, whose revenues were considerably increased by their coming into the country, and who, of consequence, ought to be the last persons to complain of them.
Things went on tolerably well after this for a few years, during which the Waldenses formed themselves into two corporate towns, annexing several villages to the jurisdiction of them. At length they sent to Geneva for two clergymen; one to preach in each town, as they determined to make a public profession of their faith. Intelligence of this affair being carried to the pope, Pius the Fourth, he determined to exterminate them from Calabria.
To this end he sent Cardinal Alexandrino, a man of very violent temper and a furious bigot, together with two monks, to Calabria, where they were to act as inquisitors. These authorized persons came to St. Xist, one of the towns built by the Waldenses, and having assembled the people, told them that they should receive no injury, if they would accept of preachers appointed by the pope; but if they would not, they should be deprived both of their properties and lives; and that their intentions might be known, Mass should be publicly said that afternoon, at which they were ordered to attend.
The people of St. Xist, instead of attending Mass, fled into the woods, with their families, and thus disappointed the cardinal and his coadjutors. The cardinal then proceeded to La Garde, the other town belonging to the Waldenses, where, not to be served as he had been at St. Xist, he ordered the gates to be locked, and all avenues guarded. The same proposals were then made to the inhabitants of La Garde, as had previously been offered to those of St. Xist, but with this additional piece of artifice: the cardinal assured them that the inhabitants of St. Xist had immediately come into his proposals, and agreed that the pope should appoint them preachers. This falsehood succeeded; for the people of La Garde, thinking what the cardinal had told them to be the truth, said they would exactly follow the example of their brethren at St. Xist.
The cardinal, having gained his point by deluding the people of one town, sent for troops of soldiers, with a view to murder those of the other. He, accordingly, despatched the soldiers into the woods, to hunt down the inhabitants of St. Xist like wild beasts, and gave them strict orders to spare neither age nor sex, but to kill all they came near. The troops entered the woods, and many fell a prey to their ferocity, before the Waldenses were properly apprised of their design. At length, however, they determined to sell their lives as dear as possible, when several conflicts happened, in which the half-armed Waldenses performed prodigies of valor, and many were slain on both sides. The greatest part of the troops being killed in the different rencontres, the rest were compelled to retreat, which so enraged the cardinal that he wrote to the viceroy of Naples for reinforcements.
The viceroy immediately ordered a proclamation to be made thorughout all the Neapolitan territories, that all outlaws, deserters, and other proscribed persons should be surely pardoned for their respective offences, on condition of making a campaign against the inhabitants of St. Xist, and continuing under arms until those people were exterminated.
Many persons of desperate fortunes came in upon this proclamation, and being formed into light companies, were sent to scour the woods, and put to death all they could meet with of the reformed religion. The viceroy himself likewise joined the cardinal, at the head of a body of regular forces; and, in conjunction, they did all they could to harass the poor people in the woods. Some they caught and hanged up upon trees, cut down boughs and burnt them, or ripped them open and left their bodies to be devoured by wild beasts, or birds of prey. Many they shot at a distance, but the greatest number they hunted down by way of sport. A few hid themselves in caves, but famine destroyed them in their retreat; and thus all these poor people perished, by various means, to glut the bigoted malice of their merciless persecutors.
The inhabitants of St. Xist were no sooner exterminated, than those of La Garde engaged the attention of the cardinal and viceroy.
It was offered, that if they should embrace the Roman Catholic persuasion, themselves and families should not be injured, but their houses and properties should be restored, and none would be permitted to molest them; but, on the contrary, if they refused this mercy, (as it was termed) the utmost extremities would be used, and the most cruel deaths the certain consequence of their noncompliance.
Notwithstanding the promises on one side, and menaces on the other, these worthy people unanimously refused to renounce their religion, or embrace the errors of popery. This exasperated the cardinal and viceroy so much, that thirty of them were ordered to be put immediately to the rack, as a terror to the rest.
Those who were put to the rack were treated with such severity that several died under the tortures; one Charlin, in particular, was so cruelly used that his belly burst, his bowels came out, and he expired in the greatest agonies. These barbarities, however, did not answer the purposes for which they were intended; for those who remained alive after the rack, and those who had not felt the rack, remained equally constant in their faith, and boldly declared that no tortures of body, or terrors of mind, should ever induce them to renounce their God, or worship images.
Several were then, by the cardinal’s order, stripped stark naked, and whipped to death iron rods; and some were hacked to pieces with large knives; others were thrown down from the top of a large tower, and many were covered over with pitch, and burnt alive.
One of the monks who attended the cardinal, being naturally of a savage and cruel disposition, requested of him that he might shed some of the blood of these poor people with his own hands; when his request being granted, the barbarous man took a large sharp knife, and cut the throats of fourscore men, women, and children, with as little remorse as a butcher would have killed so many sheep. Every one of these bodies were then ordered to be quartered, the quarters placed upon stakes, and then fixed in different parts of the country, within a circuit of thirty miles.
The four principal men of La Garde were hanged, and the clergyman was thrown from the top of his church steeple. He was terribly mangled, but not quite killed by the fall; at which time the viceroy passing by, said, “Is the dog yet living? Take him up, and give him to the hogs,” when, brutal as this sentence may appear, it was executed accordingly.
Sixty women were racked so violently, that the cords pierced their arms and legs close to the bone; when, being remanded to prison, their wounds mortified, and they died in the most miserable manner. Many others were put to death by various cruel means; and if any Roman Catholic, more compassionate than the rest, interceded for any of the reformed, he was immediately apprehended, and shared the same fate as a favorer of heretics.
The viceroy being obliged to march back to Naples, on some affairs of moment which required his presence, and the cardinal being recalled to Rome, the marquis of Butane was ordered to put the finishing stroke to what they had begun; which he at length effected, by acting with such barbarous rigor, that there was not a single person of the reformed religion left living in all Calabria.
Thus were a great number of inoffensive and harmless people deprived of their possessions, robbed of their property, driven from their homes, and at length murdered by various means, only because they would not sacrifice their consciences to the superstitions of others, embrace idolatrous doctrines which they abhorred, and accept of teachers whom they could not believe.
Tyranny is of three kinds, viz., that which enslaves the person, that which seizes the property, and that which prescribes and dictates to the mind. The two first sorts may be termed civil tyranny, and have been practiced by arbitrary sovereigns in all ages, who have delighted in tormenting the persons, and stealing the properties of their unhappy subjects. But the third sort, viz., prescribing and dictating to the mind, may be called ecclesiastical tyranny: and this is the worst kind of tyranny, as it includes the other two sorts; for the Romish clergy not only do torture the body and seize the effects of those they persecute, but take the lives, torment the minds, and, if possible, would tyrannize over the souls of the unhappy victims.
Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont
Many of the Waldenses, to avoid the persecutions to which they were continually subjected in France, went and settled in the valleys of Piedmont, where they increased exceedingly, and flourished very much for a considerable time.
Though they were harmless in their behavior, inoffensive in their conversation, and paid tithes to the Roman clergy, yet the latter could not be contented, but wished to give them some distrubance: they, accordingly, complained to the archbishop of Turin that the Waldenses of the valleys of Piedmont were heretics, for these reasons:
Upon these charges the archbishop ordered a persecution to be commenced, and many fell martyrs to the superstitious rage of the priests and monks.
At Turin, one of the reformed had his bowels torn out, and put in a basin before his face, where they remained in his view until he expired. At Revel, Catelin Girard being at the stake, desired the executioner to give him a stone; which he refused, thinking that he meant to throw it at somebody; but Girard assuring him that he had no such design, the executioner complied, when Girard, looking earnestly at the stone, said, “When it is in the power of a man to eat and digest this solid stone, the religion for which I am about to suffer shall have an end, and not before.” He then threw the stone on the ground, and submitted cheerfully to the flames. A great many more of the reformed were oppressed, or put to death, by various means, until the patience of the Waldenses being tired out, they flew to arms in their own defence, and formed themselves into regular bodies.
Exasperated at this, the bishop of Turin procured a number of troops, and sent against them; but in most of the skirmishes and engagements the Waldenses were successful, which partly arose from their being better acquainted with the passes of the valleys of Piedmont than their adversaries, and partly from the desperation with which they fought; for they well knew, if they were taken, they should not be considered as prisoners of war, but tortured to death as heretics.
At length, Philip VII, duke of Savoy, and supreme lord of Piedmont, determined to interpose his authority, and stop these bloody wars, which so greatly disturbed his dominions. He was not willing to disoblige the pope, or affront the archbishop of Turin; nevertheless, he sent them both messages, importing that he could not any longer tamely see his dominions overrun with troops, who were directed by priests instead of officers, and commanded by prelates instead of generals; nor would he suffer his country to be depopulated, while he himself had not been even consulted upon the occasion.
The priests, finding the resolution of the duke, did all they could to prejudice his mind against the Waldenses; but the duke told them, that though he was unacquainted with the religious tenets of these people, yet he had always found them quiet, faithful, and obedient, and therefore he determined they should be no longer persecuted.
The priests now had recourse to the most palpable and absurd falsehoods:
they assured the duke that he was mistaken in the Waldenses for they were a wicked set of people, and highly addicted to intemperance, uncleanness, blasphemy, adultery, incest, and many other abominable crimes; and that they were even monsters in nature, for their children were born with black throats, with four rows of teeth, and bodies all over hairy.
The duke was not so devoid of common sense as to give credit to what the priests said, though they affirmed in the most solemn manner the truth of their assertions. He, however, sent twelve very learned and sensible gentlemen into the Piedmontese valleys, to examine into the real character of the inhabitants.
These gentlemen, after travelling through all their towns and villages, and conversing with people of every rank among the Waldenses returned to the duke, and gave him the most favorable account of these people; affirming, before the faces of the priests who vilified them, that they were harmless, inoffensive, loyal, friendly, industrious, and pious: that they abhorred the crimes of which they were accused; and that, should an individual, through his depravity, fall into any of those crimes, he would, by their laws, be punished in the most exemplary manner. “With respect to the children,” the gentlemen said, “the priests had told the most gross and ridiculous falsities, for they were neither born with black throats, teeth in their mouths, nor hair on their bodies, but were as fine children as could be seen. And to convince your highness of what we have said, (continued one of the gentlemen) we have brought twelve of the principal male inhabitants, who are come to ask pardon in the name of the rest, for having taken up arms without your leave, though even in their own defence, and to preserve their lives from their merciless enemies. And we have likewise brought several women, with children of various ages, that your highness may have an opportunity of personally examining them as much as you please.”
The duke, after accepting the apology of the twelve delegates, conversing with the women, and examining the children, graciously dismissed them. He then commanded the priests, who had attempted to mislead him, immediately to leave the court; and gave strict orders, that the persecution should cease throughout his dominions.
The Waldenses had enjoyed peace many years, when Philip, the seventh duke of Savoy, died, and his successor happened to be a very bigoted papist. About the same time, some of the principal Waldenses proposed that their clergy should preach in public, that every one might know the purity of their doctrines: for hitherto they had preached only in private, and to such congregations as they well knew to consist of none but persons of the reformed religion.
On hearing these proceedings, the new duke was greatly exasperated, and sent a considerable body of troops into the valleys, swearing that if the people would not change their religion, he would have them flayed alive. The commander of the troops soon found the impracticability of conquering them with the number of men he had with him, he, therefore, sent word to the duke that the idea of subjugating the Waldenses, with so small a force, was ridiculous; that those people were better acquainted with the country than any that were with him; that they had secured all the passes, were well armed, and resolutely determined to defend themselves; and, with respect to flaying them alive, he said, that every skin belonging to those people would cost him the lives of a dozen of his subjects.
