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" There was woman's fearless eye, 
Lit by her deep love's truth; 
There was manhood's brow, serenely high, 
And the fiery heart of youth." 















Copyright, 1880, 



HPHE wide reputation of the venerable author of this 
work as a thinker, a scholar, and a theologian, 
together with a knowledge of the rare opportunity he 
has had, during his half-century of faithful service as 
Protestant Pastor at La Rochelle, for collating and 
weighing facts bearing upon the subject herein treated 
of, has induced me to believe that a translation of his 
work into English would prove a valuable contribution 
to the standard literature of our language relating to the 
history of the heroic French Huguenots ; and I have 
been more especially led to hope that it would prove of 
interest to American readers, for the reason that from 
those of that gallant race who sought a refuge upon our 
own shores have since sprung many who have reflected 
renown upon the country of their ancestors' adoption. 

A valued personal acquaintance with M. Delmas jus- 
tifies me in adding a warm tribute to the fairness of his 
judgment, the broadness of his views, and the sincerity 
and earnestness of his convictions. His days have been 


devoted to doing good, and now, in a ripe old age, he is 
enjoying the happy rewards of a well-spent life, beloved 
and respected by all who know him, and, among them, 
by the translator of this work. 

G. L. C. 

LA ROCHELLE, Jan. 26, 1880. 


THE researches made by the Reverend Pastor Philip Vin- 
cent in relation to " The Origin and Early Progress of 
the Reformation in the City of La Rochelle," published at 
Rotterdam in 1693, being out of print, it had occurred to me 
to edit them from the manuscript in the archives of the Con- 
sistory, the handwriting of which resembles that of Pierre Mer- 
vault, author of the " Diary of the Siege of 1628." But my 
attention has been called to the fact that this document, coming 
from the pen of a judicious and moderate author, after the style 
of the Oratorian Jaillot, stops at the year 1571, and that there- 
fore it would be preferable to publish a complete history of the 
Reformed Church of La Rochelle from its origin up to the pres- 
ent time. No such work really exists, unless it be in fragments, 
scattered through the works of divers authors, and presenting 
gaps more or less considerable. It has consequently occurred 
to me to fill up these gaps by bringing together these scattered 
fragments, and thus forming a consecutive and homogeneous 
history, using for this purpose the papers left the Church of La 
Rochelle by Dr. Bouhereau, papers which have lain unused for 
two centuries in one of the public libraries of Dublin, and which 
were recovered in 1862 by the Council of Presbyters. Under- 
taken primarily with a view to mental occupation, this work was 
not intended for publication. But I subsequently decided to 


publish it, in accordance with a desire expressed by several per- 
sons to see recapitulated and compiled in a comparatively small 
compass the principal facts relative to the glorious past of our 
Church ; so that even those readers little versed in such matters 
could familiarize themselves with its annals without the need of 
tedious research. The history of the Church of La Rochelle 
being intimately connected with the general history of Protes- 
tantism, it may be that our co-religionists in other parts of 
France will find some interest in its perusal. Perhaps, too, 
those who are indifferent to religious subjects, who enjoy the 
fruits of liberty of conscience without troubling themselves to 
inquire what generous blood it was that watered the tree from 
which they gather them, may experience a renewed ardor by 
being thus reminded of the sufferings of our fathers, and be 
aroused to an inquiring interest in the Evangelical doctrine, 
through a recollection of the sacrifices which had to be made in 
order to transmit to us the good faith. 

In publishing this work, it is not necessary for me to caution 
the reader that I intend to offer no civil or political history of 
the city the name of which is found on the title-page, while, at 
the same time, I shall not entirely exclude topics of that nature. 
The political borders so closely, in fact, upon the religious in 
the annals of our country, the one, I mean, has been so fre- 
quently either mingled or confounded with the other, in the 
annals of our city, that it is impossible to completely separate 
the two. But we must limit our treatise to the religious portion 
of La Rochelle 's history, and confine ourselves to that phase of 
it which is at once the most lofty and the most calm. If we are 
led to allude to the perishable interests of earth, we must not 
forget that they are subordinate to the eternal interests of the 
soul, and that it is with a view to the latter that we take up the 

It is with no desire to excite passion or rekindle hatred that 
we proceed to recount the trials of the kingdom of God in the 
celebrated city which was the last stronghold of French Protes- 
tantism. We write in no spirit of party, or interest of sect, but 


in a spirit of peace and Christian liberty. Our desire is to 
glorify God, and render homage to the truth : we intend to 
acknowledge the errors of our friends, without failing to be just 
to our opponents. We may be mistaken in some of our opin- 
ions, but we disclaim in advance any error or injustice which 
may have been overlooked by our impartiality. Even in the 
severe condemnations we may feel compelled to express, we 
shall aim to speak the truth in all charity. If we chance to 
transgress this rule, it will be involuntarily, and by reason only 
of that frailty which is inherent in humanity, Errare huma- 
num est. 

I owe much of this work to my worthy friend, M. Louis de 
Richemond, who has been kind enough to place at my disposal 
his own researches on this subject, from which I have frequently 
borrowed, and to obtain for me material facts I have needed, 
all of which he has done with a zeal and cordiality for which I 
cannot sufficiently thank him. The assistance he has lent me 
amounts to that of a co-laborer, in fact ; and I should have been 
glad to place his name side by side with my own on the title- 
page of this work, were it not that it would be unfair for him to 
share with me the responsibility of the condemnations which I 
have felt compelled to utter against certain persons and things. 

In some paragraphs I have had recourse to manuscript notes 
furnished by the kindness of Mr. L. Delayant, the City Libra- 

I could have wished to revise this work, and render more 
complete certain parts of it before giving them to the printer. 
But I have arrived at an age when a man's strength begins to 
fail him, and I do not feel that I possess the requisite energy to 
put the task again before me. Accordingly, if any one is struck 
with its imperfections or its lackings, I shall neither be surprised 
nor offended, as I do not conceal from myself the defects of 
my work. 

For nearly half a century it has been my privilege to serve as 
pastor at La Rochelle ; and it is sweet to me, as I near the end 
of my career, to bequeath these pious remembrances to a Church 


I have so dearly loved, and for which I feel my affection re- 
doubled as the moment for my separation from it approaches. 
I place this work, then, under the blessing of our Heavenly 
Father, and under the auspices of those among whom I have 
so long been an ambassador of Christ. May it strengthen 
them in their faith, and render them immovable in the profes- 
sion of their hope. 






The Reform at Meaux. Lefevre and Brigonnet. Early Persecu- 
tions. Calvin at Poitiers. The Reform at La Rochelle. Early 
Martyrs. Foundation of the Church. Its Early Progress. 
First National Synod of the Reformed Church of France. The 
Confession of Faith and Discipline I 




Numerous Adhesions of notable People to the Reformation. Regu- 
lar Establishment of Public Exercise of Reformed Worship. 
Singular Toleration between the two Communions. The Pastor 
Jean de 1'Espine. Mournful Consequences of the Massacre of 
Vassy. Violent Outbreak of Civil Wars. Palissy seeks a 
Refuge at La Rochelle. Pastor Odet de Nort. Conde, Coligny, 
and Jean d'Albret at La Rochelle The National Synod. St. 
Bartholomew's. Liberty of Conscience gained by the Rochelais 
after their Courageous Defence in the Siege of 1573 34 




Public Instruction. The College. Its Organization. The Prin- 
cipal Professors. Protestant Printers. The Library. Protes- 
tants celebrated for their Learning or Virtues 79 




The Huguenots, by their Armed Resistance to the League, pre- 
serve French Nationality. Henry of Navarre at the La Rochelle 
Assembly. Henry IV., in order to obtain the Crown, embraces 
the Religion of his Subjects. "Paris is well -worth one Mass" 

The Edict of Nantes. La Rochelle's Prosperity under the 
Reign of Henry IV. Civil Wars rekindled by the Oppression 
of the Reformers of Beam. Political Assemblies at La Rochelle. 

The Building of Fort Louis, in Spite of Treaties. The Privi- 
leges of the Rochelais the Safeguard of their Faith. Their 
Fidelity to the King in the Midst of their Seeming Rebellion. 

Siege of La Rochelle. The Mayor, Jean Guiton 101 




Fall of the Communal Government Efforts of the Catholic Clergy 
to make Proselytes. Fidelity of the Rochelais during the War 
of the Fronde. The Pastor Philip Vincent. Double Abjura- 
tion of the Jesuit Jarrige. Increasing Rigors practised against 
the Reformers. Pierre Bomier, Advocate-General. Protestants 
excluded from Public Office. Abbe Gentil embraces Protestant- 
ism. De Muin made Intendant. Demolition of Churches, 
and Prohibition of Protestant Worship. Last Provincial Synod. 


Persecution of Pastors Tandebaratz, Delaizement, and Blanc. 

Demolition of the Temple at La Rochelle. Mission of Fe- 
nelon to Aunis. The Dragonnades. Revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes. The Dispersion. Sentences of Chollet and Eliz- 
abeth Bonami 150 



Protestants remaining in France confounded under the false Desig- 
nation of New Converts, or else put outside the Pale of the Law, 
as regards their Status as Property-holders, Heads of Families, 
and Christians. Obstacles thrown in the Way of their Marrying. 

Legitimacy of their Children contested. Carrying off of their 
Children. Meetings in lonely Places surrounded by the Con- 
stabulary. Persistency of Pastors in the Wilderness, who, at 
Peril of their Lives, blessed Marriages, celebrated Baptisms and 
the Holy Sacrament, and set forth the Word of God. Cruel 
Proceedings against the Preachers. A Confession made by a 
Protestant Woman of Saintonge before the Bishop of La Ro- 
chelle. Reorganization of the Church of La Rochelle. Fidelity 
of Protestants to the King. Spirit of Toleration shown by the 
Marshal of Senneterre. Situation of the Reformers. The 
Civil Status restored to Non-Catholics. The Bishop of La 
Rochelle and the Superior of the Oratory. Proclamation of 
Religious Liberty. Definitive Organization of the Reformed 
Church. Conclusion * 2I S 


I. Prayers of Huguenot Soldiers in Camp 26 9 

II. The Pastors and Elders of La Rochelle to Henry of Navarre ^ . 274 
Letter of Henry IV. to the Rochelais, on the Occasion of his 

Abjuration ' 

III. Were the Excesses of 1568 Authentic? 2 79 


IV. Situation in which Protestant Officers and Sailors were 

placed by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes . . . 281 

V. Some Young Girls shut up in Convents weary their Jailers 

by their Constancy, and are driven out of France . . . 283 

VI. Pastoral Letter addressed from a Place of Refuge to Prot- 
estants remaining in France, in order to sustain them in 
their Faith 284 

VII. Flight of the Robillard Family, and of the Misses Raboteau 286 

VIII. Letter of Louis XIII. to Intendant Argenson, upon the 
Admission of Rochelais Protestants to Public Employ- 
ment 289 

Letter from the La Rochelle Consistory to M. de Roze- 
mont 290 

IX. List of Pastors of the Reformed Church of La Rochelle . . 291 






The Reform at Meaux. Lefevre and Briconnet. Early Persecutions. 

Calvin at Poitiers. The Reform at LaRochelle. Early Martyrs. 

Foundation of the Church. Its Early Progress. First National 
Synod of the Reformed Church of France. The Confession of 
Faith and Discipline. 

'THHE origin of the Reformed Christian Church of 
La Rochelle has no precise date. One cannot 
designate the day or the hour of its birth. No powerful 
individuality either gave it its name or stamped upon it 
its character. It attaches itself to no special event as 
the point of departure of this religious episode. It 
sprang, during the first half of the sixteenth century, 
from the weariness, disgust, and indignation aroused in 
men's souls by the abuses of every kind which had crept 
into the religion of Christ, as well as from the aspira- 
tions of consciences despoiled of their rights, and from 
a desire for disenthralment from the superstitions and 
errors which had surrounded the Church, and a longing 


for a return to the enlightened teachings of Jesus Christ 
and his Apostles. 

Some have sought to attribute it to a contact with 
the Dutch navigators, who, attracted to La Rochelle by 
their commercial interests, might have roused the atten- 
tion of its inhabitants to the great questions then under 
agitation in Germany ; others, to the attachment of the 
Rochelais to their municipal franchises, an attach- 
ment which may have inclined them to a religious sys- 
tem favorable to their republican tendencies. These 
two surmises are, to say the least, very questionable ; for 
France had gone even further than the countries of the 
North in religious reform, and experience has shown 
that Protestantism is allied to no special form of gov- 
ernment. It adapts itself to the monarchy as well as to 
the republic. 

But granting that there be some truth in this double 
supposition, it does not suffice to explain the movement 
which took place in this city ; and we must look higher 
to find a clew to the events which succeeded each other 
within our walls. No doubt, the mighty voice which 
Luther had caused to be heard throughout the North of 
Europe had been re-echoed on our shores, and Reform 
had found an auxiliary in the spirit of liberty prevailing 
among the people of La Rochelle. But it must not be 
forgotten, that the movement in question was not con- 
fined to one city ; it spread abroad to a multitude of 
places, and under diverse circumstances. That such a 
profound emotion should have been awakened among 
the people, it must have been that their souls had re- 
ceived the preparation of the Spirit, of that Spirit 
which " bloweth where it listeth," as the Saviour said to 


Nicodemus. Thus it was that there existed at that time 
in our city, as in all Europe, secret aspirations and mys- 
terious longings ; thus it was that the souls of men were 
eager for justice and truth ; thus it was that the single 
word " Gospel " made the very heart bound ; and it was 
only necessary to pronounce this transcendent name to 
elicit numberless expressions of sympathy. As in the 
days that preceded the advent of the Son of man, peo- 
ple awaited the consolation of Israel. One would have 
said it was an echo from the invisible world, repeating 
across the lapse of fifteen centuries the joyful and 
solemn accents the celestial messengers had sounded 
upon the plains of Bethlehem : " Glory to God in the 
highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men." 

But, before realizing these sublime aspirations, the re- 
form of the Christian Church was destined to encounter 
violent opposition. Diverse interests, unchained pas- 
sions, struggles, and terrible rendings asunder were 
coming to arrest and hamper this work, undertaken in 
the name of the cause of God and conscience. In our 
city was this especially destined to be the case. 


That Providence which had enkindled in men's souls 
an ardent desire for light and holiness could not leave 
that desire unheeded. And to satisfy it, the transla- 
tion of the Holy Writings into common parlance fur- 
nished the occasion. Without that, that is to say, 
without any means of recourse to the Scriptures given 
by God, mankind would simply have been driven to 
destruction ; after powerless efforts, and fruitless en- 
deavor, they would have relapsed into slumber and 


darkness. But against this the Lord had provided. 
Beginning with the year 1521, in fact, Lefevre d'Etaples 
published in French the four Gospels, a publication soon 
followed by that of the other books of the New Testa- 
ment, then by that of the Psalms, and the remainder of 
the Old Testament. So that, in 1528, seven years after 
the translation of the four Gospels, the entire Bible was 
printed in our language, and ran through several edi- 
tions. A little later, in I534, 1 the complete Bible, trans- 
lated by Olivetan, was circulated throughout our county 
under the auspices of the Vaudois of Piedmont, who 
had recognized the French Reformers as brothers, and 
hastened thus to nourish these newly-born churches 
with the pure and spiritual milk of the Word. 2 

It was a brilliant beacon-light that thus suddenly 
shone forth in the midst of the night prevailing over 
the earth; a beacon eminently calculated to dispel the 
darkness rising unceasingly from the depths of the abyss. 
The Sacred Books, hitherto shut up in the convents, 
or the libraries of the learned, were now finally to be 
brought forth from their hiding-place to pass into the 

1 " The Bible, that is to say, all the Holy Scriptures in which are com- 
prised the Old Testament and the New, translated into French ; the Old 
from the Hebrew, the New from the Greek." 1535. Neufchatel : Pierre 
de Wingle, surnamed Pirot Picard. 

2 The translation of the Psalms of David, by Clement Marot, was pre- 
sented to Charles Quint during his passage to Paris (January, 1540), 
dedicated to Francis I., and published in 1543 with a Preface by Calvin 
addressed " To all Christians and lovers of the Word of God." Theo- 
dore de Beze continued the work of Marot in 1553, and the Psalter was 
completed in 1560. The music is due to Louis Bourgeois, Claude the 
younger, William Franc, and Claude Goudimel. In 1542, the Pope au- 
thorized, at Rome even, the printing of the Psalter of Marot by Theodore 
Brust. The Sorbonne, which had at first condemned this publication, sanc- 
tioned it in 1561. 


hands of the faithful, and their sovereign authority, uni- 
versally admitted, was shortly to bring about a thorough 
revolution among the Lord's inheritance. It conse- 
quently was of importance for those who imparted, as 
well as for those who followed up, the movement toward 
Reform, that they should make no innovations, nor rush 
into venturesome theories, but should return to the doc- 
trine of the inspired. It was of importance, not to 
revolt against legitimate authority, but to shun despotism 
and usurpation. It was of importance that they should 
combat that spirit of revolt against Divine authority 
which had seized upon the leaders of Christianity, and 
that they should lead mankind to obedience to the 


Besides this powerful means of instruction, divers 
works calculated to second the movement then in pro- 
gress in the minds of men, and coming from the pens of 
eminent men of the epoch, had been publicly circulated. 
Thus it was that in 1512, five years before Luther had 
put up his famous theses on the door of the Wittenberg 
Cathedral, Lefevre had had his Commentaries on the 
Epistles of St. Paul printed, and had openly professed 
the docrines of the freedom of salvation, and of justifi- 
cation by faith. 1 Thus it was that in 1535 John Calvin, 
a student in the University of Orleans, issued " The 

1 It is generally believed that Lefevre professed to the Sorbonne the 
fundamental doctrines of Christianity, but this is an error. Lefevre was 
not one of the doctors of the Sorbonne. He was Professor of Philos- 
ophy in the college of Cardinal Lemoine, where he had Farel for a col- 
league. Moreover, it matters little whether it was at the Sorbonne or 
elsewhere that he taught wholesome truth. 


Christian Institution," a work which attracted the atten- 
tion of the world of science to the questions then 
under debate, and contributed powerfully to the success 
of the Reform. These were valuable auxiliaries, which 
operated effectively upon the souls of mankind, and pre- 
pared the way for the regeneration of the Church. 

Convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Re- 
formers endeavored to bring to light, and struck by their 
keeping with the Holy Scriptures, one of the prelates 
of the French Church, Briconnet, Bishop of Meaux, had 
joined in this good work, and called into his diocese 
some wise and godly men, such as William Farel, Mar- 
tial Mazurier, Michel d'Arande, Gerard Roussel, John 
Lecomte, and Lefevre himself, whom he made his 
Grand Vicar. Encouraged by this marked approval, 
these pious doctors began to teach in private assemblies, 
and then in public pulpits. But the Sorbonne, jealous 
of its privileges, was not slow in being aroused at such 
simple explanations of the Gospel, and sought to sup- 
press these efforts at reform in the diocese of Meaux. 
At first, Briconnet resisted the means employed to com- 
bat the new doctrines. But soon, shocked by the attacks 
levelled against his Grand Vicar, and in order to turn 
aside the peril which even menaced himself, he sac- 
rificed his reform projects to a desire to retain his posi- 
tion. In order to re-establish his reputation for ortho- 
doxy, now so seriously compromised, he even went so 
far as to show himself hostile to those whom he had 
honored with his sympathy, forgetting this solemn dec- 
laration made during the days of his fervor : " Should I 
ever change my faith again, beware of changing as I 
do " ; while Jean Leclerc, a simple workman in his 


diocese, remained firm in the faith, and, to bear witness 
to it, endured torture the bare recital of which causes 
a shudder. What a humiliating and instructive con- 
trast ! The Bishop of Meaux, under the influence of 
fear, hastens to repudiate the teachings that make him 
incur a risk of losing his honors and his revenues, while 
a poor wool-comber, sustained by courage from above, 
upholds them with holy fortitude, not hesitating to give 
his life for that which the other has sacrificed to the 
interests and glory of the world. " The first shall be 
last, and the last shall be first/' saith the Gospel. 

This torture of Jean Leclerc opens, to a certain ex- 
tent, the era of persecutions, or rather that long list of 
martyrdoms which the intolerance of the Middle Ages 
adds to that of the primitive Church. The martyrdom 
of Jacques Pavannes and of Louis de Berquin, burned 
alive at Paris, the first in 1525, the second in 1529, shows 
with what rigor the Roman Church meant to proceed 
against those convicted or suspected of heresy. But 
the blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of 
the Church, and, spite of these violent measures, the 
Reformation was daily spreading in the provinces. 


Before proceeding farther, let us make, in regard to 
the spirit animating the Roman Church, a statement cal- 
culated to throw light upon facts which we are to treat 
of in this recital; namely, that that Church is essen- 
tially intolerant. Not that all its members are animated 
by a spirit of persecution ; there are some we are 
pleased to acknowledge the fact, and we thank God for 


it who have sentiments of sympathy and charity, and 
who disavow the excesses into which others have al- 
lowed themselves to be led. But we must not confound 
individual Catholics with Catholicism. If the former, 
listening to the voice of humanity and justice, repudiate 
the maxims which characterize its policy, the latter I 
mean Catholicism, or rather the system framed to de- 
fend its interests implies persecution. The Roman 
Church has persecuted, she will persecute, all who sepa- 
rate from her, and whenever she has the means to do 
so ; that is, whenever she can have the material force 
at her disposal. It is the fatal consequence of the 
maxim, "No safety outside the Church," and of the 
Compelle intrare which she believes she has the right 
to apply to heretics. That constitutes in her eyes a 
wholesome severity. Her pretensions, however, do not 
stand the test of trial ; they are contrary to the letter 
and the spirit of the Gospel ; but she is sincere in her 
error. She believes she is rendering service to God, 
who would willingly dispense with such service, and to 
heretics, who would still more willingly dispense with it. 
But the premises being granted, the conclusion naturally 

We must not be surprised, then, if we see this Church 
arraying herself against any manifestation of conscience ; 
if we find her always hostile to Reform, always ready to 
arrest its progress by means of the stake and the sword. 
Acting thus, she was in her proper element, and could 
not abandon it without self-contradiction. She will 
renounce it only when she shall herself have been re- 
formed ; that is, when she shall have repudiated oppres- 
sion and violence, and submitted to those principles of 


support and custom which are the essence of Chris- 

Moreover, we make this reflection without harshness 
or bitterness, reckoning that it pertains entirely to an 
indictment and defence of that Church ; to the indict- 
ment of her theory, anti-human and anti-divine ; to the 
defence of her intentions, which are sometimes worth 
more than her principles, since, while flattering herself 
as being charitable, she even lacks the charity to lead 
back souls into her pale. An inflexible logic holds her 
fast ; her spirit leads her heart astray, and drives her to 
deeds revolting to religious as well as humane sentiments, 
deeds of which she is in the end ashamed, when she has 
regained her calmer moments, and has to render account 
to public opinion. Indeed, when public indignation is 
aroused against certain acts of violence, such as the 
Vaudois massacre, St. Bartholomew, or the Dragon- 
nades, the Church seeks to decline responsibility for 
them ; she lays them at the door of the civil authority ; 
she pretends that the latter could not avoid taking these 
steps for its own safety, and that the Church, which has 
a horror of bloodshed, is not responsible for them. But 
no one is deceived by these tactics. 


Beside persecuting those who adhered to the doctrines 
of the Reformation, the Catholic doctors did not fail to 
combat them by their writings. Among them is a 
work which appeared in 1528, under the title of Mer- 
veilleuse Histoire de U Esprit de Lyon, a Catholic apol- 
ogy for Purgatory, addressed to the Lutherans, already 
numerous in France, and dedicated to Francis L, who, 


after having caused a discussion of the subject to be 
held in his presence, had shown himself hardly satisfied. 
The same year, the Archbishop of Sens complained in 
a provincial council " that there were some who were 
holding secret assemblies, and busied themselves to read 
and preach among those of their sect," and he invokes 
the secular arm against them. 1 

If such events were transpiring in Lyons and the 
archbishopric of Sens, they must have also taken place 
in other parts of France. But the severity practised 
towards those who professed the suspected doctrines 
prevented them from presenting themselves in the open 
light of day, and therefore their history is in many cases 
but little known. That La Rochelle early counted some 
adherents of what were called " the new doctrines," is 
evident from the martyrdom of a poor girl of Essarts, in 
Poitou, who was burned alive in the year 1534, "with 
such fortitude," says the account, " that she was ad- 
mired for it." Now, this courageous girl, named Marie 
Belandelle, or Gaborite, had served at La Rochelle, prob- 
ably in a house where the Gospel was known. On her 
return to Essarts, she feared not to attack the doctrine 
of a Franciscan friar, and confused him by the pas- 
sages of Scripture she had retained in her memory. 
Ashamed of his defeat, the monk concealed his resent- 
ment, and induced her to repeat in public what she had 
said to him in private. Accused forthwith of heresy, 
she was put in prison, tried at Fontenay, and sentenced 
to be burned alive. A decree from the Parliament of 
Paris confirmed this horrible sentence, which was exe- 
cuted at Essarts. 

1 Sanctiones Ecclesiastics in Concilio Senonenso. 


The preachings of Calvin in Angoumois and Poitou, 
and those of Jean Vernon, who continued his work when 
the Reformer had been compelled to withdraw to Bale ; 
the labors of Philippe Veron, called "the Gatherer," who, 
according to Florimond de Remond and Victor Cayet, 
had for his field of labor Angoumois, Saintonge, and 
Aunis ; those of Philibert Hamelin, the Reformer of 
Saintonge, all these had been made public in La 
Rochelle, and aroused men's minds to an inquiry int&j 
wholesome truth. 

It is certain that at this epoch there were in the city 
people concerned about the Reformation, and who had 
embraced its faith, since the humble servant of whom 
we have just spoken had been there able to acquire a 
conviction deep enough to suffer her to be burned alive 
sooner than deny her belief. 

In spite of the severity of the edicts during the 
sojourn of Francis I. at La Rochelle in 1542, some 
secretly professed the doctrine of Luther. 2 Arcere 
informs us, even, that on the 22d of May, 1544, 
Francis I. wrote from St. Germain-en- Lay e to the 
Count of Lude, his Lieutenant in Poitou, who had re- 
placed Jarnac as Governor : " I have been warned that 
in La Rochelle and its environs there are several per- 
sons greatly tainted and infected with these accursed 
and damned Lutheran errors, who have joined them- 
selves together, and in flocks, and who go through the 
country causing infinite scandal, and sowing among the 

1 There is still shown in the environs of Poitiers a cave known under 
the name of " Calvin's Cave," where the Reformer celebrated the Holy 
Sacrament with his friends, being unable, on account of the violence of 
persecution, to do so publicly. 

2 Jaillot, Mes Annales, II. i 


people their unfortunate and damned doctrine, a thing 
which displeases me. For this cause, I write to the 
Lieutenant of Poitou that he actively and secretly inform 
himself as to who the aforesaid are, and that against 
those whom he shall find charged therewith he shall 
proceed, arrest them, chastise, and punish them so strictly 
and severely that it may be an example and terror to 
all others." 

The doctrine which the King so harshly qualifies 
made such rapid progress, that it gained adherents even 
among the professors, the ecclesiastics, and the nuns. 

A little later in fact, in 1546, the Master of Schools 
in the city was observed to be leaning toward Protes- 
tantism, and teaching his pupils the principles of the 
pure Gospel. For this reason he was, during the fol- 
lowing year, excommunicated. Soon afterward, the 
nuns of the St. Claire Convent, called " Black Sisters," 
fell away from their faith, and broke the yoke no 
longer sacred to them, in order to enter into the ties of 
marriage or to return to their families. The Procurer 
of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Bishop of Saintes, 
having presented himself at a monastery and demanded 
explanation, the abbess and nuns who were there replied 
to him that they were only answerable to the Pope and 
the priest of the Franciscans. 

Affrighted by these symptoms, the clergy increased 
its precautions to arrest their progress. But soon Prot- 
estantism gained members even from among the clergy 
themselves. An Augustine monk, named Goymoult, 
was accused of heresy, and confined in the episcopal 
prison of La Rochelle, whence he succeeded in escap- 
ing on the I5th of July, 1547. The following year, 


Troublier, the Procurer of the St. Augustine convent of 
St. Yon, at La Rochelle, was accused of false and errone- 
ous doctrines of heresy at St. Martin-de-Re. The 8th 
of August of the same year, the Seneschal's office seized - Q 
some Protestants, and compelled them to make public 
retraction, "with naked feet, en chemise, and a taper in 
their hands," before the principal door of Notre Dame 
de Cougnes. Others, upon the information of the priest 
Soulier, were banished and flogged until they bled, at 
the same time being prohibited from making use in 
future " of any heretical language, under penalty of being 
burned alive." Finally, on the I7th of May, 1550, Jean 
Denybat, Vicar-General of the Bishop of Saintes at La 
Rochelle, called together all the cures, vicars, and monks 
of his jurisdiction, to warn them "against every dissent- 
ing and scandalous schism." l 

It was a useless precaution. The Reformation gradu- 
ally spread, and gained ground among the literary classes. 
" Some libraries in this city offered and exposed for sale 
books condemned and prohibited by the King, our Sire, 
as contained in the catalogue of condemned books, for 
instance the Colloquies of Erasmus ; and the school 
regents and masters of this city read them publicly in 
their school." A list drawn up in 1 548, by an inquisitor 
of the faith, informs us what these pernicious works 
were. By the side of the Reformer Wickliffe, John 
Huss, Jerome of Prague, Luther, Zwingle, and Calvin, 
are found the Commandments of God, the Life of Jesus, 
the Psalms of David, and all the Bibles which contain in 
the Epistle to the Romans the words, Fides justificat 

1 Registers of the Ecclesiastical Court and of the Government of La 


non opera, " We are justified by faith, not by works." 
On the 1 2th of July, 1550, the Ecclesiastical Court ab- 
solutely interdicted the reading of these works in the 
public schools, and the Protestants of La Rochelle began 
to hold schools secretly at their houses, where religious 
teachers instructed their children according to the 
Gospel. 1 


From this period until 1552, the annals of the time 
furnish no other traces of the advance of Protestantism 
in our city. The work of God was latently operating in 
men's souls. The perils and punishments to which 
those professing the new doctrines were exposed con- 
strained or paralyzed their manifestation. But in this 
year 1552, says Philippe Vincent, a judgment was ren- 
dered, and a notable execution carried out, against three 
men of the religion, the wording of which I have dis- 
covered, and considered worthy of insertion here in its 

Here is the sentence word for word : 

" On the part of the King's attorney, plaintiff in the crime 
of heresy, errors, false doctrine, and dogmatisms against the 

1 The attorney of the Ecclesiastical Court, on the 3<Dth of July, 1550, 
denounced before that court several schoolmasters for holding secret 
schools: Pierre Delagarde, who the house of Fran9ois Barrier; 
Helyes, at the house of Pierre Main, on the Grande Rue ; Nicolas, at 
the house of Jacques David ; Fra^ois Seneschal, at the house of Nazaret ; 
and two Gascons, at the houses of Ferbouillant and Morisson. Sus- 
pected of instructing their followers " in a separate and unwonted doc- 
trine, as well as of not observing the ancient form in regard to the 
teaching of good morals, and the wording of prayers and orisons," they 
were summoned to appear " in order that they might be heard and ex- 
amined on the doctrine that they were administering to their followers, 
and otherwise be proceeded against as might be just and right." 


honor of God and the Holy Virgin and the Christian religion, 
and the customs of our Mother the Holy Church, transgression 
of the edicts and ordinances of the King, the crime of disturbing 
public tranquillity, against Matthias Couraud, called Gaston 
des Champs, Pierre Constantin, called Castin, and Pierre Lucas 
Mongaud, confined in the prison of this court. 

" Considering the charges and informations made against the 
aforesaid, respectively, the criminal indictment by us made 
against them, the conclusions of the King's attorney, the whole 
considered, the name of God first invoked, and, upon this, the 
advice of counsel ; and after having caused the said prisoners 
to appear, and to be amply interrogated, and the said Couraud 
having persisted and persevered in the greater part of the heret- 
ical, schismatic, erroneous, scandalous, and very blasphemous 
propositions with which he is charged by this indictment, and 
the said Constantin and Mongaud not having wished to per- 
severe in them ; we have declared the said Couraud and Con- 
stantin attainted and convicted of the circumstances above 
named, and of being seditious men and schismatics, and disturbers 
of our Christian religion and of the public peace, having often 
spoken and advanced assertions in public, and having discussed 
them in opposition to the Holy Sacrament of Penitence and 
Confession, and against the honor of the sacred Virgin Mary 
and of the saints, male and female, against the authority and 
dignity of our Holy Church and its ministry ; and moreover, 
the said Couraud of having practised dogmatism and given 
readings to the towns-people, and persevered in the said 
errors; and the said Lucas Mongaud of having, oftentimes 
and in public, spoken disdainfully and irreverently of the 
Very Holy Virgin Mary and of the Saints, male and female, 
and against the ecclesiastical constitutions and the solemni- 
zations of the fetes ordained by our Mother the Holy Church, 
and against the free arbiter : and in so doing to have thus 
troubled the repose and tranquillity of the faithful with whom 
they conversed. 

" As reparation for said outrages resulting from said criminal 
indictments, proceeding to definite judgments, 'as the last 

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demands of the occasion ; and after the said public retraction 
we have condemned the said Courand to have his tongue sfit 
in such a way that he can no more talk ; and this done, to be 
all three reconducted in the condition and order above stated 
(except that they shall no longer hold the said tapers) to the 
prisons of the City Hall; and two hours afterward, in the said 
condition, to be led into the open square of the City HaU, in 
the which we have condemned and do condemn the said 
Couraud to be burned alive in a great fire which shall be buflt 
and made in the said place ; and the said Constantin to be 
strangled, and while being so to be placed in another fire in the 
said place; and die said Mongaud to be present at the two 
executions, still at oioB&r, feet and head bare, a cord about his 
neck, a fagot upon his back, upon another scaffold which to this 
end shall be built in the said place; and the said executions 
over, to be flogged with switches by the executioner of mgh 
justice around die two fires until his blood flows ; and this done 
we have banished and do banish him in perpetuity from this 
city and this government; we have inhibited and forbidden, and 
do inhibit and forbid him from ever again making use of scan- 
dalous, erroneous, heretical, and schismatic remarks; thus we 
have enjoined and do enjoin him to five in conformity with die 
prevailing opinion of our Mother, the Holy Church, without in 
any way derogating therefrom, under penally of being burned 
alive* The aforesaid are condemned to the expenses and costs 
according to the tax which shall by us be therefor made, which 
shall be die first paid out of their property; and die rest of die 
property of said Couraud and Constantin is declared forfeited 
and confiscated to the King ; and moreover we have condemned 
and do condemn the said Mongaud to two bundled pounds 
amend to die King, and to remain in prison until lull payment 
thereof. We enjoin and command, upon die part of the King, 
all classes of persons, of whatever quality and condition, to com 
forward to denounce and dnctose die names of all these of 
either sex whom they may know to be unfiwonbly disposed 
toward our &ith, and wno make profession of scandalous* 
iv.vv.vV... v v v >vV. s ..'..: '.v* vuv:: vs . : v> ...v.*': .v.v. : ^: .vv,; 


declared their abettors and receivers, and, like them, punished 
according to the severity of the royal edicts and ordinances. 

" Made and given by us, Claude d'Angliers, Esquire, King's 
Counsellor and Lieutenant- General at La Rochelle, on Tuesday, 
the loth day of May, 1552. 

" Signed, D'Angliers, Amateur Blandin, Michel de Cherbois, 
Vermaud, Achard, Perpaud, Boucher, Chanvier, Brichet, and 

" Signed herewith, 

" LEROUX, Registrar Clerk. 

" Pronounced in the Government Court of La Rochelle in 
presence of the advocates and the attorney of the King. The 
said criminals sent for by reason hereof, by us the said 
D'Angliers, the said day and year ; and the same day, by these 
presents signed, duly executed. 
" Signed, 

" LEROUX, Registrar Clerk." 

Here was a formidable sentence, which must have 
fairly staggered even the partisans of wholesome se- 
verity. Imprisonment, fine, confiscation, perpetual ban- 
ishment, flagellation to the point of bloodshed, enforced 
retraction, strangulation, the tongue slit, torture by fire, 
all are here lavishly bestowed, with a refinement worthy 
of the most barbarous ages. And the absurd element 
seems at times to rival the odious, for one can with diffi- 
culty understand how it could have been possible to 
force a man to retract who obstinately refused to say 
anything. If the retraction imposed had alleviated the 
fate of the condemned man, one can conceive that the 
hope of obtaining the benefit of it might have made him 
speak against his conscience. But after having abjured 
his pretended errors, the unfortunate man had to have 


his tongue slit and be burned alive, so that he gained 
nothing by asserting the falsehood exacted from him, 
and it is doubtful whether this portion of the sentence 
could have been carried out, notwithstanding the asser- 
tion of the Registrar Clerk, who adds, " The same day, 
by these presents signed, duly executed." It was not 
possible to execute it, save with the consent of the suf- 
ferer, who was unable to give that consent. 

Such, then, are the indignities or the cruelties that 
were inflicted, not upon rogues or malefactors, but upon 
pious and worthy citizens ; for the sentence cites no act 
of theft or murder, not even a single minor delinquency, 
on the part of the accused. It only mentions scandalous, 
heretical, and schismatic remarks and blasphemies against 
religion and the saints, and against the constitutions of 
the Church. But these blasphemies did not consist in 
impious words against religion, or against the Divinity, 
not even against the Virgin Mary or against the saints. 
These alleged blasphemers professed that it was a duty 
to serve the living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : 
they honored the Virgin Mary as the blessed Mother of 
the Saviour, and they honored the faithful who have 
given an example of Christian virtues. Their blasphemy 
was confined to the assertion that it is necessary neither 
to adore nor to invoke the Virgin and the saints, because 
such religious worship rendered to creatures simply 
constitutes an act of idolatry, reproved by the Gospel. 
They had spoken against the fetes, auricular confession, 
the free arbiter, and the authority which the ministers of 
the Roman Church arrogated to themselves, or against 
the practices contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ 
and the Apostles. It is this that their crime amounted 


to. I find the proof of it in the silence of the sentence, 
which would not have failed to contain a mention of the 
fact had they been guilty of any other offence, and also 
in this, that it is stated they had " dogmatized." But 
even had their error been as real as it was imaginary, it 
had been accompanied by no evil act, and there was no 
reason for condemning them to have the tongue slit, to 
be strangled, and to be burned alive. 

Is it said, that by the laws of the Middle Ages her- 
esy was a crime punishable by death, and that there 
was inflicted upon these unfortunates only the chastise- 
ment they had knowingly incurred ? But even from this 
stand-point the sentence in question is defective, for 
heresy belongs to the spiritual domain ; it ought to be 
proved by the religious, and not by the civil authority. 
Now in this instance the Church had not intervened to 
declare that the accused were heretics. Nothing indi- 
cates it in the sentence that we have reproduced. It is 
only the magistrates who affirm the charge of heresy, 
and who put themselves in the place of the spiritual 
judges, whose declaration should have preceded the 
capital sentence. Why did not the Church, always 
jealous of her rights, lift up her voice against this en- 
croachment by the civil power ? I know that the Edict 
of Chateaubriand gave the judges of Presidials the right 
of taking cognizance of the crime of heresy when it oc- 
casioned public scandal and transgressions of the laws. 
But then why did the Church permit herself to be de- 
spoiled of her prerogative without a protest ? Why did 
she not claim the authority that pertained to her, in 
questions of this nature ? Why did she suffer, without 
saying a word, this substitution of the Presidial for the 


Ecclesiastical ? Was it because she found it convenient 
to let her work be done by the justice of the land, to the 
end that she might appear immaculate in the eyes of the 
world, and maintain her pretensions to a horror of blood- 
shed ? 

What a strange spectacle in a city ! to spurn, to muti- 
late, to torture, virtuous and worthy citizens because 
they did not conform to the common opinion of the 
Church ! The habits and precedents of the time could 
not justify these acts of ferocity committed under pre- 
text of the honor of a just and charitable Deity. Such 
indignities would rather dishonor the living God, were 
He not above dishonor by man. The Church that was 
associated with this horrible execution should, were she 
not an accomplice in it, have remembered that Christ 
came, not to destroy men, but to save them, and to use 
his sway to arrest the arm ready to strike the innocent. 

But the wicked's work always leads him astray, and 
this torture, intended to terrorize adherents of the new 
doctrines, or to repress their manifestation, produced a 
contrary effect. The ashes of those who had been de- 
livered to the flames proved the seed of the great peo- 
ple which, a few years later, arrayed itself under the 
standard of the Reformation. What a wonderful thing, 
and how worthy the contemplation of the enemies of 
truth ! Several of the judges who had signed this piti- 
less sentence embraced the faith of those whom they 
had sent to torture, and labored bravely to befriend its 
progress. " This is what, among others the Lieut.- 
General Claude d'Angliers did," says Philippe Vincent, 
" as I have before me writings of his which prove it. 
So that it is credible that the reasonings which they 


might themselves have deduced, and the constancy, above 
all, of him whom neither the fear of torture nor the ter- 
rible dread of flames could move from his firmness, 
touched them deeply, and produced upon their minds a 
strong impression, the effect of which made itself in 
time apparent." The memory of these unhappy victims 
of intolerance and fanaticism worked upon their minds, 
not as an avenging shadow rearing itself before them to 
punish them for their cruelty, but as an affecting picture, 
or rather an irresistible force drawing them towards the 
doctrine which those victims had confessed. Thus, in 
this horrible drama, to the judges and executioners 
there came defeat, while to the victims and martyrs 
came triumph ; so that, with the early heralds of the 
Christian faith, they could exclaim, " We are conquer- 
ors, though we perish." 


Moreover, the method of intimidation employed was 
no more successful in arresting the movement of men's 
minds toward the Reformation in the environs of La 
Rochelle, than it was within her walls ; for in 1551 some 
Evangelical churches were established at the Isle of 
Arvert, St. Jean-d'Angely, Poitiers, and Chatellerault ; and 
in 1556 at Saintes, at Marennes, and at the lies Neuves. 
As for La Rochelle there were as yet there but some few 
elements lacking cohesion, scarcely conscious each of 
the other, having neither temple nor pastor, and reduced 
to the necessity of concealing their beliefs. These were 
the hewn stones for the edifice, but not yet the edifice 
itself. These were the members of the Church, but not 
yet the Church itself. However, in 1557, Pastor Charles 


de Clermont, says Lafontaine, having come to La Ro- 
chelle, assumed the direction of the religious movement, 
and, with the assistance of Jean de la Place, succeeded 
in assembling the persons who had thrown open their 
hearts to the persecuted doctrine. " It was in this year," 
says an old chronicler, " that the truth of the Gospel be- 
gan to be exercised in the right." 

In the following year, 1558, Theodore de Beze informs 
us that Pierre Richer, surnamed De Lisle, on his return 
from a voyage to America, 1 succeeded to Charles de 
Clermont, and organized the little Rochelais flock, to 
which he gave a consistory and a discipline ; so that it is 
he who may be considered the father of the church of La 
Rochelle. This fact is confirmed by the registers of the 
consistory, where Richer is the first who, in the capacity 
of pastor, signs the baptisms and marriages ; previous to 
that time they only bore the signature of the elders. 

But while the members of the little flock were incur- 
ring the greatest dangers in failing to conform to the 
common opinion of the Holy Mother Church, suddenly 
the king of Navarre, Antoine of Bourbon, and Jeanne 
d'Albret, his wife, arrived at La Rochelle, and raised the 
courage of the partisans of the new doctrines. Re- 
ceived with the greatest honors by the magistrates of the 
city, inasmuch as Antoine of Bourbon was Governor of 
Guienne, and La Rochelle upheld his government, they 

1 This voyage of Richer's is connected with the expedition of Ville- 
gagnon, undertaken under the auspices of Coligny, and having for its 
object the propagation of the Gospel. But Villegagnon, having soon 
changed his behavior and declared that he no longer adhered to what 
he called the Calvinist Sect, forbade any preaching. After having en- 
deavored to secretly hold religious assemblies, Richer, who had followed 
this expedition, returned to Europe with several of the faithful, and, after 
having escaped the greatest perils, finished by reaching La Rochelle. 


remained thirteen days in the city. Initiated into Chris- 
tian truth by Margaret of France, also queen of Navarre, 
sister of Francis L, who, although she had not outwardly 
broken off with the Roman communion, had yet taken 
the Reformation under her protection, Jeanne d'Albret 
endeavored to inculcate in her husband the Gospel prin- 
ciples she had learned from her mother. Under their 
blessed influence, they had in 1555 caused the Gospel to 
be publicly preached in the great hall of the chateau of 
Nerac by Pierre David, whom the Bishop of Agen had 
excommunicated under the pretext that in his sermons 
he taught suspicious doctrines. 

Having accompanied the king and queen of Navarre 
in their journey to La Rochelle, Pierre David, by their 
authority and aided by Le Bois-Normand, preached to 
the people for the first time that they should read the 
Holy Scripture, and make it the rule of their faith. 
These preachings took place in the church of St. Bar- 
tholomew, and one of the first fruits was the conversion 
of the Demoiselle Dufa, Lady of La Leigne, who after 
her departure from La Rochelle suffered all kinds of 
severities in the prisons of Paris, on account of her re- 
ligious convictions. 


The sojourn of the king of Navarre at La Rochelle 
was also signalized by the representation of a religious 
allegory, which contributed in no small degree to dis- 
crediting the Roman ceremonies, and which Philippe 
Vincent reports in all its details, " having himself been 
informed of it by an elderly lady named Catherine de 
Launay, maternal aunt of M. Jean Grenon, lawyer and 


King's Attorney in Admiralty of this city, and great- 
aunt of Pastor Elie Bouhereau, one who retained her 
mind clear and her memory strong up to the very mo- 
ment when she gave up her soul to God." 

"During the sojourn of this prince here," says he, "there 
came a band of comedians who put up their theatre, to which 
repaired, as usual, a great crowd of people. 1 One day, when 
the prince, and also the queen, his wife, were present, having 
given notice that they had a play of importance, so that there 
was an extraordinary attendance, they represented a woman who, 
sick to the last degree, gave utterance to great sighs, and asked 
that some one should give her relief. Then the cure of the 
parish was called for, and he presented himself with all his equi- 
page, sparing no means in his power to afford her some relief; 
but it proved impossible for him to do so. After him followed 
all the other ecclesiastics, one by one, who succeeded no bet- 
ter. In addition to the ordinary ones, they summoned various 
orders of monks, who endeavored to afford her some remedy ; 
nor were there wanting relics, nor indulgence-bags well loaded, 
which were read off to her one after the other, nor even the 
ceremony of clothing her completely in a coat of St. Francis. 
But, for all that, the poor patient found herself not a whit re- 
lieved, and said, lamentingly, that none of them all knew any- 
thing about how to confess her. As she was at this point, there 
approached one of her acquaintance, who came to give her notice, 
as it were in private, and looking around here and there to see 
if there was anybody who heard him, that he knew a man who 
would confess her to perfection, and would put her altogether in 
the right way ; but that this man, being so constituted that the 
air of the day-time was hurtful and unhealthy for him, would go 
abroad willingly only after the sun had set. She then begged 
that this man might be brought to her. After some little period 
of waiting, and making believe that night had come, he was led 
to her presence. She beheld a plain man, dressed like any one 

1 This custom prevails in La Rochelle to this day, 1880. G. L. C. 


else, who, after holding at her bedside some conversation which 
the attendants could not hear, but from which, it was evident by 
her gestures, she experienced great satisfaction, drew from his 
pocket a little book, which he presented to her, telling her that 
it contained unfailing recipes for her sickness ; so that, if she 
would try them, without doubt she would, in a few days, find 
herself restored to her former health. The man having retired, 
and the patient, with her bed, having been carried off the stage, 
after some little interlude, the latter suddenly appeared again, 
no longer ill or in bed, but well and entirely cured, and, after 
having made several turns up and down the stage, remarked 
to the assistants that she was obliged to acknowledge that this 
stranger had succeeded admirably in confessing her, a task 
which none of the others had been able to accomplish, and 
that, furthermore, the recipes contained in the little book which 
he had given her were absolutely unequalled, as could be seen 
in the prompt effect they had had upon her. So, if there were 
any of those present who were afflicted with the same malady 
as she had been, she advised them to have recourse to her 
little book, and for this purpose she would willingly lend it ; 
however, she would warn them beforehand of a twofold incon- 
venience she had found in it ; the one, that in touching it to 
her hand it was a little warm, and the other, that to the smell 
it had the unpleasant odor of a fagot. Further than this, should 
any one inquire her name, or that of the book which she had 
been praising so warmly to them, those were two enigmas which 
she left to them to guess. 

" All this having been acted with great charm, the prince, 
and the queen, his wife, as well as their court, gave evidence of 
having been much pleased, and so, following their example, did 
a great number of those present, several of whom already ex- 
perienced some disgust for the Roman Church, and understood 
that this patient represented Truth. The first ones, who had 
not confessed her well, represented those who took the titles of 
Pastor and Doctor, and who, instead of confessing Truth, de- 
tained her unjustly ; the last arrival was one of those pretended 
heretics whom the severity of the times compelled to hide him- 


self, and who alone knew and confessed her, as his duty re- 
quired. The book which was warm, and smelt of the fagot, 
was the New Testament, which people were forbidden to have 
or read at home under penalty of fire." * 

But, alas ! what was pleasing to some people's tastes 
was not agreeable to others ; the ecclesiastics, above all, 
were very far from taking it in good part ; they com- 
plained bitterly of it to the magistrates, so that the 
actors were obliged to quit the city. Had it not been 
known that the prince and his wife had taken them 
under their protection, they would have had a hard time 
of it, and the comedy might have lapsed into a tragedy. 
But nothing came of it ; only, for some days, nothing 
else was talked of, and several were led to inquire about 
this book which contained such excellent precepts. 

Philippe Vincent, who relates this anecdote, takes care 
to add that he does not approve of such a play. " Re- 
ligion is too serious a matter," he says, " to be made a 
play of, too holy to be dragged into the theatres, too 
hostile to the world to beg for assistance from its min- 
isters." We are of his opinion. But it must not be 
forgotten that at this epoch men were holding Truth 
unjustly captive, and it was necessary to use a great 
variety of means to bring it to light. Had the Church 
proclaimed the great doctrine, that the Gospel is the 
power of God unto salvation for every one that believeth, 
there would have been no necessity for resorting to this 
stratagem to secure its liberation. But when the pulpit 
was silent, the stage felt it had a right to speak. " If 

1 The Bulletin of the Society of the History of Protestantism (1860, 
p. 28) expresses the opinion that this mystery might be the Moralite de la 
Maladie de Chretiente, printed by Pierre de W ingle in 1533. 


these should hold their peace, the stones would immedi- 
ately cry out," said the Saviour. 

In any case, it was not for those who had authorized 
Mys&res? and resorted, but a short time before, to 
this same artifice, in order to cast disgrace upon Mar- 
garet of Navarre, it was not for those now to feel 
scandalized by this innocent allegory. 

It is known, in fact, that the doctors of the Sorbonne, 
being obliged to retract the censure uttered against the 
Miroir de r Ame pecker esse, " Mirror of the Sinful Soul," 
published by this illustrious princess, took revenge by 
playing, at the College of Navarre, a tragedy in which 
they represented her under the form of a Fury, issu- 
ing from hell, and scattering about her the pestilen- 
tial poisons that she had brought thence with her, 
and the matter went so far that the King, becoming 
angry, put several of them in prison. The scene per- 
formed at La Rochelle was not a reprisal made by 
Jeanne d'Albret against the enemies of her mother ; 
but what right had those who had rudely insulted, upon 
the stage, persons whom they could not disgrace by 
their censures, to be severe toward those who made use 
of the same method, without casting aside the rules of 
decency ? 

1 In the Middle Ages they gave the name of Mysftres to theatrical 
pieces of which the subject was taken from the Bible, and in which God, 
the angels, devils, etc. were made to appear. Extolled by the clergy } 
these pieces were played first in the cathedrals, then in the />arw'ses, and 
finally in public places. The greater part of them were composed by 
clerks, and played by them, or by brotherhoods and companies. It was 
a glory and an honor to play in the Mysftres. This union of religion 
and buffoonery was rigorously proscribed in 1545, the period at which 
low comedy had its birth ; but they still gave the name of Mystercs to all 
theatrical representations, because they had commenced with representa- 
tions of the mysteries of our religion. 



But God's ways are not our ways, and by these vari- 
ous means the little flock which had gathered in our 
city received an increase so considerable, that those 
composing it resolved to establish a discipline, with a 
view to maintaining order and sound doctrine among 
its members. Consequently, on Sunday, the i/th of 
November, 1558, there were chosen eight persons to 
form a Consistory, which, independently of the pastor, 
who was then a M. Faget, was composed of four elders, 
two deacons, a scribe, or secretary, and a receiver, or 
treasurer. But this number soon proved inadequate, 
and on the 24th of December they added four elders to 
those already appointed, a clear proof that the church 
was gaining in number and importance. 

The functions of the members of the Consistory were 
at once honorable and useful. They consisted in choos- 
ing the place where the faithful should assemble in 
secret ; in receiving alms, and distributing them to 
the needy ; in reconciling estranged persons, and repri- 
manding those who had fallen into any fault, accord- 
ing to the constant custom of the early Church. The 
ecclesiastical discipline which constituted the glory of 
our forefathers had not, as yet, been sanctioned by the 
Synods ; but it found its germ in the customs of the 
, Protestants of La Rochelle. 

The fires at the stake being kindled on all sides, and 
several persons having already lost their lives for the 
sake of religion, the faithful only assembled by night, 
and in houses with several means of egress. The owner 
kept watch without, to warn those present in case the 


assemblage should happen to be discovered. One had 
to be well known, and inspire perfect confidence, to ob- 
tain admission to these nocturnal meetings. It was 
even decided, that for the present, and until circumstan- 
ces should be less critical, women should not be allowed 
to take part. This measure had to be taken in order to 
prevent evil suspicions, considering the hour at which 
the meetings were necessarily held, perhaps, too, in 
order not to expose the church to new storms, through 
the indiscretion of those whose husbands were not yet 
won over to the faith. This appears from the registers 
of the Consistory, which were kept with such caution 
that the proceedings which were there reported bore no 
name whatever. The elders were therein designated 
by a conventional letter, for fear of exposing them to 
some danger should their signature chance to fall into 
the hands of their enemies. 

What an unfortunate period, when fanaticism was sti- 
fling the purest sentiments of human nature ! when to 
interest one's self in religion outside of the formal wor- 
ship and traditions of the Roman Church sufficed to 
draw down upon one the hatred of his fellow-citizens, 
and to discover, even among the members of his own 
family, those who would denounce him ! But what a glo- 
rious time, when the interests of salvation and eternity 
possessed supreme importance, and when there were 
those who feared not to face persecution and death, in 
order to study these sublime questions by the light of 
the Gospel torch ! 

However, the situation was very serious. In most of 
the provinces, those who connected themselves in any 
way whatever with the doctrines of the Reformation 


were being cast into the flames, and the church of La 
Rochelle lost, at this period, one of its most fervent 
members, Pierre Arondeau, a travelling dealer in dry 
goods, who was arrested on suspicion of Protestantism, 
and transferred to Paris, where he was burned alive on 
the Place de la Greve, on the I5th of November, 1559. 
But this execution had no other effect than to strengthen 
the members of the church, and exalt the zeal of the 
martyr's co-religionists. 

In this same year, 1559, they commenced to keep an 
accurate registry of the baptisms, one of the first of 
which was that of Pierre Bouhereau, ancestor of the 
Pastor Elie Bouhereau, a pious and distinguished man, 
who carried on his ministry at La Rochelle with great 
edification from 1640 to 1653. 

But the severities practised against the Protestants 
were not relaxed ; and it was on this account that those 
of La Rochelle and its vicinity, persuaded that the King 
only authorized the bad treatment they had to endure 
by reason of his " not understanding truly what their 
doctrine was," resolved to make known publicly their 
principles in a profession of faith, declaring " that they 
were ready to sign with their blood this profession, 
taken from the word of God, and to die all together, 
rather than to be drawn into law separately, and made 
to die, one by one, under false and calumnious impu- 

t Having perfected this plan, they sent the ministers of 
La Rochelle, St. Jean d'Angely, Saintes, and Marennes 
to the king of Navarre to communicate it to him, and 
confer with him. But Antoine of Bourbon was too cau- 
tious to encourage this project ; he invited the Rochelais 


"to keep still, and in all patience let this storm pass 
over, waiting for God to look to it." 

