Compiled by Leonard B. Zike, Th.D.
Portland, Oregon, USA
June 25, 2001

The Waldenses are the middle link which connects the primitive christians and fathers with the reformed, and by their means the proof is completely established; that salvation by the grace of Christ, felt in the heart and expressed in the life by the power of the Holy Ghost, has ever existed, from the time of the Apostles to this day, and that it is a doctrine marked by the cross, and distinct from all that religion of mere form or convenience, or of human invention, which calls itself Christian, but which wants the spirit of Christ.” -- Milner’s Church History.

Table of Contents

(The Table of Contents is expanded from the original and is hyper linked to the appropriate section. All hyperlinks are linked back to the Table of Contents -- lbz.)

Useful information

Preface to this 2001 edition.

Dedication Page

Historical Details of the past Sufferings of the Valdenses, and of the State of those primitive Christians in Piemont and other Countries.

Letters, written during a Residence in Piemont and Wirtemberg


Letter II

Letter III

Letter IV

Letter V

Letter VI

Preface to the History of the Vaudois.

Notes to Preface

Abridged Translation of the History of the Vaudois. By J. Bresse, Minister of the Walloon Church.

Part the First

Chapter I, Description of the Vaudois Valleys

Chapter II, Name of the Vaudois

Chapter III, Antiquity of the Vaudois Faith

Chapter IV, Antiquity and Purity of the Vaudois Doctrine, proved by their own writing

     Section II, Evidence of Protestant Writers

     Section III, Testimony of Roman Catholic Authors

Chapter V, Manners of the Vaudois

Chapter VI, On the Discipline of the Vaudois Church Public Worship, &c.

Chapter VII, of the Barbes or Pastors History of the Vaudois, Part the Second, Introduction

Chapter I, The Vaudois quit the Valleys in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Chapter II, The Reformation

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV (In the original there is no chapter listed for fourteen. It goes from XIII to XV.)

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter XVIX

Ancient Catechism of the Valdenses

Confession of Faith

Catechism of the Vaudois

Section I

Section II

Section III

Section IV

Section V

Section VI

Section VII

Section VIII

Sketch of the Life of Henri Arnaud

Extract from the Register of the Parish Church of Sch๖nberg, in Wirtembert, taken in August, 1825

La Rentr้e Glorieuse des Vaudois dans leur Vall้es. Par Henri Arnaud, Pasteur et Colonel.

Abridged and translated into English



The Remarkable History of the Wars of the Vaudois

Part the Second

Route of the Vaudois

Appendix, Some Account of the Vaudois since Arnaud’s Time, Extracted from Peyran’s work.

Sketch of the German Valdenses

Peyran’s Letters on Bossuet

Letter the First

Letter the Second


It was because of a friend that I found this book in the first place. It was a friend who said he wouldn’t mind having a copy for himself. Friends have encouraged me in the typing process, and even more friends gave of themselves to help me find and correct those pesky little errors that have a habit of creeping into such a project. Many thanks to my friends.

This volume, Authentic History of the Vaudois, was purchased in the spring of 2001, at Powell Books in Portland, Oregon, USA. At the time of its purchase I was told that this was one of only three copies known to exist in the world. In the age of digital libraries, there is something about being able to hold the real thing in your hands, to peruse its pages, to admire the work and to wonder how, in an age when there were no computers, such a monumental task was ever accomplished!

More than one of my proof readers has testified to having wept at reading the account of the brutality and torture experienced by the Vaudois. Their victories were amazing and God was gracious, but sometimes even God’s people suffer horribly at the hands of the world, and sometimes more so at the hands of the religious crowd.

You may not agree with everything the Vaudois believed and stood for, but during a time when the world was in darkness, they had the light, stood for what they believed, and men hated them for it. They at least have to be respected and admired for that. We could take a few lessons from their pages.

Let me say a few words about structure, grammer and spelling. I have done my best to retain the original formatting. In a couple of places that was not possible, otherwise, this electronic copy is a word-for-word duplication of the original, spelling and all. Before you write me and tell me a word is misspelled, please use your 1828 Webster’s Dictionary. Not only have some spellings changed over the years, but some words are no longer in use. Where there is an obvious misspelling or mistake in the original, I have identified such with the use of (sic), see pages 77, 88, 107, 134 and 138.

In the spirit of truth, spiritually and historically, I commend this volume to you and pray that our Lord will be pleased to use it as a blessing to you as it has already blessed us. Truly our God has been good to us.

Leonard B. Zike, Th.D.
Portland, Oregon, USA
June 25, 2001



After the late interesting publications of Allix, Jones, Gilly, Acland, and other writers, it may appear at the present time somewhat presumptuous, as well as unnecessary, to lay before the public any further details connected with the history of these excellent and primitive Christians; but as some of the Vaudois manuscripts and works are very scarce, and but little known in England, more particularly those of Peyran, Henri Arnaud, and Bresse, it may be desirable (even under the certainty of many repetitions) to give some short extracts from these curious documents, if only with the view and under the hope of keeping alive in the breasts of the people of this favoured isle that charitable zeal, which has again manifested itself, and is of such vital importance to the political and religious welfare of our noble though impoverished protestant brethren. As the Valdenses most evidently are a part of the dispersed flock of the original Church of Christ, it becomes a matter of the highest interest to trace out their history from the earliest periods, and to observe how sedulously under the severest persecutions they have not only upheld their faith in its own purity and truth, but how gloriously they have continued to resist the growing corruptions of the Romish faith.

Scattered over the face of the earth, we find almost every where these primitive Christians under the various denominations given to them of Cathari, or “the Pure,” Paulicians, Petrobusians, Puritans, Leonists, Lollards, Henricians, Josephists, Patarines, Fraticelli, Insabati, Piphles, Toulousians, Albigenses, Lombardists, Bulgarians, Bohemian brethren, Barbets, Walloons, &c.

We not only find many colonies of these people in the eastern and western parts of Europe, but even in Africa and America, whither they emigrated to escape from oppression and massacre. After the most cruel and wanton persecutions, we observe this oppressed people reduced in number by barbarous massacres, and at length driven out of their own purchased territories, because they would not submit to innovations and changes in their established religion; but in a few years we again find a remnant of them under their pastor, Henri Arnaud, led back into their native country almost in a miraculous manner to expel their savage oppressors, thousands of whom fled before this reduced but noble band of self-taught warriors.

Many refugees took up their abode in the Rhetian Alps, and a great number, after various edicts, were allowed to settle in the Duchy of Wirtemberg, where some of them were visited by the writer of these pages, for the express purpose of inquiring into their wants and privileges. Before the days of Wickliffe, and other reformers, we trace the Vaudois by their sufferings; they were branded and burnt as heretics, because they would not conform to the doctrines of men, and the edicts of the Roman pontiffs: their steady adherence to the principles of their own faith, and obedience to the will of their Creator, rendered them instrumental to the reformation, which afterwards took place, and by which, in this country, the pure religion of our ancestors was restored. It is even probable that this separated flock of true worshippers are to be the means, under heavenly guidance, of not only preserving, but also diffusing, the light of the gospel and its healing beams over the most remote parts of the earth.

(A.D. 251) It would appear that the title of Cathari, or “the Pure, was first given to the followers of Novation, a Romish pastor, who set the example of resisting the early corruptions of the Papal dominion, and that Puritan churches existed in Italy upwards of 200 years.

(A.D. 590) Nine Bishops rejected the communion of the Pope, as heretical, and this schism, we are told by another author, began even in the year 553. (A.D. 604) On the death of Pope Gregory, Boniface III styled himself “universal Bishop,” and the worship of images became general; but long before this period, in the fourth century, Socrates the historian speaks of the Novations having churches at Constantinople, Nice, Nicomedia, and Coticaeus in Phrygia, &c. as well as a church at Carthage, the doctrines and discipline of which, we find that Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, and Fabius, Bishop of Antioch, approved of.

(A.D. 660) Some persons have supposed that the Valdenses have derived their name from Petro Valdo, but Reinerius Sacco, an inquisitor who lived 80 years after Valdo of Lyons, admits that they flourished 500 years before the time of this celebrated reformer, i.e. about the year 660. Some of these Valdenses, like the Novations, we find called Puritans, or Cathari; when Paulinus, Bishop of Aquilaeia, and other Italian Bishops, condemned the decrees of the second Council of Nice, (A.D. 787) which had confirmed image worship.

(A.D. 817) Claude, Bishop of Turin, (and of the Vallies of Piedmont inhabited by the Valdenses,) was zealous against this idolatrous practice, and bears witness that the gospel was preserved amongst these mountaineers in its native purity and glorious light. Genebrand and Rorenco (Roman Catholic writers) have owned that the Paterines1 and inhabitants of Piedmont preserved the opinions of Claude during the ninth and tenth centuries.

(A.D. 1026) Thus before 1026, and 500 years previous to our own reformation, says Dr. Allix, we discover a body of men called Patarines, Valdenses, or Cathari, whose belief was contrary to the doctrines of the See of Rome. (A.D. 1040) In 1040, the Patarines were very numerous at Milan, (Voltaire speaks of them in his General History, chap. 69.) (A.D. 1100 and 1120) In 1100, the Valdenses became well known by the “Noble Ley็on,” and another work, entitled “Qual Cosa Sia l’Antichrist.”

(A.D. 1140) A little before this year, Everrinus (of Stamfield, diocese of Cologne) addressed a letter to the famous St. Bernard, in which is the following passage: - “There have lately been some heretics amongst us, but they were seized by the people in their zeal and burnt to death, these people in Germany are called Cathari; in Flanders, Piphles; and in France, Tisserands.” Towards the middle of the twelfth century, a small body of these Valdenses, called Puritans and Paulicians, came from Germany, (A.D. 1159) and were persecuted in England. Some being burnt at Oxford, Gerard their teacher answered for them, that they were Christians, (A.D. 1166) [1] but Henry the Second ordered them to be branded with an hot iron, and whipped through the streets. Thirteen Valdensian families had certainly emigrated to England about this period.

(A.D. 1178) Gretzer the Jesuit (who published the book of Reinerious) admits that the Toulousians and Albigenses condemned in 1178 were no other that the Valdenses. (A.D. 1181) In the decree of Pope Lucius III against them, they are called Catharists, Josephists, and Heretics.

(A.D. 1194) Another decree was made against them in 1194, by Ildefonsus, King of Arragon: and Bale, in his old Chronicle of London, (A.D. 1210) mentions, “one burnt to death tainted with the faith of the Valdenses.”

(A.D. 1215) Council of Lateran against Heretics.

(A.D. 1230 to 1350) Suppression of the Valdensian churches in France.

(A.D. 1240) Some further territory of Piedmont was about this time purchased and paid for
by the Valdenses, to the amount of 6000 ducatoons.

(A.D. 1259)The Patarine Church of Albi (in France) whence these Vaudois were called Albigenses, consisted of 500 members, that of Concorezzo more than 1500, and of the Bagnolo 200. The Bishop of Vercelli complained much of these people, whom he denominated Cathari and Patarines. The English, at the time they had possession of Guienne (in 1210), began to help the Valdenses, who stood forth to defend their faith, headed by Walter and Raymond Lollard. According to Clark’s Martyrology (page 111), (A.D. 1322) we find Walter was burnt at Cologne in 1322; which was two years before the birth of Wickliffe.

A cotemporary historian says, that “in a few years half the people of England became Lollards.” And Newton, in his Dissertation on the Prophecies, (1 vol. 4to. Page 631,) says, “part of the Waldenses took refuge in Britain.” Even Theo. Beza says, “as for the Valdenses, I may be permitted to call them the seed of the primitive and pure Christian church.” (A.D. 1400) In 1400 began the first severe persecution against the Vaudois, on account of their faith, which may be found related by Bresse, together with their subsequent misfortunes, (A.D. 1655) down to the era of the treaty of Pignerolo in 1655, the most interesting details of which history are translated and abridged in another part of this work.

(A.D. 1685) The Duke of Savoy, at the instigation of Louis XIVth, revoked his promises, and the following year condemned 14,000 Vaudois to the prisons of Turin, the rest either fled or became Catholics. By the intercessions of the Protestant countries, these miserable prisoners were released, but their numbers by hardships and cruelty were reduced to 3000, (A.D. 1687) who took refuge in Switzerland and elsewhere, in 1687; from whence a part of them effected that intrepid return into their own Vallies, (A.D. 1689-0) so well described by their Colonel and Pastor, Henri Arnaud, in “La Rentree Glorieuse” of 1689-0. Eight years after they were again exiled to the number of 3000, (A.D. 1698) in consequence of an article in the treaty between France and Savoy in 1698: these were the same who with the veteran Arnaud amongst them took refuge in Germany, and were solemnly received as subjects to the Duke of Wirtemberg, (A.D. 1699) with the promise of the free exercise of their religion for ever.

(A.D. 1797) The pension from England, which had been granted by Cromwell, and confirmed by Queen Anne, was this year discontinued.

(A.D. 1799) A body of Vaudois from Wirtemberg emigrated to America, and joined those 1600, who, in Arnaud’s time, had settled near Philadelphia.

(A.D. 1800) Piedmont fell under the yoke of France.

(A.D. 1814) The King of Sardinia restored to his throne, refused to grant any privileges to the Vaudois beyond those they enjoyed before the French revolution.

(A.D. 1825) Present state of the Vaudois, as described in the Letters now published, &c.


The following Letters were written by an Englishman to his family, during his residence abroad in 1825, and contain the result of minute inquiries and observations in the Valdensian Valleys, and subsequently in the Duchy of Wirtemberg, whither he was induced to extend his journey by the strong interest excited by the facts made known to him in Piedmont, in order to ascertain by personal inquiry the actual situation of those Vaudois who had taken refuge in Germany. The Letters were written without the slightest idea of publication, and are now laid before the public in their original form, with the omission of the names of individuals, and some other passages relating wholly to family affairs.

LETTER I - La Tour, Vaudois, 18th June, 1825

Here we are amid “the vine-covered hills and glad regions” of La Tour; for four hours and a half did we jog along one of the King of Marmot’s dear right lines to Pignerolo, where we found fresh horses to bring us here in two hours more. N. B. Pignerolo is on the post road to Nice, and has a diligence twice a-day from Turin. While halting I conversed with an English clergyman, just returned from the tour of the Protestant Vallies; he spoke with great precision and coolness of all he had seen; and bore witness to the poverty, high spirit, information, and rectitude of the pastors, and the engaging appearance of the people. His statements of their stipends and their sources corresponded with Mr. Gilly’s; and I have since heard he has seen all the pastors. As we entered St. Giovanni the mountain breezes fairly came to welcome us, and rustling through the chesnuts, almost made us forget that we were beneath a noontide sun. We here saw the two churches built on the opposite sides of a pretty ravine, and the screen which my Lord Peter has placed before his hapless brother’s mouth – this is a standing proof of tyranny; but still one loves to see consistency, and we find the same policy which makes the Pope immure fair ladies behind cancelli at his ceremonies.

Be it known to you that here there are no Alps, (in the Vaudois country,) but far beyond the plain below, we saw indeed a most noble frontier of snow; and though I do not despair of seeing it again, yet I am already made acquainted with the position of nearly all the villages, and the scenery cannot strictly be called Alpine, however beautiful. I think in better maps than those I have, you would find the vallies of Cormayeur and St. Maurice running in parallel lines, much in the rear of these vallies. La Tour is flanked by the river and a huge green hill, covered with vines and corn, mulberries and chesnuts, and crowned by the ruined tower, up to which we have scrambled since sunset to enjoy all that looks peaceful, plentiful, and happy. The view extends to Bobbi and Angrogna, and through the noblest chesnut woods over the plain of the Po, Lucerne, St. Giovanni, and the other smaller towns in the valley. No letters (of introduction) having reached us, I put on a bold face and called on M. Bert, to request the loan of Gilly’s book, which the landlady had put into my hand on our arrival, saying the traveler to whom he lent it had just departed. He was out, so I made off, but was detained by the civility of a labourer, and in the mean time Madame B – appeared , and insisted on my coming in: nothing could be more obliging; she begged to make the acquaintance of Madame mon ้spouse: she took me to see her silkworms, in a room full of shelves, holding many many thousands: it is now the moment for taking away the leaves and giving them the wood to spin on; and the good lady had been hard at work with a servant for some hours. The house (not a presbytery) is something in the Swiss style, built of stone and wood round two sides of a farm-yard, and having a double tier of wooden balconies. The Protestant church is placed (per force) a mile from the village. – (Sunday) We attended church this morning, and were very much pleased with the neat dress and attention of the people, as well as the discourse of the pastor. The service was that of Geneva, and lasts a little more than an hour; it is very impressive, though the succession of changes would be thought too rapid in England, and would rather seem to lessen the repose of the mind than awaken its attention. This, however, would probably not be the case with those who were accustomed to it. The prayers are written and altered at pleasure by the pastor, to suit peculiar circumstances. The sermon, from the 12th St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, was short and simple, practical and impressive: not eloquent but seeming to presuppose considerable information on the part of the congregation. The following is the order of service, as dictated to me by M. Bert.

1st. Lessons from the Bible, and generally from the New Testament, read by the regent (or clerk and schoolmaster,) followed by Ostervald’s short commentary. 2nd. The Decalogue, read by the same. 3rd. The confession by the pastor, much like our own. 4th. Two or three verses of the Psalms, given out by the pastor, all the congregation having books with the notes under the verses. 5th. Prayers by the pastor, (written or not,) but very impressive and comprehensive; and, though short, still uniting our prayers for all conditions of men, and that for the church militant, the royal family being prayed for personally, as in England. 6th. Sermon. 7th. Prayer for grace. 8th. Lord’s Prayer. 9th. Creed of the Apostles, by the minister alone. 10th. Singing as before. 11th. Benediction. The church and adjoining presbytery are beautifully situated on an eminence commanding the valley, and covered with noble chesnuts. The latter is not inhabited by the pastor, as he is allowed to live in his own house. M. Bert and his wife led us to their home, and seemed delighted to show us civility; even inviting us to dinner. He was kind enough to enter into all sorts of details; and, instead of conferring a favour, seemed as if he felt obliged by the interest we took in his narrative. Nothing can equal the simplicity of manner of these Vaudois. They never speak of the hardships of their state, but in answer to direct questions, or by accident, and even then one would think the subject was some distant people in a past age. Mr. Sims has been twice here, the last time for some months, and has most of the MSS. of M. Peyran, which he is about to publish in England: he is spoken of here with great affection. The MSS. will be the more valuable, as I am told there are no ecclesiastical writings of the pastors. M. Bert showed us the house purchased for an hospital, with part of the Emperor of Russia’s ten thousand francs, it is calculated for fourteen beds, as well as rooms for the surgeon, apothecary’s shop, &c. M. Appia, of this place, has been sent to Germany to solicit subscriptions to create a permanent fund for this hospital, &c. and is about this time to go to London for the same purpose. He is addressed to Messrs. Doxat, Swiss merchants, and has no commission to solicit contributions for any other purpose. The remainder of the Emperor’s money is to assist in rebuilding a church at Pomaret, and these things go on under the direction of the Prussian ambassador, who is esteemed a general benefactor. I have been fortunate in getting a sight of the three Vaudois histories – Perrin, Gilles, and Leger, and have passed some hours in reading Gilles. Tomorrow I am promised the Rentr้e des Vaudois, from the great great grandson of Henri Arnaud, who is to show us his ancestor’s commission from King William (of England.) M. Bert’s little book, sur l’Etat des Eglises des Vaudois, was published at Geneva and has been already translated into German and English. The following anecdote comes from one of the parties: - about ten days since, a man of bad character went to the Catholic bishop and swore to become a Catholic on receiving the usual sum, and to force his children to mass if paid also for them: the wife contrived to convey away two of the children to Turin, and after suffering much ill treatment, brought the other two to the pastor, and intreated his interference. The good man kept the children several days in his house, and had many ineffectual conversations with the father, who per- sisted in declaring he had sworn and received part of the money. Determined to get the rest, the father at last came in a gig, and in spite of all remonstrance forced his children away. The poor little creatures (eight and ten years old) felt the greatest horror at their fate and begged hard to be concealed, even without food. For such things there is no remedy; I would you could have heard the simple style in which the story was told, without a complaint.

June 21. Yesterday we went to Rora, a most lovely ride; halting to draw; a poor miller came out of his house, and after offering us refreshments and hay for our horses, in the most hospitable manner, proceded to question us, and found we were English – “Vous etes donc de nos freres,” said he, “que nous ne connoissons pas – puisse le ciel benir tous vos voyages.” – He then asked about the floods in Holland, and expatiated on the bounties of the English and Dutch. I have since heard, from a pastor, that these poor people made a collection for their Dutch benefactors of 3,000 francs!! Mr. H. P. was out, but not to visit his wife seemed to all the peasants and his servant an impossibility: we found her in a very miserable sitting room, attending one child while the servant was rocking another; every thing had the appearance of a poor cottage, but there were some pretty prints, a guitar case, and an Indian work-box; and though dressed in coarse attire, one could not but think the mistress was a lady. Though she had only been once from home for a year, and no one ever comes to secluded Rora, there was not the slightest embarrassment, nor did she seem more put out of her way than a lady in London. Good brown bread and butter and wine were produced, and the lady entertained us with great simplicity and naivet้ for about half an hour, when her husband arrived, having set off again on the instant of his arrival at La Tour, on hearing we were gone to Rora, though he did not even know our names. He had missed the last English traveler, he said, and was determined to do the honours of this little house to us, for which object he performed a severe mountain walk of two hours in one; he seemed to think it a matter of course: the romance of Love in a Cottage is here reality; and these people, with their three children, seem to enjoy perfect felicity and content, and positively to have no wish beyond their means. Six years ago he began his career, and conducted his wife to this retreat from Geneva, where he had previously studied eight years. We with difficulty excused ourselves from the offer of a dinner and bed; made with the ease of a man of fashion, and, without the slightest shame at confessing that we might not fare so well as at La Tour. The good pastor would attend us a short way on our road over the mountains to Bobbi, and nothing could be more delightful than his manners and conversation. We passed the rocks Giannavello (Janavel) defended; but though perfectly acquainted with the story, he dwelt but little on the valour and sufferings of the Vaudois, which I have remarked in others. At Villar we parted and proceeded to Bobbi; both places are lovely, particularly the latter, which has more of marked character than what we have seen. I met M. – Le Pasteur coming out of his garden, in the coarsest dress; the slightest apology sufficed, and he was at his ease, at once the gentleman and man of letters. His wife, neatly dressed, appeared immediately, and on hearing that there was a lady, he would not rest a moment without going in search of her. The conversation was spirited and general, and Madame showed herself well read, and possessing both taste and sensibility. As it was three o’clock, we were not pressed to dinner; but fruit and cakes were brought by Madame, as if it was impossible not to give something. The conversation with the Vaudois pastors does not turn on the Vaudois, except at the request of the visitors, and then the information sought is given fully, but simply. He brought out Leger and showed me the horrible prints, and some other things I asked for; seemed to know all by heart, but said not a word of the noble taking of Bobbi by Henri Arnaud, or of their still more extraordinary charity under Rostain. Never is an attempt made to exalt the character of the Vaudois, or to lower that of their enemies, we parted with these delightful people with great regret. P – supped with us, and increased our esteem for him. With these people conversation never flags.


Sur l’air du Ps. 8me
Qu’il est adroit! Cet insecte admirable
Dont le travail toujours inimitable,
Vient nous fournir un tissu precioux
Fait pour flatter, et les doigts et les yeux!
Le tisserand m๊me le plus habile,
La fileuse m๊me la plus agile
Seront toujours chacun dans son m้tier
Fort audessous de ce verse ouvrier.
Sans atelier, et sans secours externe,
Uniquement de sa substance interne,
Il sait tirer, et conduire a sa fin
Le v๊tement le plus beau, le plus fin.
Rien n’est egal a la grande finesse
De ce tissu, sinon l’extreme adresse
Avec laquelle, en moins de quatre jours,
L’insecte a pu s’enfermer pour toujours.
Ses instrumens sont ses pieds et sa bouche,
(Quand il travaille, il defend qu’on le touch้):
Son seul instinct lui suffit a souhait
Pour faconner un ouvrage parfait.
Mais O prodige! En croirons nous la chose?
L’ insecte meurt, et se metamorphose:
Il rescuscite, et sort de son tombeau
En ๊tre ail้, pour vivre de nouveau.
Apprends chr้tien, par cet example insigne,
A m้diter sur un sujet plus digne:
Le Dieu qui fit l’insecte industrieux
Attend de toi, ton homage et les voeux.
C’est un present que sa bont้ t’envoie
Veritable or pour te combler de joie;
Montre lui donc un coeur reconnaissant,
Et comme lui montre toi bienfaisant.
Le ver a soie est encore un image
Du sort neureus, qui sera ton partage;
Car au tombeau, tu ne restera pas,
Christ a bris้ l’aiguillon du tr้pas.
Un jour aussi tous rayonnant de gloire,
Et sur la mort renportant la victoire
Tu revivra en Jesus ton Sauveur;
Esp่re en lui, sois son imitateur.

LETTER II - Milan, June 29th, 1825

On the 22nd (of June) we went, by invitation, to visit M. G – and his amiable wife, at Angrogna. The good pastor himself showed us his two churches, and the lower parts of his parish, which are very beautiful; in many parts covered with chesnut woods; in others opening into little glades, waving with corn or hemp, and having a good range of bold mountains in the distance.

Madame G. then accompanied us for a five hours ride up to and along the ridge of the Vachere, a narrow mountain separating the Val Perosa from that of Angrogna. On rising along this ridge, above the chesnuts, we found ourselves on a bare hill of rough slate, which the unwearied Industry of the peasants has formed into corn and hemp fields, and, by irrigation, occasionally into meadows. These poor people live in miserable huts among the crags, and some of them, in the summer, go to little hovels of stone, for the sake of cultivating the highest land; these latter consist of two small chambers, built of loose stone, like Oxfordshire walls, and roofed with large roof slates found on the hills; there is no cement, light and air are admitted by an infinity of chinks and openings in the roofs and walls. In some of these huts is a second story, formed by a floor of loose planks. In these cases, the ground-floor is occupied by the pig and cow. The lower cottages are built of the same materials, but with cement, and have generally an open portico in the centre where wood is kept, and where a few stone steps lead to the second story, consisting of two rooms like the lower one. In the lower story the floor is of clay; the windows are formed of lattices, and in the very best houses, of paper. There are perhaps about six houses near the churches, a little superior to those I have described; but the rest of the two thousand inhabitants of Angrogna live in the above-mentioned huts. In one we saw the poor parents of a young man, lately become a pastor, who must have half starved themselves to attain this object. The ridge of the Vachere, though not near so high, reminded me of Malvern; on the north are the crags of Castelluzzo, hills over La Tour, and the bold heights which form the narrow valley of the Pre du Tour, beneath corn fields, torrents, and chesnuts; on the south, the well-wooded and fertile valley of Perouse, the vast plain of the Po, and its winding stream, as far as the hills towards Marengo, and the superb Superga, a cathedral built above Turin. But this scene had a superior interest – here the poor Barbets, as the Vaudois are called, always retired on the attacks of their enemies of the plain, and here some of the noblest feats of Henri Arnaud’s troops were performed – one in particular, when they attacked the enemy in their intrenchments, and drove them from their camp, though six times more numerous than themselves. I had the hero’s Journal of La Rentr้e Glorieuse in my pocket, and almost expected to see the fell Catinat himself rise from behind some crag! But if these mountains were once renowned for deeds of arms, let us not forget the deeds of charity and hospitality we witnessed among them. Not a hut did we pass, but La Sposa (so the mistress is called) offered us milk and bread; and often a distant shout, or a peasant running, was explained by “Volet laite,” – “Will you have some milk?” – I think that the Arab’s tent is scarcely more hospitable than this. We were shown a little patch of ground, which a poor boy in service, where he gets seventy-two francs a year, had lately bought and given to his father; the poor old man was working hard on the produce of his son’s three years’ savings, and was one of our inviters. No animals are used here in cultivation; manure, hay, corn, every thing is carried on the backs of these poor people, and even in the lower village they have no beasts of burden, and the land is worked by the hand. When we came down, we found the cloth laid at the Presbytery, and were entertained most hospitably, though not sumptuously. M. G.’s little niece prepared our dinner, which might have done honour to a professed cook. After dinner, M. G. produced a large hortus siccus of his own collection, and not only explained the names and genera of the plants, according to Linnๆus, but also their medicinal qualities; he also showed us many specimens of natural history, collected by his father, as well as a series of mountain insects preserved, and many drawings of rare animals found in the neighbourhood; among others, one of the Loup Cervier, a beast larger than a fox, with the face of a cat, and most of the attributes of a wolf – it is peculiar to the Piedmontese mountains, and commits such destruction that the government gives two hundred francs for each.

One caught last year, had killed nine sheep in one night. The animal’s habit is to pierce the jugular vein, and to suck the blood till its prey dies. The conversation at M. G.’s, as is often the case, was general, unless when we made any particular inquiries, and after spending eight hours with them, we agreed, we had very seldom met with people who had so much to say, and said it so well, as this retired couple. It may be mentioned to their honour, that though they are a little more at their ease than others, they live precisely in the same simple way; and M. G. himself cultivates his garden at La Tour, three-quarters of an hour’s walk from home; besides all useful things, he has many rare plants, and seemed perfectly to understand practical horticulture. On the 23rd, we were detained by rain, but I was able to pay a visit to M. M. (the oldest of the pastors) principally with a view of getting an introduction to his nephew, pastor among the Vaudois in the kingdom of Wirtemberg. He gave me much information about them; their first establishment was after the peace of Utrecht, (I think 1678,) when the Vaudois were expelled from the Valley of Finestrella; another party joined them about twenty years afterwards, on account of continued minor persecutions in the valleys. They have four or five parishes between Durlach and Stutgard, and have named their districts after the villages of their native valleys.

I found Monsieur M. in the coarsest dress of a peasant, sitting among books and papers. He had been teaching (gratis) the children of some of his flock, and for this purpose gives up the hours from six to eleven. The subjects of study were Latin, Italian, and geography. He is a most delightful old man, with all the fire of youth in his countenance, and much liveliness in his conversation. He is one of the most learned of the pastors, and among other things, obtained great honour the other day by an answer to the Bishop of Pignerolo’s pastoral letter. M. M. is also allowed to be the finest preacher in the valleys. I had much difficulty in excusing myself from his pressing invitation to dinner, and took leave of him with much regret. It is not the least of the agreeables of the Vaudois, that one can, as a stranger, make these visits to the amiable, and often learned pastors, and enjoy their conversation for several hours, not only without being considered an intruder, but with thanks, on their part, for the compliment they conceive to be paid them. In the afternoon, we called on M. Arnaud, and returned the Rentr้e Glorieuse he had lent me. He is the great great grandson of the hero, and I even fancied I could trace some resemblance to an original picture. I was disappointed in his not having kept his promise of sending for the commission of colonel granted by William of Orange, when king of England, to Henri Arnaud. I was fortunate, however, in meeting with young V., and had a long and interesting conversation with him. During the Congress of Verona, this young man, of most prepossessing appearance, was sent to the Duke of Wellington, on the part of the Vaudois; but though backed by the friendship of General M., he never could obtain an answer to his dispatches; and after calling eight days successively, and sending a peremptory message to announce his departure, received for answer, that the duke had no commands for him. He was more fortunate with the Emperor Alexander, to whom he had letters from the celebrated quaker Allen. These letters were delivered at night, and the emperor’s physician reported that he found the emperor in tears next morning reading them; the consequence was, the present which has enabled the Vaudois to buy a house for a hospital.

In the evening we went to take leave of the good B., and all parties felt, I believe, like old friends. Monsieur B. was unwell, but Madame and her daughters insisted on walking home with us, where we found the G.’s, who had descended from their mountain for the sole purpose of seeing us again. M. B. showed me the Bishop of Pignerolo’s last pastoral letter, in which he speaks of the Vaudois as the wandering sheep of his flock, whom he wishes to bring back to his fold; and talks of the “burning of his affection towards them,” &c. &c.’ so that had one seen the sentences any where else, one might have taken them for a satire on the cruelties of the Roman church towards these people; nor is his strain of argument more happy, as he asks, since they acknowledge political succession; and own the King of Sardinia for their true and lawful sovereign, why do not they act similarly as to the apostolic succession, and acknowledge Leo X. who is the lawful successor of St. Peter? At the time we were at La Tour, every family was busily employed with their silk worms, from which they derive a good profit, as the silk is better than that of the plain. The process of forming the silk lasts about eight days, and the different changes of the animal, and its manner of working, are much more curious than we suppose, from the few specimens we have in England. The silk, as the worm makes it, is worth thirty eight or forty francs for a measure of about nineteen English pounds weight, and this, when wound, produces an eleventh of its weight, if the worms have done their work well. In the churchyard of La Tour are but few grave stones, and these only mention the birth, death, and profession of the dead; one only I found with an epitaph, the simplicity of which accords with the character of the people: -- Elle formait le bonheur de son epoux, et la consolation de sa mere dont elle ้tait la fille unique.”

On the 24th we sallied forth to discover the mountain road to Perouse, after much trouble in persuading the people we like it better than the carriage way, which nobody seemed to comprehend. Nothing of the kind could be more pretty than the scenery, but I cannot give it a higher epithet; we wound among low hills among the woods and glades of an English park. Parostin is embowered in trees, and Roche Platte almost washed away by its useful stream, which turns mills, and irrigates meadows. We were not fortunate enough to find young Rostain at home. St. Germains is a larger village, almost on the Clusone, and equally divided between Catholics and Protestants. At length we came to a handsome bridge, and Perouse beyond it; but there appeared also a great road, iron works, and carts, and we felt at once that we were going again into an evil world, and so indeed it proved, for the only inn is a perfect dog-hole, and the landlord a most consummate scoundrel. In fact, the whole affair was very reverse of La Tour, where the Brown Bear afforded peace, quiet, cleanliness, and civility, not to mention sundry good dinners. In my next, you will hear of the Val St. Martin, and Peyran; we have been happy in coming here in two days from Pignerolo without heat, and the whole of the time in the vallies was cool.

LETTER III - Venice, July 6th, 1825

On the evening of our arrival at Perouse, we visited M. J -, the successor of Peyran, we found him like his brethren, cheerful and kindhearted; indeed, as a proof of the latter, he pressed us to take up our abode with him during our stay in the valley. He has suffered several severe domestic calamities, and is still struggling hard to maintain his son at Lausanne; at home he has still two daughters, one a pretty little girl, the other perfectly a young lady, of sufficient manner and information to pass in any circle, and tinged too with that interesting melancholy which is often so engaging. Yet these people have passed their last twenty years at Maneigle, a place that would appear the very antipodes of all refinement; and it is also twelve years since the mother of the family died. M. J – has a little library, consisting chiefly of Belles Lettres, among these, several English authors translated into French: our History at length, Pope, Swift, and Tillotson, the last is a favourite author in the vallies. M. J - , though he does not possess the same learning or energy as some of the pastors, has general information and liberal ideas, with elegant kindness of manner rather than politeness, and all that devotion to his duties, and patience under privations, which so distinguish his fraternity. His house is in ruins, and delays arise in rebuilding it; his church is almost falling, and the government will only allow of a very inconvenient spot for building a new one, to which purpose part of the Emperor Alexander’s bounty is to be applied; but the hope that things may turn out better stands in place of all complaint. The second son of the great Peyran had guided us to the presbytery, and accompanied by him, the pastor and his daughter, we went to the cemetery of Pomaret. Even in death the demons of oppression and poverty seem to have shaken their wings over the departed moderator, while the prelates of Piedmont sleep in marble state, he can claim no sacred roof, nor even a consecrated sod. A few pebbles from the next brook separate his grave from the rest, and on a rough bit of slate at its head are scratched these words: J. R. L. G. Pyerani, Pasteur et Moderateur, n้ 11 Dec. 1752, mort le 26 Avril 1823. Another rough slate precisely similar stands near, and marks the grave of his brother: - S. H. F. Peyrani, Pasteur เ Pramol, n้ le 21 Nov. 1760, mort le 9 Oct. 1822. These are the only tomb stones of Pomaret, and the last had already so sunk, that it was only with young Peyran’s assistance I could make out the date. “Around, the rude forefathers of the village sleep,” the stones which were ranged about their graves were mostly displaced, and the rank grass waves high over all, as if in the triumph of oblivion. Not even a wall or a rail separates the remains of the dead from the surrounding corn fields. The French had all the cemeteries walled, but this one was neglected, and solicitation from high quarters would be necessary to obtain such a favour from the present government. Nature has indeed favoured this unprotected spot, it is on a rising ground above the hundred little streams which pour down from the hills, and surrounded by magnificent chesnuts and walnuts. It commands a view of the vallies of Cluson and Perouse, and the pretty town of Perouse, as well as the mountains of Pramol and Val St. Martin. The church is here indeed militant, and a pastor can only hope for a soldier’s sepulchre: -

“Thus sleep the good who sink to rest,
By all their country’s wishes blest,
When Spring with dewy finger cold,
Returns to deck their hallow’d mold,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod,
Than fancy’s feet have ever trod.” [2]

Such is the tomb of Peyran – a scene of peaceful melancholy not to be forgotten among Vaudois recollections. On the morrow we rode up the Val St. Martin, it is narrow and rugged, and for some miles, as all the cultivated lands were, very high up, it seemed impossible that its population could be supported; we now and then passed a pretty grove of chesnuts, and oftener came to a bold turn of road, and ascended rapidly to Maneigle, a most retired but populous village, placed among a few corn fields at a great height. Here we found M. M. (the young student mentioned in Val Angrogna.) He returned eighteen months ago from Lausanne, and married a very pretty little girl from Rora; after the usual pressing invitation to dinner, we had an agreeable conversation, and found that though well acquainted, and indeed interested in all that was going on in the world he had so lately left, M. had left no regrets behind, but was perfectly happy in his solitary “Cure,” and contented with all around, having lost none of the spirits and gaiety of his more cheerful life. Yet this young man has been twelve years at Lausanne, where for the last two he had held a Cure; but there seems an irresistible impulse of duty which recalls these people to their vallies, and make them happy there. Unfortunately it was Saturday, and M. M. could not go on with us. We rode along the mountain to Massille, his attached parish, an hour and half’s walk distant, and there we dined on our cold provisions. Young Peyran (still our guide) found a peasant, who brought us bread and wine, and would scarcely suffer us to pay for them. He seemed delighted to see us, and showed us some papers relative to the emigration in 1733, when his family went to Holland; and a catalogue of the Vaudois then established in the different Dutch towns, the total was 450.

We had here another proof of the spirit of hospitality. A little girl of fourteen, keeping her father’s house in his absence, insisted on our accepting a bottle of wine, because we were the friends of Peyran. Hence we had a severe ride of two hours to Balsille; the valley became more bold and wild, the cliffs rose into mountains, whose summits were probably about the snow level; below, they produced nothing but brushwood. At length the valley divided, and a vast precipice faced us; half way up this, was a little corn field of two acres, probably formed by an ancient ecroulement. Here was the station of H. Arnaud, where he held out so many months in defiance of Catinat, who at his head-quarters at Cluses, disdained even to reconnoitre the poor Barbets. The little hamlet of Balsille is just below, and its regent came out and showed us the points where the French batteries were placed, the barriere was formed, &c. and the terrible precipices by which the Vaudois escaped when unable to resist the cannon. Some little remains of their intrenchments are left, and some tracks cut for the cannon in the rocks. Nothing but the most positive proof could convince one that these things have been, they seem so marvellous and romantic. We would gladly have given a few francs to the poor regent, but on the contrary, he insisted on “our honouring his house and drinking his poor wine,” which we did, not to offend him, and when we left him, he had all the air of a man on whom we had conferred a great favour. We pursued another route back, along the stream, and found many pretty points, though none very marked. We passed the opening of Val Prale, (long, narrow, and barren,) at the top of it is the most remote of the villages, Prale, where lives M. Peyran, son of the late pastor at Pramol, or Paramolo. From Prale is a small road of six hours over the mountain to Bobbi, which is passable for animals only in the summer.

At Cluses I left my mule and walked up to Villeseche. M. R. had been told in his morning walk that we had passed up the valley, and had immediately returned home with the hope that we should call upon him. His character differs in some respects from the other pastors: he has all the lively manners and rapid enunciation of a Frenchman, and talked so fast and on so many subjects, that it was not easy to come to the point desired, though that attained, nothing could be more clear than his explanations. His active disposition prompts him to attempt more than he is equal to, and in his thirty-seven years ministry, he has had many severe illnesses, and reckoned himself very happy to have escaped last winter with only six weeks confinement, having suffered violent rheumatic gout for four to six months the preceding years. It is hardly possible to imagine the activity of M. R. He is two hours distant from most of the frontiers of his parish, which contains four communes, and I was amazed at seeing the deep valley he had to descend, and the steep mountains he had to climb, to get to his adjacent chapels, where he preaches on week days. These are in a most miserable state of damp, and I have been since told that it is to these distant calls of duty that he owes his ill health, and that his energy never allows him to rest when he can in any way perform his own duty. I have no space to tell you of the hospitality of this good man, which fully equals any I have met with, or his kindness in walking nearly two miles when I went away; he gave me many data I wished for, and seemed perfectly acquainted with all the minutiๆ of both vallies, ecclesiastical and otherwise.

M. R. has nine children, (now nearly all grown up,) whom he has supported on his 1000 francs, and a very small patrimony of his own, nay, he has even contrived to send one son to Lausanne. In this parish I saw the house of Leger, (the historian,) his family still inhabit it, but are nearly idiots. From Perouse, we drove up the valley of Finestrelle to the little town and fortress, chiefly with a view of seeing the family of Peyran, for the valley, as we suspected, afforded little interest, except that of its having been inhabited by Protestants. The fortress is said to be impregnable, which I believe to be humbug; it serves however as an excuse for keeping four or five hundred more men in pay! There is a good road hence to Brian็on, and thence to Grenoble, the nearest way, I imagine, from Lyons or Geneva to the Vaudois. The Moderator Peyran left one daughter by a first wife, and two sons by a second. The daughter, now about fifty, [3] married M. C. a store-keeper and merchant at Finestrelle, and in right of her mother’s dowry possesses most of her father’s books. These people having heard that we were coming, waited dinner an hour and a half, and when at last we arrived, we found M. C. waiting to receive us at the little inn. We found at the house three grown up sons, all of good address, and the eldest, Bartholomew, the most interesting man I have long met with: his talents and love of study recommended him to his grandfather, who educated him, and employed him as a secretary for some years, so that he was perfectly acquainted with Peyran’s papers, and could with ease have arranged them and transcribed them. Unfortunately the old man left all his MSS. to his two sons, as a means of making their fortune, and as these young men were without education, they have divided and dispersed them in various ways. When Mr. Sims came, the second son collected all he could find and gave them, and the other son has sent him some as well as Mad. Coucorde; but I doubt whether half what Peyran left can ever be arranged so as to see the light. Unfortunately Bartholomew C. was not at home when Mr. Sims came, and he is the only man who can without incredible difficulty put the papers into a legible form It is much to be regretted, Mr. Sims was so hasty, and one cannot acquit the pastors of culpable neglect in not taking measures to secure Peyran’s MSS. for the benefit of society and his children, especially as it was evident what must happen. B. C. possesses a few detached MSS. given, and in some cases written for him by his grandfather: he has given me one of twenty-four closely written pages on different subjects, and a transcript of a letter on Bossuet, about the same length; nor was it possible to make him accept of any return. I could only sign a promise to send back the copies, which he would hardly accept. However, we have a line open by which we may be of use to these amiable people, a family doomed to suffer for their religion, for in 1784, M. C.’s sister, then seven years old, was carried off from a vineyard by an armed police, and forced to take the vows in the Convent of Novara. I saw several of her letters. In 1804, her death was announced. Young Bartholomew having gone through the necessary studies with honour, presented himself to receive his diploma of surgeon, and on answering the only question asked, (are you a Protestant?) was peremptorily refused in spite of the new law allowing Protestants to practise. The Prussian ambassador promised to obtain by interest what was denied to justice, but unfortunately was obliged to quit Turin at the time, so the matter has dropped. This is the sort of oppression which is now exercised in various instances; the government does not interfere directly; this is the third time this young man has been thrown back when on the point of entering on a promising career; viz. the peace of 1815 drove him from the commissariat of the French army, and a bankruptcy from the house of a merchant. It is almost an unbelievable fact, that Peyran should have taught his youngest son only to read and write, and his eldest but little more: he had neither time nor inclination he said to controul them, and they would, when old enough, fall into a just way of reasoning, besides, his eldest daughter would take care of them. The eldest is going on slowly at Lausanne, the second is gaining a precarious existence at Pomaret, among the peasants; he is handsome, and I believe amiable, but his abilities are of a very low class.

It happened that Bartholomew Coucorde was coming to Perouse, and he took me to see the house of his grandfather, which was not the presbytery. Here I found his two little chambers, his books and his prints just as he had left them; the volumes are of every size and description, but most of the sets are broken, nor are there many books of value, four or five of our old folio English divines were much prized by the old man: it is much to be regretted that some man of literature did not visit the Moderator some years before his death, and advise and give him the means of writing something worthy of himself, for he fell into a way of writing small treatises and letters, and changed from subject to subject every day and hour.

LETTER IV - Venice, July 11th, 1825

Our little journal having been dispatched in three letters, I must now add to it these further observations, which you requested to have, in order to render more perfect the account of the Vaudois. First, then, as to the errors which have crept into Mr. Gilly’s book, [4] errors which we cannot be surprised at, from the shortness of his stay in the vallies. I may be allowed to say, that the spirit in which some of his remarks and anecdotes are related, is not that of the pastors, and that in deriving his information from an energetic young man living in the world, he has given it to the world rather in those terms than after the manner of thinking and speaking universal among the Vaudois clergy; there are consequently some things which have given great pain, though they are fully grateful for the object of the book. The following is the list of pastors at this time, some changes having taken place. We had the pleasure of being acquainted with all the pastors whose names are marked thus *.

* Rora – M. Henri Peyrot.

* La Tour – M. Bert, Moderateur.

Villars – M. Gay.

* Bobbi – M. Muston, Secretaire.

* Angrogna – M. Goant.

* St. Jean – M. Moudon.

Pramol – M. Vin็on.

Prarostain – M. Rostain, Jun. son of the pastor at Villeseche.

St. Gervais –

* Pomaret – M. Jalla.

* Villeseche – M. Rostain, Moderateur adjoint.

* Maneigle – M. Monastier.

* Prale – M. Peyran, nephew of the great Peyran.