Terrified at this information, the duke withdrew the troops, determining to act not by force, but by stratagem. He therefore ordered rewards for the taking of any of the Waldenses, who might be found straying from their places of security; and these, when taken, were either flayed alive, or burnt.
The Waldenses had hitherto only had the New Testament and a few books of the Old, in the Waldensian tongue; but they determined now to have the sacred writings complete in their own language. They, therefore, employed a Swiss printer to furnish them with a complete edition of the Old and New Testaments in the Waldensian tongue, which he did for the consideration of fifteen hundred crowns of gold, paid him by those pious people.
Pope Paul the third, a bigoted papist, ascending the pontifical chair, immediately solicited the parliament of Turin to persecute the Waldenses, as the most pernicious of all heretics.
The parliament readily agreed, when several were suddenly apprehended and burnt by their order. Among these was Bartholomew Hector, a bookseller and stationer of Turin, who was brought up a Roman Catholic, but having read some treatises written by the reformed clergy, was fully convinced of the errors of the Church of Rome; yet his mind was, for some time, wavering, and he hardly knew what persuasion to embrace.
At length, however, he fully embraced the reformed religion, and was apprehended, as we have already mentioned, and burnt by order of the parliament of Turin.
A consultation was now held by the parliament of Turin, in which it was agreed to send deputies to the valleys of Piedmont, with the following propositions:
To each of these propositions the Waldenses nobly replied in the following manner, answering them respectively:
These pointed and spirited replies greatly exasperated the parliament of Turin; they continued, with more avidity than ever, to kidnap such Waldenses as did not act with proper precaution, who were sure to suffer the most cruel deaths. Among these, it unfortunately happened, that they got hold of Jeffery Varnagle, minister of Angrogne, whom they committed to the flames as a heretic.
They then solicited a considerable body of troops of the king of France, in order to exterminate the reformed entirely from the valleys of Piedmont; but just as the troops were going to march, the Protestant princes of Germany interposed, and threatened to send troops to assist the Waldenses, if they should be attacked. The king of France, not caring to enter into a war, remanded the troops, and sent word to the parliament of Turin that he could not spare any troops at present to act in Piedmont. The members of the parliament were greatly vexed at this disappointment, and the persecution gradually ceased, for as they could only put to death such of the reformed as they caught by chance, and as the Waldenses daily grew more cautious, their cruelty was obliged to subside, for want of objects on whom to exercise it.
After the Waldenses had enjoyed a few years tranquillity, they were again disturbed by the following means: the pope’s nuncio coming to Turin to the duke of Savoy upon business, told that prince he was astonished he had not yet either rooted out the Waldenses from the valleys of Piedmont entirely, or compelled them to enter into the bosom of the Church of Rome. That he could not help looking upon such conduct with a suspicious eye, and that he really thought him a favorer of those heretics, and should report the affair accordingly to his holiness the pope.
Stung by this reflection, and unwilling to be misrepresented to the pope, the duke determined to act with the greatest severity, in order to show his zeal, and to make amends for former neglect by future cruelty. He, accordingly, issued express orders for all the Waldenses to attend Mass regularly on pain of death. This they absolutely refused to do, on which he entered the Piedmontese valleys, with a formidable body of troops, and began a most furious persecution, in which great numbers were hanged, drowned, ripped open, tied to trees, and pierced with prongs, thrown from precipices, burnt, stabbed, racked to death, crucified with their heads downwards, worried by dogs, etc.
Those who fled had their goods plundered, and their houses burnt to the ground: they were particularly cruel when they caught a minister or a schoolmaster, whom they put to such exquisite tortures, as are almost incredible to conceive. If any whom they took seemed wavering in their faith, they did not put them to death, but sent them to the galleys, to be made converts by dint of hardships.
The most cruel persecutors, upon this occasion, that attended the duke, were three in number, viz. 1. Thomas Incomel, an apostate, for he was brought up in the reformed religion, but renounced his faith, embraced the errors of popery, and turned monk. He was a great libertine, given to unnatural crimes, and sordidly solicitous for plunder of the Waldenses. 2. Corbis, a man of a very ferocious and cruel nature, whose business was to examine the prisoners. 3. The provost of justice, who was very anxious for the execution of the Waldenses, as every execution put money in his pocket.
These three persons were unmerciful to the last degree; and wherever they came, the blood of the innocent was sure to flow. Exclusive of the cruelties exercised by the duke, by these three persons, and the army, in their different marches, many local barbarities were committed. At Pignerol, a town in the valleys, was a monastery, the monks of which, finding they might injure the reformed with impunity, began to plunder the houses and pull down the churches of the Waldenses. Not meeting with any opposition, they seized upon the persons of those unhappy people, murdering the men, confining the women, and putting the children to Roman Catholic nurses.
The Roman Catholic inhabitants of the valley of St. Martin, likewise, did all they could to torment the neighboring Waldenses: they destroyed their churches, burnt their houses, seized their properties, stole their cattle, converted their lands to their own use, committed their ministers to the flames, and drove the Waldenses to the woods, where they had nothing to subsist on but wild fruits, roots, the bark of trees, etc.
Some Roman Catholic ruffians having seized a minister as he was going to preach, determined to take him to a convenient place, and burn him. His parishioners having intelligence of this affair, the men armed themselves, pursued the ruffians, and seemed determined to rescue their minister; which the ruffians no sooner perceived than they stabbed the poor gentleman, and leaving him weltering in his blood, made a precipitate retreat. The astonished parishioners did all they could to recover him, but in vain: for the weapon had touched the vital parts, and he expired as they were carrying him home.
The monks of Pignerol having a great inclination to get the minister of a town in the valleys, called St. Germain, into their power, hired a band of ruffians for the purpose of apprehending him. These fellows were conducted by a treacherous person, who had formerly been a servant to the clergyman, and who perfectly well knew a secret way to the house, by which he could lead them without alarming the neighborhood. The guide knocked at the door, and being asked who was there, answered in his own name. The clergyman, not expecting any injury from a person on whom he had heaped favors, immediately opened the door; but perceiving the ruffians, he started back, and fled to a back door; but they rushed in, followed, and seized him. Having murdered all his family, they made him proceed towards Pignerol, goading him all the way with pikes, lances, swords, etc. He was kept a considerable time in prison, and then fastened to the stake to be burnt; when two women of the Waldenses, who had renounced their religion to save their lives, were ordered to carry fagots to the stake to burn him; and as they laid them down, to say, “Take these, thou wicked heretic, in recompense for the pernicious doctrines thou hast taught us.” These words they both repeated to him; to which he calmly replied, “I formerly taught you well, but you have since learned ill.” The fire was then put to the fagots, and he was speedily consumed, calling upon the name of the Lord as long as his voice permitted.
As the troops of ruffians, belonging to the monks, did great mischief about the town of St. Germain, murdering and plundering many of the inhabitants, the reformed of Lucerne and Angrogne, sent some bands of armed men to the assistance of their brethren of St. Germain. These bodies of armed men frequently attacked the ruffians, and often put them to the rout, which so terrified the monks, that they left the monastery of Pignerol for some time, until they could procure a body of regular troops to guard them.
The duke not thinking himself so successful as he at first imagined he should be, greatly augmented his forces; he ordered the bands of ruffians, belonging to the monks, to join him, and commanded that a general jail-delivery should take place, provided the persons released would bear arms, and form themselves into light companies, to assist in the extermination of the Waldenses.
The Waldenses, being informed of the proceedings, secured as much of their properties as they could, and quitted the valleys, retired to the rocks and caves among the Alps; for it is to be understood that the valleys of Piedmont are situated at the foot of those prodigious mountains called the Alps, or the Alpine hills.
The army now began to plunder and burn the towns and villages wherever they came; but the troops could not force the passes to the Alps, which were gallantly defended by the Waldenses, who always repulsed their enemies: but if any fell into the hands of the troops, they were sure to be treated with the most barbarous severity.
A soldier having caught one of the Waldenses, bit his right ear off, saying, “I will carry this member of that wicked heretic with me into my own country, and preserve it as a rarity.” He then stabbed the man and threw him into a ditch.
A party of the troops found a venerable man, upwards of a hundred years of age, together with his granddaughter, a maiden, of about eighteen, in a cave. They butchered the poor old man in the most inhuman manner, and then attempted to ravish the girl, when she started away and fled from them; but they pursuing her, she threw herself from a precipice and perished.
The Waldenses, in order the more effectually to be able to repel force by force, entered into a league with the Protestant powers of Germany, and with the reformed of Dauphiny and Pragela. These were respectively to furnish bodies of troops; and the Waldenses determined, when thus reinforced, to quit the mountains of the Alps, (where they must soon have perished, as the winter was coming on,) and to force the duke’s army to evacuate their native valleys.
The duke of Savoy was now tired of the war; it had cost him great fatigue and anxiety of mind, a vast number of men, and very considerable sums of money. It had been much more tedious and bloody than he expected, as well as more expensive than he could at first have imagined, for he thought the plunder would have dischanged the expenses of the expedition; but in this he was mistaken, for the pope’s nuncio, the bishops, monks, and other ecclesiastics, who attended the army and encouraged the war, sunk the greatest part of the wealth that was taken under various pretences. For these reasons, and the death of his duchess, of which he had just received intelligence, and fearing that the Waldenses, by the treaties they had entered into, would become more powerful than ever, he determined to return to Turin with his army, and to make peace with the Waldenses.
This resolution he executed, though greatly against the will of the ecclesiastics, who were the chief gainers, and the best pleased with revenge. Before the articles of peace could be ratified, the duke himself died, soon after his return to Turin; but on his deathbed he strictly enjoined his son to perform what he intended, and to be as favorable as possible to the Waldenses.
The duke’s son, Charles Emmanuel, succeeded to the dominions of Savoy, and gave a full ratification of peace to the Waldenses, according to the last injunctions of his father, though the ecclesiastics did all they could to persuade him to the contrary.
An Account of the Persecutions in Venice
While the state of Venice was free from inquisitors, a great number of Protestants fixed their residence there, and many converts were made by the purity of the doctrines they professed, and the inoffensiveness of the conversation they used.
The pope being informed of the great increase of Protestantism, in the year 1542 sent inquisitors to Venice to make an inquiry into the matter, and apprehend such as they might deem obnoxious persons. Hence a severe persecution began, and many worthy persons were martyred for serving God with purity, and scorning the trappings of idolatry.
Various were the modes by which the Protestants were deprived of life; but one particular method, which was first invented upon this occasion, we shall describe; as soon as sentence was passed, the prisoner had an iron chain which ran through a great stone fastened to his body. He was then laid flat upon a plank, with his face upwards, and rowed between two boats to a certain distance at sea, when the two boats separated, and he was sunk to the bottom by the weight of the stone.
If any denied the jurisdiction of the inquisitors at Venice, they were sent to Rome, where, being committed purposely to damp prisons, and never called to a hearing, their flesh mortified, and they died miserably in jail.
A citizen of Venice, Anthony Ricetti, being apprehended as a Protestant, was sentenced to be drowned in the manner we have already described. A few days previous to the time appointed for his execution, his son went to see him, and begged him to recant, that his life might be saved, and himself not left fatherless. To which the father replied, “A good Christian is bound to relinquish not only goods and children, but life itself, for the glory of his Redeemer: therefore I am resolved to sacrifice every thing in this transitory world, for the sake of salvation in a world that will last to eternity.”
The lords of Venice likewise sent him word, that if he would embrace the Roman Catholic religion, they would not only give him his life, but redeem a considerable estate which he had mortgaged, and freely present him with it. This, however, he absolutely refused to comply with, sending word to the nobles that he valued his soul beyond all other considerations; and being told that a fellow-prisoner, named Francis Sega, had recanted, he answered, “If he has forsaken God, I pity him; but I shall continue steadfast in my duty.” Finding all endeavors to persuade him to renounce his faith ineffectual, he was executed according to his sentence, dying cheerfully, and recommending his soul fervently to the Almighty.