Hence this wish of the Protestants of Aunis and Sain- 
tonge was not carried out immediately ; but it was soon 
practically realized by the confession of faith proclaimed 
a short time afterwards in the Synod of Paris, on the 
25th of May, 1559, in spite of the enormous difficulties 
which the undertaking presented. Gibbets were forth- 
with erected on the public places ; bloody laws bore 
hard upon the Reformers; and Anne Dubourg, coun- 
sellor at the Court of Paris, had just suffered martyrdom 
for having censured the edicts against the Protestants. 
It was under these circumstances that the first Synod 
of the Reformed Churches of France assembled in the 
capital of the kingdom. The historian De Thou says, 
that the calling of this Synod " was one of the bold 
strokes of which possibly there had been no parallel in 
religion." The pastors of St. Jean d'Angely and Ma- 
rennes were delegated to express there the wishes of the 
Rochelais ; and it was doubtless in recognition of such 
expression that the assembly sent to La Rochelle the 
ministers Brule and Nicolas Folion, surnamed De La- 
vallee, " who carried with them the articles of formu- 
lary of the discipline proclaimed by said Synod." 

The delegates to the assembly at Paris hastened to 
return to their churches, consoling some, strengthening 
others, so that there was a daily increase, several magis- 
trates holding secret sympathy with the Reformation^ 
and abstaining from a persecution of the Reformers 
with that severity which the King's letters to the 
Parliaments and to the judges of the kingdom pre- 


In accordance with the resolutions adopted by the 
assembly of Paris, all the churches of France found 
themselves thereafter united in one body, under the 
same confession of faith and the same discipline. We 
shall recur to this monument of the fidelity and wisdom 
of our forefathers when the chronological order of nar- 
ration shall call us to speak of the sanction which it 
obtained in our city, at the Synod held in 1571. For 
the moment let us confine ourselves to remarking, with 
one of the best authorities on this subject, "that the 
creed of 1559 opposed to the reproaches of Catholi- 
cism its dogmatical articles, all founded on the Scrip- 
tures ; to the suspicions of royalty, a proclamation of its 
submission to the laws, and of obedience to civil author- 
ity." The Huguenots thus affirmed that they wished to 
be Christians in reality, as well as in name, and that 
they laid the foundation of their church in the essen- 
tial beliefs which in all ages have constituted positive 
Christianity, and which distinguish it from mere sys- 
tems of philosophy. 




Numerous Adhesions of notable People to the Reformation. Regular 
Establishment of Public Exercise of Reformed Worship. Singular 
Toleration between the two Communions. The Pastor Jean de 
1'Espine. Mournful Consequences of the Massacre of Vassy. 
Violent Outbreak of Civil Wars. Palissy seeks a Refuge at La 
Rochelle. Pastor Odet de Nort. Conde, Coligny, and Jeanne 
d'Albret at La Rochelle. The National Synod. St. Bartholo- 
mew's. Liberty of Conscience gained by the Rochelais after their 
Courageous Defence in the Siege of 1573. 

r I^HE occurrences just described constitute what may 
"* be called the origin of Protestantism in our city, 
" the day of small beginnings " spoken of by the prophet. 
They were sad and laborious times. The Reformation 
could not escape this law of our nature. It received the 
baptism of blood on its entry into the world, and that 
constitutes one of the glories of its destiny. In the 
period about to follow, its condition was improved, 
although it was not entirely freed from fear and fetters. 
We find it growing great in our city, and drawing to- 
ward itself the rich and the poor, until it had won over 
the mass of the population, and had been authorized 
by royal power. 



Henry II. having died on the loth of July, 1559, 
Francis II., his son, succeeded him on the throne of 
France. Young and of feeble character, he was not slow 
to fall under the control of the Guises. Influenced by 
their fatal power, he practised toward his Reformed 
subjects the same severities which had marked the 
preceding reigns. Though the first magistrates of La 
Rochelle had been won over to the new ideas, public 
worship was still held secretly, and the registers of the 
Consistory were signed in figures. But the calamitous 
reign of Francis II. was not of long duration ; and on 
the accession of Charles IX., his brother, the Protestants 
began to find some repose. In the ye^!* 1561, this prince 
sent letters which, suspending the prosecutions against 
the Reformers, favored a development of their doctrines. 
The comparative security thus enjoyed allowed those 
of La Rochelle to assemble and to keep the Consistory 
registers with more freedom. The pastors, Richer and 
Faget, were enabled to exercise their ministry without 
being disturbed or prosecuted. Richer and Nicolas 
Folion, surnamed De Lavallee, who had arrived at La 
Rochelle in 1559, and who had been obliged to use 
caution, now no longer feared to show themselves in 
public ; they attracted to the Gospel faith a goodly 
number of inhabitants, even from among the principal 
people. The Mayor, Jean Salbert, showed himself favor- 
ably disposed to the religionists, and the members of the 
city government opened their own houses to religious 
meetings. Conversions were multiplied to such a de- 
gree that the number of members of the Consistory had 


to be increased to twenty-seven in order to suffice for 
the management of the flock. 

Among these conversions one of the most remarka- 
ble was that of the Chevalier Guy Chabot, Lord of Jar- 
nac, Governor and King's Lieutenant to the army, and 
Seneschal of Justice for the government of La Rochelle. 
Mention is made also of that of Jean Pierres, Lieutenant- 
General, and others, under whose authority services were 
openly held in the city. From that time public exercise of 
the Reformed religion, temporarily tolerated by Antoine 
of Bourbon, was authorized and regularly celebrated. 

In this year, 1561, was held the famous Colloquy of 
Poissy, toward the expenses of which all the churches 
of France were called upon to contribute. That of La 
Rochelle taxed itself thirty pounds for this purpose. 


The private dwellings no longer sufficing to accom- 
modate those who repaired to the religious assemblies, 
meetings were held in St. Michael's Hall, the out-build- 
ing of a Laymen's Association suppressed by Charles 
IX., and hence become public property ; also in the 
premises called Gargouillaud, or Gargoulleau, 1 from the 
name of its owner. But soon even these capacious halls 
were found inadequate. The Consistory, having specially 
assembled on the nth of October, with the concurrence 
of the principal members of the church, demanded and 
obtained from the Mayor (Salbert) authority to hold ser- 

1 This property is now occupied by the City Library and Museum. 
The street on which it fronts preserves the ancient name, " Gargoulleau." 
G. L. C. 


vices the second day afterward, at noon, in the Church 
of St. Sauveur. The attendance was so large that it 
is reported a woman came near being suffocated. 

To obviate such inconveniences an effort was made to 
provide a more spacious place of worship, viz. St. Bar- 
tholomew's Church, which was procured in the same 
manner, that is, without annoying or preventing the 
exercise of the Roman religion. The priest continued 
to hold service there, only, by an understanding between 
the two sets of worshippers, when the one went out, 
the other entered. This spirit of tolerance imparted 
itself from La Rochelle to all Saintonge " with a great 
peace," says Philippe Vincent, "and without any evil- 
speaking or mistrust between them." For a time, the 
feeling of harmony was carried to such an extent that, 
on the 25th of October, 1561, the Consistory asked the 
priests of St. Sauveur to begin their mass a little before 
daylight, which request was granted, and in return the 
Protestants paid for the candles and lights to be used in 
the Catholic services. 

Thus, notwithstanding the opposition of their creeds, 
the Catholics and the Reformers of La Rochelle treated 
each other as friends and brothers, giving the world a 
touching example of mutual tolerance, and the same 
building serving them alternately as a place for prayer. 
Were not these broad and kindly acts more pleasing 
to Him who is Charity, than the narrow-mindedness 
and hostility which the former of the two, at a later 
period, displayed toward the latter, fancying themselves 
soiled by contact with those who did not share their 
opinions, or submit to their religious practices, and 
chasing them as pestiferous persons from their cem- 


eteries and churches ? Thus, at this period, did the 
population of La Rochelle furnish a most instructive 
and most praiseworthy example of toleration. 

But this state of things, at once so joyful and so 
gentle, did not last long. On the 2ist of November, 
1561, there was published an edict from the King, which 
took away from the Protestants the churches subject to 
the Simultaneum. Distressing as this edict was for 
the Reformers, it did not disturb the prevailing concord. 
They yielded without a murmur, contenting themselves 
with a formal acknowledgment from the Roman eccle- 
siastics, in presence of the Lieutenant-General, "that, 
during all the time they had held services there, no 
violence had been done." Furthermore, according to 
Philippe Vincent, " the Sieurs de St. Sauveur and de 
Launay were deputed to wait upon M. de Burie, the 
King's Lieutenant in the province, to render count to him 
of the prompt and full obedience which had been given 
to the King's will." 

One fact is worthy of remark: it is, that, by the 
force of principle, when brought into the presence of 
and before the progress of the Reformation, the con- 
vents were deserted. The monks and devotees of the 
order of the " Four Beggars," who were in La Rochelle, 
and the nuns of the " White Sisters " (of the order of 
Premontre) and " Black Sisters " (of Sainte Claire), re- 
linquished and abandoned their convents. 1 Doubtless, 
as the historian remarks, the hatred or ridicule which 
was attached to their persons may have influenced those 
monks or nuns who abandoned the monasteries. But 
the Gospel light which shone resplendent in the city, 

1 Amos Barbot, II. 82, quoted by Arcere. 


did it not exert its power upon their minds as well ? Had 
it not its good part in this movement, and did it not lead 
many of them to avail themselves of Christian liberty ? 

Until this period the priests of the Roman Church 
were alone admitted to bear the succor of religion to 
those condemned to death ; but as ideas of justice and 
tolerance began to see the light, it came to be under- 
stood that it was not fair to refuse Protestants, who had 
incurred the supreme penalty, the ministrations of their 
religion, in order to prepare them to die. Thus the 
pastors of the Reformed Church were thereafter called 
in for unfortunates who were under sentence of capital 
punishment. Brule and De Lavallee made them chant 
on such occasions the fifty-first Psalm, in the form of a 
prayer, and Amos Barbot relates that one of the crim- 
inals, it may be in order to prolong his life, it may be 
from some other motive, got the name of M. de Lavallee 
wrong, and cried out, in a loud voice, " M. Lamontagne, 
one more song," which was granted him. 1 


By reason of the edict of the 2ist of November, which 
interdicted the use of churches by turns, religious exer- 
cises were resumed in the St. Michael and Gargouillaud 
Halls. But this measure did not arrest the tendency of 
men's minds toward the Reformation, and before the 
end of the year the number of proselytes had so in- 
creased that the pastors were no longer equal to the 
needs of the flock. To remedy this deficiency, it was 
decided to send to Geneva one Guillemet, Lord of 

1 Jaillot, Mes Annales, II. 63. 


Chaulmes, one of the elders, with a view to procuring 
some other minister. Unfortunately, such were rare at 
Geneva as well as elsewhere, and Calvin, overwhelmed 
with calls of this nature, was obliged to make this well- 
known response to those who addressed him : " Send 
us wood, and we will send you arrows." 1 

After two months' absence, Guillemet returned with- 
out bringing the desired person. An effort was then 
made to discover near home that which could not be 
found afar off, and attention was turned to one D'Espina 
or De 1'Espine, pastor at Fontenay-le-Comte, whose emi- 
nent services commended him to the Consistory's choice. 
The conversion of this new minister to Protestantism 
had occurred under circumstances so remarkable that it 
is proper here to give an account of them as transmit- 
ted to us by Philippe Vincent, who had it from his ma- 
ternal grandmother, a native of Chateau-Gontier, in 
Anjou, where Jean Rabec 2 had been arrested in his own 
father's house. 

D'Espina, a Carmelite monk, had occasion in a house 
at Chateau-Gontier to see this Jean Rabec whom we 
have just mentioned. His conversation pleased him, 
and when the latter was arrested as a Protestant, and 
taken to Angers, the monk experienced great grief. He 
followed him to the capital of Anjou, visited him in 
prison, and endeavored, in leading him back to the Cath- 
olic faith, to protect him from his threatened fate. But 

1 See Bulletin de la Societe de FHistoire du Protestantisms Fran$ais, 

i. 448-456, iv. 321, v. 18-20, VUL 415-454, ix. 30. 

2 A monk of the Lesser Brothers, who, having acquired some knowl- 
edge of Gospel doctrines, threw off his gown at Lausanne, returned to 
France there to preach the Reformation, and suffered martyrdom at 
Angers on the 24th of April, 1557. 


Rabec set forth his religious convictions with such calm- 
ness and skill, that, instead of converting the prisoner, 
D'Espina felt himself shaken in his own beliefs. When 
Rabec, condemned to the stake, mounted the platform 
singing the seventy-ninth Psalm, " The heathen are come 
into thine inheritance," (which, says Beze, "he contin- 
ued to sing although he was lifted up and down in the 
fire, and his entrails protruded from his abdomen,") 
D'Espina was profoundly impressed by the scene. He 
concluded that a religion which inspired such heroism 
could not be false, and the courage of the martyr brought 
about the conversion of the monk. At all events, the 
latter did not at once quit the Church to which he 
belonged. He hoped to be able to preach according 
to the inspirations of conscience, while preserving his 
monastic garb. 

The people of Angers appeared in crowds about the 
pulpit from which D'Espina taught the Gospel doctrine, 
and for the space of a year he captivated the multitude 
by his eloquent and persuasive speaking, exhorting his 
audiences not to depend upon indulgences, pilgrimages, 
or prayers for the dead, but to repent of their sins, and 
to cling to the grace of God, through Jesus Christ. 
Notwithstanding his oratorical success, perhaps by 
reason of this success, he was finally brought under 
suspicion ; a fact which compelled him to retire to Mon- 
targis, and put himself under the protection of Renee of 
France, the Duchess of Ferrara, who was a Protestant. 
Later, D'Espina was one of the twelve pastors who 
took part in the Colloquy of Poissy. 

Such was the man to whom a call was extended, on 
the 27th of December, to connect himself, as pastor, with 


the church of La Rochelle. " A personage of great re- 
nown, and one who has borne great fruit in our church- 
es," adds Philippe Vincent. So that the year 1561 ended 
under happy auspices for this little congregation : it 
had secured a pastor well qualified to tend the flock, 
and gain souls to the Gospel. 


The commencement of the following year, 1562, was 
rendered notable by the publication of the Edict of Jan- 
uary, which accorded to the Reformers the free exercise 
of their religion, but only outside .the limits of the cities, 
and in the faubourgs. This Edict, although of advan- 
tage to the Protestants of France in general, was not so 
for those of La Rochelle, who had been holding their 
services in the city itself, and who had consequently 
more to lose than to gain by its being carried into effect. 
At all events, they uttered no complaint, and submitted 
to the new order of things, transferring their religious 
exercises to the Pree-Maubec. 

But, in conforming to the provisions of the Edict of 
January, the Protestants of La Rochelle lost no time in 
preferring a request to the King, with a view to obtaining 
permission to hold their worship in the city, inasmuch 
as it was already being done without inconvenience to 
anybody. They urged it as important that this was a 
frontier city, and that it would remain without defenders, 
since the greater part of its inhabitants would attend 
their religious devotions outside its gates. This request, 
supported by the Mayor, Pineau, and the Governor, the 
Count of Jarnac, who were both Protestants, was favor- 


ably received, and the meetings were resumed in the 
St. Michael and Gargouillaud Halls. 

On the 4th of February in the same year was held at 
La Rochelle the First Provincial Synod, which discussed 
divers questions of discipline, and in a spirit from which 
the Consistory derived a support for the disciplinary 
measures it was later obliged to take. 

Meanwhile, sad news spread through the city. The 
Duke of Guise, one of the greatest enemies of the Ref- 
ormation, had caused the massacre of a peaceable as- 
semblage of Protestants at Vassy, and, after having thus 
opened the bloody era of civil war, had carried off the 
King and the Queen-mother. 

At the. news of this daring attempt, the Prince of 
Conde, Coligny, and other nobles, joined hands to rescue 
the King and the Queen-mother from the hands of the 
Guises. They despatched a gentleman named Des Ors 
to La Rochelle to inform the Consistory of their design, 
and to sound its disposition. But before taking part in 
a matter so delicate, this assembly thought it its duty 
to inform itself of the state of affairs, and assure itself 
if their Majesties were really captive. They deputed to 
the court one Thibaud Guillon, who was received very 
diplomatically, and brought back an evasive reply, leav- 
ing doubts still existing as to the object of his mission. 
At all events, after his report, and by reason of the let- 
ters written them by the Prince of Conde, the Roche- 
lais voted a subsidy of three hundred pounds per month 
to the leaders of the undertaking, a sum which was 
increased to sixteen hundred when the Protestants de- 
cided to take up arms, " the whole to be employed in 
putting the King and the Queen out of captivity," ac- 


cording to the terms of the act. Those of La Rochelle 
did not wish to become any more directly connected with 
this war, and persisted in preserving neutrality, notwith- 
standing the decision of the Synod of Saintes, which 
had pronounced an opinion favorable to this taking up 
of arms, 1 and the efforts of the Count of La Rochefou- 
cauld to draw them to his cause, even to an attempt to 
seize the city by surprise. It is believed that this re- 
serve or caution was suggested to them by the Count 
of Jarnac, Governor of the city, either because he had 
no confidence in the success of the enterprise, or be- 
cause he cherished some rancor against its leaders on 
account of the death of his brother, Sieur de Sainte-Foy, 
killed near St. Jean d'Angely by some of the Prince's 

St. Michael's and Gargouillaud Halls becoming daily 
more and more inadequate to accommodate the multitude 
attending divine service, the Consistory resolved, on the 
6th of April following, to name a Commission charged 
with the duty of finding a proper place for the celebration 
of the holy sacrament. They selected the Grand Place 
de la Bourserie, 2 which they took pains to surround 
with an enclosure and awnings. On Sunday morning, 
May 3Oth, after divine service, the holy sacrament was 
administered by Pastors Richer, Lavallee, and Faget to 
an assemblage estimated at not less than seven or eight 
thousand persons. That same afternoon five hundred 

1 In a Synod assembled at Saintes, and composed of sixty members, 
"it was resolved," says Theodore de Beze, " that in good conscience one 
could and ought to take up arms for the deliverance of the King and the 
Queen-mother, and for the defence of the religion oppressed by the 

2 An open space where the Exchange was held. G. L. C. 


guardsmen, who had remained under arms to prevent 
any surprise, also received the sacrament, at which the 
Baron of Jarnac, Governor of the city, had himself par- 
ticipated in the morning. 

That was a grand day for the church of La Rochelle. 
Unfortunately, it ended in a manner less edifying than 
that in which it had begun. "A mania for pulling 
down images spread in all directions." This species of 
contagion had imparted itself to the people of La Ro- 
chelle, who believed that they were protesting against 
idolatry, in thus destroying the objects of its veneration 
and worship ; so that during the three or four hours of 
the evening the friends of order and those who were 
truly pious had the mortification of seeing the people 
rush into the churches and pull down the images which 
they found there. 

This outbreak, so much to be regretted from any 
point of view, was highly censured by the Consistory, 
who, the second day afterwards, went in a body to the 
Governor, and repudiated, by the voice of Pastor La- 
vallee, any connection with the authors of this act 
of vandalism. Everything had been done so quickly 
and unexpectedly that it had been impossible to arrest 
the perpetrators. No one, moreover, had sustained any 
wound or injury. The demonstration was confined to 
the breaking of statues and images, a circumstance which 
led Philippe Vincent to remark, that "'it was a species of 
madness, governed by a certain degree of method." 

There was much excitement on this subject, and cer- 
tain Catholic authors, exaggerating what took place, 
found occasion to attack the Reformation violently. 
But in disavowing, in common with all the doctors 


among the Reformers, these deplorable excesses, we 
must distinguish between them and the much more seri- 
ous excesses which were committed in the other camp, 
and to exclaim, with Agrippa d'Aubigne, " It must be 
admitted that there is an important difference between 
knocking down inanimate images, through zeal for the 
honor of God, and cruelly destroying the living images 
of God on account of the hatred and envy that is borne 

We should have been gratified, therefore, to find that 
the author of La Rochelle Protcstante had not con- 
fined himself to saying, on this subject, that "the Vassy 
massacre had a cruel echo in this city ; the images and 
statues in front of the houses were broken, and those in 
the churches were annihilated." There is, in fact, no 
comparison between the breaking of some wooden and 
stone figures, and the massacre of a religious assem- 
blage while offering up its adoration and prayers to the 

If the day's work at Vassy was a Catholic reprisal for 
the destruction of some churches, which seems doubt- 
ful, it must be confessed that the reprisal was excessive ; 
and it would have been fair to condemn the murder of 
creatures formed in the likeness of God more severely 
than the mere destruction of mute and insensate images. 

Although Jarnac protested his innocence in this af- 
fair, and threatened to punish the guilty, he was sus- 
pected of not having viewed with displeasure what had 
happened, since he was a Protestant, and had tolerated 
or encouraged similar acts in his own city. It is a fact, 
at all events, that this incident did not cool his friend- 
ship for his co-religionists, and that he continued to give 


them proof of his good- will. The i;th of July following, 
in fact, the Consistory having sent a deputation to peti- 
tion him to furnish the church with houses of worship, 
Jarnac approved the request, and granted them the use 
of the church edifices in which the images had been 
broken, viz. St. Sauveur and St. Bartholomew. 


Furthermore, under the influence of the principles 
inaugurated by the Reformation, sentiments of piety 
and morality were far from becoming less rigorous in 
La Rochelle ; for Philippe Vincent reports that, a ship 
having been lost on the coast, some canvas and other 
flotsam coming from the wreck were put up for sale ; 
and that one of the elders of the church, having bought 
some, was publicly censured, on the I4th of February, 
and compelled to make a formal acknowledgment of his 
penitence, though he protested that he had not believed 
he was doing anything wrong, and that his mode of ac- 
quiring the property was legal. The same author 
assures us, that, on the 28th of August following, pro- 
ceedings were taken before the Governor and magis- 
trates, " to ask them to be good enough to purge the 
city of several women of bad life who were there, even 
in the houses of the priests." The ist of May of the 
same year, some one having been accused before the 
Consistory of having spoken of the Virgin Mary in a 
disrespectful way, serious remonstrances were made 
with him, although it was impossible to completely con- 
vict him of the act. Finally, on the 25th of June, the 
Prior of the Catholic church of Lagord, having publicly 


professed Protestantism, began to preach and adminis- 
ter the holy sacrament to his parishioners, according to 
the ceremony of the Reformed Church. But the Con- 
sistory upheld discipline, and disavowed this holding of 
service until the Prior should have been received into 
the holy ministry, if he were found worthy. 

Such facts prove incontestably that the Reformers 
watched rigorously over public morals, and that it was 
their firm intention to have order and decency prevail in 
the church, as well as in the city. 

But at the death of Antoine of Bourbon, Catherine de 
Medicis renewed the severities against the Protestants. 
By reason of the vexatious measures to which they were 
subjected in all parts of France, one of the most illus- 
trious and most modest adherents of the Reformation, 
Bernard Palissy, was obliged to leave Saintes, where he 
followed the calling of a potter, and, to insure his own 
safety, took refuge in La Rochelle. He was there 
received with the consideration due his character, and 
there also he met persons worthy to appreciate his tal- 
ents. In this city were published the greater part of 
the works which have given lustre to his name. Every 
one knows the reply that this man, eminent at once by 
his piety and his learning, made to Henry III. While 
Palissy was a prisoner in the Bastile, the King, after 
having had a conversation with him on the subject of 
the sequestration of his property, ended by saying, 
"My good man, if you don't come to some arrange- 
ment with yourself on this subject of religion, I am 
compelled to leave you in the hands of my enemies." 
"Sire," answered the faithful Christian, "I had been 
entirely prepared to give up my life for the glory of 


God ! Even had I felt any regret before, it would cer- 
tainly now be dismissed, since I have heard my great 
King utter the words, ' I am compelled/ It is some- 
thing that you, Sire, and all those who compel you, can 
never do with me, for I know how to die." 


The defeat of Duras by Montluc, on the field of Peri- 
gord, had brought Guienne under the rule of Montpen- 
sier. To strengthen his conquest, he thought to make 
himself master of La Rochelle. Not daring to take 
the place by open force, he sought to gain possession 
by stratagem, and on the 26th of October surrepti- 
tiously obtained admittance, escorted by sixty compa- 
nies, forming an effective force of between seven and 
eight thousand men. Notwithstanding the lively oppo- 
sition inspired by the announcement of his visit on his 
return from Poitiers to Bordeaux, the Rochelais, while 
persisting in not taking up arms against the King, could 
not refuse to open to him their gates, only recently 
closed to the Count of Rochefoucauld, one of the lieu- 
tenants of the Prince. Events proved that they had 
good reason to mistrust the presence of such a guest ; 
for no sooner had he entered the city "than he treated 
them according to the King's ordinances, and his own 
pleasure, putting in a garrison of occupation, and taking 
away their religion, their liberty, and their property," as 
D'Aubigne expresses it. 

The blame of this enterprise fell upon Jarnac, who 
had either been ignorant of it, or unwilling to prevent 
it, and its consequences proved disastrous for the city. 



On the 1 3th of November, in fact, Montpensier, a mor- 
tal enemy of Protestantism, issued an ordinance re- 
establishing mass, and replacing the images. He did 
not stop with restoring the Catholic worship, tempora- 
rily interrupted, at La Rochelle ; but, in violation of the 
promises he had made on his entrance, not to change or 
alter anything, he now forbade all exercise of worship 
other than that of the Catholic religion. He enjoined 
the pastors to leave the city ; he removed the Mayor, 
Jean Pineau, as being too zealous a Reformer, and put 
in his place his brother, William Pineau, who professed 
more moderate opinions. It is even claimed that, at the 
instigation of his confessor, Claude Babelot, he proposed 
in council to destroy the city to its foundations, in order 
to deprive the Protestants of this their safe retreat. 

The Rochelais now began to repent that they had not 
embraced the Prince of Conde's cause. But it was too 
late. Although Montpensier only remained twenty days 
in La Rochelle, his visit cost the church and the city 
dear : the church, in that it lost its liberty and security ; 
the city, in that it suffered pillagings, larcenies, violation 
of women and maidens, and burning of houses, for which 
no redress was made, 1 and in that it was obliged to pay 
considerable sums of money to rid itself of so dangerous 
a guest. 

Having regulated everything according to his own 
views, Montpensier threw a garrison into the towers of 
La Chaine and La Lanterne, the command of which 
he intrusted to Captain Richelieu, a former monk, who 
had more liking for a military than for a monastic life, 
and then departed from a city in which he had left 

1 Amos Barbot. 


such odious traces of his passage. Scarcely had he 
gone when the inhabitants, a majority of whom were 
Protestants, wrote to the King to claim the benefit of 
the Edict of January, of which Montpensier's ordinances 
had deprived them. Their claim was approved, and 
Evangelical worship was restored. The ministers were 
recalled, with the exception of Ambrose Faget, one of 
the most excellent and most zealous, according to the 
testimony of Amos Barbot. 

The regime imposed by Montpensier had profoundly 
stirred the spirits of the people of La Rochelle. There 
were in that city certain elements ready to rise at the 
first signal. Cognizant of this feeling, one of the parti- 
sans of the Prince of Conde, a Captain Chesnet, of the 
Isle of Oleron, thought that the favorable moment for 
attempting a coup de main had arrived. He assembled 
a number of malecontents, and, having embarked with 
some soldiers in disguise, entered the port of La Ro- 
chelle, and hid himself in the house of one Perrot, oppo- 
site the church of St. Jean. On the 8th of February, the 
day fixed for the execution of his plan, Chesnet, sword 
in hand, followed by about thirty soldiers, ran through 
the streets, crying, Vive VEvangile ! At this call, the 
malecontents came out to swell his following, and soon 
five or six hundred armed men gathered around him. 
Finding no resistance on the part of the authorities, who 
had not, as yet, had time to know what they were about, 
they took possession of the city gates, and imprisoned in 
one of the towers the presiding official, Claude d'An- 
gliers, a firm and loyal man, whom they knew to be op- 
posed to their designs, while the Mayor, William Pineau, 
overwhelmed with fear, had hidden himself away in a 


stable in the neighborhood of the H6tel de Ville. Ches- 
nct now found himself master of the place ; but his 
triumph was not of long duration. A few hours later, 
D' Angliers succeeded in getting out of prison, assembled 
some devoted friends, and once more aroused the cour- 
age of Mayor Pineau, who had been paralyzed by fear. 
The latter, regaining his senses, put himself at the head 
of these citizens, who were faithful to the King and 
friendly to order. He repeated to his company the cry 
of the conspirators, Vive T Evangile ! and, profiting by 
the indecision which reigned among the people, had the 
chief of the rebels arrested, and himself remained, in 
turn, master of the city. 

Thus ended this enieute, which was evidently noth- 
ing more than a reaction against the measures taken by 
Montpensier ; for the Rochelais had on several occasions 
refused to declare for the Prince of Conde, and had not 
Montpensier, by the manner in which he treated them, 
made them regret their fidelity to their sovereign, Ches- 
net and his accomplices would never have found any 
support among them. 

But Gospel worship was scarcely re-established at La 
Rochelle, under the direction of Pastor Lavallee, who 
held service publicly for fifteen days in the Canton 
(Ward) de la Caille, when M. de Burie, the King's Lieu- 
tenant in Guienne, being informed of what had occurred 
in the city, hastened thither with five hundred men and 
a provost-marshal. His first act was to interdict reli- 
gious worship to the Protestants. He inaugurated legal 
proceedings against the prisoners of the Chesnet con- 
spiracy, seven of whom were hung, and he drove from 
the city those who were supposed to have been the 


principal actors in the attempt, notably the Pastor La- 
vallee, who had been unfortunately mixed up with the 

However, the Edict of Amboise, dated the iQth of 
March, 1563, which assured the Reformers liberty of 
conscience, came to the relief of those who were pre- 
vented from holding their worship publicly. This edict, 
denominated one of pacification, merely accorded the 
exercise of worship outside the cities, or in the faubourgs, 
and only proved partially satisfactory to the Protestants, 
who were obliged sometimes to attend service at a great 
distance, and that too when means of communication 
were difficult. However, La Rochelle being specially 
mentioned in the decree, an effort was made to conform 
thereto, and they again began holding services at the 
Pree-Maubec, which, at this period, was outside the walls. 
This lasted about two months. Then the grounds of 
public safety, previously appealed to, having been anew 
brought to the King's attention, the Rochelais were 
authorized to hold their religious assemblages in the 
interior of the city. On the 8th of June services were 
resumed in the Gargouillaud and St. Michael Halls. The 
original letter on this subject, written upon parchment 
and addressed by Charles IX. to the Baron de Jarnac, 
still exists in the Consistory archives, under the title 
of " Commission to M. de Jarnac, Governor of La Ro- 
chelle, to suffer the Exercise of the Reformed Religion 
in two Houses in that City. July 14, 1563." 

" This establishment by authority of the King is the 
more observable," says Philippe Vincent, " inasmuch as 
the Church, which had been hitherto vacillating, and 
exposed to divers interruptions, found itself from this 


moment strengthened on a firm basis, and no longer 

The hour for religious gatherings was, from that 
time, fixed by act of the Consistory, dated June iQth, 
and it was decided that a bell should summon the faith- 
ful to service. This fact, unimportant in itself, has 
nevertheless a great significance, in that it proves that 
the privileges of the city were henceforth accorded to 


The church daily increased in numbers ; the peace it 
enjoyed was complete ; but it profited by it to provide 
new pastors. In consequence, calls were extended to 
Noel Magnen, who was serving the church of Tonnay- 
Charente, and to Odet de Nort, who filled a long and 
fruitful ministry in our city. Lavallee was also re- 
called ; but the reasons which had caused him to leave 
La Rochelle retarded his return, and it was not till 1568 
that he was enabled to resume his functions. The 
place occupied by Pastor Odet de Nort in the annals 
we record is too considerable to allow us to overlook 
the circumstances by which he was led to take control 
of this flock. 

The offspring of a father who was an ardent Catholic, 
he had embraced the Reformation, to the great dis- 
pleasure of his family, which felt itself sadly scandalized 
to see its son profess heresy. The sincerity of his con- 
victions was such that he devoted himself to the holy 
ministry. After being admitted to this charge, he was 
sent to Toulouse in 1561 by the Synod of St. Foy. Being 
present at the defeat of the Marquis of Duras, wounded 


on the head, and in a state of complete nudity, he was 
taken with other prisoners to La Rochelle, which, since 
the Due de Montpensier's surprise, had been left under 
guard of one of his companions, who hoped thereby to 
realize some profit. By a merciful dispensation of Provi- 
dence, Odet was lodged at the house of a doctor named 
Delaunay, whose wife was a Protestant. The prisoner 
perceived this, and made a confidante of his hostess, an 
intelligent woman, who resorted to a subterfuge to save 
him. She made complaint that he was a charge and a 
burden to her, owing to the care that his wound required, 
and by reason of this complaint she obtained his liberty 
on condition of a moderate ransom. Thus once more 
master of himself, De Nort was supported by the church, 
and retired to Nieul, a town in the environs of La 
Rochelle, where he for some time preached secretly. 
Emerging from his retreat as soon as circumstances 
would permit, he was finally called to La Rochelle, 
where for thirty years he carried on his ministry, and 
where later we shall find him at work under circum- 
stances most critical. 

Whilst the church was provided with excellent pas- 
tors, the word of God regularly preached, and ecclesi- 
astical discipline held with a firm hand, the Consistory's 
censure was following up those whom the civil law 
could not touch. The greedy, the drunken, the blas- 
phemous, the unchaste, were one after another brought 
to account for their irregularities. In this way it came 
about that a well-known merchant of the city, having 
speculated in wheat during a season of scarcity in the 
means of subsistence, was condemned to make public 
reparation, and give the poor the profit he had realized. 


But this moral severity was not to everybody's liking, 
and there were numerous stubborn opponents of the 
Consistory's censures. The historian Arcere, while 
acknowledging that a close watch was kept upon public 
morals, yet seems to approve of this opposition. He 
reproaches the ministers with a sort of disposition to 
worry people ; he insinuates that they were animated 
by an austere and rugged virtue, which mistakes temper 
for reason and severity for justice. It is surprising to 
find a man of his profession, a father in the Oratoire, 
so little in sympathy with those who made war upon 
scandals and vices. There is more truth in the remark 
which Pastor Vincent makes on this subject: "There 
have always been licentious people ; but our predeces- 
sors of old, as well as we of to-day, have done a duty in 
repressing them." 


The election of a new Mayor proved, during the year 
1563, the occasion for a very active contest between the 
religious and the political parties ; the latter support- 
ing Michel Guy, whom they believed favorable to their 
interests, while the former supported Pierre de Grandin, 
who agreed more nearly with them. They were both 
elected, 1 and the management of the city's affairs was 
for the moment placed in a quite novel position by rea- 
son of this double choice. But an order from the court 
soon put an end to this rivalry by installing Michel Guy 
as Mayor of La Rochelle. He was even confirmed or 
maintained in this office by Charles IX. during the two 

1 This is one of the mysteries of French elections which the translator 
will not attempt to fathom. 


following years, although he had not received a majority 
of the votes cast. This fact did not help to calm peo- 
ple's feelings. 

In this same year, a contagious disease, lasting until 
the end of October, made great ravages at La Rochelle. 
Hugues Pontard, the King's Attorney, died of it, and his 
body was borne to the cemetery by the deacons of the 
new church. Although the majority in the city was 
Protestant, the Reformers were not publicly buried, as 
yet, and Arcere remarks that this was the first instance 
of the funeral of a Protestant having taken place in pub- 
lic ; which indicates a progress of opinion in their favor, 
and a step toward the conquest of their civil rights. 1 

Although Michel Guy professed Protestantism, and 
did not show himself hostile to the liberties of his fellow- 
believers, he kept on good terms with the court, and 
treated the Catholic party with deference. Under his 
administration, several persons having been delegated to 
go before the King on the subject of the censures pro- 
nounced by the Consistory, he joined the malecontents, 
who were unwilling either to be sought after or warned, 
" and who," says Philippe Vincent, " caused great trou- 
ble to the unhappy Church of God." This circumstance 
was little calculated to conciliate the pe'ople's sympa- 
thies toward him, or make them forget that he was 
Mayor by the Governor's will rather than by that of his 

1 La Rochelle, like the rest of the kingdom, changed the former sys- 
tem of counting the years. The King, by an edict given to Roussillon, 
had commanded that the year should thereafter be begun with the month 
of January. Prior to that time, in Aquitaine, in which was included La 
Rochelle, the new year had begun with the 25th of March. 



However, the court knew how to take half-way meas- 
ures in anything relating to the religious affairs of the 
country. It sought expedients, rather than suffered it- 
self to be guided by principles of justice. It made laws 
to-day, only to abrogate or evade them to-morrow. The 
edict of the iQth of March, granted in favor of the Prot- 
estants, accorded them certain privileges, but the decla- 
ration of the 4th of August took away with one hand that 
which had been given by the other. These vacillations 
of authority, or rather this seesaw system, these inces- 
sant caprices coming on the heels of concessions already 
made, surrounded the court with an air of bad faith 
which gave ground for distrust in the hearts of the Re- 
formers. The Rochelais, in particular, felt greatly dis- 
quieted about it. Sinister rumors were afloat about the 
voyage of Charles IX. to Bayonne. It was pretended 
that he went in order to have an understanding with the 
Duke of Alba and the king of Spain to crush out Prot- 
estantism. Religious liberties were menaced; no de- 
pendence could be placed upon the promises of the court ; 
a general exasperation was the result, and the pastors 
made themselves the echo of popular sentiment. They 
set themselves to work speaking against the intolerance 
of the Papists and the perfidies of the court, calling to 
account the Queen-mother, who exercised a preponder- 
ating influence on her son's mind, while not always pre- 
serving the deference due to royal majesty. 

Such manifestations were significant ; they gave 
warning that the Rochelais, despairing of finding at 
court that justice and protection to which they were 


entitled, and weary of the efforts of influence to lead 
them back under the detested yoke of Catholicism, 
would not be slow to emerge from their long preserved 
neutrality, and to rush into the party of the Prince of 
Conde, who offered them the religious and social guar- 
anties they had so long sought. This was very well 
understood by the Governor, Jarnac, who was daily 
losing his influence, and who profited by the presence of 
Charles IX. in Guienne to persuade him to come to La 
Rochelle, with a view to re-establishing his compromised 
authority, placing a garrison there, and despoiling the 
franchises of the town. 1 

The King's journey being decided upon, the Rochelais 
made ready to receive him in a manner worthy of a 
sovereign. Never had a prince been received within 
their walls with so much pomp and solemnity. Trium- 
phal arches were raised above the route of his passage. 
There was a lavish display of devices and emblems. On 
the I4th of September, 1565, Charles IX. entered the 
city, accompanied by his mother, by his brother, the 
Duke of Anjou, and by his sister Marguerite. But 
seeing the Constable Montnxorency angrily throw up 
with his sword the traditional silken cord 3 which the 
aldermen had stretched across the gate of Cougnes, 
and hearing the King himself refuse, notwithstanding 

1 According to Arcere, Jarnac, who was par excellence a politician, 
sometimes displayed haughty conduct and equivocal manners in his rela- 
tions with the Rochelais. 

2 It was an ancient custom, whenever a sovereign entered La Rochelle, 
to stretch a silk cord before the gate by which he was to pass, in order 
that he might pause and promise to respect the city's liberties and fran- 
chises. This custom was explained to Montmorency, who took no notice 
of it, but sent the cord flying upward with his sword, remarking that such 
a custom was out of date. 



the Mayor's entreaties, to take the accustomed oath to 
respect the privileges of the city, the Rochelais were 
reminded of the visit which Francis I. had made them 
under similar circumstances, and could not hide from 
themselves the fact, that they were in the presence of 
an angered master, who came among them to take re- 
venge and punish them. 

In fact, notwithstanding the kind and eager welcome 
tendered their sovereign, and in spite of the magnificent 
gifts they offered, the Rochelais could find no favor at 
his hands. Instigated by his mother Catherine, who 
detested La Rochelle, Charles IX. showed himself cold 
and austere from the time of his entry to that of his 
departure. He displayed his ill-will by measures cal- 
culated to wound the inhabitants on subjects which 
they held most dear. I refer to their religious convic- 
tions, and their municipal liberties. The City Council 
(Corps de Ville), composed of a hundred aldermen, was 
reduced to twenty-four, under the presidency of the 
Governor, who was henceforth invested with all the 
Mayor's military prerogatives. They took away the ar- 
tillery and put a garrison in the towers of La Chaine 
and St. Nicolas. Magistrates were enjoined to protect 
the Catholic religion, and to take extraordinary proceed- 
ings against any pastors who should make use of sedi- 
tious remarks. The pastor Lavallee was ordered out 
of the city, and commanded to remain in exile under 
penalty of death. The civil and criminal Lieutenant, 
Jean de Pierres, and six bourgeois citizens of a lower 
degree, were banished. 

After publishing these various decrees, the King set 
out with his court, without even permitting any one to 


show him the slightest courtesy. " During his stay at 
La Rochelle," says Amos Barbot, "no services were 
held, nor any religious exercises, each one apprehending 
some penalty." 

The visit of Charles IX. to La Rochelle was then a 
sort of triumph for the Catholic party. They took ad- 
vantage of it to have a general procession, with cross 
and banners at its head, a thing which had not been 
seen for three or four years past. But after the King's 
departure the Reformers resumed the exercise of their 
religion. Two months had hardly passed before the 
Queen-mother, faithful to the "seesaw system" which 
she thought necessary to the success of her son's 
reign, made him restore everything to the footing on 
which it had been before his trip to La Rochelle : the 
town government was restored, and the Protestants en- 
joyed the advantages of the Edict of Pacification. 


In 1566, the Assessor Blandin, having been nominated 
Mayor, caused the college to be built on the site of the 
Franciscan convent. Above all, people admired the 
entrance portal upon which, beside the arms of the King 
and the city, were carved those of the Queen of Navarre, 
the Prince of Conde, Gaspard de Coligny, and other 
protectors of the Reformed religion, who had contributed 
considerable sums toward this establishment, " as evi- 
dence of the desire and longing they felt to render said 
college a seminary of piety and a nursery for the encour- 
agement of the holy ministry of religion." l This is a 

1 A. Barbot. 


fact, which, it may be remarked in passing, proves that 
the chiefs of Protestantism were not exclusively pre- 
occupied with interests of a political nature. 

The term of office of M. Blandin as Mayor being 
on the point of expiring, a successor had to be found, 
which was not an easy matter in the midst of the 
excitement prevailing in the city. Francois Pontard, 
Lord of Treuil-Charais, and son of Hugues Pontard, 
king's attorney, was elected, at the age of twenty-seven, 
under the auspices of the President, Claude d'Angliers, 
and of the Governor, Jarnac, who very soon after re- 
pented having favored his election. Like all ambitious 
persons, Pontard at once sought to make himself popu- 
lar, and soon entered into communication with his cousin, 
Lord of Saint-Hermine, actively devoted to the Prince 
of Conde, and who assisted him in bringing about the 
radical revolution which was soon to be accomplished 
in the place. 

We are compelled, in this narration, to separate the 
history of the Reformed Church from the history of the 
community ; and we feel more especially the necessity of 
emphasizing this distinction at the moment of the coup 
d'etat which allied La Rochelle for more than half a cen- 
tury to the destinies of the Protestant party of France. 
It is important to place upon its real author, that is to 
say, upon Mayor Pontard, the responsibility for this rev- 
olution. Advanced by fortune to the chief magistracy 
of the city, Pontard hesitated to take a decisive part, and 
resisted the Prince of Conde's solicitations, until he was 
dragged by his mother, Marie Boauf, and his lawyer, 
Jean de la Haize, into a course in which he was soon 
even to outstrip them. 


The second war of religion broke out in 1567. The 
liberty-destroying projects of the court were a mystery 
to no one. Sinister rumors were abroad. It was as- 
serted that the king of Spain, the Duke of Alba, the 
Queen-mother, and the Guises, wished to exterminate 
all who belonged to the Protestant faith. Under these 
circumstances, the Rochelais, fearing for their religious 
freedom, did not hesitate to depart from the neutrality 
which they had preserved, and Saint- Hermine came to 
assume command of the city in the name of the Prince 
of Conde. 1 But from the moment in which the Roche- 
lais took part in the civil war, they saw that they had 
provided themselves with a master. Undertaken in 
defence of liberty, the war entailed for them a tempo- 
rary loss. Instead of a protector, the Rochelais found 
a tyrant in their Mayor Pontard. By the aid of the 
more violent persons, and under pretence of interest in 
the cause, which was dishonored by such excesses, the 
churches and houses of the Catholics, and then those of 
the moderate Protestants, were broken into and pillaged. 
Barbot, in response to public clamor, accuses Pontard 
and his successor Salbert of having enriched themselves 
by awarding, in their capacity as mayors, the spoils of 
the churches to their own private agents. Pontard had 

1 La Ilaize, a lawyer and member of the commune, charged with vin- 
dicating this serious step in the eyes of his fellow-citizens, gave three prin- 
cipal reasons for it : 

i st. Liberty of conscience, which was constantly being called in ques- 
tion by the party of the court. 

2d. The national interest, compromised by the King's advisers in their 
relations with Spain, and which Conde, a prince of the blood, would pre- 

3d. The pressure exercised upon the city by the presence of Governor 
Jarnac's garrison. 


had services established in the partially destroyed edi- 
fices, but he concerned himself so little with religious 
interests that he soon afterward had all the churches 
and houses that would interfere with the defence of the 
place torn down. All inhabitants, without respect to 
persons, were employed night and day upon the fortifica- 
tions. If we are to believe some stories, even blood was 
shed by order of this dictator. A bailiff and an attorney 
at the presidial court, imprisoned with some priests in 
the tower of La Lanterne, are said to have been stabbed 
and thrown into the sea. The troops of Montluc were 
not far distant from La Rochelle, and feelings of rage 
proved in them a stimulus worse than had even been 
expected of the Catholics. The journal of Michel Paque- 
teau, a contemporary of these events, does not, it is true, 
mention this last . atrocity : it is not until fifty years 
later that it is found recorded in a manuscript of Amos 
Barbot, known only by a Catholic copy ; and his story, 
in any case open to question, must naturally have grown 
in dimensions when it fell under the pen of writers who 
undertook to stigmatize La Rochelle when it was con- 
quered in 1628. 

The author of La Rochelle protestante, Recherches 
politiques et religietises, is far from being of this number ; 
but we should not abandon this unhappy period of Pon- 
tard's domination without taking up an assertion we 
have been surprised to find under that ordinarily im- 
partial author's pen. " Protestantism," says he, charac- 
terizing this period, " the sole form of worship permitted, 
reigned as a tyrant within our walls." To speak truth, 
he should have said Pontard, and not Protestantism. 
Pontard, in fact, was no Protestant pope, personating 


the Reformation, as the Popes personate Catholicism ; 
and to impute to the Reformation the misdeeds or the 
exactions of an ambitious man, who made use of this 
pretext to favor his passions or his interests, is not only 
vicious reasoning, but also a lack of fairness which we 
cannot approve. Protestantism is not by nature tyran- 
nical. It has bestowed liberty wherever it has estab- 
lished itself, and it is impossible that it should have 
enthroned tyranny when it found a place in our city. A 
decided believer in freedom of worship, we regret the 
transient prohibition of the Catholic services in La 
Rochelle ; but how can one forget that it was the in- 
cessant intolerance of the Catholics which drove the 
Protestants to this step ? If the former had not com- 
menced by putting the newly born Reformation under 
the ban, if they had accorded it support and kindness, 
who can be persuaded that the Reformation would ever 
have taken the initiative in these excesses, or given 
itself up, without provocation, to such reprisals ? 

I would say the same with regard to an expression 
equally to be regretted from the same author, who, after 
having recalled the cruelties, more or less exaggerated, 
of which we have just spoken, adds: "The pastors 
Folion and De Nort were not strangers, it appears, to 
these sad occurrences." It would have been better to 
cite the proof of such complicity, instead of stopping 
at this sort of insinuation in regard to two men in- 
vested with the office of pastors. In the absence of 
such proof, which should have accompanied an accusa- 
tion of this nature, we must say that it does not appear 
to us at all probable that these pastors approved of 
such measures. They may have committed errors in 



the course of their ministry. Who is there that dares 
assure himself of never making a mistake under cir- 
cumstances as difficult as those under which these pas- 
tors lived ? But there is a great difference between 
such frailty and the actual complicity or participation 
charged upon them. De Nort, especially, was one of 
the most honorable of men. " A great servant of God," 
say Ph. Vincent and Amos Barbot, "having left such 
a name that there was neither little nor great who held 
not his memory in veneration." In giving it to be un- 
derstood that they had not been strangers to odious 
acts, M. Callot has not, we are persuaded, had any in- 
tention to calumniate their memories, but he has never- 
theless uttered an uncalled for assertion. 

However, the peace of Longjumeau, signed the 27th 
of March, 1568, came to suspend hostilities, which had 
been continued ever since the preceding year. The news 
of this happy event was brought to La Rochelle on the 
8th of April. " At once, arms were laid down," says 
Ph. Vincent, " and all lived in peace, one with another." 
But this news was not everywhere received with equal 
favor. In several localities, its circulation was prohib- 
ited, notably at Toulouse, where a gentleman attached 
to the Prince of Conde's suite, who had brought it 
thither, was put to death. This presaged no good, and 
the calm did not last long. Hostilities recommenced, 
and were at first unfavorable to the Protestants. But La 
Rochelle was not unprepared for the conflict. Pontard 
and Saint-Hermine, enemies of the court, having prof- 
ited by the Governor's (Jarnac's) absence to strip him 
of power, in the name of the Prince of Conde, had been 
forcing the inhabitants to labor without rest upon repairs 


to the fortifications, as has already been stated ; so that, 
on the resumption of hostilities, the place was in good 
condition for defence. 

Vainly did the herald of Marshal Vieilleville, the Gov- 
ernor of Lugon, present himself and try to persuade the 
inhabitants to admit a garrison ; the Rochelais, remem- 
bering the treatment shown the Reformers of Lyons, 
Dijon, Tours, Orleans, Bourges, and other places, obsti- 
nately refused to obey this demand ; they were willing 
to intrust the guardianship of their liberties to none 
but themselves. 


From this moment La Rochelle, which had hitherto 
played but a secondary part in the Reformers' resistance 
in arms, became the chief stronghold of Protestantism. 
On the nth of September, 1568, a treaty was concluded 
between the Rochelais and the Prince of Conde, repre- 
sented by Coligny and La Rochefoucauld, under which 
the former promised obedience and service to the latter, 
as the Protector and Defender of all the Reformed 
churches of the kingdom, while Conde, on his part, 
engaged to maintain their privileges, franchises, liberties, 
and exemptions. In consequence, the Prince entered 
the city with his family on the igth of September, soon 
followed by Jeanne d'Albret and Henry of Navarre, 
who came to seek a refuge within its ramparts. The 
civil wars resulting from this alliance belong to the 
political history of the country, and would hardly be 
appropriate to this sketch. 

Beaten at Jarnac and Moncontour, deprived of the 
sword of Conde, and of Coligny's brother, Dandelot, 


who had died on the battle-field, the Reformers fell back 
to La Rochelle, which, but for the devotion of Vergano, 
the engineer, and of Captain La Noue, would have been 
exposed to great peril. The Edict of St. Germain-en- 
Laye (1570) came to suspend hostilities anew, and on the 
ist of January, 1571, the Catholic and Protestant nota- 
bles of the city, in presence of royal commissioners sent 
for that purpose, made oath, in the name of their fellow- 
citizens, to live in peace and harmony with each other. 

In both camps, the genuineness of this peace was 
suspected. To cement it, Marshal de Cosse sent emis- 
saries to La Rochelle to treat with Jeanne d'Albret 
for the re-establishment of mass. He made her over- 
tures for the marriage of her son Henry to Marguerite, 
the King's sister. A little while after, Coligny wed- 
ded, in second nuptials, at La Rochelle, Jacqueline, the 
Countess of Entremont, who, in her admiration for his 
character, had finally become enamored of the old Ad- 
miral, and had come to this city to contract a union, 
which was, however, of brief duration. Beside incurring 
the wrath of her lord, the Duke of Savoy, she drew upon 
herself terrible persecutions. On the same day, at the 
same hour, and in the same temple, Teligny was united 
to Louise, the Admiral's daughter. This double alli- 
ance was celebrated with great solemnity. The city 
was filled with lords and ladies of the Protestant party. 
Their presence heightened the falat of the ceremony, in 
which also a great number of pastors, who had come to 
La Rochelle to attend the Synod then about to open, 
took part. 

It was in the month of April, 1571, that we find in- 
augurated at La Rochelle this celebrated assemblage, 


which was the seventh National Synod of the Reformed 
Churches of France, and the first held with the assent 
of the King, who had authorized it by letters-patent. 
The Queen of Navarre, Henry of Beam, her son, Henry 
of Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, Admiral Coligny, and 
Louis of Nassau, were present, and participated in the 
consultations, while other prominent personages took 
a direct part in the deliberations in the capacity of 
deputies from the churches. 

The assembly's first care was to restore to a uniform 
text the Confession of Faith, prepared in 1559 by the 
Paris Synod, and printed in divers manners. Three 
authentic copies of this memorable document were 
deposited in the archives of La Rochelle, Beam, and 
Geneva. 1 This creed, known in history as the " Con- 
fession of Faith of La Rochelle," is divided into forty 
articles, and presents a summary of the essential doc- 
trines of Christianity. 

The assemblage also occupied itself with the subject 
of ecclesiastical discipline, and Coligny advised lenity 
and charity in the imposition of these disciplinary 
penalties, which consistories had the power to inflict. 
Otherwise, they abstained from any discussion of public 
matters, confining themselves to maintaining the dis- 
tinction between the two powers, temporal and spiritual, 
as well in the interest of the state as in that of the 
Church. 2 

1 The first of these copies has been, we are assured, recently discov- 
ered at Fontenay-le-Comte ; the second was lost during the religious wars; 
and the author of this work has seen the third, which still exists in the 
library of Geneva, and a fac-simile of which, upon parchment, executed 
with scrupulous fidelity, has been presented to our own city library by the 
generosity of M. Callot. 

2 See Histoire des Synodes Nationaux, by De Felice. 


In presence of the passionate outcries made by cer- 
tain schools of our day against every dogmatical creed ; 
considering the supreme disdain with which the parti- 
sans of a confession of faith are treated ; listening to the 
taunts of exclusiveness and intolerance so promiscu- 
ously thrown at them, even sufficiently to call up the 
spectre of Torquemada ; one is surprised into asking 
whether the servants of God who in 1559 and 1571 
made this beautiful profession of their belief were fa- 
natics of the Inquisition ; or instruments of tyranny, 
secret enemies of the liberty of conscience, ambitious 
of the role of Popes and Councils, and desiring to sub- 
stitute a Protestant despotism for a Catholic despotism ; 
or men of integrity, subject to the prejudices of their age, 
but who were unaware of their error, and who labored, 
unwittingly, to strangle the manifestations of religious 

Nothing of the kind ! Our fathers, at Paris and at 
La Rochelle, were fervent Christians, who claimed for 
others as for themselves the right of inquiry, but who 
did not separate the precept of St. Paul, " Prove all 
things, hold fast that which is good " ; they did not 
assume to be always questioning, yet never holding 
fast to anything. They did not constitute free inquiry 
the sole dogma of their faith ; they saw in it simply a 
means to religion. They did not know how to establish 
a church otherwise than by laying its foundation on 
those doctrines without which there can be no longer 
any church. They well understood that every gather- 
ing of faithful people is bound to declare what it be- 
lieves and what it hopes, not in order to impose upon 
others the doctrines which it professes, but to show 


proper respect for those doctrines, by not seeming to 
screen itself behind doubtful or equivocal phrases, and 
by holding them up to the world as a standard around 
which those who sympathize with its principles may 
freely rally. The Church confesses her faith, not to 
exercise any pressure upon the conscience, or to mo- 
lest those who think differently, but in order that she 
herself may not be molested by free-thinkers, in order 
that none may do violence to her own opinions. She 
does not ignore the fact that each of us has the right, at 
his own risk and peril, to be a sceptic, a deist, an atheist, 
a pantheist, a materialist, or what not. But she is equally 
aware that it is her duty to guard herself against these 
injurious tendencies, and in confessing her faith she 
avails herself of her right of defence against the assump- 
tions of those who would wish to carry these unhappy 
teachings into the gospel pulpit, and expound them to a 
confiding people. For, again, if a church has no creed, 
how can its faith be respected, not only, I mean, by 
the godless man who would endeavor to preach atheism, 
but even by a priest of the Romish Church, a Brahmin, or 
by a Ulema, who, under pretext of free inquiry and re- 
ligious independence, might undertake to substitute the 
religion of the Pope, of Brahma, or of Mahomet for that 
of the Gospel ? It is thus a barrier that she offers to that 
unrestrained liberty of teaching, which, like an unchained 
lion, finally ravages and destroys all. It is a question 
of ownership, I might say ; for each one has an interest 
in retaining that which he owns. Now the Church's 
treasure is her faith, and to argue it with thieves and 
sophists, she must know where she stands. In a word, 
the dogmatic creed is, for those who are already in- 


structed, a means of protection against the follies and 
the culpable attempts of those who instruct. 1 No 
doubt, confessions of faith, and the synods that draw 
them up, are not infallible : it is not in their power 
to remedy all the evils in the Church, which is in a 
state of imperfection here below, and which will always 
have its troubles. But even though the work accom- 
plished be intrinsically transitory, and susceptible of 
improvement, though it be never an adequate expression 
of the Holy Spirit, it is nevertheless a fact that these 
creeds represent the normal condition of a church which 
desires to return to them again whenever she may have 
deserted them, and which plunges into a condition of 
anarchy and confusion the moment she is deprived of 
this element of calm and progress. So that the Assem- 
bly of La Rochelle rendered eminent services to the 
Reformation, in shaping its faith and its discipline ; 
while those who disparage its work are ungrateful and 
degenerate children, who retain no trace of Protestantism 
save free inquiry, denying the faith which is its ultimate 
goal, that faith which constitutes its honor and its 


While the Reformers were thus enjoying a precarious 
peace, terrible events were impending at court. Wit- 
nessing the preparations at their very gates under pre- 

1 Let it be here remarked, that, by a singular contradiction, the oppo- 
nents of confessions of faith are partisans of national churches, or of a 
union of church and state, since no government can consent to recognize 
and make an allowance of salary to a church without demanding some 
knowledge of the religious and moral principles it professes, that is to 
say, without exacting some confession of faith. 


text of an expedition to Florida, the Rochelais seemed 
to have a presentiment of what was coming. They 
wrote most urgently to Coligny and the King of Navarre, 
begging them to be on their guard, and not to trust the 
allurements of the court. 