It is denied by the pastors that their church without assistance must fall, inasmuch as it has never been better protected nor less persecuted than at present. The Moderator Peyran was never employed by the French, on the contrary, he was deposed, and the church government reformed after Napoleon’s manner of presidents or vice-presidents. On the departure of the French, Peyran again became Moderator. It is denied by the pastors who sent in the registers, that 200 francs per annum were ever allowed for it, and it is affirmed, that the emoluments of the pastors during the French government, though greater than what they had before, have been since diminished, what they have lost, is strict impartiality between Catholic and Protestant, the power of building or repairing churches and cemeteries without leave, (now obtained with difficulty,) and their exemption from the conscription; it must however be allowed that pastors are not really obliged to serve, and the conscription falls but lightly on their friends and relations, whereas, under Napoleon, it often produced the ruin of families.

The commission granted by William the Third to Henri Arnaud is now in the possession of the hero’s great grandson, M. Arnaud, of La Tour. Four of the best informed of the pastors all agreed in the denial of any episcopal jurisdiction in their church at any time, [5] which assertion will be found supported by the three most esteemed histories. Some account of the regents may be interesting as an intermediate class of society between laity and clergy. They are persons of good moral character and sufficient information, elected in each parish by the pastor and his elders, and their office is for life unless in case of misbehaviour. Their duties are to instruct the children of their parish in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and to teach them to understand the religious books and expositions which are put into their hands. The schools are open eight hours a day during eight or ten months in the year. Besides this, the regents read the burial service, (very short and insignificant,) unless in the case of a head of a family. During morning service they read the lessons, (with explanation, generally Ostervald’s,) the commandments, and sing the Psalms given out by the pastors. The evening service, consisting of reading the Bible and two printed prayers, is entirely performed by the regents, as well as a similar service twice a week. They have the care of the church and the Bible in it, which in several instances looked new after thirty or forty years use. The emoluments of the regents are from 250 to 400 francs a year, and there are minor schools in those parishes where all the children cannot come to one. As to the general state of the people, they may be said to be all poor, as even those more at ease have so many relations in distress, that they indulge in no superfluities; nor is there one single beast of burthen kept for pleasure in all the vallies, except Mad. Goant’s little donkey, which affords her the milk and exercise necessary for her health. The universal education, as well as the catechistical examinations from Christmas to Easter, leave a power of thinking and a refinement among the poor unknown in other countries. As there is no commerce, and little traffic and barter, so the idea of amassing money is unknown, as is that of shame at their own simplicity and poverty, (which they are well aware of.) Thus pride and avarice may be said not to exist. As almost all are relations and friends, a general philanthropy reigns throughout, and as past sufferings and present content are always before their eyes, they rejoice at the coming of a Protestant stranger, to whom they may evince their feelings of gratitude for the assistance they have received. I know not any instance of gratitude more touching than the fact of the Vaudois having contributed in their church 2000 francs for the poor Dutch, nor can it be doubted that the widow’s mite was in many cases really given.

The relief of the poor is simply managed, besides the poor-box and sacrament money, those who cannot live at home during the bad season, receive from the pastor a certain number of tickets to his richer parishioners, who feed and lodge their poor neighbours successively for one day. Crimes are very seldom committed, and it is only those of the worst characters, and most abandoned fortunes, who ever become Catholics, though they are rewarded with 150 or 200 francs. What presses hard on the Vaudois is, that when they go into the plains for work, a preference is always given to the Catholics, and often a positive refusal to the Protestants. It is also very galling that one-fourth should be remitted out of the taxes to the Catholics. The taxes being levied on the lands, fall very hard on the little proprietors, the distinction of landlord and tenant being unknown in the vallies.

As to the state of the church, the oldest notices of their faith are to be found in the “Noble Ley็on,” written about 1110, and the other manuscripts which are at Cambridge; the confession of faith cited by Gilles de Gilles, as having been given in 1526, agrees with the ancient manuscript, and is perfectly consentaneous with the English Thirty-nine Articles, as far as it goes, nor does it appear they have ever swerved from this. It will probably be the opinion of many that there is somewhat to much liberty now, as the oaths of Geneva and Lausanne are very lax; the pastors are totally independent of those churches, [6] and if there is any thing like religious difference, it is buried in the greatest privacy, and sermons are very seldom preached on doctrinal points. Peyran had an idea of a union with the Anglican church; I know not if it was approved by others. Many certainly wish for a fixed Liturgy of their own, and disapprove of many little irregularities which have crept in since the altering the church government by the French. Their great simplicity has led them to leave many things to chance, and their easiness of disposition has also led them to allow of certain of the laity being admitted to the table of council, which decides on calling a synod. What is most to be admired in their church service, seems their singing and the explanation of the Bible. The clergyman also learns his sermon, and repeats it by heart; but I do not know how the Regents taking so great a part, can be defended, or the little respect paid to the dead approved of.

One must know the country to judge of the sacrifices made by those who go into the church, and by their friends. They cannot live at Geneva or Lausanne for less than 1000 francs per annum, are obliged to stay eight years, and frequently remain ten and twelve: it is true there are four studentships at Lausanne, and one at Geneva, but these are filled by seniority, and there are now nine Vaudois at these colleges. The young men have often tempting offers, and are under no obligation, but generally prefer returning to their vallies to their 1000 francs a year, all they can ever have. I knew one who refused three times this income.

There is not now any great want of Bibles, but rather of their religious books from Switzerland (certain explanations and hymns they are accustomed to;) which cost very dear. Of the clergy, some five may be considered as learned men, all are well-informed; the young men receive an excellent education, in some points perhaps carried too far. They study Hebrew for three years. It certainly must be a severe privation to them to be debarred from books, and the means of pursuing any study they like; none seem however to think it possible to buy a book after their return. If they have any thing to spare, they have but too many objects of charity. Their moral characters are I believe irreproachable, and their content universal; they say indeed they personally wish for no more. All the pastors either are or have been married, and all live and dress like peasants, and cultivate their own gardens: most of those married have large families. As to their incomes, their pay is 1000 francs in all, to which the poorest, perhaps three in number, can add about 500 of his own, the rest have from 2000 to 2600 francs in all, and the richest has 5000 francs. It is to be remarked that they all live nearly in the same style, and the richest reserve their means for the advancement of their rising families, or those of their immediate relatives. I do not mean to vouch for the correctness of the above sums, but they are the result of all the inquiries I could make on so delicate a point. The amount of their annual receipts from England, (arising you know from the interest of part of a charitable collection years ago,) is ฃ292, this is divided equally among the thirteen pastors. The receipts from Holland derived in the same way are 6400 francs per annum, this sum is divided into pensions for retired pastors, (3 or 400 francs for each,) pensions for widows of pastors, salaries for regents, and for the minor schools: subdivisions which go down to fourteen francs per annum. Nothing can be more unjust then the withholding Queen Mary and Anne’s bounty from them, which was continued till the last war, consequently the ministry of George the Third held themselves bound to pay it. [7] On examining the historian, Leger, who gives a list of the manuscripts, and the way they were sent to England, as well as the receipt of the Charg้ d’Affaires who received them, and his assurance that he had lodged them at Cambridge, it clearly appears that they were given up in order to be placed in a state of security, and NOT as a present. So that the Vaudois have a clear right to redeem them still. If they were given, where was the use of so exact a catalogue and receipt, and what object was it to the Vaudois to have a certificate of their being places at Cambridge? The catalogue is evidently formed not only as an enumeration of objects, but to make the reference to the manuscripts easy. The most useful thing I can now do, is to give you a clear idea of what is really wanted in the vallies. The hospital house is bought, and is to hold thirteen beds for sick, a doctor and nurses; a shop is to be added, and medicine sent out. The doctor is to visit the sick at home, if pay enough can be allowed him. There is next a severe want of three pastors, one at Maneigle, one at Villeseche, and one at La Tour, to teach the Latin school, attend the duty at Turin from Christmas to Easter, and to be always at hand to take the duty of any sick pastor. At present, if a pastor is ill, or a vacancy occurs, the other twelve do the duty in turn, and frequently walk five or six hours on the Saturday, and the same back on the Sunday. A school for the education of the regents would be highly desirable, also a library for the use of the pastors. But a college is the grand and eagerly desired restoration, which would add new vigour and utility to their church, and it is believed the government would not oppose it. Now you are not to suppose it possible to get any pastor to sit down and state all these things in order to incite the charity of England, they have great delicacy in owning their wants, but by asking first one question and then another at different times, and places, from different pastors, I have put the whole together, and made the following rough calculation according to my information, and the prices of the country. What is most imperiously called for is the addition of two or three pastors, and the regent’s school.

Expenses of hospital for twelve people, averaging the sick at six all the year round, and allowing two or three attendants, also for medicine in and out of the hospital – 260 pounds sterling, per annum.

For medical men 1000 francs, the communes may repair the house – 40 pounds sterling, per annum. For three pastors at 1000 francs, and 240 francs for lodgings, as there are no houses which can be given – 150 pounds sterling, per annum.

Regent’s school for eight or ten boys, being boarded – 180 pounds sterling, per annum.

Annual gift to form a library for the pastors – 20 pounds sterling, per annum.

House fit for a college at most would cost ฃ600, reckoning it very much dearer than the one bought for the hospital – 25 pounds sterling, per annum.

Five professors proposed (but four might do), stipend fixed at 1000 francs, say ฃ50 – 250 pounds sterling, per annum.

For twelve boys keep, the parents giving something, and it not being necessary to lodge them all – 150 pounds sterling, per annum.

Furniture and repairs per annum – 25 pounds sterling, per annum.

Total per annum: ฃ1100

The professors would keep the boys on pension. These would be five in number;

1. Of Divinity,

2. Belles Lettres,

3. Languages,

4. Mathematics,

5. Superintendant and Classical Professor

It is intended to lodge whatever is subscribed in England and Germany for the hospital in the funds of those countries, and should the above subscription be carried into effect, the same plan might be adopted. It is really provoking when ฃ28,000 would do such an infinity of good that it remains unsubscribed, when it might be collected in London in a single day. I conceive a very short pamphlet adapted to this purpose, with a committee of good names, might effect the business. Though the sums are so small, you may rely on their not being understated. The pastors would not willingly accept any augmentation of pay, but they would derive great benefit from each receiving a small sum to give away in their parishes. I forgot to mention that the population is much increasing; at Rora it has doubled itself, and at Maneigle increased a third in the last three years; perhaps generally an increase of an eighth or a sixth may be reckoned for that time, it is now upwards of 20,000. I am sorry these little remarks are not arranged in better order. There is now a Latin school at La Tour. Whenever there is any young pastor without a parish, this is the only means of subsistence for him, till he is called to a cure. Each boy pays a very small sum for his instruction. [8]


At the risk of repetition, I cannot close our correspondence on the subject of our most interesting vallies, without pointing out the best way of seeing them, for the sake of those friends whose warm interest for the Vaudois may induce them to cross the Alps. The approach from Turin is the most easy, as there is a post road to Pignerolo, and thence a good carriage road to Perouse and La Tour: but should I again visit the vallies, I should prefer the route from Lyons to Grenoble, Brian็on, Finestrelle, Perouse, and Pignerolo, which is very beautiful, and a good carriage road, though I am not sure that there is a post all the way along it. Finestrelle is the ancient frontier of the Vaudois country, and is now celebrated for its strong fort: the valley which extends from it to Perouse has also the interest of having been formerly inhabited by Vaudois: the comparative state of cultivation and population between it and those they still possess, is also a convincing proof of the great political mistake the government has made in expelling them. At Pignerolo is a tolerable second rate Italian inn and post-house, and those who cannot walk well, should there procure horses to ride during their stay in the vallies. At La Tour only an ass and a mule are to be had for this purpose, nor are these used to go out of the great road. At La Tour is a very clean little inn, “the Bear,” kept by a widow and her daughters, which should be the headquarters for at least a week. The communes of St. John and Lucerne may be seen from it in one or two days, and will please from their high state of cultivation; uniting the charm of the rich produce of the plains of the Po with woodlands, backed by rocks and mountains: they have also the historical interest of being the scenes of battles and massacres, as well as treaties and solemn ratifications of privileges, never held sacred. From La Tour also the whole valley of Rora may be seen, by taking the road from the plain of Lucerne: it is narrow and extremely romantic, nor do I know any thing more perfect of its kind, than the village at its summit, which unites the most complete retirement to rudeness of construction, and beauty of scenery. Although I was so much interested with the pastor and his family, I was not the less moved to find myself on the spot where the horrible massacre of all the inhabitants had been committed, by the Marquis Pianessa, and where the famous Janavel made one of the most heroic defences in the annals of the Vaudois. In returning to La Tour over the mountain, we passed the spot where this extraordinary action took place, and had a fine view from it of the whole of the centre valley of the Vaudois country. The commune of Angrogna will occupy at least one day from La Tour, the first part of which will be employed in seeing the beautiful, but confined scenery, near the village church; and the latter, in visiting the bold ridge above, commanding a distant view, and being itself the field of battle on all those occasions when the Vaudois had time to fly from their persecutors in the vallies to defend their mountains. The Pr้ du Tour, the grand citadel of the Vaudois, demands a day for the observation of its gloomy and wild scenery; the remains of the ancient barrier, and the site of the college, will interest all who have studied Vaudois history. The crag of Castelluzzo and its cavern, though now choked up, will probably tempt those who do not fear a severe walk to explore the heights between La Tour and Angrogna, but this will be impracticable to all but good walkers. One morning will be sufficient to enjoy the scenery of Villar and Bobbi, (the scenes of the great cruelties in the massacres); and the fort of Mirabouc, though now dismantled, deserves a visit for the sake of its history, as well as its scenery.

Nothing can be worse than the inn at Perosa or Perouse, and in order to see the Val St. Martin, it would be better to take up one’s quarters at Perrier, though nothing is to be expected there equal to the little inn at La Tour. By going round by Pignerolo there is a good carriage road from La Tour to Perouse, where mules may be found to carry baggage, but this route is uninteresting; while the mule track from La Tour by Roche Platte and St. Germains is very beautiful, the latter is remarkable for some treacherous attacks in the old wars. Pomaret will be ever considered one of the most interesting points by English travellers, from its having been the residence of Peyran, and the remains of this learned man and his brother (who first excited the attention of the Society of Christian Knowledge to the case of the Vaudois since the restoration of the King of Sardinia) rest in its cemetery. One of the boldest passes of the Val St. Martin is between this place and Perrier, so that the day’s journey from La Tour will be replete with interest, though somewhat fatiguing. Above Perrier the scenery is not very remarkable, but every one must be eager to see the famous Balsille, where the traces of Arnaud’s intrenchment are clearly visible, and the perils of the escape of his party will be found not overstated. About two miles beyond is a waterfall, which I did not see. In returning to Perrier, another path leads through Masseille, one of the most retired of the villages, and the same distance below the former place is Villeseche. One side of the valley rises upon rocks, at a great height above the torrent, and is rendered productive by the alluvial soil washed from the precipices above. Not far above Perrier, the wild narrow valley of Prale branches off, and conducts to the village of that name, the highest and most remote of all, where all the severities of an Alpine winter are felt, and little cultivation can go on during the very short summer. Hence is a mountain path to Bobbi over the heights near from Mirabouc, this is practicable for animals all the summer, and affords a return to La Tour without descending the Val St. Martin.

LETTER VI - Carlsruhe, Sept. 1.

As the shortest way of giving you an account of the state of the Vaudois in Germany, I copy the following statements, which I drew up for a particular purpose.

Seven villages in Wirtemberg, together with one in Hesse Homberg, and two in Darmstadt, were founded by Henri Arnaud, assisted by the Dutch Commissioners appointed for that purpose; one other was afterwards added; as the colonies increased, more villages sprang up in the neighbourhood, but the same number of pastors continued, and no more churches were built; the population has continually varied owing to emigration; that of the Wirtemberg villages, according to a census in 1819, was 2330.

At the time of colonization, the Duke and Vaudois Pastors mutually signed Twenty-three Articles of Reception and Privilege; among them, two assured to the Vaudois the right of naming their own pastors, and the uninterrupted enjoyment of their religion in every respect. The Dutch government agreed to pay three of the pastors that were then appointed, and their school-masters, but did not extend their bounty to the successors.

England then granted the Royale, for ever, and Switzerland endowed one Cure, on condition of its being served by a Swiss.

When the pastors appointed by the Dutch died, they were succeeded by Vaudois, to whom the Duke allowed a gratuity of fifty florins each, (a florin worth twenty-one pence English.) The Swiss, on the appointment of a minister, not of their own nations, withdrew their bounty, and in consequence that village was forced into a union with the Lutheran church. This was hastened by its being thrown into the Duchy of Baden by the Congress; I am told that to the village near Homberg, the Royale has always been paid, and to that only, and have reason to believe the generosity of the Princess has compensated for the loss of the royal bounty, without allowing the change to be known. The state of the Wirtemberg parishes is as follows, (vide schedule;) the royal bounty was continued to seven pastors marked with a star, until 1804, and then eased; they have been unable to ascertain the cause of their misfortune, though three petitions were forwarded to England, one to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1813, one to the Regent in 1815, and one to the King in 1820, by means of the Ambassador at Stutgard.

It is not easy to explain the degree of distress which the cessation of the royal bounty has occasioned, the sum appearing so small; yet it formed a large proportion of the revenue of the pastors, and the loss was in no way made up to them. They have, in fact, been fast sinking into the utmost penury, till the late changes. [9] It is easier to relate its effects in the church; parishes were obliged to apply to the government for the support of their ministers, and a scanty bounty was given by the king, on the annual application. The opportunity was seized to press the Vaudois churches into a union, and this has been prosecuted for ten years; on the death of the Moderator, instead of another being appointed, they were placed under the superintendance of the Grand Ecclesiastical Council, who neglected their churches and pastors’ houses, and rather augmented than relieved their distress; a petition to the government only excited additional vigour in the opposite party; by these means, and the increasing difficulty of obtaining the annual gifts from the King of Wirtemberg, the different churches have been gradually forced into a union. In 1823, those which still held out consented, or rather, a law was passed by the chambers in consequence of their continuing to ask for support.

The effect of this is, that the least numerous parishes have been annexed to the adjoining Lutheran ones, and the more populous places still retain their pastors, with the obligation henceforward to preach and instruct the children in the German language only, and to concede to government the right of electing Lutheran pastors; thus the two grand articles of reception are violated. In return for this the Chambers of Wirtemberg allow annually 130 florins to the remaining pastors; but as part of this is paid in corn, the real value is 100 florins each – whereas they received from England 160 florins, even when one-fifth was deducted as tax. Owing to these misfortunes, the state of many of the houses and churches is very bad, and in the annexed parishes, the churches are entirely going to decay. The inhabitants have been invited to pull them down, which they have refused to do, (in this case is the church of Sch๖nberg, once honoured by the eloquence, and still by the tomb of the venerable Henri Arnaud.) The parishes have all resisted the union to the utmost, and have never acknowledged it by any promises or acts of their own; but they have been obliged to adopt the German language in the churches and schools, and those pastors who could not preach in German, have had Lutheran vicaires appointed by government, who will succeed to the cures on their decease. One parish is indeed entirely under the charge of a Lutheran vicaire, the pastor being no more, and others have been divided among the neighbouring Lutheran ones. No Moderator or Doyen having been appointed, Mr. Moudon may be considered as head of the church, having been thirty-one years pastor. With regard to the Royale, the channel of payment was Messrs. Raikes in London, and Messrs. Goutart of Francfort, and the division of arrears can be only made in the country on account of various changes; all the pastors to whom they are due are alive, but some moved. It ought to be considered that these pastors, when they undertook the churches, considered their revenue as certain; the Royale has now been withheld twenty-one years, but they have not deserted their charge, though under severe privation, no equivalent having been given by the government, as is the case in Piedmont.

Extrait du livre de la Tr้sorerie cit้ dans le Memorial au Prince Regent en 1815. [10]

Distribution de 6 mois de la Pension de ฃ500 livres sterling pour les Vaudois tant en Peimont qu’en Allemagne. Pour six mois ฃ250 au moins tax sur

La Liste civile . . . 6 5 0

Droits de Payeur dit . . . 6 5 0 ฃ50

Tax sur les . . . . . . . .. . . 37 10 0

500 reste, ฃ200 de cette somme il faut rebattre la proportion qui revient a 13 Pasteurs en Piemont et autant de maitres d’้cole ฃ129 19s. 8 1/2d. Distribution pour les Pasteurs et maitres d’้cole des sept Colonies V. en Allemagne.

70 + 129l. 19s. 8 ฝd. = 199l. 19s. 8 ฝd.

Pour chaque Pasteur 6 13 4 = 46 13 4


Pour chaque Maitre d’้cole 3 6 8 = 23 6 8

Schedule of the present state of the churches


1.Palmbach, Muchelbach
Mr. Euler This commune was provided for by the Swiss; since they have withdrawn their bounty, it has been united to the Church of Baden – abut five or six years since.

2.Waldorf Mr. ______

3.Wembach, Haln

4.Domholzhausen, Homberg Mr. ______

5.Gros Villar, Petit Villar Mr. Moudon, a vicaire. Nephew of Moudon, of St. Jean, Piemont, and thirty-one years pastor.

6.Durmenz, Sch๖nberg Divided and incorporated with adjoining Lutheran parishes – the pastor, after suffering great privations, is living at a little Cure at a distance. These communes enjoyed the Royale of Darmstadt Hesse Homberg Wirtemberg

7.Pinache, Serres Mr. Molly

8.Lucern, Boerthal
Though they protested against the union, they have been incorporated with the adjoining Lutheran parishes. England.

9.Nordhausen Mr. Mullot

10.Neugenstadt Mr. Geymonat, a vicaire

11.Perouse, Wumberg
United to the Lutheran church, and under the sole charge of a Lutheran vicaire.

N.B. In Nos. 5,7,9,10, the pastors remain, vicaires (i.e. curates,) being added to those who cannot preach in the German language. The Nos. 2,3, are close to Reinheim, about ten miles from Darmstadt. No. 4 is at Homberg, near Francfort. No.1, three miles from Durlach. Nos. 5,6 and 8, close to Knillingen, and the rest near to Illingen. They lie dispersed to the right and left of the road from Carlsruhe to Stutgard, except those in Darmstadt and Homberg. The country where the Wirtemberg colonies were fixed by Arnaud, must have been then little else than sandy lands, swampy vallies, and forests; it appears to have been brought into cultivation by great labour, and each village is embosomed in a mass of fruit trees, while sandy plains extend around it, and woods more or less distant seem to exclude it from the rest of the world.

The people have never introduced any manufacture, or sought wealth in foreign countries, consequently they remain precisely the same little industrious landholders they were; no one seems to be righter than his neighbours. Their situation affords them advantages over their brethren of Piemont, but they seem not to have thought of these means of increasing their wealth; their houses are built in the German manner, and they use horses, oxen, and cows in agriculture. The characters of the remaining pastors I believe to be perfectly Vaudoise. Moudon I have seen the most of, he much resembles his uncle in Piedmont, and bears his misfortunes with great cheerfulness; yet his case is a severe one, after thirty-one years he has been allowed as a particular favour to hold his cure till his son had finished his studies, and the young man is just admitted as curate, but no increase of pay has been allowed them. Though Moudon has never left his parish for thirty years, yet he is perfectly informed of the state of Europe, and quite aware of the great changes taking place in America. He much surprised me by relating anecdotes of the late war. Besides being a Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar, he seems well versed in the Belles Lettres, which form his chief amusement. Yet his habitation and dress are not beyond those of the meanest peasant. The son is a promising young man, and perfectly content with this lot, though he has received a learned education, and has been ten years at the University of Tubingen. A few days since I paid a second visit to the Moudons, and the old pastor accompanied me in search of the tomb of the great Henri Arnaud. We drove several miles through a forest, and when apparently in the midst of the wilds, found a village at the end of a long open valley, where we slept; the next morning half an hour’s walk brought us to Sch๖nberg; about thirty houses form the village, all built in the German style of brick and timber, and apparently in pretty good case, though I believe them to be the very abodes of the first settlers. Fruit-trees shade them on every side, and a few vineyards arise at the back – corn-fields are spread around, and below them the meadows gradually sink into a swampy brook, low hills of verdure rise beyond, and forests crown the most distant. The whole gives one the idea of cleared lands in America. The church (of which I have mentioned the state) is built of wood chiefly, and measures within, only twelve yards by nine. Immediately in the front of the pulpit, is a long ornamented flagstone of rude workmanship – beneath repose the mortal remains of the venerable hero whose last retreat was among those Sept exil้s qui exerc่rent leur minist่re au Duch้ de Wirtemberg” – for whose support he him- self had obtained the royal bounty of England, for which he thanks Queen Anne in the preface to La Rentr้e Glorieuse, mentioning them in the above words.

In this humble cure did he pass the 12 last years of his life, and died at 80. The house which he built and resided in, is opposite the church, and differs only from the rest in having a sun-dial, and shelves for bee-hives in the front. I examined the registry of his whole property and its valuation. The whole, including some tenements in Piedmont, and even the most trifling articles, amounted to 2520 florins, or ฃ226. 8s. 2d. There are some curious items. One Echarpe, half gold, half silk, with large golden buttons; (this was his Colonel’s scarf, and has been since seen in Holland.) Wearing apparel; one black serge mantle or gown; one white worn out German mantle; united value, two Florins. A note says, “the rest of his wearing apparel was so bad, as not to be worth valuing.” He had four sons, one of whom succeeded him, and another was a student of law in London. [11]

In Arnaud’s time 1600 Vaudois left Wirtemberg, and settled near Philadelphia. In 1799, about 500 left these communes, and bought land also near Philadelphia, which they cultivated in common for nine years, when they sold it for 700,000 florins, (seven times the purchase money,) and retired with the joint stock to a tract of land in Louisiana, on the banks of the Mississippi: three years since they were seen by a Vaudois, who wrote home a very favourable account of their success.

Think of our good fortune in having got an edition of La Rentr้e Gloriense, by Henri Arnaud; it is in very bad condition, but still it is most valuable.

The following anecdote, showing the sufferings to which the Vaudois are still in these latter days subject, from the oppressive conduct of the Catholic priests towards them, is related by an English gentleman, who visited the vallies of Piedmont, in the year 1825; he received the account from the head of the family to whom it occurred, and who is a man of the highest respectability in every point of view; and holds at this time a place under government; the name and residence of this gentleman are, from motives of prudence and delicacy withheld. A little girl, born in the year 1780, the daughter of a Vaudois, was brought up under the eye of her parents till she was seven years old, and had been allowed to associate familiarly with the children of some neighbouring Catholics. When she was six years old, she was often tempted by their bribes to become a Catholic, and sometimes serious arguments took place with them and their priest upon the subject. The little girl, who was a clever child, and had been regularly instructed in her religion, by the pastor, for a long time kept the promise which had been required of her, of concealing all that was passing from her mother; but at length, alarmed at the threats of everlasting perdition, she revealed the whole. The natural consequence of this was a quarrel between the Catholic and Vaudois families, and the little girl was soon afterwards removed to a village, at some distance, the pastor of which was her relation.

At the end of the vintage a little supper was given in the fields; but when the joyful party were about to disperse, twenty or thirty armed men suddenly rushed among them, and forcibly carried away the poor child, in spite of all intreaties and resistance; the only explanation which could then be obtained was, that the little girl had voluntarily become a Catholic, and that neither her friends or her parents had any right to prevent her being instructed in that religion. It was afterwards discovered that the armed men were police men, soldiers, and servants, employed by the Bishop of Pignerolo. Petitions were presented in vain on the subject, and it was not till several years afterwards, that the mother was informed, her child was in a convent at Novara; when old enough she became a novice, and subsequently a nun, and was then permitted to write to her mother, but her letters were thought to have been dictated. In 1804 or 1805, when she must have been about twenty-six years of age, the Abbess wrote to say she had died of a fever; some suspicions have been entertained that she was carried to some other place, lest she should escape by means of the French. The mother was so much overcome by this misfortune, that she could never speak of it without tears, and it continued to prey so much upon her mind, that her health gave way, and she died of a decline soon after her daughter’s death was announced to her. Before this poor girl took the veil, it was proposed to her to become the wife of a young nobleman of good fortune, but on her refusing to marry a Catholic, no other option was left her. While this system of violence is resorted to by the Catholics, it is remarkable that the Vaudois pastors in the Piedmontese vallies, are liable to the most severe penalties for making a convert, and the convert himself may, by the existing laws, be brought to the stake. The Protestants are required to pay certain taxes, from which the Catholics are exempt; nor are they even allowed to inclose their burying grounds, or in any way preserve the graves of their relations or friends from molestation; even the remains of their late venerable Moderateur Peyran are at this moment, of necessity, left without protection, the cemetery of Polmaret being no other than an open field. In speaking of this remarkable person, whose name is already well known in England, it is worthy of observation, that though he was so wholly engrossed with the love of literature, as to buy books and materials for writing, positively at the expense of the most absolute necessaries of life; he allowed the two sons of his second marriage to remain almost wholly without education; it is true that the intellects of the youngest in particular were rather below par, and he is now a labourer; the son of his eldest daughter, on the contrary, whose education had been carefully attended to, became his secretary; but with an inconsistency for which it is difficult to account, he directed that after his death, his papers should be divided between his two sons, who so shared them that scarcely any two works remained complete in the hands of either, and many have been totally lost. A few are still in the possession of the grandson of Peyran, Bartolem้e Coucorde, the young man already mentioned, whose education, talents, and good conduct entitle him to a better lot than his present existence promises, that of passing his remaining days in penury and distress near his native village. Some manuscripts of Peyran have through his means fallen into the hands of the English traveller above alluded to.



"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth, but whether there be prophecies they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. * * * * *

And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.” But the greatest of these is charity! What words are these which I have just quoted? Christians, of all countries, of all sects, and of all communions! do you recognize in them the religion of your hearts? You do, or you are but hypocrites, and no true friends to the gospel.

O ye senseless fanatics! who have dared for ages, to divide, inflame, and overturn the world; to arm son against father, and brother against sister, for the sake of opinions, not necessary to their happiness, or at best of little importance. Ye persecutors, who beneath the veil of a religion, whose essence is charity, have believed that homage was to be rendered to your creator, by immolating human victims on his altars, and committing the most horrible atrocities. Ye, who make religion consist in vain ceremonies, and the gospel a rampart for the defence of your base interests, come forward before the tribunal of charity, and if it be yet possible, let this admirable sentence penetrate your hearts. “Now abideth faith, hope, and charity; these three, but the greatest of these is charity!” Try every action of your life by this sentence of the apostle. And as the pilot has ever before his eyes the compass to direct his course through the ocean, let this sublime picture of charity be the invariable rule of your actions and opinions, and the very soul of your whole conduct. Far from me be those useless distinctions of sects and parties, by which some would excuse the sin of intolerance, and the fury of fanaticism: for me, there exist neither Protestants, nor Catholics, nor Lutherans, nor Calvinists, nor Moravians, nor Anabaptists; I own to no other title, than that of Christian; no other religion than that of Christianity. Every man who practices its duties is my brother, whatever may be his particular opinions. It would be easy to demonstrate that this reasoning is derived immediately, from the fundamental maxims of the gospel; and the evils which a contrary belief have occasioned, prove that it is of the greatest importance. No true Christian can deny this, since it is confirmed by every line of his code. But who is a true Christian? He who lives in charity; he who practises it as did St. Paul. This is the true touchstone of our religion. He who shrinks from this test bears it not, is not a Christian. He is nothing,” to use the words of the Apostle.

It is upon these principles that I beg all that I have advanced in the history of the Vaudois may be judged. If I have expressed myself warmly against their enemies, it is only when they have violated the first duties of Christianity; then I neither wish or ought to spare them, for truth, in the judgment of an honest man, is one and immutable. He ought to purchase it, to use the words of the gospel, to publish and defend it, at the price of all he has in the world. I have nothing to do with Catholicism, but with the excesses which Catholics have committed. If I have anathematized the ministers of the Inquisition, it is because so execrable an establishment does not exist under heaven. The sun may well have withdrawn his light in horror, when he first illuminated the dark and bloody walls of this abominable tribunal! And they dare to assert that it is established for the propagation of the christian faith. What a horrible blasphemy is this! We may ask of the most ardent partizans of the Propaganda, [12] whether Jesus had recourse to an Inquisition? if the Apostles used such a means of extending their doctrine, or proving the faith of their brethren? Did the first preachers use tortures to force men to adopt their creed? Did not Jesus himself say to those who remained with him, when others fled – “And ye! will ye also go away?” [13]  Is this the expression of a persecutor? Or can the infernal rules of the Inquisition be founded upon the feelings which dictated this question? Nay! Is there in the whole of the sacred Scriptures, one single line or word which can excuse persecution for the sake of religion? If there is, let it be produced, and I will on the instant make full reparation to this host of executioners and fanatics. But if the precepts of Christianity tend to recommend to us the love of God and of our brethren, it follows that the Inquisitors and their adherents, have been Christians in name only, and that their conduct has tended to the discredit of true religion and greatly injured the cause of Christ; for light and darkness are not more different than a true Christian, and a bigoted fanatic. I have more than once remarked, in the course of my history, that we should rather accuse the Inquisition, than the House of Savoy of the atrocities committed on the Vaudois. If the latter deserves censure, it is for want of courage to oppose the perfidious and criminal instigations of this bloody tribunal. The frightful tyranny of Rome, at that time, may be considered as an excuse; and our history will show to what excesses the anti-christian policy of that proud court was led. And as the picture of such cruelty is disgusting, it will be pleasing to turn from it to the mildness which reigns in the present government. * * * * * *

It is for the Vaudois youth that I have undertaken this work, though I trust that those of more mature age may find it both interesting and instructive: it will recall to their minds anecdotes of their ancestors, which their fathers have often repeated to them; and their deepest feelings must be excited at the recollection of their forefathers, who have fallen beneath the axe of fanaticism for the sake of the gospel. The families of Mondons, Arnauds, Legers, Janavels, and many others still existing will read with emotion the exploits of their virtuous ancestors; their children will pronounce with reverence these names which have been an honour to our country; they will learn to repeat the most remarkable passages of our history. Enjoying from their earliest years the light of the gospel, their zeal will be inflamed by the sublime sentiments such examples inspire; and their first ambitious desires will be to imitate them. How well shall I be rewarded for my labour, if such be the effect of this work; the most ardent wish of my heart will have been accomplished, and I shall not have lived in vain.

Here let me repeat what I have said in my prospectus. The history of the Vaudois occupies, perhaps, the most interesting point of time in Christian history. Confined amidst the mountains of Piedmont, adjoining Dauphin้, they have there preserved the Christian doctrine and worship in evangelical purity and simplicity, whilst the most profound darkness covered the rest of Europe. It is from the Apostles or their immediate successors, that they have received the gospel, and from that time their faith has never changed; it is now the same as it was before the reformation. The existence of these few thousand Vaudois is therefore most interesting to all Christian nations. Many authors have written before me, but their works are scarce, and their style often nearly unintelligible, from their antiquity; nor do any of their works contain a complete history. Those to whom I have alluded in my prospectus, are Perrin, Gilles, Leger, Arnaud, and Boyer.

Perrin wrote the “Histoire des Vaudois at Albigeois,” printed at Geneva, 1618, 2 vols. 12mo. The work only carries down the annals of the Vaudois to 1601, and it is now extremely rare; it contains many valuable documents, which would be sought for in vain elsewhere, as the author was allowed to examine the manuscripts of the Synod of the Vallies. He was a minister of the church at Lyons.

P. Gilles, pastor of the Vaudois church at La Tour, is the author of “Histoire Ecclesiastique des ้glises reform้es recueillies en quelques vall้es du Piemont autrefois appell้es ้glises Vaudoises,” ches de Tournes, 1648, 1 vol. 4to.; this comprises the period from 1160 to 1643; containing interesting annals of the persecutions in the author’s time; but the style is still less agreeable than that of Perrin.

Jean Leger’s history is entitled “Histoire generale des ้glises ้vangeliques de Piemont ou Vaudoises,” printed at Leyden, in 1669, 1 vol. folio, goes as far as A.D. 1664; it is full of learning and piety, giving many facts to be found no where else; and the interest is increased from the circumstance of his having himself taken an important part in the events he describes. Still he enters into those tiresome details, for which the taste of that age is so much to be blamed. The work of Henri Arnaud is the “Histoire de la rentr้ glorieuse de nos ancetres dans leur patrie,” in 1 vol. 8vo. without date. The event he relates occurred three years after the expulsion of the Vaudois, that is in 1690. This is a most precious and interesting little work, for the author himself was at the head of his countrymen, and the vivacity and force of his narrative render it very attractive to the lovers of truth, though it must be confessed that his style, as he says himself, in his dedication to Queen Anne, is wanting in that polish which is so much admired in these times. This work was originally composed in two parts, of which the latter must have contained an account of the war between Piedmont and France, in which the Vaudois were actively engaged; the last part was unhappily never printed, and the manuscript remains undiscovered; any information respecting it would be very important to the completion of the third part of my work. Henri Arnaud died in Wirtemberg, where this manuscript probably would be found.

The last of the Vaudois histories is by Boyer, under the title of Abr้g้ de l’Historire des Vaudois, 1 vol. 12mo., La Haye, 1691; it goes down to 1690, and though written with judgment, is defective in many points, both in the historical parts, and with regard to the doctrine and manners of the Vaudois.

I pass over other histories of the Vaudois, in English and Dutch, as well as other references to them in more general works, as for instance, Gekendorf in his history of the reformation, Ruchat Basnage, &c. &c. as they are probably derived from the above sources, and are only more or less carefully compiled. * * * * * * [14]

Though I must not repeat here the evidences of the antiquity of the Vaudois, I cannot refrain from remarking that it is from the vallies of the Vaudois that the first sparks of that reformation have arisen, which has drawn back a great part of Europe to the purity of the gospel. It is extremely probable, that Calvin himself was of Vaudois origin, for there are still several families of this name in the vallies, from whence we believe his to have emigrated to Picardy. It is certain, that in the preface which this great reformer prefixed to the first French bible ever published; he acknowledges himself bound by the ties of kindred to the translator, one of our most celebrated barbes,” or pastors, named Olivetan, which makes it probable that Calvin had obtained from the Vaudois the doctrine which he afterwards preached at Geneva, and elsewhere. It is equally certain, that long before the reformation there were many persons who followed the doctrine of the Vaudois in Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, &c.; indeed the Vaudois of this last country, as well as those of Alsace, sent their youth into our vallies to be educated as pastors. It is known also that the celebrated Lollard who laboured with such zeal to diffuse the Vaudois doctrines in England, was not only a native of our vallies, but preached in them for a length of time with great success. 15 We may also assert that it is by means of the Vaudois that the reformation was introduced in the United Provinces. The Vaudois of Provence, Languedoc, and Dauphin้ also, originally sprang from our vallies, and when their numbers had increased greatly at Lyons, they were persecuted by the Archbishop of that city, Jean de Belle Maison, about 1180, and retired into Picardy, under Peter Valdo, where they received the name of Picards. Here Philip Augustus, king of France, resolving to extirpate them, caused 300 gentlemen’s houses to be razed to the ground, because the owners had embraced the tenets of the Vaudois. Forced again to leave their newly found country, these Picards, or Vaudois of Lyons, (also called poor of Lyons,) retired principally into the United Provinces of Holland, and there spread the knowledge of the truth. It was in the Low Countries that the Vaudois first took the name of Walloons, and that the first confession de foi (articles of belief) was drawn up by the celebrated martyr Guido Brez. This confession was first printed in 1561, addressed to Philip II. of Spain, in 1562; it was confirmed by the synod of Anvers, 1585, and finally adopted by that of Dordt. The above is sufficient to prove that the Vaudois church is the parent of all those which have arisen in Protestant Europe, and particularly of the churches of the United Provinces, as well Dutch as Walloon. Why do the Roman Catholics and the Protestants mutually hate each other? Why do they look upon each other with harshness and severity? It is, because instead of going to the source of their religion, the gospel itself, they content themselves with examining those streams, of which the waters have been rendered impure, by the admixture of human opinions: it is because they appeal to the confessions of faith of the heads of their sect or party, instead of seeking what really constitutes the essence of the Christian faith, and what ought to be the rule of our faith and practice, by means of the specific declarations of Jesus Christ and his apostles. It is because they generally adopt self-interest for their guide, instead of shielding themselves under that universal spirit of charity, without which there can be no real christianity, and because they entirely forget that religion does not consist in words, but in virtue.

The nature of my employments, and the interest of the great cause which I serve, have often called forth my reflections on the evils it has been my task to describe; and however earnestly I have searched for remedies, as well as for the discovery of their origin, my meditations have continually brought me back to the same point. Let it be remembered that it is a Vaudois who speaks, a Vaudois, who, like his countrymen, absolutely recognizes no other religion than that of christianity, and who believes that the unhappy distinctions of Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Calvinists, &c. &c., have done a thousand times more harm to the cause of the gospel, than all the manoeuvres of the wicked and unbelieving.

The thing is evident as to natural religion, for in examining history, we find that in no case has any one ever attempted to prescribe rules of belief to others, but that each receives what nature hath taught him, and nothing more.

Nor is there more obscurity in the point, as to revealed religion; not that religion of which opposing sects have given such different descriptions, but that which is to be found in the beautiful lessons of Jesus and his apostles. It is from these alone, we must judge of Christianity. And every one who is willing to undertake this important examination, without prejudices, will allow that nothing is more simple, more easy, than Christianity; and that the great truths which form its basis, are clear enough to be within the reach of the most confined understandings.

We must therefore conclude that many of the opinions which have so long sown discord, and still continue to produce dissensions among Christians, are by no means founded on points essential to Christianity; nay, the traces of several of them are scarcely to be found in the sacred writings.

What then are the fundamental articles of our faith, of which the belief is necessary to the character of a true Christian? Read the discourses of Jesus and the apostles to their converts, and you will have a full answer to the question. (See the quotations at the end of the Preface.) These articles of belief are but few in number, and if every Christian had religiously observed them, we should not see so many sects attacking one another, or the disciples of the mildest of masters, hate, persecute, and massacre each other, in the most barbarous manner. Such are the dreadful consequences a trifling error may produce in such a case. Such is the essence of the Christian faith, and the opinions which have been added to it, are not only useless, but dangerous. Every Christian must render an account of his belief to God alone, and it is his duty to found that belief solely on the express declarations of the gospel, without attending to the subtleties with which men have endeavoured to obscure them. The most crafty theologian cannot find one single line in the holy scriptures, which could give to any person or council upon earth, a right to impose a formula of belief on others. This pretended right which the court of Rome, and after it, so many reformed churches have wished to exercise, is no other than a manifest usurpation, and not only of the rights of man, but of God himself, who is our only judge, since to him alone we must all give an account of our faith. The gospel is the sole immutable rule of faith, and the Supreme Being has left to each person its explication, according to his talents and advantages; since it was not his object, as some have supposed, merely to propose to us such and such truths for our belief, but to render us more mild, humane, modest, and virtuous; and consequently more happy. It is for this reason that St. Paul does not hesitate to place charity, which he calls the union of all virtues, above faith, which is but a single act of the mind, without any merit whatever unless it influences our sentiments and our conduct. “And now abideth” (says the apostle) “faith, hope, and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.”

Such have ever been, and still are the principles of the Christians of our vallies; the gospel is their sole and immutable judge; they have paid no attention to the sects which have arisen around them; nor has any one of them attempted to impose upon his brother his own belief, as the rule of his faith. The words heresy and orthodoxy are almost unknown to them; nor do they know what a dogma is, for they find not this word in the holy scriptures, and their first rule is to adhere closely to them both in words and deeds.

It is true that the Vaudois have departed more or less from their former simplicity, since the reformation; they have been forced to use the books of the reformed, and to send their youth to be educated in foreign colleges. They use, for example, the catechism of Osterwald, because there is no means of printing others, in the country; but I hope once more to bring to light the catechism which our ancestors used in the twelfth century, the original of which is in the library of Cambridge. By substituting it for that of Osterwald, we should return to the usages of our ancestors. To complete the desired change, it would only be necessary to establish a small college or seminary in the vallies, for the education of those who are intended for the church. I have now only to intreat that it may not be taken amiss if I have laid so little stress on the Reformation. As a Vaudois I cannot consider it of that importance, which it is of in the eyes of the reformed, but I consider it as a revolution of the greatest interest, both from its civil and religious effects, and that whatever were the intentions of some of the reformers, they merit the title of benefactors of the human race. We owe it to them in great part, the progress of science, reason, and philosophy, as well as the first foundations of civil and political liberty, so nearly allied to religious independence. Without them the whole of Europe might still have groaned beneath the Papal yoke. But though they merit our gratitude, let not that gratitude degenerate into idolatry, or allow of their opinions being placed on an equality with the gospel. Luther, Calvin, Wickliffe, Zwingle, OEcolampadius, &c. were but men capable of being deceived like ourselves. Let us listen to their lessons, but remember that our sole legislator is Jesus, and that we are wanting in respect and gratitude to him, if we take any other title than that of Christians. Whoever thou mayest be, reader, into whose hands this book may fall, let me recommend to you the interests of the most consoling of all doctrines, of that doctrine by which we are told that true religion is this, - to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.” Allow me to exhort you to search for the knowledge of this divine religion, only in the sacred writings, which ought alone to be the rule and invariable compass of our course. Thus you will bring back all the Christian sects to the standard of the gospel, and inflame all hearts with that charity and philanthropy which form the essence of Christianity. Thus you will render this simple but useful maxim more dear to all mortals; - To do unto others as we would they should do unto us.

By this means you will destroy all factions, because each member of a state will be happy, that all those who are not enemies of the government, should thus enjoy the same privileges. By this means you will contribute to restore to Christianity all its splendour and its power; you will be the benefactors of your family, of your country, of the world. The wicked man, the bigot, and the false devotee, will hate, nay, even persecute you; but you have only to retire beneath the shadow of your own conscience, to render all their machinations abortive. The calm satisfaction which this will afford you, will amply make amends for the momentary pangs which calumny and injustice may excite in your breasts, and if ever mankind shall recognize true merit, it is to you alone they will erect statues.

Utrecht,4th October, 1794


The principal passages where the fundamental truths of Christianity are expressed with the greatest clearness, are the following: Gospel of St. John, chap. iii. ver. 36.; iv. 25,26,29,39,42; vi. 69; x. 24,26; 22. 30,31; xi. 27. Gospel of St. Luke, chap. xxiv. Acts of the Apostles, chap. ii. 22; iii. 18; iv. 10,13; v. 29,32; viii. 6,12,37; ix. 20,22; x. 42,43; xi. 14; xv. 7,19; xvii. 1,9; xviii. 4,6,27,28; xxvi. 22.