What Ricetti had been told concerning the apostasy of Francis Sega, was absolutely false, for he had never offered to recant, but steadfastly persisted in his faith, and was executed, a few days after Ricetti, in the very same manner.
Francis Spinola, a Protestant gentleman of very great learning, being apprehended by order of the inquisitors, was carried before their tribunal. A treatise on the Lord’s Supper was then put into his hands and he was asked if he knew the author of it. To which he replied, “I confess myself to be the author of it, and at the same time solemnly affirm, that there is not a line in it but what is authorized by, and consonant to, the holy Scriptures.” On this confession he was committed close prisoner to a dungeon for several days.
Being brought to a second examination, he charged the pope’s legate, and the inquisitors, with being merciless barbarians, and then represented the superstitions and idolatries practised by the Church of Rome in so glaring a light, that not being able to refute his arguments, they sent him back to his dungeon, to make him repent of what he had said.
On his third examination, they asked him if he would recant his error. To which he answered that the doctrines he maintained were not erroneous, being purely the same as those which Christ and his apostles had taught, and which were handed down to us in the sacred writings. The inquisitors then sentenced him to be drowned, which was executed in the manner already described. He went to meet death with the utmost serenity, seemed to wish for dissolution, and declaring that the prolongation of his life did but tend to retard that real happiness which could only be expected in the world to come.
An Account of Several Remarkable Individuals, Who Were Martyred in Different
Parts of Italy, on Account of Their Religion
John Mollius was born at Rome, of reputable parents. At twelve years of age they placed him in the monastery of Gray Friars, where he made such a rapid progress in arts, sciences, and languages that at eighteen years of age he was permitted to take priest’s orders.
He was then sent to Ferrara, where, after pursuing his studies six years longer, he was made theological reader in the university of that city. He now, unhappily, exerted his great talents to disguise the Gospel truths, and to varnish over the error of the Church of Rome. After some years residence in Ferrara, he removed to the university of Behonia, where he became a professor. Having read some treatises written by ministers of the reformed religion, he grew fully sensible of the errors of popery, and soon became a zealous Protestant in his heart.
He now determined to expound, accordingly to the purity of the Gospel, St.
Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, in a regular course of sermons. The concourse of people that continually attended his preaching was surprising, but when the priests found the tenor of his doctrines, they despatched an account of the affair to Rome; when the pope sent a monk, named Cornelius, to Bononia, to expound the same epistle, according to the tenets of the Church of Rome. The people, however, found such a disparity between the two preachers that the audience of Mollius increased, and Cornelius was forced to preach to empty benches.
Cornelius wrote an account of his bad success to the pope, who immediately sent an order to apprehend Mollius, who was seized upon accordingly, and kept in close confinement. The bishop of Bononia sent him word that he must recant, or be burnt; but he appealed to Rome, and was removed thither.
At Rome he begged to have a public trial, but that the pope absolutely denied him, and commanded him to give an account of his opinions, in writing, which he did under the following heads:
Original sin. Free-will. The infallibility of the church of Rome. The infallibility of the pope. Justification by faith. Purgatory. Transubstantiation. Mass. Auricular confession. Prayers for the dead. The host. Prayers for saints. Going on pilgrimages. Extreme unction. Performing services in an unknown tongue, etc., etc.
All these he confirmed from Scripture authority. The pope, upon this occasion, for political reasons, spared him for the present, but soon after had him apprehended, and put to death, he being first hanged, and his body burnt to ashes, A.D. 1553.
The year after, Francis Gamba, a Lombard, of the Protestant persuasion, was apprehended, and condemned to death by the senate of Milan. At the place of execution, a monk presented a cross to him, to whom he said, “My mind is so full of the real merits and goodness of Christ that I want not a piece of senseless stick to put me in mind of Him.” For this expression his tongue was bored through, and he was afterward burnt.
A.D. 1555, Algerius, a student in the university of Padua, and a man of great learning, having embraced the reformed religion, did all he could to convert others. For these proceedings he was accused of heresy to the pope, and being apprehended, was committed to the prison at Venice.
The pope, being informed of Algerius’s great learning, and surprising natural abilities, thought it would be of infinite service to the Church of Rome if he could induce him to forsake the Protestant cause. He, therefore, sent for him to Rome, and tried, by the most profane promises, to win him to his purpose. But finding his endeavors ineffectual, he ordered him to be burnt, which sentence was executed accordingly.
A.D. 1559, John Alloysius, being sent from Geneva to preach in Calabria, was there apprehended as a Protestant, carried to Rome, and burnt by order of the pope; and James Bovelius, for the same reason, was burnt at Messina.
A.D. 1560, Pope Pius the Fourth, ordered all the Protestants to be severely persecuted throughout the Italian states, when great numbers of every age, sex, and condition, suffered martyrdom. Concerning the cruelties practiced upon this occasion, a learned and humane Roman Catholic thus spoke of them, in a letter to a noble lord:
“I cannot, my lord, forbear disclosing my sentiments, with respect to the persecution now carrying on: I think it cruel and unnecessary; I tremble at the manner of putting to death, as it resembles more the slaughter of calves and sheep, than the execution of human beings. I will relate to your lordship a dreadful scene, of which I was myself an eye witness: seventy Protestants were cooped up in one filthy dungeon together; the executioner went in among them, picked out one from among the rest, blindfolded him, led him out to an open place before the prison, and cut his throat with the greatest composure. He then calmly walked into the prison again, bloody as he was, and with the knife in his hand selected another, and despatched him in the same manner; and this, my lord, he repeated until the whole number were put to death. I leave it to your lordship’s feelings to judge of my sensations upon this occasion; my tears now wash the paper upon which I give you the recital. Another thing I must mention-the patience with which they met death: they seemed all resignation and piety, fervently praying to God, and cheerfully encountering their fate. I cannot reflect without shuddering, how the executioner held the bloody knife between his teeth; what a dreadful figure he appeared, all covered with blood, and with what unconcern he executed his barbarous office.”
A young Englishman who happened to be at Rome, was one day passing by a church, when the procession of the host was just coming out. A bishop carried the host, which the young man perceiving, he snatched it from him, threw it upon the ground, and trampled it under his feet, crying out, “Ye wretched idolaters, who neglect the true God, to adore a morsel of bread.” This action so provoked the people that they would have torn him to pieces on the spot; but the priests persuaded them to let him abide by the sentence of the pope.
When the affair was represented to the pope, he was so greatly exasperated that he ordered the prisoner to be burnt immediately; but a cardinal dissuaded him from this hasty sentence, saying that it was better to punish him by slow degrees, and to torture him, that they might find out if he had been instigated by any particular person to commit so atrocious an act.
This being approved, he was tortured with the most exemplary severity, notwithstanding which they could only get these words from him, “It was the will of God that I should do as I did.”
The pope then passed this sentence upon him.
When he heard this sentence pronounced, he implored God to give him strength and fortitude to go through it. As he passed through the streets he was greatly derided by the people, to whom he said some severe things respecting the Romish superstition. But a cardinal, who attended the procession, overhearing him, ordered him to be gagged.
When he came to the church door, where he trampled on the host, the hangman cut off his right hand, and fixed it on a pole. Then two tormentors, with flaming torches, scorched and burnt his flesh all the rest of the way. At the place of execution he kissed the chains that were to bind him to the stake. A monk presenting the figure of a saint to him, he struck it aside, and then being chained to the stake, fire was put to the fagots, and he was soon burnt to ashes.
A little after the last-mentioned execution, a venerable old man, who had long been a prisoner in the Inquisition, was condemned to be burnt, and brought out for execution. When he was fastened to the stake, a priest held a crucifix to him, on which he said, “If you do not take that idol from my sight, you will constrain me to spit upon it.” The priest rebuked him for this with great severity; but he bade him remember the First and Second Commandments, and refrain from idolatry, as God himself had commanded. He was then gagged, that he should not speak any more, and fire being put to the fagots, he suffered martyrdom in the flames.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Marquisate of Saluces
The Marquisate of Saluces, on the south side of the valleys of Piedmont, was in A.D. 1561, principally inhabited by Protestants, when the marquis, who was proprietor of it, began a persecution against them at the instigation of the pope. He began by banishing the ministers, and if any of them refused to leave their flocks, they were sure to be imprisoned, and severely tortured; however, he did not proceed so far as to put any to death.
Soon after the marquisate fell into the possession of the duke of Savoy, who sent circular letters to all the towns and villages, that he expected the people should all conform to go to Mass. The inhabitants of Saluces, upon receiving this letter, returned a general epistle, in answer.
The duke, after reading the letter, did not interrupt the Protestants for some time; but, at length, he sent them word that they must either conform to the Mass, or leave his dominions in fifteen days. The Protestants, upon this unexpected edict, sent a deputy to the duke to obtain its revocation, or at least to have it moderated. But their remonstrances were in vain, and they were given to understand that the edict was absolute.
Some were weak anough to go to Mass, in order to avoid banishment, and preserve their property; others removed, with all their effects, to different countries; and many neglected the time so long that they were obliged to abandon all they were worth, and leave the marquisate in haste. Those, who unhappily stayed bheind, were seized, plundered, and put to death.
An Account of the Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth
Pope Clement the Eighth, sent missionaries into the valleys of Piedmont, to induce the Protestants to renounce their religion; and these missionaries having erected monasteries in several parts of the valleys, became exceedingly troublesome to those of the reformed, where the monasteries appeared, not only as fortresses to curb, but as sanctuaries for all such to fly to, as had any ways injured them.
The Protestants petitioned the duke of Savoy against these missionaries, whose insolence and ill-usage were become intolerable; but instead of getting any redress, the interest of the missionaries so far prevailed, that the duke published a decree, in which he declared, that one witness should be sufficient in a court of law against a Protestant, and that any witness, who convicted a Protestant of any crime whatever, should be entitled to one hundred crowns.
It may be easily imagined, upon the publication of a decree of this nature, that many Protestants fell martyrs to perjury and avarice; for several villainous papists would swear any thing against the Protestants for the sake of the reward, and then fly to their own priests for absolution from their false oaths. If any Roman Catholic, of more conscience than the rest, blamed these fellows for their atrocious crimes, they themselves were in danger of being informed against and punished as favorers of heretics.
The missionaries did all they could to get the books of the Protestants into their hands, in order to burn them; when the Protestants doing their utmost endeavors to conceal their books, the missionaries wrote to the duke of Savoy, who, for the heinous crime of not surrendering their Bibles, prayer books, and religious treatises, sent a number of troops to be quartered on them. These military gentry did great mischief in the houses of the Protestants, and destroyed such quantities of provisions, that many families were thereby ruined.
To encourage, as much as possible, the apostasy of the Protestants, the duke of Savoy published a proclamation wherein he said, “To encourage the heretics to turn Catholics, it is our will and pleasure, and we do hereby expressly command, that all such as shall embrace the holy Roman Catholic faith, shall enjoy an exemption, from all and every tax for the space of five years, commencing from the day of their conversion.” The duke of Savoy, likewise established a court, called the council for extirpating the heretics. This court was to enter into inquiries concerning the ancient privileges of the Protestant churches, and the decrees which had been, from time to time, made in favor of the Protestants. But the investigation of these things was carried on with the most manifest partiality; old charters were wrested to a wrong sense, and sophistry was used to pervert the meaning of everything, which tended to favor the reformed.