Unfortunately this wise counsel was not listened to ; 
instead of opening his eyes to the daily increasing dan- 
gers, Coligny sought to reassure the Rochelais in regard 
to the armaments of Brouage and the conspiracies at 
Paris. Misled by the fair promises of the court, and the 
affectionate demonstrations of Charles IX., Coligny took 
no notice of the warnings he was constantly receiving 
from the Rochelais. He could not credit any such per- 
fidy, any such perversity on the part of his sovereign, 
and he was the victim of his own confidence. Saint Bar- 
tholomew, that day which a celebrated magistrate of the 
sixteenth century would have wished to be able to elim- 
inate "from the memory of mankind," came to illumine 
France with its lurid horrors. The Protestants were 
doomed to death, and the Admiral was one of the first 
singled out for the assassin's steel. Chased even to his 
residence, he was poignarded without pity, and his body, 
thrown out of one of the windows, became the subject 
of the lowest outrages. 

Thus perished this valiant captain, at once a states- 
man and a warrior, a Christian eminent for his piety and 
his moral virtues ; thus was assassinated in a cowardly 
manner, by the hired bravoes of the Guises, of Charles 
IX., and of Catherine, one of the best friends of La Ro- 
chelle, and one of the noblest defenders of Protestantism. 

After Coligny's death, Huguenot blood flowed in 
streams at the capital. " All the horrors that Rome had 


witnessed in the days of Sylla and Marius, and under the 
second triumvirate, were repeated in the heart of a Chris- 
tian city," says a Catholic author, "and were repeated 
there with a barbarity that nature ignored, and of which 
one would not have suspected the French capable. Soon, 
in the provinces, the sword sacrificed a host of citizens. 
It seemed to be less a question of punishing guilty ones, 
than of destroying men's lives, and ravaging the whole 
of France." 1 ' 

The fears manifested by the Rochelais were fully jus- 
tified by the massacres of which they received the hor- 
rible news, and they had all the more occasion to rejoice 
that they had not lent an ear to the proposals and assur- 
ances of the court, since the Queen-mother cherished 
sinister intentions toward them. A few days before 
the tragedy in Paris, in fact, this arrogant and astute 
woman had sent to Strozzi, who was collecting a body of 
troops in Saintonge, the following despatch, with an 
order not to open it until the 24th of August. 

" I give you notice that to-day, the 24th of August, the Admi- 
ral and all the Huguenots who were here have been killed. At 
once take diligent measures to make yourself master of La 
Rochelle, and serve the Huguenots who fall into your hands 
the same as we have served those here. Be careful to make no 
mistake, as you fear to displease the King my son, and myself. 


After having sent deputies to Brouage, where Strozzi 
and Baron de la Garde were, under pretext of gaining 
information concerning the Paris massacres, but in real- 
ity to sound the designs of the court, the Rochelais, in 
spite of the pacific assurances given them by these two 

1 Arcere, Histoire de la Ville de La Rochelle, Book III. p. 402. 


commissioners, resolved to fortify themselves against 
the perils which menaced them, and took the necessary 
steps to defend their ramparts with energy. Divers 
attempts at a settlement, in which La Noue himself 
was chosen as mediator, proved unsuccessful. Negotia- 
tions were broken off. Efforts were made to renew 
them after the opening of hostilities, but all was futile. 
The Rochelais, knowing that they could place no confi- 
dence in the promises of the court, showed themselves 
intractable. Convinced that the only safety for them 
and all Reformers was in a successful war, they were 
willing to take the chances of it, and did not recoil from 
the horrors of a siege, declaring that they liked fighting 
better than chasing an illusory peace, since their enemies 
were determined not to carry out the stipulations they 
had signed. Biron then caused an advance of the royal 
troops ; the city was invested by land and sea, and siege 
operations were vigorously carried on under direction 
of the Duke of Anjou, who assumed command of the 
besieging army from the month of February, I573. 1 


It does not enter into our plan to recount the varied 
phases of this memorable siege, which conferred so much 
honor upon the Rochelais arms. Let us confine our- 
selves to stating that its period of duration was about 
nine months, during which thirty thousand one hun- 

1 The Literary Society of La Rochelle published, in 1856, UHistoire dii 
Siege de La Rochelle en 1573, translated from the Latin of Philip Cauriana, 
preceded by a bibliographic sketch of the siege by Mr. L. Delayant, and 
accompanied by a map of the city in 1573, as compared with its actual 
boundary as given by Mr. E. Jourdan. 


dred and seventy-three cannon-shots were fired at the 
city, nine principal assaults and more than twenty 
lesser ones made, and nearly seventy mines directed 
against the place, one of which last came near killing 
the chronicler Brantome, who himself confesses that "he 
had never before tasted such a fricassee." The loss of 
the Rochelais amounted to about twelve hundred men ; 
that of the Royalists, to between twenty and twenty-two 
thousand. The Duke of Aumale, the engineer Vergano, 
who had abandoned the Reformation to go over to Ca- 
tholicism, Caussens, one of the principal actors in the 
St. Bartholomew affair, and others, met their fate in 
these terrible combats, in which the besieged, sustained 
by religious enthusiasm, and by the love of country, per- 
formed genuine prodigies of valor. 

But even if we cannot report all the deeds which ren- 
dered this glorious struggle memorable, shall we say 
nothing of those indomitable men who displayed an 
energy and a patience equal to every test, even in the 
midst of the greatest perils ? Shall we not render hom- 
age to the brave and faithful La Noue, who was un- 
wearied in preaching peace, even while doing battle for 
the cause so dear to him ? How can we restrain a lively 
sympathy for this loyal and indefatigable warrior, sus- 
pected by the city government, and even by the pastors 
themselves, receiving a blow at the hands of the fiery La 
Place, and yet having enough self-control to hold up the 
aggressor to the just indignation of those who had wit- 
nessed the insult? 1 How can we refrain from a men- 

1 Andre de Mazieres, surnamed La Place, had a weak mind, and was 
deposed shortly after this deplorable occurrence, " pastorali munere de- 
positus" says the historian De Thou, who informs us that La Noue had 


tion of that terrible Encensoir (Censer), 1 vomiting out 
death upon its assailants, and that famous Gospel Bas- 
tion, nicknamed "the lions' den," which sustained alone 
almost the entire shock of the assault, and inspired such 
terror in the soldiers of the royal army that they finally re- 
fused to march against it ? How fail to admire this heroic 
population, who repaired by night the damages which 
the bullets had made by day, and who continued to fight 
without any diminution in their ardor? Or how pass 
over in silence the conduct of those intrepid women who 
remained by the side of the combatants to sustain their 
courage, and who, after three consecutive assaults, see- 
ing them exhausted with fatigue, took up their arms 
and themselves repulsed the fourth assault, subsequently 
chasing off the soldiers of Boisjourdan from the gate of 
Deux-Moulins ? Are there not in these episodes im- 
perishable memories which awaken the noblest senti- 
ments of our nature, and which the most remote pos- 
terity cannot hear of without respect and emotion ? 

Despairing of reducing La Rochelle by force, the 
Duke of Anjou, who had become King of Poland during 
the siege, only aspired to finish the struggle in some 
way that would save his dignity, and he consequently 
availed himself of the first opportunity to treat with his 
opponents. He granted them a most honorable capitu- 
lation, and, after having raised the siege, hastened to 
quit a country in which he had experienced only humili- 
ations and reverses. Peace was signed on the 24th of 

taken pity on the mental condition of his assailant, "hominis dementiam 
miseratur" (Arcere, p. 477.) 

1 This name was given to a long pole, turning on a pivot, at the end of 
which was suspended a caldron filled with boiling oil and heated bitumen, 
which they emptied upon their assailants. 


June, 1573, and, spite of all the ills they had suffered, 
the Rochelais had reason to rejoice and return thanks 
to God ; they had secured freedom of worship for them- 
selves and their fellow-Protestants. Accordingly the 
magistrates ordained public thanksgivings to the Al- 
mighty for the protection He had granted to the most 
just of causes. Those who had, by fasting and prayer, 
humbled themselves before God from the beginning of 
this struggle, could not but return thanks to Him after 




Public Instruction. The College. Its Organization. The Principal 
Professors. Protestant Printers. The Library. Protestants cele- 
brated for their Learning or Virtues. 

'*"F*HE hero of the siege through which La Rochelle 
had just passed was unquestionably Frangois de la 
Noue, surnamed "the Huguenot Bayard," descended 
from an ancient and illustrious house in Brittany, but a 
Rochelais by adoption, in consequence of his zeal and 
devotion to the city. A distinguished writer as well as a 
skilful captain, he joined to bravery, under every trial, a 
moral integrity, an unselfishness, a loyalty, and a modera- 
tion, which raise him above most of his contemporaries. 
Those authors, whether Catholic or Protestant, who have 
mentioned him, agree in doing homage to his nobility of 
sentiment. His military and political speeches, written 
during his captivity in the Chateau of Limbourg, equal 
in conciseness, in force, and in common sense those of 
Xenophon, Polybius, or Caesar. And when, in 1591, he 
died from wounds received at the siege of Lamballe, 
Henry IV., who had been better able than any one else 
to appreciate his talents and merits, delivered concern- 
ing him this most expressive of funeral orations, in 
these few words : " He was a great man of war, and a 
greater man of goodness." 



The peace signed July 10, 1573, was an ephemeral 
one. A sullen mistrust prevailed, and the war had only 
changed its name. The Queen-mother, having only 
acceded under protest to the capitulation with La Ro- 
chelle, cherished a secret resentment against the city, 
and sought to secure by strategy what she had failed to 
obtain by force. From such an enemy there was every- 
thing to be feared. 

After the fruitless attempt of the renegade, Amateur 
Blandin, to turn over to the King of France his former 
sway in the city of La Rochelle, a more dangerous en- 
terprise, paid for by Catherine herself, was undertaken 
by one Jacques du Lion, a bold, arrogant man, hostile to 
the city's liberties and privileges, who, in concert with 
other gentlemen, bribed a certain number of soldiers, 
and came near making himself master of the city. The 
plot was revealed by an anonymous letter, and the 
warmest adherents of peace now began to feel excited. 
La Noue himself, who had given so many proofs of 
his pacific and conciliatory disposition, now adopted a 
contrary view of the matter. The bad faith of the 
court, rendered apparent by the various attempts upon 
La Rochelle, had finally disabused that city of its dreams 
of a settlement. It knew now that the churches had 
neither peace nor truce to hope for from a prince who 
contemplated their extermination, without the least scru- 
ple as to a choice of his methods. The unhappy fate 
of Coligny, upon whom had been lavished demonstra- 
tions of kindness and affection while his destruction 
was being plotted, came back to its memory, and it saw 


what it had to fear " from those who governed in the 
King's name, and who no longer distinguished between 
the caution of deceit and the dexterity of falsehood." 1 

After such an avowal, one finds it hard to understand 
how this historian could have blamed La Noue for hav- 
ing separated from those who were unceasingly con- 
spiring against his country's civil and religious liberty. 
What else could he have done under such circumstances ? 
Keep silent, and tacitly approve of the plots which were 
being hatched against his party and himself ? A sin- 
gular idea ! What ! was he to see the storm gathering 
on all sides about those he loved, and yet not be al- 
lowed to warn them of their peril, or to seek to rescue 
them from it ? What ! was he to be a daily witness of 
the machinations of the enemy to exterminate the Prot- 
estants, and must he become an accomplice by not 
exposing the plot ? must he deliver up his brethren 
to the homicidal plans of the Medici and her Italians ? 
The bloody corpse of Coligny was present in his imagin- 
ings ; and must he also allow himself to be led to the 
slaughter, or, rather, must he bend his neck to those who 
would consign him to the same fate ? This would indeed 
be carrying the subject's duty to the sovereign too far ; 
and had he yielded to such exactions, impartial history 
would not have failed to cry out, " Treachery ! " it would 
have pitilessly condemned his want of foresight, or his 

But he was not a man of that kind. As soon as the 
path of honor was clear to this great citizen's conscience, 
he hesitated not to follow it. Resolved to break off 
with a court devoid of frankness and of loyalty, he re- 

1 Arcere, Book IV. p. 541. 


turned to La Rochelle, accompanied by Lacaze, Miram- 
beau, Monguyon, and others, ostensibly to partake of 
the sacrament; and on the 23d of January, 1574, he 
appeared before the Consistory, where he vindicated his 
conduct during the siege, protesting that he was ready 
to die for the defence of the Church. After having thus 
conciliated the ministers, whose influence was consider- 
able, he appeared before the General Assembly ; and, by 
a speech at once eloquent and skilful, induced the Ro- 
chelais to join the malecontents. The Protestants of 
Aunis, Saintonge, Poitou, and Angoumois followed their 
example, and chose La Noue for their leader. 

From that moment, this valiant captain devoted him- 
self entirely to defending the interests confided to him. 
He began by repairing the walls of La Rochelle, which 
felt the effects of the injuries sustained during the 
recent siege, and which, in several places, particularly 
at the Gospel Bastion, presented only a heap of ruins. 
Then he put himself at the head of the confederated 
troops, and proceeded to direct military operations in 
Poitou. In vain did Saint-Sulpice bring him letters 
from Catherine de Medicis, proposing to negotiate peace : 
the warrior perceived the trap that was set for him, and 
opposed her advances. In vain did Madame de Bonne- 
val, one of the most adroit and seductive women of 
the time, come to La Rochelle, and bring into play in 
his presence all the resources of that pleasantry which 
she had so well learned at the court of Charles IX. 
The brave captain knew how to guard himself against 
the seductions of coquetry, as well as the ruses of poli- 
tics. Meanwhile, after the discovery of the La Mole 
conspiracy, revealed by the feeble and irresolute prince 


who had been mistakenly placed at its head, the Roche- 
lais, seeing the Duke of Alen^on and the King of Na- 
varre held captive, Marshals De Cosse and Montrao- 
rency thrown into the Bastile, and the Prince of Conde* 
a fugitive in Germany, began to be afraid, and relapsed 
into a feeling of discouragement. La Noue, barely 
escaping death at the hands of the King's emissaries, 
hastened into their midst, and strove to dissipate their 
alarm. He aroused the courage of the more timid ones, 
and all, led on by his eloquence, bound themselves by 
oath to fight till their last breath for the common cause. 
For fear that food should fail them in case of siege, he 
made sure of the city's being provisioned, by fortifying 
Brouage and the Isle of Re. He passed over thence to 
the Isle of Oleron, where he imposed a heavy tax upon 
the Catholic population, and formed the plan of equip- 
ping a fleet of considerable size. With such rapidity 
was the work carried on, that in less than five weeks 
seventy vessels of different dimensions were ready to 
put to sea ; some to cruise along the coast, others to 
scour the seas from Calais to Gibraltar. Daring cor- 
sairs these, not slow to win renown and inspire with 
terror those familiar with their exploits. 

Such was the brave La Noue in all the transactions 
and all the combats in which he was called to take part 
as leader of the Protestant League. Cautious and mod- 
erate in council, but intrepid in the moment of action 
and immovable in the hour of peril, he was neither an 
ambitious man nor an intriguer seeking his personal 
interests while seeming to serve the public good. He 
was a man of convictions, who fought to profess and to 
defend what he considered the truth. A chevalier with- 


out fear or reproach, he always kept before him the 
Gospel maxim, " Render unto Caesar the things which 
are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." 

Busied with his country's interests, and the rights of 
an earthly sovereign, we find him scrupulous even to 
excess ; he pleads their cause before a people ready to 
rise in rebellion ; there is no concession that he is not 
disposed to make, to avoid the conflict. But on the 
other hand, when liberty of conscience and the rights of 
a heavenly Ruler are in question, he hesitates not to 
" obey God rather than men." Inflexible in the per- 
formance of duty, he is restrained by no human con- 
sideration, stopped by no sacrifice. And should any be 
tempted to suspect his fidelity to the occupant of the 
throne of France, let such a one recall the siege of 
Lamballe, and, with his hand on his heart, ask himself, 
" Would I have been more faithful, more devoted, than 
was that man ? " 


The death of Charles IX., who expired May 30, 1574, 
consumed with remorse and anguish, caused but a mod- 
erate sensation throughout the kingdom, and did not 
modify the politics of the court, which was given over to 
the Guise influence. When Henry III. came back to 
France, after having secretly quitted his kingdom of 
Poland, his return brought no improvement in the con- 
dition of the Reformers. Fair treatment, a respect for 
engagements once entered into, would alone have sufficed 
to revive confidence on the part of the churches, and 
concord among the French. But naught was more 
removed from Catherine's heart than sincerity and fair- 


dealing, and she proved the evil genius of Henry III. as 
she had been that of Charles IX. A policy without 
principle, a court without conscience, sought to lull the 
Protestants to sleep by fallacious promises, amusing 
themselves by issuing edicts in favor of the latter every 
time it seemed possible without compromising them- 
selves, so that there was no venturing to count on any- 
thing ; everything was kept in suspense. 

Thus lived the French Protestants during the half- 
century separating the two sieges of La Rochelle ; and 
those of our city were especially compelled to submit to 
this odious regime, obliged to be incessantly on their 
guard, dreading the snares of their enemies and the 
defection of their friends, efforts to bribe whom were 
constantly made, taking up and again laying down their 
arms according to the needs of the cause, until, driven 
to extremity, they close their gates, and rush anew to 
the defence of their ramparts. We shall recur to this 
siege, at once glorious and sad, which brought about the 
fall of the city and the loss of its privileges. But, in the 
first place, let us cast a glance at the religious, scientific, 
and literary movement taking place at La Rochelle, 
under the auspices of Protestantism. 


Since the year 1577, the Rochelais had felt the need 
of building a temple worthy of the Protestant metrop- 
olis of the West. This edifice, situated on the Place 
du Chateau, was constructed according to the plans of 
Philibert Delorme, the architect of the Tuileries ; and 
the first stone was laid by Henry of Conde in 1577, but 


the building was not finished until the month of August, 
1603. The pastor, Luke Dumont, performed the act of 
dedication on the 7th of September following, in the 
midst of a congregation estimated at not less than four 
thousand persons. This handsome structure was sub- 
sequently confiscated by Louis XIII., was converted 
into a cathedral, and became a prey to the flames, com- 
municated from a bonfire on the Place, on February 9, 

However, the expenses of the siege of 1573 had 
involved the city's finances. Accordingly, when, in July, 
1579, there was held at Montauban a general assembly 
of the Reformed churches, at which the King of Na- 
varre, the Prince of Conde, and Messieurs Turenne and 
Chatillon were present, the Rochelais sent thither Cap- 
tain Louis Gargoulleau to explain to the assembly that 
they had been obliged to borrow forty thousand crowns 
to carry on that memorable siege, and to request that 
provision might be made by the churches for their reim- 
bursement in that amount. 

Two national synods, the eleventh and the eighteenth, 
met at La Rochelle during the period of which we are 
writing; the first in 1581, under the presidency of Pas- 
tor Odet de Nort. After considering means for repress- 
ing the worldly and disorderly habits, a tendency to 
which prevailed in certain of the churches, the assembly 
prohibited both ministers and laity from publishing any 
writing on the subject of religious controversies, or on 
political matters, without the express approval of the 
Conference of their jurisdiction. An indispensable step 
this, in a time when the responsibility of the faithful was 
so limited, and when war was always suspended over 


their heads, a fact which explains the condemna- 
tion passed by this same assembly upon " The History 
of France," by La Popeliniere, published at La Rochelle. 
The other synod was held in 1607, and had for its 
moderator Michel Beraud, who had previously filled 
the same charge at Montauban and Montpellier. Al- 
though approved by the assembly, that article in the 
Confession of Faith which declared that the Pope was 
the Antichrist was not printed, at the instance of the 
Deputies General, and the King was satisfied with this 
half-way concession. Then it was ordered anew that 
small schools or colleges should be established in the 
provinces, with a view to instructing the young in the 
rudiments before sending them to the large academies, 
and certain precautions were pointed out for assuring 
the execution of pious legacies, which, by the chicanery 
of legal form, were often paid over to Catholic estab- 
lishments. The twelve last sessions were devoted to a 
leading topic, the nomination of Deputies General, whose 
powers were to last for only a year. Up to that time, 
this had been done by political assemblies ; royalty 
desired to impose upon the synods this measure, which 
was outside of their jurisdiction. The Synod of La 
Rochelle, after long opposition, finally sanctioned the 
list of Deputies previously made by a political assem- 
bly, viz. Messrs. Villarnoul and Mirande. It was the 
entrance on a fatal pathway. Political assemblies were 
forthwith abolished as useless, the synods were invited 
to remain in their stead, and Louis XIV., as a result, 
managed to nominate, alone and on his own personal 
authority, a deputy general, whom he appointed for life. 



Once more masters of themselves, the Rochelais 
sought to secure the prevalence of rigid morals in the 
city. They endeavored to free themselves of the pres- 
ence of women of ill-repute by applying to some of them 
the punishment known as la gourbeille, then fallen into 
disuse, and which consisted in plunging them several 
times into cold water. They punished the sale of play- 
ing-cards ; they resumed a regular plan for succoring 
the indigent, and keeping them from turning vagrant. 
The police government of the city during the years 
which followed the siege of La Rochelle was actively 
carried on, though rough at times, and imbued with the 
errors of its age. It is related that, two men having 
been smothered in a well, the people, instead of suspect- 
ing the presence of deleterious gas there, thought that 
there must be a basilisk (a species of lizard), a fabulous 
animal, which killed by its glance, or some other sor- 
cery ; and they consequently lost no time in piling in the 
earth upon it. The laws of health, moreover, began to 
be established in the city. Cleanliness of streets was 
expressly recommended, and the sale of alimentary pro- 
ducts was confined to the markets. Attention was given 
to means whereby a supply of drinkable water could be 
obtained in the principal quarters, and by such meas- 
ures were arrested the spread of diseases which dis- 
tressed the population. According to the custom of 
the period, the corporation regulations were revised, and 
new privileges were established. 

Under the influence, too, of Protestant ascendancy in 
the city, printing experienced a remarkable development. 


Several booksellers and printers carried on their busi- 
ness there, and were distinguished by the number and 
nature of their publications, as well as by their progress 
in the typographic art. Of this number were Bartholo- 
mew Berton, who edited Bernard Palissy's works (1557- 
1573), Pierre Davantes, 1 and, above all, the Haultins, 
whose trade-mark, afterwards adopted by Protestant 
assemblies, represents an angel, the emblem of the 
Christian religion, leaning upon a cross, the Gospel in 
hand, and trampling under foot Death and the yoke 
of sin. The publication of the Hebrew and Chaldaic 
Grammars of Peter Martin, the " Works and Days " of 
Hesiod, and the Commentaries of Sponde, presupposes 
an enlightened community, capable of understanding 
and appreciating such productions. The theses fre- 
quently sustained by theological students, and publicly 
discussed before the pastors, the examinations passed 
by the doctors and the masters in pharmacy before a 
numerous auditory, kept up, otherwise, a very active state 
of intellectual affairs, and a great interchange of ideas. 
This literary activity lasted till 1628. After that unfor- 
tunate date, though nothing was destroyed, all was 
changed and lessened. 

It is also to the initiative taken by the Rochelais Prot- 
estants that may be dated back the foundation of the 
public library, established at the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century, under the direction of the pastors, with 
the assistance of the laity. Thanks to the zeal of 
Esprinchard, Sieur du Plomb, and to the generosity of 
Duplessis-Mornay, the newly organized library had in 

1 See Bulletin de la Socitte de VHistoire du Protestantisme, II. 11-13 '> 
X. 185, 215, 436; XL 248; XII. 252. 


less than two years' time acquired some importance. On 
the i Qth of January, 1606, the books were placed upon 
the shelves of the cases, in a room above the Hall of St. 
Yon, one of the temples of the Reformed Church. A 
legacy from Mathurin Carrier (1610) favored the growth 
of this precious collection. Subsequent events did not 
long permit the city to enjoy the advantage of this 
generous legacy ; but the donor's liberality is none the 
less memorable, and the friends of literature should be 
grateful to him for it. This library, confiscated by 
Cardinal Richelieu, in 1628, after the surrender of the 
place, passed to its death in the premises of the Sor- 
bonne, and was later blended with the Arsenal Library 
at Paris. 

But Protestant principles naturally tend to develop 
all branches of science, and intellectual activity at this 
time was manifested by the progress made in public 
instruction. During the year 1565, the commune of 
La Rochelle had acquired possession of the greater 
part of the abandoned Franciscan convent, intending 
there to found a college, by the authority of Charles IX. 
The arms of Jeanne d'Albret, of Conde", and of Coligny, 
engraved over the principal gateway, side by side with 
the arms of France, of La Rochelle, and of Mayor 
Blandin, bear witness to the interest felt by the chiefs 
of the Protestant party in the cause of public instruc- 
tion. Later, in 1571, the generosity of Jeanne d'Albret 
and the princes endowed the commune with three pro- 
fessors, supported at their expense, and chosen "from 
among the Protestants, the most learned in the kingdom, 
to be employed in the instruction of youth." A knowl- 
edge of the languages in which the Holy Scriptures were 


originally written came to be considered an essential 
part of a good education, and instruction in Hebrew, 
Greek, and Theology was added to the college course 
at La Rochelle, as is still the practice in many uni- 
versities. The Queen of Navarre, feeling an attach- 
ment for the professorships created by herself, called 
capable men to fill them. These were Pierre Lefevre, 
Director of the College and Professor of High Latin, 
Nicolas de la Grouche, intrusted with the course in 
Greek, and Frangois Be"raud, with that in Hebrew. We 
learn from Merlin what were the text-books used by 
the various professors ; viz. the eleventh book of the 
Odyssey, the Axiocosius of Plato, and De Ecclesics Capite 
Christo Servatore nostro. 

But at all events, these pious enterprises having 
proved unable to realize all their promises, the Assembly 
of 1588 once more took up the plan of establishing a 
University at La Rochelle that is, courses in Theology, 
Greek, and Hebrew, and it appropriated the necessary 
funds for that purpose. In 1590, Henry IV. received 
and paid over his pious mother's legacy. The city, on 
its part, caused the college buildings to be enlarged and 
repaired, and renewed its appropriations, and instruc- 
tion was there given under the joint direction of the 
Mayor and Consistory, with the aid of five pastors, whose 
co-operation proved extremely useful. 


It happened occasionally that the Protestant ecclesias- 
tical authority found itself arrayed in opposition to the 
civil power. The Consistory exercised a sort of moral 


sway among its dependents. Summoned to make known 
in court the confessions obtained in certain differences 
which it had been unable to settle, it refused these judi- 
cial requisitions, taking the ground, and not without rea- 
son, that such a proceeding would divest its conciliatory 
intervention of all credit, and claiming the right to hold 
confessions of this kind as secret as if they had never 
been made at all. The officers of the Presidial Court at 
La Rochelle admitted this pretension ; but the Paris Par- 
liament gave orders to the contrary, and the Consistory 
could only free itself from these demands by obtaining a 
discontinuance of proceedings against the individuals. 
It was even obliged to defend its right of free interven- 
tion in matters purely ecclesiastical. For instance, two 
brothers named Brochard, one of whom was a Regent of 
the College, allowed themselves to dogmatize, and sus- 
tained, among other things, the innocence of polygamy. 
Being invited to examine and subscribe to the Confes- 
sion of Faith and the Church Discipline, they refused to 
do so. The Consistory did not confine itself to adminis- 
tering to them ecclesiastical censure, but went further, 
and called upon the Mayor to drive them out of the city. 
They complained to the Presidial Court, which essayed 
to summon the members of the Consistory before it ; 
but the latter refused to recognize its authority, and 
even talked of summoning the magistrates before their 
own disciplinary tribunals. Finally the more prudent 
members of the two bodies hushed up the variance, 
and, by injunction from the Mayor, the two Brochards 
left the city. 



Having escaped, as it were by a miracle, from the St. 
Bartholomew massacre, Jacques Merlin, whose father was 
chaplain to the house of Coligny, had been condemned 
from his childhood to the rigors of exile, had early re- 
ceived a good education in the Bible, and had studied 
at Geneva, Berne, Zurich, and Paris. Admitted as 
Master in Theology at Oxford in 1588, and called in the 
following year to La Rochelle, he was there ordained to 
the sacred ministry on the 8th of April, 1590, in the 
Temple of St. Yon, by Pastor De Nort, " known by the 
zeal and eloquence of his sermons, and who on this oc- 
casion surpassed himself." For more than thirty years 
Merlin filled with great zeal his charge in the church of 
La Rochelle, then one of the most important in France. 
His talents, and the purity and simplicity of his morals, 
won him great respect. Not only was he deputed by his 
own church to several provincial synods, but he was, be- 
sides, chosen in 1601 as representative of his province to 
the political Assembly of Sainte-Foy, and in 1609 to the 
national Synod of Saint-Maixent, which, by its votes, 
placed him in its president's chair. We have two of his 
journals, or diaries, containing interesting details of the 
history of his time. 

Among the remarkable men who, at this period, re- 
flected honor upon Rochelais Protestantism, as well by 
their learning as by the reputation they had gained in 
the republic of letters, Arcere mentions the lawyer Jean 
de la Haize, Doctors Olivier Poupard, Louis Launay, and 
Jean Coyttard de Thaire, the jurisconsult Jean Pierres, 
Jacques Esprinchard, the intrepid traveller and writer 


Lefevre, a distinguished man of learning, and, above all, 
Frangois de la Noue, " a skilful commander, like Caesar, 
and wise as he." In the pastorate may be cited Charles 
de Clermont, Richer, Jean de Lespine, J. B. Rotan, 
Chenevert, and others. 1 

On the 20th of October, 1587, Henry of Bourbon 
having met on the battle-field of Coutras the Catholic 
army commanded by Joyeuse, the engagement was about 
to begin, when Antoine de Chandieu, a minister of the 
Gospel, stepped forth from the ranks, and represented to 
the King of Navarre that he (the king) had brought 
trouble upon an honest family of La Rochelle, and that 
he ought to make reparation for this scandal to his 
army, and an humble confession of his fault to the Sov- 
ereign Judge, before whom he might, in an instant, 
appear. At this solemn warning, Henry, conscience- 
stricken, acknowledged his fault, and said to the lords 
who surrounded him, " One cannot humiliate himself 
too much in God's presence." Then he knelt down with 
his soldiers ; Chandieu pronounced a prayer, and in- 
toned the 1 1 8th Psalm ; and the battle began. Joyeuse 
met his death in the combat, and his army was cut to 
pieces. We mention this fact as an evidence of the 

1 The following century furnished a harvest not less rich. Protestant 
La Rochelle numbers in fact among its ministers Magnen, Boysseul, 
Loumeau, Colomiez, "at once a great savant and a great preacher," 
Cercler de la Chapelliere, "who distinguished himself as much by his vir- 
tues as by his gift of speech," and, last of all, Jacques Merlin and Philippe 
Vincent. Arcere mentions also Amos Barbot, twice elected Deputy from 
La Rochelle to the General Assemblies of Sainte-Foy and Saumur ; 
David Dufos, one of the chiefs of the Corps de Ville in 1628 ; the his- 
torians Pierre Mervault and Abraham Tessereau, King's Secretary, Paul 
Colomiez, and the distinguished physicians, Elie Richard, Bouhereau, 
and Pierre Seignette. 


fidelity of the pastors of this period, of their zeal in fol- 
lowing up scandals, without regard to person, and of the 
power of the Gospel in awakening the consciences of 
sinners, without recourse to auricular confession. 

Foreigners also admired the severity of morals which 
prevailed in La Rochelle. They were astonished that the 
Reformed ministers should pray for them, and for the 
conversion of the heathen they were about to visit, while 
the Catholic priests did nothing of the kind. They gave 
these ministers, as much as the Mayor, credit for the 
excellent conduct of the police government of the city, 
rough it is true at times, and stamped with a certain 
harshness, but rendered necessary by the needs of the 


Should one wish to form an idea of the religious 
movement existing in the city, and the conquests of 
Protestantism during this brief period of peace and lib- 
erty, it is only necessary to refer to the registers of bap- 
tisms, marriages, and communicants of the Reformed 
Church of La Rochelle. 1 Here, in fact, is what one 
finds in those registers : 

From 1574 to 1581, sixteen hundred persons were re- 
ceived into God's Church at the Gargoulleau temple. 

1 The first of these registers (1563-66) contains sixteen hundred and 
fifty-nine baptisms performed in Gargoulleau Hall, and simply signed by 
the godfathers and the scribes of the Consistory. On January 21, 1573, 
Rene de Montalembert figures as the godfather of Marie Marreau, bap- 
tized in Gargoulleau Hall. On the 2d of January, 1575, appears Andre 
de Saint-Simon, Esquire, lord of said place, godfather of Marie de Cor- 
lieu, daughter of one of the peers of La Rochelle. Thus it was that two 
families which had made themselves a name in Catholicism counted 
Protestants among the number of their ancestors. 


From 1583 to 1587, eighteen hundred person were 
received into God's Church in this same Gargulleau 
temple, notably Madame de Montauzier, on the 3th of 
May, 1586. 

From 1587 to 1591, eleven hundred new mmber- 
ships at the Saint-Michel and Sainte-Marguerit tem- 

Received into God's Church at the SaintJichel 

In 1595 ...... 45 new memberships 

In 1596 ...... 86 " 

In 1597 ...... 98 " " 

In 1602 ...... 100 

In 1612 ...... 144 " " 

On Sunday, March 9, 1603, was received, among) thers, 
into God's Church, by M. Le Cercler, in Saint-Yo Hall, 
at morning service, Martin Bartox, formerly a Dctor in 
Theology in Spain, Vicar-Provincial and Visitorof the 
Order of Sainte-Trinite", for the ransom of capves of 
the kingdom and crown of Aragon, and Prior >f the 
principal convent of said order in the city of Viencia, 
who made a summary confession of our faith, vth an 
abjuration of all the errors of Papacy. 

In 1611, abjuration of Michel Durand, a Fraciscan 

In 1612, that of the priest, Philippe Ogier. 

From 1612 to 1616, one hundred and twenty-ix per- 
sons were received into God's Church, amom whom 
were Bertrand Guiral, former priest of Agen (Janary 24, 
1613), and Annibal Nannin, a former Francisca (June 

On August 7, 1616, was also received int God's 


Church, by M. Le Blanc, a nobleman, Henri Marc du 
Gouffier, Marquis of Crevecceur. 

From 1616 to 1620, two hundred and fifty-five admis- 
sions into God's Church. 1 

Some years previous, on February 16, 1569, had been 
baptized, at the Saint-Michel temple, Benjamin, son of 
Francis de Coligny, Lord of Andelot, and Anne de Salm. 
Godfather, Francois de la Rochefoucauld ; Godmother, 
Catherine de Parthenay, wife of Charles du Quelever, 
Viscount of Fou, Baron of Pons, and Lord of Soubise. 

September 16, 1574, baptism, at St. Yon temple, of 
Josias, son of Jacques de Bertin, Lord of Bourdault, and 
of Marguerite Despres. Godfather, Frangois de la Noue ; 
Godmother, Catherine de Parthenay. 

February 14, 1577, baptism, at said temple, of Henri- 
ette, daughter of the High and Puissant Rene de Ro- 
han and of Catherine de Parthenay. Godfather, The 

1 The movement we speak of included, sometimes, even unbelievers : 
the two following extracts from the baptismal registers, etc. of the Church 
of La Rochelle prove it : 

Abjuration of an Idolater. 

"The said day (i5th March, 1598) has been baptized one Michel, hav- 
ing been catechised and made his confession of faith before the church, 
saying that he was born in the land of the blacks, in the country of Ardre. 
The said Michel, aged 24 years, being a servant in the house of M. de 
Sourdon, in this city." No. 327, folio 29. 

Abjuration of a Mahometan. 

"Tuesday, March 2, 1655, Mustapha, son of Caiale, a native of Arger, 
aged twenty years or thereabouts, after having renounced publicly the 
impieties of the impostor Mahomet, and embraced the Christian religion, 
with a solemn protestation of his willingness to live and die in the pro- 
fession of the truth as taught in our churches, has been baptized, accord- 
ing to the order of the National Synods, by M. Flanc, who gave him the 
name of Pierre." 

Signed, ESPIE, Elder and Scribe of the Consistory. 



very High and very Puissant Prince of Conde ; God- 
mother, Antoinette d'Aubeterre. 

February 17, 1577, baptism by M. Dumont, at the St. 
Yon temple, of Aimee, daughter of the nobleman Joachin 
de Saint-Georges, Lord of Dirac, and of Louise du Fou. 
Godfather, The High and Puissant Francois du Fou, Lord 
of Vigant ; Godmother, The very High and very Puis- 
sant Catherine de Parthenay, Lady of Rohan. 

June n, 1586, baptism, at the St. Yon temple, of Henri, 
son of Jacques Guiton, Mayor of the city, and of Mary 
Bodin. Godfather, The very High and very Puissant 
Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Conde ; Godmother, Louise 
Gillier, Lady of Montauzier. 

February 22, 1584, Alexander Dundas spoke publicly 
in the St. Yon temple. 

October 20, 1608, marriage, by Pastor Merlin, of Con- 
stant d'Aubigne with Anne Marchant. 

August 9, 1609, baptism, at the Chateau temple, of 
Theodore, son of Constant d'Aubigne and Anne Mar- 
chant. Godfather, Agrippa-Theodore d'Aubigne ; God- 
mother, Jeanne Marchant. The child was born July 25, 

Toward the end of the autumn of 1592, the Church 
of La Rochelle sustained a sensible loss, Pastor De Nort 
being then attacked with inflammation of the chest. He 
died in the month of March, 1593, " greatly regretted by 
all good people, in view of the fact that, being only fifty- 
two or fifty-three years of age, he might, in the course of 
nature, have served this church several years longer ; 
a man who, by his wisdom and good counsel, as well in 
adversity as in prosperity ; by his zeal for the glory of 
God, having preferred to be disinherited by his father 


rather than abandon the profession of the Gospel ; by his 
skill and vivacity, young as he was, in applying the word 
of God, especially in regard to the remission of sins ; and 
by the soundness of his morals, by his caution in speech, 
by his modesty and simplicity in all periods of his life, 
was very useful and very necessary to this church, which 
he served for twenty-nine years. In the midst of domestic 
afflictions, having lost all his children, he displayed no 
sign of impatience, consoling them even to the door of 
the tomb : he allowed it to cause no interruption in his 
duties, even ascending into his pulpit on the day after 
their interment. He was not at all times able to escape 
the stings of calumniators, to which faithful ministers of 
the word of God are especially liable ; but by the fear 
of God, by his prudence, by his hatred of vice, against 
which he spoke out with holy courage, he always suc- 
ceeded in closing their mouths, and showed himself no 
less firm than in every other adversity." 1 

The following year, Pastor Guyneau died, at the age of 
twenty-seven years, with a firm trust in the promises of 
God. At the Provincial Synod of Saintonge, Aunis, and 
Angoumois, assembled, in 1597, at Sainte-Marguerite, 
M. Ragueneau, the pastor at Oleron, was prostrated, 
while in his seat, by a stroke of apoplexy, and expired a 
few hours afterwards. " There was a time," adds Mer- 
lin, " that, there being but few pastors in the city, and 
the sacrament having to be administered in three places, 
it was necessary to commence one of the administra- 
tions at four o'clock A. M., at Saint-Michel." 

Among the numerous conversions effected at this 
period, all had not the same value ; certain proselytes, 

1 Journal of Merlin. 


poorly strengthened in the faith, abandoned, here or 
there, the profession of the truth. For instance, the 
Cure de Lauge, a man of learning, after embracing the 
Reformation, exposed himself to censure, which wounded 
him so that he disappeared, and was never after heard 
from. A Franciscan, who had been unfrocked, fell ill, 
and was placed in hospital, where he was enticed away 
by the Papists. Minister Merlin having gone to see 
him and console him, he repulsed him harshly, and died 
invoking Saint Nicholas, whom he addressed as " Mon- 
sieur Nicolas." Another Franciscan, aged over sixty, 
named Vice-Contes Cordat, calling himself a natural 
brother of the King of Spain, and a well-informed man, 
grew impatient of the trial to which he had been sub- 
jected before his reception into the church, and went 
back to Papacy, preaching, however, after the manner 
of the pastors. He had been put among the ranks of 
the circuit-preachers by a National Synod. 





The Huguenots, by their Armed Resistance to the League, preserve 
French Nationality. Henry of Navarre at the La Rochelle Assem- 
bly. Henry IV., in order to obtain the Crown, embraces the Religion 
of his Subjects. "Paris is well -worth one Mass" The Edict of 
Nantes. La Rochelle's Prosperity under the Reign of Henry IV. 
Civil Wars rekindled by the Oppression of the Reformers of Beam. 
Political Assemblies at La Rochelle. The Building of Fort Louis, 
in Spite of Treaties. The Privileges of the Rochelais the Safeguard 
of their Faith. Their Fidelity to the King in the Midst of their 
Seeming Rebellion. Siege of La Rochelle. The Mayor, Jean 


IT must be admitted that the Edict of Beaulieu (1586), 
the most favorable the Protestants had been able to 
obtain at the hands of royal justice, had greatly irritated 
the Catholics, who, to defend their religion against the 
progress of the Reformation and the incapacity of Henry 
III., formed "the League," a strong combination, at the 
head of which was the Duke of Guise. Justly alarmed at 
the plans of this association, the Reformers held at La 
Rochelle a general assembly, intended to combat its in- 
fluence. It was opened on the I4th of November, 1588, 
and the city was there represented by Louis Gargoulleau, 


Mayor, Mathurin Renault, Alderman, and Jean de Bour- 
digalle, Lord of La Chabossiere, Peer. The King of 
Navarre was present with the Viscount of Turenne, the 
Prince de la Tremouille, Duplessis-Mornay, and the other 
lords of the party. After renewing the oath of union 
made at Montauban in 1579, as much between the Re- 
formed churches themselves as between them and their 
protector, the King of Navarre, the Assembly testified 
to its respect and deference toward the royal authority. 
Henry of Navarre answered in writing, and with great 
marks of piety, in response to the remonstrances ad- 
dressed to him by the pastors and elders, in his capacity 
of Protector of Churches. 1 Regulations were also estab- 
lished for the administration of justice, for finances, the 
levy of soldiers, military discipline, and all objects of 
concern to the common cause. Finally, they created 
a Superior Council of twelve members, without whose 
consent the King of Navarre could undertake nothing. 
Before adjourning, the Deputies addressed a request to 
Henry III., asking that the edict of January might be 
again put in force. 2 It was moreover agreed upon, that, 
in order to create ministers, a university should be estab- 
lished at La Rochelle, supported by means of a pre- 
vious levy of one thousand crowns which had been 
effected on the revenue of the Roman ecclesiastics, and 
that it should consist of a professor and a doctor in 
theology, as well as of several teachers of " the humani- 
ties." The first two were to receive eight hundred 
pounds a year, the others six hundred. Forty-six 

1 See Appendix, No. II. 

2 See DHistoire des Assemblies politiques des Reformes de France, by 
Leonce Anquez, 1859, page 39 ; Appendix, pages 453, 454. 


scholars were to be admitted by appointment of the 
Synods, Conferences, or Consistories. An annual pen- 
sion of two hundred crowns was allowed to students in 
theology, and one of fifty to those in " the humanities." 

But while at La Rochelle the Protestants deliberated 
on their public interests, the League did not lose sight 
of the aim it was seeking, and its States-General as- 
sembled at Blois. The Duke of Guise, who aspired to 
royalty, was there appointed Lieutenant-General of the 
kingdom. He had but one more step to take to reach 
the highest rank, when he was assassinated by order of 
Henry III. The news of this event, which freed the 
Reformers from one of their most dangerous enemies, 
was received with transports of joy by the people of La 
Rochelle. Some even wished to celebrate it by a salvo 
of artillery ; but this outburst was arrested by Duplessis- 
Mornay, " in order that it might not be said that the 
Protestants approve by formal act of a deed doubtful at 
best." However guilty, indeed, might have been the 
Duke of Guise, Christian morals could not approve the 
means which Henry III. had taken to rid himself of his 
dangerous rival. 

Soon after this catastrophe, this effeminate prince, 
prodigal and irresolute, who joined devoutness to licen- 
tiousness of morals, joined with Henry of Navarre to 
combat the League, and that formidable association 
came well-nigh being destroyed : then Henry III. was 
in his turn assassinated by Jacques Clement, on the loth 
of August, 1589; the horrible destiny of some men, or 
rather God's just judgment upon those who rebel against 
his laws ! Henry III. had the chief of the Leaguers 
assassinated, and himself fell by the dagger of a fanatic, 


a tool of Mayenne and the Duchess of Montpensier, who 
thus avenged the death of the chief of the League. 

The King of Navarre was sincerely beloved by the 
Rochelais ; they gave him an unequivocal mark of their 
affection in the grief they expressed at news of the 
danger threatening his life, in consequence of an attack 
of pleurisy, resulting from the fatigues of war. This sad 
occurrence caused universal mourning ; people rushed 
in crowds to the temples ; tears and groans mingled 
with the chanting of the Psalms. And great was the 
joy when he was brought, during his convalescence, to 
La Rochelle. To grief succeeded the liveliest demon- 
strations of attachment and respect. Little did they 
think how soon these evidences of regard and sympathy 
were to be repaid by cruel desertion. 


Becoming legitimate heir to the throne of France by 
the death of Henry III., the King of Navarre encoun- 
tered active opposition from ,the Catholics, on account 
of the religion he professed ; and he well understood 
that, although by changing his religion he could not 
render himself acceptable to the Leaguers, he could at all 
events remove one of the greatest obstacles in the way 
of his securing the crown. After much parleying and 
indirect manoeuvring, which ought to have opened the 
eyes of the Protestants to the King's purposes, the man 
of Beam, 1 to whom the battles of Arques and Ivry had 
just opened the road to the capital, decided to satisfy 

1 A term applied to Henry IV. as denoting his birthplace, or the town 
to which he belonged. G. L. C. 


the Catholics, and " take the perilous leap/' as he himself 
expressed it in writing to Gabrielle d'Estrees. He made 
a semblance of being instructed in the dogmas of Cathol- 
icism, and on the 25th of July, 1589, performed his act 
of abjuration in the abbatial church of St. Denis, under 
the hands of the Bishop of Bourges, estimating that 
Paris was well worth one mass. 

If this celebrated expression, attributed to Henry of 
Navarre, is not authentic, if he did not make the remark 
as bluntly as he is said to have done, it is none the less 
worthy of being received by the historian, and paints 
none the less faithfully the state of his mind, for he did 
in fact consummate the act of which the remark conveys 
the idea. Yes, the stake of his conversion to Catholi- 
cism was indeed Paris : he valued it so highly, that for 
it he sacrificed his convictions and religious sympathies. 
Certainly, had the abjuration of Henry IV. been sincere, 
we should be among the first to respect him ; because, 
after all, every man should be consistent, and obey the 
promptings of his conscience. But this act lacked sin- 
cerity, and from this stand-point he could not look for 
honest people's respect. It lacked sincerity, for this 
prince had on several occasions protested his inviolable 
attachment to the doctrines of the Reformation, declar- 
ing- that as long as he lived he would persist in the 
Protestant religion. But these convictions of his had 
been so little shaken by the instructions which he had 
had given him to extenuate his apostasy, that he himself 
said to persons charged to refute his objections, "You 
do not satisfy me, as I had desired and you had promised, 
with your instructions" ; and so saying, adds L'Estoile, 
who was present during the conversation, " tears came 
from his eyes." 


Thus this prince, whose memory his people have pre- 
served, endowed with eminent traits and a chivalrous 
character, who since St. Bartholomew's day had passed 
his time in alternate dangers and debauches, feared not 
to act this unworthy comedy in order to prepare his way 
to the throne. On hearing of this cowardly retraction 
and this shameful apostasy, what must have been the 
grief of Jeanne d'Albret and of Coligny, especially the 
former, who one day wrote : " If I had my kingdom in 
one hand, and my son in the other, I would throw them 
both into the depths of the sea sooner than attend 
mass." Is it not humiliating, indeed, for a king of 
France to read in a loud voice the form of abjuration 
imposed by the Church, and to complain to the Presi- 
dents of Paris and Rouen, that it was intended to do 
violence to his conscience, " in constraining him to sign 
and to believe in trifles, which he was sure most of them 
did not believe, as for instance purgatory " ? Evidently 
any one who talks in that way does not believe in pur- 
gatory. Well, while protesting, on the one hand, against 
this doctrine, Henry confesses, on the other, " that there 
is a purgatory, where the soul, being temporarily de- 
tained, can be comforted by the suffrages and good 
deeds of the faithful." Is it possible that weakness, or, 
I might say, duplicity, could be carried farther ? And 
accordingly, from the time of his entry into the Roman 
Church, the conduct of the man of Beam and his new 
spiritual guides is tarnished by tyranny and falsehood. 

When the prince of darkness, having led the Saviour 
up into a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms 
of the earth and the glory thereof, and said, "All this 
will I give thee, if thou wilt cast thyself down and wor- 


ship me," Christ answered, " Get thee behind me, Satan ; 
for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, 
and him only shalt thou serve." But when the tempter 
said to Henry of Navarre, " I will give thee the kingdom 
of France, with the glory thereof, if, perjuring thyself, 
thou kneelest to idols," the proposal did not appear to 
displease him ; he did not repel it with horror ; he strove 
to shut his eyes to the odious nature of the bargain he 
was about to conclude, and sought to bring those who 
laughed at him over to his side by a trifling remark, 
" Paris is well worth one mass," forgetting his Divine 
Master's words, " What shall it profit a man if he gain 
the whole world and lose his own soul ? " 

After that, let people if they will bestow the title of 
" Great " upon a monarch who did not recoil from such 
an act of sacrilege ; that is, looking at it from a political 
stand-point. But it is very different in a moral aspect. 
The abjuration of Henry IV., as transmitted to us by 
history, is a blot upon his memory, and the upright in 
heart will always hide their faces at the recollection of 
this detestable hypocrisy. 1 

However severe may appear this judgment, it does not 
exceed the bounds of justice ; for Richelieu reports that 
Henry IV. had confessed to the Queen " that, when he 
first professed Catholicism, he only outwardly embraced 
the truth of the religion, in order to make sure, in fact, 
of a crown " ; and to such an act one can give no other 
name than hypocrisy. 

Far be it from us to depreciate the services rendered 
by this prince to finance, industry, and commerce. We 

1 See Bulletin de la Sociele de fHistoire du Protestantisme, V. 260-274, 
XII. 866. 


cheerfully recognize the fact that the Edict of Nantes 
was a benefit to the Protestants. But all this cannot 
remove the blot of St. Denis, 1 and an impartial pos- 
terity will never forgive him the scandal put upon his 
own people by a questionable abjuration, having its 
origin, not in the depths of a Christian conscience, but 
in the calculations of a tortuous policy. 

The consequences of the abjuration of Henry IV. 
have been greatly extolled. It has been claimed that 
they were fortunate for France, and especially for La 
Rochelle, since that act put an end to the war which 
was desolating the country. But is it quite certain that, 
in Henry's case, to abjure the Reformation was to ter- 
minate the civil war ? Were this assertion even as 
true as it is open to question, the end would not jus- 
tify the means, and this abjuration against conviction, 
this avowed hypocrisy, was a great scandal to the 
country. It was calculated to demoralize the nation, 
and inspire in it a contempt of all principle : it was cer- 
tain to result disastrously in a moral point of view. If 
for the King of France, in fact, Paris is well worth one 
mass, why should not his subjects as well throw their 
religious scruples to the wind, and adopt this maxim in 
the service of their interests and their passions ? Why 
should they not, in their turn, say, "A good marriage 
is well worth one mass " ? " An honorable or lucrative 
employment is well worth one mass " ? " Lands, chateaux, 
are well worth one mass " ? And then what becomes of 
honor, uprightness, and rectitude in the service of God ? 
Are not holy things given up as a prey to venal souls, 
and is not the sanctuary soon thrown open to every 

1 The church where the act of abjuration was performed. G. L. C. 


ambition and every knavery ? Ah ! who shall say that 
the counter-blow of this unhappy teaching is not felt 
even in our own age, when people value everything by 
the profit they gain from it ? 

Thus the abjuration of Henry IV. produced a pro- 
found sensation among the Reformers : to surprise suc- 
ceeded, on the part of some, grief and sadness ; of others, 
discouragement and indignation. The pastors did not 
conceal from the King the enormity of the fault he had 
committed, and addressed to him firm and respectful 
remarks on the subject. It was resolved that thence- 
forth no Christian prince should be honored with the 
title of " Protector of the Churches," in testimony of 
the grief they had felt at this change. The Rochelais 
in particular gave utterance to bold remonstrances, ad- 
dressed to the apostate monarch, who had betrayed the 
hopes of fidelity given by him in writing to the Assem- 
bly of 1588. 

We have purposely dwelt upon this incident, for the 
reason that Henry IV. was almost the child of La Ro- 
chelle. He had lived for a long time in this city : its 
inhabitants had given him reiterated marks of their 
affection ; but a short time before, they had imposed 
upon themselves a sacrifice of twenty thousand crowns 
to help him in his extreme need ; and if his desertion was 
felt by all Protestant people, it was especially felt by 
those of La Rochelle. 


Notwithstanding all the concessions which he had 
counted upon making, Henry had been unable to obtain 


entire forgiveness for his Huguenot extraction. He had 
chilled the Protestants, and only half satisfied the Cath- 
olics. The general need of quiet had caused the con- 
clusion of a three months' truce ; but a sullen mistrust 
prevailed, and the new monarch had trouble in estab- 
lishing his authority. When he saw it growing stronger 
and wider day by day, it seemed to him that the moment 
had arrived to give it a hold by means of his coronation. 
The ceremony accordingly took place, with all the cus- 
tomary formalities, at Chartres, on the 27th of Febru- 
ary, 1594; and it is noticeable that in this solemnity 
Henry did not refuse to take oath to exterminate the 
heretics denounced by the Church, as he had done at 
St. Denis, on the occasion of his abjuration. While the 
Huguenots were swearing fidelity to him, he was taking 
an oath to exterminate them. " De terra mea ac juris- 
dictione mihi subdita universes hereticos, ab Ecclesia 
denotatos, pro viribus bona fide exterminare studebo," 
such are the terms in which this promise was made. 
What a road had he travelled since the oath at La Ro- 
chelle ! l 

Since his accession to the throne, Henry IV. had con- 
ceived, in a manner more or less fair, the idea of having 
all religions live in peace. But the Reformers, witness- 
ing the concessions and the complacency of the new 
sovereign toward the Catholic party, had felt lively 
anxiety in regard to the consequences which the royal 
tactics might entail for their religion and their personal 
safety; they accordingly held at St. Foy a political 
meeting, which gave the prince to understand the neces- 
sity of affording satisfaction to the genuine grievances 

1 See Haag, France Protestante. 


of a portion of his subjects. He sent, then, the Edict 
of Tolerance, rendered at Mantes in 1591, to the Parlia- 
ment of Paris, where it was registered with a very poor 
grace. But these guaranties, which were confined to a 
re-establishment of the edict of 1577, which the exac- 
tions of the Leaguers and the partiality of the tribunals 
had made a dead letter, were too incomplete to quiet the 
Protestants. Driven to extremities by the manoeuvres 
and the persecutions of which they were the victims, 
they summarized their grievances in a voluminous note- 
book of complaints, discussed in various assemblies, and 
addressed directly to Henry IV. To put an end to these 
complaints, the King granted to his former co-religion- 
ists the celebrated ordinance known under the name 
of the " Edict of Nantes," because it was promulgated 
during Henry's sojourn in that city, in the month of 
April, 1598, after the submission of the last of the 

Every one knows the provisions of this edict, which 
was declared perpetual and irrevocable : full liberty of 
conscience ; public exercise of the Reformed religion in 
all places where it had been established in 1597, and in 
the faubourgs of cities ; permission to the Lord High 
Justices to hold services at their chateaux, and to gen- 
tlemen of the second rank to admit thirty persons to 
their private divine services ; admission of Reformers to 
public trusts, of their children into the schools, of their 
sick into the hospitals, and of their poor to a share in 
the distribution of alms ; right of having their books 
printed in certain cities ; chambers to be divided half 
and half in some of the Parliaments ; a court to decide 
in regard to the edict, at Paris ; four academies for 


scientific and theological instruction ; authority to con- 
voke synods according to the prescribed method ; and, 
finally, a certain number of places of refuge. The Cath- 
olic Church had also its share in this edict. The goods 
of the clergy were to be everywhere restored to them, 
tithes paid, and the exercises of Catholicism established 
throughout the entire kingdom. 

