The Huguenot Society

of the

Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia

from The Torments of Protestant Slaves in the French King's Galleys, & in the Dungeons of Marseilles, 1686-1707. Edited by Edward Arber, 1907.

A Short Account of the violent Proceedings and unheard-of Cruelties which have been exercised upon those of Montauban, and which continue to be put in practice in other places, against those of the Reformed Religion in France; for to make them renounce their Religion.

On Saturday, the 8/18th of August 1685, the Intendant of the Upper Guienne, who resides at Montauban, having summoned the principal Protestants of the said City to come before him, represented unto them, That they could not be ignorant that the Absolute Will and Pleasure of the King was to tolerate but One Religion in his Kingdom, viz., the Catholic Religion: and therefore wished them readily to comply with the same; and, in order thereto, [he] advised them to assemble themselves, and to consider what resolution they would take.

To this Proposal, some answered, That there was no need of their assembling themselves upon that account:forasmuch as every one of them, in particular, was [ready] to try and examine themselves; and [to] be always in a readiness to give a Reason of the Faith which was in them.

The next day [,August 9/19], the Intendant again commanded them to meet together in the Town House [Hotel de Ville]; which he ordered should be left free for them, from noon till six of the clock in the evening. Where meeting accordingly; they unanimously resolved, as they had lived, so to persist till death, in their Religion.

Which resolution of theirs, there were some deputed by them to declare to the Intendant: who presenting themselves before him, he who was appointed Spokesman, began - p. 159- to address himself to the Intendant in these words,
'My Lord! we are not unacquainted, how we are menaced with the greatest violence.'
'Hold there!' said the Intendant, "No violence!'
After this, the Protestant continued, 'but whatever force or violence may be put upon us.'
Here the Intendant, interrupting him again, said, 'I forbid you to use any such words!'
Upon which second interruption; he contented himself to assure him, in few words, That they were all resolved to live and die in their Religion.

The day after [,August 10/20], the Battalion of La Fere, consisting of sixteen Companies, entered the City; and were followed by many more. The Protestants, all this while, dreaming of no other Design they had against them, but that of ruining their estates [property] and [of] impoverishing them, had already taken some measures how to bear the said trial. They had made a Common Purse, for the relief of such who should be most burdened with Quartering; and were come to a resolution to possess what they had in common. But alas! how far these poor Souls were mistaken in their accounts; and how different the treatment they received from the Dragoons was, from what they expected; I shall now relate to you.

First therefore, in order to their executing the Design and Project they had formed against them, they made the Soldiers take up their Quarters in one certain place in the city: but withal appointed several 'Corps de Guard' [guardhouses], to cut off the communication which one part of the city might have with the other; and [they] possessed themselves of the Gates, that none might make their escape.

Things being thus ordered; the Troopers, Soldiers, and Dragoons, began to practise all manner of hostilities and cruelties, wherewith the Devil can inspire the most inhuman and reprobate minds.

They marred and defaced their household stuff; and broke their looking-glasses, and other like utensils and ornaments. They let the wine run about their cellars; and cast abroad and spoiled their corn, and other alimentary - 160- provisions. And as for those things which they could not break or dash to pieces, as the furniture of beds, hangings, tapestry, linen, wearing apparel, plate, and things of the like nature; these they carried to the Market Place; where the Jesuits bought them of the Soldiers, and encouraged the Roman Catholics to do the like. They did not stick to sell the very houses of such as were most resolute and constant in their Profession.

It is supposed, according to a moderate calculation, that, in the time of four or five days, the Protestants of the City were the poorer by a Million of money [that is, 1,000,000 livres-100,000 pounds] than they were, before the entering of these Missionaries. There were Soldiers who demanded 400 Crowns [80 pounds] a piece from their hosts, for spending money; and many Protestants were forced to pay down 10 Pistoles [8 pounds 15 shillings] to each Soldier, on the same account.

In the meantime, the outrages they committed upon their Persons were most detestable and barbarous. I have only here set down some few; of which I have been particularly informed.

A certain tailor, named Bearnois, was bound and dragged by the Soldiers to the 'Corps de Guard'; where they boxed and buffeted him all night: all which blows and indignities he suffered with the greatest constancy imaginable.

The Troopers who Quartered with Monsieur Solignac, made his dining room a stable for their horses; though the furniture of it was valued at 10,000 Livres [10,000 pounds], and forced him to turn the broach [spit] till his arm was nearly burnt, by their continual casting of wood upon the fire.

A passenger, as he went through the said City, saw some Soldiers beating a poor man, even to death, for to force him to go to Mass: whilst the constant Martyr, to his last breath, cried, He would never do it!; and only requested, They would dispatch and make an end of him!

The Barons de Caussade and de la Motte, whose constancy and piety might have inspired courage and resolution to the rest of the citizens, were sent away to Cahors. Monsier D'Alliez, one of the prime Gentlemen of Montauban, being a venerable old man, found so ill treatment at their hands, as it is thought that he will -p 161- scarcely escape with his life.

Monsieur de Garrison, who was one of the most considerable men of the City, and an intimate friends of the Intendant, went and cast himself at his feet; imploring his protection, and conjuring him to rid him of his Soldiers, that he might have no force put upon his Conscience: adding, That, in recompense of the favour he begged of him, he would willingly give himn all he had! which was to the value of about a Million of Livres [=100,000 pounds]. But, by all his entreaties and proffers, he could not in the least prevail with the Intendant: who gave orders that, for a terror to the meaner sort, he should be worse used than the rest, by dragging him along the streets.

The Method they most commonly made use of, for to make them abjure their Religion, and which could not be the product of anything but Hell, was this. Some of the most strong and vigorous Soldiers took their Hosts, or other persons of the house, and walked them up and down in some chamber, continually tickling them, and tossing them like a ball from one to another; without giving them the least intermission: and keeping them in this condition for three days and nights together; without meat, drink, or sleep. When they were so wearied and fainting that they could no longer stand upon their legs; they laid them on a bed; continuing as before to tickle and torment them. After some time, when they thought them somewhat recovered, they made them rise, and walked them up and down as before; sometimes tickling, and at other times lashing them with rods, to keep them from sleeping.

As soon as one party of these barbarous Tormentors were tired and wearied out, they were relieved by others of their companions; who, coming fresh to the work, with greater vigour and violence reiterated the same course. By this infernal invention (which they had formerly made use of, with success, in Bearn and other places) many went distracted [insane]; and others became mopish and stupid, and remain so.

Those who made their escape were fain to abandon their estates; yea, their Wives, children, and aged relations, to the mercy of these barbarous, and more than savage, Troops. (p. 162)