As if these severities were not sufficient, the duke, soon after, published another edict, in which he strictly commanded, that no Protestant should act as a schoolmaster, or tutor, either in public or private, or dare to teach any art, science, or language, directly or indirectly, to persons of any persuasion whatever.
This edict was immediately followed by another, which decreed that no Protestant should hold any place of profit, trust, or honor; and to wind up the whole, the certain token of an approaching persecution came forth in a final edict, by which it was positively ordered, that all Protestants should diligently attend Mass.
The publication of an edict, containing such an injunction, may be compared to unfurling the bloody flag; for murder and rapine were sure to follow. One of the first objects that attracted the notice of the papists was Mr. Sebastian Basan, a zealous Protestant, who was seized by the missionaries, confined, tormented for fifteen months, and then burnt.
Previous to the persecution, the missionaries employed kidnappers to steal away the Protestants’ children, that they might privately be brought up Roman Catholics; but now they took away the children by open force, and if they met with any resistance, they murdered the parents.
To give greater vigor to the persecution, the duke of Savoy called a general assembly of the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry when a solemn edict was published against the reformed, containing many heads, and including several reasons for extirpating the Protestants, among which were the following:
This severe edict was followed by a most cruel order, published on January 25, A.D. 1655, under the duke’s sanction, by Andrew Gastaldo, doctor of civil laws. This order set forth, “That every head of a family, with the individuals of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St. Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti.
“And all this to be done on pain of death, and confiscation of house and goods, unless within the limited time they turned Roman Catholics.”
A flight with such speed, in the midst of winter, may be conceived as no agreeable task, especially in a country almost surrounded by mountains. The sudden order affected all, and things, which would have been scarcely noticed at another time, now appeared in the most conspicuous light. Women with child, or women just lain-in, were not objects of pity on this order for sudden removal, for all were included in the command; and it unfortunately happened, that the winter was remarkably severe and rigorous.
The papists, however, drove the people from their habitations at the time appointed, without even suffering them to have sufficient clothes to cover them; and many perished in the mountains through the severity of the weather, or for want of food. Some, however, who remained behind after the decree was published, met with the severest treatment, being murdered by the popish inhabitants, or shot by the troops who were quartered in the valleys. A particular description of these cruelties is given in a letter, written by a Protestant, who was upon the spot, and who happily escaped the carnage. “The army (says he) having got footing, became very numerous, by the addition of a multitude of the neighboring popish inhabitants, who finding we were the destined prey of the plunderers, fell upon us with an impetuous fury. Exclusive of the duke of Savoy’s troops, and the popish inhabitants, there were several regiments of French auxiliaries, some companies belonging to the Irish brigades, and several bands formed of outlaws, smugglers, and prisoners, who had been promised pardon and liberty in this world, and absolution in the next, for assisting to exterminate the Protestants from Piedmont.
“This armed multitude being encouraged by the Roman Catholic bishops and monks fell upon the Protestants in a most furious manner. Nothing now was to be seen but the face of horror and despair, blood stained the floors of the houses, dead bodies bestrewed the streets, groans and cries were heard from all parts. Some armed themselves, and skirmished with the troops; and many, with their families, fled to the mountains. In one village they cruelly tormented one hundred and fifty women and children after the men were fled, beheading the women, and dashing out the brains of the children. In the towns of Vilario and Bobbio, most of those who refused to go to Mass, who were upwards of fifteen years of age, they crucified with their heads downwards; and the greatest number of those who were under that age were strangled.”
Sarah Ratignole des Vignes, a woman of sixty years of age, being seized by some soldiers, they ordered her to say a prayer to some saints, which she refusing, they thrust a sickle into her belly, ripped her up, and then cut off her head.
Martha Constantine, a handsome young woman, was treated with great indecency and cruelty by several of the troops, who first ravished, and then killed her by cutting off her breasts. These they fried, and set before some of their comrades, who ate them without knowing what they were. When they had done eating, the others told them what they had made a meal of, in consequence of which a quarrel ensued, swords were drawn, and a battle took place. Several were killed in the fray, the greater part of whom were those concerned in the horrid massacre of the woman, and who had practiced such an inhuman deception on their companions.
Some of the soldiers seized a man of Thrassiniere, and ran the points of their swords through his ears, and through his feet. They then tore off the nails of his fingers and toes with red-hot pincers, tied him to the tail of an ass, and dragged him about the streets; they finally fastened a cord around his head, which they twisted with a stick in so violent a manner as to wring it from his body.
Peter Symonds, a Protestant, of about eighty years of age, was tied neck and heels, and then thrown down a precipice. In the fall the branch of a tree caught hold of the ropes that fastened him, and suspended him in the midway, so that he languished for several days, and at length miserably perished of hunger.
Esay Garcino, refusing to renounce his religion, was cut into small pieces; the soldiers, in ridicule, saying, they had minced him. A woman, named Armand, had every limb separated from each other, and then the respective parts were hung upon a hedge. Two old women were ripped open, and then left in the fields upon the snow, where they perished; and a very old woman, who was deformed, had her nose and hands cut off, and was left, to bleed to death in that manner.
A great number of men, women, and children, were flung from the rocks, and dashed to pieces. Magdalen Bertino, a Protestant woman of La Torre, was stripped stark naked, her head tied between her legs, and thrown down one of the precipices; and Mary Raymondet, of the same town, had the flesh sliced from her bones until she expired.
Magdalen Pilot, of Vilario, was cut to pieces in the cave of Castolus; Ann Charboniere had one end of a stake thrust up her body; and the other being fixed in the ground, she was left in that manner to perish, and Jacob Perrin the elder, of the church of Vilario, and David, his brother, were flayed alive.
An inhabitant of La Torre, named Giovanni Andrea Michialm, was apprehended, with four of his children, three of them were hacked to pieces before him, the soldiers asking him, at the death of every child, if he would renounce his religion; this he constantly refused. One of the soldiers then took up the last and youngest by the legs, and putting the same question to the father, he replied as before, when the inhuman brute dashed out the child’s brains. The father, however, at the same moment started from them, and fled; the soldiers fired after him, but missed him; and he, by the swiftness of his heels, escaped, and hid himself in the Alps.
Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the Seventeenth Century
Giovanni Pelanchion, for refusing to turn papist, was tied by one leg to the tail of a mule, and dragged through the streets of Lucerne, amidst the acclamations of an inhuman mob, who kept stoning him, and crying out, “He is possessed with the devil, so that, neither stoning, nor dragging him through the streets, will kill him, for the devil keeps him alive.” They then took him to the river side, chopped off his head, and left that and his body unburied, upon the bank of the stream.
Magdalen, the daughter of Peter Fontaine, a beautiful child of ten years of age, was ravished and murdered by the soldiers. Another girl of about the same age, they roasted alive at Villa Nova; and a poor woman, hearing that the soldiers were coming toward her house, snatched up the cradle in which her infant son was asleep, and fled toward the woods. The soldiers, however, saw and pursued her; when she lightened herself by putting down the cradle and child, which the soldiers no sooner came to, than they murdered the infant, and continuing the pursuit, found the mother in a cave, where they first ravished, and then cut her to pieces.
Jacob Michelino, chief elder of the church of Bobbio, and several other Protestants, were hung up by means of hooks fixed in their bellies, and left to expire in the most excruciating tortures.
Giovanni Rostagnal, a venerable Protestant, upwards of fourscore years of age, had his nose and ears cut off, and slices cut from the fleshy parts of his body, until he bled to death.
Seven persons, viz. Daniel Seleagio and his wife, Giovanni Durant, Lodwich Durant, Bartholomew Durant, Daniel Revel, and Paul Reynaud, had their mouths stuffed with gunpowder, which being set fire to, their heads were blown to pieces.
Jacob Birone, a schoolmaster of Rorata, for refusing to change his religion, was stripped quite naked; and after having been very indecently exposed, had the nails of his toes and fingers torn off with red-hot pincers, and holes bored through his hands with the point of a dagger. He then had a cord tied round his middle, and was led through the streets with a soldier on each side of him. At every turning the soldier on his right hand side cut a gash in his flesh, and the soldier on his left hand side struck him with a bludgeon, both saying, at the same instant, “Will you go to Mass? will you go to Mass?” He still replied in the negative to these interrogatories, and being at length taken to the bridge, they cut off his head on the balustrades, and threw both that and his body into the river.
Paul Garnier, a very pious Protestant, had his eyes put out, was then flayed alive, and being divided into four parts, his quarters were placed on four of the principal houses of Lucerne. He bore all his sufferings with the most exemplary patience, praised God as long as he could speak, and plainly evinced, what confidence and resignation a good conscience can inspire.
Daniel Cardon, of Rocappiata, being apprehended by some soldiers, they cut his head off, and having fried his brains, ate them. Two poor old blind women, of St. Giovanni, were burnt alive; and a widow of La Torre, with her daughter, were driven into the river, and there stoned to death.
Paul Giles, on attempting to run away from some soldiers, was shot in the neck: they then slit his nose, sliced his chin, stabbed him, and gave his carcass to the dogs.
Some of the Irish troops having taken eleven men of Garcigliana prisoners, they made a furnace red hot, and forced them to push each other in until they came to the last man, whom they pushed in themselves.
Michael Gonet, a man of ninety, was burnt to death; Baptista Oudri, another old man, was stabbed; and Bartholomew Frasche had holes made in his heels, through which ropes were put; then he was dragged by them to the jail, where his wounds mortified and killed him.
Magdalene de la Piere being pursued by some of the soldiers, and taken, was thrown down a precipice, and dashed to pieces. Margaret Revella, and Mary Pravillerin, two very old women, were burnt alive; and Michael Bellino, with Ann Bochardno, were beheaded.
The son and the daughter of a counsellor of Giovanni were rolled down a steep hill together, and suffered to perish in a deep pit at the bottom. A tradesman’s family, viz.: himself, his wife, and an infant in her arms, were cast from a rock, and dashed to pieces; and Joseph Chairet and Paul Carniero were flayed alive.
Cypriania Bustia, being asked if he would renounce his religion and turn Roman Catholic, replied, “I would rather renounce life, or turn dog”; to which a priest answered, “For that expression you shall both renounce life, and be given to the dogs.” They, accordingly, dragged him to prison, where he continued a considerable time without food, until he was famished; after which they threw his corpse into the street before the prison, and it was devoured by dogs in the most shocking manner.
Margaret Saretta was stoned to death, and then thrown into the river;
Antonio Bartina had his head cleft asunder; and Joseph Pont was cut through the middle of his body.
Daniel Maria, and his whole family, being ill of a fever, several papist ruffians broke into his house, telling him they were practical physicians, and would give them all present ease, which they did by knocking the whole family on the head.
Three infant children of a Protestant, named Peter Fine, were covered with snow, and stifled; an elderly widow, named Judith, was beheaded, and a beautiful young woman was stripped naked, and had a stake driven through her body, of which she expired.
Lucy, the wife of Peter Besson, a woman far gone in her pregnancy, who lived in one of the villages of the Piedmontese valleys, determined, if possible, to escape from such dreadful scenes as everywhere surrounded her: she, accordingly took two young children, one in each hand, and set off towards the Alps. But on the third day of the journey she was taken in labor among the mountains, and delivered of an infant, who perished through the extreme inclemency of the weather, as did the two other children; for all three were found dead by her, and herself just expiring, by the person to whom she related the above particulars.
Francis Gros, the son of a clergyman, had his flesh slowly cut from his body into small pieces, and put into a dish before him; two of his children were minced before his sight; and his wife was fastened to a post, that she might behold all these cruelties practiced on her husband and offspring. The tormentors at length being tired of exercising their cruelties, cut off the heads of both husband and wife, and then gave the flesh of the whole family to the dogs.