Scarcely was the Edict of Nantes published when the 
Papal Nuncio, the clergy, the Parliament, the University, 
the Sorbonne, gave utterance to unanimous objections, 
and brought to their support all the ill-will imaginable. 
Although the edict was a benefit to the Protestants, its 
application met with opposition at La Rochelle, because 
it restored Catholic public worship, which had been for 
some time past proscribed, and because the re-establish- 
ment of the former religion troubled the conscience of 
those who had seen its workings when it was in force 
in the city. On the 25th of July, the King's commis- 
sioners, Langlois and Parabere, arrived at La Rochelle, 
to put an end to the delay in the publication of the 
edict. They addressed themselves by turns to the 
Mayor and the Consistory, who were only willing to 
receive them on the following conditions, viz. : " that 
Catholic services should only be held in the church of 
St. Marguerite ; that this re-establishment should extend 
no further than it had extended in 1585 ; that their cere- 
monies should have no glaring features, and should not 
be made a public spectacle, unless it was in the enclosure 
and out-buildings of this same church ; that the Protes- 
tants should remain masters of the cemeteries, in which, 
however, Catholics might be buried ; lastly, the former 
should not be held to an observance of the fetes of the 


Roman Church." After a painful negotiation, thanks to 
the good offices of Sully, who had come to La Rochelle 
to quiet the feeling, the Edict of Nantes was proclaimed 
in the city on the 4th of August, 1599 > an< ^ on tne 6th 
and /th of the same month, the St. Marguerite and St. 
Barthelemy churches were turned over to the Bishop of 
Saintes, Nicolas Cornu de la Courbe, who on the follow- 
ing day celebrated mass at St. Barthelemy, while one of 
his vicars officiated in the other church. 

It is astonishing, at first sight, that an edict so favor- 
able to the Protestants should have been received with 
repugnance by the Rochelais ; and some reproach them, 
not without a semblance of reason, for having accepted 
everything they could get, when they were the feebler 
of the two, and for having bargained their concessions 
when they were the stronger. Yet this accusation is 
hardly justified. When in fact men who had received 
neither lessons nor examples in tolerance from their 
Catholic brethren were not as advanced as we are in 
the matter of liberty of worship, there is nothing sur- 
prising in it. In any case, it was not due to a feeling 
of narrow-mindedness or intolerance, but to a legiti- 
mate apprehension that there was no immediate in- 
tention of carrying the Edict of Nantes into execution. 
They mistrusted the exclusive spirit of Catholicism, 
which made it everywhere the rule to oppress the 
Reformation,, or hinder its manifestations. If the Prot- 
estants of La Rochelle wished to remain masters of the 
cemeteries, it was not in order to exclude the Catholics, 
since they specified that the latter might be buried there ; 
but because thev had reason to believe that the Catholics 
would exclude them, in case they held the ownership. 



The condition that they laid down for the reception of 
the edict, viz. " that they should not be held to an 
observance of the fetes of the Roman Church," shows 
whence their resistance sprung. They had no hostile 
intentions toward the Catholics, but they knew that the 
Roman Church claimed to constrain them to celebrate 
the festivals and ceremonies of its worship, and they 
feared, in conceding municipal rights, they might fur- 
nish arms against themselves. 

" The ancient religion," says M. Edgard Quinet on this 
subject, " unchangeably resolved to extirpate everything 
which was not a part of itself ; the new religion, sum- 
moned, in the name of its principle, to allow itself to be 
choked without resistance; on the one hand, the offen- 
sive ; on the other, resignation. Under these circum- 
stances, the issue was plain, and the result could not long 
be held in abeyance. Had the new religion adopted the 
rule of sparing the former one, no doubt in a given 
time the one that had spared its adversary would have 
disappeared before the one that lost no opportunity to 
crush it. To reproach Protestantism with its intoler- 
ance, is to reproach it with having desired to live." It 
was not, then, an act of aggression, it was not even a 
reprisal, which drove the Rochelais to defer the publi- 
cation of the Edict of Nantes ; it was a measure of 
safety, an act of legitimate defence rendered necessary 
by the habitual intolerance of Catholicism. 1 

1 There has recently appeared, in the Recueil des Lectures dela Sorbonne, 
a very interesting sketch by Professor Dunan, written in an excellent vein, 
on the re-establishment of mass at La Rochelle in 1599, according to the 
diary of Jacques Merlin. We recommend it to our readers. 



After the publication of the edict, the two sects dwelt 
side by side, not without coldness and mistrust, yet with- 
out any open hostility. From the month of March, 
1600, there were no more out-door processions, and the 
Catholics confined within their two churches the cer- 
emonies of their worship. Quibbles on this subject, 
mutual accusations by the two clergies, superstitions, 
artifices, captious means to obtain conversions, procla- 
mation of the sincerity of those who were converted, 
and of the interested motives of those who seceded, 
indeed, even, in the latter case, of Satan's intervention, 
are frequently met with in the writings of authors of 
this period. Sometimes these discussions disturbed 
even the public peace. The priests, who thought 
themselves oppressed since they could no longer be 
the oppressors, anticipated scandals in order loudly 
to deplore them, and made complaint at court. Other 
Catholics pretended to be excluded from public trusts, 
directly or indirectly. No official decisions were ren- 
dered on these complaints, but Rosny was intrusted 
with the duty of bringing the Rochelais magistrates 
back to a more impartial state of feeling. 

These quarrels between the two sects assumed greater 
importance in 1606, when the Jesuit Seguiran came to 
La Rochelle to preach the Advent, announcing himself 
as a member of the Society of Jesus, and as backed by 
letters from the King. The sentries having refused him 
entrance to the city, telling him that they knew that 
Jesus had no companions and that he had no letters 
from the King, Seguiran went back to court, where he 


made a great disturbance over this affront and this 
alleged contempt of his Majesty's orders. The Roche- 
lais were right, however. The Jesuit had no letters 
from the King, not even secret instructions from him : 
those which he did have had been given him by two 
secretaries without the monarch's cognizance. Henry 
was wrong in not daring to deny them, and in hiding 
this intrigue. He feared that it would afford a pre- 
text for resistance to the death, forgetting that justice 
is the best policy for those who govern. " He accord- 
ingly played very well the role of being offended, but he 
unbosomed himself completely to Rosny, by recommend- 
ing him to keep up appearances." Upon the strength 
of a letter written by him, the Rochelais consented to 
receive the Jesuit to preach in Lent ; but he was re- 
called after a few days, and disappeared without accom- 
plishing his mission. 

In the month of March, 1608, the Provincial Synod of 
Saintonge, Aunis, and Angoumois, of which Merlin was 
Moderator, assembled in St. Michel Hall. The diary of 
this minister, which contains numerous meteorological 
observations, reports in quite a curious manner an at- 
mospheric phenomenon which occurred at this period. 
" In autumn," he says, " there was heard in the air, one 
fete day, a great noise as of a drum and armed men. 
There was seen to appear an army, well equipped and in 
battle array, of musketry, arquebusiers, lancers, and 
pikemen, who marched with drums and standards of 
blue and red, and who disappeared on encountering a 
forest." It was simply an aurora borealis, the theory of 
which science had not yet discovered, and which had 
wrought upon the pious and eminent pastor's imagi- 


Henry IV. wished to have the compact which he had 
made with his former co-religionists carried out in good 
faith ; and the Rochelais, forgetting his faithlessness, 
began to enjoy the peace and liberty which the Edict of 
Nantes guaranteed them, when the dagger of Ravaillac 
came to strike the King full in the chest, on the I4th of 
May, 1610, under pretext that he proposed making war 
upon the Pope. The news of this sad occurrence, which 
reached the Mayor of La Rochelle on the i/th, spread 
consternation in people's minds. It was known that the 
prince was dangerously wounded, and the people went 
in crowds to the temples and churches to ask of God the 
preservation of the life of their well-beloved sovereign. 
But alas ! Henry had already drawn his last breath. At 
seven in the evening, a courier, sent by Parabere, the 
King's Lieutenant in Poitou, announced his Majesty's 


In this same year, the Rochelais had sent deputies 
to the political assembly convened at Gergeau, 1 which 
took wise and prudent measures. Protestants again 
lived in peace with Catholics, and an era of prosperity 
seemed to dawn upon La Rochelle. We have already 
observed that learning was in a flourishing condition 

1 These assemblies must not be confounded with the Synods. In the 
Synods, pastors and laity were equally divided, and usually attention was 
only given to church matters. In the political assemblies, the laity were 
in a large majority, and affairs of state were there discussed. There had 
been assemblies of this kind during the religious wars ; but it was at this 
time that they assumed a more regular organization, and adopted the 
resolution to meet periodically. (De Felice.) 


there. Great intellectual activity prevailed in the city ; 
a strong impetus was imparted to industry and com- 
merce. Contemporaneous documents mention La Ro- 
chelle as "the French Amsterdam." In 1572, Professor 
Pierre Martines congratulated the Corps de Ville and 
the bourgeois upon the flourishing state of their city, 
at once learned and maritime ; and one which, in this 
double point of view, perpetuated the glories of Athens, 
Rhodes, Alexandria, Syracuse, and Marseilles. 

Had Henry IV. lived several years longer, hatred 
would perhaps have died out, and the Catholics would 
have learned to see in the Reformers only their fellow- 
citizens. But the assassination of this prince awak- 
ened divisions and mistrusts ; terrible reverses awaited 
the Protestants after the tranquillity they had been for 
some years enjoying. Doubtless, they might at first 
have conceived some hopes ; for, in taking the regency, 
Marie de Medicis hastened to confirm the Edict of 
Nautes, although it had already been declared " per- 
petual and irrevocable." She even caused to be trans- 
mitted to the Rochelais, by Villarnoul, the Huguenot 
deputy at court, an avowal of her favorable disposition 
toward the Protestants. A useless precaution : the Ro- 
chelais remembered Charles IX. and his mother, and 
had no faith in either the good will or the good faith 
of a Medici. The secret mission of Du Coudrai into 
their city was not calculated to reassure them. So 
they continued on their guard, and this suspected mes- 
senger was obliged to withdraw. 1 

1 Du Coudrai, a Rochelais, counsellor to the Paris Parliament, received 
an order from court to proceed to La Rochelle, under pretext of settling 
some family affairs, but in reality to influence secretly certain well-mean- 


However, Duke Henri de Rohan son of Rene, Count 
of Rohan, and of Catherine de Parthenay, Lady of Sou- 
bise came to La Rochelle about this time, and the 
political assembly, of which he was the chief mover, 
met in the month of November. The presidency was 
conferred upon him : he distinguished himself, on this 
occasion, as a statesman and a political orator. The 
assembly busied itself with making up a budget of the 
grievances of the Reformers, in order to transmit them 
to court, and adjourned in the midst of intrigues which 
were being plotted for its dissolution. 

The year 1614 was marked by efforts on the part of 
the La Rochelle pastors to quiet a discussion which 
threatened to become a cause of irritation between the 
people and the Corps de Ville. The former complained 
of the traffic that was being made in the offices of peers. 1 
After long and lively contests, it was ordered that, at the 
expiration of each term, the bourgeois should present 
three candidates, and that the nomination should be left 
to the municipal magistrates. 

The Loudun conferences had been dragging along for 
three months, when the political assembly of Grenoble, 
which had been transferred to Nimes, obtained author- 
ity from the King to proceed to La Rochelle, where it 
held its first session on the 3d of March, i6i6. 2 But 

ing people with a view to preventing the assembly about to convene in 
the city on the subject of the conflict between the Duke of Rohan and 
De la Roche-Beaucourt, Governor of St. Jean-d'Angely. The former 
wished to take away from the latter the command of that place, because 
he considered him too much attached to the Queen's interests. 

1 Equivalent to the office of assistant alderman in our day. G. L. C. 

2 See DHistoire des Assemblies politiqiies des Reformes de France, by 
L. Anquez, pages 257 and 293. 


most of the Calvinists did not respond to this call. 
Lesdiguieres, Chatillon, Sully, and Mornay held aloof. 
The Prince of Conde, Catholic as he was, had endeav- 
ored to turn to the advantage of his own cause the anx- 
ieties of the Protestant party, and made advances to the 
Rochelais to ask them to join him, invoking his father's 
and grandfather's memory. Some time afterward, he 
proceeded to La Rochelle, where he was received with 
all the honors due his birth ; but soon he became recon- 
ciled with the court, and signed a treaty of peace, with- 
out troubling himself about his allies, or giving himself 
any anxiety about the embarrassment he caused them 
by his desertion. 

While the La Rochelle Protestants were thus made 
victims to the promises of an ambitious and selfish man, 
an event of much greater importance, the oppression of 
the Reformation at Beam transpired to rekindle reli- 
gious warfare. The inhabitants of that province, three 
quarters of whom, and according to some nine tenths, 
were Huguenots, received an order to restore to the 
Catholic clergy the property which, since 1569, had 
been assigned to the support of Protestant worship. 
The representations addressed by the States of Beam, 
and all classes of society, to the competent authorities, 
were ineffectual to obtain a revocation of the order 
emanating from the court, and Louis XIII., forgetting 
his promises made to the assembly of Loudun, put 
himself in motion, at the head of his army, to conquer 
the resistance of the Bearnais, marking his passage by 
acts of cruelty and violence which can only be com- 
pared to the dragonnades of Louis XIV. 



At this sad news, great was the indignation of the 
Reformers in all parts of France. Some pacific voices 
were heard, but not listened to ; and the people, seconded 
by the gentlemen of the second rank, and by the bour- 
geois of La Rochelle, acting under a conviction that 
the cause of the Protestants of Beam was that of all Hu- 
guenots, concluded that there was less peril in resistance 
than in quietly waiting their adversaries' death-blows. 

It was resolved then to prepare for resistance, and to 
summon at La Rochelle a General Assembly, which 
opened its sessions on the 3Oth of December, in spite of 
the King's prohibition. In vain did the principal lords 
of the party offer themselves as mediators between the 
court and the Assembly ; in vain Duplessis-Mornay 
employed his forces and his credit in seconding their 
endeavors ; all was useless, the King's Council persist- 
ing in a command to the Assembly to disperse without 
delay, and the latter refusing to dissolve before obtain- 
ing redress for its grievances, with guaranties for the 
free exercise of their religion. There is no doubt that 
the court wished to profit by this occasion to crush the 
political organization of the Reformers ; but they per- 
ceived the danger threatening them, and defended them- 
selves with all the more tenacity because they saw in 
this organization the safeguard of their religious inde- 

Weary of addressing justifications and fruitless com- 
plaints to the court, the La Rochelle Assembly, on the 
lOth of May, 162 1, 1 adopted, by a majority of six or 

1 See L'Histoire des Assemblies politiques des Reformes de France, by 


seven votes, a resolution at once rash and to be re- 
gretted, which exceeded the rights accorded by the 
Edict of Nantes. It divided Protestant France into 
eight circuits, each of which was to be under the rule 
of a chief of the party, and of which the Duke of 
Bouillon was at the head. An unfortunate resolution 
this, and one which increased the irritation of the court, 
while it was never carried into effect. The Duke of 
Bouillon, in fact, desired to remain neutral ; under pre- 
text of his great age and his infirmities he held him- 
self aloof : the other lords of the party feared to com- 
promise themselves, and did the same thing. Rohan 
and Soubise alone took part in this rising. As to 
the provinces, they refused to follow them, with the 
exception of Saintonge, Quercy, Languedoc, and Gui- 

This Assembly had had a special seal engraved to be 
stamped upon its decisions. On this proof it has been 
accused of having wished to establish in France a sec- 
ond Holland, etc. But from the moment it is admitted 
that the war was just, and, right or wrong, it had that 
appearance in the eyes of the Assembly, it cannot 
be considered strange that this body provided its own 
organization, rules, and sign of recognition. This seal, 
moreover, was simply a religious emblem, such as may 
be seen on the first pages of religious books in use by 
the Reformers, with an "exergue" showing that arms 
had been taken up for Christ and the flock, Pro Christo et 
grege. But the first letter of the last word having been 

L. Anquez, page 331, and Appendix, pages 513 and following; also the 
map indicating the places of refuge and the military departments created 
by the Assembly of La Rochelle in 1621. 


badly stamped on the wax, the meaning was entirely 
different, and the phrase signified " for Christ and the 
King," pro Christo et rege y which led some people to 
believe that there were two seals. 1 

" As an interesting moral feature," says M. de Felice, 
" should be mentioned the rules adopted by the La , 
Rochelle Assembly for the maintenance of religion and 
order in the armies. Pastors were daily to pray with 
and preach to the soldiers. Soldiers were forbidden 
to swear, under penalties proportioned to the grade 
of the delinquent ; viz. one testoon for a private, one 
crown for a gentleman. Severer penalties were pre- 
scribed for those who brought women into the military 
camps. The continuance of husbandry and commercial 
pursuits was recommended. Prisoners were placed in 
custody of the Council. These rules proved that the 
La Rochelle Assembly desired to elevate the character 
of this new war ; but it was only possible to execute 
them by a steadfast piety, which at that time had be- 
come very rare." 2 

However, the King's councillors were striving to 
bring back the Huguenots, either by fair means or by 
foul, into the lap of the Church, and Louis XI II., who 
had no sympathy for them, commenced hostilities on 
the 24th of April, fifteen days before the decision was 
adopted at La Rochelle ; a fact which, it may be stated 
incidentally, may have had considerable influence upon 
the abrupt action which the Assembly has been ac- 
cused of taking. The King first took possession of 

1 See Elie Benoit, Histoire de PEdit de Nantes. 

2 See Bulletin de la Societe de F Histoire du Protestantisme, IV. 470, and 


Saumur, which the Reformers had neglected to put in a 
defensible condition, and he found no further resistance, 
until he came to St. Jean-d'Angely, which sustained a 
siege of twenty-six days. The little place called Clairac 
held out for twelve days, and Montauban for two months 
and a half, at the end of which the royal army was 
obliged to raise the siege. The war, temporarily sus- 
pended, was reopened in 1622, and carried on with un- 
paralleled severity. The inhabitants of Negrepelisse 
were put to the sword by the royalists. The siege of 
Montpellier, in turn, ended with a treaty of peace, which, 
alas ! proved nothing more than a dead letter. 


Troubled in every way in the exercise of their religion, 
threatened every instant with the loss of the guaranties 
assured them by the Edict of Nantes, the Calvinists had 
finished by growing bitter toward the court, and losing 
all confidence. In 1623, the Provincial Synod of Sain- 
tonge, Aunis, and Angoumois vainly addressed to the 
King a memorial setting forth the infractions of the 
Edict of Nantes, of which the Reformers had been made 
victims. On its part, royalty, while declaring that it 
only wished to concern itself with the political privileges 
of the Calvinists, seemed in reality to have undertaken 
the task of menacing their religious existence. They 
had several times to subscribe to humiliating conditions, 
and to sign the peace that was imposed on them under 
the sole reservation of their liberty of worship. Numer- 
ous circumstances occurred to convince them that it was 
not considered binding to keep promises made to here- 


tics. The peace of 1622 had been signed, and an order 
issued for the construction of a fort at the very gates of 
La Rochelle, notwithstanding the complaints of the in- 
habitants, and the reiterated assurance of respecting 
their privileges. Fort Louis, in fact, was no territorial 
defence : its only reason for existence was as a means 
of overawing the city. Several times promises had 
been made to level it ; but they were only given to 
trifle with the Rochelais. At heart, it was intended 
to maintain it, and to use it, should need be, against 
the place. The city must swallow up the fort, or the 
fort the city, according to the prediction of Lesdiguieres. 
It was the old story of Rome and Carthage, one of 
which had to perish in order that the other might live. 
Thus, the Rochelais, in their turn, did not cease de- 
claring, although without result, " Delenda est Car- 

Thenceforward occurred continual collisions, by land 
and sea, bringing no decisive result until 1627. Not- 
withstanding the bad faith practised against her, La 
Rochelle displayed a conciliatory spirit : she yielded 
even to the point of allowing the Catholics, whose wor- 
ship had been proscribed anew, to resume within her 
walls their religious exercises. But, instead of being 
grateful for this concession, they seized the opportunity 
to excite troubles, and calumniate the Protestants before 
their sovereign. After having reduced them to a mere 
sect, the intention was to compel them to return into 
the bosom of the Roman Church, or go out of the 
kingdom. Cardinal Richelieu, who came into power, 
seemed to wish to respect the consciences of the Protes- 
tants ; but the assemblies of the clergy only promised 


their subsidies to the crown on the express condition of 
the early extermination of heretics. Satisfaction was 
accorded the Protestants on some minor points, while a 
formidable expedition was being fitted out against their 
last stronghold. Let appearances have been what they 
may, Richelieu's aim was to establish the King's author- 
ity upon the ruins of La Rochelle. So little was this a 
mystery, that, after the defeat of Soubise, in 1625, the 
Calvinists having demanded peace, the King replied that 
he was very willing to grant it ; " but," he added, " as 
for La Rochelle, that's another affair." Louis XIII. 
caused to be announced to the Pope, and the priests 
published, the approaching triumph of the Catholic 
faith. " La Rochelle must be besieged, and the Hugue- 
nots chastised, or, better, exterminated, everything else 
being laid aside," wrote Richelieu to the Archbishop of 

Such was the situation at the moment when a cannon- 
shot, fired at La Rochelle from Fort Louis, gave the 
signal for the memorable siege of 1627, which riveted 
for more than a year the attention of all Europe. It 
does not enter into our plan to recount this heroic 
struggle, in which a few thousand inhabitants held in 
check for more than fifteen months the armies and 
fleets of Louis XIII. Let us confine ourselves to estab- 
lishing the fact that it was solely for their faith that 
the Rochelais fought with such rare energy, personified 
in their Mayor, Jean Guiton. " The memory of the 
League," said Mr. L. E. Meyer, in 1854, at a meeting of 
the Literary Society, " was too recent for the Rochelais 
to have been able to attach any great confidence to 
the promises of the court. Should they have expected 


to find protection from a queen who bore the name of 
Medici, and from a cardinal prime minister ? In other 
respects, facts speak loudly- enough : contrary to the 
faith of treaties, Fort Louis reared itself at their very 
gates, an incessant menace. Was it with peaceful inten- 
tions that work was carried on so actively for fortifying 
St. Martin, and that the garrisons of the adjacent cities 
were increased ? If any doubt were still permitted them, 
if they did not as yet understand the Cardinal's pro- 
jects, had they not before their eyes the fate of St. Jean- 
d' Angely, the town government suppressed, the walls 
levelled, its privileges abolished ? Yesterday, it was 
St. Jean-d'Angely's turn ; to-morrow, it will be La Ro- 
chelle's. And when there shall be no more town gov- 
ernment, nor walls, nor franchises, who will guarantee 
them the liberty of conscience for which they have 
poured out their blood ? Their privileges are not only 
part of their fortune, they are, above all, the safeguard of 
their faith. And if Richelieu, for reasons of state, rather 
than by tolerance, abstained from religious persecutions 
for the reason that persecutions would have made in- 
ternal war continual, and that he needed all the forces 
of the state to fight outside foes, are not the revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes and the dragonnades proof that 
our forefathers' fears were well founded ? " 

The Rochelais have often been reproached with being 
insurgents against the royal authority, and the historians 
friendly to Catholicism seem to have mutually agreed to 
lavish upon them the epithet of " rebels." 

Let us consider, however, for it is easy to exaggerate 
the extent of this reproach, and to lack justice toward 
those to whom it is applied. 


Without doubt, resistance to the chief of the state is 
contrary to the Gospel maxim, " Let every one be sub- 
missive unto the higher powers." Without doubt, the 
Christian's arms are not carnal, and it is better for him 
to suffer martyrdom than to take up the sword, following 
the example of the Divine Master, who said to Peter, 
" Put up thy sword into its place," and who refused to call 
to his aid the legions of angels whom his Father would 
have sent him to combat his enemies. At all events, 
the sword has no jurisdiction over the conscience, and 
it is important to set apart the rights of God, according 
to that other Gospel maxim, " Render unto Caesar those 
things which are Caesar's, and unto God that which is 
God's." A reservation so legitimate, moreover, that 
Napoleon bowed before it, saying, on a memorable occa- 
sion : " The law's empire ends where the undefined 
empire of the conscience begins. If any one among 
those of my race," he adds, "arrives at the point of 
denying this grand principle, I agree to call him a Nero." 

But even if revolt is forbidden by the law of the Lord, 
if there is more heroism in perishing at the stake than 
upon the battle-field, are there not in the present instance 
some considerations and circumstances which extenuate 
or which justify, to a certain extent, this accidental de- 
parture from the precepts of the Gospel ? 

Founded in 1199* by Alienor, Duchess of Aquitaine, 

1 Mr. E. Jourdan published in 1863 the primitive statute of the town 
of Rochelle, according to a document taken from the archives of Bayonne. 
In the Memoir accompanying this publication, he, contrary to the re- 
ceived opinion and that to which Augustin Thierry had added his powerful 
authority, makes the foundation of the town date back to a period prior to 
1199, possibly even to William X., father of fileonore, Count of Poitiers : 
he asserts that it served as a model for the charter assigned to Rouen. 


La Rochelle had received from that princess great po- 
litical and commercial franchises. Its Bourgeoisie were 
self-governed ; they nominated a Corps de Ville, consist- 
ing of a Mayor, twenty-four Aldermen, and seventy-five 
Peers. These hundred magistrates, or " prud'hommes," 
filled by elections vacancies occurring in their own body ; 
they had troops, a navy, a separate treasury, and a very 
wide jurisdiction. When the city freely acknowledged 
Charles V., it received as a reward for its services a 
formal confirmation of its franchises and immunities. 
When Louis XI. made his entry there, on May 14, 1472, 
he made oath, kneeling, with one hand upon the cross 
and the other upon the Gospels, handed him by the 
Mayor, that he would preserve the city's privileges. 
" During the long period of the Middle Ages," says M. 
de Quatrefages, " the spirit animating La Rochelle con- 
tinued always the same, and may be expressed in these 
words, ' a boundless attachment to its privileges, an 
unalterable fidelity to the King guaranteeing them.' " 
These privileges, abolished by Francis I., had been re- 
stored by Henry II., so that these immunities and 
franchises existed of right, and the enjoyment of them 
might loyally be claimed. 1 " La Rochelle, attacked by 
land and sea," says an authoritative pen on this subject, 
"fought to vindicate respect for sworn faith, liberty of 
conscience, and the loyal performance of a contract, 
ratified by a long succession of kings, sanctioned by the 
authority of ages, and a just recompense for its ancient 

1 A governor resided in the King's name at La Rochelle, but the 
Bourgeoisie did not allow him to keep much of a garrison, nor build 
any citadel. The real commander was the Mayor, who was chosen an- 



Moreover, La Rochelle was one of the "places of 
refuge " accorded to Protestants by the Edict of Nantes. 
They could there find refuge in good conscience, when 
they felt they were threatened in their religion : for if 
these " places of refuge " were not fortresses whither it 
was permissible for them to retire in the day of peril, 
what were they ? 

From which it results that La Rochelle's resistance 
in 1628 cannot be likened to that of a stronghold, or 
the chief town of a department which had revolted 
against the central authority, as many persons regard it. 
La Rochelle was rather annexed to than united with the 
state. Her position was analogous to that of the free 
cities of Germany. The immunities guaranteed by the 
kings of France, and her title as a place of refuge for 
Protestants, created for her an exceptional position, and 
her citizens might, without doing wrong, take advantage 
of it. Not only was it allowable for them not to consider 
themselves rebels, but many of them indeed might be- 
lieve, in good faith, that they were discharging a duty in 
defending their privileges against the enemy. 

" Our hands are armed," said the Rochelais, in the 
manifesto they published in 1627, to justify their alliance 
with England, " but our hearts are still faithful. Our 
crime, if any, is that of necessity. We still respect the 
King whom our enemies have incited against us. Our 
aim is not to change our master ; we seek solely a pro- 
tector. 1 Let none attribute to us the dark design of 
troubling France ; we only seek to free ourselves from 

1 " Without in any way swerving from the fidelity and obedience they 
owed to the Very Christian King, their natural and sovereign lord," said 
the oath for carrying out the treaty of Plymouth. (Mervault.) 


oppression. Know all men, finally, that we desire to 
live faithful and submissive subjects, and that, so soon 
as a reasonable peace is proposed, there will no more be 
any preparation for war in our midst." 

Thus the Rochelais did not act after the principles 
of rebellion. They were rebels in fact, not in inten- 
tion, were such, I might say, in spite of themselves. 
Their aim was not to overturn the dynasty, nor change 
the form of government : they always protested their 
fidelity toward the prince, and we account this protesta- 
tion sincere, so sincere, in fact, that, had there reached 
the city, during the height of the struggle, letters-patent 
guaranteeing a free exercise of religion, and upon the 
performance of which they could have counted, we can- 
not doubt that the besieged would have instantly laid 
down their arms, and opened their gates to the King of 

That which proves incontestably the truth of this 
assertion is, that during the entire siege the Fleurs de 
Lis were respectfully guarded on the city gates, and that 
daily, even when famine raged with the greatest severity, 
prayer was offered for the King's life. General conster- 
nation prevailed when it was learned that a cannon- 
ball, fired from the St. Bartholomew church-tower, had 
covered the garments of Louis XIII. with dust ; and a 
Te Deum was sung in all the temples to return thanks 
to God that the King had not been touched. " A people 
faithful even in its rebellion ! " says M. Callot. " After 
having refused to be annexed to the kingdom of Eng- 
land, guarding with respect the Fleurs de Lis, and 
daily praying the Eternal to preserve the King's life 
through all dangers ! What a noble and touching result 


of those religious opinions for which they died ! What 
a sublime union of courage, fidelity, and resignation ! " 
" Sublime, indeed ! " exclaim Messrs. Haag in La France 
Protestante, " and still more so for the reason that at the 
same time Louis XIII. was giving an order to drive back 
with musketry to the city gates the famished wretches 
who wandered in numbers through the vineyards in the 
environs of the town, gathering a few herbs or sour 

The most culpable parties in this affair are not those 
whom some are pleased to term revolters or rebels. 
They are those who drove our forefathers to rebellion 
by revolting acts, those who harassed them, oppressed 
them, tortured them with a refinement and a satanic 
persistency, and who, after having pushed them to ex- 
tremities, after having made resistance for them a fatal 
necessity, sought to bring them into reproach by fling- 
ing at them the epithet of rebels. 

Who, in fact, are these historians who are scandalized 
beyond measure by the resistance of the Rochelais in 
1628 ? Are they men of principle, who have a horror of 
rebellion, and stigmatize it wherever they encounter it ? 
No ; they are partisans, who grow indignant at revolt 
when manifested in Protestant interests, and who keep 
silence when it is exerted in Catholic interests. They 
treat the Rochelais, in their uprising against the greatest 
of tyrannies, with extreme severity ; yet they have no 
word to say against the League or Papal excommuni- 
cation. Is it on the ground that the League, indeed, 
which labored to remove the lawful sovereign from the 
throne to put in his place ambitious men with no other 
title than their fanaticism, did not constitute a criminal 


resistance ? Is it on the ground that the Popes in ex- 
communicating the sovereigns of various countries, and 
releasing their subjects from the oath of fidelity, do not 
commit the most audacious of rebellions ? Does not this 
claim of the Bishop of Rome contain the germ of every 
insurrection and trouble it is possible to let loose upon 
the state ? Why do the historians who are hostile to 
the Reformation take these great rebels under their pro- 
tection, or cover them with their indulgence ? 

So that it is scarcely worth while to be much excited 
over this factious indignation displayed by certain Cath- 
olic authors against the unfortunate inhabitants of La 
Rochelle. It is only under their pens a ruse de gtierre, 
which may easily be turned back upon those who use it ; 
for if the Protestants, reduced to extremities, freed them- 
selves once from that submission which the Gospel rec- 
ommends toward those who govern, the Catholics have 
not refrained from doing as much, if not more, without 
even the excuse of being under an intolerable mode of 
government ; and because, moreover, there is always 
less wrong in throwing off the yoke of authority in order 
to find relief from unjust oppression, than in raising the 
standard of revolt in order to become the oppressor, and 
afford one's self the pleasure of doing violence to those 
who permit themselves to differ with us in opinion. 


Richelieu, having staked his political fortunes on the 
capture of La Rochelle, made his preparations with 
a liberal hand. He hoped, by there crushing the Hu- 
guenot party, to humble its nobility, and leave but a 


single power, royalty, standing in France. To carry this 
enterprise through to a successful conclusion, he em- 
ployed all the resources of his engineering skill, and put 
all the forces of the crown in action. But the remem- 
brance of the valiant defence made by the Rochelais in 
1573, and, above all, the shameful check that Louis XIII. 
had recently met with before Montauban, made him fear 
a new disgrace for this monarch, should an actual as- 
sault be made upon the place. Means less brilliant, but 
surer, were accordingly taken : it was resolved to reduce 
it, not by cannon and sapping, but by famine. In con- 
sequence, it was sought to close the port by means of a 
strong dike, defended by two forts and a large artillery 
force, and the city was enclosed on the land side by 
wide and deep lines of circumvallation, protected against 
the sallies of the besieged by seventeen forts, and a 
greater number of armed redoubts. 

Pierre Mervault, son of the chief of artillery of the 
garrison, has left a journal of what transpired in La Ro- 
chelle during this memorable siege, to which we refer 
persons fond of technical details. Although it does not 
enter into our plan to study the political and strategic 
combinations by which the city was subdued, some 
readers may be interested by the circumstances therein 
reported, and we borrow them from the modern historian 
who has best related this dramatic episode of our city's 

"In 1625, Buckingham had lent some ships to be used 
against La Rochelle. In 1627, behold him its defender, the 
protector of La Rochelle and all our Protestants. He drew his 
sword in God's name. In reality, he desired to capture the city, 
or at least the Isle of Re. It would have been a new Calais 


between Nantes and Bordeaux, five hours distant from Spain. 
His dream was to re-establish, in the interest of Edward III., 
the ancient empire of Aquitaine, and he thought, by the aid of 
three fleets and three armies, thirty thousand men, to attack 
France in the centre at La Rochelle, and on the flanks at Bor- 
deaux and in Normandy. 

"Of all this wonderful war poem, but one episode was 
enacted, the descent of ten thousand English upon the Isle 
of R . It was a sufficient force to have captured La Rochelle, 
had La Rochelle desired to be captured. But she did not. 
The Huguenots had been so much reproached with their love 
for England that the latter was sure of being received with open 
arms. But no. The Huguenots were, above all else, French- 
men. Moreover, what would La Rochelle, our Amsterdam, 
brave in commerce and war, a little complete and original world in 
herself, with her own flag renowned in every sea, what would 
have become of her in the hands of the English ? Bucking- 
ham's bad faith was well known. Had he wished to rescue La 
Rochelle, he would have made his descent on the main-land, and 
would have helped the city to capture and demolish its great 
adversary, Fort Louis. But, instead, he remained at sea, to 
capture the Isle of Re", where he established his head-quarters, 
whether the Rochelais liked it or not, right before them, at their 
very door. Made captive by France on the one hand, on the 
other they would have met with a similar fate at the hands of 

" He (Buckingham) listened in no wise to the advice of 
Soubise, who had accompanied him, and while the latter had 
gone to La Rochelle, against their agreement, he landed on the 
Isle of Re" , not, however, without loss. The Governor, Thoiras, 
with the regiment of Champagne and a force of noblemen, gave 
him such a welcome on arrival, and so crippled him, that he 
remained inactive for five days, repairing his damages, instead 
of marching straight against the fort. 

" Soubise, desiring to enter La Rochelle with an English 
secretary, was peremptorily arrested, and would not have en- 
tered had not his aged mother, a woman of old-fashioned 


energy, come and helped him to pass. People listened to the 
Englishman, but remained very indifferent. The tardiness of 
Buckingham gave Richelieu time to collect money for building 
vessels. The clergy furnished some millions. The Englishman 
guarded the sea poorly, and the fort was revictualled for two 
months when he came to besiege it. Fortunately, as the King, 
who was coming, fell ill, his brother took his place, with the 
fixed purpose to do nothing. The army he commanded, by 
pillaging, ravaging, and cutting down trees, did everything that 
was necessary to make the city surrender to the English. Be- 
sides Fort Louis, others were begun, evidently with the inten- 
tion of besieging. 

" Divided counsels prevailed in the city. The judges were for 
the King, under any and all circumstances ; they left, passing 
over to the royal camp. The ministers and the Corps de Ville 
adopted the daring resolution to defend themselves ; but alone, 
and without receiving Buckingham. 

" On the contrary, in their manifesto, they recalled, as their 
greatest title to honor, the fact that they had formerly driven off 
the English. They offered, if the King would turn over Fort 
Louis into the hands of La Tremouille, or La Force, to unite 
with him in driving their mistrusted defender from Re". 

" As a reply, cannon were mounted before their gates. They 
must open them, or fight (September 10). They fought; but 
it was only five weeks later (October 15) that they decided to 
treat with Buckingham. Twenty-nine barks passed under the 
fire of the English, and the fort received from Thoiras provisions 
in abundance. From that time, the prospect was that Bucking- 
ham would pass the winter before the Rochelais fort. He signed 
what they wished. He who made this arrangement, Guiton, 
one of their great sailors, reserved thereby not only the liberties 
of the city, but the rights of the province even, stipulating that, 
in case the Englishman took the Isle of Re", he should not 
separate it from the country to make it English territory ; and 
that he would not avail himself of any forts built during eight 
years past on the coast, but would demolish them. An admi- 
rable treaty, founded upon an obstinate patriotism, but one 


which must have completely chilled the English, and made them 
little desirous of conquering, since in advance it was exacted 
that they should gain nothing by victory. 

" The King, finally restored to health, arrived on the 1 2th of 
October. All the military forces the kingdom could command 
were before La Rochelle : thirty thousand picked men, and an 
immense war material. All our ports, from Havre to Bayonne, 
had furnished men and small craft. Richelieu, in three months, 
by a strenuous effort of will and activity, had precipitated the 
whole of France upon this single point. His success was scarcely 
a matter of doubt. La Rochelle held twenty-eight thousand souls, 
of whom fourteen thousand were males ; then, at most, seven 
thousand armed men. Of Buckingham's ten thousand, but 
four thousand remained. Neither England nor Holland moved. 
Spain alone had some disposition to use her ships, promised to 
Richelieu, to destroy his barks, and save La Rochelle. That 
was Spinola's advice : he plainly counselled treachery. Madrid 
was not greatly averse to it. But to practise treachery in behalf 
of heretics, to fight in Protestant ranks, would have been for 
Spain a solemn disavowal of the part she had been acting for a 
hundred years, a most cynical confession of her perfidious 

" Had Buckingham carefully guarded the sea, France be- 
ing short of vessels, he might have been still master of the 
situation. But the fortunate blunder of putting six thousand 
picked men on shipboard was committed. They passed, and 
he was lost. 

" Ruined in France, ruined in England. On the 6th of 
November, before embarking, he played his last card, making a 
desperate assault upon the fort. 1 He lost many men by this 

1 " They were finally compelled, after two hours and upwards of fighting, 
to retire with the loss of many men killed on the ground. Among the 
French there were killed Cadets d'Artiganotie, Deslandes, etc. The 
company of Savignac was very badly handled. . . . Among the wounded 
were Pluviau, Cadet Du Breiiil and De Guire, who led the enfants perdus. 
There were also wounded Captain Bazan, . . . Meschinet in the arm, the 
Elder Artiganoiie in the thigh, but without fracture, and some others, 


attack, and more still in his embarkation. He had not pro- 
vided for anything. He was obliged to make his remaining 
troops pass along a narrow embankment, which was cut when 
half his men were across, and two thousand of them were killed 
(November 17, 1627). 

" He had but two thousand left ; but his fleet was still intact, 
and he was still master of the sea. The Rochelais implored 
him to remain there. The more men there were on the island, 
the quicker they would be starved. The King might have seen 
from the main-land his best troops forced to deliver themselves 
up, to surrender at discretion. But Buckingham had lost his 
head. 1 He went away after having eaten the provisions of La 
Rochelle, after having rendered the besiegers the service of 
starving it. This unhappy city, abandoned by him who had 
compromised it, was now confronted by a monarchy. Six 
thousand men, without help and almost without provisions, 
undertook to defend themselves for a year more against a great 
army, with all the kingdom behind it to draw upon indefinitely, 
and able to repair its losses at pleasure. 

"France employed enormous sums of money in 1627 to 
destroy her own chief stronghold, the terror of Spain and the 
envy of Holland. Millions were thrown away in constructing 
immense works which could only serve a temporary purpose. 
Some of these forts, built solely to capture the city, were as 
extensive as the city itself. They were united together by a 
prodigious system of circumvallation, of three or four leagues in 
extent, which encircled the country. A monster La Rochelle 
had been built to smother the smaller one ; and for one year's 
use, Babylonian walls and towers of Nineveh. 

" But . all this went for naught, unless communication by sea 

names unknown, who were carried next day to La Rochelle to have their 
wounds treated and dressed." (Mervault.) 

1 Thus embarked and departed from the said Isle of Re the Duke of 
Buckingham, after having remained there, from the time of his arrival to 
that of his departure, three months and sixteen days, consumed a portion 
of the provisions of the Rochelais, and driven to despair the party in 
whose behalf he had come to France. (Mervault.) 


was shut off. It had been vainly attempted in 1622. A famous 
Italian had failed of success in undertaking it. The French 
architect, Me'te'zeau, and a Paris stone-mason named Tiriot, 
pointed out the proper means for effecting it, and so simply 
that it was believed possible to accomplish it without them. 
They were paid and sent away. M. de Marillac, a suspected 
courtier, the great friend of Be'rulle, 1 undertook the construction 
of the dike. . . . Marillac, substituting his own engineering 
plans for those of the original projectors, did not make the dike 
slope as they had designed it : he made it perpendicular ; so 
that the work was swept away at the end of three months. 
But Richelieu's powerful will overcame all covert designs by 
the aid of money. The whole army desired to work on the 
dike. Each soldier was paid for every basketful of stones he 
brought. The soldiers' pay was also in other ways largely in- 
creased. Bounties and good warm clothing were distributed, 
with provisions in abundance. Money no longer passed through 
the untrustworthy hands of captains, but, by sure agents, went 
direct from the cash-box to the soldier. 

" One would have wagered a hundred to one that Richelieu 
could not carry his point. Even as late as October pth he was 
counting upon the Spanish fleet ; but he learned in November, 
through some of Buckingham's papers, and some found upon 
an English agent captured in Lorraine, that Spain was against 
him, that for a year past she had been organizing a coalition 
to invade France. Discovered and plainly exposed, Spain per- 
sisted in a ridiculous hypocrisy, sending us here at La Rochelle 
her fleet (for which we thanked her), while she was besieging 
our people in Casal, where we were supporting a Frenchman, 
Nevers, the heir to Mantua (December 27, 1627). Italy was 
appealing to France, which was tied up at La Rochelle. Ger- 
many and the North were appealing to her. What could Riche- 
lieu do ? Nothing at all. If he abandoned the siege, his credit 
was gone, and he was lost. He must stay there, and all the 
millions of France, so much needed elsewhere, must be thrown 

1 It was Pere Berulle who persuaded Cardinal Richelieu to besiege La 
Rochelle. (Hist de Paris, vol. iv. p. 10.) 


as rubbish into the mud of the harbor. Those Rochelais sailors, 
wlio might be useful against the Spaniards, he was com- 
pelled to allow to die of hunger. ... In February, the King 
abruptly left him. He grew weary and returned to Paris. An 
understood arrangement, very probably. It was supposed that 
Richelieu would follow, or that, should the King set out alone, 
he would rid himself of his minister. . . . After passing fifteen 
days at Paris (Fontaine-Mareuil), the King had forgotten both 
La Rochelle and Richelieu. . . . This great man, so badly 
supported, had remained there, indomitable, on that dreary 
coast, with a daily possibility of learning of his own ruin, 
whether by a tempest sweeping away his dike and delivering 
the city, or by some capricious breeze from court upon the 
feeble spirit of the King, who now alone sustained him against 
the universal hatred. 

" None, in fact, helped Richelieu, save La Rochelle herself. 
Witness the intractable severity with which she opposed the 
English, and which prevented the latter from revictualling the 
city. (F. Mareuil.) Witness the refusal of the Rochelais, even 
while asking assistance, to throw open their gates. ' What have 
you to offer ? ' said Buckingham ; ' what indemnity for our ex- 
pense?' 'We offer only our hearts,' stubbornly replied these 
heroes. This immortal resistance is vouched for by a Cath- 
olic, by an Oratorian, Arcere, who had possession of all the 
manuscripts since destroyed or scattered. 

" Who would not mourn at seeing France thus annihilate 
that which was best in her ? The incipient republic was main- 
taining itself against two kings. Its sailors passed through 
the dike, its cavaliers were defying the royal army. Twenty- 
eight bourgeois citizens of La Rochelle one day attacked fifty 
gentlemen. At the head of the twenty-eight was the weaver, 
La Foret, who was killed, and for whom a triumphal funeral 
ceremony was held. Another man went out alone from the 
gates to offer a challenge to single combat. It was accepted by 
La Meilleraie, Richelieu's cousin, who had his horse killed 
under him, and was himself wounded ; but some one came to 
his assistance. 


" At Easter (I628), 1 the maritime element in the city carried 
the day against the bourgeois, properly so called ; the violent 
party ruled, and the mayoralty became a dictatorship. Captain 
Guiton was elected in spite of himself. ' You know not what 
you do in choosing me,' said he. ' Understand me well, that 
with me there is no talk of surrender ; whoever breathes a 
word of it I kill him.' He laid his dagger on the table of the 
City Hall, and left it there permanently.' 2 

" Guiton was short of stature ; but I was charmed to see a 
man so grand in courage. He lived in magnificent style, and 
his residence was full of flags, which he was fond of pointing 
out, telling when he had captured them, from what kings, and 
on what seas. 3 

" A Guiton was needed to sustain the city against the horrible 
blow it experienced, in beholding the English, so long waited 
for, at length appear and disappear without making any effort 
in its behalf. Denbigh, Buckingham's brother-in-law, being 
urged by the refugees who were with him to force the passage 
of the dike (it being still unfinished), replied that he left that 
honor to them, that his orders were merely to cruise about, 

1 " On April 8, 1628, a young man named Vivier, a servant of Pastor 
Philippe Vincent, one of the deputies to England, arrived in the city, sent 
from Holland, whither, according to orders, he had passed in order to 
procure some comfort in the way of provisions and munitions for the Ro- 
chelais. He had been eight days in the royal army before being able to 
pass into the city. He gave information of an intended attack to be 
made the next night, while a dozen fire-balls were to kindle conflagrations 
in different quarters of the place. Thanks to this information, the inhab- 
itants were prepared, and enabled to foil the design of their assailants." 

2 The story of the dagger, attested by several authors, and disputed by 
Arcere, is too much like the known character of Guiton to be considered 
fabulous, above all by us Rochelais, who still possess the table that time 
and popular respect have consecrated as unquestionable evidence of an 
engagement so solemn. This table, preserved at the Hotel de Ville, bears 
upon its white marble surface an imprint attributed to Guiton's dagger. 
The origin of this mark, latterly deepened by awkward or ignorant hands, 
merits greater credence than seems to be generally accorded it. 

8 Memoires de Pontis. 


and facilitate the entrance of assistance ; but at the same time 
to take good care of his fleet. 

" In such an extremity of despair, the fanaticism of a dy- 
ing country drove a man to dedicate himself to the killing of 
Richelieu. He only wished to be assured 'that it was no sin.' 
Guiton, to whom he applied, answered coldly, ' It is not cus- 
tomary to advise in this sort of affair.' The ministers, to whom 
he also went, forbade him to do this act, saying, ' If God saves 
us, it will not be by means of a heinous crime.' 1 

" The famine had become pressing : the people had eaten 
everything, even down to leather, which they boiled. 2 A cat 
sold for forty-five livres. A barbarous thing, deferred as long as 
possible, had finally to be done ; viz. to drive out the poor, the 
aged, the infirm, and the women who were widows, or without 
support, and send them over to the besiegers, that is to say, to 
their death : whoever passed the lines was lost. This unfor- 
tunate crowd, on presenting themselves, were received with gun- 
shots. They returned imploringly to La Rochelle, and found 
there visages of stone, and gates inexorably closed and gloomy. 
They must die of hunger between the two. What a strange 
thing, that a French army should have been thus employed, 
not in fighting, but in the capacity of an executioner, slowly to 
strangle a city, 'though otherwise orderly, well governed, and 
quiet.' Richelieu said with pride, ' It was like a convent.' The 
soldiers waxed fat. . . . Prelates and officers alike went to re- 

1 Arcere, II. 295. 

2 " One saw on the streets," says Arcere, " nothing but semblances of 
dying people, who seemed to defend against death the remains of a body 
shrivelled by the severest diet. Motives of liberty and religion, those 
powerful motives which afford so much strength to the soul, enabled them 
still to rely upon their courage for that which their bodily strength refused ; 
in feeble and expiring voice, they exhorted their rulers to continue the 
defence, and their last sigh was for their country's safety. The city was 
soon nothing but a gloomy habitation, where desolation reigned. Entire 
families perished at once, and their houses served as their tombs, for there 
were none to carry them out ; the living were only wan and emaciated 
spectres, animated by a breath which they owed only to the tardiness of 


ceive their instructions in a little dwelling where Richelieu 
lodged on the sea-shore. It was, in fact, the real court. 1 

" In the midst of the horrible scenes we have recalled, 
Guiton invariably displayed to his fellow-citizens a countenance 
that was placid, almost gay. The internal affairs of the city, its 
defence, negotiations with the English and the King, he kept 
them all going. By day, he presided in council, visited the 
sick, and consoled the dying ; by night, he made the rounds, 
and in person commanded the patrols. Some citizens, crazed 
by their sufferings, and knowing that it was he alone who pro- 
longed this desperate resistance, wished on several occasions to 
strike him down with their daggers, and essayed to burn his 
dwelling. 2 Guiton, without pity for spies and traitors, did no 
more than imprison those who laid the blame upon him alone, 
and at the same time redoubled his efforts and his constancy. 3 

" However, the English Parliament had finally aroused itself, 
and voted a powerful subsidy to save La Rochelle. Bucking- 
ham, with a slowness that was disheartening, made preparations 
to put to sea with his fleet. His countrymen accused him of 
treachery. One of them assassinated him. 4 

" Then a new delay occurred. This third fleet did not set out 
until September, too late to deliver the city ; soon enough, how- 
ever, to see it perish. 5 

1 Michelet. 

2 It has been believed, for quite a long time, that Guiton's house was 
situated in the Rue Pas-du-Minage, the second one from the Rue Gar- 
goulleau, and forming the southern angle of the alley-way Tout-y-Fault. 
But M. Callot has demonstrated, by authentic documents, that the house 
is the second one on the Rue des Merciers, seventeen feet from the Rue 
de la Grille, with an egress into the alley-way Des Gemeaux, once the lane 
of St. Yon. 

3 De Quatrefages. 

4 " Not only was Buckingham suspected of having betrayed the Re- 
formed communion, but, furthermore, Charles I. was also suspected of 
having had a hand in these disloyal manceuvrings, under the influence of 
his wife, Henrietta of France. The English Puritans had not forgotten 
this grievance, when they settled the account of this unfortunate prince's 
acts in 1649." ( De Felice.) 

5 On the first occasion, the English army only served to consume a 


" Richelieu had made offers upon offers to the besieged, even 
so far as to propose that the King should enter with but two 
hundred men, merely to say that he had entered. For form's 
sake, they would simply have had to pull down the exterior 
angle of one bastion. But matters had reached- that point 
where surrender was no longer possible. The magistrate who 
would have signed the act would have been killed as a 
traitor. They dragged their bodies along, no longer bore 
their arms, and could only walk by the aid of sticks. Sen- 
tinels were found in the morning dead with hunger at their 
posts. And with all this Guiton said : ' It will soon be our 
turn. So long as one live man remains to close the gate, it 

" On the 28th of September, before this dead city appeared 
eighty English ships, several of them very powerful ones. The 
French had but forty-five small vessels, defended, however, by 
all the batteries on shore. 

" It was a grand spectacle : every man at his post, the Car- 
dinal on the dike, the King everywhere. Ladies in coaches 
watched from the bluffs. The English who had been sent ahead, 
lead-line in hand, soon came to a halt, finding little depth of 
water. The larger vessels could not come up, they said, and 
the smaller ones would be of no use. The French refugees 
who were on board the English fleet then asked to be permit- 
ted to take in the fire-boats, to go and fasten them with their 
own hands to the stockade. They could discern from sea the 
poor people of La Rochelle, who had bravely opened the little 
inner gateway, and who, on their own part, in spite of the tide 
and wind, were driving a fire-ship upon the dike. The English- 
man did not grant our French the honor they asked. He 
drove his fire-boats himself, very poorly, and crosswise. Every- 
thing shamefully miscarried. 

part of La Rochelle's provisions ; on the second, to drive its people to 
despair ; and on the third, to leave fifteen or sixteen thousand people to 
die of hunger, there being displayed by the latter a great constancy, inas- 
much as they had once resolved upon it. (Memoirs of the Duke of 
Rohan, Book IV. p. 292.) 


" What had this fleet come for ? To negotiate ? ... It was 
the death of La Rochelle, and brought everything to an end. 
The moral blow it inflicted was so heavy, that people ran to 
throw themselves at Richelieu's feet. Had the English not 
come to drive them to despair, they might have held out 
eight days longer, when the dike was destroyed by a tempest, 
and the city could have been revictualled and still continued 
to hold out. 1 

" After being apprised of the treaty by which the English, 
his faithless allies, had delivered him over to Richelieu, Guiton, 
seeing his garrison reduced to seventy-four French and sixty- 
two English, felt that he had accomplished, and had obtained 
from his fellow-countrymen, everything that was possible con- 
sistent with humanity He was accordingly the first to ask that 
surrender be made to the King, and, sinking all personal griev- 
ance, he went to liberate from prison one of his most mortal 
enemies, the Assessor, Raphael Colin, and turned over to him 
the custody of the city, desiring by this means to facilitate the 
conclusion of a treaty. 2 

" Richelieu was not hard on La Rochelle. After all, what 
could he have done to her in comparison with that which she 
had already inflicted upon herself? Our soldiers, on their entry, 
gave their bread to every one they saw, and the King had 
twelve thousand loaves distributed. That was exactly the num- 
ber of people remaining : all the rest had died of hunger. 

" Cardinal Richelieu entered in order to have the dead 
bodies removed, and clean the streets ; and the Temple having 
again become the Cathedral (Church of St. Marguerite), he 
said mass there 3 on the morning of All-Saints' day (November 

1 Michelet. * De Quatrefages. 

8 " Cardinal Richelieu and Bishop Henri de Sourdis, who had done 
the duties of a soldier during the siege, celebrated the first mass at La 
Rochelle, after having purified the churches. It may be that the hands 
which had so lately borne arms might have better begun by purifying 
themselves before taking up the offering of the Prince of Peace. But the 
history of humanity is full of shocking contradictions." (De Felice.) 
On the following day, a general procession was held, in which the Arch- 
bishop of Bordeaux bore the holy sacrament through the streets, a 


ist, 1628). The King entered in the evening, with some few 
troops, in complete order. Pere Suffren, a Jesuit, the King's 
confessor, then held the fete des marts. 

"Oratorians and Minimes, a great force of monks, en- 
tered the city, and took possession of different premises to 
establish chapels. The inhabitants lost their temples, and 
could have no more services save in a place to be designated 
later. 1 

" The heroic Guiton, whom a generous enemy would have 
welcomed, was not received by the King. 2 Exiled at first, he 
later returned, and served in the Royal Marine with the title 
of Captain. 

" The fall of La Rochelle involved the ruin of the surround- 
ing country. The unoffending cities of Saintes, Niort, and Fon- 
tenay, which had not stirred, all the ancient places of Poitou 
and Saintonge, lost their fortifications, and gradually all of 
their inhabitants who were able passed into Switzerland and 

The recital we have here reproduced ends with this 
sinister declaration : 

"In 1628, Richelieu was obliged to make a desert of Aunis 
(the province) by the destruction of La Rochelle, and this was 
the beginning of the emigrations which continued through the 
entire century. 

" Note, then, how this poor city, once the refuge and the 
delight of King Henry IV., became at last the wrath and the 
glory of his son, Louis XIII. She was attacked by the French, 

thing which had not been witnessed for a very long time past at La Ro- 

1 In consequence of the conversion of the temple into a church, the 
Reformers were allowed an extensive building-site in the Maubec bastion, 
where they built, at their own expense, a new edifice. The promise made 
by the King to contribute thereto 6,000 livres narrowed itself down to a 
court promise. Its carpentry work cost 7,560 livres ; its pavement and 
that of the street, 3,136 livres, 12 sous, and 9 deniers; and the library, 
991 livres, 5 sous, and 4 deniers. 