There can be no other fundamentally essential articles of the Christian faith, or any of which the belief is necessary to the being a good Christian, except those of which Jesus and his apostles required the belief from the persons they received into the bosom of Christianity. All that has been added since, is nothing more than alloy, as impure in itself, as pernicious in its effects This Preface has been translated literally, with the omission of one or two passages, of little interest to those ignorant of the author’s family and connections.





The valleys which the Vaudois have raised into celebrity, lie to the west of Piemont, between the province of Pignerol and Brian็on, and adjoining on the other side to the ancient Marquisate of Susa, and that of the Saluces, The capital, La Tour, being about thirty-six miles from Turin, and fourteen from Pignerol. The extent of the valleys is about twelve Italian miles, making a square of about twenty-four French leagues. The valleys are three in number, Luzern, Perouse, and St. Martin. The former (in which the chief town is now Catholic,) is the most beautiful and extensive, and contains the five parishes of Rora, St. Jean, La Tour, Villar, and Bobbi, through the three last of which runs the rapid Pelice, which has its source near the Pra Alp, and throws itself into the Po.

The Valley of Perouse is about twelve miles long, chiefly mountainous. It is traversed by the river Cluson, and the villages16 on the Italian side of that river (Pinache, Rivoire, Great and Little Doublon, and Villard,) as well as its chief town Perouse, are entirely inhabited by Roman Catholics. The Vaudois at this time possess only Pramol, Pomaret, and St. Germain.

Between the valleys Luzerne and Perouse, is the parish Prarustin, comprehending Roche Platte, and St. Barth้lemi, which belong to neither of them.

The Valley of St. Martin is scarcely wider than the bed of the torrent Germanasque, which runs through it, and extends from the Valley of Perouse to that of Queiras in Dauphin้; it contains the parishes of Pral, Maneille, and Ville S๊che, of which the former is so elevated, as to be covered with snow during nine months in the year. The other parishes contain each several small villages, and Perrier, which is the capital of the whole valley, is now inhabited by Catholics alone. This valley, which was the scene of the heroic defence of Arnaud’s band, is environed by lofty mountains, and rugged rocks, forming the most formidable natural defences; indeed the only passage into it for wheels, [17] is by a bridge, not far from Perouse, and this pass is so narrow that a few men might defend it against a large force.

The authors of poems and romances, in giving their enchanting descriptions of pastoral life, have excited a deep feeling of regret in sensitive minds, that the originals of their pictures are no where to be found. But I can console these friends of virtue, by shewing them where they may find what they have sought in vain in other parts of the world. And this happy asylum of innocence is no other than the valley of St. Martin. I have known there shepherdesses in every sense of the word, as amiable and interesting as the heroines of these romances. And if the delightful author of Estelle and Galat้e had lived among them as I have done, he might have added many a lively tint to his portraits, the more charming as it would have been copied from nature and truth. But let it not be thought that my shepherdesses resemble the smart wives and daughters of our citizens; [18] then, indeed, they would have little pretensions or vanity, grace without frivolity and amiability devoid of coquetry, and these set off by that true modesty which their simple habits inspire, and you have a true picture of my Vaudois heroines. Had I been born a poet, they should have formed the subject of my lays. The churches in the Valley of St. Martin, as well as those of the other valleys, were formerly much more numerous. In the whole we have now but thirteen parish churches, though in the ancient records, examined by Leger, mention is made of ten other parishes to which pastors were attached; these are now annexed to the thirteen. In the valley of Cluson or Pragela, which adjoins those of St. Martin, and Perouse, were no less than six flourishing Vaudois churches, as late as 1727, when in consequence of the exchange of territory between France and the House of Savoy, all those who remained faithful to their religion, were forced into exile. [19]  The Vaudois were also very numerous in the valleys of Queiras, Mathias, and Meane, until entirely extirpated there by Duke Charles Emmanuel in 1603. As they were in the Marquisae of Saluces, in 1633, where they had many churches.

Five villages, and the town of Luzerne, formerly attached to the parish church of St. Jean, have also been taken from them, in the valley of Luzerne; indeed, it is known that the Vaudois had churches in 1560, in Turin, Pignerol, and Quiers.

Notwithstanding that the Vaudois have been established in some of the places I have stated above, from time immemorial, and have had great possessions in others: they are now entirely confined within the three valleys mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, and there exists an edict rendering them incapable of purchasing beyond these limits. It is to be hoped that their fidelity and attachment to their sovereign, will be rewarded by a restoration to the rights which his other subjects enjoy, and that the goodness of the reigning prince, will lead him to consider it a duty, to reinstate them as soon as circumstances permit, in the full possession of those privileges which the claims of nature and society so loudly demand.

The population of the three valleys may amount to 16,000 or 17,000 souls, [20] which would give about 3000 for the number capable of bearing arms; it does not appear, however, that in the various persecutions our ancestors had ever more than 1500 men in the field, the rest being necessary for the defence of their own territory. By these feeble means has the God of armies effected the wonderful events which I am about to relate; and so extraordinary are they, that they might well appear incredible, did not the most authentic proofs exist of them.


As to the name of the Vaudois, it might be sufficient to answer from the authority of the judicious critic, Theodore [21] B่ze, [22] and Cougnard, [23] advocate of the parliament of Normandy. That the Vaudois have received the name from the valleys they inhabit. The names of Waldense or Valdense in Italian, and Valdensis in Latin, are thus derived from the same root, vale, valle, and vallis, a valley, as Vaudois is derived from vaux, the word for valley, in the ancient patois. [24] In the same way the inhabitants of the plain of the Po are called Piemontese or Piedmontese, Pedemontani, and those of the mountains, generally Montagnards. This word Vaudois, which they first acquired from their geographical situation, they have preserved as a token of their religion in all countries, as the Vaudois of Provence, and of Bohemia, and the Walloons of the Low Countries. Since the Reformation the names of Lutheran, Calvinist, and Reformed, have served to distinguish all those who rejected the papal doctrines, and the inhabitants of our valleys, the only people who have never been affected by these opinions, have alone retained their original name of Vaudois. I must, however, observe, that it is against their own wish that the have ever received it; the name of Christian was too precious in their eyes to have been willingly, on their part, exchanged for any other. As we find in the letter which they addressed to Uladislaus, king of Bohemia, they style themselves “the little flock of Christian, falsely called Vaudois.” It has been pretended and even by those who have written our history, such as Perrin, and Gilles, that the name is derived from Peter Valdo, which can by no means be the case, as it is allowed on all hands, that this famous reformer of Lyons was not known before 1175, while we have ancient MSS. in the Vaudois language, dated 1120, and 1100, in the former of which are stated the differences between their church and that of Rome, and in the latter the word Vaudois is used as synonymous with virtuous Christian.

In the MS. dated 1100, and entitled La Noble Lei็on, (of which there exist two original copies, in ancient Gothic letters, one at Cambridge, and the other at Geneva,) is this passage.

Que sel se troba alcun bon que vollia amar Dio et temar Jesu Krist
Que non vollia maudire, ni jura, ni mentir,
Ni avoutrar, ni ancire, ni peure de l’autry
Ni venjarse de li sio ennemie [25]
Illi dison quel es Vaudes e degne de morir.

Whoever is a good man, and wishes to love God, and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither speak ill of his neighbour, nor swear, nor lie; who will neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself of his enemy; of him they say, he is a Vaudois, and worthy to die. (of death.)

The opinion of Theodore B่ze is given in these words. Some have believed that the Vaudois had for founder, (of this sect,) a merchant of Lyons, called Jean, surnamed Valdo, in which they are mistaken, since this John was so surnamed from being one of the first among the Vaudois. But not to give more importance to these things than they are worthy of, let it be remarked, that it is not in the name that they bear that the Vaudois take a pride. We as well as our ancestors, esteem ourselves happy and render thanks to God in that he has preserved in our valleys the evangelical doctrine in all its purity, without any mixture of human opinions. We rejoice that the Supreme Being has deigned to choose our country, to preserve there the torch of truth, and that it has been the beacon to which other nations have come to light that has enlightened them. [26]  We are proud of never having been reformed; but that it is at our school that the reformers have been instructed, as they themselves avow. We rejoice finally in this that our valleys are the mother church of all Reformed and Protestant Churches. These are our titles; these are our testimonies. Every one knows that Luther and Calvin commenced their labours in 1517 and 1536, while we have a confession of faith dated 1120. [27]

It is almost needless to add the testimony of our enemies; Pope Pius II. known by the name of Aneas Sylvius before his election, and author of a history of Bohemia, printed by Anthony Bons, in which he says, they (the Bohemian heretics) have embraced the impious doctrine of the Vaudois, of that pestilential faction long ago condemned, whose doctrines are, that the Bishop of Rome is not superior to others; that there is no purgatory; that prayers for the dead are useless; that worship should not be rendered to the images of God, and the saints, &c. &c. To this testimony I must add that of Claude de Seyssel, bishop of Marseilles, and afterwards of Turin, celebrated in the reigns of Louis XI., Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., in whose reign it was thought no one could be so likely to bring back the Vaudois to the Roman Catholic faith, and he was in consequence made Bishop of Turin. The following, taken from a book written by him, expressly against them, shows all that he could find to complain of in their doctrine. They (says he of the Vaudois) will receive only that which is written in the Old and New Testaments; nay, they say that the Roman pontiffs, and other bishops, have degraded the sacred text, by their doctrine and false comments; they deny the power of absolution, celebrate no saints’ days, and pretend that they alone possess the true evangelic and apostolic doctrine; they despise the indulgences of the church, detest images, teach the words of the evangelists and apostles in the vulgar tongue, and affirm that there is no power which can forbid the right of contracting marriages, and say that mass was not celebrated in the time of the apostles, &c.


We find in St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, written from Corinth, chapter xv. verse 24, that it was the intention of the apostle to go into Spain, and to pass through Italy on his way. Now if St. Paul afterwards performed this journey, he must necessarily have passed through the valleys, as they lay on his road to Spain at that time, and he would have preached the gospel in them, as he did wherever he went. From this, it is fair to conjecture that the Vaudois have received their doctrine from St. Paul himself; and if this is thought too bold an assertion, we have reason to suppose that his doctrine may have reached them during his lifetime, as it seems to have been propagated by his followers throughout Italy, before he left Rome; for in concluding his epistle from Rome, to the Hebrews, he says, “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all saints, they of Italy salute you.” He does not say they of Rome, as the number of Christians rapidly augmented in the capital, and they were nearly all dispersed by the persecutions under Nero and Domitian, it is extremely probable that some parties of this host of fugitives should have taken refuge among our mountains, in the time of the immediate successors of the apostles.

But to descend to a period of greater certainty, it is allowed by all that the whole of Italy embraced Christianity in the time of Constantine, [28] and therefore the Vaudois doctrines may be considered the same as those of the Universal Church, by which we do not find any superstitious rites or customs to have been adopted till the sixth century; nor are the dangerous and revolting dogmas of the court of Rome, and its flagitious practices to be traced before the end of the eighth. All that belongs to the doctrine and practice of the modern Roman communion was until then unknown, as is clearly proved by the testimony of Juellus Daill่, Dumoulin, &c., and indirectly by the partizans of Rome, Baronius, Enuphius, Platina, &c.

These innovations, and particularly the adoration of images, [29] were loudly condemned by the churches of England, France, Germany, and the east. Which condemnation was confirmed by the council convoked by Charlemagne, [30] at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, in 794. The Bishops of Italy also proclaimed their discontent in a letter which they addressed, by means of Photius, to the patriarchs of the Greek churches. Baronius, who gives this letter, subjoins the following answer of the Patriarchs. [31]  “We have received a synodal epistle from Italy, in which the inhabitants lay to the charge of their bishop an infinity of crimes and perverseness; among other things, the tyranny he wishes to exercise over them, and they call us, with tears, to the defence of the church.” Here again let it be remarked, that as long as the superior church retained its purity, the Vaudois did not secede from it. It was the court of Rome that began with innovations, not they. Of this so many proofs press upon me, that I scarcely know which to choose. At the end of the eighth, or beginning of the ninth century, flourished Claude, bishop of Turin, whose diocese embraced not only our valleys, but Dauphin้ and Provence. [32]  He opposed himself so strenuously to the innovations of the court of Rome, that his doctrine has been since called calvinistic by his enemies. [33]

Illyricus makes the following mention of him in his Catalogue Test. Veritatis, lib. 9. “Claude, Bishop of Turin, lived in the time of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, of whom he was the intimate friend, even before he became Bishop; he strenuously opposed, (both by preaching and writing,) the adoration of images, or relicts, and the cross, invocations to the saints, pilgrimages, the precedence of the Pope, &c. He treated the Pope himself with great severity, loudly condemning the profit which he made by the poor superstitious people, whom he drew to Rome on pilgrimages.

In the fragments that remain of this courageous Bishop, which are cited by Leger, Part I. p. 137, he combats with great vigour, the abuses above mentioned, and proves that it was not his wish to establish any new sect, but to preserve the doctrines of the apostles in their original purity. [34]  We cannot, therefore, doubt his having used his utmost exertions in his own diocese, of which our valleys formed a part. Indeed we have the fullest evidence that the Vaudois preserved the purity of their faith during the ninth and tenth centuries. To prove this fact, it will be sufficient to give a single quotation from the missionary Marco Aurelio Rorenco, Grand Prior of St. Roch, at Turin, whose work is entitled Narratione delle Introduzione delle heresie nelle valli de Piemonte, Turin, 1632. [35] Speaking of the doctrine of Claude, which this author is pleased to call heresy, he says – “This doctrine continued in the valleys all the ninth and tenth centuries;” and again, “that during the tenth century no change took place, but the old heresies were continued.” In order to feel the full force of the above citation, we must call to mind that Rorenco [36] had been for ten years a missionary, directly sent out to the Vaudois, with orders to search into the origin of their doctrine; and that writing with the approbation of the clergy of Turin, he was little likely to favour the Vaudois. In the eleventh century, Lambertus, a Catholic and friend of Gregory VII. writes thus: “The court of Rome has so completely stifled all charity and Christian simplicity, that almost all good and just men believe that the reign of Antichrist, of which St. John speaks, is already commenced.” John the Fifth, who reigned before this period, has been called by cotemporary writers, the most wicked of men. In these unhappy times the Vaudois did not venture to preach any where but in the woods and highest mountains, except in their most remote villages, such as Macel, and Pral, &c. In the eleventh century, Berenger, so celebrated for his knowledge and virtues, was condemned by two councils, convoked by Pope Leo IX., and was forced to retract what he had written against transubstantiation, &c. by Pope Nicholas. He lost no time, however, in protesting against this forced recantation, and persevered in his doctrine till his death, in 1091. Now the belief of Berenger, (says an ancient author,) the same as that of the Vaudois, was so well preserved in the valleys, that to call a man a Berengerian was the same as calling him a Vaudois. Peter de Bruys, [37] a priest of Toulon, whose doctrine was precisely similar, succeeded Berenger, and preached in Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphin้, particularly at Gap and Embrun, a few hours distance only from the Vaudois valleys; his disciples were called Petrobrusians, and he was martyred at S. Gilles, 1124.

Henry de Bruys, and Arnaud de Bresse now took up the cause, and extended the Vaudois doctrines in Lombardy. Of the disciples of the former, St. Bernard, who wrote in 1120, bears this testimony, “that they prided themselves in being the true successors of the apostles, and conservators of their doctrine.”

Arnaud de Bresse fell a victim to the cruelty of the Roman clergy in 1155, being first crucified and then burnt. He was succeeded by his zealous disciple Esperon. Rorenco in the work above cited, says, that we must by the names of Vaudois, Esperonites, Henricians, Petrobrusians, Arnaudites, and Apostolical, understand one and the same sect, which is a sufficient proof of the identity of the doctrine of the Vaudois, and that of these zealous preachers. The celebrated Peter Valdo, a rich inhabitant of Lyons, openly professed the Vaudois doctrine in 1175. He abandoned all his possessions, gave himself up entirely to the promulgation of the gospel, had the bible translated into the vulgar tongue, and instructed the people publicly in the streets, commencing with the thesis, that we must obey God rather than man. He refused submission to the Pope and his bishops; exposed the scandalous lives of the monks; and refuted the doctrine of the mass, purgatory, adoration of images, and prayers for the dead. At the instance of Pope Alexander III., Valdo was driven from Lyons, with most of his disciples. A great part of them retired either to Lombardy, or (as an ancient writer observes,) into Cisalpine Gaul, and among the Alps, where they found a perfectly secure retreat. (tutissimum refugium.) That is among the valleys of Pragela, Meane, Saluces, &c., and we must pay great attention to this expression, since it appears natural that these valleys should be their surest place of refuge, being already people with Vaudois, who professed the same doctrines. Other disciples of Valdo withdrew to Picardy, Germany, Bohemia, and the Low Countries. I must here remark, that even those who in contradiction to the above chain of evidence, assert that the Vaudois derive their name and doctrine from Peter Valdo, must allow them to have been established in the valleys at least fifty years before the ancient counts of Savoy obtained the sovereignty of their country; for it appears in the history of the house of Savoy, that the first who began to make conquests in our country, was Thomas, son of Humbert, who had previously accompanied Louis, son of Philip Augustus, king of France, in his expedition against the Vaudois and the Albigenses of Provence. Hence we have every possible right to the possession of our country, in which we were established before our sovereigns.


As the Vaudois have been accused of being Manicheans, Arians, and Cathares, [38] we shall be but doing our ancestors justice to appeal to their own writings. In the preface to the French Bible, which they printed at Neuchatel, in 1535, the Vaudois render thanks to God that having received the treasure of the gospel from the apostles or their immediate successors, they had always preserved to themselves the enjoyment of this blessing. In proof of which it appears by the noble Lei็on, dated 1100, that they had rejected and continued to reject all traditions, nor had ever received other doctrines than those contained in the Holy Scriptures. The treatise on Antichrist, dated 1120, proves the same point; as does that against the invocation of saints, which must have been written in the sixth century, since it calls this error a doctrine then in the bud, and we know that it took its rise at that period. So in all the confessions of faith given at divers times, the Vaudois profess to have received their tenets from father to son, from the time of the apostles. Rorenco himself has preserved one of their petitions to the Duke of Savoy, dated 1599, in which they say, that it is not within a few hundred years only that they have had knowledge of the truth, and that no one could be ignorant of their having taught the same tenets for 500 or 600 years, that is, when they openly declared against the abuses of Rome, under their Bishop, Claude. The Vaudois of the valleys Mathias and Meane [39] made the same declaration, (nearly in the same words,) when they were forced in 1603 to quit their country, for refusing to obey the order of Charles Emanuel, to abandon their faith. Finally in all their memorials, petitions, and letters, they have never failed to repeat the same thing, praying “to be left in the enjoyment of that religion, which they had professed time immemorial;”40 even before the Dukes of Savoy were princes of Piemont. The authenticity of these petitions, &c., is unquestionable, since they have been printed, together with the answers to them, by order of the court of Turin, and are more than 100 in number.

SECTION II - Evidence of Protestant Writers.

To the internal evidence of the writings of the Vaudois themselves, we must now add that which is to be found in the works of Protestant authors, and first in those of the celebrated Theodore B่ze, who thus speaks of them. [41]  “These are the people who have always preserved the true religion, without allowing any temptation to pervert them. The Vaudois,” says he, in another place, “are so called from their residence among the valleys and fastnesses of the Alps, and may well be considered as the remains of the purest primitive Christian church. Nor has it been possible to draw them within the pale of the Roman communion, notwithstanding the horrible persecutions exercised against them. At this time they have churches flourishing, as well in doctrine as in examples of a truly innocent life. I speak particularly of those of the Alpine valleys, of whom some are subjects of the king of France, and others of the Duke of Savoy.” Ileidanus [42] asserts, “that from the most remote antiquity they have opposed the Roman Pontiff, and have always held the purest doctrine.”

Esron Rudiger affirms that the Vaudois existed at least 240 years before John Huss, which agrees nearly with Bishop Claude. L’Histoire ecclesiastique des Eglises r้form้es de Freance, printed in 1558, confirms the above assertions. Amyraut, Drelincourt, Basnage, Ruchat, Jurieu, Werenfels, and many other writers of the reformed church, give the same opinion.

SECTION III - Testimony of Roman Catholic Authors.

Among the principal evidences in favour of the Vaudois, I must here refer to the large collection of edicts respecting them, published by the court of Turin. It is deemed unnecessary to recapitulate their dates. The Monk Belvedere, chief of a mission, sent to convert the Vaudois in 1630, in his answer to the College of Propaganda fide, [43] excuses himself for not having converted a single person, because “the valleys of Angrogna have always, and at every period, been inhabited by heretics.” – Again, Reynerus Sacco, expressly appointed by the court of Rome, Inquisitor against the Vaudois, goes still farther than Belvedere; and in a book he published against them, calls them Leonists, from one of their ministers names Leon, who lived in the third century; he affirms that no sect was so pernicious to the church as the Leonists; and this for three reasons: 1st. Because it was the most ancient of all; some deriving its origin from the time of Pope Sylvester (the fourth century), and others from the Apostles themselves. 2ndly, Because it was the most extensive, there being scarcely any country into which it had not penetrated; and 3dly, That instead of inspiring horror as others sects did, by their frightful blasphemies against the Divinity, it had a great appearance of piety; since its members “lived justly before men, believed rightly on God, and received the Apostles’ Creed; but they blasphemed against the Roman church and clergy.”44 The most obstinate opponents of the antiquity of the Vaudois must give way before the authority of Claude de Seyssel, Archbishop of Turin, who has this passage in his book against us, printed by privilege of Francis the First of France: “The sect of Vaudois,” says he, “took its origin from one Leon, a truly religious man, who, in the time of Constantine the Great, detesting the extreme avarice of Pope Sylvester, and the lavish expenditure of Constantine, preferred living in poverty, with simplicity of faith, to the reproach of accepting a rich benefice with Sylvester. To this Leon all attached themselves who thought rightly of their Creed.” The same author, after having made useless researches after the commencement of the Vaudois sect, concludes with these remarkable words: “That there must be some important and efficacious reason why this Vaudois sect had endured during so many ages. Again; all kind of different attempts to extirpate them have been made at different times, but they always remained victorious, and absolutely invincible, contrary to the expectation of all.”

The reader will observe that this expression, “during so many ages,” was written by Seyssel in 1500.

I have already quoted Rorenco, one of the most zealous of the missionaries sent against the Vaudois; his family still remains in the valleys. One of his descendants bearing the title of Count of La Tour, in his Memorie Historiche, addressed to the Duke Victor Amadeus, allows that the Vaudois doctrine was not new, in the time of Claude, many persons having opposed the Roman See before him; he also asserts that their doctrine remained the same in the 11th and 12th centuries. Rorenco will not, however, allow that the doctrine was derived from the Apostles, but avows (which nearly amounts to the same thing) that there is no ascertaining when it was first received in the valleys.

In fine, Samuel Casini, a Franciscan monk, says positively, in his work entitled Victoria Triomphale, printed at Coni, 1510, that “the errors of the Vaudois consisted in not admitting the Roman to be the sacred mother church, or obeying her traditions; although he could not, for his own part, deny that they acknowledge the Christian church, and had always been and still continued to be members of it.”

Now it seems to me hardly possible, after these proofs, that any one should venture to deny the truly Apostolic succession of the Vaudois church; but as some people have supposed that the Vaudois, after receiving the opinions of the court of Rome, have subsequently been reformed, like all those who are called Protestants; let them say when and where the Vaudois reformation took place; and let them also account for the silence of all historians on such an event! But as long as the testimony above quoted, of Catholics, Protestants, Vaudois; nay, of the very edicts of their princes, and their own petitions and replies, exists, I shall consider it as proved that the Vaudois church, having received the Gospel in the earliest days of Christianity, is the parent of all the reformed churches, and has never herself been reformed.

These truths having been established by such incontestable proofs, it remains only to give a sketch of the manners of the Vaudois, and the discipline of their churches, before we come to the historical part of my labours.


In religion, theory is nothing without practice, and of all species of knowledge none requires less speculation that that of the Gospel. Its Divine Author has declared, that the religion which he came to announce to us consists not in words, but in virtues, which important declaration at once defines the spirit of Christianity, in placing charity even above faith. However this great truth may be forgotten by many of the Christians of these days, or rendered nugatory by the pretensions of their teachers, it is not the less incontestable at the tribunal of reason and revelation, and let us hope, for the good of humanity, that it will soon prevail over the vain phantoms which have been substituted for it throughout the greatest part of Europe. Yes, indeed! I delight in believing that the march of knowledge is a guarantee of this, and that we are approaching that happy time when a man will not be required to prove he is a Christian, merely by repeating, like a parrot, the articles of belief, which have been drawn up by the chiefs of the sect to which he belongs, when it will not suffice alone coldly to admit some Evangelical truths, but when those who call themselves Christians will acknowledge – “That pure religion is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep themselves unspotted from the world.” [45]  It cannot be too often repeated, that this is real Christianity.

And such have ever been the sentiments of the Vaudois, never have they been known to waste, in pernicious disputes or useless discussions, that time which might have been employed in good works; and thus, by a natural consequence, they have formed a Christian society of virtuous conduct and irreproachable morals.

We have above quoted that remarkable passage of the Inquisitor Reynerus Sacco, in which he has borne witness in favour of our ancestors. We will add the testimony of Claude de Seyssel, who affirms that, “for their lives and moral behaviour, the Vaudois are without reproach before men, and do their utmost endeavours to keep the commandments of God.” The respectable French historian, De Thou, says that “the Vaudois keep the commandments of the decalogue, and allow among them of no wickedness, detesting perjuries and imprecations, quarrels, seditions, and all debaucheries, usury, &c. &c.”

The Cardinal Baronius bears witness to their chastity, and Thuanus (also a Catholic historian) adds to this, “that they are such scrupulous observers of honour and chastity, that their neighbours, though of a contrary faith, intrusted them with the care of their wives and daughters, to preserve them from the insolence of the soldiery.”

This occurred in 1560, when the troops of Count de la Trinit้ were quartered at La Tour, and the Vaudois had retired to the mountains. It was then also that a young girl, to escape the pursuit of a soldier, preferring her honour to life itself, precipitated herself from the summit of a rock. An English monk, quoted by Boxhornius, also gives an example of the purity of Vaudois manners, in the answer of a young woman to the solicitations of her lover; “God forbid, O young man, that I should love thee so much as to become eternally miserable for the gratification of thy wishes.”

This admirable purity is still respected in the valleys, and, notwithstanding the corruption of the age, we must look through a long series of years to find one or two females who have not observed it. Those who have fallen are become the objects of universal contempt. The very children point at them, and a whole life of virtue is scarcely sufficient to obtain for them the oblivion of their fault. Compare this with manners of other Christian nations.

Let us now turn to Vigneaux, who was well qualified to judge of Vaudois morals, having been forty years a pastor among them, and having made a large collection of their ancient writings, which he translated: from his work “On the Lives, morals, and religion of the Vaudois,” I extract the following, “They are a people of fidelity in their promises, of irreproachable lives, and are great enemies to vice;” and of his own time he adds, “We in these valleys of Piemont live in peace and concord with the others, but we do not connect ourselves in marriage with the Catholics. For the rest, our manners and morals are so approved by them, that they prefer taking servants from among us to themselves; [46] and some come from a great distance to choose nurses for their children, considering them more faithful than their own.”

The order of the French government, in 1592, to M. de Birague, governor of Saluces, to massacre the Vaudois, drew forth the following testimony from one of the council of that town:

That his majesty must assuredly have been misinformed as to these poor people, who were good men, and did him honourable and faithful service, living peaceable with their neighbours; with whom indeed there was no fault to find, except their religion.” To all these testimonies there is one other to be added, of still more weight, namely, that of all the edicts which have been successively published by the court of Turin against the Vaudois; in no one is the smallest reproach to be found on the score of probity, good faith, or morals. This silence becomes an invaluable avowal from those who eagerly sought some pretext to give a colour to the horrible persecutions they authorized.

Is it not astonishing, after this, to find the Vaudois calumniated by Albert de Capitaxis, Rubis, &c. as the first Christians were by the Pagans? Paradin [47] and Girard, however, may be cited in reply. They assert that the Vaudois were not guilty of any of the horrible crimes of which they were accused; but only of having freely inveighed against the corruption and vices of the priests and friars, and thus excited their mortal hatred. * * *

But we may well despise this slander, and consider what has been the cause of their real purity of manners. The ecclesiastical discipline, which has always been in great vigour, may be assigned as the cause, as it has induced the continual study of, and meditation upon the sacred writings. And here I must be pardoned another extract from an ancient author. “All the people,” says he, “of either sex, and of whatever age, cease not to learn and teach; the labourer at his daily task either teaches his comrade or learns of him, and the evening is spent in the same instructions, even without books. He that has learnt for one week teaches others for the next, and if any one excuses himself from want of memory, he is told that even one word every day will amount to many sentences at the end of a year, which in many years will form a fund of knowledge,” “I have heard with my own ears,” says this author, “one of these poor peasants repeat the whole book of Job by heart, without missing one word; and there are others who have the whole of the New Testament at their fingers’ ends. Do any of them lead an evil life? They are sharply rebuked, according to their discipline, and told the Apostles lived not thus, nor must we who imitate them:” Reynerus Sacco again confirms this by saying, “The Vaudois know the whole of the New Testament by heart, and much of the Old, (in their own language,) nor will thy hear any thing else, saying, “that all sermons which are not proved by the Scriptures are unworthy of belief.” This then has been the foundation of Vaudois morality, they knew no other rule of faith than the Gospel, and, as far as possible, adapted their sentiments and conduct to it. The sacred duty of an historian compels me to allow, that the effects of human frailty have sometimes shown themselves among them. Leger, who wrote more than a century ago, thus allows also, that “the Vaudois, his cotemporaries, no longer possessed that great sanctity and detachment from the world which distinguished their ancestors.” But I must add,” he continues, “that, compared with other reformed nations, there is none which surpass them in zeal for the word of God and constancy to their faith, at the peril of their lives and fortunes; as well as in simplicity, innocence, sobriety, and industry. For they abstain from cards, dice, gambling, and swearing, and have a horror of drunkenness, and even of dancing. So that if any one falls into a vicious life, he is esteemed infamous. Law-suits have been from time immemorial unknown among them; but, according to Thuanus, the first took place in the 16th century, owing to the litigious disposition of a young man, who had gained a smattering of law at the college of Turin, and sued his neighbour for having suffered some goats to browse among his cabbages.”

However much it may cost me to avow it, I must in my turn allow that the Vaudois have degenerated since the days of Leger; law-suits are beginning to become common among them, and luxury and card playing are insensibly introduced; nay, there are even some families who live without labour, a thing formerly unknown.48 The zeal for religion has also cooled in those parishes adjoining Piemont. But these blots in the morals of my compatriots are perhaps inevitable to human weakness, which cannot approach perfection: perhaps, too, we are carried away by the common mania of believing our ancestors ever better than ourselves. I remark this both for Leger and myself.

What we can loudly proclaim is, that still in all Europe there does not exist a people of such good faith, simplicity, frankness, and kindheartedness, as the Vaudois of the present day. They preserve a respect for religion, a love for their duties, and a purity of opinions and morals which may in vain be sought for among other nations called Christian; and these virtues are joined to so much modesty, that they appear perfectly natural, and never ostentatious. What a touching and sublime spectacle do these people present to every kind heart and good understanding which contemplates them! They are good husbands, good fathers, kind friends, and good citizens, and have always, even in the midst of their persecutions, shown the greatest fidelity to their princes. Nay, even have, after an interval of a few days only, turned in their defence those arms which they had used against them, in the preservation of their lives and religion.

During the long course of persecutions they have sustained, notwithstanding the perfidy with which they were treated, and the horrible tortures which they underwent, they have never given way to vengeance, and have contented themselves with repelling force by force. So that no instance is to be found, in their history, of a defenceless enemy having been ill used, or of their having violated their promises, even while treated with systematic perfidy. Nor have they ever shed blood, except when their absolute safety obliged them. If so many virtues, so many good qualities, are sometimes mingled with weaknesses, we must attribute it to the imperfection of human nature; observing that it is only some individuals who are worthy of reproach, and that the mass of society is (humanly speaking) irreproachable. It would, perhaps, be possible to clear off these faint stains, if the ancient ecclesiastical discipline was again enforced; and it is in aid of this object that we have consecrated the next chapter to its description. Happy, thrice happy should I be, if this, or any part of my work, should tend to draw any of my countrymen (still more than at present) into the path of life. If this whole people, by drawing daily nearer to the Eternal One, should ever render themselves worthy to have it said of them – “This is the patience of the faithful, behold them who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” [49]


That the Vaudois have preserved until the time of the Reformation the doctrines of the primitive church, as described in the epistles of the Apostles, has been acknowledged by Luther, Melancthon, Bucer, and ฦcolampadius, in the different letters which they addressed to our ancestors. And it was by their advice that the latter relaxed somewhat from the ancient severity of ecclesiastical government, fearing that it might estrange persons otherwise desirous of embracing their belief; and others, who having fallen into error, preferred abjuring their creed to exposing themselves to the shame of public punishment. I cannot think, however, that these changes have proved advantageous, and Melancthon himself confesses, he cannot disapprove of the former strictness, and wishes it had been adopted in the Protestant churches. It is certain that the total abolition of all discipline among the latter has been pernicious to good morals. Let us examine the methods taken by the Vaudois to preserve them uncorrupted.

Public Worship, &c.

The public worship was always celebrated in the Vaudois language till 1630, when a pestilence swept off the whole of the barbes, [50] then fifteen in number, with the exception of two, who were inefficient from age. [51] In consequence, pastors were invited to come from France and Geneva; as these knew neither Vaudois nor Italian, they preached in French, a custom which still continues, (though the churches have long been served by Vaudois,) but though few families speak French habitually, there is no one who does not perfectly comprehend it, all their books being in French; and consequently the children always receive their instruction in that language. They make use of the Swiss liturgy, not having it in their power to print one of their own. In the holy sacraments the bread was, until 1630, broken into three parts, and the water thrice sprinkled in baptism, in remembrance of the Trinity. The parishioners, without exception, assembled at the house of their respective elders, for communion, which was celebrated four times a year; when before Easter, and sometimes before Christmas, each person was required by his pastor to give his reasons for his faith, and if one was passed over, it was esteemed an affront. Oh virtuous people! Why hast thou not persisted in this laudable custom, so well calculated to perpetuate thy happiness, and maintain thy zeal for religion? Before the time of the plague above mentioned, the pastors each year were subject to a visit from the moderator and two members of the synod, who, after minute inquiries made their report to the synod. The foreign clergy would not submit to this ordinance, and though it has been since re-established, these perquisitions have not been made with the same strictness.

The ancient pastors were also accustomed to invite the censure of their consistory once a year, upon any thing they might disapprove; and, after general consultation, the first of the elders freely gave his opinion of the conduct of the pastor. Ecclesiastical punishments were also severe; a murderer, adulterer, or lewd person, could only be reconciled to the church after having given unequivocal proofs of repentance, and a long exclusion from the sacrament. Such persons were also obliged to appear publicly in the church, (the number of times being regulated by the extent of guilt,) and after sitting on a seat apart, stand up at the end of the service, while the pastor announced that a person was permitted to make public reparation for his fault. The penitent then implored aloud the pardon of God, and his brethren, for having set them so bad an example, and promised amendment; upon which the barbe announced to him the remission of his sin, on the part and in the name of the Almighty, and concluded by an exhortation to the people. This custom is authorized, nay, prescribed by the Gospel, as one of great utility. I must however repeat, sins of this nature are still extremely rare in the vallies. Games of hazard were never permitted, and dancing was so strictly forbidden, that the wife of a pastor was publicly censured for having been present at a May-day dance in Luzerne, though she did not herself take part in it. There are also,” says Leger, “ordinances against blasphemy and swearing; but during the twenty-three years I have been minister, and twelve moderator, no one instance of the kind has ever occurred; and I am convinced in a whole century here one should not hear the name of God taken in vain.”

The consistories in each parish are composed of the pastor, the elders, and the deacon: [52] no one is admitted among the elders without a very strict examination; the dignity lasts for life, unless forfeited by unworthy conduct. In important cases the heads of families are called in to the assistance of the consistory, who decide by the majority of votes. There were besides other councils, called colloques, [53] composed of the pastors and one or two ancients from every church, who met once a month in each valley to take cognizance of those differences which were not finally arranged at the consistories. From the colloques an appeal might be made to the synods; but disputes were sometimes settled by choosing arbiters, and exacting a promise of obedience to their decision. By these means was every dispute terminated, for it was absolutely forbidded, under any pretence, to have recourse to courts of law.

How consistent these rules were with the spirit of primitive Christianity may be seen, by referring to the sixth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians.

The synods were the most solemn and general councils of the Vaudois, and were formerly held every year, (but now every second year,) at each parish in turn, excepting the four most remote. [54] They consist of the pastor and two elders from every parish, together with a commissioner from the sovereign, who, however, is not allowed to speak in the discussions.55 This assembly forms a court of dernier resort to all others, appoints pastors and schoolmasters, and creates a moderator, adjoint, and secretary; who, under the name of La Table, form a committee for the management of affairs, until the meeting of the next synod. But the synods do not assume the right of interfering in matters of faith.56 Indeed, I find that all the articles of belief, and declarations of faith by our ancestors, have been drawn up in special general assemblies, consisting not only of pastors and elders, but also of such heads of families who could attend. As, for example, the articles d’union des vall้es, in 1571.

At the opening of their synods the pastors preach in turn, and it is then only that the Catholics permit the members of their church to attend such sermons, which they do in great numbers. [57]


This name, which originally signified uncle, was generally given to those persons treated with any particular respect and reverence, and was used to distinguish the pastors, until the calamity of 1630, mentioned above. “These barbes [58] were,” says Leger, “models of all virtue, pious, humble, innocent, mild, and peaceable; as well as diligent, laborious,and vigilant in their office; faithful labourers in the Lord’s vineyard; they consecrated all their time and talents to the care of souls; exposing themselves to reproaches and persecutions, nay, even death itself in defence of the truth; despising the vanities, luxuries, and honours which the world offered to them. In a word, they fulfilled to the utmost every duty of nature and society.” Among them many were married, others remained single, on account of the changes of abode then so often necessary to keep up a correspondence with distant countries; particularly (since the twelfth century) with Bohemia, Germany, Gascony, Provence, Dauphin้, Languedoc, England, Calabria, and Apulia. Our barbes visited each of those countries in turn, preaching and animating the courage of their brethren; and the money necessary for their journeys and support while absent, was furnished them from the valleys.

Besides preaching, they occupied themselves in making copies of the Holy Scriptures, for the use of their flocks; many of them studied medicine and surgery, an occupation the more laudable as medical men have always been very scarce in the valleys, only one residing even now in the valley of St. Martin, and none in that of Luzerne, except the apothecary of the Catholic town of that name. It is true that the frugal manner of life among the Vaudois renders their assistance little necessary; and well acquainted as were our ancient barbes with the simples, with which our country abounds, they found among them almost all the remedies required.

There were some of these venerable men, who, like the apostles, applied themselves to mechanical arts, but the most particular object of their care was the instruction of youth, and especially those intended for the church. In the most ancient times, the studies of the latter were confined to the learning by heart the gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, and the epistles; with a good part of the writings of Solomon, David, and the prophets; after which on presenting good testimonials, they were admitted into the ecclesiastical order, by the imposition of hands. [59] Not only the inhabitants of the valleys, but the youth of distant countries came to have the instructions of our barbes. For Illyricus, [60] the Papist author before quoted, affirms – “I find that it was common, nay, customary, for Bohemians to travel from their country, to their Valdensian preceptors in Lombardy, as if to some school or college for the sake of studying divinity.” The History of Alsace (lib. i.) makes a similar statement, with regard to the Alsaceans preparing themselves for holy orders.

The cavern, which served for the accademia of our venerable barbes, where they sowed and cultivated the principles of their pure and blameless religion, and whence they spread them through the world, is still in existence; it is the cavern of the famous Pr้ du Tour in the parish of Angrogna. Besides this sacred college, there was, and still exists in each parish, one or more schools, where the children of both sexes are instructed in writing, reading, arithmetic, and sacred music, [61] as well as in the elements of religion. There are also two latin schools, where those destined to the study of divinity learn Latin, and a little Greek, previous to their removal to Lausanne or Geneva.

[NOTE: - How different is this instruction from the method pursued in our days: it sufficed then to have studied the Christian religion in the gospel. But now a minister of the gospel must pass the flower of his youth, in learning sciences which certainly do not render him a more zealous and virtuous Christian, than he would have been had he studied alone at the school of Jesus. Now, for four or five years he is to groan beneath the study of languages: [62] then he goes on to the study of the belles lettres; and then to philosophy, of little use indeed to him, and indeed injurious, as it is taught at some universities. See here, ten years of labour and expense! and for what? To gain a knowledge of subjects which have no connection with the science of happiness. Ten years, during which, the youth who has devoted himself to the preaching of the gospel, has scarcely heard mention made of it; or if he has, only as a necessary part of his studies; while he should have made it his principal object. After this comes theology, which surely ought to consist in the simple, but fundamental and thorough knowledge of revelation; the proofs which establish its truth; and above all, the duties which it recommends. Is this the method of study in the colleges? By no means. It is not the gospel which they teach; it is the various opinions of commentators, and heads of sects, on different passages of the sacred writings. Is this to conform to the spirit of religion? is it not, on the contrary, to engage one’s self in that pretended wisdom, that futile science it so much reproves? Let me be allowed freely to say, that I consider the manner in which the Christian religion is taught and learnt in our days, as the principal obstacle to its progress. The gospel has no need of all this paraphernalia of science, to affect the feelings or judgment. It possesses in itself all that is necessary to produce these happy effects. I have only to cast a glance back upon our good ancestors, when our barbes studied the Bible alone, to be confirmed in my opinion. Is there now among the nations regarded as the most enlightened, any example of a society, which has attained to such a degree of perfection? Surely, if the answer is in the negative, we must not deny the source of the superiority of the ancient Vaudois over other nations, and even over the Vaudois of the present day. It is true that the studies of our young divines have not always been so simple. Logic, together with Italian, French, and Latin, were added, but still there was nothing like the present course of study. I deny not that all these sciences, (with which it is wished to adorn divines,) may be very useful in the countries where they are taught; as France, Germany, England, Switzerland, and the United Provinces; but I believe all this apparatus of learning to be totally useless in our valleys, and that it is consequently in vain to condemn so many youths, destined to the priesthood, to such heavy expense and waste of time; [63] and every enlightened person will be aware of the cruelty of awakening these young men to the pleasures of learning and science, when on their return to their homes, they must abandon them from poverty, want of time, and their isolated situation. For to whom can they communicate their sciences? to the Vaudois? they understand the gospel alone, and are indifferent as to the rest.
It must be remarked that the object of this note regards the Vaudois alone, and that it has been added with a view of drawing their attention to the establishment of a college, of which the author has drawn up a plan, which will be added at the end of the history. When it is considered what important objects may thus be obtained by a very small comparative sacrifice of money, it is hoped the benefactors of the Vaudois will turn their attention to it, and that some influence might be exerted by the British government to obtain the necessary permission, at the court of Turin. - Vide calculations of the expense by a traveller, in 1825.]




Those who are ignorant that our annals are marked by blood and misery, will be surprised to find that the history of these virtuous and simple Vaudois, worthy of the admiration of mankind, is little else than a series of calamity. Nor will they be able to reconcile the barbarity and ferocity, with which they have been persecuted, with the candour and innocence of these victims.

One word is sufficient to explain the horrible enigma; mistaken zeal is blind to the duties of religion and nature. Can we call those reasonable beings, who, while claiming the privileges of the human race, utterly forgetful of humanity, massacre thousands of their fellow-creatures in cold blood. Why is it that the potentates of the earth have constituted themselves judges of an affair which regards God alone? Or who has given them a right to treat as heretics, those who think differently from themselves, or to pour out their blood before the altars of God?

It was at the end of the fifteenth century that these scenes commenced; for previously, though the victims of secret intrigue, the Vaudois had suffered no open persecution. It was reserved to the Inquisition to work their ruin. A Spanish priest named Dominic, came to France to preach against the Vaudois of Albi or Albigenses; and succeeded so well that his order received the title of the preachers. He established himself at Toulouse, and thence dispatched his spies in all directions to make perquisitions for those suspected of heresy, and punish them. [64] Gregory IX., then Pope, soon perceived the advantage he might derive from such missionaries, and authorised the Dominicans in France and Spain, and the Franciscans in Italy, to make inquisition (inquirere) after heretics; as well as to try, convict, and punish them. Such is the origin of the Inquisition, a tribunal so execrable, that it threatened to drown the human race in blood. Its principal seat was at Rome, and on the model of that, was established at Turin, that famous council, De Propaganda fide et extirpendis hereticis, which we shall hereafter call the Propaganda. This council began by declaring the Vaudois unworthy of communication with other Christians, ordered the confiscation of their property, the demolition of their houses, even the cutting down of their trees; sent to all princes and sovereign lords, to require them to search for and deliver up such heretics to the Inquisition; inflicted heavy penalties on those who concealed them; and conferred the third of their property on the informers, who pointed out their retreats. But these measures were too weak; the court of Rome aimed at the utter extirpation of this unhappy people, and committed to its ministers, the power of delivering over to the secular arm, that is, of putting to death without mercy, all those they considered heretics. Nay, these ferocious missionaries pronounced sentence against corpses which had been buried twenty and thirty years; dragged them from their tombs to flaming piles, and confiscated the possessions of the families to which they belonged. A father was forced to give evidence against a son; a sister against a brother; a wife against her husband; the bonds of nature, blood and friendship, were esteemed as nothing to the objects of the Inquisition; even those suspected of heresy were rigorously punished, if they could not procure witnesses to swear to their innocence. The accused was ignorant of the name of his accuser, nor was he allowed any advocate, except such as might be chosen by the Inquisition. One witness alone was sufficient for condemnation to the torture, and even where the crime could not be proved, the victim was never acquitted, but his name was branded with infamy, and remained inscribed on the registers of this relentless tribunal.

I content myself with referring my readers to l’histoire de la religion des ้glises r้form้es, by Basnage, 1725, 4to., where they will discover ample proof that the above statement is not overcharged; and find extracts of the acts of the Inquisition of Toulouse, erected against the Vaudois and Albigenses.

I cannot however refrain from transcribing some of the articles which have served as rules to the inquisitors in the persecutions of our ancestors.

Some of the rules followed by the Inquisitors in Their proceedings against the Vaudois.

That no one can be received as a penitent or admitted to absolution, if guilty of directly or indirectly concealing a heretic.

That no one, after having been given over to the secular power, be permitted to justify himself before the people, lest by his explanations it should appear to the simple that injustice had been done him; and if he should escape, the Catholic religion be thereby injured.