The sieur Thomas Margher fled to a cave, when the soldiers shut up the mouth, and he perished with famine. Judith Revelin, and seven children, were barbarously murdered in their beds; and a widow of near fourscore years of age, was hewn to pieces by soldiers.
Jacob Roseno was ordered to pray to the saints, which he absolutely refused to do: some of the soldiers beat him violently with bludgeons to make him comply, but he still refusing, several of them fired at him, and lodged a great many balls in his body. As he was almost expiring, they cried to him, “Will you call upon the saints? Will you pray to the saints?” To which he answered “No! No! No!” when one of the soldiers, with a broadsword, clove his head asunder, and put an end to his sufferings in this world; for which undoubtedly, he is gloriously rewarded in the next.
A soldier, attempting to ravish a young woman, named Susanna Gacquin, she made a stout resistance, and in the struggle pushed him over a precipice, when he was dashed to pieces by the fall. His comrades, instead of admiring the virtue of the young woman, and applauding her for so nobly defending her chastity, fell upon her with their swords, and cut her to pieces.
Giovanni Pulhus, a poor peasant of La Torre, being apprehended as a Protestant by the soldiers, was ordered, by the marquis of Pianesta, to be executed in a place near the convent. When he came to the gallows, several monks attended, and did all they could to persuade him to renounce his religion. But he told them he never would embrace idolatry, and that he was happy at being thought worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. They then put him in mind of what his wife and children, who depended upon his labor, would suffer after his decease; to which he replied, “I would have my wife and children, as well as myself, to consider their souls more than their bodies, and the next world before this; and with respect to the distress I may leave them in, God is merciful, and will provide for them while they are worthy of his protection.” Finding the inflexibility of this poor man, the monks cried, “Turn him off! turn him off!” which the executioner did almost immediately, and the body being afterward cut down, was flung into the river.
Paul Clement, an elder of the church of Rossana, being apprehended by the monks of a neighboring monastery, was carried to the market place of that town, where some Protestants had just been executed by the soldiers. He was shown the dead bodies, in order that the sight might intimidate him. On beholding the shocking subjects, he said, calmly, “You may kill the body, but you cannot prejudice the soul of a true believer; but with respect to the dreadful spectacles which you have here shown me, you may rest assured, that God’s vengeance will overtake the murderers of those poor people, and punish them for the innocent blood they have spilt.” The monks were so exasperated at this reply that they ordered him to be hanged directly; and while he was hanging, the soldiers amused themselves in standing at a distance, and shooting at the body as at a mark.
Daniel Rambaut, of Vilario, the father of a numerous family, was apprehended, and, with several others, committed to prison, in the jail of Paysana. Here he was visited by several priests, who with continual importunities did all they could to persuade him to renounce the Protestant religion and turn papist; but this he peremptorily refused, and the priests finding his resolution, pretended to pity his numerous family, and told him that he might yet have his life, if he would subscribe to the belief of the following articles:
M. Rambaut told the priests that neither his religion, his understanding, nor his conscience, would suffer him to subscribe to any of the articles, for the following reasons:
The priests were so highly offended at M. Rambaut’s answers to the articles to which they would have had him subscribe, that they determined to shake his resolution by the most cruel method imaginable: they ordered one joint of his finger to be cut off every day until all his fingers were gone: they then proceeded in the same manner with his toes; afterward they alternately cut off, daily, a hand and a foot; but finding that he bore his sufferings with the most admirable patience, increased both in fortitude and resignation, and maintained his faith with steadfast resolution and unshaken constancy they stabbed him to the heart, and then gave his body to be devoured by the dogs.
Peter Gabriola, a Protestant gentleman of considerable eminence, being seized by a troop of soldiers, and refusing to renounce his religion, they hung a great number of little bags of gunpowder about his body, and then setting fire to them, blew him up.
Anthony, the son of Samuel Catieris, a poor dumb lad who was extremely inoffensive, was cut to pieces by a party of the troops; and soon after the same ruffians entered the house of Peter Moniriat, and cut off the legs of the whole family, leaving them to bleed to death, as they were unable to assist themselves, or to help each other.
Daniel Benech being apprehended, had his nose slit, his ears cut off, and was then divided into quarters, each quarter being hung upon a tree, and Mary Monino had her jaw bones broke and was then left to anguish till she was famished.
Mary Pelanchion, a handsome widow, belonging to the town of Vilario, was seized by a party of the Irish brigades, who having beat her cruelly, and ravished her, dragged her to a high bridge which crossed the river, and stripped her naked in a most indecent manner, hung her by the legs to the bridge, with her head downwards towards the water, and then going into boats, they fired at her until she expired.
Mary Nigrino, and her daughter who was an idiot, were cut to pieces in the woods, and their bodies left to be devoured by wild beasts: Susanna Bales, a widow of Vilario, was immured until she perished through hunger; and Susanna Calvio running away from some soldiers and hiding herself in a barn, they set fire to the straw and burnt her.
Paul Armand was hacked to pieces; a child named Daniel Bertino was burnt;
Daniel Michialino had his tongue plucked out, and was left to perish in that condition; and Andreo Bertino, a very old man, who was lame, was mangled in a most shocking manner, and at length had his belly ripped open, and his bowels carried about on the point of a halbert.
Constantia Bellione, a Protestant lady, being apprehended on account of her faith, was asked by a priest if she would renounce the devil and go to Mass; to which she replied, “I was brought up in a religion by which I was always taught to renounce the devil; but should I comply with your desire, and go to Mass, I should be sure to meet him there in a variety of shapes.” The priest was highly incensed at what she said, and told her to recant, or she would suffer cruelly. The lady, however, boldly answered that she valued not any sufferings he could inflict, and in spite of all the torments he could invent, she would keep her conscience pure and her faith inviolate. The priest then ordered slices of her flesh to be cut off from several parts of her body, which cruelty she bore with the most singular patience, only saying to the priest, “What horrid and lasting torments will you suffer in hell, for the trifling and temporary pains which I now endure.” Exasperated at this expression, and willing to stop her tongue, the priest ordered a file of musqueteers to draw up and fire upon her, by which she was soon despatched, and sealed her martyrdom with her blood.
A young woman named Judith Mandon, for refusing to change her religion and embrace popery, was fastened to a stake, and sticks thrown at her from a distance, in the very same manner as that barbarous custom which was formerly practiced on Shrove-Tuesday, of shying at rocks, as it was termed. By this inhuman proceeding, the poor creature’s limbs were beat and mangled in a terrible manner, and her brains were at last dashed out by one of the bludgeons.
David Paglia and Paul Genre, attempting to escape to the Alps, with each his son, were pursued and overtaken by the soldiers in a large plain. Here they hunted them for their diversion, goading them with their swords, and making them run about until they dropped down with fatigue. When they found that their spirits were quite exhausted, and that they could not afford them any more barbarous sport by running, the soldiers hacked them to pieces, and left their mangled bodies on the spot.
A young man of Bobbio, named Michael Greve, was apprehended in the town of La Torre, and being led to the bridge, was thrown over into the river. As he could swim very well, he swam down the stream, thinking to escape, but the soldiers and the mob followed on both sides of the river, and kept stoning him, until receiving a blow on one of his temples, he was stunned, and consequently sunk and was drowned.
David Armand was ordered to lay his head down on a block, when a soldier, with a large hammer, beat out his brains. David Baridona being apprehended at Vilario, was carried to La Torre, where, refusing to renounce his religion, he was tormented by means of brimstone matches being tied between his fingers and toes, and set fire to; and afterward, by having his flesh plucked off with red-hot pincers, until he expired; and Giovanni Barolina, with his wife, were thrown into a pool of stagnant water, and compelled, by means of pitchforks and stones, to duck down their heads until they were suffocated.
A number of soldiers went to the house of Joseph Garniero, and before they entered, fired in at the window, to give notice of their approach. A musket ball entered one of Mrs. Garniero’s breasts, as she was suckling an infant with the other. On finding their intentions, she begged hard that they would spare the life of the infant, which they promised to do, and sent it immediately to a Roman Catholic nurse. They then took the husband and hanged him at his own door, and having shot the wife through the head, they left her body weltering in its blood, and her husband hanging on the gallows.
Isaiah Mondon, an elderly man, and a pious Protestant, fled from the merciless persecutors to a cleft in a rock, where he suffered the most dreadful hardships; for, in the midst of the winter he was forced to lie on the bare stone, without any covering; his food was the roots he could scratch up near his miserable habitation; and the only way by which he could procure drink, was to put snow in his mouth until it melted. Here, however, some of the inhuman soldiers found him, and after having beaten him unmercifully, they drove him towards Lucerne, goading him with the points of their swords. Being exceedingly weakened by his manner of living, and his spirits exhausted by the blows he had received, he fell down in the road. They again beat him to make him proceed: when on his knees, he implored them to put him out of his misery, by despatching him. This they at last agreed to do; and one of them stepping up to him shot him through the head with a pistol, saying, “There, heretic, take thy request.”
Mary Revol, a worthy Protestant, received a shot in her back, as she was walking along the street. She dropped down with the wound, but recovering sufficient strength, she raised herself upon her knees, and lifting her hands towards heaven, prayed in a most fervent manner to the Almighty, when a number of soldiers, who were near at hand, fired a whole volley of shot at her, many of which took effect, and put an end to her miseries in an instant.
Several men, women, and children secreted themselves in a large cave, where they continued for some weeks in safety. It was the custom for two of the men to go when it was necessary, and by stealth, procure provisions. These were, however, one day watched, by which the cave was discovered, and soon after, a troop of Roman Catholics appeared before it. The papists that assembled upon this occasion were neighbors and intimate acquaintances of the Protestants in the cave; and some were even related to each other. The Protestants, therefore, came out, and implored them, by the ties of hospitality, by the ties of blood, and as old acquaintances and neighbors, not to murder them. But superstition overcomes every sensation of nature and humanity; so that the papists, blinded by bigotry, told them they could not show any mercy to heretics, and, therefore, bade them prepare to die. Hearing this, and knowing the fatal obstinacy of the Roman Catholics, the Protestants all fell prostate, lifted their hands and hearts to heaven, prayed with great sincerity and fervency, and then bowing down, put their faces close to the ground, and patiently waited their fate, which was soon decided, for the papists fell upon them with unremitting fury, and having cut them to pieces, left the mangled bodies and limbs in the cave.
Giovanni Salvagiot, passing by a Roman Catholic church, and not taking off his hat, was followed by some of the congregation, who fell upon and murdered him; and Jacob Barrel and his wife, having been taken prisoners by the earl of St. Secondo, one of the duke of Savoy’s officers, he delivered them up to the soldiery, who cut off the woman’s breasts, and the man’s nose, and then shot them both through the head.
Anthony Guigo, a Protestant, of a wavering disposition, went to Periero, with an intent to renounce his religion and embrace popery. This design he communicated to some priests, who highly commended it, and a day was fixed upon for his public recantation. In the meantime, Anthony grew fully sensible of his perfidy, and his conscience tormented him so much night and day that he determined not to recant, but to make his escape. This he effected, but being soon missed and pursued, he was taken. The troops on the way did all they could to bring him back to his design of recantation; but finding their endeavors ineffectual, they beat him violently on the road. When coming near a precipice, he took an opportunity of leaping down it and was dashed to pieces.
A Protestant gentleman, of considerable fortune, at Bobbio, being nightly provoked by the insolence of a priest, retorted with great severity; and among other things, said, that the pope was Antichrist, Mass idolatry, purgatory a farce, and absolution a cheat. To be revenged, the priest hired five desperate ruffians, who, the same evening, broke into the gentleman’s house, and seized upon him in a violent manner. The gentleman was terribly frightened, fell on his knees, and implored mercy; but the desperate ruffians despatched him without the least hesitation.