2 Michelet. 


and abandoned by the English. She was buried under a fierce 
and pitiless famine, and after all gained by her constancy a 
longer life in the renown of future ages than those cities which 
are prosperous in the century of to-day." 1 


Although Richelieu did not show himself insensible 
to the misfortunes of the inhabitants of La Rochelle, he 
did not extend his generosity to the Dames de Rohan, 
the mother and sister of the Duke of that name, who 
happened to be among the besieged. The first, espe- 
cially, was a woman of strong character. Both had given 
proof of rare energy during the struggle, sustaining by 
their example the courage of the beleaguered. Their 
rank, and the extent of their misfortune entitled them 
to consideration at the hands of the conqueror. But 
the Cardinal took no account of it all. He caused them 
to be confined in the Chateau de Niort, where they were 
detained until the end of the war, deprived of their at- 
tendants, and forbidden to exercise their religion, an 
act scarcely worthy of a magnanimous conqueror, and 
still less so of a minister of the Father of Mercies. 

The Cardinal had not consented to receive Mayor 
Guiton ; but his refusal did not prevent the latter's being 
considered a hero. The Duke of Angouleme, and the 
more honorable in the King's army, came to see him, 
after the reduction of the city. Sent into exile, with 
twelve of the principal bourgeois, as well pastors as 
laity, he returned later and served, as has already been 
seen, in the Royal Marine, with the title of Captain. 

1 Memoirs of the Duke of Rohan, Book IV. p. 300. 


It has been supposed that he perished mysteriously ; 
but the mortuary register of the Consistory of La Ro- 
chelle contains evidence that he died in this city. In 
fact, it reads, under Number 2241 : 

"March 15, 1654, Jean Guiton, Esquire, Sieur de Repose- 
Pucelle, aged sixty-nine years, or thereabouts, has been in- 

According to all appearances, this burial must have 
taken place in the former Protestant cemetery, situated 
within the city limits west of the Rue Porte-Neuve, or 
Reaumur, between the Verdiere Canal and the northern 
angle of the Rue Chef-de-Ville. 1 

" Thus," remarks M. Callot, in the notice he has pub- 
lished concerning this celebrated man, " Guiton reposes 
on the very spot where rose the ramparts which he had 
the misfortune to see fall ; in sight of that dike, the 
cause of his country's ruin ; opposite that Fort Louis, 
which was the pretext for the wars in which he distin- 
guished himself ; at the foot of that Tower de la Ver- 
diere, in short, whence on the loth of September, 1627, 
by order of Matthieu Tessereau, Councillor, was fired 
the first cannon-shot that proclaimed the union of La 
Rochelle and the English." 

On the iQth of February, 1841, the municipal council 
of La Rochelle voted a statue to Mayor Jean' Guiton : 
its action was not sanctioned by the higher authorities 
of that period ; but it is none the less significant as to 
the judgment awarded this great citizen by a calm and 
impartial posterity. 

We have elsewhere stated that the Rochelais fought 

1 The residence of the translator of this volume is within a stone's 
throw of this point. G. L. C. 


for their faith and their religious liberty, and that the 
object of the siege was to stifle Protestantism. Were 
any one inclined to doubt the facts, let him call to 
mind the rejoicings which took place at Rome on the 
occasion of the fall of La Rochelle. The Pope, in fact, 
hastened to have a Te Deum chanted, ordained an 
extraordinary distribution of indulgences, and wrote to 
the King of France : " Great prince, God has been at 
your right hand. May He always help and sustain 
the force of your arms ! " Had it merely been the 
question of having reduced a rebellious city to obedience 
by the forces of the crown, would the Pope have been so 
profoundly moved ? But the truth was, they had just 
dealt a mortal blow to a city which was the last strong- 
hold of a religious sect which had thrown off the yoke 
of Rome, and that was why this occurrence had an 
echo in the seven-hilled city ; that was why there was 
rejoicing at the Vatican, and Urban VIII. ordained 
solemn acts of thanks. 





Fall of the Communal Government. Efforts of the Catholic Clergy to 
make Proselytes. Fidelity of the Rochelais during the War of the 
Fronde. The Pastor Philip Vincent. Double Abjuration of the 
Jesuit Jarrige. Increasing Rigors practised against the Reformers. 
Pierre Bomier, Advocate-General. Protestants excluded Ironi Public 
Office. Abbe Gentil embraces Protestantism. De Muin made In- 
tendant. Demolition of Churches, and Prohibition of Protestant 
Worship. Last Provincial Synod. Persecution of Pastors Tande- 
baratz, Delaizement, and Blanc. Demolition of the Temple at La 
Rochelle. Mission of Fenelon to Aunis. The Dragonnades. 
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Dispersion. Sentences 
of Chollet and Elizabeth Bonami. 


T A ROCHELLE, conquered by famine, had sur- 
"^^ rendered to the troops of Louis XIII. Her reduc- 
tion involved the fall of the communal government, and 
the loss of those privileges on which she had for three 
centuries past prided herself, while, at the same time, it 
delivered over the Protestants of France into their ene- 
mies' hands. In the days which followed Richelieu's 
and Louis XIII.'s entry into La Rochelle, the conqueror, 
moved by the spectacle of so much disaster and suffer- 
ing, only made his presence known by kind words and 
acts of compassion. But when the first demands of 
nature had been satisfied, when the eye had become ac- 
customed to this sad sight, pity gave place to other 


sentiments, and severity was inaugurated. After the 
banishment of Guiton and twelve of the principal citi- 
zens, the King gave orders for the removal from the 
archives of all documents in which mention was made 
of franchises, of the liberties of the province, of the last 
Mayor's administration, and of the negotiations with 
England. The demolition of the walls was commenced 
at the Gate of Cougnes. On November i ith they began 
to blow them up ; and on the i8th, the King published 
a declaration, in twenty-four articles, touching the sys- 
tem of government he desired to establish in the city. 
These were its principal features : 

" The Catholic religion, with all its pomps and cere- 
monies, was re-established ; only, the five parishes, in 
view of the decrease in the population, were reduced to 
three, Notre-Dame, St. Bartholomew, and St. Saviour. 

"The priests and the hospitals were restored to an 
enjoyment of the property of which they had been dis- 

" Two monuments were ordered raised in memory of 
the rebellion of the Rochelais, and the King's triumph ; 
viz. a cross on the Place du Chateau, upon the pedestal 
of which was to be engraved the history of the reduction 
of the city, the memory of which was to be kept up by 
a general procession, annually, on the ist of November ; 
and, secondly, by the foundation, at the Pointe de Cou- 
reilles, of a monastery of Minimes, which should pre- 
serve the history of the dike upon two tablets of brass 
put up over the church gate. 

" The mayoralty was abolished in perpetuity, the bell 
of the town-hall was ordered melted, and the revenues 
of the town government passed under the domain of the 


" The city was subjected to the taille (a species of feu- 
dal tax). 

" No stranger, not even a naturalized citizen, could 
come to settle in the place without the King's permis- 
sion ; and this prohibition extended to Reformers who 
had not been domiciled there before the descent of the 

"The inhabitants were to surrender their arms." 
" So that," says Elie Benoit, " naught remained of that 
powerful city save the place and the remembrance." * 


"After the fall of La Rochelle, the Reformers, who 
had been an armed and powerful party, formed only a 
disarmed minority, faithful to the kings who oppressed 
them, even to the extent of allowing themselves to be 
imposed upon. Instead of that compact party which, 
under Coligny, had held royalty in check, there re- 
mained only humble Christians, who vainly sought shel- 
ter under the shadow of the throne and the laws of 
their country." 2 

During the remainder of Richelieu's ministry, the 
Protestants were far from retaining the full and entire 
enjoyment of the religious liberty guaranteed them by 

1 The noblest of the institutions founded by St. Vincent de Paul, that 
of the Sisters of Charity, has for its point of departure an organization 
of lay women called the " Rochelais Ladies," who, driven from their own 
country by the civil war, founded in Holland an establishment composed 
of deaconesses, to which the name La Rochelle remained attached, and 
who devoted themselves with admirable fidelity to the care of the poor 
and sick. 

2 Rosseuw Saint-Hilaire. 


the law. They were compelled to suffer numerous 
vexations and crying acts of injustice, without any effort 
on the part of the government to repress the malevo- 
lence of its agents. 

Louis XIII. had banished some of the pastors of 
La Rochelle ; after the reduction of the place, there 
remained but three to lead the flock of afflicted ones : 
Loumeau, who had served since 1594; Colomiez, since 
1600 ; and Vincent, since 1626. The first was replaced 
by Flan, in 1633 ; Colomiez had Bouhereau as his suc- 
cessor in 1648 ; while Philippe Vincent, the author of 
" Researches into the Origin and Progress of the Refor- 
mation at La Rochelle," died in the month of March, 
1651, after a ministry of twenty-five years, during which 
he rendered great service to the church, and was held 
in general esteem and consideration. But we must not 
anticipate events. 

Under the influence of the monks of all kinds, Augus- 
tines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Capuchins, and Jesuits, 
who pounced down upon La Rochelle as their prey, 
some conversions, more seeming than real, were obtained 
in the days following the capture of the city. The 
Dominicans boasted of having distributed over a hun- 
dred and fifty dozen chaplets. But Guillaudeau apprises 
us that M. Viette, a Huguenot lawyer, deceased Dec. 23, 
1662, was buried by Catholic priests, who had admin- 
istered extreme unction, " notwithstanding that the 
ministers would have endeavored to prevent it, by com- 
plaining to the Intendant, M. de La Tuillerye, of the 
violence and outrage committed in the house of the said 
Viette by the priests, and some soldiers and men of war!' 

The Catholic clergy, conscious of their victory, used 


it unscrupulously to the making of proselytes. In the 
struggles that they were compelled to sustain, the Prot- 
estants met with more and more hostility, as matters 
degenerated into a social hierarchy. They, above all, 
complained of the difficulty they experienced in having 
their writings printed, a printer's responsibility at that 
epoch even going so far as to render him liable to the 
halter. Ministers of the Gospel were consequently 
compelled to combine with Christian fidelity the great- 
est caution. 



During the civil war called " de la Fronde," which 
agitated France under the minority of Louis XIV. (1648- 
1653), the Rochelais sustained the party of the Regent 
against their Governor (the Comte du Daugnion, who 
had declared for Parliament), and merited the praises of 
Mazarin. 1 Later, Louis XIV. maintained the Reformers 
in the full and entire enjoyment of the Edict of Nantes, 
for the reason that "his subjects of the R. P. R. had 
given him proofs of their affection and fidelity." 

But even the services they had rendered during the 
troubles of the Fronde, showed that, in spite of the ruin 
of their city, they were still able to exercise a consider- 
able influence, 2 and make themselves formidable, should 

1 Eight Rochelais deputies, who solicited the re-establishment of the 
Corps de Ville, were made nobles ; at least one of them, Gobert, was a 
Protestant, and had even been sent to England by his fellow-citizens in 
1628. This deputation was recalled, with its titles, and, amongst the vio- 
lent recriminations raised against the newly made noblemen, one finds no 
allusion to their different religions. 

2 The brilliancy of the maritime trade of La Rochelle is due in great 
measure to the activity of the Protestants. In their ranks were recruited 


any one put the idea into their minds. A fear of this 
made them the objects of a most suspicious surveil- 
lance. But, at all events, the Protestants of La Rochelle 
enjoyed, during the life of Pastor Philippe Vincent, if 
not entire liberty, at least a tolerance so broad that that 
pastor found cause for congratulation in it. This state 
of affairs was due to the combination of moderation and 
firmness which characterized his ministry, as well as to 
the spirit of justice and gentleness by which the Intend- 
ant, La Tuillerye, proved himself animated toward the 

In the year 1631, we find Philippe Vincent engaged 
in a controversy with one Pere Tranquille, a Capuchin 
superior. This discussion started from the conversion 
of the Marquis of La Villedieu to Catholicism. He pub- 
lished, on this occasion, a volume, dedicated to the mem- 
bers of the Reformed Church of La Rochelle, to whom 
he tendered it as a safeguard against the downfall into 
which it was sought to lead them. Some years later, in 
1639-40, this same pastor seems to have entered into a 
fight with the Jesuits, who disputed the lawfulness of 
his ministry, and the religious discussions were renewed 
under most futile pretexts. "The attacks were more 
numerous than varied," says M. Delayant ; " not that 
they did not differ in point of departure and form, some- 
times applying themselves seriously to some dogmatic 
point, or some points of discipline, sometimes pushing 
their sarcasm even to buffoonery and insult, as appears 
by the Litanie, published under the name of one of 

the Northern and West India Companies, patronized by Colbert, which 
kept up constant relations with the North of Europe, America, and es- 
pecially Canada and the Antilles. 


the Reformers of La Rochelle, which Vincent, in refut- 
ing it, terms blasphemous ; but, whatever be its subject, 
Catholic polemics always tends to its one favorite hobby, 
the vocation of pastors. It seems to think much less 
of bringing back the Calvinists to the Roman faith, than 
it does of separating them from their ministers. It is 
always the old story, ' Persuading the sheep to let loose 
their dogs.' " 1 


While the La Rochelle pastors were defending them- 
selves successfully against the repeated attacks of their 
adversaries, an event, which was far from being expected, 
occurred to arouse formidable hatred against the Re- 
formers, and to add new complications to the surveil- 
lance of which they were the objects. Pierre Jarrige, 
confessor and spiritual father of the House of Jesuits 
of La Rochelle, admonitor of the rector, and a regular 
preacher, was converted to Protestantism at the age of 
forty-two. After having summoned the pastors of La 
Rochelle to extend him the hand of fellowship, in order 
that he might take his place in the Reformed communion, 
in which he promised before God to live and die with the 
help of His grace, he performed the act of abjuration 
on Christmas day, 1647, under the hands of Pastor Vin- 
cent, who, to rescue him from the vengeance of his order, 
procured him the means of getting away to Holland. 
Received with coldness by the Dutch ministers, who 
probably formed a rather unfavorable opinion of him, he 
imagined them jealous of his superiority, and insinuated 

1 Historians of La Rochelle. 


that it was for that reason he had not yet been given a 
pulpit. However, the Jesuits did not lose sight of their 
lost sheep. The honeyed words in which they are so 
skilful not succeeding in bringing him back into the fold, 
they had recourse to severe measures. At their insti- 
gation, the Presidial (Court) of La Rochelle condemned 
him to be hung, on the Place du Chateau, as an impostor 
and sacrilegious person. Vincent, who up to that time 
had been congratulating himself on the religious liberty 
he was permitted to enjoy, was involved in the terrible 
hatred let loose upon the refugee, and found himself in- 
cluded in the sentence imposed upon Jarrige. In this 
same judgment, a prohibition was issued, under penalty 
of five hundred livres fine, to Abraham Espie, secretary 
of the Consistory, and all others, against using the 
words " Reformed Church " without adding thereto the 
word "pretended." 

Exasperated by this decree, Jarrige launched against 
the Society of which he had been a member the most 
scathing act of accusation which could possibly be 
directed against it, under the title of " The Jesuits 
placed upon the Scaffold for several Crimes commit- 
ted by them in the Province of Guienne," wherein he 
piled up proofs of the most odious crimes, such as 
forgery, rape, seduction, infanticide, and false witness 
committed by several members, citing names, places, 
dates, witnesses, and without any one's daring to take 
up his challenge to convict him of imposture. All of 
which, however, did not prevent him from retracting 
the whole, and chanting a shameful palinode, after 
having lost all hope of obtaining a position worthy of 
his lofty pretensions. 


What a melancholy instance of the lengths to which 
one may be led by wounded pride and an unsatisfied 
ambition ! Not finding himself adequately recompensed 
by the superiors of his order, Jarrige conceived the de- 
sign of embracing the Reformed religion, for which he 
had long had secret sympathies. But he took this step 
in a sort of religious pet, rather than from sincere con- 
viction, and he retraced his steps as soon as he was un- 
deceived. Had the Jesuits known enough to play upon 
his vanity, he would not have gone out from Catholicism 
with eclat ; and had the pastors of Holland gratified his 
ambition, he would never have returned to it. 

Thus ends the story of this double apostasy, which 
created considerable sensation, and could not but oper- 
ate prejudicially to the Reformers. In fact, had they 
repulsed Jarrige, they would have given ground for sus- 
picion of their faith, or their charity ; if they extended 
him their hands, they drew down upon themselves the 
rancors evoked by his conversion. 

Although this unfortunate affair was the signal for 
a multitude of obstacles and worriments for the Protes- 
tants of La Rochelle, Vincent did not cease to retain a 
certain credit at court. He had been deputed in 1632 
and 1633 to call upon Cardinal Richelieu, by whom he 
was very kindly received. In 1645 he was delegated to 
visit the King by the Synod of Charenton ; and from 
1645 t J ^49 he was successfully employed in inducing 
the Protestants to pay off without delay the financial 
or other obligations which had been imposed upon 
them ; a course which served to win him the eulogies 
of the ministers of state, notably of La Vrilliere and of 
Mazarin himself. 



Ill the month of July, 1651, a touching ceremony took 
place in the church of La Rochelle. Laurent Drelin- 
court, having received a call to serve, was consecrated 
to the holy ministry by his father, Charles Drelincourt, 
pastor at Paris, assisted by pastors Auboyneau, Flan, 
Bouhereau, and Du Faur. The sermon preached on 
this occasion has been preserved to us. Laurent Dre- 
lincourt also left a volume of Christian sonnets, justly 
esteemed, which ran through several editions, and en- 
joyed considerable popularity. His ministry was a 
blessing to the church of La Rochelle. 

However, it is but fair to acknowledge that, during 
the time Mazarin was in power, he protected the Prot- 
estants against persecution. " The Protestants of this 
period only desired to live in peace, very well contented 
if allowed to enjoy tranquilly what was granted them by 
the edicts. There no longer remained any of those 
features which had rendered them formidable, and they 
were so far from wishing to take up arms to re-establish 
themselves, that they hardly even dared present their 
statements of grievances." 1 

Although the reverses sustained by the Protestants 
had considerably enfeebled them, the general assembly 
of the clergy of 1656 set upon them, and gave the signal 
for a persecution which lasted until 1685. It was with 
great difficulty that the national synod assembled in 1659. 
From that time the Reformers saw themselves exposed 
to continually increasing severities, at once paltry, cruel, 
and annoying. Denounced by envious rivals, they en- 

1 Elie Benoit, Histoire de VEdit de Nantes. 


countered much ill-will at the hands of the guardians of 
the royal authority : constant obstacles to their progress ; 
constraint placed upon the free education of their chil- 
dren, whom they were sometimes forced to send to 
Saumur ; trouble in securing publication of their writ- 
ings; distinctions between the older inhabitants and 
those who had newly become so ; forced participation in 
noisy processions, characterized by verses in which the 
epithet of a " band of criminals " was thrown at them. 1 
It was not, however, as yet a persecution that was 
organized, persistent, and openly declared. Bomier 
made this fact very evident to them by attacking two 
sermons of L. Drelincourt (1656), which ended in these 
words : " Lord, we pray thee to have pity upon thy poor 
people, afflicted, persecuted, bruised, and crushed by the 
enemies of thy holy name." He (Bomier) taxed the 
pastor with exaggeration and injustice, and described in 
ominous words the nature of a systematic persecution. 
People shuddered at noting the extent of the manoeu- 
vres, the indignities, and the crimes commanded or per- 
mitted by the two orders which were ordinarily most 
respected, and at a time too which we still hold up to 
eulogy for its propriety and good order. 


In spite of the disaster of 1628, the Church of La 
Rochelle was still one of the most important in France, 
as well in numbers as in the social position of its mem- 
bers. We have spoken of the fidelity shown by the Ro- 
chelais during the troubles of the Fronde ; but the court 

1 Canonization of Thomas de Villeneuve. 


had resolved to annihilate the Reformation, under pre- 
text of extirpating heresy ; and the services rendered 
by the Protestants of La Rochelle, instead of protecting 
them, made them objects of suspicion to those who de- 
sired to destroy them, and caused the first blows of the 
plot to be directed against them. At all events, the 
court took care not to precipitate matters : it was too 
shrewd to carry out its projects openly ; it preferred to 
work them out in the dark. 

In order to succeed in this enterprise, it was necessary 
for it to have at its command some man devoid of heart 
and conscience, who would recoil from no act of injus- 
tice, and who would be capable of every perfidy and 
every cruelty. Such a man was found in Pierre Bomier 
(1617-1685), King's Advocate, 1 belonging to a family of 
Niort, remarkable for nothing save its bigotry and its 
hatred of Protestants. " This Bomier was one of the 
most furious persecutors who ever rose up against Prot- 
estantism," says the author of the History of the Edict 
of Nantes. " He had been nursed among the Jesuits, 
and, having a depraved heart and a malignant disposi- 
tion, had acquired a great liking for their maxims. He 
had a brother who had taken the garb of this order, and 
he was himself one of those secular Jesuits composing 
what they call the Congregation, and ordinarily acting 

1 In the work entitled " Heroes of the League, or the Monastic Pro- 
cession led by Louis XIV. for the Conversion of the Protestants of the 
Kingdom of France," is presented Bomier's homely face with these 
couplets : 

Qu'on ne nous forte point cTenvie 
Si Con me voit id plact ; 
Si la mort ne irfeut devancl, 
Je rfaurais pas laisse un huguenot en vie. 


as spies to inform the Society of everything, and as in- 
struments to carry out its orders and its secret designs. 
He was very hot-headed, a great trickster, faithless, 
indiscreet, devoid of integrity, and his malfeasances 
sometimes brought him into very mortifying positions. 
But there were three qualities that kept him up: his 
immoderate hatred of the enemies of the Jesuits, his 
blind deference to the maxims of that Society, and his 
unreserved devotion to the service of the court." 

This was the man chosen to undermine and destroy 
the Church of La Rochelle ; and we shall find that he 
did not disappoint the confidence of those who had set 
him at work. 

The declaration issued by Louis XIII. after this city's 
surrender declared, among other things, that "no per- 
son making profession of the R. P. R. (Reformed Pre- 
tended Religion), or other than the Roman Catholic 
faith, would be permitted to become an inhabitant of 
the city, unless he had dwelt there before, and had been 
there prior to the descent of the English upon the Isle 
of Re." 

This prohibition was not at first executed with rigor. 1 
A certain toleration was displayed by the political chiefs. 

1 In 1642, the "Dizainiers" or captains of wards furnished to the 
members of the Chambre des Salins, presided over by the Intendant 
de Villemontee, a list comprising two hundred and sixty-three families of 
the R. P. R., established at La Rochelle against the orders of His Majesty, 
since the reduction of the city to obedience to him. We may cite 
Abraham Reaux, Sieur des Couteaux, Anthoine Rateau, Auboineau, Baus- 
say, Beauregard (gentleman), Cassandre Vivier, Chasteigner, Esprinchart, 
Gabriel Bigot, Guibert (merchant), Jacques Renaudeau, Baron of St. Just, 
Louis Hardy, Masse-Bouguereau, the Voultrons, and others. " Many 
others who had become Catholics, in order to secure peaceable entry into 
La Rochelle, afterwards returned to Huguenotism, as soon as they had 
become well established." Library of La Rochelle, MS. 


But it remained in their hands a weapon which could 
be used at the desired moment, with terrible force, 
against the Protestants ; and that moment was not long 
in arriving. 

In the month of October, 1661, the Intendant, Col- 
bert du Terron, published an ordinance relating to the 
declaration of 1628, with such considerable extensions 
of its provisions that there could have no longer been 
a single Reformer at La Rochelle free from anxiety in 
regard to his domicile. This ordinance was confirmed 
in the following month by a decree from the Council of 
State, and was published by the sound of the trumpet, 
with an injunction to those whom it concerned, without 
regard to their condition, to leave the city within fifteen 
days, under penalty of five hundred livres fine, in pay- 
ment of which " they should be held, even to the offer- 
ing of their furniture for sale in the public square." 
To insure the efficacy of this measure, the Jesuits, 
who instigated it, obliged the King's Attorney, who was 
charged with its execution, to give place to Bomier, who 
was their tool ; so that the victims had no mercy to 

Hardly was Du Terron's ordinance, accompanied by 
a writing from Bomier, attempting to justify its provis- 
ions,- 1 publicly known, before those who had been but a 

1 The " explanation " and the " speech " of Bomier were a prejudiced 
commentary upon the ordinance of Colbert du Terron (1661, Blanchet, 
printer). The King's Attorney therein justified the extensions which 
that ordinance gave to the declaration of 1628, just as if any extension 
whatever of a rigorous measure or of a hostile act was not an act based 
upon the theory that might makes right ; that is to say, a denial of all 
rights. It was accordingly Bomier himself who assumed the greater part 
of the responsibility for these persecutions attributed to him by Protes- 
tant authors. 


short time established at La Rochelle at once set them- 
selves to obey it ; several even did not avail themselves 
of the delay granted them. They quitted the city not- 
withstanding a pouring rain which lasted for three 
weeks. In vain was liberty to remain in the city 
offered to these unfortunate people, provided they would 
consent to change their religion : they all vehemently 
repelled this proposal, declaring that they were willing 
to suffer even more than this for their love of the 
Gospel, trusting in the word of the Master who said, 
" Whoever shall have given up houses or lands for my 
name's sake, he shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall 
inherit eternal life." 

The position they were placed in was hard ; for while 
they were driven from the city of their choice, they 
were not permitted to leave France. In 1662, several 
La Rochelle ship-owners were sentenced to very severe 
fines and penalties for having taken on board their 
vessels some emigrants bound for America, into ter- 
ritory under English domination. Louis XIV. did not 
wish to have those whom he was tyrannizing over ex- 

As to those who were originally of La Rochelle, al- 
though they could not hide from themselves the fact 
that some of the provisions of the Intendant's ordinance 
would ultimately be applied to them as well, they yet 
believed they ought to wait until prosecutions began, 
hoping to obtain some justice at the hands of the magis- 
trates, or to be reinstated by the King, should the judges 
show themselves inexorable. But they were deceived 
in their expectations. Bomier, who had been put there 
to exasperate matters, turned aside every means of 


defence, and gave those he was charged to pursue not a 
moment of rest. He would have fifteen or twenty fami- 
lies summoned at once, without affording them time or 
means to defend themselves. Then he would launch 
into a long diatribe against the Reformers and Protes- 
tants, especially those of La Rochelle, whom he accused 
of abominable crimes, and whom he represented as de- 
serving of the greatest tortures. 1 Excited by his furi- 
ous harangues, the judges took no notice of any facts 
which might have been in the accused persons' favor. 
All who were arraigned before their tribunal were sure 
of being condemned without the privilege even of a few 
hours' respite. Scarcely was judgment rendered when 
the sergeants hastened to the dwellings of those who 
were sentenced : they seized the best and most valuable 
things they could find, to an amount sufficient to satisfy 
the fine and costs of court, and threw the remainder, 
furniture, goods, and effects, into the street. There was 
no better treatment for persons than there was for prop- 
erty. Insult was joined to cruelty. After having cov- 
ered the objects of these iniquitous measures with out- 
rage, they drove out of doors old men who could no 
longer stand up, children in their cradles, and women on 
the point of confinement, or scarcely recovered from it. 
The sick even were pitilessly driven out of their own 
houses. Some died in the arms of those who carried 
them. Others were taken in haste, by their friends, 
to neighboring villages, where sorrow completed what 
disease had begun. 

1 One is indignant at thinking that this exacting magistrate was not 
allowed to oppress the unhappy Protestants of La Rochelle only tran- 
siently, but that for twenty-five years he caused his hateful tyranny to 
weigh them down. 



These acts of violence lasted no less than two months, 
without the judges, who were desirous of pleasing the 
court, relaxing their severity toward the Reformers. 
Three hundred families left La Rochelle in consequence 
of these Draconian measures. Pastor Delaizement was 
included in this proscription, under the pretext that his 
predecessors had left the city shortly after its reduction, 
and that they had not returned within a year and a day, 
conformably with a decree of the Privy Council, ren- 
dered in explanation of the declaration of Louis XIII. 
Although it is difficult to see how this provision could 
apply to Delaizement, he was none the less banished 
on this pretext. However, these severities were mol- 
lified and became rarer and rarer, either because the 
court, whither the Reformers had carried their com- 
plaints, had given secret orders to temper a zeal which 
sometimes compromised the persecutors, or because 
the judges dreaded the Divine vengeance, on account 
of a rather strange coincidence which had made a lively 
impression upon them. 

Hilaire Bontemps and Rougier du Vigneau, magis- 
trates who had taken part in so many iniquitous sen- 
tences, had no sooner cancelled their official connec- 
tions than the former became blind, and the latter 
the victim of mental aberration ; they died in that sad 
state, without for a single moment recovering their fac- 
ulties. Some saw in this double calamity a judgment 
of heaven, and Bontemps himself was very well con- 
vinced of it. Without pronouncing on a question so 
delicate, we believe there may have been in this event 


something calculated to make an impression upon their 
successors, and render them circumspect in the exercise 
of their functions. Bomier alone reaped the fruit of 
these barbarous proceedings. Indorsed by the court, 
praised by the Queen-mother, applauded by the Jesuits, 
he was so swollen with self-pride that he became ob- 
noxious to his colleagues. But the Propagators 1 were 
so well satisfied with his services that, when the com- 
mission charged with an examination of the rights of 
the churches in the province of Aunis was instituted, 
he was made secretary of that body. Any other than 
Bomier would have refused such an office, ordinarily 
intrusted to one of the Intendant's secretaries. But 
Bomier knew the advantage it would give him against 
those whom it was his mission to ruin, and he accepted 
the position without showing himself at all jealous of 
his dignity. In the month of November, 1663, this 
commission was made public at La Rochelle ; it did 
its work so well, under the skilful direction of him 
who had been appointed as its secretary, that, of the 
thirteen temples which remained in Aunis, those of La 
Rochelle and Marans were alone preserved. All the 
others were suppressed. 

These cruelties were followed by a measure of perfidy 
no less dangerous for those whom it was desired to re- 
duce at any cost. Protestants were driven out of every 
office they occupied. In 1663, there were none of them 
left at the Presidial. They were, in turn, excluded from 
the Direction Generale, and from the bourgeois militia, 
by virtue of two warrants (lettres de cachet} received 

1 This was the term applied to the monks of various orders, charged 
with propagating the doctrines and sustaining the interests of Catholicism. 


from Paris. They were successively expelled from mem- 
bership in the arts and trades guilds, from those of 
pharmacy, grocery, embroidery, tailoring, printing, book- 
selling, and from medicine, surgery, and the bar. The 
Reformers who, yielding to violence, had become Cath- 
olics, were subjected to the severest penalties should 
they return to Protestantism (1663-64). Ministers were 
not allowed to preach outside their dwellings, and the 
number of places where worship was authorized, even 
temporarily, was constantly being reduced (1665). Cure's 
had to be accompanied by a magistrate when they went 
to the houses of sick Protestants. Warrants from the 
Council of State ordered the removal of the arms of 
France from the door-ways of the temples, and forbade 
the entry into the synods of those pastors who were at- 
tached as chaplains to the persons of lords. Repeated 
ordinances prohibited Protestant women from engaging 
even in the occupations of seamstresses or midwives. 
The Reformers could employ no Protestant servants, on 
the ground that they would endeavor to establish them 
in their error ; nor Catholic ones, because they might 
divert them from the faith. 

Deprived of the right of voting in the communal elec- 
tions, weighed down with taxes, excluded from all em- 
ployments, 1 the Protestants of La Rochelle were further 

1 A large number of Protestant families were attached to the La Ro- 
chelle mint. On the i8th of June, 1663, came a rule excluding in future 
all non-Catholics. However, in 1746, the Protestant officials had still 
such a preponderance, that, under a strict execution of the laws prohibit 
ing the admission of those professing the Reformed religion, " in a little 
while the mint would have been without masters." It was necessary 
then to close the eyes upon this infraction, or else accept certificates of 
Catholicity delivered as a matter of form, or out of interest to some Prot- 
estants, who, nevertheless, persisted meanwhile in their own principles. 


constrained to have all children whose fathers were 
Catholics baptized into the Roman Church. In mixed 
marriages, the choice of the children's religion was no 
longer left to their parents. This was the first blow 
at parental authority. Burials were now only permit- 
ted at night, and the number of participants, limited 
to thirty in these cases, was in baptisms and mar- 
riages reduced to twelve. In those places where wor- 
ship was tolerated, but a single school with one teacher 
was allowed, and instruction, moreover, was limited 
to reading and writing. The newly converted (to Ca- 
tholicism) were discharged from their debts to Protes- 
tants, and three years were given them in which to pay 
off any that they had contracted with other persons. 
They were exempted from quartering soldiers, and even 
from taxation. The Protestant officers of seignorial jus- 
tices' courts were dismissed, as were notaries and other 
ministerial officials. Finally, the prerogative accorded 
by Charles V. to the descendants of the mayors and 
aldermen of La Rochelle, prerogatives which had been 
respected by Richelieu, were annulled ; they lost their 
titles of nobility, unless they were converted to Cathol- 


Meanwhile, the conversion of a priest of Notre-Dame, 
named Gentil, occurred, to increase the resentment felt 
by the Catholics toward the Protestants. Du Terron, 
the Intendant, who, without being the friend of the lat- 
ter, sometimes treated them kindly, now declared openly 
against them, and made common cause with their per- 


secutors. In this case he felt constrained to be se- 
vere, so as not to expose himself to the denunciations 
of the lawyer Bomier, who, in concert with his brother, 
had an eye on everything that occurred, to render ac- 
count of it to the Society. Gentil, destitute of caution, 
was not slow in falling into the hands of the official, 
who brought suit against him as an apostate and sacri- 
legious person, and handed him over to the secular 
power. Arraigned before the Presidial, he found himself 
condemned to make public recantation and to nine years 
in the galleys. Good grounds for this judgment had to 
be offered, for it was not based upon any law, and 
here is what the judges declared : " Gentil had, no 
doubt, for several days past, entertained the idea of 
becoming a Protestant, and has said mass with this 
thought in his mind : he is accordingly sacrilegious, and 
punishable in his own person." 

The priest, being interrogated by the officials as to 
the time at which he had formed the design of changing 
his religion, could not answer that he had conceived and 
executed it at once, without taking time to reflect upon 
it. He would have been looked upon as crazy, and shut 
up within four walls, under pretext of instructing him, 
until this wild fancy should have passed away. But, 
however recent his intentions may have been, it was 
easy to prove that he had said mass in the interval be- 
tween the conception and execution, were it only once 
or twice ; and that sufficed to convict him of profanation 
and sacrilege. So that it was impossible for poor Gentil 
to escape the toils spread for him. 

In the midst of the humiliations and wrongs into 
which they were plunged, the Reformers of La Rochelle 


had the consolation of seeing their pastor, Delaizement 
(who had been arbitrarily banished, and for replacing 
whom no provision had been made), recalled. On June 
2 ist, 1666, Colbert, the Intendant, announced the decree 
concerning him ; and on the following Sunday he re- 
sumed his duties in the church. Several Protestant 
families were reinstated in that year, by virtue of the 
same decree. The disgrace of Bomier, who was pub- 
licly accused by Du Terron of forgery and adultery, 
came in aid of the church of La Rochelle. Having lost 
all his influence with the Intendant, he had no longer 
the same means of satisfying his hateful passions, and 
the Reformers had some rest as long as the adminis- 
tration of Colbert du Terron lasted ; but acts of violence 
began again under his successor. 


To form a fair idea of the system of government to 
which the Protestants were subjected by those who 
sought their ruin, it is only necessary to glance over the 
King's declarations and the decrees of the Council of 
State during the twenty-five years preceding the revo- 
cation of the Edict of Nantes. One can imagine noth- 
ing more vexatious, more Machiavelian, than these 
decrees ; and it is hard to understand how Protes- 
tantism could have survived such machinations. 

We have just seen how, by various ordinances, the 
Protestants had been excluded from all professions and 
offices ; but here is the sequel to these inquisitorial 
measures. In 1677, decrees from the Council of State 
forbade the pastors preaching, in the places where exer- 


cise of their worship was permitted, on the days when 
the archbishops or bishops made their visits there in 
person. In 1679, other decrees ordered a penalty of fine 
and confiscation for backsliders; forbade lord high jus- 
tices installing other than Catholic officials ; forbade 
holding synods without the presence of an attorney 
chosen by the King; compelled abjurations to be made 
at the place of residence of the King's Attorney, where 
the bishop's or archbishop's head-quarters were ; ex- 
cluded Protestants from the King's farms ; forbade 
Catholics embracing Protestantism, under the severest 
penalties ; also the employment of Protestants in the 
collection of taxes ; dismissed Protestant subordinate 
officers of justice; interdicted mixed marriages ; or- 
dered the return to the King's commissioners of accounts 
of assessments levied by the Consistories ; ordained that 
magistrates, syndics, and wardens should proceed to the 
houses of sick Protestants to ascertain if they wished to 
die in their religion ; commanded midwives to christen 
Protestant children ; forbade those of the R. P. R. to 
sing psalms in their houses in so loud a voice as to be 
heard in the street, or to use menace to keep their fel- 
low-Protestants in their faith ; ordered that at seven 
years of age Protestant children might be converted ; 

that illegitimate children born of parents of the R. 
P. R. should be raised in the Catholic faith ; forbade 
Protestant seafaring people going to settle in foreign 
countries ; forbade the Reformers meeting outside 
their temples, or when their ministers were absent ; 

interdicted the holding of service in uninhabited 
seignorial mansions ; directed Protestants holding 
royal offices to resign them within three months, under 


penalty of losing them ; forbade Consistories to pay 
other pastors than those of their own jurisdiction, and 
Protestants to open schools other than in the places 
where worship was authorized ; restored to the hos- 
pitals the property bequeathed for Protestant poor ; 
fixed severe penalties against any ministers who should 
receive acts of abjuration; forbade ministers and 
preachers living within six leagues of places where the 
holding of worship had been interdicted ; ordered 
the reservation of seats in the temples for those Cath- 
olics who might desire to witness Protestant service ; 
forbade Catholic scholars and underlings occupying 
such seats in the temples as were reserved for Catholics 
capable of sustaining a discussion with the minister ; 
forbade the holding of worship in places where there 
were less than ten families; directed the judges to 
abbreviate the deliberations of Consistories ; forbade 
Protestant lords to admit to their religious services those 
who had acquired no more than a year's residence ; 
commuted the death penalty into that of the galleys for 
the King's subjects remaining abroad without permis- 
sion ; interdicted the marriage of French Protestants 
in foreign lands ; directed the demolition of temples 
where mixed marriages had been celebrated ; com- 
pelled the Reformers to contribute to repairs of Cath- 
olic churches ; forbade their attending service outside 
of their place of residence ; placed Catholic tutors 
over Protestant children, etc., etc. 



To this deluge of enactments and prohibitions the 
Protestants could oppose only complaints, memorials, 
statements, and petitions, which were generally rejected, 
although they came in from all parts of France. No 
human caution could shelter the La Rochelle Protes- 
tants from their enemies' denunciations, and especially 
from those of the religious organizations so desperately 
pursuing them. They published works in defence of 
their doctrine; but their arguments were considered 
and punished as attacks on the Catholic faith. The 
servile devotion of the provincial magistrates, who glo- 
ried in ministering to the King's hatred of Reformers, 
even at times surpassed the court's commands ; so that 
the atmosphere was stifling. Humanly speaking, there 
was neither escape from nor remedy for such a mul- 
titude of evils ; the only way to be rid of them was 
to become Catholic ; and to keep from despair, it was 
necessary to look to Him who is the Protector of the 

However, Du Terron grew tired of La Rochelle, and 
yielded to his family's solicitations, pressing him to give 
up his office. He obtained the King's permission to 
withdraw, and De Muin was chosen to replace him. 
This change only made the condition of the Rochelais 
Protestants worse. Du Terron, who at first had shown 
himself hostile toward them, learned to know, and, 
finally, esteemed them ; in spite of his bad humor since 
the priest Gentil's conversion, he had been favorable to 
them whenever he could serve their interests without 
hurting his own. But his successor was a man alto- 


gether different in character. He commenced by great 
intimacy with Bomier, who was under the influence of 
monks, and who could only serve to inspire him with sen- 
timents hostile to Protestants. 

Scarcely was De Muin in possession of his office, 
when he began to treat their religion with severity and 
arrogance. He hastened to have engraved upon the 
door of the Church of the Minimes the brass plates de- 
creed by the declaration of Louis XIII., and which, up 
to that time, they had refrained from putting up. But, 
instead of the summarized story of the work upon the 
dike, he substituted a new insult for the conquered : " bit- 
ter complaint, poignant reproach, bloody invective, were 
therein mingled. Accusations of revolt and sacrilege 
against the Rochelais of 1628 were not sparingly used, 
and the name of L. De Muin takes up more space than 
do those of Richelieu and Louis XIII." l 

After this he deprived of employment all Protestant 
officials who were under his orders ; 2 he maltreated 
several, and condemned to death the innocent Antoine 
Caron, director of the ropewalk at Rochefort, a man of 
integrity and capacity, who had been so unfortunate as to 
displease him. He was so far from being guilty of the 
crimes imputed to him, that he was obliged to browbeat 
the judges to elicit from them a capital sentence. The 
provost who had assisted in his execution, having come 
in all haste to La Rochelle to announce the news of it to 
the Intendant, he found him in his salon surrounded by 

1 Arcere. The text of these inscriptions has been published in the 
Ephemerides Historiques de La Rochelle, p. 412. 

2 See Appendix No. IV. for the ministerial despatches (1680-86), 
which show the situation in which the Protestant officers of the Marine 
Corps were placed. 


officers of the marine. Upon catching sight of him, he 
exclaimed with a satisfied air, " Well, Monsieur le Pro- 
vost, what has happened ? " " Monsieur," he replied, 
" an honest man is dead." Upon which the Intendant 
indignantly answered: "And you, you are an awkward 
man. Is that what I asked you ? " l 

Thenceforth De Muin daily distinguished himself by 
new persecutions, acting toward the Reformers as if 
each of them were his personal enemy. He agreed 
with Bomier to continue to harass them, and to put 
the heaviest burden of the taxes upon their shoulders. 
He had the taille (a feudal tax) imposed upon the min- 
isters, who had always previously been exempt from 
it. The matter of non-Rochelais residents had been 
hushed up ; in order to bring it forward again, it was 
falsely represented to the court that La Rochelle was 
filling up with Reformers who had no right to reside 
there, and " who were suborning the Catholics by means 
of money, promises of marriage, and otherwise." Or- 
ders from Paris aroused fears of new troubles for the 
church, until a letter from Navailles, former governor 
of the city, written from Puycerda, turned aside the 
blow which menaced it. Although the contemplated 
measure had no serious consequences, it agitated the 
Protestants none the less, and three hundred and eighty 
families, including some of the most prominent, were 
set down as being illegal residents. 

But the check upon this attempt did not slacken the 
zeal of De Muin. Pushed on by Bomier, he was not 
slow in taking revenge, by having the benches re- 
served for the authorities, for pastors, and for mem- 

1 Tessereau, Histoire des Reformes de la Rochelle et deFAunis. 


bers of the Consistory removed from the temple. He 
tried also to displace the arms of France and Navarre, 
" which were displayed in a beautiful piece of sculpture, 
placed in the centre of the pediment of the principal 
door of the temple." Then the Protestants, who had 
obeyed the order for the change of benches, appealed 
against the removal of the arms of the King, and won 
their case. But in spite of their opposition, De Muin 
returned to the attack, and in 1678 the arms dis- 
appeared. 1 

In the year 1679, a difficulty of another kind came up, 
in regard to the voluntary contributions by the aid of 
which the Protestants of La Rochelle supported their 
pastors, and defrayed the expenses of worship. De Muin 
wished to compel them to submit their lists to him, and 
make their assessments in presence of the royal judge ; 
a plan which entirely changed the character of the pro- 
ceeding, and transformed a free-will offering into an 
obligatory tax. They were, however, compelled, by a 
warrant of the Council, to adopt this measure, under 
penalty of a fine of 3,000 livres. The Consistory, hav- 
ing allowed the delay accorded them to expire, those 
who composed its membership were adjudged liable to 
payment of the fine, collectively and individually. The 
judgment was about being executed, and they were about 
to be cast into prison, when M. de Ruvigny, represent- 
ative of the Reformers at court, announced to them 
that the King was willing to offer to have them furnish, 
every six months, a faithful statement of voluntary 

1 Some, and among them the author of La Rochelle Protestante, think 
that this was the piece of carved stone discovered in 1852, and placed 
over the outer door of the church of the civil hospital. 



assessments paid in to the elders by individuals, for the 
support of worship and of the pastors ; and that he had 
given notice to the Intendant of La Rochelle not to fol- 
low up this matter. So that the Reformers were freed 
from fear on that subject. 


At this period, an effort was made to provoke a quarrel 
with the Protestants of the government of Brouage, be- 
cause they had several schools 1 in the places where the 
exercise of their worship was authorized. The Inten- 
dants had hitherto let them alone. But De Muin did not 
long allow them to enjoy this privilege. He ordered 
the execution of the decrees which limited each church 
to a single school and a single regent. Notwithstand- 
ing the opposition of the commissioner, Cognee-Fargot, 
who wished to maintain the churches in the liberty guar- 
anteed by the Edict of Nantes, it became necessary to 
submit to this exaction. Only La Rochelle was enabled 
to retain for three or four years longer her instructors, 
by virtue of a decision of Colbert du Terron, with which 
De Muin did not dare interfere. 

Then the latter sought to revive the edict of Charles 
IX. (1561), forbidding any preaching contrary to the 
Nicene creed. He wished even to make the La Ro- 
chelle pastors take an oath to that effect ; but they obsti- 
nately refused, saying, with good reason, that by this 
means it was intended to make them renounce indirectly 
the belief of the Reformed churches, which only accept 
truths determined by Councils in so far as they conform 

1 Instead of but one. G. L. C. 


to God's word. Menace them as they might with fines 
and a prohibition of their ministry, hint to them as they 
might that they would be arrested in their very pulpits, 
if they went too far, they were immovable, and con- 
tinued preaching. The Parliament of Paris, to which 
the decision rendered in this matter by the Lieutenant- 
General of La Rochelle had been referred, settled the 
question in their favor, and they were excused from 
submitting to the requirement. 

But De Muin was resolved to revenge himself for 
their hardihood. To this end, he hastened to call up 
the alleged infraction of law by the Consistory of La 
Rochelle, wherein the latter was accused of having sub- 
orned the son of a man named Moreau, recently con- 
verted to Catholicism with so little publicity that his 
own wife, who was a Protestant, knew nothing of it : 
the infraction would have consisted in having this child 
brought up in the Protestant church ; the fine of 1,000 
livres prescribed in such case by the Council of State of 
1677 was declared to have been incurred by the Con- 
sistory. Summoned to pay this heavy fine without delay, 
De Tandebaratz, one of the ministers, refused to do so, 
and on refusal was led to prison. The same summons 
having been addressed to M. Journault, a lawyer, and 
elder of the Consistory, it produced no effect, and he 
too was imprisoned. The Consistory, having held a 
meeting on this subject, unanimously resolved to suf- 
fer the utmost severities sooner than submit to this 
decision, while encouraging the prisoners to be firm 
and promising to leave no stone unturned to rescue 
them from the consequences of this arrest. In the fol- 
lowing month, notice was newly served upon Minister 


Delaizement to pay the 1,000 livres imposed upon the 
Consistory, which was met by a new refusal. Upon 
which, sergeants seized their movables and put them 
under the King's hands, to be sold in accordance with 
the provisions of the ordinance. But here, again, a war- 
rant from the Privy Council ordered the liberation of the 
prisoners, and gave replevin for the effects seized, upon 
the depositing of the fine, which later was repaid to the 

Although these worriments often turned to the con- 
fusion of those who created them, the latter were far 
from being discouraged. One suit was no sooner fin- 
ished than another was commenced. Upon the accu- 
sation of four journeyman shoemakers, instigated by 
the Jesuits, who declared they had heard M. Lortie say 
in his pulpit, " We are oppressed, we are persecuted, 
even as the apostles were oppressed and persecuted by 
the Jews," it was decreed that this pastor should be 
arrested. He was desirous of giving himself up as a 
prisoner, but his friends dissuaded him from it, repre- 
senting that, as soon as he was in his enemies' power, 
they would not confine themselves to prosecuting him 
on this ridiculous charge of some wretches who had 
probably not even been inside the temple, but would at- 
tack him on the ground of his writings. He accord- 
ingly directed his steps towards Paris, and, after several 
fruitless trials, was disposed to return to La Rochelle, 
when other machinations, levelled at him and Madame 
Du Chail de Fontenay, under pretext that they had 
favored the departure from France of a young Catholic 
who seemed desirous to go to Holland to abjure the 
Romish religion, made Lortie decide to go over to Eng- 


land. The prosecutions did not result in anything ; 
but they none the less made the church of La Rochelle 
lose a pious and capable pastor, loved and respected by 
the flock. But this injury was not a matter of unconcern 
to those who worked to compass its ruin. 

One of the La Rochelle pastors had already been 
obliged to leave the kingdom : to still further weaken 
the church, it was sought to remove one of the three 
who still remained. With this in view, criminal suit 
was brought against Delaizement, concerning a sermon 
he had preached on the death of Herod Agrippa, follow- 
ing, according to church discipline, the order of Scrip- 
ture texts on which they were obliged to speak. Messrs. 
Bomier and Groyer, who had attended the preaching 
with perfidious intent, bore witness against him, and 
accused him of having sought |o make his hearers con- 
clude " that, as Herod had been punished by God for 
having persecuted the church, so would the King him- 
self be, because of the new edicts, which the Reformers 
regarded as persecution." His arrest being ordered, 
Delaizement was willing to give himself up, and had no 
difficulty in refuting his accusers. He was liberated on 
bail, on condition of appearing when called for, and of 
abstaining from his ministerial duties during the con- 
tinuance of the suit. But a few months later, by decree 
of Parliament, he was authorized to resume his charge. 

The suit against Delaizement had been preceded by 
another against M. Brevet, pastor at Dompierre ; he was 
accused " of having prayed with a Protestant sick man 
who had promised to become a Catholic." This suf- 
ficed to cause a prohibition of his ministry, and secure 
his condemnation to a hundred livres fine, and a hun- 


dred and fifty francs in alms. His church remained 
vacant until the Synod was held. 

There were also prosecuted, under a most frivolous 
pretext, the Messrs. Desaguliers, a minister in the noble 
house of Aytre, and Majou, a pastor at Cire. They 
were charged with the crime of having exhorted some 
individual members of their flock to persevere in the 
Protestant religion. The former, obliged to discontinue 
his ministry, had to seek refuge outside of the kingdom, 
and this little church remained without a pastor. The 
sentence of the second was a permanent interdiction of 
his ministerial functions, banishment from the country 
for five years, a fine of one hundred livres, and a mulct 
for the church. 


At all events, conversions did not take place fast 
enough to suit the liking of the Propagators. The 
money offered openly to those who wished to become 
Catholics failed to persuade the Protestants to deny 
their belief, and more energetic means were tried. Ma- 
rillac and Carnavalet had given a sample of it : the 
former in Poitou, by bringing in by force those who 
refused to allow themselves to be convinced by money ; 
the second at Brouage, by employing soldiers of the gar- 
rison for the conversion of heretics. Jealous of their 
success, De Muin wished to distinguish himself by an 
exploit of the same kind. In consequence, on the icth 
of August, 1681, he put himself at the head of the ar- 
chers of the constabulary and the marine, accompanied 
by a provost, an ecclesiastic, a Jesuit, and some others. 


With this escort, he came to pounce upon the city of 
Surgeres. Hardly arrived there, he gave an order to all 
Reformers to become Catholics immediately, and lodged 
his troop in Protestant houses, where it ushered in the 
dragonnades of Louis XIV. by swearing, blaspheming, 
and maltreating and despoiling its hosts, who were ter- 
rified by all these acts of barbarity. The greater num- 
ber, yielding to intimidation, pretended to be converted ; 
but when the storm had passed, several repented their 
backsliding, and returned to Protestantism. After Sur- 
geres came the turns of Mauze and Rochefort; there 
the same scenes were enacted. In the latter place, 
De Muin had the city gates closed, and compelled the 
Protestants "to do what he wished," exercising there- 
after a tyranny unknown prior to that period. 

But the Consistory of La Rochelle took care to sum- 
marize in a memorial these various acts of violence, and 
sent it to M. de Ruvigny, who made complaint of it at 
court. In the following year, the Marquis of Seignelay, 
having come to La Rochelle, had a recital of this matter 
made to him by De Muin, who scarcely seemed to give 
himself any concern about it ; from which some con- 
cluded that his credit had commenced to lessen. 

The Provincial Synod of Saintonge and Aunis, au- 
thorized by letters royal, assembled that year at Jarnac, 
to the great satisfaction of the Protestants, who had 
been deprived of any in the preceding year. The Con- 
sistory of La Rochelle took advantage of it to ask that 
the post left vacant by Lortie, who had been compelled 
to take refuge in England, might be filled by M. Blanc, 
pastor at La Roche-Chalais ; which was granted. The 
new incumbent entered upon his duties on the first Sun- 
day in November. 


However, Marillac's tactics in Poitou bore fruit. 
More than a hundred persons, having resolved to give 
up everything rather than be exposed to the outrageous 
treatment they had been compelled to undergo, came to 
La Rochelle with the intention of embarking for Hol- 
land or for England. These unfortunates had hardly 
entered the city before the Jesuits began to look them 
up, and were not slow in finding them. They were shut 
up in prison, and even in the Tour de la Lanterne. The 
well-known charity of the La Rochelle Protestants pro- 
vided for their needs without help from the Consistory. 
All that Bomier and the Propagators could do to turn 
these brave people away from their faith was useless. 
Their firmness exhausted the Jesuits' patience. But, 
in being thrown into prison, they had been relieved of 
the certificates of Protestantism given by their pastors, 
with which they had taken care to provide themselves 
in leaving their province ; and the Lieutenant-General 
ordered the arrest of those who had signed them. Ac- 
cording to the Consistory's advice, several of the latter 
came to La Rochelle, and were incarcerated in the Tour 
St. Nicolas. Some members of the church, who had 
given refuge to the fugitives, suffered the same fate. 
Finally, Pastor Loquet, of Marennes, a man of great 
merit, and highly esteemed in that section, was arrested 
for a similar affair, brought to La Rochelle " as a very 
great criminal," and confined in the same Tour St. 
Nicolas. But all these prisoners were not long afterward 
set at liberty. As to the Poitou people, the innocent 
cause of this alarm, they were released by orders from 
court, to the great disgust of the monks and Jesuits. 



Baville, having succeeded Marillac in the office of 
Intendant of Poitou, caused the arrest at Saint-Maixent 
of two men, who in their examination declared that they 
had received assistance at La Rochelle, when they had 
gone there for the purpose of leaving the country. No 
more than this was needed in order to have the four 
pastors of that church cited to appear in person before 
this magistrate to explain the facts as to their connection 
with the depositions of these men. They did appear, 
in fact, but replied so well to the questions addressed 
them that the affair was abandoned. 

Toward the close of December, other troubles were 
stirred up, before M. de Muin, by the Syndic of the 
clergy of the province of Aunis, and against the La 
Rochelle pastors, as having prosecuted their studies out 
of the kingdom, which, it was said, took away their 
right to act in France. But they denied the Syndic's 
competency to attack them on this head, and De Muin, 
who had been apprised that the King was going to take 
away his office, proved more tractable. He received the 
pastors' demand in such a way as to put a stop to this 

The pastoral letter of the clergy of France, of the 
ist of July, 1682, a comminatory exhortation to Protes- 
tants to recognize the Roman Church, was by order of 
Louis XIV. to be served upon every consistory in the 
kingdom. Officials, syndics, cures, or others, were gen- 
erally charged with this mission. But Marie de Laval 
de Boisdauphin, Bishop of La Rochelle, wished to do 
what no other prelate had done, that is to say, to pro- 


ceed in person to the consistory of his episcopal city. 
This visit having been arranged by the Intendant, in 
concert with a minister and an elder, the Bishop went 
to the temple, accompanied by the Intendant, the Lieu- 
ten ant-General of the Presidial Court, Canon Bridou, 
secretary of the bishopric, etc. He was courteously re- 
ceived by two pastors and two elders, who went to meet 
him even to the door of the edifice. The bishop had 
his hat on : he put on his square cap, which was handed 
him by a bailiff, and they entered in the regular order of 
precedence. When they had taken the seats provided 
for them, De Muin spoke, and stated the object of the 
visit. He finished by saying " that his Majesty's inten- 
tion was that they should listen as carefully to the letter 
as to what the prelate had to add to it, and that they 
should profit by it." De Tandebaratz responded with 
propriety, spoke of the King as he should, joined to his 
remarks expressions of respect for the person and char- 
acter of the Intendant, to whom he addressed himself 
throughout. " And as to the Bishop of La Rochelle," 
he added, "he is a seigneur whose quality and merit 
we have long honored." It was, moreover, purposely 
that he avoided giving the Bishop the title of " Mon- 
seigneur," which had been used in addressing the 
Intendant, desiring thereby to evidence that the Con- 
sistory's submission only referred to the King, whom 
the Intendant represented in their midst, but that it 
did not extend to the Bishop, whose authority was not 

It is said that M. Boisdauphin felt wounded at this 
omission ; but he had the good taste not to complain of 
it ; he simply declared, when it came his turn to speak, 


that he considered himself their lawful pastor ; he de- 
plored the schism, which he reproached the Reform- 
ers with having provoked without valid reasons. He 
recalled the civil wars, all the responsibility of which he 
threw upon the Protestants ; and urged them, in the 
name of the charity the bishops felt for them, to re-enter 
the Church. This discourse was very attentively lis- 
tened to, and De Tandebaratz was once more charged 
to respond. He did so with brevity and reserve, taking 
God for a witness that they had only held to their reli- 
gion from conscientious motives. The clergy's warning 
was read in Latin and in French. The same persons 
reconducted the prelate and his suite, and, before leaving, 
the Bishop said, in a very natural way, to the pastor 
conducting him, " It is a long time since you have seen 
a bishop here." To which the pastor answered, in the 
same tone, " We have never seen any here, monsieur ; 
and all that which has just happened is so novel that I 
have never seen its like." It is well known that the 
prelate had promised himself great effects as the result 
of his visit" to the Consistory. He confessed it to a 
Protestant gentleman who went to see him a few days 
after. " I went after them even into their Consistory," 
said he, " and for all that, it has produced no more fruits 
than if I had not gone." 