That no one condemned before the people shall be pardoned, even should he retract, and promise conversion; for a sufficient number of these heretics could never be burnt, if they were suffered to escape on such pretexts; because these promises being only drawn from them by the fear of torments, would not be observed, and if they should promise conversion before the people, and death be then inflicted, the people might think them unjustly treated. Therefore it is best never to let them speak before the people.

That during examinations, the Inquisitor should always have a book open before him, appearing to have therein registered, a quantity of depositions, and, indeed, the whole life of the heretic. Inevitable death must be placed before his eyes, if he refuses to confess and renounce his heresy. If he answers – “If I must die, then, I prefer to die in my own faith;” his execution must be hurried on as much as possible, and mercy never shown.

No attempt should ever be made to convince heretics by the Scriptures, for they pervert them with such dexterity, as often to confound the most learned men, who attempt to answer them, and thereby they become more hardened.

A heretic must never be answered categorically; and in an interrogatory several questions should always be given at a time; so that in whatever way he may answer, he may be replied to, to his confusion.

If there are any who protest they never were guilty of the Vaudois heresy, they must be admonished, that there are proofs sufficient to convict them; promising them in ambiguous terms,that they may hope for pardon on a free confession; many will then confess, with the hope of saving their lives.

Such were the Rules of the Inquisition, at the end of the eleventh century.


We have already stated, that when Valdo and his disciples were driven from Lyons, towards the end of the twelfth century, many settled in our valleys. In consequence about 150 years afterwards, the population becoming excessive, many families withdrew to Provence, where they built Cabrieres, Merindol, Lormarin, and other villages. Others went to Paysanna, Biolet, &c., villages in the Marquisate of Saluces; and some retired to Meane and Mathias, near Susa. But the most considerable colonies formed at this time, sought an asylum in Calabria, and Apulia; where they first built the town called Borgo d’ Oltramontani, [65] near Montalto, and fifty years afterwards (on the increase of new settlers) San Sisto, Vicarisso, Argentine, and St. Vincent. The Marquis of Spinello also allowed them at last to build on his lands near the sea, the fortified town of Guardia, which soon became a flourishing place.

About the year 1400, a persecution arising in Provence, many Vaudois returned to the valleys, and thence, accompanied by others of their brethren, directed their course to Naples, in the neighbourhood of which they founded successively the little towns of Moulione, Montavato, La Cella, and La Motta.

About 100 years after this some Vaudois of Frassinieres (then making one body with those of the valleys) went to inhabit the town of Volturara, near those above mentioned, which was the last considerable emigration at this period.

All these little colonies were regularly instructed by pastors, who travelled from town to town for that purpose. Our barbes even possessed houses at Florence, Genoa, and Venice, in which last city were 6000 Vaudois. [66] There were even numbers in Rome itself, who lived in concealment.

Although the Vaudois of Val Louise, and two others places in Dauphin้, were persecuted in 1380, [67] this calamity did not extend into Piemont till 1400, when all the inhabitant of Pragela were forced to fly to the highest mountains, where about eighty women and children died of cold. After the massacre of all who fell into their hands, the persecutors pillaged their houses, and carried their booty to Susa.

This persecution was far exceeded in severity by that in the Valley of Luzerne, excited by the monkish missionaries in 1476. These men, notwithstanding the four edicts confirmatory of the privileges of the Vaudois, published by the Dukes Louis and Amadeus and Duchess Jolante, from the years 1448 to 1473, procured bulls of great severity against them, from the inquisitor Aquapendente, and Campesio, bishop of Turin, in 1475. Many Vaudois in consequence fell beneath the hands of the executioner, and among them the barbe Jordan Tertian was burnt at Susa; and Rouzier, Chiamp, Ambroise, and Hian, also suffered martyrdom in other places.

In order to add force to the above bull, the Duchess Jolante issued, in 1476, her Latin edict, (still extant,) directing the magistrates of Luzerne, Cavour, and Pignerol, to use every means to bring the Vaudois over to the Catholic faith; and, in case of resistance, to execute the inquisitorial bulls against them.

In this edict, the Duchess herself gives evidence of our antiquity; I had almost said, apostolical succession, since the words are, “to make them enter (venire) into the bosom of the Roman communion,” and not re-enter.

Clement the Seventh may be regarded as the founder of the most monstrous empire which has ever existed, exciting the flames of persecution against all those who refused to acknowledge him as supreme head of the church. Innocent the Eighth proceeded upon the same plan; taking advantage of the brutal ignorance of the age, to lay the world at his feet, and to dictate supreme laws to nations and their sovereigns.68 The bull of the latter Pontiff,69 addressed to Albert de Capitaneis, papal nuncio at the court of Charles Duke of Savoy, is too important to pass unnoticed. The Pope complains that “the followers of that pernicious and abominable sect of malignants, called Pauvres de Lyon, or Vaudois, say and commit many things contrary to orthodox faith, offensive in the eyes of God and pernicious to their own souls.” In consequence of which, (and thinking himself obliged by the duties of his office absolutely to root out this accursed sect and all contaminated by it,) Innocent, through his full power, orders “all bishops, archbishops, vicars, and others possessing ecclesiastical office, to obey his inquisitor, and to take up arms with him against the said Vaudois, in order to tread them under foot, as venomous serpents, and thus fortify the people confided to them in the profession of the true faith.” He then recommends to all – “neglect nothing, and employ their best endeavours for such a holy and necessary extermination of the said heretics.” And exhorts all sovereigns and princes “to take the shield of orthodox faith, and to lend him and all bishops, &c. &c. their assistance, to the end that they may exterminate and entirely destroy all these execrable heretics.”

The Roman Pontiff proceeds, “to order all preachers to preach this crusade, to excite and inflame the faithful to destroy this pestilence by force and arms; to absolve all the crusaders, contributing by their arms or otherwise to this holy extermination, from all ecclesiastical censures and sentences. He grants to all the crusaders a dispensation for all irregularities. He recommends to all inquisitors to make composition with all those who have goods or possessions unjustly acquired, provided they will employ them for the extermination of the heretics. And he gives to all persons fighting against the latter full indulgence and remission of all the sins they may have committed; and this pardon is to extend even to the moment of their death.”70 He also gives to the crusaders “the right to take possession of all goods of heretics, moveable and immoveable. The missionaries shall command all those in the service of these heretics to leave them, and to obey our apostolical commands, under pain of excommunication. All those who have any debt or promise due to these Vaudois shall hold themselves as free from it, and discontinue all commerce with them. All those disobedient to these commands shall be deposed from all their orders, rank, and dignities, whatsoever they may be; and the ecclesiastics shall lose their benefices, the laity their honours, titles, fiefs, and privileges, becoming infamous, and incapable hereafter of holding any office or employment.”

Such is this series of horrible maxims, subversive alike of all justice, humanity, and religion.

The bull, which was followed by an apostile from the Legate, almost as long, as signed by two notaries of Pignerol, authorized by the Duke of Savoy, to publish it in all his territories; was the cause of eight hundred thousand Vaudois being put to death in different parts of Europe. Leger vouches for this fact; can any terms then be sufficiently severe for the cruelty of this monster

Innocent VIII.

To return, the nuncio Capitaneis, furnished with the Pope’s letters patent, having engaged the Duke of Savoy, the King of France, and other neighbouring princes to furnish troops for the extermination of the inhabitants of the valleys, about 18,000 men were assembled, besides 5 or 6000 Piemontese volunteers, eager to obtain both the pillage of the valleys and full remission of their sins.

In order to ensure success, this army was divided into several corps, and attacked at once Angrogna, Luzerne, Perouse, and St. Martin, as well as Pragela, where, after many cruelties committed, they were repulsed by the inhabitants. The chief attack was made in the Valley of Angrogna, towards Roccal Magnol, where the Vaudois were prepared to receive it; some of the advanced guard had armed themselves with a kind of long wooden cuirass, which defended the men, and from which the arrows rebounded; and under this living rampart the second rank made good use of their long cross-bows, but were on the point of yielding to superior numbers; when one Revel, indignant at the insulting shouts and imprecations of Lenois, who commanded the enemies, shot him with an arrow, upon which his troops were struck with a panic and fled. The French and Savoyards, irritated by this defeat, made another attack on the side of Angrogna, but though at first successful, they were afterwards repulsed. One of the captains, Saquet, falling from a rock into the torrent Angrogna, the spot was called by his name more than a hundred years after.

In the attack upon Pral, of 700 men, who engaged the Vaudois near Pommiers, one ensign alone escaped, whom the Vaudois pardoned, that he might carry the news of this defeat to the rest of the army. The attacks in other quarters having had no better success, all open hostilities ceased, although desultory incursions were made into the valleys for a year afterwards, which did great mischief, in keeping up an alarm and preventing the cultivation of the land.

Philip the Seventh, Duke of Savoy, at length resolved to put an end to the war, and sent a bishop to treat with the Vaudois, at Pro Ayssuit; the only condition being, that they should come to Pignerol, where his court was, to ask pardon. This was assented to, and the Duke granted a general pardon, on receiving a sum of money; he allowed that he had been ill informed; confirmed their former privileges, and affirmed that he had not such good, faithful, and obedient subjects as the Vaudois.

It was on this occasion that Philip VII. desired to see the children, it having been reported among the vulgar, that the Vaudois children were born with one eye in the midst of the forehead, and four rows of black teeth: a striking instance of the ignorance in which Piemont was plunged at that time.

The favour of their prince did not, however, defend the Vaudois from the persecutions of the inquisitors, who, from the convent near Pignerol, took many prisoners, either by force or strategem, and seldom allowed them to escape death. By their intrigues they prevailed upon Margue-Marguerite de Foix, widow of the Marquis de Saluces, to drive all the Vaudois from her territory, in the year 1500. These poor exiles, after taking refuge for five years in the valley of Luzerne, and making incessant supplications for permission to return, at length suddenly attacked their enemies sword in hand, and gained possession of their homes, where they remained unmolested during the greatest part of the sixteenth century.


Every one knows that the commencement of the sixteenth century was marked by the change in religious opinions throughout Europe which produced the Reformation; nor need I here specify the names of the reformers, or enumerate their labours in different countries, from Luther’s public acts, in 1516, to the assemblage formed by Cranmer in England, of Bucer the martyr, Fagius, and others, about the middle of the century.

Our barbes had, in 1526 sent barbe Martin and others, to hold a conference with the reformers Zwinglius, OEcolampadius, and Bucer, and had returned with many eulogiums on the constancy and simplicity of the Vaudois. Luther, though at first no friend to the Vaudois, admitted, upon better information respecting them, that they were most improperly styled heretics, and expressed his admiration of the courage with which they had renounced all human systems, in order to be guided solely by the light of revelation. Calvin also took a lively interest in them, and held their doctrines in high estimation. To the eulogiums of the reformers were added, however, some rebukes on what they esteemed errors in church discipline, and some German ministers returned with the barbes, to consult on their amendment. The strictures of the reformers rested on points of doctrine not specified by our histories; too much lenity shown towards feeble persons, who attended mass from fear of persecution; and lastly and principally, “that the Vaudois had not celebrated their worship with sufficient publicity for some years.”

I must be permitted to say, that even these reproaches appear to me ill founded. Our ancestors would have been indeed blamable had they concealed their faith; but, on the contrary, they defended it at the price of their property and lives. All that can be said is, that their external worship was not so regular as in our days; because, as a means of security, they often worshipped God only in caverns and forests, and in their private houses.

When our barbes had communicated to their brethren the observations of the reformers, an assembly was convoked to discuss them, at Angrogna, on the 12th of September, 1532, which was attended from every part of the valleys. The result was a new confession of faith, though it appears the assembly was not entirely unanimous, for two pastors and some others were of opinion (and with reason) that it was better to adhere to the old confessions, and particularly that of 1100.

I would go farther and say, that these confessions of faith, so frequent since the Reformation, have been pernicious.

Is it not an act of folly or vanity to dare to form confessions of faith, other than the Apostles creed? I do not hesitate, therefore, to blame our Vaudois for having thus departed from the wise maxims of their forefathers.

The spirit of this document, and the publicity with which the Vaudois resolved in future to celebrate divine worship, greatly astonished their enemies. The monks, who had been sent into the valleys to collect the revenues of their cur้s, and to convert the inhabitants, despaired of their undertaking, and returned in great ill-humour. But their hatred to the Vaudois was too inveterate to allow them to remain idle; and having put in force every strategem, they at last succeeded in their plots so far as to induce Duke Charles to begin a new persecution.


Many Vaudois, to escape the last persecutions, had withdrawn from their country to Merindol, Cabrieres, and Lormarin, in Provence, where they lived undisturbed until 1534; when the bishops of this country, making researches for heretics, seized these unhappy people, and finding them to be Piemontese, wrote to the inquisitor and to the archbishop of Turin, at whose instigation the Duke consented to appoint Pantal้on Bressour, lord of Rocheplatte, director of the war against the Vaudois. Bressour, provided with letters patent, went to examine the Vaudois prisoners in Provence; and from them learned not only who were the barbes who came from the valleys to instruct them, but the names of almost all the families there. From this information, he formed two lists, viz. one of declared, the other of suspected heretics, which he presented to the inquisitors; he was soon armed with fresh powers, by the edict of Quiers, (dated August, 1535,) to seize all whom he knew to be Vaudois, and to force them to enter into the Catholic faith, or undergo the punishments they deserved. Civil and military officers, and all other subjects were enjoined to obey the requisition of Bressour for assistance, under a heavy penalty.

Having chosen 500 men from the Duke’s whole army, this leader attacked the Vaudois, who had not the slightest suspicion of the violation of the peace, and massacred them without any distinction of age or sex, spreading consternation throughout the valleys. The following day, as they marched into the Val de Luzerne, with the intention of continuing the carnage, our Vaudois suddenly attacked them in front, rear, and flank, and succeeded in destroying most of these assassins, the rest took to flight, abandoning their prisoners and booty. Perrin (the historian) attributes this victory, in great measure to the slings, which the Vaudois used at that time with the greatest dexterity, and which formed their principal weapon. Blance, countess of Luzerne and Angrogna, complained in vain of this perfidious invasion: two days afterwards appeared letters from the Duke, forbidding the inhabitants of the valleys to assemble in arms, under a penalty of one hundred silver marks. Bressour, however, contented himself with seizing those Vaudois who were mingled among the Catholics in Lower Piemont, and soon filled his castle, the prisons and convents at Pignerol, and the inquisition at Turin, with prisoners. After they were tried by the inquisitors, vicar, and assessors, part of them were condemned to the flames, and the rest to several years imprisonment. There were some indeed whose fate was never known. The Duke, seeing that these persecutions made no impression, and having remarked that, in open warfare, “the skin of a Vaudois always cost fifteen or twenty of his best Catholics,” by his letters, forbid them to be further molested on any pretence whatever.

My readers will see that he was here actuated by a political motive. Francis the First, king of France, having demanded a passage for his army destined for the reconquest of the Milanese, the Duke thought proper to refuse, and consequently to employ all his forces to protect the frontiers. It was therefore necessary to engage the Vaudois to defend their passes, through which the French could have directly penetrated. However, notwithstanding all resistance, the enemy soon forced their way through Savoy into Piemont; and, after bearing their part in the sufferings of the war, the Vaudois remained under the government of the French for twenty-three years. They were during that time little disturbed on account of their faith, although some individuals occasionally fell victims to the fanaticism of the inquisition. Catelan Girardet, of St. Jean, was burnt at Revel in 1535; as he was led to execution he took up two pebbles, and, rubbing them together, thus addressed his persecutors: “You hope by your persecutions to destroy our churches; you will no more obtain your object than I can destroy these two stones in my hands.” After which he submitted to his fate with admirable resignation. In 1536, the barbe Martin Gonin, of Angrogna, as remarkable for his learning as for his piety, was seized at Grenoble, on his return from Geneva, and thrown into the Isere for his perseverance in the faith.

The Vaudois at this time resolved on publishing the Bible, having only the New Testament and some books of the Old, which were sparingly scattered among them. This they accomplished at the expense of 1500 gold crowns, paid to the printer at Neuchatel, who undertook the work. The translation was made by the barbe Robert Olivetan, with the assistance of his relation the celebrated Calvin. Though some say, that the version of Lefevre d’Estaples, prepared a few years before, served them for a model; it is certain that this translation of Olivetan’s was used as the basis for almost all those since published. It was revised and reprinted by the academy of Geneva, in 1588.

We have mentioned the commencement of the persecutions of the Vaudois in Provence, in 1534; they were revived in 1540, by the parliament of Aix citing the inhabitants of Merindol to appear before them; when they refused to do so on account of the danger they would be exposed to, they were condemned to the loss of their lives and possessions. The execution of this barbarous sentence was deferred till 1545, when Cardinal Tournon obtained permission to proceed by force of arms; Minier, president of the parliament and lieutenant of the king, was the principal executioner; having marched from Aix on the 16th of April, he commenced by burning the villages of Pepin, La Motte, and St. Martin, and massacred all the inhabitants, sparing neither age nor sex. On the 17th, he ravaged and burnt Lormarin, Ville-Laure, Treizemenes, and Genson. On the 18th, he set fire to Merindol, when he put to death a child, the only one remaining of its inhabitants. And, finally, on the 19th, this monster destroyed the town of Cabrieres, where 800 victims scarcely satiated his thirst for blood. The assassins under Minier’s command even extended their cruelties to infants yet unborn, in a manner too shocking to relate.

Those who escaped from this horrible carnage fled to the valleys and to Geneva; but, after some years, returned to take possession of their property. While these scenes were acting in the south of France, Pope Paul III. excited the parliament of Turin to similar acts in the valleys, then under the French dominion. To a petition for mercy, the only answer returned by Francis the First was, that if they did not conform to the laws of the Roman communion he would punish them as obstinate heretics, since he did not burn such persons in France to tolerate them among the Alps. They were then enjoined to send away their barbes and receive Roman Catholic priests to celebrate the mass.

The Vaudois replied courageously, that it was impossible for them to obey such commands; that they were always ready to render unto Cๆsar the things which belonged to Cๆsar; but that they would render unto God what pertained to him, however dearly such obedience might cost them. No doubt, at another time, this would have excited a general persecution, but Francis had too much to do to employ his forces against them. The parliament, therefore, contented itself with individual persecution, and ordered all judges and magistrates vigorously to assist the officers of the inquisition, and to commit to the flames all the Vaudois who might fall into their hands. In consequence many suffered, and among them one Hector, a bookseller, who was burnt 1555, in the square of the castle at Turin, and behaved with great heroism.

Until this time the houses of the barbes had served for the churches of their flocks; but they were now considered as too small, and it was decided to build temples:72 the first erected was St. Laurence, at Angrogna; but others were built in val Luzerne and val St. Martin in the same year. 1556. It was also about this time that they began to send students to foreign universities, which relieved the barbes, who were much employed now, but also decreased the number of young divines, as comparatively only a few could support the expense.

The number of pastors having at length greatly diminished, recourse was had to Switzerland to fill up vacancies.

Two commissioners were sent this year, on the part of the king, to command all to go to mass; but after a tour in the valleys they were convinced that their threats and promises were equally ineffectual, and returned with the intelligence that the Vaudois were determined to resist to the last extremity. This information was transmitted by the parliament to Francis, whose answer was received the year after, 1557, and consisted of a peremptory order to all the Vaudois to receive the mass, under penalty of confiscation and death; and to send twelve of the principal inhabitants and all the pastors immediately to the prisons of Turin, to receive the condemnation they deserved. The Vaudois to this replied much as before, with unshaken resolution. And though the parliament of Turin cited a great number by name to appear before them, none presented themselves.

Two barbes perished this year by the hands of the executioner. Sartoris, who was seized and burnt at Aosta, and Varaille, who suffered the same horrible fate at Turin. He was the son of Varaille who commended the troops against the Vaudois in 1488, and had been a monk and a missionary; but the arguments used by his opponents, during his discussions with them, having at length made a strong impression upon his mind, he renounced the Catholic faith, though he was in the suite of a nuncio in France, retired to Geneva to complete his studies, and then served as pastor the church of St. Jean, till, yielding to an invitation to visit the brethren at Busque, he was seized at Barges on his return.

The intercession of the Protestant princes of Germany procured repose for the Vaudois till 1559.

When peace was signed and Duke Emanuel Philibert regained most of his territories, and concluded a marriage with Margaret of France, sister to King Henry. They at first seemed favourably disposed to the Vaudois, who now again fell under the Piemontese dominion. But the Duke was so pressed by the Pope’s nuncio, the King of Spain, and some Italian princes and prelates, that a fresh edict was obtained from him against our ancestors.


This edict, dated Nice, 1560, was appointed to be carried into execution by Raconis, the inquisitor- general, and Thomas Jacomel, and the provost-general of justice, under the direction of Philip of Savoy, lord of Raconis, and George Coste, Count de la Trinit้.

These delegates commenced their task at Carignan, where they burnt a man and his wife for refusing the mass; but the other Vaudois, determining to remain faithful to their religion, retired into the French territory. The commissioners, after committing some excesses by the way, attacked the parishes of Mathias and Meane, which they cruelly ravaged, and actually burnt the pastor on a slow fire.

The Vaudois, favoured by some of the nobles, again petitioned the Duchess to have compassion on their situation; which petition the court forwarded to the Pope. The answer was as follows:

That the Pontiff would by no means consent to any discussion respecting the articles of faith; that every person must submit blindly to all the ordinances of the Papal chair; and that mild treatment having proved useless, recourse must now be had to vigorous measures, and to force of arms if necessary.”

In the mean time a desultory species of warfare was carried on, during which, attacks were made on Villar and Pinache, and a desperate assault on St. Germain by a troop of 300 robbers, kept in the pay of the monks of Pignerol.

After the answer of the Pontiff, Anthony Pousserin, commander of the order of S. Antonio di Fossano, made a tour through the valleys, preaching to the Vaudois and exhorting them to receive the mass, and dismiss the barbes. Petitions were again vainly sent in, and finding there was no hope of peace, the Vaudois, after holding a council-general of the heads of families, celebrated a public fast, and removed the feeble and old, as well as most of their goods, to the houses in most elevated situations. The army at length appeared in November, 1561, under the command of the Count de la Trinit้.

It was at this time that the Catholic inhabitants of La Tour sent their wives and daughters for protection to the Vaudois on the mountains, as before mentioned, with a request that they would take care of them as long as the army remained at La Tour.

The Count having garrisoned the chief towns in the valleys, and made successive attacks in different quarters of the passes, which all proved futile pretended an eager desire to treat; and for that purpose it was arranged at Angrogna, that deputies should be sent to the Duke, and a truce agreed upon in the interim. The Count, indeed, asserted in the most barefaced manner, that the recent attacks were made without his knowledge. No sooner were the deputies departed than the Count required the inhabitants of two hamlets to surrender their arms; thus surprised they obeyed, and retired to Angrogna. An old man of 103 was massacred, having been found concealed; and his grand-daughter, to escape the affronts of the soldiers, threw herself down a precipice.

After ravaging the Val de Luzerne, the Count promised to withdraw his troops on payment of 8000 crowns. He hesitated not, however, to remain after the payment of this sum. After committing some ravages and great cruelties, the army was ordered into the plains below the valleys. [73]

About this time the deputies returned with the edict of the Duke, dated 10th of January, in which he declares, that having considered all the privileges and immunities of the Vaudois, he now confirms them by this present edict, and commands all officers, civil and military, to observe them to the letter. [74]

It now seemed that the utmost wishes of the Vaudois were accomplished; but, nevertheless, on the 7th of February the army re-entered the val Luzerne, and after a general attack upon Angrogna, which was repulsed, burnt many hundred houses and barns, carrying away what they could. The Vaudois this night took possession of the strong post of Pr้ du Tour, abandoning their position at Angrogna, which was seized some days after by the Count, and a regular attack made upon them from it, as well as from the side of val Perouse and val St. Martin. These three simultaneous attacks all failed, with great loss to the enemy. The Vaudois, who had only two men killed and as many wounded, terminated the day by thanksgivings to God, who had thus preserved them from total destruction.

After the entire destruction of the village of Rora, the Count retired to recruit his army; but, in the middle of March, again took possession of Angrogna, with forces amounting to six or seven thousand men.

The Count de la Trinit้ next called upon the inhabitants of Taillar้ to give up their arms, promising not to molest them if they did. They had the weakness to consent, and the very next night a large division of the enemy massacred all they could find in the village, and proceeded to take up a position for a third attack on the Pr้ du Tour, supported by a strong body, which made a simultaneous attack from Angrogna.

On the arrival of those who had gone by Taillar้ at a narrow pass, near Pr้ du Tour, they were for some time held in check by only six Vaudois, three of whom occupied the pass, while the others rolled down rocks and stones from above, until a reinforcement came up and forced the enemy to retreat. The attempt from Angrogna was equally unsuccessful, and the enemy was even pursued to the castle of La Tour.

It would have been easy to have killed many more of the fugitives, had not the barbes, with the ardent benevolence of true Christians, given strict orders to act only on the defensive, and on all occasions to spare the effusion of blood.

On this memorable occasion the Vaudois had but four killed and wounded, which the enemy has never contradicted, though the behaviour of the defenders of Pr้ du Tour made a great impression on them; one officer declaring, that in no war had he ever seen soldiers so dismayed as when they were led against the Vaudois; and another, bringing the remains of his company to the Count, absolutely refused again to engage in such expeditions. It must be remarked, that among the reinforcements of the Count were ten companies of infantry and some other troops, all composed of picked men, sent by the King of France at the request of the Duke.

These successes, added to the illness of the Count de la Trinit้, and the intercessions of the Duchess Marguerite, induced the Duke again to offer peace, and demand deputies from the Vaudois, whose noble firmness is recorded by Daubign้, a French historian. Chassincourt, who was appointed to meet them, rudely demanded, “How dare such wretches as you treat with a prince against whom you have made war? or how can such poor ignorant shepherds, who deserve a gibbet for your folly, have the assurance to contest religious points with a great prince, advised by men of learning and authorized in his belief by the whole world?”

Sire,” replied the most aged of the deputies, “it is the goodness of our prince who has called us, which gives us the assurance to appear before him. Our resistance has been just, since it was compulsory, and God has approved it by the wonderful assistance he has afforded us: nor have we fought for worldly wealth, but purely for conscience sake; and that when we found our prince endeavouring to put an end to the true service of God, and actuated not by his own will (as we charitable believe) but by that of others, while executing with regret the commands of the Pope. With respect to the simplicity, with which you reproach us, God hath blessed it, since the most humble instruments are often the most agreeable to him, and he can elevate the most ignoble for his own good purposes: the counsels of the Spirit are sufficiently wise, the hearts He excites sufficiently courageous, and the arms which He strengthens vigorous enough. We are ignorant, and affect no other eloquence than to pray with faith. As to the death you threaten us with, the word of our Sovereign is dearer than our lives; at all events, he who has the fear of God in his heart fears not death.”

Chassincourt is said to have been so struck with this reply, that he changed his faith, and many were led by it to interest themselves for the Vaudois, so that peace was granted them by an edict, dated Cavour, June, 1565, in which their privileges, &c. were all confirmed, and not only the free exercise of their religion permitted, but communication and commerce with the states of his highness. In consequence, the Vaudois again took possession of the villages, houses, and lands; owing their restoration, in great measure, to Philip de Savoy, lord of Raconis.

Many families were, however, entirely ruined, and more reduced to the greatest distress. The pastors of Geneva generously undertook to solicit subscriptions for them among the reformed churches; and the celebrated Calvin distinguished himself by his zeal and charity; so that they received considerable assistance from the Palatinate, Wirtemberg, Baden, Strasbourg, and the Swiss and Proven็al Protestants.


Notwithstanding the above mentioned formal treaty of Cavour, signed on the part of the Duke Emanuel Philibert, by his cousin, Philip de Savoy, and by the principal people in the valleys, for the Vaudois; notwithstanding the many solemn promises, (so often repeated,) that they should not be again disturbed, another edict appeared, bearing date at Turin, June 10th, 1565 (only five days afterwards,) which authorised the seventh persecution.

It merits notice, from the false principles and fanaticism which it displays; independent of the reckless perfidy to which it owes its existence. After a short preamble, it runs thus: - “And seeing that the support of such a sect would excite the anger of God against us; and that public tranquillity and repose cannot exist in a country where there are two kinds of religion; and being resolved to maintain the ancient Catholic faith, &c. Nevertheless, not wishing to have recourse to rigour against our subjects, but to use clemency and humanity; We, by the advice of our good council, publish this our irrevocable order. – That all those who will not live according to the said Holy Catholic faith, do quit our states, within two months from the publication thereof; in which case we permit them to dispose of their possessions and goods. But all those who disobey this order, continue to dogmatise, or sell the forbidden books of this sect, will incur the penalty of death, and the confiscation of all their property.”

To every virtuous and honourable man, who reflects on this edict, it must appear subversive of every principle of nature, religion, and of policy, even without considering the perfidy of it. This frightful tyranny owes its origin to the Inquisition, the very name of which makes me shudder with horror.

Sebastian Gratiol, a colonel of Militia, had, by intrigues, obtained the office of Governor of the valleys, and was eager to gratify his hatred of the Vaudois, which had been excited by the dishonour of having been their prisoner, though he was well treated. His first act of vengeance was the persecution of Gilles de Gilles,75 Humbert, and Lentule, all barbes, of whom the latter was forced into exile, and the first dragged to Turin, where every means was used to induce him to desert his faith, in vain.

The persecution also extended to Lower Piemont, where the fiscal general, Barberi, conducted it. Coni was the first town which suffered; and here the Vaudois had already endured much, for seven years preceding, since the peace of 1559; for during the war they were employed against the French. All who remained faithful to their religion, were now either driven into banishment, or imprisoned; those alone remaining in possession of their goods who received the mass. The village of Carville, where great numbers of Vaudois lived, was treated in the same way; and all who resisted condemned to the galleys. Imprisonments, and numberless horrible cruelties, took place also in other districts, wherever Vaudois were to be found. As soon as intelligence of these persecutions was received in Germany, the Electors of Saxony and of the Palatinate, united in complaining to the Duke of Savoy of his conduct; and in consequence the most solemn assurances were given to their envoy, that the Vaudois should no longer be harassed. But no sooner had he departed, than Castrocaro recommenced his severities; and among others, ordered all those of the valley of Luzerne, not natives, to depart in twenty-four hours, under pain of death. Such was the fanaticism of the time, that not the slightest scruple was made of breaking faith with those whom they were pleased to call heretics. The Elector of Palatine, indignant at such conduct, wrote again, very energetically to the Duke of Savoy, in 1566, expressing his bitter complaints, and exculpating the Vaudois from the calumnies spread against them.76 The demands of the generous Frederic, added to those of the duchess herself, at last procured them repose until 1571.


In 1570, another decree was published, forbidding the Vaudois to assemble together, under a fine of one hundred crowns; their refusal of obedience to this order, which so clearly violated their privileges, greatly irritated Castrocaro, who was particularly enraged at the recent construction of the fort of Mirabouc, on which depended the only issue of the val Luzerne towards France, and would undoubtedly have proceeded to great extremities against the inhabitants of Bobbi, had he been allowed. Strict searches were also made after some of the Vaudois, who were accused of having assisted the Protestants in France; until Charles the Ninth requested the Duke of Savoy to forgive them, as he had already done his own Protestant subjects. In 1571, at a general assembly of the heads of families, six articles, called “the articles of the union of the valleys,” were drawn up; the object of which was to bind themselves by still more solemn ties to persevere in their religious faith, and in obedience to their prince, when his orders were not contrary to their conscience. The news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, in that same year, gave them the utmost disquietude, and the more so, as Castrocaro manifested his intention to inflict the same punishment on all the French refugees he could find; until he received
the Duke’s order to desist.

A sudden attack was made about this time by order of the parliament of Pignerol, upon St. Germain, in val Perouse, by Charles de Birague, an officer in the French service; but he was repulsed, after taking five Vaudois prisoners, who were hanged by the Papists.

Peace was soon after concluded; and in consequence of Henry the Third passing through Turin, on his way from Poland, to take possession of the crown of France, the town of Pignerol and valley of Perouse were restored to the Duke of Savoy, from whose territory they had been separated by Francis the First.


Before we proceed further it is necessary to give some account of the Vaudois of the marquisate of Saluces, who chiefly inhabit the valley of the Po, the most northern part of the marquisate, and only separated from the val de Luzerne by mount Viso, at the foot of which that noble river takes its source. We have already mentioned the colonies sent here from the valleys at the beginning of the fourteenth century; these increased into numerous flourishing churches, among which those of Praviglielm, Biolet, Bietonet, and Dronier were the principal ones, in 1561; when they had no less than nine barbes distributed among these and other towns. They had experienced only partial persecutions till 1572, when, (being then under the French government,) after the dreadful day of St. Bartholomew, M. Birague, governor of the marquisate, received an order to put the chief Vaudois to death, and particularly those whose names were transcribed in an accompanying list. On referring to the council, after much discussion, the archdeacon remarked, that false reports could alone have changed the sentiments of the king, who had before commanded that his Protestant subjects should be treated with lenity; and he advised that a representation of their good conduct should be sent back, with a request for further orders. The courier charged with this despatch met another, bearing an edict revoking the former one, and requiring only that the Vaudois should not be allowed the public exercise of their religion. In consequence, many who had fled returned, and were reinstated in their possessions.

All persecution was then suspended till 1588, when the Duke of Savoy took possession of their country, and, in 1597, exhorted the Vaudois to receive the mass by every means in his power; they replied firmly, but dutifully, like peaceful subjects, and the threatened persecution was suspended till 1601. When Charles Emanuel became absolute master of the marquisate, in exchange for Bresse; he published an edict, commanding that every Vaudois, who did not declare his intention of receiving the mass in fifteen days, should leave the country within two months, and never return, under pain of confiscation and death. Let the compassionate imagine the distress of these unfortunate Vaudois, when they found that nothing could diminish the rigour of this decree; they were forced to abandon all their property and retire, some to France, and others to Geneva and the valleys. Those of the church of Praviglielm were alone flattered with the hopes of an exception in their favour; yet they too were forced to fly suddenly, leaving their wives and children; but some time afterwards, upon a threat of retaliation if any harm happened to them, they were allowed to return. They remained till 1633, visited occasionally by a pastor from the valleys, in the greatest secresy; when, on the reception of an order (from Duke Victor Amadeus, similar to the one issued by Emanuel Philibert in 1565,) they too were driven into perpetual banishment, and thus perished the last trace of the Vaudois church in the marquisate of Saluces, where it had flourished for three centuries.


Charles Emanuel having succeeded his father Emanuel Philibert, Castrocaro, governor of the valleys, was, for his many enormities, imprisoned for life; and, in 1582, the young prince issued an edict, confirming the ancient privileges and usages of the Vaudois; a list of them is included in this document of the dates of these former edicts, being 1448, 1452, 1466, 1473, 1499, 1509, all, it will be observed, preceding the Reformation. For some years the Vaudois enjoyed some repose; but Charles Emanuel, being afterwards occupied by the war in Provence, the French army, under Lesdequiere, entered the valleys in 1592; and, after some resistance, possessed himself of the town of Perouse, and the castles of La Tour, Mirabouc, Cavour, &c. During which time the Vaudois, having taken arms, sent a deputation to the court to inquire what they should do, and were recommended to submit to the enemy, as there were not forces sufficient to oppose him effectually. The campaign was concluded on the return of the Duke, and, after an engagement at Salabertran, each army retired to its respective country. In 1593, Charles Emanuel retook some of the forts, and took up a position near Luzerne, on the southern bank of the Pelice, while the enemy occupied the opposite side. A truce was then concluded till 1594, when the Duke took Briqueiras; and, in 1595, Cavour, and Mirabouc, the only remaining forts in the hands of the French; on this occasion the inhabitants of the valleys assembled at Villar, to felicitate him on his victories, and received the most flattering assurances of his protection. Indeed, the preceding year, an edict granting them full pardon for their submission to the French had appeared. This did not, however, prevent the Roman Catholic clergy from persecuting all who fell into their hands. One Coupin, an elder, was seized at Aste, and dying in prison, his body was publicly burnt.

Such acts did not satisfy the enemies of the Vaudois, who, in 1602, succeeded in obtaining from the Duke a public repeal of former immunities. The principal clauses in this edict were: - That the Vaudois should not perform any religious act beyond the limits of the valleys Luzerne, Perouse, and St. Martin, on pain of death: - that they should maintain there neither public nor private schools: - that no marriage should take place between those of different communions: - that no Catholic should assist at the Vaudois worship: - that no Vaudois should dissuade others from attending mass, or reply to the missionaries sent for their conversion: - that all Vaudois should be incapable of holding any public employment whatever: - that no Catholic, under pain of confiscation, should sell or hire to a Vaudois either goods or lands.

It will be observed that this edict, under the appearance of preventing the extension of heresy, acted as a severe persecution on those of the marquisate of Saluces, as well as of Briqueiras, Fenil, Campillon, Bubiana, and the town of Luzerne.


In consequence of this edict, the Count Charles, lord of Luzerne, the governor of Turin, and the archbishop of Broglia, arrived at Luzerne, as commissioners for its execution, accompanied by numbers of monks and jesuits: having ordered the heads of families before them, they commanded all who would not receive the mass to quit the town. Very few were weak enough to comply with this condition. At Bubiana, Campillon, and Fenil, where they next proceeded, they made no more proselytes, and ordered all Vaudois to depart within five days, under pain of confiscation and death. From these towns some of the chief people were sent to Turin, where Valne.

Boule was presented to the prince, and pressed by him to receive the mass; but, on refusal, was dismissed with kindness. The others promised all that was asked of them, and soon repented of having done so. At Perouse the archbishop had no better success than elsewhere, and the governor of Turin falling into disgrace, the Count of Luzerne was pressed to use his influence in favour of the Vaudois. By his means the edict of Nice was obtained from the Duke, in 1603; by which the religious exercises of the Vaudois were freely permitted within the valleys, and they were allowed to trade with the Catholics and to hold public employments.

Nothing of importance occurred till 1613, when, in consequence of the war in Montferrat, all the subjects of the Duke, and particularly the Vaudois, were summoned to defend the frontiers. The next year the same thing happened, (war having been declared against the king of Spain,) and the post of Verceil was committed to the guard of Vaudois. These duties were so well performed as to obtain the marked approbation of the prince, and the assurance that he would not forget their services. The poor ignorant Catholics, among whom they marched in these wars, were so prejudiced against them that they fled at their approach, believing them to be heathens, and that they had one eye in the forehead, and four rows of black teeth, with which they used to devour their own children, &c., &c. [77] Those who had the courage to stay in their houses, trembled at the very sight of a Vaudois.

In the year 1622 a decree appeared, by which the inhabitants of St. Jean were ordered to shut up the church, built there a few years before, and a payment of six thousand ducats required from the three valleys. At the same period Pope Gregory VX. granted to the Duke the tenth of all ecclesiastical revenues. In gratitude for this bounty, more vigorous measures were taken against the poor Vaudois. Those of Praviglielm were banished by the prefect of Saluces; and a great number in the valley of Barcelona, dependent on the Cardinal de Savoy, were driven thence in 1625, and fled into the south of France, or Piemontese valleys. Although the decree only mentioned the church of St. Jean, a regiment of infantry, in the val de Perouse, forced the inhabitants to demolish six of their churches, and then made a perfidious attack on St. Germain.

The report of this treatment having spread into foreign countries, an ambassador extraordinary from Great Britain arrived at Turin, in 1627, to intercede for the Vaudois. He received a promise that they should not be any longer molested, and returned in October, having recommended them to the protection of some of the nobility. The following year, the French army having shown a disposition to attack the frontiers, the passes were placed under the defence of the Vaudois; who so well defended them, that no enemy penetrated into Piemont. A convent of capuchin monks was this year founded at Luzerne, by two of the noble family of Rorenco, lords of that place and La Tour, which has since taken a great part in our history.

In 1629, another ambassador came from England, named Carlisle, who earnestly interceded for the Vaudois, and obtained the most honourable testimonies in their favour. But though the court was well disposed towards them, the implacable clergy always found means to evade its benevolent purposes. One of their contrivances was, to disperse a great number of monks through the valleys; but these, upon reference to the court, were at this time withdrawn.

The Vaudois were also this year again called upon to defend the frontiers against a threatened attack, on the part of the French; but a truce having been concluded, it was not till 1630 that the enemy actually advanced by Susa and reduced Pignerol. The inhabitants of the valleys, after some hesitation, consented to submit, on being summoned to do so by Marshal Schomberg; but on condition that no one should be forced to bear arms against the Duke. A violent plague, this year, made great ravages, and most of the pastors fell victims to it. Charles Emanuel also died about the same time, and Victor Amadeus I. having succeeded him, peace was signed between Piemont, Spain, and France, by the articles of which the town of Pignerol and the val St. Martin were retained by the latter.

From this time till the death of Victor Amadeus the First, in 1637, tranquillity remained nearly uninterrupted, except by the violent writings of Rorenco, and the monk Belvedere, which were subequently (sic) refuted by Gilles, pastor of La Tour, and author of the history of the Vaudois. [78]


Before we enter upon the dreadful tragedy which took place in the valleys during the regency of the Duchess Christian, sister to the king of France, (which succeeded the reign of Victor Amadeus;) it is necessary to call the attention of the reader to the state of the valleys at this period. For years, the continual partial and individual persecutions had held them in a state of alarm, even in the midst of peace, and now they had suffered most severely by pestilence, and were reduced to want or poverty by the great scarcity of provisions which succeeded it. After a calm of thirteen years, under the regency, what must have been their dismay to hear that councils, for the propagation of the faith and extirpation of heresy, had been established in all Catholic countries, after the model of that at Rome; and that one was now instituted at Turin, in 1650. This establishment was divided into two bodies of supporters; the archbishop being the head of the male, and the Marchioness di Pianezza of the female, devotees.

The eagerness of the ladies engaged in this pious enterprise can hardly be imagined, they sent forth spies to promote dissensions in private families, offered money to new converts, and even penetrated into the prisons to make proselytes. To support their expenses, they went round even to the shops and inns to collect contributions. The secular arm also assisted them, if required, in their labours to deserve the plenary indulgence for all their sins granted them by the court of Rome.

The council of men formed still greater designs, in the execution of which they were indefatigable, and sent spies and missionaries into the valleys, who were always at hand to excite quarrels, rebellion against church discipline, and even to carry off women and children from the Vaudois, and attack the pastors. They cited the principal people to appear before the tribunal at Turin, whence they scarcely ever escaped without having been imprisoned, ill treated, or nearly ruined; nay, often were they condemned to confiscation and banishment. Such were the means used by the Propaganda to harass the Vaudois. An unfortunate accident happened in 1653, which gave them more power of doing mischief. A convent of monks had been some years established at Villar, when an infamous traitor, whom they had engaged in their service, undertook to excite the Vaudois to expel these missionaries; having persuaded the wife of the pastor Manget to further the plan, she had influence enough to induce her husband, and two others of the name of Pellene, to call an assembly, where this subject was discussed, and the project of Manget highly disapproved of and censured. The wife of Manget made a false report of the decision to the two young Pellenes, who succeeded that very evening in driving out the monks and setting fire to the convent. It may well be supposed that the inquisitors did not lose so favourable an opportunity; and the fact having been represented in the blackest colours to the Duchess Regent, they obtained five or six thousand men, under the command of Count Tedesco, who marched immediately with orders to surprise and burn down the town of Villar.

In the mean time Leger, then moderator of the valleys, with the principal members of his own and the neighbouring churches, repaired to the chief magistrate at Luzerne, and protesting the innocence of the assembly, and even the parish of Villar, offered to bring the offenders to justice. The Count Tedesco nevertheless proceeded to Villar, and made his attack; but a storm of rain prevented the muskets of his soldiers from going off, and the Vaudois then having given every where the alarm, the approach of darkness induced him to return to Luzerne without having accomplished his purpose.

The Propaganda being thus defeated, had recourse, in 1654, to a still more sanguinary plot for the destruction of the Vaudois, by means of the French army under Marshal Granc้. The court of Savoy had offered to provide this army with winter quarters in our valleys, at a much less sum than had been demanded elsewhere, in consequence, the troops appeared before Pignerol, demanding their quarters; in the mean time, the monks and other agents of the Propaganda had artfully persuaded the Vaudois, that it was contrary to the intention of the Duchess, that these troops had entered her states, and excited them to take up arms. The main body of these forces was already before the fort of La Tour, and all the inhabitants of the val de Luzerne were drawn up to oppose them, when Leger, the moderator, throwing himself at the feet of the Marshal, explained the trick played upon him, and requested he suspend hostilities until a written order could arrive from the Duchess Regent for the cantonment of the troops. This was assented to, and on the arrival of the order, on the morrow, the army quietly took possession of their quarters. This plot was afterwards more fully proved by two officers in De Granc้’s army, [79] and its details were lodged with the other MSS. by Leger, in the Cambridge library.

A year had scarcely elapsed when another motive was added to the zealous labours of the propaganda, which was the wish of establishing in the valleys those Irish whom Cromwell had banished in consequence of the massacres they had committed among their Protestant countrymen. This eager desire to obtain possession of the valleys, and all that the Vaudois possessed in them, excited a series of intrigues, which ended in an order to Gastaldo, auditor of Luzerne, to enjoin and command the Vaudois inhabitants of Briqueiras, S. Second, Bubiana, Fenil, Campillon, Luzerne, St. Jean, and La Tour, to abandon those places within three days, or receive the mass, under pain of death and confiscation of their property.

What makes this step still more cruel and unjust, if possible, is, that it took place in the winter of 1654, when Charles Emanuel II. had, by an edict of 3rd December, just confirmed all their privileges, &c.80 In this, and in the one of the preceding year, they were mentioned as faithful and obedient subjects; nay more, at the very time the lawyers were employed in verifying the original charters, the last decree was about to be enrolled, and the sum of money exacted on these occasions had long been paid.

It will easily be imagined that no time was lost in sending deputies to Turin, and trying every means to obtain a mitigation of this dreadful sentence. These deputies were amused by an affected deliberation on their petition, and were referred sometimes from the Duke to his mother, sometimes from the Duchess to the Marquis di Pianezza, and from him to the Propaganda, till they received information on the 16th of April (though they were promised a final audience on the 17th) that the Marquis was already at Luzerne with is forces, and that they had better provide for their own safety.

Thus, by a series of base treachery, duplicity, and cruelty, was the way prepared for those dreadful massacres, which have cast so foul a stain on the reign of Charles Emanuel the Second. [81]


It was on the 17th of April, 1655, that the Marquis di Pianezza entered the valleys with an army of 15,000 men, composed of the troops of the Duke, four French regiments, one German corps, and 1200 Irish.