A Narrative of the Piedmontese War
The massacres and murders already mentioned to have been committed in the valleys of Piedmont, nearly depopulated most of the towns and villages. One place only had not been assaulted, and that was owing to the difficulty of approaching it; this was the little commonalty of Roras, which was situated upon a rock.
As the work of blood grew slack in other places, the earl of Christople, one of the duke of Savoy’s officers, determined, if possible, to make himself master of it; and, with that view, detached three hundred men to surprise it secretly.
The inhabitants of Roras, however, had intelligence of the approach of these troops, when captain Joshua Gianavel, a brave Protestant officer, put himself at the head of a small body of the citizens, and waited in ambush to attack the enemy in a small defile.
When the troops appeared, and had entered the defile, which was the only place by which the town could be approached, the Protestants kept up a smart and well-directed fire against them, and still kept themselves concealed behind bushes from the sight of the enemy. A great number of the soldiers were killed, and the remainder receiving a continued fire, and not seeing any to whom they might return it, thought proper to retreat.
The members of this little community then sent a memorial to the marquis of Pianessa, one of the duke’s general officers, setting forth, ‘That they were sorry, upon any occasion, to be under the necessity of taking up arms; but that the secret approach of a body of troops, without any reason assigned, or any previous notice sent of the purpose of their coming, had greatly alarmed them; that as it was their custom never to suffer any of the military to enter their little community, they had repelled force by force, and should do so again; but in all other respects, they professed themselves dutiful, obedient, and loyal subjects to their sovereign, the duke of Savoy.’
The marquis of Pianessa, that he might have the better opportunity of deluding and surprising the Protestants of Roras, sent them word in answer, ‘That he was perfectly satisfied with their behavior, for they had done right, and even rendered a service to their country, as the men who had attempted to pass the defile were not his troops, or sent by him, but a band of desperate robbers, who had, for some time, infested those parts, and been a terror to the neighboring country.’ To give a greater color to his treachery, he then published an ambiguous proclamation seemingly favorable to the inhabitants.
Yet, the very day after this plausible proclamation, and specious conduct, the marquis sent five hundred men to possess themselves of Roras, while the people as he thought, were lulled into perfect security by his specious behavior.
Captain Gianavel, however, was not to be deceived so easily: he, therefore, laid an ambuscade for this body of troops, as he had for the former, and compelled them to retire with very considerable loss.
Though foiled in these two attempts, the marquis of Pianessa determined on a third, which should be still more formidable; but first he imprudently published another proclamation, disowning any knowledge of the second attempt.
Soon after, seven hundred chosen men were sent upon the expedition, who, in spite of the fire from the Protestants, forced the defile, entered Roras, and began to murder every person they met with, without distinction of age or sex. The Protestant captain Gianavel, at the head of a small body, though he had lost the defile, determined to dispute their passage through a fortified pass that led to the richest and best part of the town. Here he was successful, by keeping up a continual fire, and by means of his men being all complete marksmen. The Roman Catholic commander was greatly staggered at this opposition, as he imagined that he had surmounted all difficulties. He, however, did his endeavors to force the pass, but being able to bring up only twelve men in front at a time, and the Protestants being secured by a breastwork, he found he should be baffled by the handful of men who opposed him.
Enraged at the loss of so many of his troops, and fearful of disgrace if he persisted in attempting what appeared so impracticable, he thought it the wisest thing to retreat. Unwilling, however, to withdraw his men by the defile at which he had entered, on account of the difficulty and danger of the enterprise, he determined to retreat towards Vilario, by another pass called Piampra, which though hard of access, was easy of descent. But in this he met with disappointment, for Captain Gianavel having posted his little band here, greatly annoyed the troops as they passed, and even pursued their rear until they entered the open country.
The marquis of Pianessa, finding that all his attempts were frustrated, and that every artifice he used was only an alarm signal to the inhabitants of Roras, determined to act openly, and therefore proclaimed that ample rewards should be given to any one who would bear arms against the obstinate heretics of Roras, as he called them; and that any officer who would exterminate them should be rewarded in a princely manner.
This engaged Captain Mario, a bigoted Roman Catholic, and a desperate ruffian, to undertake the enterprise. He, therefore, obtained leave to raise a regiment in the following six towns: Lucerne, Borges, Famolas, Bobbio, Begnal, and Cavos.
Having completed his regiment, which consisted of one thousand men, he laid his plan not to go by the defiles or the passes, but to attempt gaining the summit of a rock, whence he imagined he could pour his troops into the town without much difficulty or opposition.
The Protestants suffered the Roman Catholic troops to gain almost the summit of the rock, without giving them any opposition, or ever appearing in their sight: but when they had almost reached the top they made a most furious attack upon them; one party keeping up a well-directed and constant fire, and another party rolling down huge stones.
This stopped the career of the papist troops: many were killed by the musketry, and more by the stones, which beat them down the precipices. Several fell sacrifices to their hurry, for by attempting a precipitate retreat they fell down, and were dashed to pieces; and Captain Mario himself narrowly escaped with his life, for he fell from a craggy place into a river which washed the foot of the rock. He was taken up senseless, but afterwards recovered, though he was ill of the bruises for a long time; and, at length he fell into a decline at Lucerne, where he died.
Another body of troops was ordered from the camp at Vilario, to make an attempt upon Roras; but these were likewise defeated, by means of the Protestants’ ambush fighting, and compelled to retreat again to the camp at Vilario.
After each of these signal victories, Captain Gianavel made a suitable discourse to his men, causing them to kneel down, and return thanks to the Almighty for his providential protection; and usually concluded with the Eleventh Psalm, where the subject is placing confidence in God.
The marquis of Pianessa was greatly enraged at being so much baffled by the few inhabitants of Roras: he, therefore, determined to attempt their expulsion in such a manner as could hardly fail of success.
With this view he ordered all the Roman Catholic militia of Piedmont to be raised and disciplined. When these orders were completed, he joined to the militia eight thousand regular troops, and dividing the whole into three distinct bodies, he designed that three formidable attacks should be made at the same time, unless the people of Roras, to whom he sent an account of his great preparations, would comply with the following conditions:
The inhabitants of Roras, on being acquainted with these conditions, were filled with an honest indignation, and, in answer, sent word to the marquis that sooner than comply with them they would suffer three things, which, of all others, were the most obnoxious to mankind, viz.
To the Obstinate Heretics Inhabiting Roras
You shall have your request, for the troops sent against you have strict injunctions to plunder, burn, and kill. PIANESSA.
The three armies were then put in motion, and the attacks ordered to be made thus: the first by the rocks of Vilario; the second by the pass of Bagnol; and the third by the defile of Lucerne.
The troops forced their way by the superiority of numbers, and having gained the rocks, pass, and defile, began to make the most horrid depradations, and exercise the greatest cruelties. Men they hanged, burned, racked to death, or cut to pieces; women they ripped open, crucified, drowned, or threw from the precipices; and children they tossed upon spears, minced, cut their throats, or dashed out their brains. One hundred and twenty-six suffered in this manner on the first day of their gaining the town.
Agreeable to the marquis of Pianessa’s orders, they likewise plundered the estates, and burned the houses of the people. Several Protestants, however, made their escape, under the conduct of Captain Gianavel, whose wife and children were unfortunately made prisoners and sent under a strong guard to Turin.
The marquis of Pianessa wrote a letter to Captain Gianavel, and released a Protestant prisoner that he might carry it him. The contents were, that if the captain would embrace the Roman Catholic religion, he should be indemnified for all his losses since the commencement of the war; his wife and children should be immediately released, and himself honorably promoted in the duke of Savoy’s army; but if he refused to accede to the proposals made him, his wife and children should be put to death; and so large a reward should be given to take him, dead or alive, that even some of his own confidential friends should be tempted to betray him, from the greatness of the sum.
To this epistle, the brave Gianavel sent the following answer.
My Lord Marquis,There is no torment so great or death so cruel, but what I would prefer to the abjuration of my religion: so that promises lose their effects, and menaces only strengthen me in my faith.
With respect to my wife and children, my lord, nothing can be more afflicting to me than the thought of their confinement, or more dreadful to my imagination, than their suffering a violent and cruel death. I keenly feel all the tender sensations of husband and parent; my heart is replete with every sentiment of humanity; I would suffer any torment to rescue them from danger; I would die to preserve them.
But having said thus much, my lord, I assure you that the purchase of their lives must not be the price of my salvation. You have them in your power it is true; but my consolation is that your power is only a temporary authority over their bodies: you may destroy the mortal part, but their immortal souls are out of your reach, and will live hereafter to bear testimony against you for your cruelties. I therefore recommend them and myself to God, and pray for a reformation in your heart. — JOSHUA GIANAVEL.
This brave Protestant officer, after writing the above letter, retired to the Alps, with his followers; and being joined by a great number of other fugitive Protestants, he harassed the enemy by continual skirmishes.
Meeting one day with a body of papist troops near Bibiana, he, though inferior in numbers, attacked them with great fury, and put them to the rout without the loss of a man, though himself was shot through the leg in the engagement, by a soldier who had hid himself behind a tree; but Gianavel perceiving whence the shot came, pointed his gun to the place, and despatched the person who had wounded him.
Captain Gianavel hearing that a Captain Jahier had collected together a considerable body of Protestants, wrote him a letter, proposing a junction of their forces. Captain Jahier immediately agreed to the proposal, and marched directly to meet Gianavel.
The junction being formed, it was proposed to attack a town, (inhabited by Roman Catholics) called Garcigliana. The assault was given with great spirit, but a reinforcement of horse and foot having lately entered the town, which the Protestants knew nothing of, they were repulsed; yet made a masterly retreat, and only lost one man in the action.
The next attempt of the Protestant forces was upon St. Secondo, which they attacked with great vigor, but met with a strong resistance from the Roman Catholic troops, who had fortified the streets and planted themselves in the houses, from whence they poured musket balls in prodigious numbers. The Protestants, however, advanced, under cover of a great number of planks, which some held over their heads, to secure them from the shots of the enemy from the houses, while others kept up a well-directed fire; so that the houses and entrenchments were soon forced, and the town taken.
In the town they found a prodigious quantity of plunder, which had been taken from Protestants at various times, and different places, and which were stored up in the warehouses, churches, dwelling houses, etc. This they removed to a place of safety, to be distributed, with as much justice as possible, among the sufferers.
This successful attack was made with such skill and spirit that it cost very little to the conquering party, the Protestants having only seventeen killed, and twenty-six wounded; while the papists suffered a loss of no less than four hundred and fifty killed, and five hundred and eleven wounded.
Five Protestant officers, viz., Gianavel, Jahier, Laurentio, Genolet and Benet, laid a plan to surprise Biqueras. To this end they marched in five respective bodies, and by agreement were to make the attack at the same time. The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, passed through two defiles in the woods, and came to the place in safety, under covert; but the other three bodies made their approaches through an open country, and, consequently, were more exposed to an attack.
The Roman Catholics taking the alarm, a great number of troops were sent to relieve Biqueras from Cavors, Bibiana, Feline, Campiglione, and some other neighboring places. When these were united, they determined to attack the three Protestant parties, that were marching through the open country.
The Protestant officers perceiving the intent of the enemy, and not being at a great distance from each other, joined forces with the utmost expedition, and formed themselves in order of battle.
In the meantime, the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, had assaulted the town of Biqueras, and burnt all the out houses, to make their approaches with the greater ease; but not being supported as they expected by the other three Protestant captains, they sent a messenger, on a swift horse, towards the open country, to inquire the reason.