Such was the result of this step, so peculiar in its 
way. M. de Laval de Boisdauphin was prompted, we 
are persuaded, by charitable intentions ; but he had 
put too high a value on episcopal prestige, and had 
not sufficiently reckoned upon the energy of the reli- 
gious convictions of those whom he hoped to bring into 
his fold. 


The name of Lucas de Muin is too often found in 
these pages for us not to add, that, after having lost his 
position, partly because his hatred against Reformers 
induced him to neglect the duties of his office, he finally 
retired to the country, where he died from chagrin 
over his bad fortune. Perhaps, too, the memory of the 
cruelties practised upon innocent people was heavy on 
his conscience. 

His successor was Arnou de Vaucresson, none the 
less disposed than he to concern himself in religious 
matters, " as the one thing in the world the King had 
most at heart," and one knows what that meant. The 
new governor, Jeurre Milet, was overflowing with defer- 
ence toward the ecclesiastics ; he heard two masses a 
day, so that the Protestants of La Rochelle had nothing 
to expect in the way of redress for their grievances from 
this change of persons. 


The King's declaration, condemning ministers to a 
perpetual interdiction of their ministry, and their tem- 
ples to be demolished in cases where a Catholic or 
backslider was admitted, having appeared too mild, his 
Majesty by another declaration, in the month of March, 
1683, increased the penalty, by ordaining " that the pas- 
tors should be condemned to perpetual banishment from 
the kingdom, and the confiscation of all their property." 
The publication of this ordinance at La Rochelle was 
accompanied by a list of two thousand persons said to 
have been newly converted to Catholicism, which was 
furnished to the Consistory, with an injunction to allow 


none of them to enter the temple, under the penalties 
prescribed by the King's latest declaration. 

This measure was more than difficult of execution in 
a church as numerous in membership as was that of La 
Rochelle, and under such conditions public worship 
became impossible, for it would have been necessary to 
station some one at the door of the temple who knew 
everybody mentioned in the list, and who would take 
sufficient care to prevent any of them getting in. Thus 
the Consistory, seeing the tendency of this prohibition, 
made haste to assert the invalidity of the list furnished 
it, grounding its objections upon another royal declara- 
tion, which distinctly stated that acts of abjuration, to 
be in due form, must specify the date, the place, and the 
rank of the persons making them. There was accord- 
ingly read aloud from the pulpit, for several Sundays, 
an announcement, giving notice " that, in case there 
were present any of those whom his Majesty's recent 
declarations excluded from the temple, they had not 
been invited thither by the Consistory." Notification 
of this act was given to all whom it might concern, 
on the 1 8th of August, and the circumstance operated 
favorably for the La Rochelle pastors, when the time 
came, at a later period, for deciding upon their case at 

By warrant from the Council of State (1683), the 
exercise of Protestant worship was forbidden at Salles 
and Cire, where the temples were demolished and the 
pastors obliged to withdraw, although it was main- 
tained at Jarrie. Though the ruin of the Protestants 
was rapidly progressing, effort was made to delude 
them in regard to the fate awaiting them, by granting 


certain things which might make them suppose that 
sentiments of justice had not entirely died out in their 
adversaries. Thus, for instance, in that same year, was 
authorized the holding of the last Provincial Synod 
at St. Just, in the environs of Marennes. But this as- 
sembly, apparently favorable to the Protestants, became 
the cause of violent persecutions. There was established 
in the Synod a sort of committee, charged with watching 
its movements ; and when the session closed, severe 
measures were adopted toward those who had partici- 
pated. It was ordered that the minister of St. Just, and 
several others, should be arrested and imprisoned, 
the first for having allowed strangers to preach in his 
church ; the others for having delivered sermons 
there. 1 

Fanaticism spread by degrees, and even those who, by 
their enlightenment, would seem to have been proof 
against this feeling, experienced its influence. Thus 
the Catholic physicians of La Rochelle at this period 
formed an association, the laws of which prescribed that 
no physician could become a member of that body unless 
he professed the Romish religion, and that those who 
were not members of it could not practise medicine in 
the city. When these laws were presented at the La 
Rochelle Presidial for registration, the Protestants op- 
posed them ; but they lost their case, by decree of 
September 6, 1683. 

1 It was the custom among the churches to take advantage of the 
presence of pastors, called thither by the holding of Synods, to hear 
various preachers. This had been done up to that time, not only without 
causing any trouble, but even with edification. The church of St. Just 
had done no more than conform to this custom. 



It had been firmly resolved upon to destroy the 
churches ; and, in order the better to attain this pur- 
pose, the first blows were invariably directed against the 
pastors. It seemed as if those who led in this work of 
darkness were mindful of the prophet's words : " Smite 
the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." l While 
Du Vigier was ravaging the churches of Saintonge, 
Veronneau of La Serree was practising severities upon 
those of Aunis. Pastor Amian, of Marans, was impris- 
oned for having preached at the St. Just Synod. He 
was charged with having spoken evil of the King. His 
church was deprived of the right of holding service. 
Guybert, one of the ministers of La Rochelle, was again 
arrested for a sermon, alleged to be seditious, which he 
had delivered in his own pulpit. Accused by two Fran- 
ciscans who had been present at its delivery, Guybert 
was sentenced to an interdiction of his ministry, banish- 
ment, fine, and a gift of alms. He was released on bail 
furnished by his brother, and was allowed the liberty of 
the public highways. Finally, M. Benion, minister at 
Jarrie, was apprehended for the same cause. The great 
grievance alleged against him was the reading of one of 
the articles of the liturgic prayer : " We commend to 
Thee our brethren who are dispersed by the tyranny of 
Antichrist, destitute of the food of life, and deprived 
of the liberty of being able to invoke publicly thy holy 
name ; who are even held as prisoners, or persecuted by 
the enemies of thy Gospel." The pastors were some- 
how pushed hard in their teachings ; they could no 

1 Zechariah xiii. 7. 


longer utter a word which was not made a cause for 
crimination, and every one of their sermons was liable 
to bring down upon them imprisonment or fine. On the 
I4th of July, 1684, service was for the last time held in 
the La Rochelle temple. Delaizement preached the 
sermon, which was very affecting. He little expected 
what was to happen, on the morrow. 

After the closing of the temple, it was necessary to 
get rid of the pastors, and this was the contrivance 
adopted to lay hands on the three who remained at La 
Rochelle. Bomier, who was always at hand when there 
was opportunity to oppress Protestants and do them 
harm, agreed with some priests of the Oratory to in- 
duce a woman named Bonneau, of lost reputation and 
an old offender, to persuade her relative, one Marie 
Gautier, of Mauze, a backslider, who had changed her 
religion while De Mum's booted and spurred cavalcade 
were in town, to pretend she was still a Protestant, and 
to perform a second act of abjuration, which should be 
worth more to her than the first. Lured by this promise, 
Marie Gautier entered into the views of those who did 
not blush to resort to such means : she went to the La 
Rochelle temple, outside of which stood some accom- 
plices who were to observe her entering and coming out ; 
then she went before the superior of the Oratory to per- 
form her false act of abjuration. From that moment the 
die was cast, and grounds for proceedings existed. Upon 
the testimony of those who asserted that they had seen 
Marie Gautier, a backslider, coming out of the temple, 1 

1 It was claimed that the daughter of a new convert named De la 
Serre, whose wife had remained a Protestant, had been to the temple. 


De Tandebaratz, Delaizement, and Blanc were com- 
mitted as having transgressed the declarations of the 
King. Their colleague, Guybert, who was at Paris on 
personal business, was included in these procedures. 
Vainly did these gentlemen protest that this girl, a 
stranger in the city, was unknown to them. Vainly did 
they invoke the invalidity of the list on which her name 
was found : their prosecutors went even further, and the 
suit was conducted by Veronneau, himself a convert, four 
years before, to Catholicism, Bomier acting as King's 

It is a fact worthy of remark, that the most rabid 
against the Protestants were the newly converted. They 
were the most to be feared. For instance, Du Vigier, 
counsellor at the Parliament of Guienne, and Veronneau, 
criminal assessor, both of whom made themselves con- 
spicuous by the severity with which they bore upon 
Reformers in Aunis and Saintonge, belonged to Prot- 
estant families greatly attached to their religion, and 
who felt at once grief and shame at seeing them act 
thus. The first was a gambler, the other a libertine. 
Their affairs were much embarrassed, and to re-establish 
themselves they had availed themselves of the offers of 
positions and money constantly held out to Reformers 
who would be converted. One would have said that 
these wretches were seeking to obtain pardon for hav- 
ing been Protestants, or that they wished to earn the 
wages of sin by the bad treatment they compelled their 
former fellow-Protestants to undergo. 

This girl, who was merely a child, had managed to accompany her mother 
to church, without the pastors or the Consistory knowing anything about 
it. There must have been a furious spirit of persecution to have found 
in that the material for a legal process. 



As it was only necessary to be accused in order to be 
shortly afterward unjustly sentenced, the condemnation 
of the La Rochelle pastors was certain. Their judgment 
had been prepared in advance by the Jesuits. It only 
had to be copied upon the clerk's register. It declared, 
" that the four ministers of La Rochelle were condemned 
to make public confession before the principal entrance 
of the cathedral of the said city, whither they were to 
be led by the executioner of high justice, clothed en 
chemise, a cord about their necks, holding in their hands 
a burning taper of two pounds' weight, and, when there, 
kneeling, were to say and declare that, in contempt of 
the King's declaration, they had received to their temple 
and worship Marie Gautier, a backslider ; this done, 
they were to be banished in perpetuity from the king- 
dom : it was enjoined upon them to maintain their exile 
under penalty of their lives ; their property situated in 
the province of its confiscation was to be made over and 
confiscated, four thousand livres fine to the King, and 
eight hundred livres alms, which fine and alms were to 
be a first claim as well upon their confiscated property 
as upon their other goods not subject to confiscation, to 
the payment of which they were to be collectively held. 
And in regard to the Reformers' temple of said city, 
it was ordered that it be demolished by themselves in a 
month at the very latest ; otherwise, at the expiration of 
that period, that its demolition should be commenced at 
their expense, the materials resulting therefrom to be 
disposed of for the purpose of paying the workmen 
employed therein." It was certainly a noble and mel- 
ancholy spectacle to see these worthy ministers of Jesus 
Christ allowing themselves to be despoiled of all they 


possessed, and even dissuading their wives from plead- 
ing their matrimonial rights as a means of saving a 
part of their property, desiring thereby to teach their 
flock to sacrifice all for the sake of the Gospel. All 
honor to the men who gave the world and the Church 
this shining example ! 

The following letter, written to De Tandebaratz by 
Dr. Bouhereau, proves that the devotion of the perse- 
cuted ministers was even then highly esteemed by men 
of feeling. 

" MONSIEUR, That which you have suffered for Jesus Christ, 
and with a firmness and patience which have astonished strangers 
and comforted the children of God, renders you the object of 
public admiration. But the especial interest I have always taken 
in all that concerns you obliges me to single myself out from the 
crowd, not to bestow the praises which I am aware you do not 
ask, but to praise, with you, our common Master, in that he has 
given you strength to bear with such constancy, even to the end, 
the great trial to which he has brought you. We prayed together 
during the combat, and it is but just that together we should 
render thanks after the victory. Yes, Sir, whatever be the 
world's judgment as to the result of this matter, I term it suc- 
cess. Banishment and fines after long captivity, words of con- 
demnation, lacerations, and flames are but shame suffered for 
the name of Jesus, and consequently reasons for joy and triumph. 
May God vouchsafe to strengthen us all, and give us grace to 
constantly persevere in his covenant, spite of all the temptations 
placed in our way. I pray to him, too, with all my heart, that 
it may please him to repair our loss in losing you, to make some 
other portion of his people the gainers by it, and to make you 
a proof of the truth of the promises made by his mercy to those 
who give up all to follow him. I ask you always, if you please, 
a place in your good-will and in your prayers, and I am with 
respect, etc. 


"At La Rochelle, July 20, 1680." 


The three condemned ministers who were at La Ro- 
chelle, having appealed from the foregoing judgment 
to the Parliament of Paris, were conducted to the capi- 
tal by two archers. But their departure furnished occa- 
sion for a most touching exhibition, and showed the 
extent of the affection of the La Rochelle church for 
its pastors. On that day, Sunday, October i, the Prot- 
estants repaired in a body to the prison-house to bid the 
prisoners farewell. The court-yard, the rooms of the 
building, the Rue du Palais, were crowded. The min- 
isters warmly embraced those whom they met as they 
passed out ; they bestowed their benediction upon all, 
and abundant tears were shed over this violent sepa- 
ration. Some started out to go with them on their 
route ; some accompanied them as far as Mauze. Good 
evidence this of esteem and attachment, creditable to 
those faithful ones who displayed it, and which filled 
with unspeakable comfort the hearts of those servants 
of God persecuted for the right. 

On the Qth of the same month they reached Paris, 
and were placed in the conciergerie of the palace, where 
Guybert made it his duty to join them in the month of 
December. On the 2d of January following, they were 
taken to the Bastile by virtue of a lettre de cachet signed 
by the King. They were not placed in solitary confine- 
ment ; their friends were permitted to visit them. The 
proceedings were so unjust, there was so little consistency 
in the accusations against them, that they had reason to 
look for a favorable issue ; but they were disappointed 
in their expectation. In order to strike the church of 
La Rochelle a telling blow, the cause of the pastors, who 
could not be condemned without committing a revolting 


injustice, had been separated from that of the elders, 
who could be reached in a less scandalous manner. On 
the 1 8th of January, seventeen days after their entry 
into the Bastile, Parliament condemned the service at 
La Rochelle, and ordained that in this regard, and as 
regarded the demolition of the temple, the sentence 
should be carried into effect. In the sentence of the 
ministers, a respite was granted. This was for them a 
terrible blow. " Orders were issued almost immediately 
to the elders themselves to carry to the clerk of the 
Presidial Court all their registers of baptisms, marriages, 
and burials, there to be deposited and kept, in conform- 
ity with the declarations in such case made and pro- 
vided. They were summoned to produce and render 
up the vessels used in their communion service, consist- 
ing of six cups and two large basins of silver, or to pay 
their value, according to an appraisement that was to be 
made upon them. Finally, they were called upon for all 
their title-deeds, and for information in regard to the 
leases and other assets belonging to the Consistory. 
According to a statement prepared by the elders, some 
months later, of all that had been taken from the Re- 
formers of La Rochelle, (by which the Roman Catholics 
had profited, and which they had appropriated to them- 
selves since the King's majority,) it appears, by the 
estimate and computation therein made, that the total 
amounted to upwards of fifty thousand francs." A 

According to the sentence of Parliament, the La 
Rochelle temple was to be demolished, and Beraudin, 
the Lieutenant-General, formerly a Protestant, wished to 
have the Protestants themselves demolish it. But his 

1 Histoire des Reformes de La Rochelle et de ^ A urn's, by A. Tessereau. 


efforts to compel them to do so were useless. They all 
declared that, if Beraudin was mean enough to destroy 
the place in which he had been baptized, and where he 
had heard nothing that was not conformable to the 
word of God, they would not be the ones to carry out 
the injustice done them ; none consented to lay a sacri- 
legious hand upon the sanctuary in which they had so 
often been consoled and edified. A refusal full of dig- 
nity and elevation, which shows that the moral standard 
was higher among those who remained true to the Prot- 
estant faith than among those who had abandoned it. 


However, it was necessary to begin the demolition 
of the temple. This work of vandalism, commenced in 
the month of March, was finished in five days. The 
pulpit, and the commandments of God painted in golden 
letters upon the azure of a very large tablet, fastened to 
one side of the pulpit, were taken to pieces. The mate- 
rials which were preserved were used later for the con- 
struction of the General Hospital, to which the King 
had given them. The bell, which bore this inscription 
in large letters, " For the Temple of the Reformed 
Church of La Rochelle, Year MDCXXX.," was sold to 
one of the parishes of the city. But before summon- 
ing the orthodox to prayer, it was flogged in punishment 
for having served heretical purposes, and thus obliged to 
make honorable amend. It was buried, and exhumed, 
to indicate that it needed to be born again, in passing 
over to the use of the Catholics. A lady of quality 
officiated as midwife, and another was assigned as nurse 


to this new-born child. It was questioned, it was made 
to answer, it was made to promise that it would never^ 
more return to a place of Protestant worship. After 
that, it was considered reconciled, was baptized, and 
put up in the church of St. Bartholomew. Arcere, it is 
true, treats this as a ridiculous story ; but it is told by 
Elie Benoit and by Tessereau, who would not have in, 
vented the tale for mere amusement, or exposed then> 
selves to the contradiction sure to have been made 
had the occurrence existed only in imagination. It is, 
moreover, quite in the spirit of those times. On the 
first day, in fact, of the demolition of the temple, some 
of the workmen put the bell in motion, rang some "Ave 
Marias," and wound up with some " Agonies," which 
amused many of the populace, who had run in haste to 
witness the burlesque spectacle. Now the farce we 
have related was a worthy accompaniment for the "Ave 
Marias" and the derisive "Agonies"; "and those whose 
blind fanaticism had gone so far as to order the demo- 
lition of the temple because a young girl, newly con- 
verted to Catholicism, had attended service there, were 
well worthy of playing such a comedy." l 

Deprived of their temple and their pastors, the La 
Rochelle Reformers repaired for some months to St. 
Martin de Re and to La Jarrie, where service was still 
held, and where baptism and the holy communion were 

Meanwhile, the Rochelais pastors were still in the 
Bastile, where they received numerous friends, and where 
they gave edification to those admitted to visit them by 
the patience and serenity with which they bore their 

1 Ephemerides Historiques. E. Jourdan. 


trial. But in the month of June their liberty was re- 
stored them by virtue of a lettre de cachet. Unable to 
remain quiet under the attainture of the infamous sen- 
tence rendered against them by the Presidial Court of 
La Rochelle, they desired to have judgment on their 
appeal before leaving Paris. As soon, accordingly, as 
M. Guybert had been purged of contumacy, they were 
summoned and heard upon the stool of repentance, and 
on the 22d of August Parliament rendered a definitive 
decree, thus expressed : " Having heard and interrogated 
the said De Tandebaratz, Delaizement, Le Blanc, and 
Guybert, the accused, upon the grounds of appeal and 
the case against them made, the court has set and does 
set the appeals by them interposed at nullity, providing 
that, after said De Tandebaratz, Delaizement, Le Blanc, 
and Guybert shall have received censure by these pres- 
ents in the chamber of La Tournelle, we condemn them 
to remain absent for a year from the city and suburbs 
of La Rochelle, and to give alms of bread to the pris- 
oners in the conciergerie of the palace, each to the 
amount of four livres." 

" The court has censured you," added the first presi- 
dent ; " you have the King to thank for the clement 
manner in which it treats you ; without that, it would 
be impossible to avoid following out the severities of its 
decree." The language of this magistrate, who did not 
think he was wanting in his duty in exhorting them to 
change their religion, as they were on the stool of re- 
pentance, furthermore gave them to understand that 
their trouble was not over yet, and that, after returning 
to their families, they would still have to settle with the 
men who were making proselytes. 


The means by which it was sought to destroy the 
church of La Rochelle having succeeded, the same 
were tried against those of La Jarrie and St. Martin de 
Re. Information was lodged against them on account 
of the alleged entrance of backsliders into their tem- 
ples. Pastor Benion was again indicted and imprisoned. 
Of seven witnesses who testified in this case, six were 
thieves or women of ill fame. But at that time they 
were not particular as to the morality of those who gave 
evidence against the Reformers. In an ordinary pro- 
cedure, it would have been natural to challenge the tes- 
timony of disreputable persons, who could inspire no 
confidence whatever ; but when the ruin of the churches 
was concerned, it did not do to look too closely, and such 
testimony was considered ample for the condemnation 
of those of St. Martin and La Jarrie. 


A means no less effective for attaining the object 
the Propagators were pursuing was to rid themselves 
of zealous Protestants, capable of strengthening their 
brethren, and helping them in the quarrels that were 
thrust upon them. Thus, after having consummated 
the ruin of these two churches, did they endeavor to 
have Messrs. Bouhereau and Tharai, members of the 
Consistory, who had rendered great service to their 
fellow-Protestants, transported. After the disappear- 
ance of these two good men, it was the turn of the 
Marquis of Loire, of Cognee, of Fargot, and others. 

The heads of Protestant families having been sum- 
moned on behalf of the King to renounce the heresy of 


Calvin, under pain of incurring his Majesty's displeas- 
ure, and of exposing themselves and their families to 
utter ruin, Governor Jeurre-Milet obliged them to at- 
tend conferences intended to open the way to their 
conversion, adding, that " these were the last means of 
this nature that his Majesty, as their father and mas- 
ter, would through him propose to them for their salva- 
tion." Three priests of the Oratory, who came expressly 
from Paris, opened these conferences, in the month of 
August, in one of the chambers of the palace. They 
lasted for three weeks, and did not produce the desired 
effect. The conversions amounted to nothing, or were 
insignificant, and the missionaries withdrew much dis- 
satisfied, shaking off the dust from their feet against 
the obstinate heretics of La Rochelle. 

Arcere, in his manuscript additions for a second 
edition of his Histoire de La Rockelle, completes Tesse- 
reau's narration. " In the following year (1686), Abbes 
Fenelon, Bertier, Langeron, and Milon came to La Ro- 
chelle for the same purpose. Of four thousand who 
were converted, not over sixty were ever present at 
the sermons delivered by these abbes." Those who 
had been unable to hold out against violence desired 
to have it understood by this that it was to violence 
alone they yielded. Fenelon' s mission in Aunis was 
brief. Accused by the agents of the persecution of 
having shown too great indulgence, he was soon recalled 
by the court. At all events, spite of some concessions 
and acts of complacency done to reduce God's people by 
the prince's authority, Fenelon had the honor to protest 
against the dragonnades, and to assert with courage in 
his correspondence the rights and the dignity of convic- 


tion. He even established the fact, that there existed 
among the Protestant pastors a more general enlight- 
enment, more regular conduct, better care of the flock 
intrusted to them, than were to be found among the 
Catholic priests. " We have recovered," says Rulhiere, 
" nearly all of his references hitherto unpublished, writ- 
ten in his own hand, and signed by himself." It is, then, 
from the governmental records, cited by the learned 
author of Eclair cissements historiques sur les Causes de 
la Revocation de Edit de Nantes, that, following the 
example of the Superior of the Oratory, P. Tabaraud, 
we quote Fenelon's own words, of the authenticity of 
which there can be no doubt. 

"The Huguenots," wrote Fenelon, "seemed struck 
with our teachings, even to tears, .... and constantly 
said to us : ' We would willingly be in accord with you, 
but you are only here temporarily. As soon as you are 
gone, we shall be at the mercy of the monks, who only 
preach in Latin, of indulgences and brotherhoods. The 
Gospel will be read to us no more ; we shall no more hear 
it explained, and we shall only be spoken to with menace! 

" It is true," adds Fenelon, " that there are but three 
kinds of priests in this section : the secular clergy, the 
Jesuits, and the Franciscans. The last are despised and 
hated, above all by the Huguenots, against whom they 
have acted as informers and prosecutors at every oppor- 
tunity ; the Jesuits of Marennes are four iron-heads, 
who talk to the newly converted of nothing but fine and 
imprisonment in this world, and the devil and hell in 
the next. We have had infinite difficulty in preventing 
these good fathers from blazing out against our gentle- 
ness, for the reason that it made their severity the more 


odious, and everybody shunned them to run after us, 
with a thousand blessings. But we displayed so much 
deference toward these good fathers, that they could 
not be angry, and we were daily at their houses, keep- 
ing up constant intercourse. They live well, and are 
respected. If, instead of these hard and hot heads, 
their company will assign to this locality moderate and 
upright minds, they might prove very useful throughout 
the entire province. After all, there is nothing so good 
as these. As for the cures, they have no capacity for 
speaking, and this is a great stumbling-block for the 
Catholic Church, for the Huguenots have been accus- 
tomed to ministers who comfort them, and exhort them 
by touching words from Scripture." 

The Intendant of La Rochelle, at this epoch, ex- 
pressed the same opinion, which elicits from Rulhiere 
this significant reflection : " It would have been neces- 
sary to commence the conversion of the Huguenots by 
means of the Reformation, and, in a word, by convert- 
ing the clergy." 

"Upon this period of Fenelon's life," elsewhere re- 
marks Rulhiere, " there are more panegyrics than faith- 
ful histories. The glory he so justly won later has 
been made to shine upon this the commencement of 
his career. Whatever there was of the moderate, the 
noble, the wise, in his conduct at this time, has been 
exaggerated unnecessarily. It is not true that two prov- 
inces were by his care saved from the scourge of per- 
secution, and that he would not have accepted this 
mission except on that condition. This young abbe 
was too far from that lofty fortune, that credit, and 
that consideration which he soon afterward attained, 


to impose any such conditions upon the government. 
Had his zeal been tempered by such firmness as is 
credited to him, he would not have been employed at 
all : his virtue would have remained unused. When 
he left, the oppression of La Rochelle and the two 
adjacent provinces was consummated. Louvois had 
already withdrawn the troops thence to send them into 
other districts, " in order," he says, in a letter to com- 
mandants, dated Nov. 3, 1685, " to pursue there exactly 
the same course toward the Protestants that you have in 
Poitou and the province of Aunis." 

The reports which reached the ministry from La Ro- 
chelle, about the middle of December, are as follows : 
" I find scarcely any Protestants in La Rochelle, since 
I have begun to pay those who find them out and 
hand them over to me ; I imprison the men, and put 
the women and girls in convents, on the acknowledg- 
ment and by authority of the Bishop." Abbe Fene- 
lon did not then, it seems, protect these two provinces 
from the general oppression. He did what was better 
for his own glory. Arriving in the midst of this perse- 
cution, he did not follow its teachings, but gave an 
example to the contrary. We have recovered his let- 
ters. Some of them are addressed to Madame de Beau- 
villiers. There is no doubt they were brought to the 
notice of Madame de Maintenon, and that they contrib- 
uted to the young missionary's prompt advancement. 
We have already quoted therefrom one passage in refer- 
ence to the clergy of this section. Let us add also this 
one : " All these efforts scarcely sufficed to attract their 
attention, so frightened were they. We encounter every- 
where an incredible attachment to heresy. The more a 


preacher has impressed them, the less do they desire to 
hear him again. Their great motto is, ' Fly from the 
voice of enchanters.' " l 


Toward the end of September, the Intendant Arnou 
undertook to explain what were the means of another 
nature that the King thenceforth intended to employ. 
He issued an ordinance, forbidding Reformers to leave 
the city, and enjoining those who lived outside to 
come in immediately, " in order to receive the garrison 
that was expected to arrive." After they had obeyed, 
Arnou, imitating his predecessor De Muin, addressed 
them angrily and haughtily. He treated them with 
incredible severity, regardless of merit or birth, and 
launched against them the most terrible threats, swear- 
ing that he knew how to conquer their obstinacy in the 
cells of the tower. 

But threats produced no more effect than summonses 
or conferences. It was decided, accordingly, to bring 
in the soldiery. In the first days of October, seven or 
eight hundred fusileers, who had been employed in the 
conversion of Beam, arrived at La Rochelle, and were 
lodged at the houses of the Protestant bourgeois. Not 
contented with quartering one or two in each household, 
they assigned them by fives, by tens, and even by entire 
companies. They were at first quite tractable toward 
their hosts, but, instigated by the Propagators, the sol- 
diers finally proved cruel toward those who endeavored 

1 Eclaircissements historiques sur les Causes de la Revocation de FEdit de 
Nantes, taken from various governmental archives, Vol. I. p. 365. 


to receive them kindly, and acted like wild beasts, re- 
specting neither age, nor sex, nor personal condition. 
The violence of the soldiery obliged three hundred fam- 
ilies to abjure their religion; but others, to the num- 
ber of about eight hundred, remained faithful. Arnou 
cited them before him, and talked " of ruining them " 
unless they promised to receive instruction. Then it 
was that Andre Bernon, a member of the Consistory, 
said to him, in a tone which brought tears to the hearers' 
eyes, " You are about to damn me, my lord, since it is 
impossible for me to believe the teachings of the religion 
which I am requested to embrace." To which the In- 
tendant replied, " It makes no difference to me whether 
you are damned or not, so long as you obey." 

However, the ringleaders in the plot found that the 
troopers did not go ahead fast enough ; to hasten their 
work they brought in four companies of dragoons, who 
had already shown their zeal in the environs of the 
city. They came in, sword in hand, as into a city cap- 
tured by assault, swearing and vociferating, so that the 
poor Protestants, already stunned by their treatment 
at the hands of the fusileers, finally lost their senses 
altogether. "This last blow upset them all," says Tesse- 
reau, " so that they were to be seen going in crowds to 
the parish cures to do what was required of them." 

But if many, no longer able to resist this barbarous 
treatment, simulated sentiments which "grace had not 
inspired in them," as Arcere puts it, others would not 
be conquered, and remained unshaken. Of this num- 
ber were Legoux of Perigny (a member of the Con- 
sistory, belonging to an old family of the city), Roches- 
Cramahe, and Passage - Voutron ; all three of them 


Rochelais gentlemen, and another M. de Voutron, a 
cousin of the latter, who displayed a constancy worthy 
of the old martyrs. He was forced to lodge as many 
as a hundred and fifty-seven dragoons of the regiment 
of Amsfeld, without counting the soldiers of the regi- 
ment of Vendome. He was dragged from prison to 
prison, and put in close confinement. His residence 
was laid waste, his furniture sold, and his wife and four 
daughters taken away to be placed in the convent of 
the Ursulines. Several of the same sex were also shut 
up in convents, without their adversaries being able to 
triumph over their resistance, 1 notably the Lady Ge- 
douyn, widow of a deceased Catholic gentleman, and 
mother of a Jesuit ; also a young lady named De Loire, 
sister of the Marquis of that name. 


It would be difficult to state the number of those 
who were expatriated by the blasts of this tempest let 
loose upon the unhappy church of La Rochelle ; but it 
must have been considerable, since at this period were 
counted in the single city of Amsterdam between four 
and five hundred Rochelais refugees. There were some 
in almost all the other cities of Holland. They were 
met with in Switzerland, Denmark, Prussia, England, 

1 The convent, either near by or at the extremity of the kingdom, was 
the supreme means of torture by which female resistance, more resolute 
than that of the men, was usually overcome. What terrible scenes must 
have passed behind those lofty walls ! what hideous dramas were enacted 
within the shadow of these pious dwellings ! and what men must those 
have been who so animated the nuns that they surpassed in cruelty both 
the distant prison and the dragoons whom Louvois had let loose upon 
France, and whom people called " the devils from hell " ! 


America, and elsewhere. A glorious dispersion this, 
proving incontestably the profound attachment of the 
Reformers to the religion of their hope. 

" Thus La Rochelle, which had resisted a royal army > 
commanded by the Duke of Anjou, after the massacres 
(of St. Bartholomew), and the reduction of which had 
cost Cardinal Richelieu so much time and expense, was 
made completely desolate by the hands of two hundred 
dragoons and eight hundred fusileers. The contagion 
of this downfall involved the Isle of Re, as well as those 
Reformers who still remained in the environs." l 

For a long time, the Edict of Nantes had been only 
a dead letter. Revoked in fact before it was revoked 
by law, its revocation .created no new state of affairs : 
it merely sanctioned what already existed. On the 
1 8th of October, 1685, appeared, dated at Fontaine- 
bleau, the ordinance of revocation, which forbade all 
exercise of the Reformed religion within the kingdom, 
and directed pastors to leave the country within fif- 
teen days ; promised ministers who became converts a 
pension, half of which should revert to their widows ; 
exempted those desiring to become lawyers from aca- 
demical studies ; deprived Protestant parents of the 
right of educating their children, and enjoined upon 
them to have them baptized and brought up in the 
Catholic Church, under penalty of five hundred livres 
fine ; ordered all refugees to return to France within 
four months, under penalty of confiscation of property ; 
and finally forbade all Protestants from emigrating, 
under penalty of the galleys for men and solitary con- 
finement for life for women. 

1 Histoire de PEdit de Nantes, Vol. III. p. 862. 


Although the Edict of Nantes had never been a ver- 
ity, and although its violation was almost gloried in, it 
constituted, nevertheless, a sort of protection for the 
Protestants, from the fact that they were able to ap- 
peal to its provisions ; but even this protection, illusory 
as it was, was thenceforth taken from them. From 
that moment they had no legal existence, or rather 
no existence whatever in the eyes of the state. They 
could invoke the protection of no declaration and of 
no edict. They were completely at the mercy of their 
adversaries, who arrogated the power over them of life 
and death. 

" Great severities," says De Larrey, the annalist, " were 
practised, in all the provinces, against the Protestants. 
The provost-marshals went after those who assembled 
to pray to God, as they would have gone after brigands 
and highway robbers. Women were put into convents, 
children were torn from their mothers' arms. Letters 
received from Languedoc, La Rochelle, and Poitou were 
full of the cruelties practised against these unfortu- 
nates, whose consciences it was sought to constrain." 
The Parliaments of Paris and Toulouse confirmed the 
sentences rendered by the Lieutenant of Admiralty of 
La Rochelle and by the Seneschal of Nimes, condem- 
ning to the galleys those found in religious assemblies. 
In Languedoc, Poitou, and Saintonge naught was heard 
save the complaints of those who were dragged by force 
to mass, or were sent to prison. 

These severities were especially practised in Sain- 
tonge, the province of Aunis, and the Isles of Re and 
Oleron, from which over six hundred persons went to 
England. Toward the end of the seventeenth century 


the population of Saintonge and Aunis 1 was so greatly 
diminished, that even those who carried out the rigors 
of power against the Protestants could not refrain from 
deploring the melancholy consequences. " The district 
of La Rochelle," said the Intendant Begon, in a memoir 
cited by the Count of Boulainvilliers for the information 
of the Duke of Burgundy, " is depopulated of one third 
of its inhabitants, and this diminution is going on from 
day to day. The cause of this depopulation is the flight 
of the Protestants, and the inability of those who remain 
to marry without repugnant formalities. All the par- 
ishes are filled with young and old maids, and unmarried 
men who pass their lives in a celibacy prejudicial to 
their consciences and to the state." If we may believe 
the same official, the -ecclesiastics, and chiefly the cures, 
lived in complete idleness. They were ignorant, sordid, 
tricky, and devoid of charity. Laziness and disorder 
were inaugurated amongst the monks of an infinite num- 
ber of small convents, the revenues of which might have 
been much better employed in feeding and assisting the 
poor. The hospitals were very badly managed, and so 

Thus did Louis XIV. thrust the quietest and best of 
his subjects outside the pale of humanity, and make 
them the objects of an atrocious persecution ; using 
against dissenting Christians all the tortures employed 
by the pagan Caesars against the first followers of a re- 
ligion which overthrew that of the empire. In this case, 
the inspiration most certainly came from Rome. In the 
quinquennial assemblies the clergy never failed to call 

1 These two provinces together compose the present Department of 
Charente-Inferieure. G. L. C. 



for the suppression of the Huguenots, " by overturning 
their pestilential pulpits and their synagogues of Satan." 
The great enemy of the Protestants of La Rochelle, 
Bomier, had experienced immense satisfaction at learn- 
ing this news, which seemed to crown the work in which 
he had been engaged ever since his arrival in the city. 
But it was the triumph of the wicked, which is ever 
short-lived. He died shortly after, without the respect 
or regret of any one. His death, which, under other 
circumstances, would have been considered by the Prot- 
estants of La Rochelle as a deliverance, was received 
by them with a sort of torpor, for they had been, as it 
were, stunned under the terrible blows constantly dealt 
them. They had had so much ground for complaint, 
moreover, against all those who ought to have protected 
them, that they perhaps feared it was only a change of 
the scourge, and that they were gaining nothing by the 
death of this extortioner. 


While the Protestants were thus being despoiled of 
all their rights, and had nothing to expect from human 
aid, the Lieutenant-General of La Rochelle, assisted by 
seven other judges, rendered, under date of December 
15, two sentences to which one finds it almost repug- 
nant to allude, so horrible are they. One M. Chollet, a 
gentleman aged eighty-two years, and of irreproachable 
life, had fallen seriously ill. The cure of the parish pre- 
sented himself to inquire if he desired our Lord brought 
to him; to which the patient replied, that he did not 
believe it in the power of man to do that ; that our 


Lord Jesus Christ was at the right hand of God, his 
Father, whence he would come at the last day to judge 
the quick and the dead. " It is in heaven that I seek 
him, it is in heaven that I worship him," added he. 

At this response the cure" went into a violent passion, 
and withdrew, uttering threats which aggravated the pa- 
tient's condition to such an extent that he expired a few 
hours after. Scarcely had he drawn his last breath when 
proceedings were begun against him. " He was declared 
attainted and convicted of the crime of heresy, in repara- 
tion for which his corpse should be dragged on a hur- 
dle by the executioner of high justice through the wards 
and centres of the city, and cast into the potter's field." 
This sentence was at once executed. The body of 
the deceased, which had been put in prison through the 
wickets, was taken thence, dragged naked through the 
streets and wards, and thrown into the potter's field ; 
accompanied by some of his relatives and friends, who 
followed the executioner, and by a great number of 
women crying out, " This end is glorious : we wish to 
die like this man : let the same be done with our bodies 
after death." 

But the rage of the Propagators was still unsatisfied, 
and, spite of the bad effect this execution had, they were 
pleased to try it again. A servant named Elizabeth 
Bonami, of the town of Arvert, in Saintonge, was visited 
during her illness by the cure of St. Jean du Perrot, to 
whom she declared " that she wished to die in the Re- 
formed faith, which she had always professed, and then 
begged him to withdraw, inasmuch as she did not recog- 
nize him as her pastor." As soon as she was dead, her 
corpse was carried to prison. Proceedings against it 


were instituted, as the result of which it was condemned 
to the same penalty and the same treatment as that of 
the aged man whose tragical story we have just related. 
These were the means adopted to win the hearts of 
the newly converted, and render them attached to the 
religion which it was sought to impose upon them. 
After having vented their fury upon the living, the rage 
of the Jesuits was let loose on the dead ; it stooped 
even to the defilement of corpses. But these indigni- 
ties only served to arouse public disgust, and produced 
an effect contrary to that desired. Thus the Bishop of 
La Rochelle remarked to those who spoke to him on 
the subject, that he very well knew the injury all this 
was doing Catholicism ; that he had said so, but that 
the Jesuits had carried their point, and he was going to 
write to the court, so that it should not happen again. 
Such scenes, in fact, did not again happen ; there was 
fear of the sorry impression they might produce upon 
the newly converted, and the Reformers had the mel- 
ancholy privilege of being allowed to bury in private 
their deceased relatives and friends. 1 

1 Etienne de Champflour, Bishop of La Rochelle from 1703 to 1724, 
while entirely approving the intervention of the civil power for the con- 
version of Protestants, had, notwithstanding, the honor of perpetuating 
the tradition of Fenelon, by addressing to the clergy of his diocese these 
truly Christian recommendations : " Conversion is a work of the heart, 
and the heart is only won by way of persuasion and gentleness. The 
cures and other workers engaged with new converts should always use 
this way; it will always afford them every demonstration of affection 
and zeal : it will enable them patiently to bear all they have to suffer by 
reason of the others' obstinacy, lack of frankness, or even the fits of 
anger and abuse that may escape their lips." 




Protestants remaining in France confounded under the false Designation 
of New Converts, or else put outside the Pale of the Law, as regards 
their Status as Property-holders, Heads of Families, and Christians. 
Obstacles thrown in the Way of their Marrying. Legitimacy of their 
Children contested. Carrying off of their Children. Meetings in 
lonely places surrounded by the Constabulary. Persistency of Pastors 
in the Wilderness, who, at Peril of their Lives, blessed Marriages, 
celebrated Baptisms and the Holy Sacrament, and set forth the Word 
of God. Cruel Proceedings against the Preachers. A Confession 
made by a Protestant Woman of Saintonge before the Bishop of La 
Rochelle. Reorganization of the Church of La Rochelle. Fidelity 
of Protestants to the King. Spirit of Toleration shown by the Mar- 
shal of Senneterre. Situation of the Reformers. The Civil Status 
restored to Non-Catholics. The Bishop of La Rochelle and the 
Superior of the Oratory. Proclamation of Religious Liberty. De- 
finitive Organization of the Reformed Church. Conclusion. 


nPHE number of Protestants who sought refuge 
abroad, in consequence of the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes, has been variously stated. Some give 
it as eight hundred thousand, others three or four hun- 
dred thousand, and writers hostile to the Reformation 
do not estimate it at less than two or three hundred 
thousand. Be this as it may, the contingent from La 
Rochelle in this exodus seems to have amounted to about 
four thousand persons. " The revocation," says Tesse- 



reau, "took away from our city between thirty-three 
hundred and four thousand persons of those more promi- 
nent by birth, fortune, and merit." It does not enter 
into our plan to follow these persecuted brethren into 
foreign lands, nor estimate the importance of the services 
they were enabled there to render in an industrial or 
commercial point of view. We refer those of our readers 
who desire the most minute details on this subject to 
the excellent work of M. C. Weiss, Histoire des Refugics 
Protestants, published in I853. 1 Let us confine our- 
selves, as the title of this work requires, to observing 
those who remained in their ungrateful country in the 
midst of the furnace of afflictions. 


The revocatory edict forbade Protestants to emi- 
grate. It was hoped that, deprived as they were of 
their pastors and religious exercises, they would sooner 
or later become the prey of Catholicism. But this pro- 
hibition had the additional inconvenience of rendering 
the authorities suspicious as to the disposition they 
might make of their possessions, for it was natural 
to suppose that oppressed citizens who had the secret 
intention of emigrating would seek to conceal their 
property, in order to save it from the confiscation to 
which it would be otherwise subjected after their de- 
parture. The La Rochelle Protestants were certain to 

1 The Revue de FAum's, published, Oct. 25, 1869, the biography of 
Madame de la Fite, reader to Queen Charlotte, and governess to the 
princesses of England (1737-1796), an inedited page from the Histoire lit- 
teraire du Refuge, presented, at the meeting of the Societes Savantes des 
Dcpartements, to the Sorbonne, by M. de Richemond. 


be more especially the object of such surveillance, for 
they were more favorably situated for passing the fron- 
tier than those of the interior. Thus we find them, 
in the years following the revocation, subject to numer- 
ous vexations relative to their houses and lands. To 
prevent their disposing in whole or in part of the im- 
movable property they possessed, their right of owner- 
ship was modified, or rather they were put outside the 
pale of the law as proprietors. For them this right 
was no longer the jus utendi et abutendi of juriscon- 
sults. Frequent declarations from the King forbade the 
sale or hire of the least part of their property with- 
out his Majesty's permission, which became a source 
of worriment on the part of the Intendants, who only 
accorded authority to sell after a minute inquiry. " I 
beg you to have this statement verified," wrote Ame- 
lot to the Intendant d'Ablois, when he sent back some 
petitions from the Protestants, "and to tell me if you 
see any objection to granting this favor, or to have an 
account given you of the use it is desired to make of 
this sum." 1 When permission was accorded, a short 
delay was granted to effect the transaction, so that, being 
pressed to get rid of their property, they were at the 
mercy of the purchasers. Sometimes distant Catholic 
relatives of fugitive Protestants solicited and obtained 
the use of their property, to the detriment of the nearer 
Protestant relatives remaining in France. This was car- 
ried to such a point that a M. Froger sought to hin- 
der one Mile, de Lussaudiere, his relative, from making 
a will, on the pretext that he was her heir. The clergy 

1 The sum which was to result from the sale. Archives Dfyarte- 
mentales, C, 152. 


naturally sustained the petition of the newly converted ; 
but the Chamber of Commerce of La Rochelle, which 
counted some Reformers among its number, gladly sup- 
ported the cause of Protestant merchants unjustly prose- 
cuted. (C, 148-1 52.) 1 

The newly converted themselves were not exempt 
from these injustices. They could not, before a certain 
time, dispose of the property of fugitive relatives, of 
which they had obtained the use, and this measure ap- 
plied to their own property, so much was the sincerity 
of their conversion suspected. Imagine the annoyance, 
the complications, that had to be submitted to in their 
commercial interests, as well as in their family affairs, 
by persons who could not dispose of their lands or their 
houses, not even of a single lease, without permission 
from higher authority. " Why," it may be said, " did 
they not turn Catholics ? They would have been freed 
from these restrictions and obstacles." Yes, but they 
would have belied their consciences, and they preferred 
to suffer these things rather than act against their re- 
ligious convictions. 

1 On May 3oth, 1740, a decision from the Seneschal's office of La Ro- 
chelle affirmed the will of August 9, 1738, by which a Protestant woman 
of that city, Suzanne Faneuil, Widow de la Croix, had appointed her son, 
Faneuil de la Croix, her general legatee, under the customary rules. Like 
herself he was a Protestant (although he had received at Bordeaux the 
nuptial benediction of a Catholic priest, in order to conform to the royal 
declaration of May 14, 1724). This appointment was to the detriment of 
her grandchildren, Pierre-Abraham and Marie-Suzanne-Victoire, born of 
Protestant parents, but raised in the Catholic religion, by reason of the 
second marriage of their mother, Marie-Anne Millorit, to a Catholic, a 
M. Dubrocucq. Marie-Suzanne-Victoire de la Croix had even, against 
the wish of her grandmother, espoused a Catholic, Jean Pichon, director 
of octroi taxes for the district of La Rochelle. They attacked the Sene- 
schal's decision, asking the nullification of a testamentary act made, they 
alleged, in a spirit of hate of the Catholic religion. 



It was not only as property-holders that the Reformers 
were held in servitude, but also as fathers and heads of 
families. That inviolable sanctuary of the family, that 
retreat so sweet which heaven has given to the heart of 
man, was profaned and harassed most scandalously by 
the executors of the revocatory edict. Enjoying no civil 
status in their own country, they could not regularly 
marry or establish the position of their children except 
by having recourse to the ministers of the Catholic reli- 
gion, custodians of the registers of births and marriages, 
who alone were competent to issue the certificates or 
attestations needed to prevent their wives from being 
stigmatized by the name of adoue'es? and their children 
from being considered illegitimate. But the clergy only 
delivered these papers for good cause, and on conditions 
humiliating to those in need of them. 

Did two persons decide to live" together, merely de- 
claring before witnesses or a notary that they took each 
other for man and wife, they were charged with an 
offence against morals and with living in concubinage. 
Did they consent to be married by the Romish Church, 
it was necessary to have certificates of confession, which 
were difficult to procure, even for money ; for the cures 
who were disposed to soften the lot of their Protestant 
fellow-citizens were severely punished, and in 1746 
the Intendant of La Rochelle, Barentin, condemned 
one Pierre Louis Montfort, cure of Annezay, to the gal- 
leys for life, as convicted of having joined Protestants 
in marriage without observing the formalities prescribed 

1 An injurious term, a synonyme for " coupled." 


by the laws of state and church, and of having given 
certificates of marriage to three Protestant couples 1 
without their having appeared before him. The mar- 
riages were declared null, and the husbands were ban- 
ished for three years from the district. 2 Was a child 
born, it was necessary to bring it to church to be bap- 
tized according to the Catholic ritual, under penalty of 
imprisonment and fine. 

What was the result ? It was this, that, in order to 
conform to legal requirements, in order not to incur 
fines, and not expose themselves to annoyances of all 
kinds, they made believe they were Catholics, while in 
their inmost hearts they cursed that Catholicism which, 
after imposing its dogmas and its practices, had usurped 
the rights of parents, and despoiled the Reformers of 
the paternal power. This was demoralizing ; but what 
did morality amount to at this sadly memorable period ? 
The great thing was to submit to the Church, even 
though it were hypocritically. This submission an- 
swered for every virtue. 

Just indignation is felt against slave-owners, against 
American planters, who, in contempt of the most sacred 
rights of nature, took the poor negroes' children, as if 
they were inferior animals born on their lands, and dis- 
posed of them as their own property. But was this 
more cruel or iniquitous than to take the children of 
Protestants, and tear them violently from their fami- 
lies, to place them in convents, where it was endeav- 
ored to stifle their domestic affections by seeking to 

1 Pierre Fauconnet and Jeanne Bouclier, of Saujon ; Jean Blais and 
Jeanne Meschinet, of Saint-Just ; and Elie Fleuri and Marie Brouard, 
of Gua. 

2 Haag, Archives Dtpartementales. 


persuade them that their parents were damned, and by 
bringing them up, against their wills, in a religion they 
abhorred ? Is the infant's soul less precious than its 
body, and was there not, in this instance, a moral tor- 
ture worse than a physical one ? There has been a 
strong feeling for years, and with reason too, in regard 
to the abduction of the Mortara child, carried off se- 
cretly from a Jewish father and mother, to be shut up 
in a convent at Rome, and handed over defencelessly 
to Ultramontane proselytism. But the kidnapping of 
Protestant children from their mothers, crazed with 
grief at losing the fruit of their loins, was it any- 
thing else than the abduction of the Mortara child on 
a grand scale ? 

But these odious acts of confiscation, a single instance 
of which suffices at the present day to elicit universal rep- 
robation, were practised for an entire century upon Prot- 
estants. All the children were not carried off, it is true : 
it would have cost the despoilers too much to feed them, 
and those belonging to the poor were generally left to 
their families. 1 Catholicism knew how to choose its 
prey, and if any family upon which attention chanced to 
turn, as being rich and capable of paying good board, 
showed itself rebellious against the demands of the au- 
thority wrought up by the priesthood, it pitilessly car- 
ried off the son or daughter, preferably the latter, and 
forced it to pay a stated price to the community charged 
with its instruction. By this means a soul was gained 

1 When the family could not pay the necessary board, the unfortunate 
children were sometimes sent to the hospitals nearest their places of abode ; 
a measure all the more odious, for the reason that at that period they put 
in each bed five or six human bodies, sick, dying, and dead. Children 
seldom entered there except to die. 


to the Church, and an income to the convent receiv- 
ing it among the number of its neophytes. Thus it 
was that in the month of December, 1733, Marie Meschi- 
net de Richemond, belonging to a Protestant family 
of La Rochelle, was taken away from her parents, by 
virtue of a lettre de cachet, to be shut up in the convent 
of the Filles de la Providence. On the I7th of July, 
1734, at the instance of her family, the King commanded 
the Lady Superior to set her at liberty ; but in spite of 
the formal order of Louis XV., the convent refused to 
release its prey. Tormented and deprived of all com- 
munication with her people, the unhappy captive abjured 
her faith, and took the veil, in 1735. In the month of 
December following, her father was obliged to settle 
upon the newly made nun a dowry, payable annually 
and forever. On the 25 th of November, 1740, the re- 
cluse died of grief, without having been able to see 
any other member of her family than a younger sister, 
introduced secretly by a Catholic servant The child 
found it difficult to recognize her in her nun's garb. 
In spite of divers complaints to the national assembly, 
to the Convention, and to the Council of State to have 
this payment annulled, the family was obliged to con- 
tinue it until the reign of Louis-Philippe, when it was 
abolished, in I84O. 1 

The children of Protestants who were left with their 
parents were, moreover, closely watched, to see that 
they attended Catechism and the Catholic schools. 
Exact information was kept as to the number in each 
family, and the list of those who did not habitually 
attend the schools patronized by the Church was ad- 

1 Bulletin de la Societe de FHistoire du Protestantism^ XI. 199. 


dressed to the Intendant, who took steps to enforce 
their attendance. The new converts especially, who 
were known to be Catholics only in name, were com- 
pelled to give a strictly Catholic education to their 
children. The constabulary were charged to keep close 
watch over them until they should have been baptized 
by the priests. Two women of the commune of Chaille- 
vette, who had profited by the passage of Pastor Gibert 
through the environs of La Tremblade to have their 
children baptized, received immediately a visit from the 
constabulary, to compel them to carry them to church 
and have them rebaptized by the cure. "The cere- 
mony concluded," say the minutes of this affair, " we 
took from the hands of said individuals the pretended 
certificates that their children had been baptized as 
Protestants." 1 

" We desire the establishment as far as possible of 
masters and mistresses in every parish where there are 
none," said the edict of December 13, 1698, "in order 
to instruct all children, and notably those whose fathers 
and mothers have made profession of the pretended Re- 
formed religion, in Catholicism, and in the necessary 
prayers, to lead them to mass on every working day, to 
give them the information they need on this subject, 
and to take care during the time they are in attendance 
at said schools that they are present at all the divine 
services, both on Sundays and on holidays." In con- 
sequence, the Bishop of La Rochelle chose four sisters 
of the Instruction Chretienne de 1'Enfant Jesus to teach 
in the city ; they were soon replaced by Gray Sisters, 
two to care for the sick poor, and two for the school. 

1 Archives de la Charente-Inferieure> C, 136. 


Notwithstanding the extreme repugnance shown to 
marrying under the Romish Church, and performing the 
acts preliminary to this ceremony, such as auricular con- 
fession, etc., several finally made up their minds to it, so 
that their children should not be considered illegitimate, 
and might, eventually, inherit from their parents. 1 But 
others preferred to expose themselves to these conse- 
quences rather than to submit to what was exacted of 
them. They contented themselves with a purely civil 
contract, with a marriage a la Gaumine (a very ancient 
custom in the kingdom, and conformable to ordinance), 
while waiting the coming of some minister of the Gos- 
pel to bless their union. " Another custom which was 
generally prevalent," says the academician Rulhiere, 
" was to have marriages blessed by aged men, heads 
of families, until the newly married couple could re- 
ceive the benediction of some minister privately." We 
copy further on some certificates proving that Protes- 

1 The National Synods of the wilderness (du desert) of May 16-17, 
1726, pronounced grave censure upon those who had their marriages 
blessed, or their children baptized, in the Romish Church. They obliged 
them, before being received at the Lord's table, to publicly ask pardon of 
the Church for such culpable cowardice, and to promise not to relapse 
into it. Without this severity, the timidity of some, the calculations of 
others, and the bad example of many, threatened to ruin everything. 

The Synod of Sept. 11-17,1748, expressed the liveliest indignation, 
mingled with grief, against those who, in order to obtain the inheritance, 
availed themselves in court of the illegitimacy of their brothers' marriage. 
(De Felice.) 

Of a hundred and eight persons arrested from 1748 to 1755, for having 
attended Protestant worship, and detained in the prisons of La Rochelle, 
sixteen declared themselves Catholics, forty-seven Protestants raised in 
that religion ; nine who were Catholics up to twelve years of age had 
become Protestants because their parents belonged to that communion, 
twenty-four Protestants had been married in the Church, six affianced 
before notaries, and six joined in wedlock in the wilderness by min- 


tant marriages were celebrated in the wilderness by 
itinerant pastors. As for interments, they could not 
be made by daylight, nor in the cemeteries ; they were 
made at night, in gardens or cellars ; so that, from 
birth even to death, the family sanctuary was invaded 
and troubled by those who should have surrounded it 
with respect and affection. 


But it was, above all, as Christians in the exercise of 
their religion, and following the dictates of their con- 
sciences, that the Protestants were outraged and per- 
secuted after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. 
We have had occasion to say that this edict itself had 
been powerless to protect them against the violence of 
the Catholics ; but, the Reformed religion legally abol- 
ished, there was no longer any means of relief from the 
severities of a legislation which did not even recognize 
their existence. In point of fact, and to him who 
could read the heart, there were still many Protestants 
in France ; but in point of law there were no longer 
any, and there is nothing that would not have been 
readily sacrificed to this fiction, or rather this false- 
hood. The small number of temples remaining in the 
country were demolished. Why should they have been 
left standing, when in the eyes of the law there were 
no longer any to frequent them ? Those to whom di- 
vine worship is a most imperious necessity were thus 
compelled to hold it secretly, taking every precaution 
against discovery, as had their ancestors in the time 
of Francis I. and his successors. But their adversaries 



tracked them out, and they were pursued and often pun- 
ished for it, even as late as the latter half of the eigh- 
teenth century. 