On the 18th, this army ravaged the parishes of St. Jean and La Tour. On the 19th, they even attacked them in quarters to which the order of Gastaldo (to abandon their possessions) did not extend; the enemy was repulsed, notwithstanding his immense superiority of numbers; and, on the 20th, vainly attempted to burn the church of St. Jean.

In consequence of this spirited resistance, Pianezza had recourse to the most infamous treachery. Having sent to demand a conference, he protested to the deputies that his only object was to enforce the order which had been given by Gastaldo, and that the parishes not falling within it might rest secure of peace, if, in sign of their obedience, they would permit a regiment of infantry and two troops of cavalry to be quartered in their territory for two or three days. The deputies who, unsuspicious of treason, judged of the Marquis by themselves, assented, though M. J. Leger and some other pastors greatly suspected the measure.

The before mentioned troops no sooner entered, than they seized the strong points round each village, and (regardless of entreaties that they would remain in the lower villages) pressed forward to the highest positions. Meanwhile they were followed by the whole army, in divisions, which marched in different directions against Angrogna, Villar, and Bobbi, and upon the last bulwark of defence, the Pr้ du Tour; this last force laid the country they passed through waste by fire and sword; and in consequence, the error being now perceived, most of those who inhabited the right of the Val De Luzerne, passed the mountains in the night, and took refuge in the Val de Perouse. The inhabitants of the other side of the valley were almost all obliged to remain, having no means of retreat,82 the passage being completely closed against them. The enemy after gaining entire possession of the valleys, pretended to have no intention of remaining there more than a few days, and exhorted the Vaudois to recall their fugitive brethren, which some had the weakness to do, trusting to the assurance given them that no harm should befall them. Such was the situation of affairs when, on the 24th of April, the signal was given from a hill near La Tour, called Castellas, for a general massacre, which extended through the whole valley, and began at the same instant; neither age nor sex were spared; every refinement of cruelty which the malice of demons could invent was put in practice. The very mention of these horrors excites too much disgust to allow of a detail of them. Violation, mutilation, and impalement were mere common atrocities; many were roasted by slow fires; others cut in pieces while alive, or dragged by mules, with ropes passed through their wounds; some were blown up by gunpowder placed in the ears and mouth; many rolled off the rocks, with their hands bound between their legs, among precipices, where they were abandoned to a lingering death; children were carried on pikes, and women . . . . But let us not dwell longer on these infernal barbarities.83 They are detailed in Leger, and the names of many of the sufferers, and the evidence of eye witnesses there recorded. [84] The number who perished in the Val Luzerne alone, amounted to 250, besides children and others, whose names have not been collected, and the men who fell sword in hand; for nearly all the victims of these cruelties were women, children, and old people. But the mere recital of the numbers destroyed, cannot suffice to give an idea of the miseries endured, we must add the horrors encountered by the survivors, wandering in utter destitution among the mountains, in terror and want, after witnessing the murder and outrages committed on their dearest relatives and friends.

Will it be believed, that the Marquis di Pianezza, shortly afterwards published, in the name of the government, a manifesto, justifying these barbarities, and even declaring that the Vaudois had deserved greater punishment.

In addition to this, appeared an edict under the name of Charles Emanuel II., dated 23rd May, 1655, one month after the massacre, by which he condemns to exile all the principal persons of the Vaudois, setting a price on their heads, “because they had rebelled against his supreme authority, and opposed in arms the forces of the Marquis di Pianezza.”

Such is in general the blindness of those who misunderstand the true spirit of the gospel, that after having violated its clearest precepts, there is no sort of artifice which they do not use in order to give a colour to their crimes.


The very day on which this massacre was perpetrated, in various parts of the Val de Luzerne, the Count Christophe, Seigneur de Rora, a member of the Propaganda, sent 400 or 500 men to surprise Rora, and put all the Vaudois they should find there to the sword; although they were included in the promise of Pianezza, “that no harm should befall them.” This band of assassins had reached the summit of Mont Rummer, from whence they were about to rush down upon Rora, when they were perceived by Joshua Janavel, who had retired there for refuge. With only seven others he took up an advantageous position, and falling upon the enemy with great spirit, forced them to retire; killing no less than fifty in the pursuit. On the news of this defeat, the Marquis now became furious, and assembling all the troops within distance, ordered no less than 8,000 men, for the destruction of a village composed of only twenty-five families. Three divisions were formed, and a rendezvous given, at which they arrived two hours too late, except the corps of Captain Mario, who, thinking his force sufficient, formed his men into two divisions, and attacked the Vaudois near Rummer. These brave men had the good fortune to take up a position where their flanks and rear were well covered, and made so vigorous a resistance, that the enemy again retired, leaving sixty on the field, besides others who perished in their flight. Mario himself fell into a chasm, from whence he was extricated with great difficulty; and when languishing under a painful illness at Luzerne, he declared that he already felt the fires of hell within him, in consequence of the people, houses, and churches, which he had caused to be burned. He died amidst agonies of pain and remorse.

To return to the heroic party of Janavel, which consisted of only seventeen persons, they soon discovered another division of the enemy on the side of Villar, climbing the mountains to attack them in the rear, and immediately seized on an advantageous position. The advanced guard, sent to reconnoitre, mistook them for their own people, and approached so near, that on firing, the Vaudois each brought down his man, which struck so much terror into the survivors, that they fled back to the main body, and spread such a panic among them, that the whole army commenced a retreat. The Vaudois again followed and killed great numbers; after which they assembled to thank God for the memorable deliverance he had granted them.

Three days after this event, the Marquis di Pianezza, ashamed of such ill success, sent another message to Rora, enjoining every one to go to mass within twenty-four hours, if they wished to avoid immediate sentence of death, and prevent their lands being laid waste, and their houses razed to the ground.

Rather death than the mass, was the unanimous reply of the inhabitants.

It may well be imagined that the Marquis was not satisfied with it. He now ordered 10,000 men to march to the reduction of Rora, and divided them into three corps, one of which took the road from Luzerne, and the others by Bagnol and Villar. Janavel hesitated not to attack the last of these divisions, and succeeded in killing great numbers, when being informed that the other divisions had gained the post where the twenty-five families of Roral had taken refuge, and seeing himself overcome by numbers, he escaped with his brave companions, into Val Queiras, taking with him his son, who was only seven years old.

It is needless to harrow the feelings of my readers with a detail of the dreadful fate of Rora; suffice it to say, that none of the horrid tortures to which their countrymen were condemned on the 24th of April, were omitted here; nearly all the victims were old or infirm, women, and children. And lest any stragglers should ever return to their once beautiful home, the houses were all burnt, and no vestige of cultivation left around them.

Yet even this was not enough to glut the vengeance of Pianezza; Janavel had escaped – and the Marquis did not hesitate to use the most unworthy means of getting him into his power. He wrote to him, urging him to renounce his heresy, as the only means of obtaining mercy for himself, and his wife, and his daughters, who had been taken prisoners. In case of non compliance, he was threatened that they should be condemned to the flames, and that so high a price should be put on his head, that he could not escape; in case of his capture no torture should be spared to punish his rebellion. Janavel’s simply reply was, that “no tortures were horrible enough to induce him to abjure his faith, which the threats of the Marquis only served to confirm; and as to my wife and daughters,” he adds, “Providence will not abandon them; if you are permitted to put them to death, the flames will only destroy their bodies, while their pure souls will soon accuse you before the throne of the God of the universe.”


Janavel returned from Dauphin้, after having remained there a short time, and collected the Vaudois who had also taken refuge in that province. He made another attack, in hopes of taking some prisoners, whom he might exchange for his wife and daughters, but being unsuccessful, he proceeded to join Captain Jayer, who had put himself at the head of those who had escaped the massacres. They very soon after took the town of St. Second, by assault, and put the Irish garrison of 800 men to the sword, as a punishment for the barbarity with which they had acted on the 24th of April. The Piemontese by their own avowal, lost from 500 to 600 men, in this action; but the Vaudois had only seven killed and six wounded. The houses and churches were burnt, and some booty retaken; but the women, children, and old people, were not insulted.

After some other successes, in which great numbers of the enemy fell, and many severe combats, Janavel found himself posted at Angrogna, with 300 men, while the rest of his troops were engaged in an expedition to the Val Pragela; the enemy here attacked him 3000 strong, but he defended himself, in a good position, from morning till two o’clock in the after, when they retired, losing 500 men in the retreat. Jayer now coming up, the pursuit was pressed farther, most unfortunately, for Janavel received a severe wound, and Jayer, misled by treachery, was surrounded, and lost his life, together with 150 brave men, one only escaped, who returned with the melancholy news in the night.

Notwithstanding the consternation which this disaster occasioned, the Vaudois, under the command of Jacques Jayer and Laurens, now amounting only to 550 men, courageously marched from La Vachere to meet the enemy, who attacked them with 6000 men; but were repulsed, with the loss of more than 200, and of the Vaudois only two were killed, one of whom was Captain Bertin.

The beginning of July was marked by the arrival of the moderator, J. Leger, who had made a long journey, with the hope of interesting the French and other Protestants for his countrymen. Colonel Andrion, of Geneva, also joined them with one of his captains, and a soldier; he had served already with honour in France and Sweden, and now came to assist the cause of the unfortunate Vaudois.

Having pointed out some negligence in their manner of encamping, and sent out picquets, the officer received intelligence of an intended attack, which must have destroyed the little force of the Vaudois, had it been made unexpectedly: after a most severe combat of ten hours, when Les Barricades was the only post they could make good against the enemy, they at last obtained a victory; in great measure by rolling down fragments of rock, when their ammunition was expended.

The enemy lost nearly 400 killed and wounded; and to add to the pleasure occasioned by this success, Mons. Descombier, a French officer, who had served with great distinction, arrived on the 17th July, with some other French Protestants. He was immediately elected commander in chief, and a corps formed of from sixty to eighty French gentlemen, under the command of M. Feautier.

These circumstances filled the Vaudois with the most lively hope, and an attack upon La Tour was resolved on; on the 19th they marched there by day-light, and would certainly have got possession of the town, if Mons. Descombier had not been dissuaded from the assault, by the French soldiers he had sent to reconnoitre. On their report of the strength of the place, he sounded a retreat; but captains Belin and Peyronel resolved to proceed, and, making a vigorous attack, pierced the wall, and entered the town, when the citadel immediately offered to capitulate. At this moment troops poured in from Luzerne, upon their rear, when captain Janavel (now for the first time in the field since his wound) sounded a retreat, and brought off the party with the loss of only one man.

Besides the engagements above mentioned, there were many others, in which the Vaudois obtained advantages; indeed they universally behaved with such heroism, that M. Descombier declared they fought like lions. [85]

A very short time after the attack on La Tour, the court of Turin published a truce, which was not broken till the peace. We shall pursue the negociations after a few remarks, which appear necessary at this point of our history.


The news of the severity with which the Vaudois had been treated having now been spread throughout Europe, had awakened the sympathy of all the Protestant powers; the British ambassadors extraordinary have already been mentioned, and we must not here omit, that, on the publication of Gastaldo’s proclamation, in 1655, the Swiss cantons interfered in a similar manner.

The only reply to the statement of the fidelity, &c. of the Vaudois, being a complaint of their great insolence, particularly as manifested on Christmas day, 1654; thus grounding their conduct on some ridiculous masquerading which took place on that day, and which was afterwards allowed by Gastaldo himself to have been conducted by Catholics. So much for the reasons given for driving the Vaudois from their ancient possessions beyond the three valleys. The further order for the massacre has been (it will be remembered justified by their self-defence on that occasion, when attacked, even within the bounds assigned for their allowed possessions.

On receiving the news of the massacres, the Swiss cantons proclaimed a solemn fast, wrote the most affecting and pressing letters to other powers, and made a general collection for their unhappy brethren; deputing at the same time Colonel de Wits to press their intercession at the court of Turin. This envoy was referred by the court to the Marquis de Pianezza; and, after a vigorous representation of the injustice of the court towards the Vaudois, he returned without having gained his point.

The cantons resolved nevertheless to send another solemn embassy, and wrote pressing letters to the United Provinces, and to the protector of England, [86] entreating these powers to assist them in the defence of their innocent and most undeservedly persecuted brethren.

Mons. de Wits arrived at Turin for the second time, in the beginning of July, (the period of the successes before mentioned,) closely followed by four other Swiss envoys. His object was eluded by the court; and the reply given was, that the king of France having offered himself as mediator for these rebels, the affair could not be taken out of his hands. The four other envoys arrived on the 24th, and were graciously received; they presented a memorial, justifying the Vaudois, and bitterly complaining of the cruelties exercised towards them; even using the words “so cruelly oppressed.” After many pressing entreaties for an accommodation of differences, a Mons. Gresi, counsellor of state, was sent to the envoys with papers, tending to calumniate the Vaudois, and justify their persecutors; they were allowed, (notwithstanding the transactions with the King of France,) to go to the valleys, for the purpose of examining into their present state. The next day they accordingly went to Pignerol, then in the hands of the French, and were soon met by the French ambassador, M. Servient, the Count Truchis, the senator Perraquin, the prefect Ressau, the prior M. A. Rorenco, and some other agents of the Duke, as well as the deputies from the valleys, at the head of whom was M. J. Leger, the moderator. [87]

Under the auspices of these gentlemen negociations of peace were entered into on the 3rd of August, 1655.


On the 18th of August, articles of peace were finally concluded. In the intermediate time, Monds. de Wits had received letters from the English envoy extraordinary, Morland, requesting him to delay the conclusion of the treaty, hoping himself to arrive in time to take part in the business. The details of the negociations can hardly at this time excite much interest; the agents of the Duke were most imperious in their demands, choosing always to treat the Vaudois like obstinate rebels, and notwithstanding the protestations of these oppressed people, the treaty was entitled a patente de grace;” and in the preamble they were represented as “culpable in having taken up arms,” and said to be pardoned by the “sovereign clemency” of their prince.

The Vaudois, by the second article, were required to give up possession and the right of habitation in the villages beyond the Pelice; that is, in Luzerne, Luzernette, Fenil, Campillon, Bubiana, Briqueiras, &c. (It will be recollected that they were established in all these places long before the house of Savoy possessed any authority in Piemont.) An exchange of prisoners was agreed to, but many there were who never returned to their homes, and many children were detained. The fifteenth article is singular, as marking the spirit of justice dealt to them, when the non violation of a right is esteemed a favour. “No person of the pretended reformed religion shall be forced to embrace the Roman Catholic apostolic faith: children shall not be taken away from their parents during their minority; that is, the boys before the age of twelve, the girls be- fore that of ten.” A secret article respecting the demolition of the fort at La Tour was eluded by the court.


Of all the potentates who interested themselves for the Vaudois, Oliver Cromwell showed the greatest zeal. He is known to have said, that nothing ever so affected him as the news of the massacres of the 24th of April; and to have declared to the Duke of Savoy, “that if he did not discontinue his persecutions he would cause a fleet to sail over the Alps to defend the Vaudois.”

It is certain, that as soon as he heard of the horrors of April and May, 1655, he ordered a general fast, and collection for the Vaudois, throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland, to which he personally subscribed 2000l. He also wrote to many princes in their favour, particularly to the kings of Denmark, Sweden, and to the States General of the United Provinces, and sent Morland as his envoy extraordinary to the court of Turin, charged also to deliver a letter to the King of France on the same subject.

In answer to this, Cromwell was assured that the French troops had been employed without the orders of their court, which greatly disapproved of the interference; and was well content with the fidelity of the French Protestants.

Morland, on his presentation at the court of Turin, made a most eloquent and ardent appeal to the Duke, boldly stating the horrible outrages which had been committed, and the innocence of the sufferers. He was well informed of all the facts from M. J. Leger, whom he had met at Lyons. Yet the court, in the answer to Cromwell’s letter, dared to express its surprise, “that the malice of men had presumed so to misrepresent the mild and paternal castigation of the rebels,” as to excite the odium of the other courts of Europe.

Besides Morland, Mr. Douning and Mr. Ell were sent from England to assist at the negociations; but on finding that the treaty was already concluded, while they had been consulting with the Swiss Protestants, they returned to England and Sir Samuel Morland to Geneva.

It was owing to the absence of these gentlemen, as well as that of the Dutch ambassador, that the terms granted to the Vaudois were so unfavourable.

Morland, having been informed of the miserable poverty to which almost all the Vaudois were reduced, the want of provisions, and particularly the inability of the pastors to support themselves or to obtain a salary, made such representations as to induce Cromwell to make an order in council, dated Whitehall, May 18th, 1658,88 stating, “That report having been made to us by our commissioner and committee for the affairs of the poor Vaudois churches, upon the information relative to the state of the said valleys, given them by Sir S. Morland, &c. &c. it is ordered that the money, which remains from a collection made for them, shall be applied as annual stipend, as under:”

To M. J. Leger, who has always supported the interests of the valleys: 100

To eight ministers in the territory of Savoy: 320

To three ditto in the territory of France: 30

To one head schoolmaster: 20

To thirteen other schoolmasters: 69

To four students of theology and medicine: 40

To a physician and surgeon: 35

Annual amount: . . Sterling ฃ614

These annual stipends, thus derived from the residue of the subscriptions left in England, which amounted to upwards of 12,000l.89 were paid very regularly until the restoration of Charles the Second; when that prince declaring that he had nothing to do with the orders of an usurper, or the payment of his debts, the valleys were entirely deprived of them. It is needless to make any observation on this injustice – injustice not only to the Vaudois, but to the British nation, whose humane generosity was thus defeated in its purpose, and whose contributions were seized without a shadow of reason.


We have now the agreeable task of recording the bounties of the United Provinces, ever celebrated for their philanthropy. No sooner had they received information of the disaster in the valleys, than they wrote to the courts of England, France, and Turin, as well as to the Swiss cantons, and deputed M. Van Ommeren, a deputy of the States General, to confer with the Swiss cantons, and to carry their joint complaints to the Duke of Savoy. In the mean while a general fast, and the order for collections in every town and village, seconded the zeal of the government, and Amsterdam was distinguished by its generous contributions, which furnished our ancestors with the means of rebuilding their houses, and churches, and recultivating their land.

From the Swiss cantons M. Van Ommeren went to Geneva, to confer with the British envoys, Morland, Pell, and Douning; and thence to Paris, where he urged the king to take into consideration the complaints of the Vaudois against the treaty of Pignerol, just concluded, and in which he had appeared in the character of a mediator, by means of his minister M. Servient. A person of confidence (M. de Blais, mar้chal de camp) was in consequence sent to inquire into the truth of the facts. He obtained at a meeting of the principal Vaudois, at La Tour, in March, 1656, a justificatory recital of the complaints of the valleys, a letter to the king of France, and another to M.

Le Serdigences, governor of Dauphin้, with which he sought redress at the court of Turin; but his object was defeated by the agents of the Propaganda, who so contrived to disguise the truth, that he seemed suddenly to have lost all that insight into the affiars (sic) of the Vaudois, which he had obtained by his visit to the valleys. The king of France was, however, so touched by the letter of the Vaudois that he was about again to intercede, when the intrigues of the same agents had the effect of convincing him that the statements of the Vaudois were without foundation.


Charles Gustavus, king of Sweden, replied with great warmth to the letter which Cromwell addressed to him in favour of the Vaudois, testifying the horror he felt at such cruelties, and his desire to support the cause of the Gospel with the same energy as the Protector. This king also wrote to the court of Turin, earnestly to request that the Vaudois might not be disturbed in their possessions and privileges; and soon after desired that M. J. Leger should be sent to him, that he might receive from him all necessary details, and take efficient measures for the re-establishment of the Vaudois. A premature death unfortunately put a stop to his benevolent intentions.

The elector Palatine acted similarly in writing to Turin. Frederick William, elector of Brandenburg, interested himself in the most lively manner, corresponding with the other Protestant courts on the subject, and offering a general collection. The landgrave, William, of Hesse Cassel, exhibited the same spirit of charity, and acted with equal energy.

The republic of Geneva showed great interest in the affair, and indeed every one of the reformed churches of Europe wrote the most touching letters, evincing their great interest and compassion for their brethren of the valleys.

So many proofs of the kindness and respect shown to our ancestors, by the most wise and enlightened governments, would suffice for the eulogium of this unfortunate people, were not the details of their own conduct amply sufficient to place them in their true light; nor can the unrestrained malevolence, to which they have been exposed, withhold from them the admiration and esteem of all good men.

The Vaudois had scarcely began to enjoy the repose which was granted them, when their implacable enemies had again recourse to the same system of intrigues, which had so often been resorted to against them. But, for the moment, we will not follow them any farther, lest the minds of my readers should be wearied with this tale of suffering, they require to be relieved for a time from the contemplation of these dark plots of malevolence and fanaticism, before they return to the scenes which we have yet to lay before them.

Alas! a cloud of misfortune seems to have hung over all the Vaudois historians: - Giles de Gilles was persecuted, as we have seen above; the indefatigable J. Leger (the same moderator already mentioned) finished his great work in exile, and died in Holland; and our author, the virtuous Bresse, after experiencing the most cruel injustice at Geneva, was forced by circumstances to establish himself at Utrecht, where he died before the publication of the last part of his work, which it had been the project of his life to accomplish, and to which he had devoted himself since the sixteenth year of his age. – Note by the Translator.




1. Nos cres่n e firmament ten่n tot quant se cont่n en li doze articles del Symbolo lo qual es dict de gli apostol, tenent esser herisia tota cose laqual se discorda, e non es convenent, เ li doze articles.


We believe and firmly hold all that is contained in the twelve articles of the creed of the
apostles; (Lat. symbolum apostolorum.) esteeming as heresy every thing which differs from, and
is not agreeable to the twelve articles, (i.e. of the Apostles’ creed.)

2. Nos cres่n un Dio, Paire, Fil, e Sant Esperit.
2. We believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. Nos recont่n par sanctas scriptures canonicas, li libres de la sancta biblia.
3. We recognize as holy and canonical Scriptures, the books of the Holy Bible. (Here follow
the names of the books of the Old Testament.)
Ara s’ens่gon li libres apochryphis li quel non son pas rec้opu de li hebreos, mas nos li
legen, (enaima dis Hierome al prologu de li proverbi) per l’enseignement del poble, non pas per
confermar l’authorita de las doctrinas ecclesiasticas, enaymi.
Then follow the apocryphal books, not received by the Hebrews, but we read them, as
Jerome says in the prologue, (preface) to the Proverbs, “for the instruction of the people, and not
to confirm the authority of the doctrines of the church:” as follows. (Here are enumerated the
books of the Apocrypha.)
Ara s’ensegon le libres del Novel Testament.
Then follow the books of the New Testament.91

4. Los libres sobre dict enseignan ai็๒ que l้s un Dio tot poissant, tot savi, e tot bon, lo qual
per la sua bonta a fait total las cosas. Car el a forma Adam a la soa imagena e semblen็a, ma

90 A fragment of the Noble Lei็on, is here omitted, it having been already published in Mr. Gilly’s work. – T.
91 All the books of the Bible are placed in the usual order of the Vulgate.

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que per l’indivia del diavol, e per la disobedien็a del dit Adam, lo pecca es intra al mond, e que
nos sen peccadors en Adam e per Adam.
4. The above-mentioned books teach, that there is one God, all powerful, all wise, and all
good; who through his goodness has made all things. For he formed Adam in his own image and
likeness: but by the envy of the devil, and the disobedience of the same Adam, sin is entered
into the world: we are sinners in Adam and by Adam.

5. Que Krist es ista prom้s เnli paire, li qual an rec้opu la ley, ai็o que per la ley connoyss้nt
lor peccas, e la non justicia, e la lor non abastan็a, desiresson l’av่nament de Krist, per satisfar
per li lor peccเ, e acomplir la ley per lui meseime.
5. That Christ is that promise to the (our) fathers, who received the law; so that by the law,
having a just idea of their sins, and their want of justice and insufficiency, they desired the coming
of Christ to make satisfaction for their sins, and accomplish the law in himself.92

6. Que Krist ่s nเ al temp ordonna de Dio lo seo paire, so่s เ saber, เ l’hora que tota eniquita
abondie, e non pas per las bonas obras solament. Car tuit eran peccarors, ma a็o qu้l nos f้
gratiเ e misericordia, enaima veritadier.
6. That Christ was born at the time ordained by God his father, that is to say, at the moment
when all unrighteousness abounded, and not for good works only: for all were sinners. But that
he may show us favour and mercy, as the true one.

7. Que Krist ่s la nostra vita, e pais, ejusticia, e pastor, e avocat, e hostia, e priere, lo qual ่s
mort per la salut de tuti li cres่nt, e resuscita per la nostra justification.
7. That Christ is our life, our peace, and justice, and shepherd, and advocate, and oblation,
and priest;93 who died for the salvation of all believers, and rose again for our justification.

8. E sembablem่nt nos tenen firmam่nt non esser aleun autre mediator e avocat en apres
Dio paire, si non J้su Krist; ma que la verg่na Maria ่s ista sancta, humil e plena de gratia. E
enaimi cresen de tuit li autre sanct, quilli speran en li ciel la resurrection de lor corps al judici.
8. And in like manner we maintain, that there is no other mediator and advocate with God
the Father, than Jesus Christ; but that the Virgin Mary, was holy, humble, and full of grace. And
so we believe of all the other saints, who expect94 in heaven the resurrection of their bodies to

9. Item nos cres่n en apr่s qquesta vita esser tant solam่nt duoi loc, un de li salvเ, loqual
appellen per nom Paradis, e l’autre de li damnเ loqual appell่n Enfirn denegเnt al postot a qual
purgatori seumเ de l’Ante-Krist e enfeint contra la verita.
9. Also, we believe that after this life there are but two places; one of the saved, which we
call Paradise, and the other of the damned, which we call Hell; denying that purgatory dreamed
of by Antichrist, and feigned contrary to the truth.

92 By means of himself.
93 Offerer up of prayers.
94 Await for, hope for.
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10. Item, nos hav่n totavia cres๙ esser abomination, non parlivol devant Dio, totas las cosas
abrofas de li homes, enaima son las festas e las vigilas de li sanct, e l’aigua la qual dison benieta
e se abstenir aliuns jorns de la carn, e de li autres manjars e las semeillants cosas, e principalment
las messas.
10. Also, we have always believed to be abominations, not to be mentioned before God, all
those things invented by men, such as are the feasts and vigils of the saints; water,95 which is
called blessed; and the abstaining on certain days from flesh and other eatables; and similar
things; but principally the mass.

11. Nos abomin่n li abrobam่nt human enaima Ante-Kristian per liqual sen contorba e que
prejudican เ la libertเ de l’esperit.
11. We abominate human inventions, as being antichristian, by which we are disturbed, and
which prejudice the liberty of the spirit.

12. Nos cres่nque li sacrament son signal de la cosa sancta o forma visibla, tenent esser bon
que li fidel uzan alcune vees d’aquisti diet signal o forma visibla si la se p๒ far. Ma emper็o nos
cres่n e ten่n que li predict fidel non esser fait salfs, non receb่nt li predict signal, quand non
han lo loc ni lo modo de po่r usar de li predict signal.
12. We believe that the sacraments are signs of the holy thing, or (its) visible form; and we
hold it to be good that the faithful use the aforesaid signs, or visible forms, sometimes, if it be
possible. But with this we believe and hold, that the aforesaid faithful may be saved, not receiving
(or having received) the aforesaid signs, when they have not the opportunity nor the means to
make use of them.

13. Nos non aven conegu autre sacrament que lo baptisme e la eucharistia.
13. We have not knowledge of other sacraments than baptism and the eucharist.

14. Nos dev่n honor a la potestเ secular, en subjection, en obedien็a, en promtessa, e en pagam่nt.
14. We ought to honour the secular power, by our submission, obedience, alacrity and contributions.

95 Holy water.

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D. If thou wert asked who thou art? Answer.
R. A creature of God, rational and mortal.
D. For what hath God created thee?
R. That I might know him, and worship him, and be saved by his grace.
D. On what ground does thy salvation rest?
R. On three substantial virtues, necessarily belonging to salvation.
D. Which are they?
R. Faith, hope, charity.
D. By what means dost thou prove it to be so?
R. The Apostle writes to the Corinthians in the first epistle, thirteenth chapter, “And now
abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three.”
D. What is faith?
R. According to the Apostle in the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, “Faith is
the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen.”
D. How many kinds of faith are there?
E. Two; dead and living.
D. What is living faith?
R. That which works by charity.
D. What is dead faith?
R. According St. James, (Epist. Gen. chap 2) “Faith if it hath not works is dead!” Indeed
faith without works is idle.97 A dead faith is to believe there is a God and (and to as if one did)
not believe in God.


D. Of what faith art thou?
R. Of the true Catholic and Apostolic faith.
D. Which is that?
R. It is that which by the council98 of the Apostles is divided into twelve articles.
D. Which is that?
R. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, &c. &c. (the rest of the Apostles’ creed.)
D. By what art thou enabled to know that thou believest in God?
R. I know his commandments and keep them. By this.
D. How many commandments of God are there?

96 The translator has not added the Vaudois words, as the language is similar to the last specimen, being of the same
date; the language of the noble Lei็on is evidently of a much more ancient period. He has endeavoured to render
his version more literal than that of M. Bresse, at the expense of elegance, but it is hope not of clearness.
97 Ocio็a, which Bresse translates inutile, useless.
98 Perhaps by the counsel, opinion, advice, or the Apostles.

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R. Ten; as is shewn in Exodus and Deuteronomy.
D. Which are these?
R. O Israel, hearken unto thy Lord! hearken not to a strange God before me. Make not for
thyself any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven, &c. &c.
D. On what do all these commandments hang?
R. On two great commandments, which are to love God above all things, and one’s neighbour
as one’s self.


D. What is the foundation of these commandments, by which every one ought to enter into
life; without which foundation the commandments cannot be worthily kept nor accomplished?
R. The Lord Jesus Christ; of whom the Apostle says, 1 Corinthians, chap. iii. “For other
foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
D. By what can man come to this foundation?
R. By faith; St. Peter saying,99 “Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious;
and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded,.” And the Lord says, “He who believeth
in me hath eternal life.”
D. In what way can you know that you believe?
R. In that I100 acknowledge Him, Himself, as very God and very man, who was born and
suffered, &c. &c. for my redemption, justification, &c. In that I love Him Himself, and desire to
fulfil his commandments.
D. By what means does one arrive at the essential virtues, viz. faith, hope, and charity?
R. By the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
D. Dost thou believe in the Holy Spirit?
R. I believe in Him;101 for the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, is one
person of the Trinity; and as to Divinity, is equal to the Father and the Son.
D. Believest thou God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to be three in person,
(three persons,) then thou hast three gods?
R. There are not three. (gods)
D. Yet thou hast named three.
R. That is by reason102 of the difference of the persons, not by reason of the essence of the
divinity, for as there are three in person, (three persons) so there is one in essence.


D. In what manner do you adore and worship that God in whom you believe?
R. I adore him with the adoration of internal and external service, (worship or service.) Externally
by bending of knees, holding up of hands, inclinations, (of the body,) by hymns and

99 1 Gen. Epis. chap. ii.
100 I know him himself for.
101 In this, i.e. in this dogma.
102 On account of the difference of persons, not of essences.

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spiritual songs; by fasts, and by invocation.103 Internally, by dutiful affection, by a will equally
adapted to all things which please him. But I worship him by faith, hope, and charity, in his
D. Doest thou adore any other thing, and worship it as God?
R. No.
D. Why?
R. On account of his commandment, which distinctly says, “Thou shalt adore the Lord thy
God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Again, “My glory will I not give to others.” And again, “I
live, saith the Lord, and every knee shall bow down before me.” And Jesus Christ says, “They
shall be true worshippers, who worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” And the angel will not
be worshipped by St. John, nor Peter by Cornelius.
D. In what manner dost thou pray?
R. I pray by (with) the prayer taught by the Son of God, saying, “Our Father, which are in
heaven,” &c.
D. What is the other substantial virtue necessarily belonging to salvation?
R. It is charity.
D. What is charity?
R. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit, by which the soul is reformed in its desires, illuminated by
faith, and by which I believe all those things which should be believed, and hope for all that
should be hoped for.105


D. Dost thou believe in the holy church?
R. No,106 for it is composed of creatures, but I believe of it, itself.
D. What do you then believe of the holy church?
R. I consider it as of two kinds; one as to its being, and the other as to its ministry. As to its
being, the Holy Catholic107 Church consists of all the elect of God, from the beginning to the
end, (of the world,) in the grace of God, by the merit of Christ; collected by the Holy Spirit, and
before ordained to life eternal; the number and the names of whom are known alone to Him who
hath elected (chosen) them. The church, as considering its true ministry, consists of the ministers
of Christ, with the people subject to them, using their ministry by faith, hope, and charity.
D. By what oughtest thou to know the church of Christ?
R. By ministers consistent with it, and people participating with the ministers in the truth.
D. But how mayest thou know the ministers?
R. By a true understanding of the faith, sound doctrine, a life of good example; by preaching
the gospel, and proper administration of the sacraments.
D. How knowest thou false ministers?

103 i.e. prayer, praying aloud.
104 In keeping his commandments.
105 Vide St. Paul, 1 Corinthians, chap. xiii.
106 i.e. its existence, as before of dead faith; it, but not in it.
107 Catholic, i.e. universal.

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R. By their fruits, blindness, evil workings, (bad conduct,) perverse doctrine, and improper
administration of the sacraments.
D. How knowest thou their blindness?
R. When they know not the truths necessary to salvation, and observe human traditions, in
like manner as the commandments of God; of whom is that said by Isaiah, which Christ hath
spoken in the fifteenth chapter of Matthew. “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their
heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments
of men.”
D. How are the evil workings known?
R. By their manifest sins of which the Apostle speaks, Romans i, they which do such things,
shall not obtain the kingdom of God.
D. How is perverse doctrine known?
R. When the instruction is contrary to faith and hope, as idolatry of many kinds, committed
in the worship of the creature,108 rational and irrational, sensible, visible, or invisible. For one
ought to worship the Father alone, with his Son, and the Holy Spirit, and no other, nor any creature
whatever. But the contrary is the case when worship is rendered to man, to the work of his
hands, his words, or his authority, as when men believe blindly, that they are just towards God,
by false religion, and avaricious simony of priests.


D. How is the improper administration of the sacraments known?
R. When the priests do not hearken to the meaning of Christ, nor acknowledge (recognise)
his intention in the sacraments, and say, that grace and truth are included in exterior ceremonies
alone; and lead men to receive the said sacraments without the truth of faith, hope, and charity.
The Lord puts his own on their guard against such false prophets, saying, “beware of false
prophets.” Also “take heed of the pharisees, that is of the leaven of their doctrine.” Also, “Believe
them not, neither follow after them: And the Apostle, in 2 Corinthians, chap. vi. “Be not
unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what
part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with
idols? wherefore come out from among them.”
D. How dost thou know the people which are not of a truth in the (true) church?
R. By public sin, and erroneous faith. We should fly such, to shun corruption by the same.
D. How many ministerial functions are there?
R. Two; the word, and the sacrament.109
D. How many sacraments are there?
R. Two; Baptism, and the Eucharist.


D. What is the third virtue necessary to salvation?

108 Worship done to any creature, &c.
109 i.e. preaching and administration of the sacraments.

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R. Hope.
D. What is hope?
R. The certain expectation of grace and of future glory.
D. On what account does one expect grace? (favour, mercy.)
R. On account of the mediator, Jesus Christ, of whom St. John says, “Grace is come through
Jesus Christ.” Also, “We regard his glory full of grace and truth.” And “We have all received of
his abundance.”110
D. What is this grace?
R. It is redemption, remission of sins, justification, adoption, and sanctification.
D. Through what do we hope for this grace in Christ?
R. Through living faith,111 and true repentance. Christ saying, “Repent ye, and believe the
D. From what does hope proceed?
R. From the gift of God and his promises, of which the Apostle says, “He is powerful to accomplish
whatever thing he promises,” since he himself hath promised, if any one will know
him, and will repent and have hope, he will have mercy on him, and pardon and justify, &c.
D. What things turn away (people) from this hope?
R. A dead faith, the seduction of antichrist, to others than Christ; that is, to the saints and to
his (antichrist’s) power and authority; words, benedictions, sacraments, relics of the dead, the
dream and fiction of purgatory. Teaching that we have this hope, by means which are directly
contrary to the truth, and the commandment of God, as idolatry of many kinds, depraved simony,
Abandoning the fountain of living water, the gift of grace, to run unto cracked cisterns.
Honouring and worshipping the creature as the Creator; doing service to it with prayers, fasts,
sacrifices, gifts, offerings, pilgrimages, invocations, &c. Being confident of thus acquiring
grace, which no one has to give, but God alone in Christ.112 Thus they labour vainly losing
wealth and life; not the present life only, but the life to come. Of which thing it is said, The
hopes of the wicked shall perish.


D. What sayest thou of the blessed Virgin Mary, for she is full of grace, as the angel hath
R. The blessed Virgin Mary was and is full of grace, as to her own want (of it), but not as to
the communication of it to others. For her Son alone is full of grace, as to the communication of
it to others, as it is said of the same, “We all received grace through the grace of his abundance.”
D. Dost thou not believe the communion of saints?
R. I believe that the communion of the saints is twofold, substantial and ministerial. They
communicate as substantial (beings) by the Holy Spirit, and by the merit of Jesus Christ, in God.

110 See biblical words.
111 Viva fe, lively faith.
112 By Christ.
113 See biblical words.

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But they communicate as ministerial, or serving the church, by the ministry properly exercised,
such as by words, by sacraments, and by prayers. I believe both these communions of the saints.
The first only in God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; the other in the Church of Christ.
D. In what does eternal life consist?
R. In a living and efficacious114 faith and perseverance in the same. The Saviour says, John
xvii. 3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom thou hast sent.” And he who shall persevere in this to the end, he shall be saved. Amen.

114 Operative, producing works.

- 103 -

- 104 -


The family of Arnaud, or Arnold, was originally of La Tour, where Henri Arnaud was born
in 1641, and educated in the Latin school there; as he was intended for the church, he probably
went to Basle, Geneva, or Lausanne; but afterwards, on account of the troubles in the valleys, he
seems to have given up the idea of the church, and entered into the service of William of Orange,
where he attained the rank of captain, as well as other favours. Previous to the year of 1686, it
appears he returned to his studies and took orders. Whether he was induced to do so by the Vaudois,
or the reformed church in the Netherlands, or whether it was for the purpose of assisting his
exiled countrymen, I have no means of knowing. He appears, however, to have had at this time
great influence, both with the Prince of Orange and the Dutch government; the former, as king of
England, having given him the commission of colonel, still preserved by his descendants at La
Tour, as well as supplies for his expedition against the Duke of Savoy; and the latter, having intrusted
him with large sums of money for his exiled countrymen, and made him joint commissioner
to arrange their settlement in Wirtemberg.