The messenger soon returned and informed them that it was not in the power of the three Protestant captains to support their proceedings, as they were themselves attacked by a very superior force in the plain, and could scarce sustain the unequal conflict.
The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, on receiving this intelligence, determined to discontinue the assault on Biqueras, and to proceed, with all possible expedition, to the relief of their friends on the plain. This design proved to be of the most essential service, for just as they arrived at the spot where the two armies were engaged, the papist troops began to prevail, and were on the point of flanking the left wing, commanded by Captain Gianavel. The arrival of these troops turned the scale in favor of the Protestants: and the papist forces, though they fought with the most obstinate intrepidity, were totally defeated. A great number were killed and wounded, on both sides, and the baggage, military stores, etc., taken by the Protestants were very considerable.
Captain Gianavel, having information that three hundred of the enemy were to convoy a great quantity of stores, provisions, etc., from La Torre to the castle of Mirabac, determined to attack them on the way. He, accordingly, began the assault at Malbec, though with a very inadequate force. The contest was long and bloody, but the Protestants at length were obliged to yield to the superiority of numbers, and compelled to make a retreat, which they did with great regularity, and but little loss.
Captain Gianavel advanced to an advantageous post, situated near the town of Vilario, and then sent the following information and commands to the inhabitants.
The Protestants, in general immediately left the town, and joined Captain Gianavel with great satisfaction, and the few, who through weakness or fear, had abjured their faith, recanted their abjuration and were received into the bosom of the Church. As the marquis of Pianessa had removed the army, and encamped in quite a different part of the country, the Roman Catholics of Vilario thought it would be folly to attempt to defend the place with the small force they had. They, therefore, fled with the utmost precipitation, leaving the town and most of their property to the discretion of the Protestants.
The Protestant commanders having called a council of war, resolved to make an attempt upon the town of La Torre.
The papists being apprised of the design, detached some troops to defend a defile, through which the Protestants must make their approach; but these were defeated, compelled to abandon the pass, and forced to retreat to La Torre.
The Protestants proceeded on their march, and the troops of La Torre, on their approach, made a furious sally, but were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to seek shelter in the town. The governor now only thought of defending the place, which the Protestants began to attack in form; but after many brave attempts, and furious assaults, the commanders determined to abandon the enterprise for several reasons, particularly, because they found the place itself too strong, their own number too weak, and their cannon not adequate to the task of battering down the walls.
This resolution taken, the Protestant commanders began a masterly retreat, and conducted it with such regularity that the enemy did not choose to pursue them, or molest their rear, which they might have done, as they passed the defiles.
The next day they mustered, reviewed the army, and found the whole to amount to four hundred and ninety-five men. They then held a council of war, and planned an easier enterprise: this was to make an attack on the commonalty of Crusol, a place inhabited by a number of the most bigoted Roman Catholics, and who had exercised, during the persecutions, the most unheard-of cruelties on the Protestants.
The people of Crusol, hearing of the design against them, fled to a neighboring fortress, situated on a rock, where the Protestants could not come to them, for a very few men could render it inaccessible to a numerous army. Thus they secured their persons, but were in too much hurry to secure their property, the principal part of which, indeed, had been plundered from the Protestants, and now luckily fell again to the possession of the right owners. It consisted of many rich and valuable articles, and what, at that time, was of much more consequence, viz., a great quantity of military stores.
The day after the Protestants were gone with their booty, eight hundred troops arrived to the assistance of the people of Crusol, having been despatched from Lucerne, Biqueras, Cavors, etc. But finding themselves too late, and that pursuit would be vain, not to return empty handed, they began to plunder the neighboring villages, though what they took was from their friends. After collecting a tolerable booty, they began to divide it, but disagreeing about the different shares, they fell from words to blows, did a great deal of mischief, and then plundered each other.
On the very same day in which the Protestants were so successful at Crusol, some papists marched with a design to plunder and burn the little Protestant village of Rocappiatta, but by the way they met with the Protestant forces belonging to the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, who were posted on the hill of Angrogne. A trivial engagement ensued, for the Roman Catholics, on the very first attack, retreated in great confusion, and were pursued with much slaughter. After the pursuit was over, some straggling papist troops meeting with a poor peasant, who was a Protestant, tied a cord round his head, and strained it until his skull was quite crushed.
Captain Gianavel and Captain Jahier concerted a design together to make an attack upon Lucerne; but Captain Jahier, not bringing up his forces at the time appointed, Captain Gianavel determined to attempt the enterprise himself.
He, therefore, by a forced march, proceeded towards that place during the whole, and was close to it by break of day. His first care was to cut the pipes that conveyed water into the town, and then to break down the bridge, by which alone provisions from the country could enter.
He then assaulted the place, and speedily possessed himself of two of the outposts; but finding he could not make himself master of the place, he prudently retreated with very little loss, blaming, however, Captain Jahier, for the failure of the enterprise.
The papists being informed that Captain Gianavel was at Angrogne with only his own company, determined if possible to surprise him. With this view, a great number of troops were detached from La Torre and other places: one party of these got on top of a mountain, beneath which he was posted; and the other party intended to possess themselves of the gate of St. Bartholomew.
The papists thought themselves sure of taking Captain Gianavel and every one of his men, as they consisted but of three hundred, and their own force was two thousand five hundred. Their design, however, was providentially frustrated, for one of the popish soldiers imprudently blowing a trumpet before the signal for attack was given, Captain Gianavel took the alarm, and posted his little company so advantageously at the gate of St. Bartholomew and at the defile by which the enemy must descend from the mountains, that the Roman Catholic troops failed in both attacks, and were repulsed with very considerable loss.
Soon after, Captain Jahier came to Angrogne, and joined his forces to those of Captain Gianavel, giving sufficient reasons to excuse his before-mentioned failure. Captain Jahier now made several secret excursions with great success, always selecting the most active troops, belonging both to Gianavel and himself. One day he had put himself at the head of forty-four men, to proceed upon an expedition, when entering a plain near Ossac, he was suddenly surrounded by a large body of horse. Captain Jahier and his men fought desperately, though oppressed by odds, and killed the commander-in-chief, three captains, and fifty-seven private men, of the enemy. But Captain Jahier himself being killed, with thirty-five of his men, the rest surrendered. One of the soldiers cut off Captain Jahier’s head, and carrying it to Turin, presented it to the duke of Savoy, who rewarded him with six hundred ducatoons.
The death of this gentleman was a signal loss to the Protestants, as he was a real friend to, and companion of, the reformed Church. He possessed a most undaunted spirit, so that no difficulties could deter him from undertaking an enterprise, or dangers terrify him in its execution. He was pious without affectation, and humane without weakness; bold in a field, meek in a domestic life, of a penetrating genius, active in spirit, and resolute in all his undertakings.
To add to the affliction of the Protestants, Captain Gianavel was, soon after, wounded in such a manner that he was obliged to keep his bed. They, however, took new courage from misfortunes, and determining not to let their spirits droop attacked a body of popish troops with great intrepidity; the Protestants were much inferior in numbers, but fought with more resolution than the papists, and at length routed them with considerable slaughter. During the action, a sergeant named Michael Bertino was killed; when his son, who was close behind him, leaped into his place, and said, “I have lost my father; but courage, fellow soldiers, God is a father to us all.”
Several skirmishes likewise happened between the troops of La Torre and Tagliaretto, and the Protestant forces, which in general terminated in favor of the latter.
A Protestant gentleman, named Andrion, raised a regiment of horse, and took the command of it himself. The sieur John Leger persuaded a great number of Protestants to form themselves into volunteer companies; and an excellent officer, named Michelin, instituted several bands of light troops. These being all joined to the remains of the veteran Protestant troops, (for great numbers had been lost in the various battles, skirmishes, sieges, etc.) composed a respectable army, which the officers thought proper to encamp near St. Giovanni.
The Roman Catholic commanders, alarmed at the formidable appearance and increased strength of the Protestant forces, determined, if possible, to dislodge them from their encampment. With this view they collected together a large force, consisting of the principal part of the garrisons of the Roman Catholic towns, the draft from the Irish brigades, a great number of regulars sent by the marquis of Pianessa, the auxiliary troops, and the independent companies.
These, having formed a junction, encamped near the Protestants, and spent several days in calling councils of war, and disputing on the most proper mode of proceeding. Some were for plundering the country, in order to draw the Protestants from their camp; others were for patiently waiting till they were attacked; and a third party were for assaulting the Protestant camp, and trying to make themselves master of everything in it.
The last of them prevailed, and the morning after the resolution had been taken was appointed to put it into execution. The Roman Catholic troops were accordingly separated into four divisions, three of which were to make an attack in different places; and the fourth to remain as a body of reserve to act as occasion might require.
One of the Roman Catholic officers, previous to the attack, thus haranged his men:
“Fellow-soldiers, you are now going to enter upon a great action, which will bring you fame and riches. The motives of your acting with spirit are likewise of the most important nature; namely, the honor of showing your loyalty to your sovereign, the pleasure of spilling heretic blood, and the prospect of plundering the Protestant camp. So, my brave fellows, fall on, give no quarter, kill all you meet, and take all you come near.”
After this inhuman speech the engagement began, and the Protestant camp was attacked in three places with inconceivable fury. The fight was maintained with great obstinacy and perseverance on both sides, continuing without intermission for the space of four hours: for the several companies on both sides relieved each other alternately, and by that means kept up a continual fire during the whole action.
During the engagement of the main armies, a detachment was sent from the body of reserve to attack the post of Castelas, which, if the papists had carried, it would have given them the command of the valleys of Perosa, St. Martino, and Lucerne; but they were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to return to the body of reserve, from whence they had been detached.
Soon after the return of this detachment, the Roman Catholic troops, being hard pressed in the main battle, sent for the body of reserve to come to their support. These immediately marched to their assistance, and for some time longer held the event doubtful, but at length the valor of the Protestants prevailed, and the papists were totally defeated, with the loss of upwards of three hundred men killed, and many more wounded.
When the Syndic of Lucerne, who was indeed a papist, but not a bigoted one, saw the great number of wounded men brought into that city, he exclaimed, “Ah! I thought the wolves used to devour the heretics, but now I see the heretics eat the wolves.” This expression being reported to M. Marolles, the Roman Catholic commander-in-chief at Lucerne, he sent a very severe and threatening letter to the Syndic, who was so terrified, that the fright threw him into a fever, and he died in a few days.
This great battle was fought just before the harvest was got in, when the papists, exasperated at their disgrace, and resolved on any kind of revenge, spread themselves by night in detached parties over the finest corn fields of the Protestants, and set them on fire in sundry places. Some of these straggling parties, however, suffered for their conduct; for the Protestants, being alarmed in the night by the blazing of the fire among the corn, pursued the fugitives early in the morning, and overtaking many, put them to death. The Protestant captain Bellin, likewise, by way of retaliation, went with a body of light troops, and burnt the suburbs of La Torre, making his retreat afterward with very little loss.
A few days later, Captain Bellin, with a much stronger body of troops, attacked the town of La Torre itself, and making a breach in the wall of the convent, his men entered, driving the garrison into the citadel and burning both town and convent. After having effected this, they made a regular retreat, as they could not reduce the citadel for want of cannon.
An Account of the Persecutions of Michael de Molinos, a Native of Spain
Michael de Molinos, a Spaniard of a rich and honorable family, entered, when young, into priest’s orders, but would not accept of any preferment in the Church. He possessed great natural abilities, which he dedicated to the service of his fellow creatures, without any view of emolument to himself. His course of life was pious and uniform; nor did he exercise those austerities which are common among the religious orders of the Church of Rome.