Before entering into other details on this topic, we 
may be permitted to quote a fragment of the will (in 
their own handwriting) of Samuel Majou and Marguerite 
Desme', dated January 12, 1696, published by M. Paul 
Marchegay, in 1854, and which describes, in a striking 
manner, the situation in which the Protestants remain- 
ing in France stood, and by what sentiments they were 
animated : 

" We have once more to render especial thanks to 
God," say they, "that we were born in his holy reli- 
gion, and that we still have its precepts in our hearts, 
although it is no longer publicly professed in this king- 
dom, since the year one thousand six hundred and 
eighty-five, in which year the King revoked all our 
edicts, charters, and privileges, and caused our temples 
to be overturned. He sent regiments of dragoons to 
practise incredible cruelties upon those who would not 
register their intention before the cures to renounce 
the heresy and errors of Calvin, and to follow the cere- 
monies of the Roman Church. The dragoons' violence 
caused us to commit this cowardice, as it did others, 
for which we ask pardon of God. We did not attend 
service, which brought down upon me, Majou, eighteen 
months of imprisonment in the Bastile at Paris. 1 But 
God sustained me under the threats, ills, and promises 
that were made me ; so that I came out without hav- 
ing yielded in anything to the monks sent to make 
me, and others in the same condition, visits of remon- 

1 He came out thence on November 19, 1690. 


strance and threatening." " Remember," they add, ad- 
dressing their children, " that you have taken a covenant, 
in the religion of God and your fathers, by means of the 
baptism which you have received. Never renounce this 
covenant ; on the contrary, make it perpetual in your 
families from generation to generation. . . . And as to 
Charlotte 1 (daughter of a fugitive son-in-law), who was 
violently taken away from us, and put into a convent, 
we beg of you all to do what you can to obtain her 
release. We give them here our special benedic- 
tion, and also their little ones. We exhort them to 
be wise and God-fearing ; we ask God for you and for 
your children that he will do to you as to the penitent 
thief upon the cross, saying to your souls as they leave 
your bodies, ' Verily, I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou 
be with me in paradise.' Read the Holy Scripture 
and all other sorts of books, especially those of piety ; 
there are none of them from which benefit cannot be 


On the 3d of July, 1721, occurred the departure of 
nineteen Protestants, who had become celebrated as the 
" La Rochelle prisoners." Arrested in the environs of 
Nimes for having attended a religious gathering, they 
reached our city on the 1st of August, 1720, after having 
traversed France in the midst of privations of every 

1 She was raised in the Catholic religion, and, on coming out of the 
convent, married Charles-Rene de Farcy, Lord of Roseray, in Anjou. 
Their daughter married Anne-Arthus de Bonchamps, Lord of La Baron- 
niere, near Saint-Florent-le-Vieil, and was grandmother of the celebrated 
Vendean general. 


kind. Condemned to transportation to Mississippi, they 
obtained, after interminable difficulties, leave to embark 
for England ; and M. Dartis, chaplain of the English em- 
bassy, came to meet them at La Rochelle. They were 
the objects of the most tender sympathy during their 
stay ; clothing, food, money, and attentions were lavished 
upon them. More than four thousand persons were 
present at their departure, and touchingly bade them 
adieu ; which proves that, in spite of the booted and 
spurred minions and dragoons of Louvois, Protestant- 
ism still counted a goodly number of followers in our 
city. 1 

The commandants of provinces had received orders 
to visit the houses of Protestants, to seize Protestant 
books, indeed even the Bible, and throw them into the 
flames. But these autos-da-fe had no other result than 
to scandalize the new converts, and the Intendant of 
La Rochelle felt obliged to forbid the ceremonious burn- 
ing of the confiscated books by the missionaries. 

The dragoons still kept guard along the coast, acting 
in concert with the farm hands ; they stopped several 
parties of Protestant women and children from the Isle 
of Re, who were about starting for Holland. The fugi- 
tives hid themselves " under bales of merchandise, under 
piles of coal, in empty hogsheads, mixed up with others 
full of wine, brandy, oil, and other liquids, and in which 
there was no opening except the bung for them to 
breathe through. They remained in this constraint, 
awaiting the wind or the convenience of officials, for 
periods of from eight to fifteen days ; and eagerness to 
escape from a country where conscience was too greatly 

1 Jourdan, Ephtmerides, p. 232. 


oppressed gave them strength to bear inconveniences 
which, ordinarily, would have exhausted their patience 
in two hours." l 

Royal ordinances of May 14, 1724, and April 9, 1747, 
confirmed by edict, April I, 1749, contained express 
and reiterated prohibitions " to all subjects, of whatever 
state, quality, or condition they might be, not to hold 
any other religious services than those of the Catholic, 
Apostolic, and Roman religion, and not to assemble for 
such purpose in any place on any pretext whatever, under 
penalty, for the males, of condemnation to the galleys 
for life, and for females, of having their heads shaved, 
and being shut up forever." In spite of this prospect, 
the Reformers held secret meetings in the country, and 
courageous ministers from time to time came to preside 
over them at the risk of their lives. This is proved from 
the correspondence of the Intendants of La Rochelle, as 
well with their subordinates as with officers of justice 
and the Catholic clergy ; also from special instructions 
to one of their number, M. Baillon, to carry out these 
ordinances in the district of La Rochelle. It is with 
the same end that certain commissions from the King, 
under warrant from the Council of State, assign to their 
successors, De Blair and Pleurre, "full jurisdiction and 
cognizance of all infractions committed by Protestants 
against the declarations forbidding them to assemble to 
pray to God according to their consciences during the 
life of his Majesty." 

Sure of gratifying the court by the display of zeal 
against Protestants, the agents of authority took good 
care, and were not slow in acquainting their superiors 

1 Elie Benoit. 


with the infractions of the King's edicts which came 
to their knowledge. Chastelard, subordinate officer at 
Marennes, seemed especially glad to attract the Inten- 
dants' attention to clandestine meetings held in his sec- 
tion. His correspondence with Arnou is full of denun- 
ciations, sometimes against nocturnal assemblies which 
had been held in the environs of Royan and La Trem- 
blade, sometimes against those who had attended them, 
and sometimes against the ministers who had there 
preached the Gospel or performed marriages. On the 
7th of July, 1730, the Vicar-General of Saintes wrote 
from his neighborhood to the Intendant : " I have hith- 
erto regarded the Protestants of this province as quiet 
enough, but I notice that they are growing terribly 
bold, and that there are but few places where they have 
not had meetings during the year ; it seems that, the 
more attention and desire to lead them back is shown 
them, the more they persist in their error." (C, 135.) 


The holding of meetings wherein prayer was made to 
God, where his word was preached, and where the sacra- 
ments of the New Covenant were administered, having 
been constituted a crime against the state, it became 
the duty of magistrates to pursue and disperse them 
whenever cognizant of them ; accordingly, they placed at 
their agents' disposal all the resources of which author- 
ity is possessed, to discover and break them up. Sol- 
diers of the garrison, archers of the constabulary, bailiffs, 
coast-guards, all were placed under contribution to sur- 
prise these criminal, shall we say, or inoffensive as- 


semblages. But vainly were disguised emissaries di- 
rected to the places where it was supposed the Protes- 
tants were to meet ; vainly was it sought to intimidate 
or corrupt those who were presumably able to facilitate 
the discovery of the delinquents ; vainly were consider- 
able sums offered those who knew the pastors' retreats, 
to induce them to betray them : sentiments of honor 
and fidelity dwelt in the hearts of these people, objects 
of contempt and hatred ; no Judas appeared to sell those 
who had devoted themselves to bringing them the word 
of life, and the bribes offered the denouncers were as 
little effectual as were the goings and comings of the 
constabulary. The gendarme records narrate in a man- 
ner quite entertaining the want of success attending 
their efforts to capture the preachers, 1 or to arrest per- 
sons who had been married in nocturnal assemblages ; 
they also describe the situation of the new converts of 
La Rochelle, who refused to take part in processions, 
to attend mass, and to receive the sacraments of a 
church not approved by their consciences. 

The farm-hands rivalled the zeal of the employe's of 
the Intendant in apprehending any of the pastors who 
were travelling about the country. It was desired to 
make an example, and to intimidate those who followed 
their preachings ; but it did not succeed. The report 

1 " Although tyranny had decreed most severe punishments against 
ministers who dared return to France without a written authorization 
from the King himself, and against those who attended clandestine 
preachings, there were found pastors brave enough to come back to the 
kingdom to preach the word of God to their desolate flocks, and there 
were found, too, faithful ones who were sufficiently intrepid to repair to 
the spots where the prohibited teachings might be received. Hence the 
term ' churches in the wilderness.' " (Anquez, Histoire des Assemblies poll- 
tiques des Ref omits de France.} 


drawn up by one of them enables us to be present in 
imagination at one of the meetings which the Protes- 
tants called a "meeting in the wilderness." Here is 
this curious document, as it exists in the archives of 
the Prefecture (C, 139) : 

"This day, July n, 1750, at ten o'clock in the evening, we, 
Matthieu Villain, Michel Rousseau, and Pierre-Henri Vinet, all 
employes upon the farms of the King, etc., certify that we pro- 
ceeded this day to the village of Coulonges, near Mornac, two 
hours from La Tremblade ; about ten o'clock in the evening we 
saw several persons coming from all directions, which persons 
assembled in a field surrounded by woods, adjacent to the war- 
ren of Mornac ; being present, we slipped into the crowd, com- 
posed of the number of about four thousand persons of both 
sexes, the women having hoods, their hair down, and short 
cloaks, in order to disguise themselves, and the men wearing 
caps, gowns, and cloaks : having perceived that there were 
about two hundred horses forming a line around the said assem- 
blage, being there, we saw M. Dubesse", minister of the Pre- 
tended Reformed Religion, and preacher, mounted in a pulpit, 
clad in a sort of black cassock, with a band and a square cap, 
and who appeared to us to be about thirty-five or forty years 
old, with his hair powdered and curled, about five feet high, 
pitted slightly with small-pox, and having red lips ; who, the 
said Dubesse, preached to the assembly for three hours. He 
spoke upon the subject of the Eucharist ; then he exhorted 
them to shun gluttony, laziness, anger, and unchastity : he also 
greatly commended charity. M. Dubesse, having finished his 
discourse, published five banns, and performed five marriages. 
M. Dubesse performed the marriage ceremonies from his tem- 
porary pulpit, near to which the parties approached. He then 
announced that, in a little while, he would administer the holy 
sacrament, as soon as he found them a little better instructed, 
and he told them in a loud and distinct voice to sing the 
1 1 yth Psalm, and, having himself intoned it, all responded ; and 


the said psalm having been sung, the said M. Dubesse" promptly 
threw off his robe, descended from his pulpit, and disappeared, 
having plunged into the crowd of persons surrounding him in 
said assemblage, and fled, passing with a multitude of people 
into the warren of Mornac : thus we were enabled to know the 
location of his retreat. This assemblage, having begun about 
ten o'clock in the evening, ended about two in the morning, 
etc. ; of which and all of which we have prepared the present 
report, for whatever value or use it may rightly have, and have 
the same sent to M. de Montfayon, our Inspector, to be by him 
sent to Monseigneur the Intendant of La Rochelle, that he 
may act in regard to it as he may see fit. 

" LA TREMBLADE, this i2th of July, 1750." 

Incited by this information, the Inspector of King's 
farms commenced search for the preacher, who had dis- 
appeared in the warren of Mornac ; and, on the 25th of 
July following, made report of the result of his doings 
to the Intendant, as follows : 

" I had notice last Sunday, ipth inst, that the preacher was 
at Mornac ; that he ordinarily lodged and slept by turns at the 
houses of a man named Frouin, an inn-keeper, the Demoiselle 
Amian, living in a plain way, and the Widow Ravart, a shop- 
keeper, all residents of the said place, Mornac. I instantly sent 
a messenger to Marennes to inform M. Lortie-Dumaine about 
it, and to ask his advice and assistance. He accordingly did 
me the honor to write me a letter of instructions, and sent me 
two horsemen from the constabulary, the others being occupied 
elsewhere. These horsemen reached La Tremblade at eight 
o'clock in the evening. I at once called out two gangs which I 
have at La Tremblade, composed of ten men, and, besides, three 
guards of this place, and the two horsemen from the constabulary. 
I mounted my horse at nine o'clock, and put myself at the head 
of this company. I conducted it to the bridge of La Maire, a 
league and a half from La Tremblade, where I ordered it to 
await me : then I went to the villages of Avallon, Chatresac, 


and Chaillevette, to arouse the employes at those stations, and 
take them with me, which was promptly done. This latter 
number was composed of nine men, viz. the crew of the tender 
at Chatresac, consisting of six men and three guards, the whole 
being under my inspection. I conducted this latter party to 
join the other, awaiting me at the bridge of La Maire. I then 
proceeded with the entire force to Mornac, causing profound 
silence to be observed. We reached there between midnight 
and one o'clock. I picked up also in this place two more 
guards, employed under my inspection. Then I had the house 
of the man named Frouin, the inn-keeper, surrounded. I en- 
tered this house with eight men, and caused thorough search 
to be made. Finding nothing there of that which I sought, 
I went to the houses of Madame Ravart and Mademoiselle 
Amian, which I had already had surrounded, and where I went 
through the same performance ; but I did not find there either 
what I wanted : the birds had flown. 

" My spies had also given me notice that I might find the 
preacher's pulpit in the village of Coulanges, or Brandes, about 
half a league distant from Mornac. It was between these two 
villages that the largely attended meeting had been held on the 
night of the n-i2th of this month ; I proceeded with my entire 
party to make the requisite search in this matter, but uselessly. 
Then I proceeded with my force to the village of Avallon, to 
the house of M. Derideau, Jr., salt-merchant, where I had been 
assured I would find the gown, band, and square cap of the 
preacher. Here also thorough search was made, but again 
without result." (C, 139.) 


Not only did these assemblages in the wilderness take 
place, but, in addition, registers of baptisms and mar- 
riages were kept, which were deposited in safe hands, to 
be referred to when needed. Here are specimens of the 
certificates, gratuitously issued : 



" We, the undersigned, certify that on the 6th of August, 1 754, 
we have baptized Elie, the lawful son of Elie Bertin and Made- 
leine Villeur, of the village of Auriaux, parish of Chailvette in 
Saintonge, born the 2 7th of July last ; the names of those pre- 
senting him in holy baptism, as well as of the witnesses, are 
stated and signed in our register. 

Signed, " GIBERT, Pastor." 

" We, the undersigned, certify that on the 6th of August, 1754, 
we have baptized Elie, the lawful son of Pierre Bobin and Marie 
Lortin, "of the village of Maine- Auriau, parish of Chailvette in 
Saintonge, born the 3d of said month. The names of those 
presenting him in holy baptism, as well as of the witnesses, are 
stated and signed in our register. 

Signed, " GIBERT, Pastor" 

[Stamp of the Generalite (district) of La Rochelle.] 

" We, the undersigned, certify that on the i8th of July, 1752, 
we have blessed the marriage of Jean Boujut (lawful son of the 
late Jean Boujut, and of Jeanne Durassier, of the city of Jarnac- 
Charente) with Jeanne Gentil (lawful daughter of the late 
Jacques Gentil and of Jeanne Masson, of La Mirolle, parish of 
Segonzac, diocese of Saintes), according to the customary form 
of our churches, there being no civil or canonical hindrance 
thereto, to us apparent, in presence of a sufficient number of 
witnesses, as moreover appears from our register. 

Signed, " GIBERT, Pastor." 

" I, the undersigned, declare, to all whom it may concern, that 
on the 22d of May, 1748, I have blessed, according to the 
customary forms of our holy religion, the marriage of Mathieu 
Reynaud, lawful son of the late Pierre and of Suzanne Reynaud, 
of Sainte-Foy, with Marie Robert, also lawful daughter of the 
late Jacques Robert and the Demoiselle Marie Texier, all of 
the parish of La Tremblade, diocese of Saintes. Record made 


by Master Gardat, royal notary, on the i5th of February last. 
In witness of which I have signed and given the present cer- 
tificate, a faithful extract from the register, to serve when need 
may be. In the wilderness, in presence of witnesses. 
Signed, " PELLISSIER, 

Minister of the Holy Gospel." 

The authorities did not confine themselves to sending 
to prison or the galleys those who had attended meet- 
ings in the wilderness, or who had had their marriage 
blessed there ; their rigors extended to all those who 
made profession of being Protestants. Thus, in 1733, a 
young woman named Hivonnette, of La Rochelle, was 
incarcerated solely on account of her religion, and was 
designated as " headstrong " because she was unwill- 
ing to renounce the faith of the Reformation. Others 
were detained for the same reason in our city prisons. 
There were as many as twenty-seven counted in a 
single month, the minutes of their examinations men- 
tioning no other cause for their arrest than that of 
professing Protestantism ; a cause which they all readily 
admitted, adding that the authorities might do what 
they would to them, but they were resolved to live and 
die in that faith. 


In consequence of a prayer-meeting at which he had 
presided on the loth of July, Elie Vivien, a shoemaker 
at Marennes, an old man of seventy-eight years, was 
condemned, by sentence of Intendant Barentin, to be 
hung on the public square at La Rochelle, after having 
made public retraction, and his body to be hanged on 


the gallows, there to remain until entirely decomposed. 
The sentence was executed on the same day. Louis 
Andre, who had called the meeting, was condemned 
to accompany Vivien when he made the amende hono- 
rable and to witness his execution, to be branded and 
marked by the executioner of high justice with a hot 
iron, forming the letters G. A. L., and conducted to 
the chain-gang, to be thereto attached and to serve his 
Majesty as a convict in the galleys for life. Later, we 
find Protestant books seized by the constabulary at 
Bourgneuf, in the environs of La Rochelle, and on May 
7, 1751, one Jean Trouillet 1 was condemned to service 
in the galleys for life for having held Protestant assem- 
blages in Saintonge ; which, however, did not prevent a 
continuance of the prayer-meetings, without the author- 
ities succeeding in laying hands upon ministers Gounon 
(called Pradon) and Dubesse. 

Pastor Gibert, who also presided over religious assem- 
blages in Saintonge, was especially hated by the Catholic 
clergy. After trying every means to capture him, re- 
sort was had to a ruse which was scarcely honorable. 
The Bishop of Saintes sent to Pons a man named 
Syntier, who pretended to be a Protestant, and endeav- 
ored to entice the preacher of the wilderness to his 
house, under pretext of baptizing his child. Notwith- 
standing the little confidence which Syntier inspired, 
Gibert, urged by the Reformers of Pons, answered his 

1 Intendant Barentm had condemned to similar penalties, on the i7th 
of December. 1738, Francois Touzineau, preacher, and his three asso- 
ciates; and on the 24th of July, 1744, Joseph Bretagne, called " the Eng- 
lishman," (accused of having several times disguised himself, of having 
blasphemed the Catholic religion, and strongly suspected of having filled 
the office of preacher,) and Jacques Bourdron, his associate. 


call, accompanied by the Chevalier Belrieu de la Grace. 
But hardly had they gone a quarter of a league on 
the day following the ceremony, when they were pur- 
sued by archers, and a gun-shot killed the gentleman, 
whose corpse remained in the hands of the constabu- 
lary. The three other persons who had accompanied 
Gibert on this perilous trip, viz. his brother Etienne, 
Gentelot, and Andre Bonfils, succeeded in escaping, 
thanks to the fleetness of their horses. On the I4th 
of July, 1756, Intendant Baillon 1 of La Rochelle sen- 
tenced Minister Gibert in contumaciam to make public 
retraction, to see his sermons burned in his own pres- 
ence by the executioner, and to be hanged ; Etienne, 
his reader, to service in the galleys for life ; and Gen- 
telot, who had threatened the constabulary with his 
pistol, to the same penalty. The memoir of Chevalier 
de la Grace was suppressed, and Bonfils was banished. 
None of them having been captured, Gibert was ex- 
ecuted in effigy, with another minister by the name of 
Guerin. In view of these continual severities, the pas- 
tors were obliged to act with the utmost precaution. 
They pretended to be travelling on business, selling 
children's blankets and garments for young married 
people. 2 

1 " Jean Baillon [Baillon signifies " gag "], ominous name, and in this 
case well bestowed," says M. Eugene Pelletan, "had the honor, in our 
provinces, of administering the last blow of persecution. He closes up 
the list of all these small fry Basvilles, who arrested and imprisoned men 
and women suspected of Calvinism, at the least gesture, the slightest de- 
nunciation from the clergy." Le Pasteur du Desert, corroborative 

2 Ancien Inventaire Protestant, B, n. 10. Archives du Consistoire. 



In the midst of the hindrances and perils surround- 
ing every religious act performed outside the Catholic 
Church, the Protestants of La Rochelle often profited 
by the presence of Dutch vessels in the harbor to have 
their children baptized, and their marriages blessed by 
the chaplain on board, who would deliver the parties a 
certificate in due form. Sometimes, too, they went to 
Paris, to the chapel of the embassy of some Protestant 
nation, where the chaplain would perform the religious 
ceremonies in the presence of the members of the lega- 
tion. 1 

A fact not less remarkable, and which attests the Re- 
formers' profound attachment for evangelical worship 
and their unconquerable aversion to the worship of their 
persecutors, was the existence of religious assemblages 
of another kind, an account of which has been transmit- 
ted to us by M. E. Pelletan in the Pasteur dti Desert. 
They were held on the open sea, while the constabulary 
were beating up the country to surprise the preachers. 
Scarcely was the vessel out of sight of land when her 
sails were dropped, her hatchways opened, and the faith- 
ful, who had been hidden in the hold, came upon deck, 
where Pastor Jarousseau intoned a psalm, and the ser- 
mon was listened to thoughtfully. Similar scenes ap- 
pear to have taken place all along the coast. 

But the severities against Protestants still continued. 
Jean Raveau, Jacques Robin, Jean David, Jean Renard, 
and Jean Clair had been imprisoned at La Rochelle 
by order of Intendant Boisemont, who had inflicted se- 

1 Notes of M. E. Jourdan. Family papers of M. Fleurian. 


vere treatment upon them on account of their persist- 
ency in attending religious meetings. Set free, March 
3 r > I 755> upon condition that they would thenceforth 
conform to the King's commands, they were soon re- 
placed by other prisoners accused of the same crime. 
In the month of July, 1756, twenty-three Protestants of 
Saintonge came before the Seneschal of La Rochelle 
apprehended on religious grounds. Amongst them was 
Jean Mesnard of Marennes, who defended his faith and 
his conduct with much moderation and firmness. 

Accused of having helped to set up a temple at Ar- 
thouan, 1 he was arrested in the month of November with 
his fellow-Protestant, Guillon: taken together to Brouage, 
they were handcuffed, and shut up in a cell, where they 
remained until the month of March in the following 
year. Conducted to the La Rochelle prison, still hand- 
cuffed, put into solitary confinement on arrival, with 
irons on their feet during the trial, they underwent sev- 
eral examinations, as the result of which they were, on 
the 2 ist of July, sentenced, Mesnard to perpetual ban- 
ishment from the kingdom, and confiscation of half 
his property ; Guillon, to three years' banishment from 
the district, and a fine. Jeanne Amian 2 was shorn, 
and shut up in the convent of La Providence de Saint- 
Joseph, and Graveau to be branded, to service in the gal- 
leys for life, and to confiscation of half his property. The 
sentence was promptly executed in regard to the latter, 
who was led into the public square to be branded by the 

1 This temple was not strictly an edifice, but a barn in which chairs 
and benches had been placed. 

2 Having taken refuge in England, and remained Protestant, the 
Amian family occupies a very high position in that country at the pres- 
ent day. 


executioner, " with irons on his feet on the way, and 
carrying a cross-bar two feet long, which greatly embar- 
rassed him." "And," says the manuscript from which 
these details are borrowed, " the affair being finished, 
and he having returned to prison, we all with one accord 
thanked God, and read the fifth chapter of the Acts of 
the Apostles, wherein it saith that they were filled with 
joy that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for 
the name of Jesus Christ. We read also the fifty-eighth 
Psalm, appropriate to our situation : 

' Malheureux juges que vous etes, 
Repondez-nous de bonne foi : 
Prononcez-vous selon la loi ? 
Est-ce bien le droit que vous faites ? ' >: 

While these captives were being thus treated, the 
wife of one of them, aged about eighteen years, gave a 
touching instance of conjugal affection. She went about 
unceasingly in all kinds of weather, exposed to rain, 
wind, cold, heat, burdened with the care of two young 
children, having no income nor fortune, never weary 
of importuning friends to carry comfort to her husband 
in his sufferings, and putting all her consolation in the 
Lord's mercy. Her devotion was crowned with success, 
and Mesnard did not leave the kingdom. After two 
years of contention, he was released upon paying costs 
of 453 pounds, 9 sols, and 6 deniers, and the value of 
half his house and of a quarter of his furniture and 




There exists in the La Rochelle Library a manuscript 
quoted as No. 2098, containing one of the most affecting 
pages from the history of the Church under the Cross. 
We refer to the avowal made at La Rochelle by a Sain- 
tonge woman, accompanied by forty-five other women 
from her province, on the 9th of April, 1699. We give 
this examination as published by the Temoindela Verite, 
a very estimable religious paper, now discontinued. 1 

"Tuesday morning, I, accompanied by forty-five women, 
was led by God's grace to the house of Monseigneur the In- 
tendant. After asking his indulgence, he not being willing to 
accord it, we were sent to M. Grissot (magistrate of the Pre- 
sidial Court), who took us to the Bishop, 2 whom we found in 
company with the gentlemen of the Presidial Court, the Criminal 
Lieutenant and King's Attorney, and several other persons, not to 
forget two Jesuits in the company of all these great gentlemen. 
I made a confession of faith, as Jesus Christ himself says, ' When 
ye shall be brought before the rulers of the earth, trouble not 
yourselves as to what ye shall answer, for my Spirit will make 
answer for you.' Jesus, speaking through me, as he himself 
says, ' Whoso shall confess me before men, him also will I con- 
fess before my Father which is in heaven.' After we had asked 
his pardon several times, the Bishop said we should go to mass ; 
that he was the good shepherd. 

" Woman. I said to him that I did not want to go to mass ; 
after having tasted the milk of knowledge which is without de- 
ception, I do not wish to taste any other. You tell me that you 

1 While this work was in press, the document in question, published 
in 1864 for the first time, in the Temoin de la Verite, was reproduced in 
the number of the Bulletin de la Societe de FHistoire du Protestantisms 
Franfais, for the I5th of January, 1870, communicated by M. E. Jourdan. 

2 De Frezeau de la Frezeliere, former colonel of cavalry, Bishop of La 
Rochelle in 1699. 


are the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for 
the sheep. He does not suffer us to be torn as you do, and 
you yourself are the instrument of all these things. 

"Bishop. Your religion has existed only for one hundred 
and thirty years. Calvin made it, and, if you obey his church, 
you are damned. 

" Woman. Pardon me if your highness permits me to say 
that our religion is older than yours. It takes its origin from 
the foundation of the world ; the prophets proclaimed it ; Jesus 
Christ brought it from heaven ; the apostles preached it ; the 
martyrs sealed it with their blood. Your highness says Calvin 
made our religion. Calvin is not heard of in our meetings. 
We have not been baptized in the name of Calvin ; he was not 
crucified for us ; he did not come into the world to prepare a 
place for us. 

"Bishop. Where is your church, where are your pastors, 
your leaders, as St. Paul says, where are your bishops? You 
are in confusion, without pastors, without churches, without 

" Woman. It is the gathering of the faithful ; each faithful 
one constitutes a pastor of the Church. Jesus Christ is the 
head; we are its members. This poor church, which has 
always been afflicted, will continue to be so until the Son of 
Man's coming. You ask me, 'Where are your pastors?' when 
they have been taken from us, and we are without any. We 
have Jesus Christ, who is the great Pastor of our souls. I beg 
pardon of your highness ; we are not in confusion ; we pray to 
God with our whole heart ; we have that Divine Spirit, which 
is the true Comforter of our souls, and which makes us cry out, 
' Abba, Father.' He himself says, ' My son, give me thine 

" Bishop. Where are your altars ? 

" Woman. I beg pardon of your highness. Jesus Christ 
was crucified once. Sacrifice cannot be made without shedding 
of blood. 

" Bishop. There ought to be a scourge of thongs to chastise 
you and make you abandon this cursed religion. Such a good 


King, who calls you with so much gentleness ! You are rebels 
against your King. 

" Woman. Several of the temples where prayer was for- 
merly made to God, where so many ministers served him with 
so much respect, are to-day places of traffic. It would be more 
proper that Jesus Christ should come down from heaven, and 
that the Holy Spirit should make the thongs. He would say, 
' My house ye have made a den of thieves.' Sir, I beg pardon 
of your highness : you say you will make us abandon our reli- 
gion : it is not accursed ; it is God's Church, which he has pur- 
chased and which he has redeemed at such great cost by the 
death and passion of his dear Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered 
death and shed his precious blood to ransom us from the cruel 
death to which we were liable in the lineage of Adam. 

" The King's Attorney (interrupting). Do you believe that 

Messrs, du B , and several others whose names are not 

written, have not as much trust as you have ? They have come 
into the lap of the Church, and do their duty better than you. 

" Woman. Sir, I beg you to tell me where in the world it is 
said, ' I come to cast myself into the lap of the Roman Church 
to find there my salvation ' ; for some have done so for favor, 
some for greatness, others for eminent positions, and others for 

" Bishop. They are offered inducements to bring them into 
the Church, to the Catholic faith. Do you think to know more 
than your pastors, who have known the real facts of their 
change ? But, after all, there are none but this little self-opin- 
ionated class of people who rebel against the Catholic faith. 

" Woman. Sir, I ask pardon. Real religion is not bought 
for money, as St. Peter says. When he laid hands on the apos- 
tles, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given them. Simon the 
sorcerer thought that gold and silver were offered to St. Peter. 
You say, sir, that, though we are a class of people few in num- 
bers, we are self-opinionated and rebellious ; but we are not so 
against evangelical truth. It is that which leads us heavenward 
by the faith we have in Christ Jesus. You say, sir, that our 
pastors have misled us, as it is said in the Gospel that the stars 


will fall from the sky, and the very powers of heaven be shaken. 
God knows his own. You say, sir, that they threw themselves 
into your arms : for the reason that they have once known the 
truth, it is impossible that they should have left and aban- 
doned it. 

" Bishop. She wants to be wiser than the ministers who were 
men of wisdom, who in my time came to mass at Paris, and 
who were learned doctors of divinity who had acknowledged 
their errors, and the truth of the Roman Church. 

" Woman. Your highness will permit me to remark that Pon- 
tius Pilate, Herod, and Felix were instructed in rhetoric, phi- 
losophy, and every good science. But they crucified Jesus, who 
made himself known to the poor fishermen who had no science, 
and hid holy things from the wise and prudent to reveal them 
unto babes ; as himself hath said, l Believe, and thou shalt be 
saved.' Your highness is deceived. There is no heresy in our 
religion; it is the refinement of heaven's work; it is evan- 
gelical truth. Our religion is clearer than the noonday sun, 
however afflicted it may be by the enemies of our salvation. 

" Bishop. I tell you that outside the Church there is no sal- 
vation. Come, then, to the perfect religion. A King calls you 
with so much gentleness; throw yourself into your Bishop's 
arms, and God and the King have given me full power to do for 
you what his council has ordained. You do not pray to God ; 
you are as it were in confusion, for you are only a handful of 
people among all that are in the world. 

" Woman. Sir, I acknowledge to your highness that ' outside 
the Church there is no salvation.' This Church has two parts : 
the one is triumphant, the other is militant on earth. The 
great apostle, St. Paul, who received thirty-nine lashes with a 
scourge under the Roman empire, he was forbidden with 
threats to utter the name of Jesus Christ. That great apostle 
replied, ' Obey God rather than men.' All sufferings here below 
are nothing in comparison with the glory of God, who has made 
ready for us above in heaven the crown of glory. Sir, do you 
want me to tell you why our Church on earth is few in num- 
bers? It is by reason of the afflictions which go with it, even 


to the end of the world ; but it will triumph in heaven, and will 
overcome the enemies who have afflicted it here below, with 
those who have suffered with it, and who have fought the good 
fight. They will have the crown of life which has been made 
ready for them from the foundation of the world. The Church 
herself says, ' I am small because of the afflictions that go with 
me.' But the haughty one says, ' I am queen, and shall see 
no grief,' because she holds the cup of God's wrath in her 
hand, to pour it upon those who are subject unto her, who have 
worshipped the beast with her. 

"Bishop. What do you mean by talking of this haughty 
Church, this Babylon holding the cup of God's wrath in her 
hand, to pour it out upon those who have not served God? 
Give me the explanation of that. ( Getting into a great rage, 
and stamping his feet three times, he added:) And tell me 
whether our King is damned. 

" Woman. Sir, I ask your highness's pardon. You ask 
whether we believe our King is damned. It is to entrap us in 
our words, as the Roman soldiers did our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Did we believe such a thing of our King, we should merit death ; 
but before God, we all, as many as there are of us, pray to God, 
night and morning, for him : there is no one who fears God 
that does not do the same thing. 

" Bishop. What do you say ? You are but a small number 
compared with us. I am sorry for the evils that are in store 
for you. I beg you, come to church and hear the Gospel. 

" Woman. I ask your highness's pardon. Under the reign 
of Ahab, the prophet Elijah was hidden in the desert, and made 
his prayer to the Eternal : * Lord, they have thrown down thine 
altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I 
only, am left ; and they seek my life, to take it away.' The 
answer came to him from heaven : ' Yet I have left me seven 
thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto 
Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.' 

" Bishop. We have read the Holy Fathers of the Church, 
viz. St. Jerome, St. Athanasius, St. Stephen, St. Augustine, and 
several others, who have written against your religion ; they 


portray it as a Reformation made entirely by man's hand, the 
work of a John Huss, a Beze, a Calvin. Here is a nice religion 
made by men's hands ! 

" Woman. Sir, after having read the Bible twenty-four times, 
I also read the holy Fathers of the Church of whom you speak. 
Your religion is as far removed from Holy Scripture as the east 
is from the west. We walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. I 

do not doubt that your highness has read the books of , in 

which are included the works of M. Arnaud, doctor of theology, 
who, in those he wrote last, says in proper terms to the great 
Bishop of Germany : ' Had I all the writings and books against 
the members of the Pretended Reformed Religion, improperly 
so called, I would have them burned, for I have written some 
against my own conscience, and I ask God's pardon for it, with 
all my heart.' You talk to me of John Huss, of Beze, and of 
Calvin. It is true that these persons (and I praise God for it) 
have been the instruments whom God has used, by means of 
their eloquence, to call people to a knowledge of him. What 
must have been Calvin's influence, as well as that of the others, 
who made the earth tremble and dethroned the Pope from his 
seat ? It appears so to-day, by reason of several persons who 
suffer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

" Bishop. Have you their edicts, their decrees ? 

" Woman. I have not got them, sir. 

" Bishop. In the end see what a thunderbolt and what a 
tempest are going to fall upon your heads. 

" Woman. I ask your highness's pardon ; we shall suffer no 
more evil than God has told us in his counsel. He himself 
says : ' They shall say evil things of you, and put you to death, 
thinking they are doing God service.' And Jesus Christ him- 
self says : * Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. 
Whosoever shall persevere unto the end, I will give him the 
crown of life.' May God give us grace to conquer with him ! 

If M. de la Frezeliere was strong in matters of con- 
troversy, he did not show it on this occasion. One is 


surprised to find a noble prelate offering menaces and 
haughty expressions, or setting traps for his opponent by 
asking her whether she believed the King was damned, 
instead of winning her by gentleness, and convincing 
her by good reasonings. It seems to us beneath the 
dignity and sphere of a bishop. The advantage in this 
controversy, as well in form as in subject-matter, rests 
then with a poor woman, illiterate and devoid of expe- 

What was the sequel to this dialogue ? and, when she 
went out from before the first magistrate of the province, 1 
what became of the faithful servant of Jesus Christ, who 
had so well borne witness to the truth ? This is what 
the manuscript does not inform us. But, in glancing 
at the legislation of that period, it is permitted us to 
suppose that she was shorn and shut up in a convent, 
whence she never emerged ; it may be in one of the 
hospitals of La Rochelle, as was the case in 1748 with 
some other women from Royan, whose sole crime con- 
sisted in having attended prayer-meetings. 


While the Saintonge Protestants were the object of 
these severities, those of La Rochelle were enjoying 
comparative tolerance. They took advantage of it to 
draw closer the ties uniting them, and to organize a 
church body. The attempted assassination of the King 
at this period furnished the people of La Rochelle, the 
province of Aunis, and the adjacent islands, an oppor- 

1 Michel Begon, Intendant of the Generalite of La Rochelle, estab- 
lished in 1694. 


tunity to write his Majesty .a letter, in which, after hav- 
ing borne witness to the horror such a crime had in- 
spired in their minds, they prayed for some alleviation 
of their existing ills, and a recognition of their mar- 
riages. In the month of March, 1755, deliberation was 
had as to the proper measures to be taken to organ- 
ize under a constitution, and Pastor Jean Pajon was 
called to fill the office of the holy ministry with a sal- 
ary of 3,000 livres, which was to be paid him by the 
faithful. A Consistory, composed of twelve, afterwards 
fourteen lay members, was organized under the name of 
a " Committee." As the times were still critical, it was 
agreed to meet in parties of twenty persons, in private 
houses, so as not to bring upon the ministers the severi- 
ties of the law. All those who attended were to pre- 
serve absolute secrecy, even with the members of their 
own families. This code of regulations, containing 
seventy-four articles, was revised in October, 1761, and 
on the loth of November following there were opened 
baptismal and marriage registers, wherein up to 1766 
only the pastor's signature occurred. Dating from that 
period deaths were registered side by side with baptisms 
and marriages ; and afterwards, upon a special register, 
opened August 2, 1781, for those "towhom ecclesias- 
tical burial is not accorded." This register was signed 
in initials by the Lieutenant of Police, and two witnesses 
signed the declaration, without any minister's name 
appearing thereupon. Occasionally, too, the identity of 
the deceased was established by a notary, and the re- 
mains were deposited, sometimes on his own premises, 
sometimes in the garden set apart for that purpose, 
being a portion of the former Protestant church site. 


Or, again, the cure drew up the document, and per- 
formed burial services after the Catholic form in the 
parish cemetery. 1 

Moreover, the La Rochelle Protestants enjoyed in this 
regard a considerable degree of liberty, for from 1687 to 
1789 their interments were kept up in the Ville Neuve 
garden, or on private property, which proves that the 
local authorities, and even the clergy, closed their eyes 
upon these burials, which could hardly be considered 
canonical. 2 

In the month of September, 1757, an English fleet 
having taken possession of the Isle of Aix, with the in- 
tention of attacking Rochefort, the people of La Ro- 
chelle, men, women, and children, without distinction of 
religion or fortune, took up arms to repel the assailants. 
This vigorous demonstration made the English stop and 
reflect ; they did not dare to carry out their project of 
making a descent, and a few days later withdrew. The 
conduct of the Protestant population, who on this occa- 
sion did not hesitate in taking up arms against the ene- 
mies of France, made the local authorities very favorably 
disposed toward them, and the King himself, being 
informed of their devotion, caused the removal and 
destruction of the insulting inscriptions which Intend- 
ant De Muin had had the harshness to have engraved 
over the door of the Church of the Minime Fathers. 
This was done with great solemnity on the 27th of No- 

1 La Rochelle Protestant*, p. 85. 2 Ibid. 



But the Reformers did not despair of the future, and 
sought to strengthen the organization they had effected. 
While a Provincial Synod of Saintonge, Angoumois, and 
Perigord was in session at Bordeaux, Paul Rabaud and 
Paul Vincent addressed to their fellow-Protestants a 
pressing exhortation to be firm in profession of the 
truth, and during the early days of February, 1766, the 
Aunis Protestants received a letter from their brethren 
in the faith, inviting them to hold a solemn fast of hu- 
miliation and prayer on Sunday, the 23d of said month. 
After the perils and trials which had just been passed, 
life seemed to revive in the Church, and its members 
experienced the necessity of seeking strength in prayer 
and fasting, according to the commands of the Gospel 
and the custom of all holy men. 

As the hope of better days began to dawn in the 
hearts of the Reformers, it was proposed that a special 
subject for prayer should be " the restoration of spirit- 
ual privileges and freedom of worship." They knew 
too well that deliverance comes from the Eternal, not 
to resort to this supreme source of all grace. Nev- 
ertheless, no recrimination, no complaint, was heard 
against those who sought to bring them back by force 
under the Pope's yoke, and the persecutions they had 
suffered were looked upon as a chastisement from the 
Lord. " Had we been more attached to our holy reli- 
gion," say they, " more firm in our principles, more con- 
sistent in our conduct, certainly the Eternal would have 
been propitious to us ; certainly the best of kings would 
have added to the benefits of his reign the favors with 
which he might have supplied us." 


The exercise of the evangelical ministry continued 
thenceforth without hindrance in the city. Under 
date of May 23, 1766, appears upon the registers of 
the civil list the signature of " J. Jay, minister of the 
Holy Gospel, and pastor of the Reformed Church of 
La Rochelle." 

The Marshal of Senneterre l is indisputably the gov- 
ernor with whom the Protestants of La Rochelle have 
had best reason to be satisfied : he alleviated their con- 
dition by the spirit of justice and kindness with which 
he showed himself constantly animated regarding them, 
and his acts are in contrast with those of most of his 
predecessors. And the Reformers were not insensible to 
the benefits of his administration. One finds the expres- 
sion of their sentiments in a " Collection of Prayers for 
the Sabbath-Day, in use by Protestants of the Province 
of Aunis," in which occurs an impassioned invocation 
for " M. the Marshal of Senneterre, our governor and our 
commander, an aged man as venerable by his virtues as 
by his whitened locks, and one who by his gentleness, 
by his love for peace and order, and by the spirit of 
toleration which animates him, so thoroughly justifies 
the confidence with which our monarch honors him, .... 
and grows more and more precious to those living under 
his government." 

It may thus be seen what might have been obtained 
from the Protestants if, instead of oppressing them by 
Draconian measures, and hunting them like wild beasts, 
just and humane men had been sent to govern them. 
Unhappily this experience came late, and M. de Senne- 

1 The Literary Society of La Rochelle published, in 1855, ISEloge of 
Jean Charles, Marquis of Senneterre, Governor of Saintonge and Aunis 
from 1755 to I 77 I > by P- Gervaud. 


terre was one of the last governors of La Rochelle. He 
died on the 2$d of January, 1771, aged eighty-five years, 
and the French Revolution shortly afterward inaugu- 
rated another regime. 

This same year, 1768, there was published by M. 
Dangirard an edition of the Psalms of David, which was 
subscribed to by the La Rochelle Protestants, and which 
was employed in their worship by several Saintonge 
churches. The versification of our Psalms in many cases 
leaves much to be desired, and is open to great improve- 
ment ; but the changes made by M. Dangirard were not 
in all cases happy ones, and, notwithstanding the excel- 
lence of his intentions, his work has never been adopted 
in other churches, and it is gradually disappearing from 
those of Saintonge. 


The Intendant of La Rochelle, who, at this period, 
was occupied in preparing statistics of his district, was 
requested by ministerial letter to endeavor to obtain, by 
way " of insinuation and confidence," exact data in re- 
gard to the civil status of the Protestants in 1773, by 
addressing for that purpose the principal members of 
that faith ; " for their ministers," says the letter, " ac- 
curately keep two registers of births, marriages, and 
deaths, one of which they retain, and the other of 
which they deposit with one of the elders of the 

Moreover, nothing can give a more accurate idea of 
the situation of the La Rochelle Protestants, and the 
progress of tolerance at the time we mention, than the 


following letter, written by M. Jean Perry, 1 on the 22d 
of December, 1767, to one of his fellow-Protestants, 
Samuel-Pierre Meschinet de Richemond, then at Ham- 
burg. 2 

" We enjoy, thanks to God, the greatest tranquillity, and for 
seven or eight months past have about twenty houses in the 
city where we assemble on Sundays, morning and evening, for 
the reading of the word of God, sermon, and psalm-singing, as 
freely as at Amsterdam. The pastor goes by turns to each 
gathering composed of fifty, sixty, or eighty persons, and every- 
thing passes off the best in the world (tout s'y passe le mieux du 
monde) . The clergy and the public seem to get accustomed to 
it, and that is probably what the court wants. We are no longer 
troubled about the baptism of our children, and indeed in this 
respect we can say we have never been, from the very begin- 
ning, as there was reason to fear. We daily perceive some ad- 
vance in the support accorded us. In general, the government's 
way of thinking about us is very much changed, and we feel it 
is more and more favorable. The martyrdom of the just Galas 
has greatly advanced the conversion of many who were intoler- 

1 Jean Perry, born at Montault, in Agenois, in 1726, came to settle in 
La Rochelle to engage in business, and there married, in 1752, Marguerite 
Meschinet de Richemond, by whom he had three daughters, married, 
ist, to Pierre-Marie Dehault de Pressense, principal treasurer of war at 
La Rochelle, grandfather of the Pastor Edmond de Pressense ; 2d, to Jean 
Joseph Alauzet, director of customs ; and, 3d, to Jean de Fabry, captain 
and chevalier of the Order of Military Merit. Perry was successively 
Syndic of the Chamber of Commerce in 1771 and in 1784, was director 
of the same from 1787 to 1789, municipal officer in 1790, administrator of 
the district of La Rochelle in September, 1791, a member of the district 
directory (October 25th) ; he kept his seat until 1793, an( * died December 
9th, 1797. Some interesting notes in regard to the history of La Rochelle 
are due to his pen. 

2 A shipping merchant, member of the Board of Commerce and the 
Agricultural Society ; he died in 1807, leaving two daughters and a son 
(1783-1868), who became captain of a corvette, chevalier of the Orders of 
Military Merit and of the Legion of Honor, and a member of the Con- 


ant. The troubles of the Gallican Church, which has come to 
blows with the Molinists and the Jansenists, all that is taking 
place in Russia and Poland, perhaps even the necessities of the 
state itself, are among the causes of the tranquillity we are enjoy- 
ing. The Protestants of the neighboring provinces, Saintonge 
and Poitou, are as tranquil as we are. Those of the former hold 
regular service in their temples, while the pastors are recognized 
as such by the priests of the dominant religion, and enjoy the 
greatest liberty. In Poitou, they meet in the country to the 
number of three or four hundred souls, to pray to God." 

The calm they were enjoying permitted the La Ro 
chelle Protestants to call Pastor Betrine, who received 
his call from the Church in 1775. Encouraged by the 
disposition of the government, which inclined to toler- 
ance, these same Protestants addressed a petition to 
Louis XVI., imploring his kindness " in behalf of sub- 
jects who were faithful, and yet excluded from the rank 
of citizens, and deprived of almost all the rights of 
natives." "When Louis XIV. outlawed them," added 
they, " those of his own faith were as much surprised as 
his orders were exceeded ; a fact which he himself recog- 
nized, by enjoining toleration upon his heir presumptive." 
This petition, among other signatures, bore those of 
Fleuriau, Bouguereau, Carayon, Jean Perry, Chapron, 
De Jarnac, Ranson, Garreau, Giraudeau, Lepage, De 
Tandebaratz, Rasteau, Charruyer, De Richemond, and 
Betrine, who did not assume the title of pastor. 


The days so long desired by Protestants seemed at 
last come, and their relations with the superior authori- 
ties assumed that character of fairness and moderation 


which they should always have borne. In 1776, M. de 
Malesherbes, while advising the Intendant of La Ro- 
chelle to reason cautiously with the Protestants " that 
the public practice of their religion is not yet permitted 
them," reminded the cures (who, in virtue of the fourth 
article of the Declaration of May 14, 1724, were to bap- 
tize the children of Protestants) that they had no right 
to register them as illegitimate children upon the sole 
ground of their having been born of parents of the 
R. P. R. 

In his reply to these instructions, M. de Reverseaux 
declared to the ministry that throughout the entire dis- 
trict Protestants were in the habit of assembling to pray 
together; at La Rochelle these little assemblages are 
held by permission of the commandant (M. de Senne- 
terre). " They conduct themselves prudently," adds 
the Intendant, "and seem to appreciate the kindness 

with which the government is treating them The 

wealthier Protestants of La Rochelle no longer fear to 
invest their funds in the purchase of land, and some are 
exclusively engaged in the culture of these lands. They 
now are looking to being allowed some stable form of 
marriage, which our civil and canonical laws can recog- 
nize." (C, 140.) 

Enjoying greater freedom, the Protestant Rochelais, 
in 1784, interested themselves to acquire a suitable place 
for holding the worship to which they had remained 
faithful. This was first a storehouse opposite the basin ; 
afterwards the former tennis-court of La Verdiere, which 
they bought (March 2Oth), and fitted up at their own ex- 
pense, for its new purposes. Inventory No. 54 names 
9,000 livres as the sum they expended for these repairs. 


According to official statements made on the 25th of 
February to Intendant Reverseaux, there were two hun- 
dred and sixty-two deceased persons who had not been 
interred by the Roman Church, and two hundred and 
thirty infants who had not been baptized after the Cath- 
olic form in the city of La Rochelle, during the space of 
eleven years, from 1773 to 1783, which indicates quite a 
considerable Protestant population. 

After long and cruel persecutions, a new era was about 
to begin for the Reformers. 

Baron de Breteuil, minister of the King's household, 
presented to Louis XVI. in the month of October, 1786, 
"A general report on the condition of Calvinists in 
France, on the causes of this condition, and on the 
means of remedy therefor." Then he caused to be 
edited by his secretary, the Academician De Rulhieres, 
the Eclaircissements historiques sur les Causes de la Re- 
vocation de VEdit de Nantes, et stir VEtat des Protestants 
en France, depuis le Commencement du Regne de Louis 
XIV., drawn from various governmental archives. 

The edict of November, 1787, signed by Louis XVI., 
rendered their existence legal, that is to say, gave them 
the right to live in France, and to practise their profes- 
sions or trades without any trouble in regard to their 
religion ; also permission to legally marry before officers 
of justice, authority to have the birth of their children 
recorded before the local judge, and a regulation in re- 
gard to burials. From that time, profession of Protes- 
tantism was no longer a crime or a fault in the eyes 
of the law. Tolerance existed, but not yet liberty. In 
spite of its short-comings, the edict of Louis XVI. was 
received with joy by the Reformers, and brought con- 



solation to their hearts. Their religious assemblies re- 
sounded with hymns of thankfulness on this subject. 
At La Rochelle and elsewhere, they hastened to have 
their marriages and the births of their children legalized. 
Even old men were to be seen registering their own 
marriages side by side with those of their children and 

Whatever might have been its restrictions in regard 
to liberty, the edict of tolerance found no favor with 
M. de Crussol, Bishop of La Rochelle, who, although 
descended from a Protestant family, thought it his duty 
to formulate his opposition in a special mandate. But 
this protest was blamed by the Catholics themselves, 
notably by Father Tabaraud, Superior of the Oratory, 
who published on this subject, Les Lettres (fun Theologien 
d Messieurs les Cures et Monseigneur V Eveqtte. The civil 
authority itself was not insensible to this episcopal mani- 
festo, and the King's Attorney, Alquier, took official 
notice of the Bishop's ill-timed letter. 

It is a remarkable fact, that in 1789, after two cen- 
turies of intolerance, the Reformers of La Rochelle had 
lost none of their intellectual and moral resources, none 
of their industrial power, and none of their influence 
in the city. 1 

1 From 1790 on, Rochelais Protestantism is represented by the most 
honorable and highly esteemed names. It claims among the deputies, 
Messrs. Admyrauld, Dechezeaux, De Missy, Dumoustier, Fleuriau de 
Bellevue, Andre Gallot, Majou, Rasteau, etc. In the navy and army, in 
commerce and science and literature, it has furnished in proportion to its 
numbers a harvest none the less fruitful in notable men. The list of 
members of the Consistory is singularly characteristic, and the prepon- 
derance of Protestants in the councils of the city significant, during the 
Empire and the Restoration. If since that period the number has de- 
creased, and undergone constant modifications, the reason must be sought 
for in the variations of the manner of holding elections, and in an order of 
ideas altogether foreign to this sketch. 



Hardly had the edict of tolerance been two years in 
force, when the Constituent Assembly, overthrowing 
the barriers which arrested the coming of liberty, pro- 
claimed the rights of man and the citizen, and gave 
Reformers access to all the offices in the gift of the 

It does not enter into our plan to show how the dis- 
agreement between facts and theories broke out, and 
how great progress was purchased by means of great 
misfortunes. It is ours neither to outline nor to judge 
the French Republic, not even to point out its reaction 
at La Rochelle. But, at all events, it is impossible to 
remain silent in regard to the fact, that the Protestants, 
victims as they were of the outrages of the former 
system of government, hailed with enthusiasm a move- 
ment for redress, applauded the decisions of the Con- 
stituent Assembly, and sustained its action in their city. 1 

1 The summary of complaints of the Third Estate of La Rochelle 
(March 2-4, 1789) expresses the conviction that, in all the colleges, the 
students were ceasing to be indiscriminately subject to the Catholic reli- 
gion, and that, accordingly, Protestant children were no longer obliged to 
go out of the kingdom to seek instruction in conformity with their con- 
sciences, as had been the case with forty-two young men from the city of 
La Rochelle alone. We have before us forty-three letters (1764-1776) 
addressed to M. JeanRansonby the Banneret Samuel Frederic Ostervald, 
a distinguished Hebraic scholar, placed at the head of the College of 
Neufchatel, and of the Typographical Society, who brought up a great 
number of young Rochelais boarding-scholars, between eight and fourteen 
years of age, gave them a liberal education, and brought them to their 
first communion. The Third Estate of La Rochelle claimed also uni- 
versal tolerance, the restitution of the property of those who had become 
fugitives on account of their religion, and the admission of non-Catholic 
French officers into the Order of Military Merit, the cross of which had 
been limited to Protestant foreigners only in the service of France. 


Several of them belonged to the Society of Friends of 
the Constitution ; but all held aloof when the rising 
flood carried away with the outrages the throne itself ; 
all were numbered among the inf antes moderes of 1/93, 
and gloried in it. 

After a highly eloquent discourse, pronounced by Pas- 
tor Rabaud St. Etienne, on the 24th of December, 1789, 
entire liberty of worship was accorded the Protestants ; 
and on the I2th of March, 1790, the Constituent As- 
sembly carried its decree into effect by calling this son 
of a proscribed pastor, and himself a pastor as well, to 
its presidency. 

Thus it is that it pleased God to restore to his people 
their precious liberty of religion and conscience, a lib- 
erty which has since passed into our laws and customs, 
a liberty dearly bought, and henceforth imperishable. 

A little while afterward the tempest of revolution 
made itself felt in the religious world, and the National 
Convention interdicted the exercise of all worship. Piety 
was again reduced to shut itself up in the sanctuary of 
the conscience, and to seek an asylum in the family. 
The registers of the Protestant civil list in our city cease 
with December 25, 1792 Thus, by a just judg- 
ment of Heaven, the National Convention made the 
Roman Church transiently experience the severities 
which the latter had for a long time practised upon the 
Protestants. Et mine, reges, intelligite ; erudimini, qui 
judicatis terram ! 

" The day came when in their turn the Catholics were 
victims of persecution," says M. Anquez. " They, too, 
had marriages in the wilderness, such as other pastors 
had celebrated when under the cross. It was in the 


heart of the woods or the cellars of houses that the 
Catholics, jealous of obtaining a religious consecration 
of their union, received the nuptial blessing ; and the 
priest whom they had summoned exposed himself, as 
did in the preceding century the Reformed minister, to 
the greatest peril in bestowing it upon them"; yet 
without the newly married couple being considered or 
punished as living in concubinage, or their children 
being branded as illegitimate. 

When passion had subsided, and calm was restored, 
reparative measures were considered. A decree of the 
4th Ventose, An II., restored to religious sects the 
liberty of which it had been a grave error to deprive 
them. Definitively sanctioned on the 26th Messidor, 
An IX., this liberty found its regulation in the law of 
the 1 8th Germinal, An X. 