His exertions in these great affairs are recorded in his own “Rentr้e Glorieuse,” and in the
Memoirs of the Wirtemberg Vaudois, published in Germany. When, in consequence of the
change of politics on the part of the Duke of Savoy, the Vaudois gained their possessions on
condition of sending 1000 men to ravage the French frontier: Arnaud was named to the command
by Marlborough and Eugene; for the Duke of Savoy seems to have been submissive to the
latter, in every respect. The plan of attack from Piemont was formed, and after reconnoitering
Turin, Eugene led his army through the passes of Savoy into France, while Marlborough continued
in the Netherlands. The Vaudois were placed on the outposts of Eugene’s army, and when a
sufficient body of troops had been drawn off from the Rhine to oppose this attack from Piemont,
Eugene rapidly withdrew by the Tyrol, leaving Arnaud and his Vaudois to mask his retreat; and
by frequent attacks from the mountains, at different points, to detain the French troops in the
south. He effected this object with such success, that the allied army had again united in the Low
Countries ere Eugene’s absence from Savoy was known; and thus Arnaud materially contributed
to the victories of Hochstett and Blenheim.
Notwithstanding this great benefit, the Duke of Savoy listened to those who asserted that Arnaud
wished to excite the Vaudois to rebellion, and to the formation of a republic. The defence,
that he was only acting as senior pastor, in settling their differences and arranging the rebuilding
their houses and division of their possessions, (a business rendered very perplexing by the return
of many supposed dead, who waited till a prospect of quiet possession favoured their return,)
was of no avail; his friends could no longer defend or conceal him; a high price was set upon his
head, and he fled in disguise, never more to return to the valleys.
Notwithstanding pressing invitation from William III. Queen Anne, and Prince Eugene, to
reside at their courts, and the most flattering promises of honourable provision, he preferred the
humbler task of pastor to all that courts or princes could offer; and as soon as he had settled the
- 105 -
affairs of the Wirtemberg colonies, he took up his abode in the midst of them, in the village of
Sch๖nberg, where he fulfilled the duties of his office for the remaining twelve years of his life; in
this seclusion he wrote “La Rentr้e Glorieuse,” and some other memoirs, which have never been
It is observable, in his preface, he makes no mention of his extraordinary history, or claims
any merit for his benevolent exertions. His will (registered at Sch๖nberg) shows that he still possessed
his paternal lands at La Tour, and had pensions from William III. Queen Anne, and the
Duke of Wirtemberg; but whether these pensions were paid, appears more than doubtful, since it
is evident he lived and died in poverty, for the valuation of his effects, of every description, upon
his decease, did not exceed 2520 florins, (226l. 8s. 2d.) and his household furniture and clothes
seem to have been scarcely worth valuation.
His house and grave still exist; but the church that contains his mortal remains will not long
stand; as a memorial of his last exertions for the good of his people.
Emigrations have reduced the number of Vaudois residents in Sch๖nberg to about forty only;
and, by the recent changes in the church, the privilege of having a minister of their own has been
refused to them, on the plea of there being a Lutheran church two miles distant. Nay! the inhabitants
of Sch๖nberg have been invited to pull down their church, and the allowance for its repair
has been discontinued. But they have refused the temptation, though miserable poor, and have
undertaken themselves to support the temple where the bones of Arnaud repose. It is built of
mud, brick, and timber, as well as the house he lived in. When the timbers give way, which must
soon take place, it will no longer be in the power of the poor villagers to repair it.
Extract from the Register of the Parish Church
Of Sch๖nberg, in Wirtemberg, taken in August,
Actum, No. 9, -----------An. 1722.
Inventory and division of property according to the royal ordinance.
Property of different descriptions, in the same parish and elsewhere, devised by the Herr Henri
Arnaud, deceased, reformed minister of the same.
Inheritors, being children of the first marriage.
(Madame Reni Rebaudi, widow of the late H.A.)
1. Miss Margaret, now wife to Mons. Joseph Rostain, burgess of La tour, in Piemont.
2. Herr Scipio Arnaud, the present reformed minister of the parish of Sch๖nberg.
3. Herr Jean Vincent Arnaud, minister of Angrogna, in Piemont.
4. Miss Elizabeth, now wife of John Philip Rolb, ecclesiastical collector of Bretten.
5. Mr. Wilhelm, juris studiosum, residing in London, in England.
- 106 -
Children of the second marriage – none.
The late minister’s silver utensils and trinkets.
Nine silver spoons and six silver forks 48 0 0
One metal spoon 8 30 0
One needle case – nadel bxele 10 30 0
One small spoon and fork, and goblet weighing 9 ฝ oz. 11 0 0
One echarpe, half gold half silk, with large golden buttons,
Weighing 42 oz. 15 0 0
The late minister’s clothes and apparel.
One black serge gown
One white worn-out German gown 2 0 0
N.B. The rest of his apparel was so old and bad as not to be worth valuing.
One old pair of double pistols.
One bad old musket 2 0 0
One old saddle – one woman’s saddle 2 0 0
Beds and bedding
Barrels and wood N.B. These are also specified and valued at length.
Agricultural implements
One old chaise and harness 4 0 0
One old cow and one young one
Six beehives
Corn, &c.
Land here and in the valleys * * * *
Monies to receive.
From one Pindar 32 0 0
Pension from England of 122 florins per annum, two years being due 244 0 0
Nothing is estimated on this, but as there is also a reasonable hope of receiving it, it remains
to be divided among the heirs.
Pension from the Duke of Wirtemberg 25 florins per annum,
one half year being due 12 30 0
Ten sheffel of corn per ann. allowed by the Duke, half a year due 7 30 0
Also two aymer of wine per ann. from said Duke, one now due 8 0 0
The valuation of his entire property of every kind florins 2520 48 3
This sum is equal to 226l. 8s. 2d. English, and his lands and tenements at La Tour are comprised
in it. A florin is equal to about twenty-one pence English.
- 107 -
- 108 -
(Originally written in 1710 and translated in 1827, ed.)
- 109 -
The translator of La Rentr้e Glorieuse is aware that much apology
is necessary, for the apparent negligence of language in which he
has executed his task; such, however, is the uncouth structure of
the original, that it seemed hardly possible to attempt any elegance
or correctness of style, without deviating from the actual meaning
of the words before him.
- 110 -
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Public renown, as well as private and official documents, have borne witness in so faithful
and extraordinary a manner, before all Europe, to the wonderful valour shown by the Vaudois, in
the last war between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, that it would seem manifest that
the power of the Almighty must have been with them. *****116 France, not content with having
driven out her most faithful subjects those called by the Romanists the Reformed Church, sought
to induce her neighbours to do the same. The Duke of Savoy resisted the importunities of Louis
XIV. until his ambassador intimated that 14,000 men were ready for this service; but that if they
were employed to expel the heretics, his master would occupy the valleys as his own territory.117
Moved by this artful threat, the Duke immediately issued orders to the Vaudois to destroy their
churches, to baptize their children according to the Catholic rite, and go to mass.
All petitions were vain, and after useless attempts to soften the heart of their prince, the Vaudois
resolved to adhere to their religion, as their ancestors had done, in spite of every attempt
upon their liberties and lives; and in consequence put themselves in a state of defence, which
obliged the Duke to accept the offer of the French troops, who, under the command of Mons. De
Catinat, attacked them on the 23rd of April, 1686. As the French were eager to have the honour of
the first onset, they had also here the honour of being well beaten; for they were dislodged from
their posts, and sought safety in flight, passing the Cluson as they could, in confusion, and retiring
upon Pignerol.
The numbers of killed and wounded were concealed, but it was soon known that four regiments
of the line and two of dragoons had greatly suffered. When the French were driven from
their posts above St. Germain, Mons. De Villeveille took refuge in a church, and Mons. Arnaud
115 This dedication is long, and uninteresting in these days.
116 The Preface goes on to give a short history of the Vaudois down to the time of the edict of Nantes, and then
gives the following account of the expulsion, in 1686.
117 This is no new principle in Catholicism, and Louis might refer to the numerous bulls which gave the goods
and chattels of heretics to their conquerors. – T.
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then coming up with a small detachment, ordered the roof to be stripped off, and the tiles thrown
upon those within; but night coming on, M. de Villeveille with the greatest part of the troops
made their escape.
As the Vaudois had beaten the French the first day, they had the honour of giving a no less
decided check to the Piemontese troops on the second, at Angrogna. But instead of being elated
by these victories, by an unhappy fatality, (altogether extraordinary in these intrepid people,
whose fathers had successfully carried on thirty-two wars for the sake of their religion,) they became
suddenly so dispirited, that on the third day they surrendered at discretion to the Duke.
This prince, triumphing in their dastardly conduct, plunged them into the thirteen prisons of
Turin; and thus were the flames of war extinguished, not by the blood of the Vaudois, but by
their unexpected submission.
These unhappy creatures had scarcely submitted ere they became aware of their error; no less
than 14,000 were imprisoned; of these 10,000 perished miserably of cold, hunger, &c. &c. a
greater number than would have fallen in the most cruel war. The number of deaths, however
incredible it may appear, is certainly correct, since 14,000 certainly entered, and only 3,000 survived
to be released. This remnant of the Vaudois, after escaping the barbarity of governors and
gaolers, (though obliged to fly their country,) afterwards proved the seed appointed by God to
preserve and replant the truth extinguished in the valleys, and form the subject of this history,
from the time they took refuge in Switzerland until the peace concluded with their prince. But
doubtless, reader, you will find it difficult to conceive why so many colonies of the Vaudois remain
settled in foreign countries. I will therefore inform you, that the Duke of Savoy, having
made peace with the Vaudois, continued to delude them with fair promises as long as he had occasion
for their services, but thought himself no longer required to keep any measures with them,
as soon as he could dispense with their assistance. The circumstance of their having taken an
oath of fidelity before Count Martiano, governor of Pignerol, promised to afford them all perfect
tranquility; but, incredible as it may appear, this governor, at the very same moment, had in his
pocket an order for the banishment of a great part of them. The Duke thinking that he could not
in honour openly drive out from his territory those who rendered him such important services,
sought a pretext for weakening them, and published an order for all those who were not themselves
natives of the valleys to depart within two months, on pain of death. Such was the inhuman
recompense given by a powerful prince to his faithful subjects; who, after driving off his
enemies, materally (sic) contributed to prevent his expulsion from the throne.
Beware then, ye who read this history, never more to trust the promises or flatteries of Papists,
since there is nothing sacred or solemn that they will not trample under foot to serve their
ambition or interest. Think! that for a thousand years and more, they have continued to deceive
true Christianity; let these considerations be clarions loud enough to pierce your ears, and to remind
you in whom you place your confidence.
The Duke absolutely insisting upon the execution of his cruel edict, these persons who had
for the most part been established forty or fifty years in the valleys, as well as the inhabitants of
the country beyond the Cluson, or Valley of Perouse, were not only banished from the Vaudois
territories, by the cession of Pignerol, but also from his other states. He then affected to soothe
their sufferings, by promising them provisions through Savoy; but no sooner had these poor exiles
(about 3,000 in number) began their march, than they were overtaken by couriers on the
Mount Cenis, who required to see their order for forage, and took it from them: who could have
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supposed, that to save a morsel of bread to a prince, it would be taken from those who had most
spared their blood in his service!
These, reader, are the Vaudois, who are now dispersed in foreign countries,118 and took refuge
in the praiseworthy cantons of Switzerland, where they were supported by private charity,
and by contributions made for them in England and Holland.
Thus did they subsist till M. Valkenier, envoy of the States General of Zurich, procured for
them (by dint of extraordinary zeal and exertion) lands and privileges, under some of the German
princes, in whose dominions they have founded colonies.
The greatest number in the duchy of Wirtemberg, the others in the states of Daden, Hesse,
Darmstadt, and Hanau, forming in all fourteen Vaudois churches; which, with the reformed
church in the French colony of Constadt, in the duchy of Wirtemberg, together compose a
synod.119 Of the ministers of these churches, seven, with their schoolmasters, are paid by his
Britannic majesty, who also, in his royal generosity, continues to honour M. Arnaud with a pension
to bring up his family; four ministers are paid by the States General, and the rest by their
adopted sovereigns and their own churches. Thus kindly favoured by the princes, under whose
mild laws they have taken shelter, they live peaceably, praying God for the preservation of their
benefactors, &c. * * * * * * * * * * * * *
118 Vide Sketch of the Vaudois in Wirtemberg.
119 Vide Arnaud’s Life.
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IN 1690
The history which it is proposed to write, is so admirable in all its circumstances, that a naked
exposition of the events would afford wherewithal to satisfy the reader, without the assistance
of art or ornament; it is sufficient to relate them with order and fidelity. This, however, has
not been done by several persons, who actuated by the desire of gain, have been induced to give
to the public hasty mutilated accounts, far from the truth of this one, which has been compiled
from the truth of this one, which has been compiled from the memoirs of those who had the chief
direction of the affairs of the “Vaudois”. This is the name of that handful of people who inhabit
the valleys of Piemont, as Mons. Jean Leger has proved in the first part of his great history, written
thirty years since, the appellation is derived from the nature of their country, which proves
that they were so called in the middle of the 12th century; consequently before the time of that
Valdo, from whose reform it has falsely been derived. They have never been without difficulties,
particularly in the cause of religion, often have they been brought before ecclesiastical tribunals,
and more often attacked by force of arms; but it must be owned, that of thirty-two wars
which they have valorously sustained, the last has been the most violent and deplorable; since it
ended in their being torn from their dwellings, which had never been effected in the former convulsions,
though their numbers had been thinned by massacres. Besides the lives lost in war,
they never made a peace that did not cost them the banishment of many of their people, and the
diminution of their rights and privileges. I shall not here speak of those powers who treated them
so ill, but content myself with saying, they individually excused themselves by throwing the
blame on each other: several public documents and one manifesto speak sufficiently to this
As it is precisely of the return of these exiles that I undertake to write, I shall not enlarge
upon their expulsion, which has already been published, by a judicious author, who has not only
shown the unexampled cruelties exercised (contrary to the promises of their prince) upon 14,000
Vaudois, of whom only 3ooo, resembling spectres rather than men, remained, whom his royal
highness of Savoy permitted to retire to Switzerland, by virtue of a treaty concluded with the
Protestant cantons; he has also well described the affecting arrival of these moving skeletons at
Geneva, and the charitable eagerness of the inhabitants to relieve them: I am, therefore, indebted
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to him for relieving me from the painful task of describing this heart-rending scene. We will
now follow them into the Protestant cantons, where being all arrived in February 1687, they were
supported by their deliverers, and for the most part dispersed in the canton of Berne; here they
might have been contented with their lot, had not the desire of returning to their country incessantly
agitated their minds: in fact, considering life of no value if passed where they had not received
it, they determined to return at all risks.
For this purpose they made three attempts; and though only the last succeeded, I will say a
few words respecting the other two. As for the first experiment, as it was made at hazard, without
leaders, almost without arms, or the measures necessary for such an enterprise, it is not surprising
that the plan failed at Lausanne, when the bailiff of the town prevented their embarkation,
and ordered them in the name of their excellencies of Berne to separate and return.
If this first attempt passed without exciting much attention, it was not the same with the second,
which having been concerted with prudence, carried them much farther.
The first thing these good people did was to send three men to reconnoitre the country; who
had orders to discover the bye paths, to trace the roads over the highest mountains, in order to
pass rivers at their sources, and also to do their utmost to engage those who lived near the valleys,
to bake bread and place it secretly in places on which they should agree. It is customary to
bake the bread to the same degree of hardness as sea biscuit, which preserves it for a length of
The three travellers were successful in going, but not equally so in returning, for two of them
were actually watched and taken as robbers, because they did not follow the usual roads. On being
questioned, they answered that they trafficked in lace, and knowing it was made in the district,
they went from one place to another to buy it. Although this excuse seemed plausible, they
were nevertheless searched; some sheets of paper were found on them which excited suspicion,
these were placed before the fire, to see if this process would not discover some writing that
might criminate the travellers, but none appeared; they then placed lace before them, to try if
they understood the merchandise they pretended to traffic in; this little artifice had nearly proved
their ruin, one of them offering six crowns for a piece that was not worth three. The wardor and
the inhabitants who were present, confirmed in the idea that they were spies rather than merchants,
took their money and threw them into prison; being then interrogated according to all the
forms of law, they persisted in their first declaration; and one who had been a pedlar in Languedoc,
having said he could bring good proofs from that province, particularly from Montpelier and
Lunel, they sent for a man who had often been in those parts; this man declared all the prisoner
had said was true, and they were in consequence released at the end of eight days; but their
money, amounting to ten crowns, was not restored to them.
The report made by these three men having appeared favourable to the interests of the Vaudois,
inasmuch as their country was inhabited by strangers, and as several roads were deemed
practicable, till then thought impassable, a council was held, in which it was determined to make
a second attempt, by the Valais and Mont St. Bernard. The rendezvous was fixed in the plain of
Bex, a village at the extremity of the canton of Berne, and within a league of St. Maurice.
They hoped to arrive at the place appointed without being perceived; but though they
marched by night, and by various roads, they could not conceal their movements from the governments
of Berne and Zurich, or from the town of Geneva, where their design was discovered
by the desertion of some sixty Vaudois, who served in the garrison, and who had retired into the
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Pays de Vaud. There is also reason to think that the mutual information, given by these three
towns to each other, respecting this new project, was the reason the Vaudois were not met in
time by a boat which they had engaged to convey arms to Villenueve, a little town on the Lake of
Geneva, at the entrance of the Valais. On hearing of this new enterprise, the Savoyards and Valaisans
lit their signals, put themselves in a posture of defence, and placed a strong guard on the
bridge of St. Maurice, by which they were obliged to pass, at least, unless they crossed the
Rhone below, which they could not do without boats. While these poor people, who amounted
to a body of 6 or 700 men, were considering what measures they should take, in a conjuncture so
critical, M. Frederick Torman, bailiff and governor of Aigle, assembled them in the temple,120
where he gave them an excellent discourse, exhorting them to zeal and patience, and adroitly
pointing out that there was temerity and even folly in persisting in an enterprise already discovered;
and having thus a little composed their minds, M. Arnaud, their pastor and commander,
followed it up, by expounding this verse of the 12th of St. Luke, “Fear not, little flock.”
The generous bailiff conducted them to Aigle, where he distributed bread, and ordered the
best lodgings in the town for them, reserving to himself the care of the principal officers, particularly
the aforesaid Sieur Arnaud; and to crown all, lent two hundred dollars to assist the return of
those who came from the distant extremities of Switzerland: all this kindness made them feel
more sensibly the cruelty of the inhabitants of Vevey, who, by order of the council of the town,
not only refused to lodge them either in the town or neighbourhood; but, under pain of rigorous
punishments, forbad their being supplied with provisions. One poor widow alone, in defiance of
the prohibition and at the risk of her having her house razed to the ground, ventured to carry
them some supplies into a meadow, where they were encamped.
Though this inhumanity on the part of the country gentlemen of Vevey was only in obedience
to the superior orders, dictated by policy, which had in view the expulsion of the Vaudois
from the frontier; it would be difficult not to consider as a dispensation of Providence the circumstance
of the town having been entirely destroyed by fire shortly afterwards, while the poor
widow’s house remained unhurt, though situated in the very centre.
The failure of this second enterprise, in June, 1688, was doubly prejudicial to the Vaudois;
the Duke of Savoy having learnt by it, that though foiled in it, they would not fail to make others,
as soon as a favourable opportunity offered. Not satisfied with the militia guards placed on all
the roads, and chiefly in the environs of Geneva, and at St. Julien, Lancy, Tremblieres, Chene,
Bellerive, and his territory along the eastern side of the Lake, he sent into the Chablais two regiments
of infantry, 200 strong, commanded by two men of birth and merit: the Comte de Berne,
of the house of Rossillon, was colonel of the Chablais regiment; and the Marquis de Coudr้e, of
the house of Alinges, colonel of that of Monferrat, and was besides adjutant-general. They were
followed by some dragoons, which gave umbrage to the town of Geneva. The second evil which
resulted to the Vaudois from their failure was, that their prince having made it a subject of quarrel
with their excellencies of Berne, accusing them of want of faith, and of having favoured the
project of an irruption into his territory; they were so offended with reproaches so contrary to
that strict honour and fidelity with which they observe their treaties; that they began to look
coldly on the Vaudois, and to think of ordering them from their frontiers, and by this conduct to
remove (in the eyes of the Duke) every suspicion of intelligence between them. Their excellencies
of Zurich conceiving a like indignation against the Vaudois, convoked an assembly of the
120 The word still in use in the valleys for church.
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Protestant cantons at Arrau, to which the most considerable of the Vaudois were summoned; two
of those who had taken refuge in the canton of Berne, and as many from Neuchatel, Bโle,
Schaffhousen, and St. Gall. In this assembly they received orders to quit the cantons altogether;
but as two months had elapsed since the failure of their second enterprise, during which period
they had been supplied as usual with provisions, and their excellencies of Berne had offered
them the islands on the lakes of Neuchatel and Morat to inhabit and cultivate, they were totally
unprepared for such orders. It was proposed to them to go to Brandenburg, but this they resisted
on the plea of the great distance, which only the more convinced the Bernois how much they had
their native country at heart; and to conquer an obstinacy these gentlemen deemed dangerous,
they were ordered to leave the canton by a fixed day.
They obeyed, and took their route by the capital of Berne; where they had the pleasure to find
that the severity exercised towards them was merely the effect of state policy, for besides much
individual kindness, the secretary of the town distributed money among them when they embarked
on the Aar, to take up their abode in Zurich and Schaffhousen, until some favourable opportunity
of proceeding further might offer.
Wirtemberg was not very distant, and was reckoned fertile in vineyards and pasturage; they
appointed three deputies to address the Duke Frederick Charles, (then regent, uncle and guardian
of his present reigning highness, Duke Eberhard Louis,) who met with a favourable reception,
lands being even offered them; but the Vaudois, whose object was to remain in a body, would
not accede to the condition of being separated, and supplicated from Zurich and Schaffhousen
the permission to remain in those cantons during the winter. This was granted them through the
intercession of some of the other cantons. The large collections made for them in England and
Holland contributed to this favour; from the last-named country ninety-two thousand crowns
were despatched, and his serene highness the Prince of Orange, afterwards king of England, sent
Mons. De Converant to distribute it with exact economy. Thus were the poor exiles furnished
with the means of subsistence, but it remained to find them a fixed residence: after many projects,
some of which would have sent them to the New World, they accepted the generous offers
of the late Elector of Brandenburg, to establish themselves in his dutchy.
Many, however, on the representations of some who had visited the country, were dismayed
at the obstacles which the language, climate, and distance presented; this was deemed fastidious
and obstinate, particularly by the Swiss; who, after many harangues, forced them to take an oath
that they would go wherever they were ordered. But though Mons. Arnaud himself signed this
act, he nevertheless protested against it as a forced assent. In consequence of this, about 800,
men, women, and children, took their departure; and as these were considered the most prudent,
every facility was afforded them on their journey. At Frankfort on the Maine they were received
by Mons. Choudens, deputed by the Duke of Brandenburg to escort them to Berlin, where they
met with a most gracious reception from the Elector, whose memory will be for ever held dear
for his benevolence to these poor refugees. To commemorate this worthy act, a print was engraved
by the celebrated Forneiser, of Bโle, and presented to his successor, the first king of Prussia,
with a suitable discourse.
To return to the Vaudois whom we left in Switzerland; they had need of all their resolution to
withstand the coldness with which they were treated, and at last found themselves obliged to
separate, and provide for themselves according to their inclination or ability: some were dispersed
in the Grisons, others on the frontiers of Wirtemberg, and those parts of the Palatinate as-
117 -
signed to them by order of the Elector Philip William de Neubourg, who was glad of this means
of repeopling his country, so often desolated by war. These poor wanderers seemed now provided
for; but having always other views, Mons. Arnaud gladly profited by this little interval of
peace, and accompanied by a Vaudois captain, named Batiste Besson, of St. Jean, went to Holland
to communicate their design to the Prince of Orange, afterwards king of England, and to
some other great people, who had at heart the interests of the Vaudois: this prince, of glorious
memory, in an audience with Mons. Arnaud, praised the zeal of this minister, and exhorted him
to keep his little troop together, to have patience, and not lose courage; he also gave him money
for his journey back.
Providence, who preserved this little flock in order to make them a wonderful example of divine
power, appeared to deny them another country, that they might afterwards return to their
own. Hardly had they begun to establish themselves, when the quarrels between the Duke of Orleans
and the Duke of Neubourg (become Elector Palatine) obliged them to seek safety in flight,
not daring to run the risk of falling a prey to the French, whose fury they had already sufficiently
experienced. Without being dazzled therefore by the privileges, of which the Elector Palatine
offered to put them in possession, or by the offers of the Duke of Wirtemberg, who agreed to
employ the effective, and support the rest, they determined to give up all these advantages to escape
from their enemies, and after much uncertainty where to bend their steps, they decided on
returning to Switzerland, as if inspired by God, who, it may not be improper here to observe, in
conducting these people back to their inheritance, permitted that the French, who had driven
them out, should be the means of paving the way for their return. This new calamity, which occurred
just as they had surmounted the difficulties which always attend the first settling in a new
country, (added to the distress of leaving their crops to be gathered by their enemies) happily so
touched the hearts of the inhabitants of the cantons as to efface from their memory all past dissatisfaction,
and they received this remnant of the Vaudois with open arms. Behold them again dispersed
in different parts of Protestant Switzerland, living by the labour of their hands, and always
honestly; for it is a thing to be remarked to their credit, that, during all the time of their exile,
there was never any complaint made against them of bad conduct or improper behaviour, excepting
at Zurich, where one soldier carried away the gun of his master, which coming to the knowledge
of some of the chiefs, the said gun was immediately restored to the owner.
With time for reflection came the conviction that they had too long forgotten their country,
and that God had permitted their misfortunes to make them feel they would never have repose
elsewhere than at home, and they determined to return at all hazards. This resolution was fortified
by the encouraging accounts they received from the spies whom they had sent more than a
year before, and from whom they learnt that the Duke of Savoy had withdrawn his troops from
the other side of the mountains, since the spring of 1689. Besides this, the happy and glorious
Revolution in England was the seal that impressed on their hearts the resolution not to give way.
They saw that the Prince of Orange, who had assured them of his august protection, was now
raised to the throne of Great Britain, and flattered themselves that the antipathy which naturally
existed between him and the king of France, his zeal for the Protestant religion, and the obligations
he was under to the potentates who had favoured his advancement to the throne, could not
fail to produce a war with France. This happened indeed soon after, and afforded occupation
enough to Louis the Fourteenth, who, entangled in such weighty affairs, overlooked or despised,
without doubt, the trifling concerns of the Vaudois. This appeared to be the moment to throw off
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the mask, and as these poor exiles well knew that their first attempts had failed, because they had
not kept them sufficiently secret, their leaders now took infinite care to conceal their new
scheme, in order that the passage through Savoy might not be closed, or the Bernois be able to
intercept them. It was also necessary, to prevent the latter from incurring any blame for having
appeared to connive at their departure: they took their measures so well, and conducted the affair
so secretly, that all their people began the march without knowing to what place they were
going: their rendezvous was in a large forest in the Pays de Vaud, called the wood of Nion, between
Nion and Rolle; a place very proper for their purpose, as they could there remain concealed,
and easily obtain provisions from the many neighbouring towns; besides having immediate
access to the lake, on which they could embark at night without being perceived. The most
part happily arrived at this rendezvous, and waited only for those who were to come from the
Grisons and Wirtemberg, and who, having farther to go, ran more risk of being discovered, and
in fact were so; for it happened that the Count de Cassati, the Spanish envoy, observing some
movements which seemed suspicious, gave information to the Count de Govon, envoy of the
Duke of Savoy, who made such exact inquiries, that he discovered these unfortunate persons, to
the number of 122, including some strangers, who, though not in the plot, shared the fate of the
others. Not only was their money, amounting to 500 crowns, taken from them, but they were
pillaged, insulted, and exposed to all sorts of cruelties, and sent to Turin. In their way through
several Catholic countries they were cruelly used, out of enmity to their religion, especially in
the canton of Friburg, where one Bastie, a physician, was left for dead in consequence of the
blows he received, of which he bore the marks all his life. At last they were confined in the prisons
of Turin, where they languished miserably for several months, during which four of them
died; who, as it happened, remarkable enough, were all four named Daniel, which gave occasion
to our Vaudois to allude to the history of Daniel and the other three Hebrews, who were thrown
into the furnace. However, the comparison would have been more just had these four modern
Daniels come forth safe and sound from their dungeon, as those of old from the furnace.
Let us leave these unfortunate prisoners, waiting their deliverance, of which we shall speak
when we come to the surprising denouement of this history. Those who expected them, tired of
waiting and fearing discovery, thought now only of passing the lake, to the number of from 8 to
900: and indeed it was time, for it began to be whispered that there were people hid in the wood
of Nion. This report, which seemed so adverse, proved by divine grace most favourable to them;
for wagers were laid in the adjacent places, that the Vaudois were about some new enterprise,
and curiosity induced several persons to transport themselves in boats to the places where it was
said they were.
The Vaudois, who had but four little boats, which was far from enough to carry over their
whole number, with the celerity the occasion demanded, seized the boats of those whom curiosity
had led there, and thus obtained the addition of fourteen or fifteen. Monsieur Arnaud, who at
this time was called Monsieur de la Tour, having said prayers, they embarked between nine and
ten o’clock in the night of Friday the 16th of August, 1689. There had been a general fast the
preceding day, in the whole of Protestant Switzerland, and the devotions thereto belonging, were
not yet finished; which contributed not a little to their passing the lake. However, they did not
escape without experiencing a piece of treachery of the blackest kind. A man named Prangin,
son of the late Monsieur de Baltazar, who had bought an estate near Nion, after having, on his
knees, joined in the prayer which Monsieur Arnaud made, ran the rest of the night, (like a Judas,)
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to Geneva, and disclosed what he had seen to the envoy of France; who immediately went to Lyons,
to order a certain number of Dragoons, to march against this troop of Vaudois. Their first
passage was without accident; and if the wind which arose, separated their boats, it was apparently
so ordered, that they might fall in with one from Geneva, which contained eighteen of their
people: but on sending back the boats for those who remained, they had the misfortune to see
but three return, the boatmen of the others having taken to flight, though they were paid before
hand; thus were they obliged to leave 200 men on the shores of Switzerland, it being necessary to
march in all haste from a place so replete with danger. They had besides the mortification to see
the three boats which had remained faithful, take back several good men, who would go no farther
without arms, and to learn that several others who had left Lausanne the night of the 15th had
been taken, and were released too late for their embarkation. I shall not enter into the motives
which induced the boatmen to behave as above-mentioned; apparently the fear of losing their
lives in Savoy, if taken, and ill used in Switzerland, when sent back, contributed much to it; but I
must remark a singular fact: one named Signat, a refugee from Tonneins, in Guienne, a zealous
man, established at Nion as boatman, offered to pass the Vaudois for nothing, which he did; but
having disembarked with his cargo, to take leave of his friends, the other boatmen went off with
his boat. He called after them in vain, and as he durst not return home on foot, lest if caught by
the Savoyards, it might cost him his life, he accepted the offer of the Vaudois, to give him a good
house instead of a boat if he would join their cause.
I can imagine the impatience of the reader to learn what became of the little band of Vaudois,
in an enemy’s country. They disembarked between Nermier and Ivoyre, two towns of the Chablis,
with the intention of marching sword in hand to recover their country, and of re-establishing
there the true Church of Jesus Christ. The acts of valour they performed, to achieve that which
appears impossible for so small a number to have accomplished, are so extraordinary, that in order
to relate them more regularly and clearly, I shall faithfully detail the events of each day as
they occurred.
First Day. – Monsieur Arnaud having with fourteen others, first set foot on the eastern shore
of the lake, posted good sentinels on all sides, and marshalled his men in line as they landed;
which done, he formed them into a regiment, of which one named Bourgeons of Neuchatel, was
to have had the command; however, he did not arrive in time, for reasons which need not be here
mentioned, as enough will be heard of him hereafter.
This regiment was divided into nineteen companies, of which six were composed of strangers,
nearly all from Languedoc and Dauphin้; the thirteen others of the Vaudois communities.
Angrogna had three companies, Capts. Buffe, France, and Bertin.
St. Jean, two - , Capts. Bellion and Besson.
La Tour, one - , Capt. Jean Frache.
Villar, one company, Capt. Pelene.
Bobbi, two - , Capts. Martinat and Moudon.
Prarustin, one - , Capt. Odin.
St. Germain and Pramol, one - , Capt. Robert.
Macel, one - , Capt. Trone Poulat.
Prales, one - , Capt. Peirot.
The six foreign companies were commanded by Capts. Martin, Privat, Lucas, Turel, Tronfrede,
and Chien. Several who did not choose to be inrolled in these companies, formed a com-
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pany of volunteers. The whole were formed into three divisions; viz. the advanced guard, main
body, and rear guard, after the order of regular troops, which they always observed on their
march; they had besides Monsieur Arnaud, who may be called their patriarch; two ministers,
Mons. Chyon, formerly minister of the church at Pont, in Dauphin้, and Mons. Montoux, of
Pragelas, who had been in his own country minister of the church at Chambons, and afterwards
at Coire, in the Grisons; where he had left his family, to follow the fortunes of his countrymen.
Their safety being thus provided for, they solemnly invoked the protection of Heaven, to favour
their enterprise; after which the above-named minister, Chyon, went to the nearest village to
procure a guide, but a Savoyard cavalier, who had perceived our people on the borders of the
lake, had already given the alarm, and the minister was taken prisoner, and sent to Chambery,
where he remained till the peace between the Duke of Savoy and the Vaudois. The cavalier just
mentioned having advanced pistol in hand, towards our people, Mons. Arnaud, with the Sieur
Turel and six fusileers, went towards him, but he faced about so quick, that he avoided only by
flight a shot that was fired after him. A general alarm being thus given, no time was to be lost,
and some officers, with twelve fusileers, were sent to Ivoyre, to persuade the inhabitants to lay
down their arms, and afford them a free passage; to which, (dreading the consequence of a refusal,)
they consented, for in this case they were threatened with fire and sword; but they lit their
(alarm) signal, which would have proved their destruction, if happily for them they had not contrived
to convince the Vaudois it had been done by some children; and they were pardoned, on
condition that the commandant and another,121 should serve as guides; these men were, however
sent back home after a march of half a league. The Vaudois afterwards took with them as hostages,
two gentlemen of the country, but these also they soon released, wishing to avoid all
harshness and cruelty as long as no resistance was made. They observed this rule so exactly, that
even the peasants and priests came out to see them pass, and often made vows for them, calling
out “God speed you.” The Cur้ (or Catholic minister) of Filli even opened his cellar for their
refreshment, and would not receive any money. Soon afterwards they were met by four Savoyard
gentlemen, armed, who demanded of the officers, by whose order, and for what purpose they
were in arms; and displeased by the firmness of their reply, commanded them to lay down their
arms. But no sooner had they spoken the words, than perceiving the approach of the main body,
they changed their tone, and having ordered some peasants who were with them to retire, they
would have themselves made their escape if the Vaudois had not prevented them, by making
them dismount, and march as prisoners at the head of the regiment, as a punishment for their temerity.
From the top of a hill the Vaudois perceived about 200 armed peasants near a wood, and
fearing an ambuscade, they detached a party to disperse them. Mons. Gropel, serjt. maj. and
Mons. Mouche, commanded the peasantry, made but little resistance, and their arms and ammunition
having been destroyed, some were taken as guides, with a menace, that they would be
hung upon the nearest tree, if they played false.
One of the above mentioned leaders was also taken, that he might bear testimony no damage
was committed on the march, and passing near his house, he offered to give refreshment, which
was not accepted.
Judging that now every place would be found under arms, it was deemed expedient to make
one of the gentlemen spoken of above, write as follows: --
121 Literally the warder of the castle.
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“An expedition is arrived here, composed of 2000 men, who have begged us to accompany
them, to bear testimony of their conduct; we can assure you they behave perfectly well, pay for
all they take, and request you not to sound the Tocsin, or raise an alarm, but to withdraw your
people if under arms.”
This letter, signed by all the gentlemen, and sent to the town of Viu, produced a kind of emulation
on the way, who should give them most readily what was wanted; indeed orders had been
issued to the peasants, to furnish our travellers with carts for their baggage; but as there are always
some who transgress orders, one peasant fired on a Vaudois soldier, but missed, and the
soldier took him prisoner! another soldier killed an armed peasant, and amongst some who fled,
seized one of the Dominican Monks, called Hermits of the Oarons, or as commonly pronounced,
Voirons; he had a dagger under his gown, but he afterwards made himself very useful.
At nightfall they halted near Vi๛ Villete du Foucigni, from whence they procured bread and
wine, which they paid for, and one of the gentlemen not being able to walk any farther, was sent
back: after two hours halt they proceeded, having made one of the hostages write another note,
to be sent to the town of St. Joyre, where they arrived in half an hour, and all the inhabitants
came out to receive them, even the magistrates had a cask of wine placed in the streets for the
soldiers, some of whom feared to taste it, lest it should have been poisoned; they arrived soon
after at a little ascent, where they halted, the place as called Carman; it was midnight, and though
it rained a little, they reposed themselves, after their long march, during the remainder of the
night, in order to be in better condition to pass the bridge of Marni, which they feared might be
broken up; it was here that having taken the brothers George, they released the two hostages
taken at Bo๋rge.
Second Day, August 17th. – Having found the bridge of Marni in good repair, they passed it
without resistance, and entered an agreeable valley, which the inhabitants had abandoned. By
ten o’clock they arrived near Cluse, a pretty fortified town, situated on the banks of the Arve,
which they were obliged to ford. The inhabitants in arms, lined the ditches, and the peasants descending
the mountain, made it resound with their cries of abuse, against the Vaudois; who in
spite of a heavy rain which annoyed them much, advanced within gun-shot, determined to force
a passage. At this time Mons. De Fora having overheard some persons say, it would be advisable
to kill the hostages, in case of resistance, and fearing for his own safety, begged permission
to write to the Governors of the town, which was granted him. He represented to them the danger
of refusing admission to people who had done no kind of harm in any place through which
they had passed; this note was carried into the town just as three of the principal persons were
coming out to capitulate, two were retained by the Vaudois, who at their request, sent back one
of their own people with the other, who being asked for the watch-word, fiercely replied, it was
at the point of his sword. The townspeople soon saw the affair was serious, and allowed them to
proceed and to be supplied with provisions on paying for them. The inhabitants armed, were
ranged in line on both sides the streets; and while our troops passed through the town, Mons. De
la Rochette the governor, asked some of the officers to dinner, which they refused, but as soon as
they were out of the town, at their desire, he sent them a barrel of wine, and bread in plenty, for
which Mons. De la Tour paid five louis d’ors, which seemed to satisfy the inhabitants very
As they were refreshing themselves, they perceived some children running towards Salenche,
and suspecting they were sent to give information of their advance, they made them turn back.
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When the Vaudois were about to recommence their march, Mons. De la Rochette and another,
desired to return, on pretence of attending mass, but they would not allow them, and observing
soon after, a servant of this said gentleman’s amongst the troops, they searched him, and found
upon him letters from the elder La Rochette to the governors of Salenche, exhorting them to take
arms, promising that while they attacked the Vaudois in front, the people of Cluse would not fail
to charge them in the rear.
In the expectation then of an attack, they defiled through a long narrow valley, in the middle
of which was a village and castle, named Maglan, but the peasants who were under arms, contented
themselves with looking on. Mons. De Loche, the owner of the castle, after loading the
officers with caresses, found himself obliged to march with them; to console him, they made his
cur้ accompany him, and in order that it might be difficult to count their numbers, they affected
to march in confusion.
Salenche is a mercantile town, and capital of the district of Foucigni. To arrive at this place
it was necessary to pass a wooden bridge, with houses upon it, a quarter of a league from the
town, within a hundred yards of this bridge; the officers, expecting the passage to be disputed,
formed their men in divisions, in one of which they placed their hostages, with orders (more intended
to alarm than to be obeyed) that they should be shot, if the Savoyards fired. While these
arrangements were making, they sent three captains, with an escort of six soldiers, to demand a
passage through the town, who fell in with six of the principal people of the place, and took one
of them, the others faced about, and came straight to us; Mons. Cartan, first syndic, being one of
them, having replied that the passage demanded, was too great a favour to grant without assembling
a council. We consented to half an hour’s delay for this purpose, menacing at the expiration
of that time, to force the bridge, which we were about to attack, when the said gentlemen returned,
saying, the period was much too short for so important a deliberation, and were about to
return again, when the Vaudois made two of them dismount, and very civilly requested of them
to augment the number of hostages; this compliment was not to their taste; the Vaudois might
then have forced the bridge, but willing if possible to prevent the unnecessary effusion of blood,
they listened to the request of the last hostages, to permit one of them to return into the town, and
bring back an answer good or bad; but instead of seeing them again, they heard the tocsin sound,
and saw 600 armed men range themselves near the bridge. As our troops were preparing to
charge, they perceived four capuchins coming out of the town, as negociators, and having been
civilly received, they proposed a free passage, on condition that the hostages and their horses
should be released, offering to give up two others of distinction in their place, which was agreed
to; but when they discovered that the promised hostages, instead of two sindics, as they called
them, were two poor wretches of the lowest order, Mons. Arnaud, indignant at the shameful
manner in which they endeavoured to deceive him, advanced towards the capuchins, who, reading
in his countenance that he meant to detain them, took to their heels, and so quickly did they
tuck up their frocks and run, that two only of them were caught, who were added to the number
of hostages. It must be remarked to their honour, that they were afterwards of great use, their
intreaties for the permission to pass through towns and villages, being generally so efficacious,
that the Vaudois could not but the more wonder at the influence these good fathers held over
those of their religion. To return, the capitulation being now of no avail, they marched a detachment
over the bridge, without opposition, and afterwards flanked it with a guard of forty soldiers,
to secure the passage of the rest, which being effected, they drew up in order of battle,
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twenty steps from the hedges, behind which the inhabitants were entrenched, but did not fire, lest
their town should be burnt by the Vaudois, who in consequence marched quietly on, and at last
reached the village of Cablau, where they established themselves for the night, but found nothing
either to eat or drink, or even fire to dry themselves, which would have been the more acceptable,
as it had rained all day; but for this rain even, these poor people had cause to be thankful, as
it no doubt prevented the enemy from pursuing them.
Third Day, Monday 19th. – If the Vaudois were not on this day harassed by the movements
and opposition of the inhabitants of Cluse, Maglan, and Salenche, they were greatly alarmed on
hearing that they had a rough and difficult journey before them, having two very steep mountains
to climb and descend, therefore they bought some wine in a village, through which they passed
early in the morning. On starting, they sounded two trumpets, instead of drums, which would
have been inconvenient to carry, and discharged their muskets, to reload them; the rain still continued;
they passed through several villages, and a town called Beaufort or Migeves, in which the
inhabitants were under arms, but did not molest them. They then gained the summit of the
mountain, where they rested on account of the rain; here they found a great many cattle, which it
was customary to keep there during the summer, but neither these or the dairies did they touch,
greatly to the surprise of the hostages who were incommoded by this frugal life, and at last persuaded
our people, that with regard to provisions, it was the custom of soldiers to take whatever
they found. This advice, or rather reproach, from those who were in the interests of the country,
and their example, added to the hunger which our Vaudois were suffering, and to the deserted
state in which they found the chalets, induced them to break the rule laid down, and to help
themselves to bread, milk, cheese, and all the eatables they could find, which they would have
paid for, had they seen the owners. At length, after severe toil, they arrived at the summit of the
second mountain, called “Haute Luce,” of which the very appearance is alarming, and the ascent
always difficult, and more than usually so at this time, on account of the rain and snow, as well
as of the thick fog with which it was covered. At the top was a deserted barn, where they found
some milk and other trifles for their support, and luckily fell in with some peasants to supply the
want of guides, as theirs, in the fog, believing themselves in the clouds, declared they had lost all
knowledge of the paths; this they soon after found out to be a pretence, and that they maliciously
contrived to lead the Vaudois through the most frightful passes, to allow time for the Savoyards
to come up and destroy them; and in consequence, Mons. Arnaud threatened in earnest to have
these treacherous guides hanged. If the zealous leader of this little troop knew how to alarm
those who meant to deceive, he endeavoured no less by good and holy exhortations to raise the
courage of those under his care, and who seemed now on the point of sinking under an accumulation
of evils, increased by the almost unbearable fatigue of effecting a passage through a pass
cut in the rock, like a ladder, where twenty persons might easily have destroyed 20,000. They
descended with greater difficulty; and in a sitting posture, slid down precipices without other
light than what was afforded them by the snow, and arrived late in the night at St. Nicholas de
Verose, a miserable hamlet, composed merely of some shepherds’ huts. In this place, sunk as it
were in a deserted cold abyss, they were obliged to halt without finding even the means of making
a fire; so that to provide themselves with this comfort, they unroofed the cabins,122 and thus
exposed themselves to a rain which lasted all night.
122 The cottages here are even now roofed with wooden shingles. – T.
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Fourth day, Tuesday, 20th. – Impatience to quit this miserable post before daylight caused
two accidents; Capt. Maynier, a Vaudois, and good soldier, was wounded in both thighs by a
ball, fired by chance in the dark; and, secondly, a report having been spread that 200 Savoyards
had slipped in amongst the corps, with the design of attacking the Vaudois, a soldier, mistaking
for one of them the Sieur Bailiff, (a refugee from Lausanne, who had left his establishment there,
to join our travellers,) discharged his cross-bow at him, and would have taken his life if the captain
had not begged for time to say his prayers, having already received a thrust with the soldier’s
bayonet, which only pierced his doublet. It was here also that the Sieur Chien, one of the captains,
discouraged by so many fatigues, which his constitution could no longer support, deserted,
taking with him a fine horse, from a place where they had left six others. In the morning they
ascended or rather climbed, with the snow up to their knees, and the rain pouring on them, one of
the rudest points of the mountain called Bon Homme. Knowing that the year before, on the news
of their first attempts, strong ramparts and entrenchments had been made in this place, with embrasures,
in so advantageous a position, that thirty men might not only have stopt, but entirely
have destroyed them; they marched in the expectation of a bloody engagement; but the Eternal,
who was always with this troop of his faithful people, permitted that they should find these entrenchments
vacant, and without even a guard; for, tired of watching so long in vain, they had
retired – a mercy for which the Vaudois offered up thanksgiving to God upon the spot. After a
long descent through the snow, they bought a barrel of wine to drink on the road; but perceiving
that the rear guard delayed to follow, some shots were fired, which caused them to leave the
wine (the occasion of the delay) and hasten with all speed to their stations. In the valley which
they came to, it was necessary to cross the Isere frequently; they marched for some time two
abreast, expecting resistance, and their danger was the more eminent in this narrow defile, nearly
filled up by a river, at the time overflowed, as they perceived the heights above them to be in
possession of armed peasants. These however, to the very agreeable surprise of the Vaudois,
contented themselves with looking at them. These peasants, having observed that their presence
had not given any alarm to our Vaudois, returned as hard as they could run to their hamlets and
sounded the tocsin. In a moment was heard a horrible peal from all the bells round. This, however,
did not prevent the Vaudois from proceeding to a bridge they expected to find; they discovered
that it was barricaded with strong rafters, and trees crossed one over the other, and guarded
by peasants, some armed with scythes, some with muskets, some with forks. As soon as the
Vaudois showed a disposition to attack them, Mons. De la Val d’Isere, lord of this valley, came
to parley, that is to say, to grant a passage, the peasants themselves, and even the cur้ himself
helping to clear the bridge. As for Mons. Le Comte, as soon as he had finished his embassy, he
rode off at full gallop, so afraid was he of being added to the hostages; who, whenever they saw
some one of distinction, usually said to Mons. Arnaud, “there is a good bird for our cage.” They
passed the little village of Sez without committing any disorder, although its bells had sounded
loudly, and the inhabitants had taken arms; and, above all, they were aware that the above-named
lord was there shut up in his castle. They encamped very near this town, where they obtained as
much provision as they wished: for bread they paid two sous a pound, excepting Mons. Arnaud,
who paid voluntarily three sous, and they had such plenty, that some of the peasants came and
bought bread of the soldiers.
Fifth day, Wednesday, 21st. – The march began before daylight, still along the Val d’Isere,
where the hamlets were all deserted. At the village of St. Foi they halted, here they again found
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inhabitants, procured provisions, and were treated with cordiality; some persons even came to
meet them, praising their design of returning to their own country, and urging them to stay all
night, promising, if they did, to bake bread, kill cattle, and furnish wine to refresh the troops.
These flattering speeches would probably have induced the Vaudois to consent to the proposal,
had not Mons. Arnaud, then with the rear guard, advanced to inquire the cause of the delay; and
as he always distrusted the caresses of an enemy, he ordered the troops to march on, and take
with them the smooth-tongued gentry, who doubtless intended their destruction. Their road now
lay through narrow ravine between two high mountains, covered with thick underwood; nothing
could have been more easy than to have defended this pass; by merely taking away the rafters of
the little bridge, it would have been impossible for our troops to have forced a passage, however