Being of a contemplative turn of mind, he pursued the track of the mystical divines, and having acquired great reputation in Spain, and being desirous of propagating his sublime mode of devotion, he left his own country, and settled at Rome. Here he soon connected himself with some of the most distinguished among the literati, who so approved of his religious maxims, that they concurred in assisting him to propagate them; and, in a short time, he obtained a great number of followers, who, from the sublime mode of their religion, were distinguished by the name of Quietists.
In 1675, Molinos published a book entitled “Il Guida Spirituale,” to which were subjoined recommendatory letters from several great personages. One of these was by the archbishop of Reggio; a second by the general of the Franciscans; and a third by Father Martin de Esparsa, a Jesuit, who had been divinity-professor both at Salamanca and Rome.
No sooner was the book published than it was greatly read, and highly esteemed, both in Italy and Spain; and this so raised the reputation of the author that his acquaintance was coveted by the most respectable characters. Letters were written to him from numbers of people, so that a correspondence was settled between him, and those who approved of his method in different parts of Europe. Some secular priests, both at Rome and Naples, declared themselves openly for it, and consulted him, as a sort of oracle, on many occasions. But those who attached themselves to him with the greatest sincerity were some of the fathers of the Oratory; in particular three of the most eminent, namely, Caloredi, Ciceri, and Petrucci. Many of the cardinals also courted his acquaintance, and thought themselves happy in being reckoned among the number of his friends. The most distinguished of them was the Cardinal d’Estrees, a man of very great learmning, who so highly approved of Molinos’ maxims that he entered into a close connection with him. They conversed together daily, and notwithstanding the distrust a Spaniard has naturally of a Frenchman, yet Molinos, who was sincere in his principles, opened his mind without reserve to the cardinal; and by this means a correspondence was settled between Molinos and some distinguished characters in France.
Whilst Molinos was thus laboring to propagate his religious mode, Father Petrucci wrote several treatises relative to a contemplative life; but he mixed in them so many rules for the devotions of the Romish Church, as mitigated that censure he might have otherwise incurred. They were written chiefly for the use of the nuns, and therefore the sense was expressed in the most easy and familiar style.
Molinos had now acquired such reputation, that the Jesuits and Dominicans began to be greatly alarmed, and determined to put a stop to the progress of this method. To do this, it was necessary to decry the author of it; and as heresy is an imputation that makes the strongest impression at Rome, Molinos and his followers were given out to be heretics. Books were also written by some of the Jesuits against Molinos and his method; but they were all answered with spirit by Molinos.
These disputes occasioned such disturbance in Rome that the whole affair was taken notice of by the Inquisition. Molinos and his book, and Father Petrucci, with his treatises and letters, were brought under a severe examination; and the Jesuits were considered as the accusers. One of the society had, indeed, approved of Molinos’ book, but the rest took care he should not be again seen at Rome. In the course of the examination both Molinos and Petrucci acquitted themselves so well, that their books were again approved, and the answers which the Jesuits had written were censured as scandalous.
Petrucci’s conduct on this occasion was so highly approved that it not only raised the credit of the cause, but his own emolument; for he was soon after made bishop of Jesis, which was a new declaration made by the pope in their favor. Their books were now esteemed more than ever, their method was more followed, and the novelty of it, with the new approbation given after so vigorous an accusation by the Jesuits, all contributed to raise the credit, and increase the number of the party.
The behavior of Father Petrucci in his new dignity greatly contributed to increase his reputation, so that his enemies were unwilling to give him any further disturbance; and, indeed, there was less occasion given for censure by his writings than those of Molinos. Some passages in the latter were not so cautiously expressed, but there was room to make exceptions to them; while, on the other hand Petrucci so fully explained himself, as easily to remove the objections made to some parts of his letter.
The great reputation acquired by Molinos and Petrucci occasioned a daily increase of the Quietists. All who were thought sincerely devout, or at least affected the reputation of it, were reckoned among the number. If these persons were observed to become more strict in their lives and mental devotions, yet there appeared less zeal in their whole deportment at the exterior parts of the Church ceremonies. They were not so assiduous at Mass, nor so earnest to procure Masses to be said for their friends; nor were they so frequently either at confession, or in processions.
Though the new approbation given to Molinos’ book by the Inquisition had checked the proceedings of his enemies; yet they were still inveterate against him in their hearts, and determined if possible to ruin him. They insinuated that he had ill designs, and was, in his heart, an enemy to the Christian religion: that under pretence of raising men to a sublime strain of devotion, he intended to erase from their minds a sense of the mysteries of Christianity. And because he was a Spaniard, they gave out that he was descended from a Jewish or Mahometan race, and that he might carry in his blood, or in his first education, some seeds of those religions which he had since cultivated with no less art than zeal. This last calumny gained but little credit at Rome, though it was said an order was sent to examine the registers of the place where Molinos was baptized.
Molinos finding himself attacked with great vigor, and the most unrelenting malice, took every necessary precaution to prevent these imputations being credited. He wrote a treatise, entitled “Frequent and Daily Communion,” which was likewise approved by some of the most learned of the Romish clergy. This was printed with his Spiritual Guide, in the year 1675; and in the preface to it he declared that he had not written it with any design to engage himself in matters of controversy, but that it was drawn from him by the earnest solicitations of many pious people.
The Jesuits, failing in their attempts of crushing Molinos’ power in Rome, applied to the court of France, when, in a short time, they so far succeeded that an order was sent to Cardinal d’Estrees, commanding him to prosecute Molinos with all possible rigor. The cardinal, though so strongly attached to Molinos, resolved to sacrifice all that is sacred in friendship to the will of his master. Finding, however, there was not sufficient matter for an accusation against him, he determined to supply that defect himself. He therefore went to the inquisitors, and informed them of several particulars, not only relative to Molinos, but also Petrucci, both of whom, together with several of their friends, were put into the Inquisition.
When they were brought before the inquisitors, (which was the beginning of the year 1684) Petrucci answered the respective questions put to him with so much judgment and temper that he was soon dismissed; and though Molinos’ examination was much longer, it was generally expected he would have been likewise discharged: but this was not the case. Though the inquisitors had not any just accusation against him, yet they strained every nerve to find him guilty of heresy. They first objected to his holding a correspondence in different parts of Europe; but of this he was acquitted, as the matter of that correspondence could not be made criminal. They then directed their attention to some suspicious papers found in his chamber; but Molinos so clearly explained their meaning that nothing could be made of them to his prejudice. At length, Cardinal d’Estrees, after producing the order sent him by the king of France for prosecuting Molinos, said he could prove against him more than was necessary to convince them he was guilty of heresy. To do this he perverted the meaning of some passages in Molinos’ books and papers, and related many false and aggravating circumstances relative to the prisoner. He acknowledged he had lived with him under the appearance of friendship, but that it was only to discover his principles and intentions: that he had found them to be of a bad nature, and that dangerous consequences werre likely to ensue; but in order to make a full discovery, he had assented to several things, which, in his heart, he detested; and that, by these means, he saw into the secrets of Molinos, but determined not to take any notice, until a proper opportunity should offer of crushing him and his followers.
In consequence of d’Estree’s evidence, Molinos was closely confined by the Inquisition, where he continued for some time, during which period all was quiet, and his followers prosecuted their mode without interruption. But on a sudden the Jesuits determined to extirpate them, and the storm broke out with the most inveterate vehemence.
The Count Vespiniani and his lady, Don Paulo Rocchi, confessor to the prince Borghese, and some of his family, with several others, (in all seventy persons) were put into the Inquisition, among whom many were highly esteemed for their learning and piety. The accusation laid against the clergy was their neglecting to say the breviary; and the rest were accused of going to the Communion without first attending confession. In a word, it was said, they neglected all the exterior parts of religion, and gave themselves up wholly to solitude and inward prayer.
The Countess Vespiniani exerted herself in a very particular manner on her examination before the inquisitors. She said she had never revealed her method of devotion to any mortal but her confessor, and that it was impossible they should know it without his discovering the secret; that, therefore it was time to give over going to confession, if priests made this use of it, to discover the most secret thoughts intrusted to them; and that, for the future, she would only make her confession to God.
From this spirited speech, and the great noise made in consequence of the countess’s situation, the inquisitors thought it most prudent to dismiss both her and her husband, lest the people might be incensed, and what she said might lessen the credit of confession. They were, therefore, both discharged, but bound to appear whenever they should be called upon.
Besides those already mentioned, such was the inveteracy of the Jesuits against the Quietists, that, within the space of a month, upwards of two hundred persons were put into the Inquisition; and that method of devotion which had passed in Italy as the most elevated to which mortals could aspire, was deemed heretical, and the chief promoters of it confined in a wretched dungeon.
In order, if possible, to extirpate Quietism, the inquisitors sent a circular letter to Cardinal Cibo, as the chief minister, to disperse it through Italy. It was addressed to all prelates, informed them, that whereas many schools and fraternities were established in several parts of Italy, in which some persons, under the pretence of leading people into the ways of the Spirit, and to the prayer of quietness, instilled into them many abominable heresies, therefore a strict charge was given to dissolve all those societies, and to oblige the spiritual guide to tread in the known paths; and, in particular, to take care that none of that sort should be suffered to have the direction of the nunneries. Orders were likewise given to proceed, in the way of justice, against those who should be found guilty of these abominable errors.
After this a strict inquiry was made into all the nunneries of Rome, when most of their directors and confessors were discovered to be engaged in this new method. It was found that the Carmelites, the nuns of the Conception, and those of several other convents, were wholly given up to prayer and contemplation, and that, instead of their beads, and the other devotions to saints, or images, they were much alone, and often in the exercise of mental prayer; that when they were asked why they had laid aside the use of their beads and their ancient forms, their answer was that their directors had advised them so to do. Information of this being given to the Inquisition, they sent orders that all books written in the same strain with those of Molinos and Petrucci should be taken from them, and that they should be compelled to return to their original form of devotion.
The circular letter sent to Cardinal Cibo, produced but little effect, for most of the Italian bishops were inclined to Molinos’ method. It was intended that this, as well as all other orders from the inquisitors, should be kept secret; but notwithstanding all their care, copies of it were printed, and dispersed in most of the principal towns in Italy. This gave great uneasiness to the inquisitors, who used every method they could to conceal their proceedings from the knowledge of the world. They blamed the cardinal, and accused him of being the cause of it; but he retorted on them, and his secretary laid the fault on both.
During these transactions, Molinos suffered great indignities from the officers of the Inquisition; and the only comfort he received was from being sometimes visited by Father Petrucci.
Though he had lived in the highest reputation in Rome for some years, he was now as much despised as he had been admired, being generally considered as one of the worst of heretics.
The greater part of Molinos’ followers, who had been placed in the Inquisition, having abjured his mode, were dismissed; but a harder fate awaited Molinos, their leader.
After lying a considerable time in prison, he was at length brought again before the inquisitors to answer to a number of articles exhibited against him from his writings. As soon as he appeared in court, a chain was put round his body, and a wax light in his hand, when two friars read aloud the articles of accusation. Molinos answered each with great steadiness and resolution; and notwithstanding his arguments totally defeated the force of all, yet he was found guilty of heresy, and condemned to imprisonment for life.
When he left the court he was attended by a priest, who had borne him the greatest respect. On his arrival at the prison he entered the cell allotted for his confinement with great tranquillity; and on taking leave of the priest, thus addressed him: “Adieu, father, we shall meet again at the Day of Judgment, and then it will appear on which side the truth is, whether on my side, or on yours.”
During his confinement, he was several times tortured in the most cruel manner, until, at length, the severity of the punishments overpowered his strength, and finished his existence.
The death of Molinos struck such an impression on his followers that the greater part of them soon abjured his mode; and by the assiduity of the Jesuits, Quietism was totally extirpated throughout the country.