In the following year, the Reformed Church of our city 
acquired its legal organization ; and in 1803 La Rochelle 
became the head-quarters (chef-lieu] of a consistory, the 
jurisdiction of which extended to the arrondissements of 
Rochefort and Marennes. It comprised the churches of 
the Isle of Oleron, Marennes, Luzac, Nieulle, Souhe, La 
Rochelle, Rochefort, and the Isle of Re. The decree of 
the 26th of April, 1853, in regard to Protestant worship, 
modified this arrangement, dividing up the consistory 
district of La Rochelle, which thereafter formed two 
consistories ; viz. that of La Rochelle, with four pastors, 
two at the chef-lieu, one at Rochefort, and one at the 
Isle of Re; and that of Marennes, with three pastors, 
one at the chef-lieu, one at Nieulle, and the other at 

On March 6, 1793, the Rochelais Protestants having 


bought the former church of the Franciscans, a sub- 
scription list, the original of which remains in the Con- 
sistory's archives, was opened to pay the expenses of this 
purchase ; and the premises were consecrated to Re- 
formed worship in 1798. It is known that this church 
was built upon the site of St. Michael Hall, where the 
first services of evangelical religion were held ; so that 
after three centuries of unheard-of outrage and terrible 
vicissitude, the La Rochelle Protestants returned to 
serve God on the very spot where their ancestors had 
worshipped him. 1 

1 It does not concern us to outline the contemporaneous history of the 
Church of La Rochelle ; but it may be of use to recall two memorable 

The Consistory of La Rochelle sent delegates to the General Protes- 
tant Assembly which met at Paris between Sept. 10 and Oct. 7, 1848. This 
assembly, purely auxiliary, numbered ninety delegates, fifty-two of them 
pastors, ministers of the Gospel, or professors of theology, and thirty- 
eight elders. It contented itself with an expression of convictions, pub- 
lishing an address to the faithful, and preparing a new system of organic 
law for the Reformed Church, which the political authorities made use of 
in drawing up the decree of March 26, 1852. The Assembly asked that 
the local church might be reconstituted, and that an ecclesiastical author- 
ity be vested in its own Consistory, which was granted by the decree of 
1852 ; it asked also the appointment of lay members of individual con- 
sistories from among male Protestants of over twenty-five years of age, 
who had lived one year in the parish, qualified by their first communion, 
and recognizing the Bible as the word of God, and the only rule of their 
faith ; also the maintenance of the general consistories, save some modi- 
fications in their mode of election ; and the restoration of individual 
synods and the General Synod. 

"The celebration of the Third Secular Jubilee of the Reformation 
assumed the greatest eclat at La Rochelle. Not for long years past had 
so great a congregation, or one gathered from so wide a territory, repaired 
to the temple On the morning of May 29, 1859, an abundant distri- 
bution of relief was made to the church poor, in conformity with the 
programme decreed by the Council of Presbyters. During the morning 
service, a choir, assembled in the gallery, rendered the Hymn of Jubilee, 
set to an air from Beethoven, with most perfect effect. The anniversary 



To-day Catholics and Protestants live on the best of 
terms in the Rochelais city ; mixed marriages are numer- 
ous, and, notwithstanding the serious inconveniences in- 
volved by these marriages from a stand-point of fervency 
and zeal, the general good understanding is not affected. 
For a long time past the same cemetery has been in use 
by both sects. On a recent occasion, the chief of the 
diocese, having thought it his duty to call for a strict 
execution of the burial law, in such a way as to separate 
after death those who had been united in life, the step 
was generally blamed, and the Catholics, against their 
bishop, advocated principles of tolerance, without the 
Protestants having need to intervene in the discus- 
sion at all. He who writes these lines was profoundly 
touched by it, and is happy to find here an opportunity 
to express his acknowledgments to whom they are due. 

There are some, it is true, who are not inclined to 

of the constitution of the Reformed Church of France had a special 
interest for the La Rochelle Protestants, since it was in their city that the 
Confession of Faith and the Ecclesiastical System of Discipline of 1559 
were signed, twelve years after being drawn up. To sketch without bias 
the position and life of the Reformers of the sixteenth century was the 
aim proposed by M. Delmas in his discourse, and it enabled him to 
acquire the certainty that those eminent servants of God have won a 
lasting distinction by their faith, their sanctity, and their charity. The 
Presbyteral Council asked the printing of this discourse, entitled ' Path- 
ways of Centuries Past.' This imposing solemnity gave birth to the 
' Essay on the Origin and Progress of the Reformation at La Rochelle,' 
by M. L. de Richemond. It is a history rapidly sketched, yet complete, 
from the foundation of the Reformed Church of this city, and the pam- 
phlet is prefaced by a notice of Philip Vincent, one of the most distin- 
guished of La Rochelle's pastors." (Compte Rendu General, published 
by the Jubilee Commission.) 

Two young Rochelais were consecrated to the holy ministry in their 
native city in 1867 and 1869. 


mutual sympathy and kindness : they would again ex- 
cite religious passions, and would gladly stir up intol- 
erance against dissenting sects. But such are in great 
error, and the Saviour tells them, as he did the disciples 
who wished him to bring down fire from heaven upon 
the cities that had refused to receive him, " Ye know 
not what manner of spirit ye are of." Not only do they 
do outrage to the God of the Gospel, who is a God of 
love and peace, but they moreover do not understand 
the gravity of the situation, in presence of the perils 
which are making themselves manifest. 

For we cannot believe in Papal infallibility, and our 
conscience refuses to associate the worship of things 
created with the worship of the living God ; we none 
the less confess Jesus Christ as our Saviour and our 
God ; we wish to live and die in his communion. But, 
in face of the constantly rising flood of impiety and 
materialism, is it wise to give way to rancor against 
scruples which are perfectly sincere, and which have by 
that very fact an inalienable claim upon the respect of 
those who do not share them ? Is it not altogether 
more prudent and Christian-like to forget our mutual 
grievances, in order to unite our efforts against the 
common enemy, and are we not like those Greeks of 
the Lower Empire who bitterly discussed theological 
subtleties while the Turks were at the very gates of 
Constantinople ? 

But the enemy is always at the gates of the Church ; 
he aims his blows, not only against Luther and against 
the Pope, but against Christ himself, seeking to pull him 
down to the level of humanity. It is neither mass nor 
Protestant service that is the subject of dispute in this im- 


pious struggle : it is the Gospel and the cross. Let us re- 
member that among these multitudes who seem to climb 
up from the abyss at the voice of this century's teachers, 
and who, in the vaunted pride of a science falsely so 
called, meditate vain things, and make war on the Eter- 
nal and his anointed, there may be some souls misled, 
whom it is endeavored to persuade that modern criti- 
cism has found a key to the Gospel ; to whom boast is 
made of the Church of the future, bearing in its train 
the terrestrial paradise, and commissioned to realize 
Satan's fallacious promise to our first parents, "Ye shall 
be as gods." Let us oppose a holy resistance to these 
pretended apostles of truth. Let us fight, joining hands 
under the banner of the Divine One crucified. Let us 
fight, not with carnal arms, but with the sword of the 
spirit and with the hammer of the word ; not with 
harshness and arrogance, but with the gentleness and 
humility of Christ. Let us remember that, among all 
these unfortunates who pursue a chimera, there may be 
men of heart as well, scandalized by the sight of our 
religious dissensions and fratricidal quarrels, whom the 
recollection of the stake and the scaffold estranges from 
Christianity more than the force of the arguments of its 
detractors does. Who knows but they might be at- 
tracted by the spectacle of our union, of our cordial 
affection ? Who knows but we might win them to the 
Gospel, by forcing the world to say of us, as of the early 
Christians, " Behold how they love one another " ? 

Let us enter upon this holy warfare, not with the old 
armor of authority, as if we wished to impose upon 
others the doctrines of our Church or our personal 
opinions, but with the ever fresh method of serious and 


impartial investigation. Without doubt, liberty has its 
perils and its anguish ; but, dangerous as it may be, 
despotism is still more so, and the advantages it procures 
outweigh its inconveniences. To it, in fact, pertains a 
solution of the questions which separate us. The Gos- 
pel and Liberty, these are the two agencies by means 
of which shall be solved the problems proposed to this 
generation. They will not be solved by the Gospel 
without Liberty ; they will not be solved by Liberty with- 
out the Gospel ; but they will be by the harmonious co- 
operation of these two forces, the one divine, the other 

Let us not, then, fear Liberty, which is also a gift from 
God, and let us not banish it from our labors and re- 
searches. That would be to mistrust our best friend ; 
it would be to deny our mother, for Christianity is the 
son of Liberty ; and by Liberty it is that the former 
has spread abroad among men. It has furnished to the 
world the most moral of all spectacles, that of the 
powerlessness of force. Not only has it defended in its 
origin liberty of thought, but it has, by its teachings, 
proclaimed it. Tertullian, the most severe of all, the 
least disposed to offer concessions which would com- 
promise any doctrine, said : " It is of right human and 
natural that each one should honor the God in whom he 
believes. One religion should not oppress another ; it 
should cause itself to be accepted voluntarily, and not 
to be 'imposed by constraint." Religious despotism has 
had its day ; and the means it has used I refer to 
punishments and tortures have ever been disavowed 
by the Gospel. Never, no, never have the Holy Scrip- 
tures permitted the use of the iron and of fire, to cause 


by compulsion the acceptance of the religion of Jesus 
Christ ; let such instruments be consigned to darkness, 
never thence to come forth again. " Creeds are de- 
fended by dying in their behalf," exclaims Lactantius, 
" and not by killing others in the name of them. If 
it is thought to strengthen them by bloodshed and tor- 
ture, it is a mistake ; that only tarnishes and dishonors 
them. Nothing should be freer than religion. Nihil est 
tarn voluntarium, quam religio" 

Let us, then, vigorously repel this rude intervention of 
force, claiming to dominate and regulate faith. It almost 
invariably miscarries, for religious despotism is barren, 
or melancholy to those who practise it, while liberty, 
tempered by a sense of duty and humane responsibility, 
is always fruitful of results. Let us henceforth make a 
fortunate trial of it. Let us be children of peace, with- 
out sacrificing our convictions to a love of peace ; but 
let us practise truth by charity, and follow the only 
proselytism worthy of the Master we serve, that of per- 
suasion and a good example, leaving it to God to judge 
the hearts and consciences. In proportion as hate is 
impotent to influence those of a contrary opinion, so is 
love supreme in overcoming their resistance. Let us 
walk in charity then, and we shall behold the glory of 
God. There is the secret of the future, and toward it, 
if they would avoid vegetating and perishing, should 
Christian generations tend. 



No. I. See p. 24. 

THE prayers pronounced by M. David in the Church of 
St. Bartholomew before and after sermon have been pre- 
served by Philippe Vincent, according to the journal of Pacque- 
teau, and published in the Essai sur V Origine et les Progres de 
la Rejormation a La Rochelle Yet, as these invocations present 
a great analogy to those of our actual Liturgy, we have not 
thought it worth while to reproduce them here, preferring to re- 
serve the space for the prayers used in camp and in the 
City Council, in 1568 and 1628. 


[Extract from a collection of Prayers, printed in 1568, by Berton, at La Rochelle.] 
I. Prayers for Soldiers and Pioneers of the Reformed Church. 

General prayer : Our help be in God, etc. My brothers, let 
each one of you appear before the Lord's face with confession of 
his faults. 


2, Prayers of Soldiers placed on Guard at Night. 

Lord God, since it hath pleased Thee to establish us on guard 
this night for the preservation of this place in which are now en- 

1 In translating the Appendix, it has been found advisable to omit sev- 
eral portions of it, which, though possessing much local interest, and an 
important bearing upon the original work as presented to the Protestant 
readers of France, would not prove essential to the translation as pre- 
pared for the American reader. G. L. C. 


closed a great number of thy faithful servants, vouchsafe to grant 
us grace that sleep overtake us not, and that we be brave and con- 
stant in sustaining and bearing patiently for Thy name, and for our 
brethren (for whom as for us Thy Son, Jesus Christ, suffered death), 
all work, and injury from the weather, esteeming ourselves happy, 
since in so doing we shall be keeping with Thee the watch of Israel, 
which never slumbers, and wearies not of doing good to its own ; 
and above all, may we walk upon this guard as before Thee, who 
seest all things, even to the innermost heart, so that in all loyalty 
and fidelity each one of us may discharge his duty toward Thee 
and Thy Church, as well as obey the commands which our captains 
shall give us, according to the authority thou hast given them over 
us. Praying Thee, also, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to give them 
always wisdom and virtue to lead us well, and to command in con- 
formity with Thy will. And in order that we may obtain these 
things, and others like unto them, even as now everything is dis- 
appearing covered by the darkness creeping over Thine earth, 
vouchsafe thus, by Thine infinite mercy, to cover and conceal all 
our faults and iniquities, freely pardoning them in the name and 
favor of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we ask 
Thee all these things, and others which Thou knowest to be ex- 
pedient for the increase of Thy reign, as Himself hath taught us. 

Our Father who art in heaven, etc 

I believe in God, the Father almighty, etc 

The love of our good God and Father, the grace, peace, and 
favor of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the communion of his Holy 
Spirit, rest upon us and all his Church forever. Amen. 

3. Prayer which Soldiers who have been on Guard at Night offer 
in the Morning, being placed on Guard at the Gates and upon 
the Ramparts. 

4. Prayer of Soldiers led to Battle. 

O God of armies ! since it now pleaseth Thee to employ us 
against Thine enemies and our own, vouchsafe by Thy power to 
take away their courage and strength to fight, and to drive them 
before us : or indeed, should it please Thee at this time to make 
use of us to cause them to feel Thy wrath, be pleased, O Lord, to 
aid us by Thy valor; for of ourselves we can do nothing ; but being 


by Thee led and strengthened, we shall shock and discomfort them 
boldly, for which Thine shall be the glory forever. Strengthen us 
then, our good God and Father, as well in heart as in body, so that 
there be not one of us who shall not do his duty well. But if in so 
doing it may please Thee to remove any one of us from this life, 
vouchsafe to him, according to Thy holy promises, to be gathered 
into life eternal ; and inasmuch as our sins might exclude us from 
this favor, hold Thou fast to us. May it please Thee to pardon 
them all in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, our only Saviour and 
Redeemer, through whom we ask for all these things, and others 
which Thou knowest to be necessary for the increase of Thy reign, 
as Himself hath taught us. 

Our Father who art in heaven, etc. 1 

1 The following metrical translation of this prayer was prepared for 
and published in the New York Tribune (semi-weekly) of Feb. 28, 1879, 
by the translator of this work : 

O God of armies ! since it now doth please 
Thy will to lead us 'gainst Thine enemies, 

And ours, vouchsafe Thy might 
To take away their courage and their strength 
In battle, and before us, Lord, at length 

To put them all to flight. 

Or, should it please Thee in that trying hour 

To make them, through us, know Thy fury's power, 

Be pleased, O Lord, to aid 
Us by Thy mighty valor. It is true, 
We, of ourselves alone, can nothing do ; 

But being by Thee stayed, 

And led to combat, we shall bravely smite 

And rout them ; and for that, Thou shalt, of right, 

Fore'er be praised. Imbue 
Us, God and Father, with such courage, then, 
In heart and hand, that all of us like men 

To Thee our duty do. 

And if to call us hence it please Thee, Lord, 
Vouchsafe according to Thy Holy Word 
To gather us at last 


5. Prayer for Christian Soldiers who have gained a Victory. 

* # * * * 

6. Prayer for Christian Soldiers who have been overcome. 

* * * * * 

7. Prayers for those at work on the Fortifications. 


* * * * # 


* * * * * 

8. Prayers made in 1627 before and after the Sessions of the Council, 
as taken from the Register of the Deliberations of the Corps de 
Ville of La Rochelle, preserved in the Library. 

Prayer at the Opening of the Council. 

Eternal and All-powerful God, we beseech Thee that it may 
please Thee to have grace and mercy upon us, in the name and by 
the favor of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and to preside in our 
midst by Thy Holy Spirit, and by the same to guide and conduct us 
in all things for which we are here assembled (not without Thy 
divine providence), for the government and conduct ot this city, 
giving us the spirit of wisdom to depend entirely upon Thy divine 
will and prudence, to deliberate and decide upon everything to 

Into the Life Eternal ; and although 
Our sins might justly cause us to forego 
This favor, hold us fast. 

Be pleased those sins to pardon in the name 
Of Jesus Christ, Thy blessed Son, who came 

To pardon and to save : 

In whom we pray for this, and all things fraught 
With increase for Thy kingdom, as He taught 

Us in the prayer He gave. 

Our Father who art in heaven, etc. 


Thy honor and glory, to the welfare and preservation both of our- 
selves and of all the citizens of this city, through Jesus Christ, Thy 
Son, our Lord. Amen. 

Return of Thanks after the Council. 

Lord God, who dost enlarge and distribute blessings to men to 
the end that they may recognize and praise Thee therefor, we ren- 
der Thee thanks for all that it hath pleased Thee to have us do at 
this meeting, and that Thou alone art almighty to accomplish and 
perfect all that it pleaseth Thee ; we ask Thee most humbly that it 
may be Thy good pleasure to bestow upon us the desire and the 
power to effect all that has been resolved upon and decreed, each 
one according to his vocation and office, faithfully, constantly, and 
diligently, to Thy glory, to the welfare and repose of all those of 
this city, and our salvation through Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

(Register of the clerk of the Council, held in the town alder- 
manic building of La Rochelle, at sound of the bell, in the accus- 
tomed manner, by Messieurs the Mayor, Aldermen, Counsellors, 
and Peers of said city, under the mayoralty of Jean Godeffroy, 
Esquire, Sieur du Richard, alderman of said city. April 17, 1627, 
to May 4, 1628.) 

(Library of La Rochelle?) 



No. II. See p. 102. 



Remonstrance made to the King of Navarre by the Deputies of the 
General Assembly of Reformed Churches of this Kingdom, con- 
voked at La Rochelle^ to 'which His Majesty responded with 
many evidences of piety. Signed : HENRY. 

To the King of Navarre. 


SIRE, All the ministers of God who are at present in this city, 
together with the elders, feeling that the state and condition of 
affairs may soon summon your Majesty elsewhere, as all expect and 
think very necessary, have desired not to fail to remind him, by this 
very humble remonstrance, of the matters of which, as they have 
occurred, they have already oftentimes warned him, at the same 
time declaring to him what, according to the Word of God, they 
recognize as necessary, as hereinafter stated, to the end that God, 
changing justice into mercy, may bring this war to a happy'issue, 
and such a one as all good people desire ; and we do so the more 
boldly, inasmuch as your Majesty has declared to us heretofore the 
desire he has to be informed of matters which may tend to the 
welfare and establishment of our churches. 


The said lord the king has and always will have great pleasure 
in the servants of God, showing him what they see to be for the 
good of His pure service, and of the charge to which it hath 
pleased God to call them. 


In the first place, Sire, we recognize the fact of how greatly for 
two years past, since the present troubles began, we have been and 
are exercised by many afflictions 


. . . From which he feels encouraged more and more to devote 
his life to His service ; he conceives a certain hope of seeing His 


churches restored in our time by God's own grace, and he begs 
them with all his heart to pray to God for him : that he may be 
made to grow and progress daily in his resolve which he has made 
to spare no pains for the advancement of so holy a work. 

(The document has been folded, and broken upon the crease of 
the fold by its age, and a half of it has not been recovered.) 


And as we now enter upon our most important business, and as 
this circumstance admonishes us to look more carefully than ever 
to the regulation and reform of all our actions, to the end that the 
purity of our lives may be in keeping with the equity of our cause, 
we beseech you, very humbly, Sire, and exhort you, in the name of 
Him who has placed his word in our mouths, and who is the just 
Judge, not only of the lesser, but also of the greatest kings and 
princes of the world, that, following our previous remonstrances, 
which have been often reiterated, you reform not only your person 
and home, but also all the troops who follow you, purging them of 
blasphemy, gambling, wantonness, violations, larcenies, peculations, 
and other such vices, to which the license of arms has given birth 
among our soldiery, to our own very great regret ; and we pray 
God that in his infinite mercy he will not impute to us, nor to his 
churches, such and so great dissoluteness 


But especially does the said lord king desire that God be 
served, His name invoked, and His word preached in his army, to 
instruct and keep each one in his duty ; and to this end he prays 
the ministers at La Rochelle assembled to designate from the pres- 
ent writing a certain number of ministers to follow the troops, to 
whom he will cause to be rendered the honor and respect due their 
office, and to be provided carefully all they may need. 


We beseech also very humbly of your Majesty to bring about as 
far as possible the advancement of God's glory in this kingdom, by 
the establishment of preaching of the Gospel in all places where 
God shall give you the means of so doing. And inasmuch, Sire, 
as the great gentleness you have displayed heretofore toward the 
Roman ecclesiastics has only increased their bitterness, and their 
very great ill-will against the party, being notoriously leagued 


against the peace and stability of this kingdom, contributing usually 
for the payment of our enemies, and being the principal agents and 
solicitors of the act of excommunication which the Pope has 
caused to be published against your Majesty, for this cause we 
beseech you very humbly to recognize them as your enemies, 
so that they may henceforth be unable to derive aid from that 
which .... 



The said lord king will hold naught in so great esteem, whether 
in time of war or peace, as the re-establishment of God's service, 
and its growth in all possible ways ; and this he hopes to show by 
good purposes. And as to the Roman ecclesiastics, the said lord 
king knows very well the bad offices he has received from most of 
them, and has no doubt that their evil disposition, when oppor- 
tunity may offer, will produce very bad effects. But as for the 
express declaration asked for, that being a matter involving con- 
sequences for the party in general, and consequently deserving to 
be decided upon by the advice of all the provinces, he feels assured 
that the petitioners find it reasonable that he make no innovation 
without having heard the opinion of all, receiving their own, mean- 
while, in good part, as coming from a genuine zeal and affection 
on their part for God's glory, and the preservation of those places 
where He is served. 

Notwithstanding, he will recommend to the governors of those 
places to have a watchful eye upon the deportment of said eccle- 
siastics ; and where they shall see them undertaking and plotting 
anything to the public injury and peril, to chastise them severely 
according to the requirements of the case, and in proportion as 
they shall have forfeited the protection and safeguard under which 
they shall have been received and maintained. His said Majesty 
will also ordain that the safeguards which by them shall have been 
infringed shall be revoked ; and for this purpose writing shall be 
sent to all generals and governors of provinces and places, to duly 
inform themselves concerning these, and to send information on 
the subject as soon as possible to the said lord king, with a list 
of those who may have abused their privileges. And in this way 
the matter will only be hastened with careful deliberation and due 
knowledge of cause. 


(Address 7 and its reply are wanting, as are also replies to Ad- 
dresses 8 and 9, in which his Majesty was requested to render no 
decision in regard to the Reformed Churches without consulting 
the deputies approved by the common consent thereof, and await- 
ing the notables delegated by the Church of La Rochelle, " from 
this time forth to assist in the deliberations and business there held 
concerning the churches.") 


Not having been informed of the reasons which have served to 
induce your Majesty to become associated with certain lords of 
this kingdom, making profession of the Roman religion, without at 
present entering into further remarks upon the subject, we pray 
your Majesty very humbly that it may please him to see to it that 
in future such associations cause no prejudice to the churches, and 
to remedy it, in case any inconveniences have already been caused 
by it, including alike all our churches, as well on this as on the 
other side of the Loire, notably those of Upper and Lower Lan- 
guedoc, inasmuch as equally and with the same affection and 
obedience they have all recognized and do recognize you as their 

REPLY 10. 

As to the associations into which the said lord king has entered 
with some Catholic lords, he has not done so without the express ad- 
vice of the principal churches and those which were principally inter- 
ested therein, and he begs them to believe that in this, as in every- 
thing else, he has had no other object than the common preservation 
and defence against the efforts of the opposing party. Well may 
he assure them that, God helping, he will bring to bear in such 
matters such caution, even in remembrance of the present remon- 
strance, that no inconvenience shall therefrom result to God's ser- 
vice or to the churches' welfare. 




And in conclusion, the said lord king thanks the assembly of 
ministers for the attention it has shown him, begs them to con- 
tinue on ever more and more, and assures them that his ears will 


always be open to them, whenever they shall have occasion to 
address him in anything that concerns God's service, the churches' 
welfare, and the duties of his office : and here he especially desires 
to be remembered in their prayers, public as well as private, that 
it may please God to strengthen his hands and his courage, and to 
bless his arms and his labors, for His glory and the repose of his 
poor people. Amen. 
(No date.) 

Original signed by the hand of HENRY, 

And, lower down, DE LOMENIE (with a flourish). 

{Archives of Dublin) 


To our dear and well-beloved, the Mayors, Aldermen, and Peers of 
our City of La Roche lie. 

It is still with a firm resolve to maintain the edicts of pacifica- 
tion heretofore made, without suffering, by reason of religion, your 
consciences to be forced, of which we beg you to rest well assured, 
and not to displease us by showing any indication of distrust, 
which would be so annoying to us, as we feel there is nothing so 
far from our intentions ; the which, while it will change nothing in 
regard to the bearing of said edicts, will also cause little difference 
in the affection we have always borne you, having every occasion, 
in the good services and assistance always afforded us, to love and 
gratify you, and to preserve you from all oppression and injury ; 
which we shall always do, as far as lies in our power, as we shall 
justify it by our conduct, which will be seen to be principally 
directed to maintaining all our good subjects in good peace and 
repose ; in which we hope God will give us grace to succeed, as it 
is that which we must ask of his Divine goodness, and the prin- 
cipal object and ground of all our labors. 

Given at Saint-Denis in France, Sunday, July 25, 1593. 



No. III. See Page 64. 

IF the massacre of priests precipitated from the height of the 
Tour de la Lanterne, together with a bailiff and an attorney of the 
Presidial Court, was indeed a fact, it was only to be deplored and 
turned from in horror. 

Even had it been done as a reprisal against the cruelties which 
the Catholics had made the Protestants suffer, it would have been 
none the less to be condemned, for it is not permissible for Chris- 
tians to take revenge, nor to return any one evil for evil. But does 
the fact partake of the nature of certainty ? It may be doubted, 
and here are the reasons which give rise to doubt in our mind. 

i st. In the first place, Amos Barbot, the Protestant historian, 
estimable as he is, cannot inspire unlimited confidence, for Arcere 
himself, who borrows many facts from him, says, "that he occa- 
sionally allows to slip into his recital particular occurrences which 
he has drawn from the archives, and some facts which he has taken 
from Nicole Gilles and Belleforest." But this tendency to weave 
in events borrowed from others ought to make him reticent in that 
regard, especially when he is the first to attest facts which hap- 
pened a long time ago ; for the events to which they relate date 
back to 1568, while his annals were written subsequent to the year 
1613. As to the other historians who have reproduced them, they 
were still further removed from them : they wrote under the inspi- 
ration of a celebrated society, which did not scruple to alter his- 
torical documents, and they do not agree with each other either as 
to the number of victims, or as to the date of the event itself, for 
the anonymous author of the pamphlet entitled L? Entree de la Re- 
ligion Prttendue Reformee dans La Rochelle, ecrite par les Habi- 
tants presents, an abstract by P. S., dedicated to the Marquis of 
Molac, and printed by Toussaint de Govy, printer and bookseller 
of the Jesuits in 1645, puts this fact under date of 1562. So that 
there is less guaranty from this quarter than in the annals of 

2d. Furthermore, is it not strange that Philippe Vincent, who 
made inquiry in 1635 into the facts relative to the establishment of 
the Reformation at La Rochelle, should not have said a word of 
this tragic event in his work printed at that period ? Had the fact 
been known and credited when he wrote his Recherches sur les 


Commencements et les Progrls de la Reforme in our city, he would 
not have failed to report it, whether by calling up extenuating cir- 
cumstances, or by inflicting severe blame for it, as he did in regard 
to the images broken in 1562. Does not the silence of such a man 
as Philippe Vincent, who on other occasions avows the errors of 
his fellow-Protestants, weaken the story attributed to Amos Barbot, 
and the more so when the lawyer La Haize, charged with justifying 
the acts of Pontard's administration, makes no mention of this, 
which would not have failed to be thrown up against him by his 
adversaries ? 

3d. Let us remark, then, that the royal government, in making, 
shortly after that, the peace of Longjumeau, does not stipulate the 
least penalty for the authors of this crime, the victims of which 
were priests, and that the name of none of these unfortunates has 
reached us. Unless we admit the singular explanation of this 
silence given by the priest Gaufreteau, cure' of Libourne, to wit, 
that in the fear of glorifying bad priests, who were very numerous 
at that period, the names of the martyrs were suppressed. When, 
in a moment of revolution and popular effervescence, any crime 
has been committed against Protestant ministers, prosecutions are 
instituted against the authors as soon as calm is restored and 
authority has regained its sway. Witness the judicial prosecu- 
tions against the authors of the massacre of priests in 1793. If the 
chiefs of a conspiracy are spared, some subaltern at least is seized 
upon to save the honor of principles. But in this case we find 
neither prosecutions nor punishment, although the authors must 
have been known, and the tribunals would not have been slow in 
discharging their duty. Could it have been because the acts that 
were later conjured up had not the importance attributed to them, 
or were they imaginary ? 

In any case, if the massacre took place, it did not possess the 
character of that religious fanaticism charged against it, and it had 
as much to do with politics as it had with religion, or more, since 
there were laymen among the victims. 

In short, if certain indications seem to establish the truth of 
facts we are discussing, others arise to diminish the certainty of 
them. Numerous circumstances indicate that they are improbable ; 
serious doubts arise in the mind of the impartial reader, and they 
must be ranked among events the mystery of which history has 
not yet penetrated. 


No. IV. Seep. 175. 


MR. A. JAL has taken from the archives of the Ministry of Ma- 
rine, and published in his Dictionnaire critique de Biographie et 
d'Histoire, the following curious dispatches, which show the sit- 
uation created by the King for all marine officials professing the 
Reformed religion. 

April 14, 1680. 

His Majesty commands me to say to you that he has resolved 
little by little to weed out from the Marine Corps all members of 
the R. P. R., beginning with the commissioners. He will give 
orders for the removal of those of that religion who remain. 

With regard to clerks, he desires you to inform me if there is 
any Huguenot among them, in your port, and that (if so) you cease 
to employ him as soon as you shall have received this letter. 

With regard to officers, his Majesty has resolved to send to 
your port, through the means of the Bishop of La Rochelle, a 
skilful and capable ecclesiastic to instruct those who may desire 
to put themselves in the way of acknowledging the errors in which 
they are engaged, and you may, on this ecclesiastic's arrival, 
make known very quietly to those of said officers who are Protes- 
tants, that his Majesty desires still to bear with them for some 
time, in order to see if they wish to avail themselves of the assist- 
ance that he is willing to give them, in order to instruct them in 
the Catholic religion ; but that after that it is his intention not to 
employ their services if they continue in their error. 

Do not fail to send us an accurate list of all officers of the Ma- 
rine belonging to the R. P. R. who are in the department of Roche- 


(Archives de la Marine. Dtpeches, 1680.) 

May 19, 1680. 

If any of them (Protestant officers), through stubbornness, refuse 
to profit by this grace, and to attend the meetings held for this pur- 
pose, the Intendant has an order to inform his Majesty of it, and 
upon them it will be that he will commence the execution of that 


which he has made known to them, and of their removal from the 
Marine service. He (the Intendant) is not to fail to render count 
of what transpires on this subject, and to make known chiefly 
whether Sir Forant l attends these meetings. 

June u, 1680. 

His Majesty would like the Intendant to make known to the 
public that he will have employment given to those who abjure their 
heresy, provided they are gentlemen. 

His Majesty desires, also, that Sieur de Seuil (the Intendant at 
Brest) inform him particularly whether Catholic prayers, mass, and 
the other exercises of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, 
are held publicly and m a loud voice upon the quarter-deck, on the 
days and hours when they should be, and whether the Protestant 
captains offer any hindrance ; and let it also be stated in what 
manner the prayers of the Pretended Reformers are said, whether 
they withdraw to the forward part of the ship, and between the 
two decks, and whether they take care to say them in a low voice, 

and without being heard. 


We shall complete these documents by the reproduction of 
an unedited dispatch from Seignelay, the Minister of Marine, to 

Intendant Begon. 

VERSAILLES, October 8, 1686. 

His Majesty has been greatly relieved to learn that there were no 
more than fifty convicts of the R. P. R. in the galleys. He recom- 
mends you to labor continually for their conversion, and to that 
end to avail yourself of every means you may judge proper to put 
in use in order to succeed therein the more easily 

You will find hereto annexed his Majesty's orders for the setting 
at liberty of forty-six convicts, as you proposed. 

October 16, 1686. 

The man named Ougier, whom you have ordered released from 
the chain, is a new convert from the place called Besse, and his 
liberty has been granted him upon Cardinal Le Camus's assurance 
that he has made abjuration, and that his conversion seemed sin- 
cere. (C, 154.) 

1 Sir Forant, a chief of squadron, born at La Tremblade, son and 
grandson of Protestant sailors who had honorably figured in the wars of 
La Rochelle. (See Marins Rochelais, Notes Biographiques, by Mr. L. de 


No. V. 


NOTWITHSTANDING the prohibition against their leaving France, 
stubborn Protestants were driven from their country. 

The following is an extract from a letter of the Minister of 
the King's household, B. Phelippeaux, Marquis of Chateauneuf, 
to the Bishop of La Rochelle, Henri-Marie de Laval de Bois- 

SIR, I have spoken to his Majesty, in accordance with your 
commands, in order that the young lady D'Assais may be removed 
from the Ursuline Convent of La Rochelle, and taken to that of 
Pyberlan, and by every consideration that you had thought possible 
to bring to bear upon the subject ; but, as M. de Chastelaillon has 
two daughters there, and as the said young lady is his niece, his 
Majesty has desired to ascertain from him whether he would not 
be sorry to have his said niece go into that convent, and whether 
he does not apprehend that it may turn them away from their duty ; 
together with his Majesty's opinion on this subject, which I write 
him in order to have his reply thereto : " In regard to the De la 
Forest young ladies, who are in the communities of Fontenay and 
La Fougereuse, you will take pains to inform me whether your 
advice would not be to send them out of the kingdom, since they 
have remained up to the present time obstinately resolved not to 
abjure the R. P. R. ; but at the same time it will be proper that 
you find it agreeable to apprise me whether they have a father and 
mother, and any property." 

As regards the De Tole young ladies, they were only permitted 
to leave the religious houses where they were, upon information 
that the Intendant (Michel Begon) had received news that they 
had made abjuration, and given proof of genuine conversion. If 
you have had any advice to the contrary, it will be very proper 
for you to talk with him about it. 

I am always, sir, your very humble and very affectionate servant, 


At Marly, April 26, 1690. 

(Archives Deparlementales, Series C.) 


No. VI. 


ON the 1 8th of August, 1698, there appeared a pastoral letter 
addressed to the faithful of the provinces of Saintonge and Aunis, 
by their fellow-Protestants, and having for its object the encourage- 
ment of the latter, after the style of the early pastoral letters, 
credited to the celebrated Jurieu. In this anonymous writing, 
bearing no name of place or printer, on account of the severity of 
the times, congratulations are extended to the Protestants re- 
maining in France, and to pretended new converts, upon their 
refusal to go to mass, and they are warmly urged to persist in 
their faith. 

The following are the passages in this letter which appear most 
significant in an historical point of view : 

" We say, brethren, for your consolation, that your faith did not 
fail you ; it was the fire hidden under the cinders ; it was an eclipse 
that passed over you ; it was a swoon ; and thus I would compare 
you to trees ; I would say that the persecution you had suffered 
was like a rude winter which had stripped you of your leaves, your 
flowers, and your fruits, without, however, taking away your life. 
Charity induces us to believe this, and the result confirms it. We 
learn they are consigning some of you to the islands, some to the 
chateaux ; that others are being cast into prisons and cloisters : 
we learn they are separating husbands from their wives, that they 
are taking away children from their fathers, and that when the 
latter do not wish to send them to be catechised by the priests, 
they are condemned to continual fines ; and that thus you are pil- 
laged and sacked. All this, brethren, should neither surprise nor 
discourage you. The salamander lives in the flames, the trust of 
the faithful grows strong and bright in persecution. Your children, 
tender plants whom we look upon as the seed of the Church of 
France, cause us real anxiety. For, whether you have forgotten 
the advice given you a few years ago on this subject, by the illus- 
trious author of the former pastoral letters, to prevent their attend- 
ing the curd's catechisings, whether there be some among you who, 
in order to protect themselves from fines, have sacrificed these little 
creatures, or whether force takes them from you, in either case, 


we can only feel extremely afflicted. While awaiting the time 
when God may open to you the means of serving him publicly, 
openly, and without fear, follow the counsel of the illustrious author 
whom I have already more than once cited. Do not relinquish 
your mutual meetings; read there God's word, read the sermons 
and prayers which a pious author (M. le Page) has just composed 
for your consolation ; you will find therein an earnestness which 
will spread to your very marrows. Read and pray. Pray God to 
touch the heart of your King. After the confession you have just 
made in such a Christian-like way, and which God put into your 
hearts, after that you, our very dear brethren of La Rochelle, 
Marennes, La Tremblade, Arvert, and elsewhere, have made your 
declaration so boldly to the Intendant, when he asked you if you 
did not wish to attend mass, and answered him with one voice, 
* No,' after this avowal, I say, there is no more wavering. You 
must from day to day increase your courage, resolve to die, meet, 
pray to God, and edify each other. This is the way to impart 
courage to those who are still hesitating, to help them rise up with 
you, and all together to astonish your persecutors, and finally put a 
stop to their acts of violence. Ah, may it please God to diffuse a 
generous and Christian spirit at this time throughout the entire 
kingdom ! What a salutary effect would it produce ! I am per- 
suaded of it ; for our persecutors, perceiving that their redoubled 
torments during the twelve years since the dragoon mission began 
have been unable to bring about their design, which was the de- 
struction of our holy religion, would relent in their passion. I do 
not know, my brethren, whether, in your situation, or in the condi- 
tion of affairs, I ought to advise you to remain where you are, or 
to exhort you to go out from Babylon ; but I do know well that it 
is my duty to encourage you to hold fast in the faith. Take care 
that none rob you of your crown, and be faithful to God and to 
his Christ, even unto death. Study all, as many as there are of 
you, study your salvation in fear and trembling. Let those who 
feel strength, and who feel in their hearts that God moves them by 
his Spirit even to a resistance against temptation, remain to sustain 
those who are feeble, and to convert those who are astray, but let 
them do it by force of their good precepts, and by the sanctity of a 
pure and irreproachable life." 


No. VII. See p. 229. 

The Robillard Family leaves La Rochelle to go abroad and seek a 
free Exercise of the Religion it professes. (1687.) 

The Bulletin de la Societe de FHistoire du Protestantisme, pub- 
lished in 1865 the story of the departure from France of the Ro- 
billard family in 1687, they having embarked on an English ship to 
go into foreign lands to seek liberty of conscience, and the exercise 
of our holy religion. 

" At two o'clock in the night (April 27th), four sailors came 
ashore at low tide, took us on their shoulders, I with my little 
sister in my arms being placed on the head of one of them ; so they 
carried us to the ship, and made us enter the hiding-place they had 
prepared, the opening to which was so small that there was a man 
inside to pull us through. After we had been put there, and were 
seated on the salt, being able to assume no other posture, the trap- 
door was closed, and tarred over like the rest of the vessel, so that 
nothing of it could be seen. The place was so low that our heads 
touched the planks above ; we took care to hold our heads under 
the beams, so that when the visitors, according to their fine custom, 
should stick their swords through, they would not pierce our skulls. 
As soon as we had embarked sail was set, and the King's officers 
came to make their visit. We had the good fortune not to be 
found or discovered, even on a second and a third search. The 
wind, which was favorable, bore us, by eleven or twelve o'clock in 
the morning, out of sight of all the enemies of truth. It was time, 
for we were choking in that hole, and thought we were going to 
give up the ghost there. They gave us air, and, some hours later, 
we came out more dead than alive." 

This very explicit recital then exposes with numerous details all 
the vicissitudes of the voyage, the bad faith of the English captain, 
who landed the refugees at Falcombe, instead of taking them to 
Exeter, their arrival in that city, where they were received by a 
French minister, M. Sauxay, formerly pastor at Tonnay-Boutonne, 
and by M. de Saint-Surin, and where they were successively re- 
joined by other members of their family. The author of this nar- 
ration, Suzanne de Robillard, was the mother of the famous General 
de la Motte-Fouque. 


Vicissitudes of the Journey of the Misses Raboteau > Fugitives from 
La Rochelle on account of their Religion. 

The Ttmoin de la Verite of January 8, 1863, published from an 
English sheet, " Sunday at Home," the interesting story we are 
about to tell, and the remembrance of which has been transmitted 
from generation to generation in the maternal family of the narrator. 

La Rochelle having become the asylum for Protestant refugees, 
the Raboteau family sought refuge there in the hour of peril, and 
became the owners of the Pont-Gibaud premises, a long time 
before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes ; but at the com- 
mencement of the eighteenth century this place of refuge had 
itself to be abandoned by many; among others by the chief of 
the Raboteau family, with his young wife. Flight had become an 
imperious necessity, since they were obliged to resolve upon it at 
the time when Madame Raboteau was on the point of becoming a 
mother for the first time. Providence conducted the fugitives to 
Ireland. M. Raboteau, having some relations with the French 
refugees who had settled in Dublin, according to their advice and 
encouragement, decided to join the little French church which had 
been formed in that city. His wife and he accordingly set out from 
La Rochelle, for Ireland, carrying with them their money, their 
jewels, and their most needed articles of clothing. But Madame 
Raboteau's confinement was hastened by the anxiety and fatigue of 
travel: it took place in a hotel about fifty miles south of Dublin. 

M. Raboteau founded at Dublin a banking-house which became 
prosperous. He established his two daughters in an honorable fam- 
ily of Sligo, and his son, on attaining his majority, devoted himself 
to the wine trade, and entered into business relations with the pro- 
prietors of French vineyards. He made several voyages to La 
Rochelle, and was put in communication with the old friends and 
relatives of his father, who lived at Pont-Gibaud : he thus became 
the adviser and dependence of his two cousins, who had confidence 
in his living faith, in his prudence and firmness, and he was, in 
fact, able to render them effective aid. The Misses Raboteau, 
young, wealthy, and amiable, had been sought in marriage by two 
Roman Catholics, whom their guardian favored. The latter urged 
his wards to yield to his advice by marrying the two young men, 
threatening, in case of refusal, to have them shut up in a convent, 
according to the cruel custom of that time. The two sisters laid 
their troubles before the Lord, with a firm trust that he would, in 


one way or another, deliver them. Jean Raboteau advised his 
cousins to prepare secretly for flight, which was, he thought, their 
only means of safety. A lady of La Rochelle, a widow and ad- 
vanced in years, whose faith and charity had been tested, entered 
cordially into Jean's plan, and offered to conceal and protect the 
two sisters until M. Raboteau's ship was ready to leave for Ireland. 
The eve of the marriage arrived. It was one of those days of 
stifling heat that sometimes occur in summer-time. The horses, 
hardly able to withstand the temperature of the stables, were tied 
under the walnut-trees to pass the night there ; the preparations 
for the next day's festival had filled the house with a joyous be- 
wilderment. The young girls retired early to their rooms to watch 
and pray. When everybody was asleep, a little after midnight, 
they passed out, carrying a small quantity of clothing, in which 
they had concealed their jewelry. Their cavalier awaited them not 
far off, with two horses : upon one he caused one of his relatives 
to mount, he placing himself on the other horse with his cousin on 
the croup behind him. They traversed in silence the short dis- 
tance separating them from La Rochelle. As soon as Jean had 
confided his cousins to the widow's hands, he promptly returned to 
Pont-Gibaud, re-fastened the horses at the spot whence he had 
taken them, and withdrew to his room. Next day there was a 
great flutter in the house ; but the guardian's searchings of course 
proved fruitless. The disappointed fiances joined with their fami- 
lies in going to complain to the authorities and invoke their aid ; 
but the fugitives had not been received on board of any of the 
ships in port, including Jean's. The moment for sailing arrived. 
The question was to transfer his cousins from the widow's house on 
board the ship : to effect that, Jean had them placed in two great 
cases of apples, which were put on board without arousing sus- 
picion. Once at sea, the prisoners were set at liberty. By God's 
blessing the voyage was fortunate, and all arrived safe and sound, 
at Dublin. The two sisters joined the French Refugees' Church, 
and shortly afterward entered, by marriage, the pious families of 
Barre and Chaigneau, who were acquaintances of the Raboteaus. 
One married Colonel Barrd (Isaac), who was afterward a distin- 
guished member of the House of Commons, and the other, M. 
Chaigneau. Jean-Charles Raboteau himself married, a short time 
after, the daughter of an Irish ecclesiastic named Thornton, rector 
of Tully, in County Kildare. Most clearly the Lord's blessing 
rested on this family, and on the little French colony. 


No. VIII. 



The inhabitants of the R. P. R. of my city of La Rochelle 
having made me earnest entreaty to be admitted, as my other 
subjects are, into the arts and trades, of which there is a master- 
ship in the said city, and that, besides, they may be chosen without 
distinction to exercise the charges of police commissioners, parish 
syndics, or judges of the Merchants' Exchange, as likewise that 
they may be admitted to the offices of assayers and collectors of 
taxes, as is done throughout the whole extent of my kingdom, 
and desiring in all things to treat them as favorably as it shall be 
possible for me to do, I have wished to address you this letter, by 
advice of the Queen Regent, madame, my mother, to direct you 
to inform me very particularly of the effect of this affair, and 
thereupon to give me an opinion, and in what way it has been 
going in the past, so that, then, I may attend to it, if I shall see it 
to be proper, as well for the good of my service as for the satis- 
faction of my subjects of the said religion. However, my intention 
is that the said inhabitants shall enjoy the benefit of my edicts, and 
particularly that which was accorded them by that of Nantes, to 
which you will hold fast, with a reservation, nevertheless, and 
exception of those things of which they have been deprived by my 
declaration made at the time of the reduction of the said city of 
La Rochelle to my sway, the which declaration I wish and intend 
to have exactly kept and observed according to its form and tenor. 

Upon which I pray God to have you, M. d'Argenson, in His 
holy keeping. 

Written at Paris the iQth day of March, 1645. 

[Signed:] Louis. 

[And lower down :] PHELYPEAUX. 

Indorsed : " To Monsieur d'Argenson, Councillor in my Council 
of State, and Intendant of Justice, Police, and Finances in Poitou, 
Saintonge, and the city and government of La Rochelle." 

Verified from the original, by me, a Councillor, and Secretary of 
the King and of Finances. CATELAN. 



TORY TO M. DE ROZEMONT, December 7, 1681. 

You have learned from our previous letters that the same vex- 
ations are still kept up here ; that they do not cease taking as a 
prisoner every citizen of Poitou they find, and that they distress all 
Protestants in the country districts by exorbitant service-taxes, far 
exceeding in amount the property of many of the poor people. We 
make haste as fast as we can to send you proofs and certificates as 
records of all this. Finally, here we are arrived at the acme of our 
misery, and threatened with having here at an early day some sol- 
diery {gens de guerre) to live here as soldiery, and the pretext ad- 
vanced for it is, they say, that we favor the escape of the king's 
subjects into foreign lands. That is to say, to speak properly, 
that it is because some of our inhabitants have not been inhuman 
enough to allow some poor families, driven from their homes and 
property, by treatment hitherto unexampled among Christians, to 
sleep out of doors, and die of hunger, while being subjects of the 
same king and of the same state. God wills it thus ; His name 
be blessed ! Amen. We pray him to vouchsafe us grace to bear 
patiently the chastisements he is visiting upon us, and make them 
serve for our correction and the amendment of our lives. 

(Dublin Archives.') 

From La Rochelle, October 24, 1681. 

They detained yesterday an English ship about to set sail, and 
on board of which there were .... persons, men and children ^of 
our religion who were withdrawing to England, being no longer 
able to subsist in the country where they have been ruined, and 
from which they were going forth to escape the persecutions in- 
flicted upon them in their persons and property. Such distress 
was never seen, for these poor folks were obliged to leave the 
ship without knowing what was to happen, this last misfortune 
having taken away what little property was left, and which they 
had put in shape to carry away with them : so that there they were 
exposed to nakedness and starvation, had not God taken pity on 
them. Among these persons were some from this city, who, hav- 
ing been sentenced to close their shops, and no longer having 
means of living or sustaining their families by their trade, which 
was all in the world they had to depend upon, were thus going 
away elsewhere to save their miserable lives. They were accord- 
ingly arrested, and some of them thrown into prison. 


No. IX. 


Prepared from the list published in "La RocheUe Protestante? verified and com- 
pleted by the aid of tlte registers of baptisms, marriages^ and deaths^ and other 
authentic documents. 

1. 1555. Philibert Hamelin. 

2. 1557. Charles de Clermont, called La Fontaine. 

3. 1557. Jean de la Place. 

4. 1557. Pierre Richer, called De Lisle (died at La Rochelle, 

March 8, 1580). 

5. November, 1558. Ambroise Faget. 
6. 1559. Enisle". 

7. 1559. Nicolas Folion, called De la Valle'e. 
8. 1561. De Lespine {alias L'Espina). 
9. 1562. Andre* de Mazieres, Sieur de la Place, was deposed, 
says De Thou, and died in 1597. 

10. 1562. Charles Ldopard. 

11. February, 1564. Nod (alias Noel) Magnen. 

12. 1564. Odet de Nort. 

13. 1568. Bernard Boaste. 

14. 1569* Nicole Garnier. 

15. 1572. Jacques Boucquet. 

16. 1572. Dubreil. 

17. May, 1573. Jean Malavaud. 

18. August, 1573. Gilles Ragueneau. 

19. 1574. Guillaume Prevost. 

20. Dec. i, 1574. N. Gorrd, called Daniel (Daniel Gorrd, or 

N. G. Daniel, or N. G. called Daniel). From 1601 to 
1612 is found another pastor of the same name. 

21. Dec. 31, 1574. Aymd de la Place. 

22. Sept. 4, 1576. Luc Dumont. 

23. March 27, 1577. Boysseul. (Arcere ascribes to him a 

" Treatise against Dancing.") 

24. 1580. Antoine Avisse. 

25. Bernard Girauld. 

26. Dec. 1581. Mathias Goier. 
27. March 18, 1584. A. Dundas. 
28. 1585. Pierre Hesnard. 


29. 1585. Robert Thierry. 

30. 1585. A. Gaudron, alias De Lestang (De Lestang, alias 

Gaudron, A. de Lestang). 
31. July, 1585. Jean Fleury. 

32. August, 1585. Laurent Pollot. 

33. December, 1585. Jean Lamotte, called La Vallde. 

34. 1585. Guillaume Abric. 

35. 1585. Frangois Salomeau, called Du Vivier. 

36. 1586. Jean Chanet. 

37. March, 1586. Belon, called Duchesne. 

38. October, 1586. Hierosme Le Petit. He was appointed 

principal of the College, and died in the exercise of his 
functions in 1591. 

39. 1 587. De Claireville. 

40. 1587. Dominique de POsse. Chosen as chaplain of the 
Duchess of Bar, sister of Henry IV. ; he declined that 
honor. He painted a portrait of the Duchess of Deux- 
Ponts, and of Henriette de Rohan. He married Madeleine 

41. May 10, 1589. P. Urdes, called D'Espoir. 

42. 1590. Jacques Merlin. 

43. 1591- Pierre Roulleau, of La Rochelle. 

44. 1591- Isaie Guineau. 

45. 1592.. Jehan-Baptiste Rota (alias Rotan). 

46. April, 1594. Samuel de Loumeau. 

47. February, 1600. Hie'rosme Colomiez. ("Figured with 

honor in the Consistory of his country," says Arcere. 
" He was at the same time very learned, and a great 

48. October, 1601. Rend- Louis le Cercler, Sieur de la Cha- 

pelliere. (" Distinguished himself as much by his virtues 
as by his talent of speech." Arcere.) 

49. December 28, 1605. Ge'de'on Dumas de Montmartin, 

Sieur de la Turpiniere. 
50. 1607. Louis Auboyneau. 

51. March 7, 1613. Jean-Pierre Salbert, married to Suzanne 

Ferret, in 1615; and, becoming a widower, he married 
Jeanne Le Coq, in 1642. 

52. February 26, 1615. Michel Blanc. 

53. 1624. Pierre Perris, married to Marie Lesueur. 
54. March 22, 1625. Pierre Bosquillon. 


55. 1625. Pierre Menanceau. 

56. 1626. Philippe Vincent. 

57. 1627. L. Etienne Pallenyer. 

58. 1627. Salomon Lefevre (Lefebvre, or Feure). 

59. !633. Jean Flanc abjured from motives of interest, in 
1673, and entered the orders. He obtained a pension 
of 500 livres from the Abbey of Saint-Sauveur, and an- 
other of 200 livres. There have been published under 
his name some (Euvres Meslees (Haag and Rainguet, 
according to M. de la Morinerie). According to M. 
Callot, on the other hand, Flanc died in 1663, remaining 
in the Evangelical ministry up to the time of his death. 

60. May, 1640. Elie Bouhereau. 

61. May, 1648. Gabriel Salbert, Esquire, Lord of Nantilly. 

62. July, 1651. Laurent Drelincourt. 

63. June, 1653. Jean Dailld. 

64. 1654. Jacques Gaultier. 

65. 1654. Jean Dumesny. 

66. r 659. Andrd Lortie (alias De 1'Ortie), married to Marie 

67. 1660. Samuel Priouleau. 

68. 1660. Jacques de Tandebaratz. 

69. 1661. Jacques Guybert. 

70. 1663. Daniel-Henri de Laizement. 

71. 1 68 1. Theodore Blanc. 

The pastors who, at peril of their lives, exercised the 
holy ministry at La Rochelle from the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
have left no registers, permitting a chronological state- 
ment of their different visitations in our city and its envi- 
rons. They are, besides, mentioned in the course of 
this notice. 

72. 1755. Jean Pajon. 

73. Nov. 10, 1761. J. Picard. (Minister of the holy Gospel, 

pastor " under the cross " : later, on the 3d of August, 
1765, he assumes the title of " Pastor of the Reformed 
Church of La Rochelle.") 

74. 1766. J. Jay. (Minister of the holy Gospel, pastor " under 

the Cross," pastor of the Reformed Church of La Rochelle 
(1767), previously pastor at La Haye.) 

75. Nov. 19, 1768. Peirot. 


76. Nov. i, 1769. Martin. 

77. Nov. 16, 1771. Gleize. 

78. Nov. u, 1773. Metayer, Sr. 

79. Nov, 8, 1775. Jean-Paul Betrine, formerly pastor of the 

Church of Nantes, received a call, Nov. 8, 1775, from the 
elders and deacons of the churches of the province of 
Betrine had as his colleagues in 1780 : 

80. 1780. Voulan. 

8 1. 1785. Blachon. 

82. 1791. Francois Estienvrot. Pastor Emeritus. On the 8th 

Nivose, An XL, he was invited to attend the sessions of 
the Consistory, after the Revolutionary whirlwind. 

83. I2th Brumaire, An II., Jean-Alexandre Rang, deceased 

at La Rochelle, Sept. 24, 1824, President of the Con- 

The minutes of the session of the Consistory of May 
25, 1825, contain the following mention: "The religious 
virtues of M. Rang, and his talents as a pastor, have 
merited for him the esteem of the faithful confided to his 
direction. For a long time the churches will mourn a 
pastor so worthy of respect." 

84. December 12, 1818. Louis Fau, born at Roquecourbe 

(Tarn), deceased at La Rochelle, July 31, 1856, in his 
sixty-seventh year ; President of the Consistory from June 
28, 1837, to 1852. 

Mr. H. Rioubland devoted a necrological notice to him 
in the Echo Rochelais of August I, 1856. 

Oct. 13, 1822. Consecration of Jean Jay and Frangois- 
Louis Frossard, suffragan of J. A. Rang. 

85. Feb. 5, 1825. Louis Viguier (appointed in the place of 

M. Rang, deceased), resigned Feb. 28, 1827, to take charge 
of the church of Valleraugues. (Gard.) 

86. Sept. 9, 1829. Louis Delmas. 1 Decorated with the 

ribbon of the Legion of Honor, deputy to the official 
Synod held at Paris in the month of September, 1848, and 
President of the Consistory from 1852. 

PUBLICATIONS: I. Sermon pour une Reception de 
Catechumenes. La Rochelle, 1837. 

II. Galerie de quelques Predicateurs de 1'figlise Re- 

1 Also author of this work. G. L. C. 


formee de France. Paris, 1837. Christ crucifid. Saint- 

III. Sermons fivangeliques par plusieurs Pasteurs de 
1'figlise Reformee. Marennes, 1839. Point d'CEuvres 
pour le Salut, et Point de Salut sans les CEuvres. Certi- 
tude et Insuffisance de 1' I minor tali t de I'Ame. 

IV. Observations en Rdponse au Mandement de M. 
Pfiveque de La Rochelle pour le Careme de 1845, et a 
1'Ouvrage intitule " Juste Balance." La Rochelle, 1845. 

V. Examen de la Rdponse de Monsieur l'veque de La 
Rochelle, etc., avec un Appendice sur les Reflexions de 
Monsieur le Curd de Matha. La Rochelle, 1846. 

VI. "Les Sentiers des Siecles Passes," a discourse de- 
livered on the 2Qth of May, 1859, on ^ e occasion of the 
secular Jubilee of the Reformed Churches of France. La 
Rochelle, 1859. 

VII. "Les Devoirs du Saint Ministere," a discourse 
delivered on the occasion of the consecration of M. Henri 
Meyer. La Rochelle, 1867. 

87. Feb. 17, 1857. Gustave-Frederic Good, the present pastor 
(1879), appointed in place of M. Fau, deceased. 

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