they arrived safe at Villar Rougy, where the advanced guard seized a cur้ and some peasants,
who were trying to make their escape. On leaving this frightful valley, they perceived numbers
of the peasants who had abandoned their houses and retired to the opposite side of the river; they
next came to Entigne, a hamlet situated in a little plain, surrounded by mountains. The inhabitants
had taken refuge on the heights, where they were seen in arms. At night the Vaudois encamped
in a field near the village of Laval, and found provisions in the deserted houses. One of
the principal persons of the place lodged the officers; and here Mons. Arnaud and his colleague
Mons. Montoux, after having passed eight successive days and nights almost without food or
sleep, lay down for three hours, after having supped. It may be supposed that neither bed nor
supper were ever more welcome.
Sixth day, Thursday, 22d. – We passed the village of Tigne and released some of our hostages;
others escaped, doubtless by bribing their guards; we took the precaution of replacing
them by two priests and a lawyer, and then began the ascent of Mount Tisserand, or La Maurienne,
more properly Iserand, from whence is derived the name of the river Isere.
During the halt, we divided the companies and appointed some additional officers. We had
afterwards to traverse some very difficult paths among the Alps, in some of the valleys there was
abundance of cattle, and the owners regaled our travellers from their dairies, at the same time
giving them to understand, their passage would be disputed at the foot of Mount Cenis, where a
large body of troops awaited their arrival. This news, instead of alarming them, gave them fresh
courage; under the conviction that the fate of their arms depended solely on God, and trusting
through his support to obtain a passage; they courageously descended the mountain of Maurienne,
and traversing the district of the same name, passed the hamlet of Bonneval, and marched
straight to Besas, where the inhabitants were understood to be very ill disposed, and in fact their
violence and menaces obliged the Vaudois to avenge themselves, by seizing some mules and carrying
away with them the cur้, the warder, the six peasants, who, for their greater mortification,
were bound together; they here passed the river and encamped near a little deserted hamlet,
where it rained upon them all night.
Seventh day, Friday, 23d. – In passing through Lannevillard they took a cur้ and some peasants;
but released the former when they came to Mount Cenis, considering him too fat and too
old to accomplish the ascent. Fearing lest their march should be made known by means of the
post-house on the summit, a detachment was sent forward to seize all the horses and as they returned
with this booty (of which they had possessed themselves in self-defence) they fell in with
some laden mules, and, tempted by the opportunity, seized them also, and found that they were
conveying the luggage of the Cardinal Angel Ranuzzi; who, being on his return from his nunci-
126 -
ate in France, had sent them by this road, while he was himself making all speed another way to
Rome; in order to assist at the conclave which elevated Alexander the Eighth to the papal chair.
The muleteers having complained to the officers, they commanded that the whole of the property
should be instantly restored to the owner, lest the reputation for good discipline, on which they
so much prided themselves, should in any degree suffer; therefore, if any article was lost, the officers
declare it to have been without their knowledge, except indeed in the single instance of a
watch of singular construction, made after the model of the clock at Strasburg, and which was
not discovered till too late to restore it: they also aver that they did not read any of the papers
belonging to the said cardinal, who upon hearing of this accident, on his arrival at Fano, and concluding
that all the memoirs of his nunciate, as well as his private papers, had fallen into the
hands of people who would turn them to their own advantage, was so much mortified, that it may
be said to have caused his death, by inducing him to give up all hopes of succeeding to the pontificate,
a dignity he was in fact, from various causes, peculiarly well calculated to fill; he is said,
however, to have exhibited some degree of weakness in his conduct, relative to the misunderstandings
between the king of France and Pope Innocent the Eleventh; and also on his death bed,
when he frequently exclaimed, “Oh! my papers, my papers!”123 Many reports have been circulated
respecting these papers; amongst others, that the Duke of Savoy purchased them of the
Vaudois, and sent them to the court of France; where, by this means, an intrigue was discovered
between the Cardinal Ranuzzi and several of the French ecclesiastics, ten of whom were in consequence
said to have been thrown into the prison of Vincennes; however, being well aware that
these stories were only invented to blacken their character, the Vaudois trouble themselves very
little about these papers, only repeating once more, that they never had them, or ever saw them;
and the watch, above mentioned, fell subsequently into the hands of Mons. Montoux, and was
taken with is equipage by the troops of the Duke of Savoy, when he was made prisoner, an event
which will be spoken of in its place. The sufferings experienced by the Vaudois in crossing the
great and little Mont Cenis, are hardly to be described, having with infinite toil reached the latter,
they found in the barns peasants armed with halberts and poles shod with iron, two of whom they
seized. Soon afterwards, they lost their way, either through the treachery of the guide or in consequence
of the fog; and the ground being a foot deep in snow, they descended the mountain of
Tourliers, rather by a precipice than a road. To complete their misfortunes, darkness having surprised
them, many who were sinking under fatigue got separated from the rest, and passed the
night in wandering about, while the main body happily reached the valley of Jaillon, where they
found at least dry wood for fires.
Eighth day. – At daybreak, on the 24th, the stragglers having rejoined the main body, it was
decided to march by Chaumont, above Susa; and a party having been sent out to reconnoitre, discovered
on the mountain a considerable number of French soldiers and peasants rolling down
pieces of rock into the valley, which being very narrow, and the river Jaillon very rapid, our position
appeared evidently a very dangerous one. But the advanced guard, having been reinforced
with 100 men, marched forwards with intrepid courage, and when within fifty yards of the enemy,
Captain Pelene, with an escort, advanced to treat for a passage; two cur้s were sent with
him, in hopes of their facilitating the business; but, on the contrary, they escaped, and at their
instigation, Capt. Pelene and his men were seized, bound, and gagged, only one excepted, who
found the strength of Samson in his hair, by which they had seized him. The enemy then making
123 “O! le mie carte, le mie carte.
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an attack with their musketry and grenades, and throwing and rolling down stones from their advantageous
position, obliged the advanced guard to retire under shelter of the rocks, and at last to
defile through a wood of chesnuts on the right side of the river, which they forded with difficulty:
it was here that the Sieur Caffarel, of Bobbi, was taken prisoner by the dragoons, after being
wounded by one of his own men, who mistook him for an enemy, he being at the time
dressed in the clothes of a soldier he had just killed. Those who had passed the river, finding
they were not pursued, returned, and rejoined the main body, and it was then considered advisable
to endeavour to regain the heights, to avoid the danger of being surrounded in the valley.
The ascent could only be accomplished by climbing, often on the hands as well as feet, and the
difficulty of it may be imagined, since the hostages entreated to be shot rather than be forced to
undergo such fatigue: and though the Vaudois did reach this summit, the undertaking cost them
dear, several of their people being lost in the wood, and among them captains Lucas and Privet,
who were never more heard of, and also two excellent surgeons, one of whom, named Melanet,
remained hidden four days in the trunk of a tree, with several others, subsisting on a small quantity
of water. They were at last taken prisoners and conveyed, bound hand and foot, to the prisons
of the senate at Turin, where they lingered in a dungeon for nine months. It was usual to
send those taken on the territory of Savoy to the prisons of that country; while such as were captured
on French ground were sent to Grenoble and from thence to the galleys, where those on
whom death has not taken pity still remain, although offers of ransom or exchange have been
made. Among these latter unfortunate persons was the other surgeon, Mons. Jean Muston, of St.
Jean, whose constancy and firmness under such protracted sufferings demand a place in this history.
This defeat, which enfeebled the little flock, and cost them much booty as well as many
brave men, did not discourage them, but supported by the conviction, that neither strength, address,
nor numbers are required to carry into effect the wonderful plans of God, they put their
trust in his help, and prepared for fresh exertions in the ascent of the mountain of Tourliers.
Having waited two hours after the trumpets had been sounded as a signal to the stragglers, and
fearing the enemy’s troops might gain time to dispute their passage, they marched with such
haste, that poor Meinier, of Rodoret, who had been accidentally wounded by one of his own
men, and had fallen asleep from fatigue on a rock, was left behind; two of the hostages also escaped,
one of whom was wounded or killed in his flight. When they had reached the summit of
the mountain, they perceived through the fog 200 armed men, marching towards them, with
drums beating. The commanding officer sent word he did not mean to oppose the passage of the
Vaudois, provided they would take a route a little above him in which case he even offered them
provisions; but if, on the contrary, they were determined to open themselves a road through his
post, he demanded eight hours to consider what was to be done. Though they were aware this
officer was not entirely to be trusted, they thought it better to accept the route proposed to them,
rather than try to force one which was well guarded, they therefore took the right hand road; but
soon perceived that they were followed by the same troops, under cover of the night. From this
manoeuvre, the Vaudois clearly saw it was the intention of the enemy to engage them between
two fires, when they attempted to force the passage of the bridge of Salabertran, upon the river
Doire, which seemed an infallible way of destroying a handful of men, worn out with fatigue and
privations of every kind. They therefore sent a message to demand why these troops continued
to advance, apparently in opposition to their words; to which they replied, that they had no inten-
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tion of violating it, and pretended to retire; the Vaudois believing they had done so in good earnest,
continued their march in close order, across extensive plains and through woods; as they
approached a hamlet, about a league from Salabertran, they inquired of a peasant whether provisions
could be procured for money, to which he coldly replied, “Go, they will give you all you
want, they have prepared a good supper for you.” These words pronounced seriously, but archly,
led them to suspect something wrong; however they proceeded with unshaken courage, after a
halt of a few minutes, during which they refreshed themselves with some wine, which they had
ordered the peasants to bring them; half a league from the bridge, they discovered thirty-six fires
at different distances along the valley, which showed them at once the position of the enemy; a
quarter of an hour afterwards the advanced guard fell into an ambuscade, but the troops which
formed it retired as soon as they had discharged their pieces, leaving five dead. An engagement
now appearing inevitable, the Vaudois assembled to prayers; and having reconnoitred the ground
on each side, advanced almost to the bridge, the enemy, who were entrenched on the other side,
called out “Qui vive?” to which they replied very sincerely, “Amis,” that was, provided they
were allowed to pass; but the others, who desired no friends at that price, called out “Tue, tue,”
and opened a fire during a good quarter of an hour, of two thousand shots at each discharge;
Mons. De la Tour from the first ordered all his men to lie flat down on the ground, by which
means one man only was wounded; and one of the hostages, a Savoyard nobleman, who had
grown old in arms, declared he had never seen so heavy a fire take so little effect; but what was
still more remarkable, Mons. De la Tour, with Capt. Mondon, of Bobbi, a brave officer, (who is
still alive,) with only two refugees, not only made head against two companies who attacked the
Vaudois in the rear, but repulsed them. Our men seeing themselves thus placed between two
fires, and that every exertion must be made, called out “The bridge is carried,” although it was
not, which so animated the soldiers that they threw themselves upon it, and forcing it sword in
hand, made their way into the entrenchments of the enemy, whom they pursued so closely as to
seize them by the hair. The shock was so tremendous, the sabres of the Vaudois struck fire
against the steel of the French, who could only use their muskets to parry blows; at last the victory
was so complete, that the Marquis de Larrey, who commanded the French, and was dangerously
wounded in the arm, exclaimed (swearing after the French manner) “Is it possible I should
lose the battle and my honour? Sauvre qui peut.” He then retreated with several other wounded
officers to Brian็on, where not thinking himself in safety, he took the road to Embrun in a litter.
The engagement lasted near two hours, and the enemy were thrown into such disorder, that many
were mixed with theVaudois and thus killed. The watchword of the Vaudois being Angrogna,
the enemies, in trying to repeat it, replied to the “Qui vive,” only “Grogne,” so that this word
alone cost above 200 of them their lives; at last the field of battle remained covered with dead;
many companies were reduced to seven or eight men, all their officers having been killed, and all
the baggage and ammunition fell into the hands of the victorious Vaudois. Mons. Arnaud ordered
them to break open thirteen military chests, and throw into the river the booty they could
not carry, after providing themselves with as much powder and ball as each man could convey,
and setting fire to the rest, which made so terrific an explosion among the mountains that it was
heard at Brian็on . At the same time the trumpets were sounded, and every man throwing up his
hat, made the air resound with this exclamation of joy, “Thanks be given to the Eternal God of
armies, who has granted us the victory.”
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What! could a handful of men force 2900 soldiers from their entrenchments, when of those
soldiers nineteen companies were composed of regular troops, and the remainder of militia and
peasants, besides the troops in their rear already mentioned? The thing appears so little probable,
that to believe it one must have seen it; or rather one must bear firmly in mind that the hand of
God not only fought for them but blinded the French; otherwise it is impossible that a nation so
clear sighted, and so skilful in the art of war, should have failed to perceive, that by breaking up
the bridge, which was only of wood, they must have instantly stopt the progress of the Vaudois,
for the river was so swollen, that it was not fordable. Astonishing as this victory appears, the
trifling loss sustained by the victors is no less so; from ten to twelve only were wounded, and
fourteen or fifteen killed, half of whom fell by the fire of their own rear guard. Of thirty-nine
hostages only six remained, one cur้ being killed, and the rest having made their escape during
the engagement. Although after such an action, they stood more in need of repose than ever,
having previously marched for three days and nights without intermission, almost without even
eating or drinking, they still thought it prudent to advance and employ the remainder of this glorious
night in climbing by moonlight the mountain of Sei, in the direction of Pragela. This was,
however, attended with the greatest difficulty, for the men fell at every step from sleep and exhaustion,
and doubtless many must have perished had not the rear guard taken the greatest care
to wake those they found on the ground, and obliged them to proceed.
Ninth Day, Sunday 29th. At the dawn of day, they formed themselves on the top of the said
mountain of Sei, where they waited for those who had dropped into the rear; after which Mons.
De la Tour having assembled the whole army, made them observe that they were already within
sight of their own native mountains, the summits of which he pointed out, and exhorted them to
thank God for having so miraculously preserved them. He made a prayer which animated them
afresh, and having thus given thanks to God, they descended into the valley of Pragela, and
crossed the Clusone, where they encamped opposite the church of the hamlet of laTraverse, and
bought some provisions, in spite of the first refusal of the inhabitants, who were, notwithstanding,
brothers by the tie of the same religion. Here they had the pleasure to learn, that while it
was acknowledged they had lost but fourteen men in the late action, their enemies had left twelve
captains on the field, besides other officers, and 600 men; but at the same time, they had the mortification
of learning that thirty-six of their own men who had been taken near the Jaillon, and
eighty others at the foot of Mont Sei had been sent, bound and gagged to Grenoble. Though it
was Sunday, no mass was celebrated in all the Valley of Pragela, for all the priests, thinking
more of their safety than of their duty, had taken to flight. The son too, of the commandant of
the place, had hastily formed a company, which he commanded; all their exploits consisted in
taking prisoners four Vaudois, who lost their way in the woods; these men hoping to secure better
treatment, advised his not advancing, if he did not wish to be cut to pieces; for this advice,
and thinking the four Vaudois would guarantee him from harm should he fall in with the main
body, he promised to do them no injury; but no sooner did he think himself out of danger, than
these poor creatures were sent to Grenoble.
As the Vaudois troops were preparing to march about three o’clock, p.m. towards the Valley
of St. Martin, they saw some dragoons on the side of Cestrieres, advancing towards the valley;
but when these perceived the Vaudois steadily advancing, they retired. We passed the night in
the village of Jaussaud, the highest point on the Col de Pis, and obtained a few provisions, on
paying for them very dearly, but not as many as were wanted; which caused the Vaudois to re-
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proach the inhabitants with their inhumanity, so inconsistent with their former intimacy; they excused
themselves, however, by saying, they should be ruined, if it was known they had favoured
them in the smallest degree, and it was afterwards discovered that the priest had told the peasants
that if they did not take all the Vaudois they could, they would deserve to be burnt in their
Tenth Day, Monday 26th. – The troops began their march late, and when near the foot of the
Col de Pis, they say the troops of H. R. H. drawn up in order of battle, in the plain of Bouchar, at
the lower part of the pass. They halted to say prayers, which Mons. Arnaud pronounced aloud
with great devotion; that done, to make themselves master of this pass, they divided their line
into three detachments, which marched in three columns, two on the flanks, and the third directly
in advance.
The Savoyards seeing the resolution with which they marched, sent an officer, who made
signs he wished to come to a parley, but as they would not hear him he took to flight, together
with the whole body, leaving their baggage to the mercy of the Vaudois, who would have pursued
them but for a heavy fog; they fired but three muskets after them, each of which took effect,
and brought down a man. They then continued the descent, and halted at the foot of Mont Geras,
near one of the huts where the shepherds make cheese; they seized six soldiers of H. R. H. whom
they killed, after desiring them to say their prayers, which they knew so little how to do, that they
asked how.
They carried with them from this place near 600 sheep, and some shepherds, but restored the
greatest part on receiving a small sum of money. Night and rain coming suddenly upon them,
they were obliged to descend one of the most tremendous paths that can be imagined, by the light
of torches, till they arrived at a roofless barn, above the Col de Dalmian, in and about which,
they passed the night, not in sleep, but occupied in drying themselves by some little fires.
Eleventh Day, Tuesday 27th. – They arrived at Balsille, the first hamlet in the Valley of St.
Martin, and discovered here that twenty soldiers had deserted; what was the more surprising in
this defection was, that it happened at the very time when they first set foot on the land they had
laboured so hard to attain. As in the above-mentioned hamlet they did not find as was expected
any armed forced, a little time was given for repose and refreshment. They killed the sheep they
had brought with them, which some ate with a little bread, and some without being able to obtain
any, it having been refused to them in Pragela. As they were thus refreshing themselves as they
could, a soldier perceived some troops approaching by the Col de Pis, and called to arms; the
party seeing this movement, and mistaking them for their own people, made a sign with a handkerchief,
that they were the troops of H. R. H. They were immediately attacked, taken, and disarmed,
and proved to be forty-six men of the militia of Cavour, sent under the command of a serjeant,
to guard the pass. A council of war having been held upon them in a meadow, they were
exhorted to say their prayers, and led to the bridge of Balsille, where they were killed and thrown
into the river; the Vaudois passed the night at Macel, where they found bread and other eatables,
which the peasants had not had time to bury.
Twelfth Day, Wednesday 28th. – Our travellers having nearly reached the end of their career,
marched towards Prals, and being arrived at the top of La Couline, they formed two troops, one
of which proceeded by Rodoret, the other by Fontaines; that is to say, one took the mountain
road, the other that which led through the valley, in order to discover whether there were any
soldiers to oppose them; but they met only some Savoyards, on whom they laid violent hands.
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Having learnt that the Marquis de Parelle, (the lieut. General commanding the Ducal troops, appointed
to guard the Col de Lapier,) was at Perrier, the detachment which went by Rodoret
joined the other at Prals, where they burnt a chapel, which had been built only three years, and
having had the pleasure of finding the temple in the hamlet of Guigou, which was the church of
Prals, standing, they stripped it of all that appertained to the worship of Rome, and then sung in it
the 74th Psalm, “Oh God, wherefore art thou absent,” . . . &c. Monsieur Arnaud to make himself
heard by those also who were outside, got upon a bench in the doorway, and the 129th Psalm,
“Many a time have they fought against me,” being sung, he preached on both these psalms. It is
here worthy of remark, that God permitted that the first service heard by the Vaudois, on their
return to their valleys, should be performed in that temple, of which Mons. Leidet was minister,
who for singing psalms under a rock, and preaching publicly the true faith, lost his life on a gibbet,
by order of the court, in the fort of St. Michel, near Luzerne, in the year 1686.
Thirteenth Day, August 29th. – Mons. Arnaud having made public prayers, they prepared to
pass the Col de Julien, in order to descend into the valley of Luzerne, when meeting with a horse
near la Ferrouillarie, they guessed that the enemy were not far off, and soon after that saw a serjeant
of H. R. H.’s guards, with a peasant for a guide; they were taken, and the guide put to
death. The serjeant to avoid the same fate, promised to discover all he knew, and said he had
been sent into the valley of St. Martin, to reconnoitre the state of the Vaudois; that there were
200 of his Majesty’s guards waiting for them, well entrenched on the Col de Julien; and that a
regiment of guards had been sent for, seventeen days before, from Nice, to come to the defence
of the valleys, which was three days before the Vaudois set out. Upon this information, they divided
as usual into three bodies, one taking the right, the other the left, and the third, which was
the principal, the centre. The right division having reached a wood above, were preparing to
halt, but finding themselves discovered by a sentinel of the enemy, they lost no time in taking up
a position before the /Savoyard troops could have time to occupy it; these came up with the intention
of disputing the post, but as soon as they perceived the Vaudois had been too quick for
them, they retired under favour of some heavy clouds, crying out, “Venez, venez, Barbets du Diable,
124 we have seized all the posts, and are 3000 strong;” adding by way of gasconade, “let
Mons. le Chevalier be told to take care of his posts.” And as the Vaudois approached, the sentinel
kept calling out, “qui vive, if you do not answer, I fire;” but not one shot was fired, so afraid
were they of the Vaudois, who in their eagerness to come to an engagement, determined to attack
these boasters even in their entrenchments, were they thought themselves so secure. As soon as
they saw themselves attacked in good earnest, and on all sides, after firing for half an hour, they
disgracefully abandoned their posts; leaving behind them baggage, and ammunition, and even
the clothes of their commander, in the hands of the Vaudois: who on their part lost only one
man, named Joshi้ Mandom, a good soldier, who died of his wounds, at les Pausettes, the next
day, and was buried under a rock. The fugitives retreated in such haste to the convent of Villar,
that they did not even give information to the inhabitants of Serre de Cruel, of Aiguille, or Bobbi.
The Col de Julien thus taken, the Vaudois pushed on to a place called Les Passarelles de Julien,
where they killed thirty-one more soldiers and three horses, one of whom belonged to the commanding
officer, whose pistols were still in the holsters. They passed the night near Aiguille,
where they were much incommoded by the rain, which favoured the escape of the serjeant spo-
124 Barbets,a name of reproach given the Vaudois.
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ken of above, who found means to get loose, and escaped by sliding and rolling down to the bottom
of the mountain.
Fourteenth day, 30th Aug. – The weather having cleared, they marched at daybreak; the day
was passed in pursuit of the enemy, who fled at the approach of the Vaudois till they reached
Bobbi, (a town in the plain, on the river, and at the foot of Mount Julien,) and fearing even there
an attack, they passed on still farther, which the Vaudois having observed, thought proper to refresh
themselves, and took up their quarters in some barns within gun-shot of Bobbi.
Fifteenth day, 31st Aug. – They separated into two bodies, and pursued the fugitives into
Bobbi, which they entered as masters, putting to the sword all the prisoners they took. The inhabitants
of this town abandoned every thing and fled by the bridge, without waiting for a single
shot; here it must be owned to the shame of the Vaudois, that instead of following the enemy
they amused themselves with pillaging and sacking the town. The other division of the Vaudois
behaved better, they brought in twelve soldiers, whom it was thought necessary to put to death,
excepting one, called Jean Gras, who with his father and son-in-law were spared, because a Vaudois
captain, who knew him, interceded for him; saying, if he had never done them any good, he
had at least never done them any harm. If the Vaudois in this manner put to death those who fell
into their hands, it must be remembered they had no prisons to keep them in, to carry them with
them was impossible, for they had occasion for all their number; and to send them back was to
publish to the world their small force, their march, and in fact every thing on which their success
depended: they had reason to perceive the necessity of this forced line of conduct, by the consequences
which resulted from the release of Le Gras and his father, which were of great injury to
them; however, these two ungrateful men received some time afterwards the just punishment of
their perfidy.
Sixteenth day, Sunday, 1st Sept. – The Vaudois remained all day at Bobbi, where Mons. Montoux
and Mons. Arnaud performed service in the open air, and the latter preached on the sixteenth
chapter of St. Luke, “The law and the prophets were until John, since that time the kingdom
of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Afterwards they remained assembled,
to make several rules and orders: the first business was the oath of fidelity, which Mons. Arnaud
read aloud in the following form: “God, by his divine grace, having happily reconducted us to
the inheritance of our fathers, there to establish the pure service of our holy religion, by continuing
and finishing the great enterprise which he has hitherto so graciously favoured: - we pastors,
captains, and other officers, swear and promise, before the face of the living God, and upon the
damnation of our souls, to observe union and order, and neither to separate or disunite while God
grants us life, even should we have the misfortune to be reduced to three or four; not to parley or
treat with our enemies, those of Piemont as well as France, without the consent of all our council
of war; to put together the booty which we have or may make, and to use it for the wants of our
people on the extraordinary occasions. We, soldiers, promise and swear before God to-day, to
obey the orders of all our officers, and swear obedience to them, even to the last drop of our
blood; and to place the prisoners and booty at their disposal. Further, it is ordered that all officers
and soldiers shall be forbid, under heavy penalties, to search, either during or after any action,
any of the dead, wounded, or prisoners, excepting those officers or soldiers especially appointed
for this purpose. The officers are enjoined to see that all the soldiers keep their arms and
appointments in order; and above all, to punish very severely any who blaspheme God, or swear.
And to the intent that the union, which is the soul of our affairs, should remain inviolable, the
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officers shall swear fidelity to the soldiers, and the soldiers to the officers, promising altogether
to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to deliver, if possible, our brothers from the cruel woman
of Babylon, and with them, to re-establish and maintain his kingdom till death, and observe all
our lives with good faith this present ordinance.” This being read, they all took the oath by raising
their hands towards heaven; and after this an account was taken of the plunder, which was
given in charge to four treasurers, and two secretaries; and they ended the day by taking down
the bell from the Catholic church at Bobbi and hiding it under some stones, where the enemies
found it some time after, when they were fortifying Bobbi.
Seventeenth day, Monday, Sept 2. – After assembling for prayers, they marched to attack Villar,
in two detachments, the principal one keeping the road, while the other marched above the
vineyards, to make an attack on the side of Rospard; but they made a great mistake in leaving the
wounded and baggage at La Combe, where they narrowly escaped falling into the hands of the
enemy. Those who guarded the pass, on seeing the Vaudois, fled towards La Combe du Valguichard,
and those in the village if Villar retired to its convent. The Vaudois, on finding themselves
thus masters of the village, burnt some houses to avoid being surprised; and as they were
annoyed by the firing from the convent, Mons. Arnaud devised their rolling barrels before them,
under shelter of which they could approach nearer; by this means they got into the houses opposite,
and fired through holes which they made in the walls upon those who were firing from the
steeple, at which time three lives were lost. Having learnt from some prisoners that the besieged
had no provisions, they found it expedient to turn the attack into a blockade, and to cut off all
supplies, for which purpose they attacked a company of soldiers, who were convoying fourteen
baggage mules, and took them. The mules and provisions were divided amongst the companies:
a guard was posted at Rospard, and sentinels at Pertuzel. The besieged soon after made a desperate
sortie, sword in hand, but the Vaudois received them so gallantly, they were forced to retire
to the convent in such haste, that they dragged in by the feet the body of their commander,
the Baron de Choate, who had been killed, and whose hat and wig were found in the street.
Eighteenth day, 3rd Sept. – The sentinel of Pertuzel made a signal that succours were advancing
to the besieged, at the same time they left the convent, and were escaping into the wood,
where the Vaudois followed and shot several of them; but this pursuit favoured the entrance of
Mons. de Parelle, for though a detachment of Vaudois had run with all haste to the bridge of Rospard,
they could not make effectual resistance, but were surrounded, and many of them killed.
They were now separated into two corps, divided by the enemy, (who were in great numbers,
and composed of veteran soldiers,) and thought it prudent to economize their small number, and
risk nothing; so the division in Villar abandoned that place and took the road to Bobbi; the other,
consisting of only eighty men, escaped different ways, and almost miraculously rejoined their
companions on Mount Vendelin, above Angrogna. Mons. Arnaud, who, with six soldiers, three
times gave himself up for lost, and said prayers accordingly, joined them there; Mons. Montoux
was not so fortunate, he was taken prisoner by the peasants of Cruzzel, and sent to the prison of
Turin, where he remained till peace was concluded.
Nineteenth day, 4th Sept. – The main body, who had returned to their old quarters near Bobbi,
sent a reinforcement to Mons. Arnaud.
Twentieth day, 5th Sept. – This detachment received a message from Mons. Arnaud, to say he
would meet them as soon as he could with safety; and having learnt, from a prisoner, that there
were some mules a little lower down, laden with provisions and guarded by only one man, Mons.
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Arnaud and six of his men went down and seized them, destroying what part they did not want:
this supply was very seasonable, and they provided themselves with ammunition soon after, from
a quantity the enemy had left behind.
Twenty-first day, 6th Sept. – The first capture they made were two men, who, having been examined,
were put to death. The captains gave strict orders no one should be killed flying, if possible,
(fearing extremely they might destroy some of their own religion;) but taken alive, to be
questioned; and this very day they met with a woman, who in the preceding war had powerfully
assisted the Vaudois, and now befriended them as much as she dared, in secret. Being married to
a Savoyard, she had been persuaded to change her religion, at least in appearance; they promised
quarter to her husband, in return for bread and other assistance, given by stealth.
This Vaudois detachment, perceiving they were observed by the enemy, who were trying to
surround them, retired in haste to the hill of La Vachere, where they found a few stragglers, who
were taken prisoners, one of whom was spared, because he was a good surgeon, which there was
great want of. Two hundred men arrived from Bobbi, as a further reinforcement to Mons. Arnaud,
who began to return thanks to God, when he was interrupted, by being told the enemy was
trying to take possession of a post above La Vachere. To prevent this, he sent off a party, who
made such expedition that they not only gained the post in the very face of the enemy, but killed
more than 100 of them, without any loss on their side. Soon after came in a detachment, who
had passed two days without eating; they were all now so short of provisions themselves, they
could only give these a bit of bread each, as large as a walnut. The same day, after an engagement
on Mount Vachere, which lasted seven hours, they at last retreated under cover of a fog to a
small hamlet, a league off, called Turin, where they regaled themselves with some raw cabbages,
not daring to make a fire for fear of discovering their position to the enemy; who, in fact, were
encamped within a quarter of a league from the same spot, and had sustained a great loss both in
men and officers, while the Vaudois had only three killed and three wounded.
Twenty-second day, 7th Sept. – They retired towards Le Perrier, but by such difficult paths
that one false step would have been certain death: they paased (sic) through several hamlets
without finding any thing but apples to eat, and were so enfeebled by hunger, that they durst not
attack a party of the enemy who retrenched themselves in a convent; they therefore contented
themselves with detaching eight men to Prals, to see if the enemy were there, and to endeavour
to procure provisions.
Twenty-third and twenty-fourth days, 8th and 9th Sept. – A good report having been brought,
they went to Prals, where they found a favourable opportunity of resting two days, to recover the
fatigue and hunger they had undergone. Mons. Arnaud, having administered the sacrament to
the men of the Val de St. Martin, went with a detachment to Bobbi, to do the same there, taking
with him, to the assistance of the wounded, the surgeon who had been made prisoner.
Twenty-fifth day, 10th Sept. – They detached a party to Balsille, to fetch the arms they had
hidden there; who on their return, passing by Macel, perceived a great smoke, which, on examination,
proved to proceed from the hamlets near Perrier, which the enemy had set fire to, previous
to making his retreat. A party was sent on to observe them, but owing to a most wonderful
heavy rain, fifteen men only reached Perrier, where there was left a guard; which, on seeing this
little troop, shamefully took to flight, leaving the fifteen Vaudois to enter the camp as victors,
who afterwards returned to Prals.
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Twenty-sixth day, Wednesday, 11th Sept. – A detachment of 120 men marched to the bridge
of Pomaret, called Macel, where the enemy was in force, and took possession of the post, with
the assistance of a party of twelve more of their men, who had attacked and carried a small fort
on the rocks above. Two of the prisoners, who were French, informed them of the advance of
the troops of the king of France towards the Valley of Pragela, and returned to join the main
body. The lives of these two Frenchmen were spared (as they had begged for quarter, and were
not persecutors) on condition that one should serve as a soldier, and that the other, who was allowed
to return, should remain in their interest.
Twenty-seventh day, 12th Sept. – The men who were sent to ascertain the truth of the
Frenchmen’s assertion confirmed the fact of the French troops, to the number of 8000, having
been three days encamped at the bridge of Salabertran; but also brought word, that on the report
that Cazal was invested by the Spaniards, they had retired in that direction. They had no sooner
received this good news than an express arrived from the party at Bobbi, to demand instant succour,
as a large body of the enemy’s cavalry as well as infantry had pursued one of their detachments,
and were in possession of Bobbi. A council of war was held, and it was decided to send
eighty men to Angrogna, to force the enemy to quit Bobbi: these were detached and slept on the
Mont Lazara.
Twenty-eighth day, 13th Sept. – This detachment marched before daylight, and reached the
convent of Angrogna before daybreak. By the light of the moon they discovered some peasants
whom they made prisoners, and from whom they learnt that 300 men had arrived the day before
at the convent, and that there was some cavalry at St. Germain; upon which they did not think it
prudent to advance, but passed the night in some barns above Angrogna.
Twenty-ninth day, 14th Sept. – They prepared to march, according to their orders, to the relief
of those near Bobbi, when they met four soldiers, bringing them directions to burn all the hamlets
in the vicinity of Angrogna; and at the same time they perceived a body of 500 men on the
mountain. They in consequence hastened to gain possession of the heights, but the enemy being
aware of their intention, gained the post first. The Vaudois, however, advanced, in spite of a
heavy fire from the enemy, to another post on the left; and, after an hour’s fighting, the enemy
retired with loss, and the party rested for the night at Infernette, where they unroofed some cottages
to obtain fuel.
Thirtieth day, 15th Sept. – The detachment finding it impossible to penetrate to Luzerne, returned
and rejoined their main body, which had been putting the vineyards under contribution,
and in the course of the day seized some provisions and took some prisoners, who were put to
Thirty-first day, 16th Sept. – The Marquis de Parelle, after burning Villeseche, which the
Vaudois had just left, retired to Pomaret, where he fortified himself, and sent some companies to
Riouclaret and the summit of the Zarra, for the same purpose. To distress the Vaudois, who were
gathering in the harvest in the Valley of St. Martin, he ordered the corn, &c. to be burnt in that
direction; but as the Vaudois had a flying camp well guarded, this did not materially affect them,
and they collected a great deal of corn of various kinds. A great annoyance occurred to them in
the defection of one of their captains, Turel; this man, apparently thinking their affairs desperate,
or perhaps unequal to withstand longer the continued fatigue, decamped so adroitly, that no one
suspected him, taking with him a brother and cousin, both officers, and two privates of his company.
If he abandoned the cause from the fear of a death which could only have been glorious to
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him, he shortly after found one as ignominious as it was terrible; for being taken at Embrun, he
was sent to Grenoble, and after seeing twelve others hung by his side, he expired on the wheel.
If our Vaudois in the Val de St. Martin had reason to be satisfied with their progress, they were
not easy with respect to the fate of their brethren in the Val Luzerne, whom they had been unable
to join; and as no doubt the reader is desirous to hear the adventures of this little troop, the beginning
of the second part will satisfy his curiosity.
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The little corps, consisting of eighty men, which had unhappily left the main body on the
eighteenth day, accomplished during this time, such extraordinary things, that it may be well
said, God employs often the smallest force to overturn the greatest; particularly when it is considered,
that their numbers were rather diminished than increased. On the third they encamped
above La Tour, where they suffered much from hunger, having only some plums, and a few nuts
to eat; they were also greatly distressed by a false report which had reached them, that all their
companions were lost, or had delivered themselves up to the governor of Pignerol; this news,
which appeared but too probable, did not shake their courage, but on the 7th of September, overcome
by hunger, they resolved to run all risks to obtain some provisions, and fifty of them went
into Queiras, and succeeded in carrying off some sheep and cattle, which were a great resource to
them. They soon after received refreshment of a spiritual kind, and partook of the holy sacrament
in a meadow at Serre de Cruel, administered by Mons. Arnaud; at which time several persons
who had given up their religion during the late persecutions, were again received into the
church, on making the expiations required in such cases. From thence they descended several
times to Villar, and to prevent the royal troops from posting themselves there, they set fire more
than once to the convent; but as it took no effect, owing to the thickness of the walls, they determined
on sapping them, in which they succeeded. They had numberless little encounters with
the enemy, which terminated generally to their advantage; till the cavalry having arrived, they
were obliged to retire from the plain. An engagement took place during their retreat, in which
they lost but one man, while the enemy had a great number killed and wounded; and though the
Savoyard troops had so small a number to contend with, yet they apparently feared them, for
they entrenched themselves strongly at Bobbi, of which they had now possession, and hardly
ever sallied forth; so that the Vaudois, with a flying camp, beat the country round without opposition.
One day they had an affair at Rora, where they killed thirty men, and threw down the
church, within sight of the fort of St. Michel, the garrison there not interfering another day, the
enemies prepared an ambuscade at la Cercena, which the Vaudois perceiving from Serre de
Cruel, attacked them without delay, and obtained the victory; the same success attended several
other skirmishes. As they could no longer remain, or even venture down into the open country,
on account of the cavalry, they endeavoured to deprive the enemy of the means of subsistence on
the night of the 12th, by setting fire to all the barns round Bobbi, which were full of forage. The
13th of October the enemy, with the intention of provisioning fort Mirabouc, sent a detachment to
attack the Vaudois, who retired to Pausettes, where they were engaged nearly all the day, keeping
always the advantage; in the meantime the main body of the enemy conveyed their supplies
into Mirabouc, and on their way demolished everything that could afford assistance to the Vau-
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dois; unroofed the houses, and dug up the gardens, in hopes of destroying them by being exposed
to cold as well as hunger, which must have happened, if God had not interfered for their preservation.
These poor people were now obliged to retire to holes in the rocks, which served them
for barracks. During a little respite, they fortified themselves as well as they could; the enemy
employed this time in securing themselves still farther at Bobbi; not content with that, they sent a
party of sixty every night to Cibaud, above Bobbi, where they surrounded themselves with an
immense ditch. The Vaudois, who were now reduced to only sixty men in this valley, determined
to attack them at night; they surprised them so completely that they killed thirty-four, and
the rest escaped in confusion to Bobbi; those who were entrenched there, were seized with such a
panic, that they demolished their fortifications, burnt the town, so as to leave not one stone upon
another for the Vaudois, and retreated. The following is the account, word for word, which they
sent to Turin, of this affair at Cibaud: - “The inhabitants of Luzerne cannot stand before our
troops, and are scattered about in divisions; they annoy our out-posts from time to time, but fly if
they find them on the watch; however, lately having found a guard asleep, they killed thirteen,
and the officer, who was very young, had only time enough to escape with four or five others
wounded.” The end of the next week the enemy collected all their force, and even banditti, peasants,
and all they could get together; as the Vaudois imagined, with a view to force them from
the Aiguille; the main body marched to the Combe de Ferriere, a large detachment towards Cercena,
and another advanced towards les Pausettes, which the Vaudois abandoned, and placed
themselves on the rocks of the Aiguille, sending a little boy to inform their brothers in the Val St.
Martin, that if they could not come to their relief the Col de Julien must be abandoned, an apprehension
but too well founded, for the officers who had the command, far from keeping a guard
on the Col de Julien, very improperly abandoned the Aiguille; had they done their duty, the enemy
could never have gained possession of it. Thus was every thing left in the power of the enemy,
who entered the next morning, as the Vaudois were preparing to drive the few cattle they
had there; unfortunately the shepherd who had the care of their sheep, not knowing what had
passed, drove them to the Aiguille, so that they also fell into the hands of the enemy. An officer
having found among other things in one of the huts, an exact journal of the march of the Vaudois,
up to the 17th of October, carried it to the court of Turin. This journal, after having passed
through various hands, fell at last into those of a man of letters, at Geneva, who having recognized
the hand-writing to be that of the Sieur Paul Renaudin, a native of Bobbi, (and who from a
student became a soldier, and is now a minister in one of the valleys,) made a present of it to the
good old Joshua Janavel, a few days before his death. This excellent man shed a flood of tears
on reading the account of what these poor people had achieved, and reflecting how far they yet
appeared from any prospect of better times. To return to those who had abandoned the Aiguille,
God assisted their escape by surrounding their enemies with a thick fog, so that their retreat was
not at first perceived, but it being afterwards conjectured they had abandoned the Aiguille merely
to take up a fresh position on the Col de Julien, a detachment was sent to prevent their effecting
this movement. This in fact they had never contemplated, for they employed the night in traversing
a most terrific and precipitous part of the Alp of Sabiague, where they were obliged to crawl
on through dense clouds, feeling their way with their hands, which fatigued them beyond measure,
and put them into such confusion, that some of them in the dark took the road to the Val St.
Martin, and others, that leading to Angrogna. At length they were so much dispersed and weakened
that all opposition to the enemy being for the moment at an end, they remained all day in a
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tolerably advantageous position, on the mountain, where, however, they suffered dreadfully from
fatigue, not daring to make any fires, or even to place themselves in the sun, for fear of discovery.
Night was hailed with as much joy by the poor Vaudois as the day would have been under
other circumstances, and they availed themselves of it to begin their retreat, foreseeing the probability
of an attack the following day; as it was, the enemy were so near them that they were
alarmed by the noise of some stones which rolled down as the Vaudois passed, and they fired
three shots at random, but the Vaudois not taking any notice, continued their march, and eluding
further observation, passed on happily to Bastier. I say happily because this passage was very
narrow, and had always been guarded, so that the pass being unprotected, they considered its being
unoccupied as a visible act of divine favour; indeed it was little short of a miracle, that while
the enemy were surrounding the Aiguille, and searching for them in every direction, they should
have escaped to Cercena, and thence by the bridge of Pagan and la Combe Guichard to Fragnon,
where they halted, till the enemy having information that a company of Vaudois under the command
of Capt. Buffe, were ravaging Angrogna, proceeded to attack them. Our other detachment
then ventured to move to la Combe de Ferriere, in search of chesnuts for food, which were of
great assistance to them, as they were destitute of all other provisions. After this expedition they
gained a little advantage over a body of the enemy by means of an ambuscade, and then returned
to l’Aiguille to see in what manner the enemy had treated it. Here they collected a good many
chesnuts, and some bits of bread, left by the late occupants, and fell in with many of their companions
who had been long missing, and fortunately came this way in the hope of rejoining their
The enemy aware that the Vaudois had been driven out of Rodoret, the same day that they
had also been obliged to abandon l’Aiguille, considered them as exterminated, and indeed their
situation appeared hopeless with 10,000 French troops against them on one side, and 12,000
Piemontese on the other; but a party of Vaudois being observed returning from the Combe
Guichard, the enemy were so surprised at their appearance, that they retired to the post they came
from. Fresh mortifications, however, daily befel (sic) them; nine or ten French refugees, notwithstanding
the solemn oath they had taken at Bobbi, deserted; it is true these men tried in some
way to compensate for this treachery by sending the Vaudois eighty goats they had found at
Prals, of which two were given to each company, but the rest unfortunately fell into the enemy’s
hands. The enemy perceiving that the Vaudois always found out some means of escape, resolved
to have recourse to artifice, they sent accordingly a serjeant to say that Mons. de Haye,
one of the Piemontese generals, desired a conference. The serjeant was accompanied by John
Gras, one of the deserters above mentioned, who kept a little in the rear, but the serjeant having
called to him to come forward, which he did with some hesitation, he was taken prisoner. His
father came to Marbee to see him, and was spared on account of his age, but sent back with a
note, to say, if Mons. de Haye wished a conference they were ready to meet him the following
Tuesday, at the Pieuse de Peirela, provided he was attended by one soldier only without arms;
the next day the serjeant came to ask if they were ready to fulfil their engagement, (though they
suspected it was only a device to entrap some of their leaders, and by that means oblige them to
release John Gras, who as a traitor was only fit for the enemy,) they replied they were ready, but
should place soldiers at all the bridges, to prevent surprises. On the day appointed, the Vaudois
went as arranged, although they heard a detachment was lying in ambush, but Mons. de Haye
never came, and they returned, unable to discover this general’s intention, who sent the follow-
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ing note by Gras’s father. “If you have nothing to say to me I have still less to say to you, but
send us back John Gras, who has been detained in breach of all faith.” They replied, “If you had
come to the spot appointed, as we did, we should have spoken with you, therefore the fault rests
with yourself, and not with us, who have been so often deceived, that we cannot do otherwise
than mistrust our enemies, but are always ready to hold a conference if you will come to the
place appointed.” No notice was taken of the latter part of Mons. de Haye’s note; and they could
not be blamed for want of confidence on this occasion.
The enemy were now in possession of all the heights, without being able to discover where
the Vaudois were hidden; this provoked them so much that they determined to use the most vigorous
measures to bring the business to a conclusion, and posted peasants to be upon the watch
near Mirabouc; they at last discovered them at Essert, and fell upon them, while they sent a messenger
to the detachment at Bobbi, to say the barbets were found, and might be had cheap.
These poor people gave themselves up for lost, but determined to sell their lives dearly, and retired
to a ruined building, where firing through loopholes, which they had made for the purpose,
they defended themselves valiantly all day. The enemy perceiving they could make no impression
upon them then, attempted to surround the building, but our brave Vaudois anticipating their
design, prevented their effecting their object, by making a timely and vigorous sortie. In the
evening the enemy received reinforcements from Bobbi, but fortunately the darkness of the night
favoured the Vaudois, who had but one man wounded, whose name was Fran็ois Martinat; this
poor fellow the next day fell into the hands of the enemy, and even then defended himself so
bravely, that his gun failing him, he fought with his bayonet till a sabre took off his head; this
was the same man who so adroitly managed the attack at Cibaud, and his death gave great joy to
the enemy, as may be seen by the following extract from an account sent to Turin, 11th December,
1689. “I have already mentioned that the interview with the barbets ended in nothing, there
remain only about forty in the valley of Luzerne, who are worn out with the fatigues o the war
and have some inclination to surrender, particularly since one of the leaders was lately taken, a
brave man, who was the same that surprised and destroyed the guard stationed above Bobbi.
There remain 400 men on the heights of Luzerne, in a village called La Balsille, where the
French have judged proper to leave them at rest,” &c.
To return to the poor little detachment of Vaudois which we left under cover of the night; the
enemy took every precaution to prevent their escape, hoping to destroy them in the morning; but
they found means to slip out in three or four small divisions, and fortunately arrived, some at the
Combe Guichard, others at Balmadant, and at Cumien above Villar, in which places they remained
closely concealed. Their greatest misfortune now was to find themselves separated from
each other; but God was graciously pleased to unite them again as they wandered in search of
chesnuts, near Malpertus. After another engagement with the enemy, in which they had one man
killed and a second taken prisoner, they hid themselves near Balmadant; but ignorant how to
proceed or to find subsistence, and fearing that they should be snowed up, the only remedy
seemed to be to disperse again in various directions; they all considered their destruction certain,
and nothing remained to them but their trust in God, when they were found by their brethren of
the Valley of St. Martin. Twelve men, however, were missing, whose adventures surpass all that
have yet been related. These men were hid near Essert, afraid of stirring, lest their track in the
snow should be discovered. At length hunger obliged them to run every risk, and one Sunday,
during a heavy snow, they ventured out in search of some corn or flour, intending to seek a hid-
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ing place in the Balme de la Biara, a very advantageous position; the following day their footsteps
were observed and tracked by the peasants, who followed them, to the number of 125; had
these peasants been one quarter of an hour sooner, they would certainly have surrounded our
Vaudois in the Balme; but here they were so vigorously repulsed, that at the first fifteen shots
thirteen peasants were wounded, and (as they afterwards owned) twelve killed on the spot. A
result truly astonishing, when it is considered that twelve men, half dead with cold and hunger,
were opposed to 125, without even having a man wounded on their own side. To avoid perishing
with cold, they left the Balme de la Biara two days afterwards, intending to retire to la Lanze,
in the Val St. Guichard, where they were prepared to winter, determined, in case of attack, to
dispute their lives to the last drop of their blood, upon the point of some rock. Thus marching
with their minds filled with the courage of despair, they providentially met with a party of their
brethren from St. Martin, who were in quest of them; little expecting this meeting, their confused
imaginations led them at first to suppose they were encountering enemies, and throwing down
their knapsacks, they retired behind a house to defend themselves, and shot one of their friends
before they discovered their mistake; tears of joy were, however, soon shed on both sides, and
they passed the Col de Julien together on their way to La Balsille, where they rejoined the main
body: this, after being harassed on all sides by the French and Piemontese, had been forced to
retire from Prals and Rodoret and take up a strong position on the rocks above La Balsille.
On the 16th of October, the Marquis de Parelle set fire to the country as far as Perrier; on the
22nd he burnt some places near Balsille; and the same day the French entered the Valley of St.
Martin, to the number of 2000. A Vaudois party was sent out to harass their march; but found
themselves obliged to retire, and at last to rejoin their companions at Rodoret; where a council of
war was held, at which there was much difference of opinion: - to prevent the ill consequences
that might follow, Mons. Arnaud assembled the disputants to prayer, and then, after strongly urging
the necessity of unanimity at such an important crisis, gave his reasons why he considered
that no position could be so advantageous as that of Balsille, which was unanimously agreed to,
and they began their march two hours before daylight, when it was so dark, that in order to distinguish
their guides they made them put white cloths over their shoulders: the road they were
obliged to take was so interrupted by precipices, that they were often obliged to crawl along on
their hands and feet, and every man having enough to do to take care of himself, the hostages
found means to escape. To prove how clearly Providence watched over them, two wounded men
passed this road safely on horseback: those who have never seen such kind of places, cannot
form any idea of the danger and difficulty attached to them, and those who have will take this
march for a fiction, however, that which is here related is the simple truth. And it may be further
added, that when the Vaudois afterwards saw by daylight, which often happened, the places they
had passed by night, they shuddered at the idea of the dangers they had escaped. At last they arrived
at the fort of Balsille, so called from the strength of its situation, where they determined to
entrench themselves, and not again to expose the troops to the fatigue of climbing from mountain
to mountain, as they had hitherto done. They made covered ways, ditches, and walls; the huts in
which they lived were scooped out of the earth, and surrounded by drains to keep out the water.
Mons. Arnaud preached twice every Sunday, and once on Thursday, and said prayers every
morning and evening, during which they all fell devoutly on their knees with their faces on the
ground. After morning prayers, they every day worked by turns at the fortifications, which consisted
of ramparts, formed by terraces raised one above another, to the number of sixteen, so that
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each one was defended by the one immediately above it; they mounted guard every night, to protect
the entrance into La Balsille, the bridge, and a mill. This mill had no millstone, and Poulat, a
native of the place, said they had thrown it into the river more than three years before, thinking it
might be of use at some future time; they succeeded in getting it out, and in making the mill usable.
Besides this mill they were also in possession of another, half a league further off, called
the mill of Macel. The enemy having reached Rodoret, were greatly surprised to find the Vaudois
gone, and no trace of them to be seen except the remains of their little stock of provisions;
and supposing them to have moved on to Prals, the French advanced to that place, where they
remained some days, while the troops of the Duke of Savoy were employed in cutting off the
communication with the Val Luzerne, by taking possession of the Col de Julien. The French,
commanded by Mons. de L’Ombraille, seized all the advanced posts of the Val St. Martin, and
thus surrounded the Vaudois, who, to secure La Balsille, had posted a guard at Passet; here the
enemies surprised and repulsed them, having ascended the mountain under cover of a dense fog;
and from this advantageous position they determined to attack La Balsille. On Friday, the 29th of
October, for this purpose, several detachments were posted in the wood, where they remained
from that time until Sunday, all the while exposed to a heavy snow, from which they suffered
much, and many men had their feet frozen. During these three days of blockade they sent several
offers to the Vaudois, which were all rejected, and they resolved to set fire to part of La Balsille;
but the two first men who advanced to execute this order were killed, and the third
wounded. On the following day they effected their purpose, with the loss of sixty men, while the
Vaudois did not lose one.
On the evening of Sunday, 31st October, they retired upon Macel; eight days after having
abandoned Rodoret, and to prevent the Vaudois penetrating to Pragela, they posted a guard upon
the Col de Clapier; but this force was soon after attacked and defeated, with the loss of only one
officer, Captian Gardiel, who died for want of proper attention to his wounds.
A few days afterwards, a wretch, who had changed his religion some years before, came with
two others to visit a relation at La Basille, and had the baeness to tell Mons. de Salignac, who
was at Bobbi with his detachment, that themill at Macel was not guarded, and that he might there
catch some Vaudois when they went to grind their corn; Salignac and this traitor having given
this information to Mons. de L’Ombraille, he immediately ordered 500 men to marchupon this
grand expedition of destroying a mill. They only fell in with a few stragglers of the Vaudois,
making bread in a neighbouring village, they chased them all round the hamlet, but succeeded
only in killing two French refugees, who were sick, and taking another prisoner; this poor fellow
they obliged to carry the heads of his countrymen on a pole to Perouse, where they hung him and
stuck his head upon a pole, that every one who passed might say, such is the end of the barbets!
This man, in his last moments, prayed with such fervour, that the magistrate of the place, though
a Roman Catholic, begged his life of Mons. de L’Ombraille, who, in reply, threatened to hang
him also. The firmness and resolution of the poor man at the place of execution interested all the
spectators in his favour: in answer to various questions which were put to him, he declared that
the Vaudois were well provided with corn, bread, salt, and gunpowder: being asked where they
got their salt, he replied, without betraying either his friends or his conscience, from saltpetre: he
declared he felt happy to die in such a cause; and that for every Vaudois who fell God would
raise up 500 more – a prophecy which was completely fulfilled some months afterwards. Although
the French in general have often discovered rather a propensity to desert, yet it must be
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owned there have been some of them among the Vaudois who have shown great steadiness and
courage; as, for example, the one whose fate we have just related. And we must also mention
with praise and gratitude the name of Le Sieur Fran็ois, a native of Vinan in the Cevennes, and
Captain Sicut, of the English and Dutch Protestant troops in that place; he was well known and
esteemed by Mons. Arnaud, and his correct and accurate statements have contributed not a little
to the formation of these Memoirs.
Whether from the lateness of the season, or the mortification resulting from other causes, the
enemy razed to the ground and then abandoned Macel, Salse, Fontaines, Rodoret, and Prals, after
carrying away the corn, and every thing which could contribute to the subsistence of the Vaudois,
and calling out to them to wait till Easter, retired to Maneille and Perier, where they firmly
entrenched themselves.
This cowardly retreat gave the Vaudois, who who (sic) were still 400 strong, time to breathe;
and though their persecutors had threatened to return, nothing could daunt the little flock, who
trusted in that providence who had hitherto so wonderfully sustained and preserved them, both
from famine and from the hands of the enemy. They had arrived at La Balsille without provision
even for the next day; but they had subsisted on vegetable and corn without salt and butter, until,
by rebuilding the mill, they were able to make bread. Well might it be said, that the Almighty
had declared himself in their favour, since, on their arrival in the Valleys of St. Martin and Luzerne,
they had been permitted to find provisions of all sorts in abundance; and that the corn,
which had not been sown at the proper season, was preserved under the snow all winter till the
month of May, when the Vaudois reaped it and found it perfectly good. Had it been gathered up
and put into barns, as usual, it would have been burnt by the enemy, but in this manner was it
preserved for the sustenance of those to whom God had destined it. This miraculous circumstance
occurred at Rodoret and Prals, where the Vaudois had been on the point of beginning the
harvest when they were interrupted by the arrival of the French troops.
During this calm they frequently sent out detachments in search of provisions, and one day,
as they went to the village of Vourset for this purpose, the syndic told them the inhabitants would
rather grant them a contribution than be exposed to their frequent visits; that if they would send
three or four captains with an escort, they would settle this matter together, hinting at the same
time that they had good news to communicate; the Vaudois, not distrusting this wicked apostate,
on the appointed day sent a captain, called Michael Bertin, with some soldiers, to Bourset. The
French, to whom this same syndic had sent advice of this projected visit, had garrisoned the village
with 200 men, who fell upon the Vaudois, killed the captain and wounded two of his men.
This black piece of treachery of the syndic cost the enemy very dear, nor did the traitor himself
derive from it much satisfaction, and still less profit, for the garrison of Bourset having afterwards
appeared upon the Col de Clapier, hoping to surprise about twenty Vaudois who were stationed
there, they were themselves attacked by a detachment of them, who killed sixty of their
men, and then proceeded to burn all the houses round Bourset, and all the village of La Tronch้e.
Towards the end of January the Vaudois fell in with a party charged with dispatches to the
governor of fort Mirabouc, and killed one man, to whose care they were intrusted: these letters
informed them of what was passing in the world, and gave them other intelligence, which proved
of such importance to their preservation, that it seemed as if this rencontre was an especial act of
Providential care; and it was particularly noticed, that in fact each party had taken on that day a
different route from the one recommended to them, with a view to avoid false directions.
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In February there arrived at La Balsille a man called Parander, and some others, bringing a
note from the Chevalier Vercellis, who commanded the fortress of La Tour, to Jean Puy, brotherin-
law to David Mondon, who had been carried prisoner to Turin. This was discovered to be
merely an artifice on the part of the commandant, to inform himself of the state of the Vaudois,
their numbers, and whether they were well provisioned. The note contained a request that the
said Jean Puy would visit the writer at Turin, the commandant promising him a safe conduct:
this proposal it was not thought fit to comply with; but it led to several letters, (not interesting to
the general reader,) which were followed by others, from some of Mr. Arnaud’s relations, earnestly
entreating him to surrender; and also, by a letter from a person of distinction to him and
the other officers generally, to the same effect. Soon after these fruitless attempts at negociation,
a detachment from La Balsille penetrated as far as St. Germain, and made a successful attack on
a party of the enemy, sent out in quest of provisions, in which 120 of them were killed, and a
supply of cattle taken, which was most acceptable, particularly to the sick, who stood in great
need of meat. At this time the Sieur Droume, a Swiss refugee, arrived at Balsille, from Switzerland,
with the melancholy information, that the Vaudois remaining in that country had been
driven from thence, and obliged to take refuge in Wirtemberg. He departed immediately, as he
had promised to return by Easter, being provided with a passport from Turin, which a deserter of
the name of Rosaro, of Pragela, had lent him; which, however, did not prevent his being taken
prisoner at Susa, and sent to Turin.
On the 22nd of March, the enemy advanced from Macel close to Balsille, and stuck up poles
with papers on them, addressed to several French refugees, inviting them to surrender on the following
terms: -- “We Retournat and Jaques Causse, inform you, that the king will pardon all
Frenchmen, who come and surrender, as we have done: you will have liberty of conscience and
passports, if you choose to return: we find ourselves well off in the regiment de Plessis: profit
by this advice. Jaques Causse.” Others were addressed to individuals, in this form: “My dear
friends, Clapier, David, and Etienne, you are hereby informed that the king grants an amnesty to
all his subjects, who lay down their arms, as we have done. We are in the regiment of Plessis:
profit by the opportunity.” All these snares proved fruitless.
The 17th, the Sieurs Parander and Richard arrived at La Balsille, with fresh propositions on
the part of the Marquis de Parelle, to which the council of war saw fit to send an answer, to the
following purport, enclosed in a letter to the Marquis, praying him to represent to his Royal
First, That his subjects in the valleys had been in possession of lands there from time immemorial,
which lands were bequeathed to them by their ancestors.
Secondly, That at all times they had paid such imposts and duties as his Royal Highness had
thought fitting to impose.
Thirdly, That they had always paid implicit obedience to his Royal Highness’s commands.
Fourthly, That before the expulsion they had lived peaceably in their own houses, and that
there was not so much as one criminal process against any one of them; and yet, although they
had not given any cause of offence, they were driven out and dispersed, after having been imprisoned
and persecuted; does it therefore appear strange that these people should wish to return
to their homes? It is not the intention of the Vaudois to spill blood, unless in self-defence; if they
retain possession of their land, it is to prove themselves, as before, good and faithful subjects to
his Royal Highness, the lawful prince that God has given them. We therefore humbly entreat
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your Excellency to afford us the protection of your support in these our just pretensions, and if
you will honour us with a reply, the two men employed to carry this will faithfully deliver it to
us: hoping we shall be dealt with in good faith on this occasion, as, on our part, it is our pride
and custom to deal with others, we remain with respect, &c. &c. &c. Signed, on behalf of the
whole community, Henri Arnaud.
P.S. We are particularly obliged to your Excellency for the kindness shown to our prisoners,
and beg the continuance of your good offices towards them.
A letter, somewhat to the same effect, was also written at this time to the Chevalier de Vercellis.
It will be perceived, that the farther we advance in this history the more our hopes of success
diminished. The French, who had all winter threatened the Vaudois with an attack in the spring,
were observed on Sunday, the last day of April, 1690, defiling through the bottom of the valley,
by the Col de Clapier and by the Col de Pis, accompanied by 1400 peasants to clear away the
snow and bring them provisions, their intention being evidently to surround the Vaudois, who
had happily taken the precaution to throw up entrenchments, with apertures to fire through, high
enough to command the enemy on the opposite hill; each company was also well provided with
large stones, with which to regale those who attempted the ascent.
Before we proceed, the reader may like to have a description of the situation of the castle,125
in which they were thus about to be besieged. It was situated on the top of a very steep rock,
which was formed as it were into three tiers or levels, on the highest part of which was a small
flat space, where they had formed a kind of barrack in the earth; and where there are three
springs. The approach to the rock is extremely difficult, except on the side of a rivulet which
bathes the foot of the castle; but as Mons. Arnaud perceived this to be the only assailable point,
he took particular care to fortify it, assisting with his own hands in planting palisades, and raising
parapets with trees, which they had supplied themselves with from the wood adjoining, and disposing
these trees, (each being strengthened with large heaps of stones,) so that the branches and
boughs were turned towards the enemy, and the trunks towards their own entrenchments. In the
mean while, the French supposing their numbers must ensure them success against so small a
force, made the necessary preparations for an attack. On the Monday their dragoons were placed
in the wood to the left of the castle, and afterwards crossed the river, some troops were also
posted in ambuscade along its banks, but many were killed by the fire from the fort. The main
body advanced to the cottages of La Balsille, but were forced to retire, leaving many killed and
wounded. An engineer, after having examined the fort with a telescope, decided that the attack
should be made on the right; their numbers amounted to 22,000 men, of whom 10,000 were
French and 12,000 Piemontese.126 Mons. de Catinat ordered a detachment of 500 French to advance
to the attack of the first bastion, and they at first imagined they had merely to pull away
the trees in order to clear themselves a passage, but they were much surprised to find that these
same trees, being fastened with immense stones, were in fact as if rooted to the spot; and as the
Vaudois all the time kept up such a heavy and effective fire, notwithstanding a continual snow,
the greatest part of these chosen troops were killed, and the rest thrown into disorder. The Vaudois
then sallied forth and destroyed all but about ten or twelve, who escaped as they could, and
carried to Mons. de Catinat the news of their defeat; he retired first to Clos and then to Perouse.
125 i.e. fortified position.
126 This must have been the number of the whole of the troops occupying the valley. – T.
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Mons. de Parat, who commanded the detachment, was found severely wounded, between two
rocks, and being taken prisoner, was conveyed to that very place, pointing to which only a few
hours before, he had said to his soldiers, “My children, we must sleep in those barracks to-night.”
The Piemontese, who had been that day only spectators of the bravery of the Vaudois and of the
defeat of the French, retired to Salse; what is most interesting in this bloody day is, that the Vaudois
had not one man either killed or wounded. The next day, the first thing they did after prayers
was to cut off the heads of the dead and stick them on the palisades, to show the enemy they
would keep no terms with them and did not fear them.
They then told Mons. de Parat, that as it was necessary he should have a surgeon to dress his
wounds, he must send for one; because the one whom the Vaudois had, as it were miraculously,
found at Angrogna in September of the last year, had died a few days before; and in consequence
he wrote a note to desire his principal surgeon might be sent to him; this note was carried by a
boy, who stuck it on a pole, not far from the French camp; it had the desired effect, for the surgeon
came soon after, bringing with him all necessary remedies; and, when in the fort, the Vaudois
obliged him to remain and attend to their own sick. Upon Mons. Parat was found the order
from Mons. de Catinat for the attack, which had succeeded so ill.127
On Thursday Mons. Arnaud preached, according to custom, and the sermon was so affected
that he could not refrain from tears; and his little flock, seeing his emotion, shed tears also. He
had touched upon the justice to be observed in the division of booty; and had no sooner concluded
than each man brought all that he had taken from the enemy: these spoils consisted of
arms, clothes, linen, &c. and were for the greatest part sold, and produced enough to allow of
something being given to each soldier: - what remained was divided among the poorest.128
The curious may perhaps like an account of the charms or preservatives that were found on
searching the bodies of the French, and which they fancied were to preserve them from all
wounds, &c. &c. only one was in manuscript, in this form, “† Agra † Batome.†.” Others were
printed on little squares of papers, as follows:
“Priscina Christus quๆ nobis sit cibus Borrus
P.” 1690.
“Ecce cru † cem Domini nostri Jesu Christus, fugite partes adversๆ vici leo De tribu Juda radix
David Allel. Allel. Ex St. Anton. De Pad. homo natus est In ea Jesus Maria Franciscus
sint mihi salus.”
“Christus vincit † Christus regnat † Christus imperat † Christus ab omni malo me defendat †
Christus, Rex in pace venit Deus, Homofactus est verbum, Carofactum est Jesus, Nazarenus
Rex Judeorum. Qui verbum carofactum est, &c. R. Habitavit in nobis nascens ex Maria
Virgine per ineffabilem pietatem, et misericordiam suam piissimam, et angelorum, sanctorum
que omnium maxime Apostolorum, et Evangelistarum morum Joannis et Mathei, Marci
et Lucๆ, Antoni Vbaldi Bernardi, Margaretๆ et Catharinๆ ipsum quๆso ut dignetur me liberare,
et preservare ab omni infestatione, Sathanๆ et ab omnibus incantationibus ligaturus, Sig-
127 A copy of which is to be found in the original of this work.
128 A long letter is here omitted, which gives the account of the same attack, sent to Turin.
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naturis et facturis ministrorum ejus, qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat in sๆcula
sๆculorum. Amen.”
“Oratio contra omnes tum maleficorum tum Dๆmonum incursus.” That is to say, a prayer
against those who use the arts of devils. At the bottom of this one was the approbation of the
inquisitor of Turin. “Fr. Bartholomeus Racca de Palermo, Inqu. Taurini vidit, permittitque ut
The French, some days afterwards, sent ten Louis d’ors to Mons. de parat, who in consequence
had a sort of hut constructed for himself and his surgeon, which cost four crowns; the rest
of the money he would have given to Mons. Arnaud, who refused it. He wished also to ransom
himself, but was answered on the part of the council of war, that they did not want money, but
were willing to exchange him for some prisoners at Turin; upon which he gave them to understand,
that Mons. de Feuquieres, at that time French ambassador there, was his particular friend.
Several days elapsed without any reply, either because his countrymen wished to show they considered
Mons. de Parat of little importance to them, or were thinking of other things. But it was
soon after evident that Mons. de Catinat was meditating a complete revenge for the affront he
had received; and as to his disgrace he had fully experienced the valour of the Vaudois, he did
not think it expedient to expose his life a second time, as well as his hopes of becoming a French
marshal, at the risk of a defeat; he, therefore intrusted the conduct of the enterprise to Mons. de
Feuquierer. At the expiration of a week from their retreat, the French returned to the charge in
good earnest, and laid siege to La Balsille, which they took at the end of fourteen days; but by
some extraordinary circumstance, which never can be sufficiently wondered at, they did not take
the besieged prisoners, which was the sole object they had in view.
All happened as follows: on the 10th of May, the French advanced in five divisions, the better
to surround the Vaudois; one of these encamped at Passet, one at the foot of the mountain,
another in the Clos d’Almian, a fourth a little higher up, and the fifth in the wood towards the
Chateau de Guignevert; towards nightfall they advanced near the cottages of La Balsille and the
river, where they threw up a redoubt, from whence they kept up a continued fire; but only two
Vaudois were wounded, who died a few days afterwards. The besiegers obliged all the soldiers,
who were not on guard, to collect bundles of faggots, which formed a good foundation for their
parapets, &c. the fort was thus soon surrounded, and every foot of ground gained was protected
by a strong bulwark: if they perceived the hat only of a Vaudois, they fired a hundred musket
shots, and that without risk, for they were also protected by sacks full of wool. At the expiration
of some days, they sommoned the besieged to surrender, and at the same time hoisted the white
flag at the foot of the fort; from which a soldier was dispatched to inquire more particularly what
was wanted. To this they replied, that it was very surprising that such a handful of men should
presume to make war against such a great king as the king of France; that if they would surrender,
they should be supplied with passports to enable them to retire, and that each man should
receive 500 louis d’ors; that though they might cause the death of many a brave man, in the end
they must all perish themselves. The French availed themselves of this opportunity to send
Mons. de Parat some provisions and medicines. At the same time he wrote to an officer named
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Chartogne, that money would not purchase his liberty, and that his Royal Highness must be
asked to release the Sieurs Moutoux and Bostie, ministers; Malonet, surgeon; and Martines, armourer.
His friend sent him word in reply, that he hoped to give him an account of his commission
on the morrow, when he should have spoken with the Marquis de Feuquieres, who was then
visiting the out-posts; but on the commanding officer’s return to his quarters, he would not listen
to the proposition of Mons. Chartogne, either because he did not choose to hazard a refusal from
his Royal Highness, or for other reasons. He wrote a letter to this effect, offering money to the
Vaudois; adding, “These gentlemen had better look to themselves and avoid extremities, for I
have orders not to relinquish this enterprise till it is accomplished, and they may receive now
what will not be granted them when once the cannon have fired.” This the Sieur Chartogne sent
with a few lines to Mons. de Parat, to say he might rely on the Marquis doing every thing for him
in his power, and in the meantime he sent him four pounds of beef and a sheet of paper. The
Vaudois made a reply worthy of their usual firmness, which none who know them can consider
as rash or as boasting.
Reply of the Vaudois to the Marquis de Feuquieres: - “Gentlemen, though you imagine us to
be very poor, we do not want money for the ransom of Mons. de Parat, our prisoner; we permit
you to send him rations for four or five days, that we may not have the trouble of going up and
down every day. In answer to all your proposals, not being subjects of the king of France, nor
that king master of this country, we cannot make any treaty with you. We now occupy the inheritance
which our fathers bequeathed to us since time immemorial; and hope, by the aid of
Him who is God of armies, to live and die here, if there should be only ten of us left: if your
cannon thunder, our rocks will not be dismayed, and we shall hear the report.” If the Vaudois
had distinguished themselves by their courage and valour, they had no less occasion for all their
resolution and vigilance during the siege, for they could not allow themselves any rest, and
scarcely a night passed without a sortie, in one of which they had to regret the loss of Joseph Pelene,
who was unfortunately killed by one of his own men; but they made several sorties in quest
of provisions, which generally ended favourable. Mons. de Feuquieres perceiving that the continual
fire of his musketry ended in nothing but the expenditure of ammunition, planted his cannon
on the Guignevert, and having once more displayed first the white flag and then a red one, to
shew that no quarter was to be expected, he prepared every thing for a general assault. Before
day break on the 13th of May, he ordered some of his troops to advance to distract the attention
of the Vaudois by feigned movements, while he caused parapets to be erected on a rock above
the wood of the Clos d’Almian, and from these his men fired with falconets, but they only
wounded one man.
The 14th was the day of the grand attack, and though Mons. de Catinat and Mons. de
L’Ombraille had boasted that the Vaudois should be taken, without its costing a pound of powder;
they kept up so sharp a fire, from an early hour in the morning, that by noon they had expended
124 shots of twelve and fourteen pounds weight. This caused immense breaches in the
walls, which were only calculated to resist musketry; the enemy, encouraged by this success,
now made an assault in three different places. The Vaudois were soon obliged to abandon the
lower part, but without any loss, one man only being wounded; they retired to the retrenchment
called Cheval la Bruxe, where they had also some huts, to reach which they had to pass a spot
exposed to the fire of the enemy, from a redoubt near the torrent, but happily a fog favoured
them. They had made it known to Mons. de Parat, that if the place was forced they should be
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obliged to kill him; to which he replied, that he should forgive them his death: in fact soon after,
his guard having left him, a soldier, who retired one of the last, shot him through the head; such
was his end, and not as it has been sometimes represented. A Vaudois soldier having incautiously
returned to fetch some of his things, was made prisoner with some of the sick and
wounded. While the enemy were minutely examining every fresh position which was abandoned
by the besieged, the latter thought of nothing but how to make good their escape; the immense
fires kept burning in the French encampment, seemed to preclude all hope of their being able to
retire under cover of the night, and well were they aware that the hand of God alone could deliver
them in this hour of peril, as he had already done from so many former dangers. But at the
very moment when a most cruel death seemed to be preparing for them, a fog arose before dark,
thus assisting to lengthen the night, which at that season was in itself too short for their purpose.
Capt. Poulat, who was a native of La Balsille, offered to be their guide, and they resolved to
march, under the protection of God, and the direction of this brave man, who had a perfect
knowledge of the country, and having accurately observed the situation of the enemy’s fires, he
declared the only chance of escape to be across a frightful precipitous ravine. They followed
him down this chasm, some sliding on their backs, others scrambling with one knee on the
ground, holding by the branches of trees, occasionally resting, and then feeling their way with
their hands or feet. Poulat made them take off their shoes that they might the better perceive
whether they placed their feet on any thing capable of supporting them. In this manner they
passed close to one of the French outposts, and a Vaudois soldier in trying to assist himself with
his hands, let fall a small kettle, which in rolling over some stones, made noise enough to disturb
a sentinel, who cried out “Qui vive;” but this kettle happily not being of the race of those feigned
by the poets to have spoken, and to have delivered oracles in the forest of Dodona, returned no
answer, and the sentinel took no further notice. Meanwhile the Vaudois continued to gain
ground; they ascended the mountain of Guignevert in the direction of Salse, and two hours after
daylight they were still climbing the mountain by steps, which they cut for themselves in the
snow. The French, who were encamped at Lantiga, discovered them at a distance, on the morning
of the 13th, and sent a detachment in pursuit of them, but they descended by the Pausettes of
La Salse, on the other side of the mountain, where they stopped to rest and refresh themselves.
They did the same at Rodoret, and had no sooner prepared to march, than perceiving the detachment
of the enemy rapidly advancing towards them, they instantly retreated up to the very summit
of Galmon, a mountain between Prals and Rodoret, where they remained two hours; this time
was employed in making a review of their force, and having separated the wounded and disabled
from the rest; they sent them with the surgeon of the late Mons. de Parat, guarded by those who
were only slightly wounded, into a ravine called the valley, after which the main body descended
rapidly towards Prals, and remained till night, concealed in the wood of Serrelemi, when they
proceeded under cover of a thick fog, to the Casage Major. Here they were greatly disappointed
not to find a drop of water to boil their soup, but Providence in compassion to them, sent them
rain, which was at this time as great a relief as on former occasions it had proved an addition to
their distress. On Friday, the 16th, having carefully put out their fires, for fear of discovery, the
enemy being supposed to be either at Rodoret, or on the Galmon; they advanced through the
mist, but when it cleared away they occasionally lay down flat on the ground, to avoid being
seen by any sentinels who might be on the Galmon, till they lost sight of the mountain, and passing
the Roche Blanche, from whence the fine marble is taken, they arrived at Fayet about mid-
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night, much fatigued by the harassing march they had made, over such a dangerous tract of country.
The next day, the 17th, finding the enemy were on their track, they marched towards Pramol,
and hoping to obtain provisions at Angrogna, detached a party in search of supplies, which they
happily met with in the village of Ra, where the inhabitants had entrenched themselves in the
church-yard, but were soon compelled to yield. Mons. de Vignaux, who commanded the place,
on giving up his sword, shewed Mons. Arnaud the positive order he had received not to abandon
his post; he also informed him that the Duke of Savoy had only till the Tuesday following, to decide
whether he would remain on the side of France, or embrace that of the allies. Besides the
commanding officer, three lieutenants were taken prisoners, and fifty-seven men killed in this
attack, and the enemy had the additional mortification of seeing the village burnt. The Vaudois
had only three men killed, and as many wounded.
On Sunday the 18th, they ascended the mountain of Angrogna, and those who were first had
no sooner gained the top than the inhabitants gave the alarm, which obliged the Vaudois to retrace
their steps, in search of a resting-place on some other part of the mountain. But on their
arrival at a neighbouring hamlet they were no less astonished than delighted to find Messrs.
Parander and Bertin, who were come as envoys from the Baron de Palavicino, to announce to
them peace on the part of the Duke of Savoy, offering at the same time to furnish them instantly
with provisions; and no sooner had they reached Pra-del-Tourne than two other persons came to
inform them that the Chevalier de Vercellis, governor of the fort of La Tour, desired to speak
with some of their officers; to which they replied, that if he would come the following morning
to the spot where they then were, he would find them; they also requested a surgeon might be
sent to visit the three lieutenants who had been wounded at Pramol.
Let us leave these poor fugitives for a moment to their joy and exultation at having peace offered
to them, and let us allow them to breathe in the hope of a termination to their misfortunes,
while we turn to observe the consternation of the French, who could but ill digest their disappointment
at finding the birds flown, after all the trouble they experienced in taking their nest.
As the conquest which Mons. de Feuquieres had sought for, was not the possession of La Balsille,
but the capture of its garrison, (an exploit by which he expected to exult even over Mons.
de Catinat himself,) his disappointment upon entering the last recesses of the fort, to find only
miserable huts and points of rocks, which from their shape and size had given the mountain the
appellation of Quatre dents, may be better imagined than described. It was a thunderstroke to
him to find himself thus deprived of the title of “conqueror of the barbets,” which had been destined
for him beforehand, as will be found by an intercepted letter from the governor of Pignerol.
To return to our Vaudois, whom we left in the agreeable expectation of a perfect and secure
peace with their sovereign; the Chevalier de Vercellis did not come, though expected, and the
booty was sold and divided; they remained, however, till the 24th, without bread. A Vaudois soldier
happening to kill a partridge, gave it to Mons. Arnaud, who having had it broiled, gave a bit
to Mons. de Vignaux, and the other three prisoners, saying, to-day you must eat partridge without
bread, to-morrow, perhaps, it will be bread without partridge, which often happened afterwards.
While they were under this difficulty in procuring food, they had the comfort to observe
Messrs. Parander and Bertin return with an order that they should send forty or fifty men to the
129 This letter and some others being uninteresting are omitted.
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farm of Mons. Gautier, brother-in-law of Mons. Arnaud, but as they were sent by night, this direction
gave rise to some suspicion, for which reason Mons. Arnaud gave orders that the two
captains who had the command of the expedition, should only permit five men to enter the house
at a time, while the others kept guard outside, and that when these five had taken their load of
bread, they should send ten others, and so on till all were supplied, which was done without any
opposition, and the bread arrived safe. The French were now the only remaining enemies of the
Vaudois, and on the 22d, they sent out two detachments against them; the Vaudois did the same,
and had the good fortune to make an attack so opportunely upon one of these divisions, that they
carried off sixty or seventy guns and muskets, with as many doublets. These Vaudois troops
having joined each other, they marched up higher towards Balmadant the following day, and as
they were eating soup, made of violets and wild sorrel, perceived the French advancing, whom
they fell upon, and continued skirmishing with the whole of the day. The French, still enraged at
their escape from La Balsille, had sent out detachments on all sides to exterminate them if possible.
Mons. de Elerambant not knowing that the Duke of Savoy was become the friend of the
Vaudois was taken prisoner, with all his detachment, at La Tour, which he had entered in search
of refreshments. Some four or five days passed without any event, except the return of a detachment
of the Vaudois, which arrived in time to hear a letter read from the Marquis de Palavicino
to the governor of Mirabouc, and which contained, among other things, instructions to
him to allow a free passage to the Vaudois, seeing that H. R. H. was become their friend, and had
broken with France. The 3d of June they had the satisfaction to see the return of another detachment
of sixty strong, which had been sent into the Valley of Perouse, to meet fifty men, who
it was reported wished to join the Vaudois; their delight was greater as they had given them up
for lost; this detachment on its march had two soldiers killed at the bridge of Pomaret, who were
found to be carrying 700 gun flints to the enemy: the charms which it was thought one of these
men had made use of, to render himself bullet proof, rendered his death still more dreadful, indeed
it was found difficult to kill him, for no bayonet would pierce him until it was fixed in the
ground by the hilt; he begged very hard for his life, and in the hope of obtaining it, made known
the spot where he had buried a quantity of tin, but the diabolical charms with which it was supposed
he had provided himself, rendered him in their eyes so unworthy of life, that his entreaties
were of no avail.
On reaching Perouse they only found twelve men instead of fifty ready to join them, and
marching always by night to escape observation, they received at Clapier intelligence of the loss
of La Balsille, and hid themselves for several days in the woods, while they persuaded some
peasants to bring them provisions, and at last happily rejoined their comrades.
June the 4th. The French having learnt that the Vaudois were at Palmad or near Villar,
marched all night, in the hope of surprising them, but the dawn of day having betrayed them, the
Vaudois were prepared on their arrival to give them a warm reception; they fought nearly the
whole of the day, with the loss only of two men killed, and two wounded, but the French did not
escape so cheaply, though the precise number of their killed was not known. The Vaudois received
soon afterwards, a confirmation of the news that H. R. H. had declared war with France.
The French who were in the valleys ignorant of this transported their sick and wounded to La
Tour, where they were all made prisoners, and carried to Saluces. The militia of H. R. H. having
abandoned Villar and Bobbi, Mons. Arnaud was desired to take possession of those places, and
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an intimation was given him that he would find provisions. But the Savoyards had only left such
a portion as they could not transport, and had even let the wine run out of the barrels.
The Vaudois now released Mons. de Vignaux and the other prisoners, on their word of honour,
that the two ministers and others should be sent back to them, and great was their delight
when they saw those four persons return a few days afterwards, together with David Mondon and
Capt. Pelene, and twenty others, from the prisons of Turin; particularly when these latter declared
that H. R. H. had assured them that he should not prevent their preaching, even at Turin,
and said many other obliging things; they received an order a few days after, to send fifteen men
to Crussol for bread, which they did, but having the same order on La Tour for flour; the commissary
there, not having yet recovered much good will towards them, refused it, though he had
in his possession more than 100 sacks of flour, and above 2000 of corn. H. R. H. gave orders to
his troops to blow up the fort of La Tour, but the mines made for this purpose all proved false,
and it was suspected the engineer was in the pay of France. A Vaudois soldier, who is still alive,
rejoined them at Bobbi, whose adventures are remarkable enough to deserve a place here; having
been slightly wounded during the siege at Balsille, and being without medical aid, he obtained
permission of Mons. Arnaud to accompany three others who had undertaken the hazardous task
of fetching provisions to sell to those in the fort; his companions passed the river Cluson, at this
time much swollen, but this poor fellow could not get through on account of his wound, and
wandered about hiding himself during the day and passing from bush to bush, and rock to rock,
living only on violets and other wild herbs, during seventeen days. In this time his wound
healed, and at last to the joy of the poor starved wretch, he perceived two young wolves, who
made off as soon as they were observed, hunger urged him to the chase, and having stunned one
by a blow on the head, he caught it, and ate it with a good appetite, though raw; when satisfied
he found he had strength enough to get to Bobbi, which was not far off, where he arrived, bringing
with him the head of the cub he had feasted on.
This recalls an anecdote in Mons. Leger’s history, which he relates during the war, or rather
massacre of 1655. Bianqui, then syndic of Luzerne, who though a papist, always showed great
horror at these atrocities, seeing after the battle of La Vachere the number of dead and wounded,
exclaimed, “Altre volte li lupi mangiavano li barbetti, ma il tempo ่ venuto che li barbetti, mangiano
i lupi.” These words cost the poor syndic dear, for the governor of Luzerne was so
shocked at them, that he absolutely frightened the syndic to death with menaces and reproaches;
and now to the very letter, had a barbet eaten a wolf.
Monsieur de Palavicino, who commanded H. R. H.’s troops, having determined to fall upon
the French in the Val Queiras, sent orders to the Vaudois to prepare a large detachment to attack
them on one side, while he did the same on the other. Wishing for nothing better than an opportunity
of signalizing their fidelity to their sovereign, they immediately sent 300 men on this service;
they carried the plan into effect, and defeated the French, though with the loss of Capt. Griz
and five men, besides three or four wounded; they returned to Bobbi the next day but one, with a
good deal of booty, some of which was divided amongst the companies, and the rest presented to
his royal highness.
The Chevalier de Vercellis, already mentioned, having come to visit the Vaudois, was deputed,
with Mons. Arnaud, to confer with Mons. de Palavicino, about several things which related
to the common welfare; the baron told him that with a reinforcement of 2000 men which he
expected, they should soon succeed, without troubling the peasants, or pillaging them any more,
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provided they remained quiet. The same day, all the inhabitants of La Tour who had changed
their religion came to Bobbi to join the Vaudois. The following days they had a good deal of
skirmishing with the French, until a courier was taken, and Mons. Arnaud was ordered to carry
his despatches to H. R. H. During his absence the Vaudois enjoyed some repose at Bobbi, where
they were well provisioned; but these temporal comforts did not prevent their having some uneasiness
as to their spiritual ones, until the return of Mons. Arnaud, the first days of July, 1690,
who brought the agreeable confirmation of their sovereign’s good intentions towards them, and
of the very christian like discourse he had held to the prisoners on restoring them to liberty,
which was to this effect.
“You have but one God and one prince to serve; serve God and your prince faithfully: till
now we have been enemies, henceforth we must be good friends; others have been the cause of
your misfortune, but if now, as you ought, you expose your lives for my service, I will expose
mine also for yours, and while I have a morsel of bread you shall have your share.”
His Royal Highness then spoke the more seriously, as he was in the height of his anger
against France. We shall not enter into his reasons, which had nothing to do with the Vaudois,
but only observe in conclusion; that God in a wonderful manner, not only separated those two
powers, but caused them to turn against each other the very arms which had been designed for
the destruction of the Vaudois, and in the very moment when their extermination seemed inevitable,
thus worked their deliverance.
Having now arrived at the establishment of peace, we must leave the Vaudois to enjoy the
fruit of their labours, while we proceed to give a sketch of what happened to Mons. Bourgeois
and his detachment, who from having arrived too late at the place of rendezvous, either for want
of boats, or from some other circumstance, were prevented joining our expedition in the first instance.
No sooner were they apprised of the progress we had made, than they became anxious to
follow, and Mons. Bourgeois, stung by the imputations which had been cast upon his courage,
declared himself willing to undertake the command, but very imprudently not having taken any
pains to conceal their intended departure, it was anticipated in Savoy and Dauphin้ long before it
took place. Money having been taken from the Dutch contributions, (which may be called an
abuse of a charity,) and thirty-three boats, with a supply of arms, having been provided; the
whole party, in number about 1000, composed, in addition to the Vaudois, of idle persons of all
descriptions, embarked near Vevay, at noon, on the 11th of September, and landed at St. Gingolphe
with very little opposition. The troops were immediately divided into nineteen companies,
viz. thirteen French refugees, three Swiss, two Vaudois, and one of grenadiers, called by the
Savoyards Luzernois.
After some skirmishes, in which the peasants made no great resistance, they marched in a
slow and disorderly manner to Tagninge, in Foucigui; and in consequence of their delay found
the passes guarded; a disappointment which served only to increase the insubordination and disunion
which existed among them, and which led to the determination of retreating, on the 17th of
September, and abandoning their expedition. After a difficult march of seven days, leave was
obtained for them from Geneva to pass the lake, and boats were provided; but, on their embarkation,
the booty they had obtained in Savoy appeared so great, that the government of Geneva
obliged them to release ten or twelve prisoners they had taken, and insisted on their restoring all
the horses, and other property taken away, to the right owners. An example which was strictly
followed in the canton of Vaud; and the Bernois commanded all those who had entered the
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Chablais in arms, on the 11th of September, to quit their territory within eight days. After being
imprisoned all the winter, Mons. Bourgeois was condemned for disobedience of orders, in undertaking
the expedition, and was beheaded at Nion, on the 12th March. Thus ended this disastrous
The present age is so perverted by a spirit of incredulity, vanity, and pride, that scarcely one
person in ten would believe the extraordinary means by which the Reformation was brought
about in England, Germany, Holland, &c. the liberty of Switzerland established, and the independence
of Geneva preserved, and would consider the details as fabulous stories. Foreseeing,
therefore, that the facts here related may to many appear incredible, I wish to add some remarks
as to the clear evidence of their truth. The simplicity of the narrative shows that its design was
neither to amuse nor to deceive, and the facts contained in it can yet be attested by many living
witnesses of different nations; when, therefore, O reader, you read of events which your imagination
can scarcely reach, be not less reasonable than our honest Vaudois, who taking credit to
themselves only for their sufferings and inexpressible labours, attribute every thing that is astonishing
and extraordinary to the arm of the Eternal, and for his glory. God, to show his almighty
power and superintending care, did not make use of a consummate warrior, but of a poor minister,
who never before waged war except with Satan. You have seen this man, under celestial
guidance, force a passage through every obstacle, and carry away prisoners men of every rank in
society, as witnesses of the wonders effected by a true faith and the good order he preserved.
By what means, unless by the peculiar favour of God, did this same Arnaud escape falling
into the hands of the Swiss Catholics, who sought to lay hold of him, that he might suffer at Constance
like John Huss and Jerome of Prague, who were burnt alive for sustaining the true religion
of Jesus Christ? Is it not miraculous that a small band of men, of whom many had never before
handled a firelock, should force the bridge of Salabertran, guarded by 2500 men, kill 600 of
them, with only a loss of fifteen, half of whom fell owing to the want of skill of their comrades?
Is it not as clear as the light of day that it was by special permission that the Roman Catholics,
who for three years had inhabited the houses of the Vaudois, should all fly on their approach, as
well as the troops who ought to have defended them?
Is there any one of such weak intellect as not to discover, that it must have been God alone
who could have inspired such a small party, without money and a thousand other requisites, courageously
to undertake a war against the king of France, who then made all Europe tremble? and
who but God himself could protect them and cause them gloriously to succeed, in spite of every
effort used by two mighty powers to exterminate them?
Who can be so unreasonable as not to attribute it to divine Providence, that the Vaudois
should be enabled to gather in their harvest in the depth of winter, at the time their enemies, unable
to subdue them by force of arms, were taking every means to destroy them by famine?
Can any one be weak enough to suppose, that, without divine protection, 367 Vaudois, shut
up for eight months in La Balsille, sleeping on the earth, and subsisting only upon bread and
herbs, in small quantities, could force 10,000 French and 12,000 Piemontese to retire with loss;
and that, after defending themselves during a second siege, they could have so happily escaped
the fury of the French; who, still enraged at the obstinate resistance they met with from such a
handful of men, had resolved to condemn them to be hung, and actually brought executioners
and ropes for that purpose?
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Weak as human nature is, every one must allow that the Almighty God fought for the Vaudois,
assisting them whenever they were on the point of failing, and opening the eyes of their
prince, and inducing him to seek their assistance against their joint enemy, after restoring them to
their homes and own inheritance, as well as to their pure mode of worship. Does it not surpass
imagination, that although these people were more than eighteen times engaged in battle during
the efforts they made to penetrate into their valleys, they lost only thirty of their number; while
their enemies lost 10,000 men, without effecting the object they had in view?
After so many wonderful achievements, is it not clear the arms of the enemy were blessed
only by the false benedictions of Rome, while theirs were strengthened by the protection of the
great God and King of kings?
Open the eyes of your understanding all ye that are blinded wilfully, and consider with coolness
and impartiality the divine mysteries contained in this History; and let all Christians, after
due reflection, unanimously allow that God has made choice of the Vaudois as the elect of his
faithful flock, to demonstrate by prodigies beyond the course of nature, or natural strength of
man, that they live in that religion in which he would have all the redeemed to live, to serve and
honour him. Amen.130
They crossed the Lake of Geneva and landed opposite Nion, between Nernier and Ivoyre, passed
the village of Vi Villete and St. Joyre, the height of Carman, the bridge of Marni, towns of
Cluse and of Salenches, villages of Cablau, and Beaufort, or Migeves, mount of Haute Luce,
hamlet of St. Nicholas, mount of Bon Homme, crossed the river Isere, hamlet of Sez, St. Foi, and
Villar Rougy, of Eutigne, Laval, Tigne, mount Tisserand, hamlet of Bonneval, of Besas and Lannevillard,
mount Cenis, mount Tourliers, the valley of Jaillon, by Chaumont above Susa, the
bridge of Salabertran, mount Sei, the valley of Pragela, and so on.
130 Several of the writers on the Revelations have considered the Vaudois as the witnesses mentioned in the 11th
chapter of the Apocalypse. – See new translation of the Apocalypse by Dean Woodhouse, chap. 11. p. 298.; also
chap. 14. v. 9. Dr. Gill on the Revelations, chap. 11. Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History cent. 7, part 2, chap. 2,
sec. 2. Also a Sermon preached by Dr. Gill, in 1720, in Great Eastcheap.
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After the treaty of 1690, concluded by Arnaud, the Vaudois had many opportunities of showing
their courage and loyalty, in the wars carried on by the Dukes of Savoy,132 and in consequence
their privileges were constantly confirmed. So that with the exception of the expulsion of
the three thousand who formed the colonies in Germany, which are mentioned in Arnaud’s Preface,
perfect liberty of conscience was enjoyed by them during the whole of the eighteenth century.
The Protestant powers continued their protection, and particularly England; for a pension
was granted by that country to the pastors, under William and Mary, which was named the English
royal subsidy; and this being found insufficient, in 1770 a general collection was made, the
interest of which was paid under the name of the English national subsidy. From these two sums
the pastors received their incomes, amounting to 40l. or 50l. those of the most laborious parishes
receiving the largest payment. The interest of the Dutch collections was applied to the salaries of
schoolmasters, widows of pastors, and retired pastors. And in Switzerland studentships were established
at the universities of Geneva, Lausanne, and Basle, for the young Vaudois intended for
the ministry.
In this state the Vaudois affairs remained till after the French revolution, when, owing to the
distresses in Holland, a diminution took place in the payments from that country; and in 1797,
the English royal subsidy suddenly stopped, and has been since discontinued.133
In consequence the French government assigned certain sums from the treasury of Turin, as
an increase to the diminished stipends of the pastors, which raised their incomes to upwards of
60l. per annum, at the same time ordering their church government to be remodelled according to
the system of Napoleon in France.
The act produced very little alteration, except the cessation of the authority of moderator and
the appointment of two ministers to nearly the same functions.
The most important change was, that the Vaudois were in all respects put upon a level with
the Catholics, and enjoyed every right of Piemontese subjects.
In 1814, the house of Savoy was restored to the throne, and the sums drawn from the treasury
of Turin were stopped. Victor Emanuel, moved by the distress of the pastors, generously granted
them a sum of 21l. each; and thus they enjoy the same revenues as they did before the revolution.
131 The reader is referred to Arnaud’s Preface for a history of that portion of time intervening between the treaty, at
which M. Bresse’s History terminates, and the expedition of Arnaud.
132 See Burnet’s history of his own times, year 1690, fol. edit. 2 vol. pp. 100-111.
133 By means of the dishonesty of the royal almoner’s secretary, who drew for the money from the Treasury, and
persuaded the almoner to give a receipt without receiving one from the Vaudois, which last he said could not be
got on account of the war: the succeeding almoner, not receiving the receipts from the Vaudois, ceased to obtain
the money. By the exertions of the Rev. W. S. Gilly and the Vaudois committee, the payments are re-established
this year, 1826.
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And Victor Emanuel, in being the first of his house who has wished to place the Vaudois on a
level with the Catholics, in this point has acquired a new title to their attachment and fidelity.
In 1821, not one of them was found among the revolted.
It must however be admitted, that though this monarch and his successor, Charles Felix, at
present on the throne, have always received the Vaudois deputies with kindness, and though they
are now admitted to the enjoyment of the same laws as their fellow subjects, no Vaudois can rise
in the army above a sub-lieutenant; nor, in civil offices, beyond a notary, secretary, apothecary,
or surgeon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Which may be found at length in the following German
Waldenser Chronick, printed in 1655, probably at Berne.
Die Geschichte der Waldenser, Zurich, 1798, by Moser.
Kurzer Abriss der Geschichte der Wurtembergescher Waldenser,
by Andreas Keller, minister, Tubingen, 1796.
Original Briefe, or Original Letters, in the library at Heidelberg.
After the treaty of Pignerol, in 1655, (at which period the history of Bresse terminates,) the
affairs of the Vaudois remained much in the same state till 1685, when the Duke of Savoy was
induced by Louis the Fourteenth to revoke all his promises, by a new edict. This edict commanded
the demolition of their churches, and the immediate banishment of all pastors and
schoolmasters, forbad the education of children in the Vaudois faith, and prohibited the public
and private exercise of their religion.
Louis the Fourteenth not only pressed this measure on the Duke; but, in 1686, according to a
former promise, sent 14,000 men, under the Marquis de Catinat, to join the Piemontese army,
then marching to enforce the obedience of the Vaudois.
Catinat,134 who led the attack, was repulsed; but, after two other engagements, the Vaudois
sued for peace. The Duke determined upon punishing them severely, and condemned 14,000
persons to the prisons of Turin. The remainder either submitted to the mass or fled. By the intercession
of the Elector of Brandenburg and the Swiss cantons, the Duke was at length induced
to permit those who would not change their religion to leave the country unmolested. The prisons
were consequently opened, but only 3000 persons issued from them; the other 11,000 had
perished by heat, cold, hunger, and thirst, during their imprisonment. The 3000, immediately on
their release, marched into Switzerland; where two thirds remained, and the rest proceeded to
Brandenburg, by invitation from the Elector Frederic William, by whom they were received with
the greatest kindness. Some of the descendants of these very people are now settled at Buckholtz,
near Berlin, enjoying all the rights of Prussian subjects, and having their church supplied
134 See Burnet’s history of his own times, fol. edit. p. 456.
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with ministers from the French Protestant refugees, who settled in great numbers in Prussia after
the revocation of the edict of Nantes.
The 2000 remaining in Switzerland gave great uneasiness to the cantons, by their plans for
returning in arms to their country, which induced the great Swiss council to apply to the German
princes for land, they themselves offering to contribute to the expense of establishing Vaudois
Subscriptions having been raised in the Swiss cantons, the United Provinces, Brandenburg,
and England, for the immediate support of the exiles: application was first made to the Duke of
Wirtemberg, whose dutchy had lost one fourth of its population in the thirty years war.
The negociation proceeded slowly, for as the Wirtembergers were strict Lutherans, they
raised endless difficulties, on the score of religion and politics.
Several questions were referred to the universities. Some idea of the want of charity and tediousness
of these proceedings may be formed from the fact, that a book was written in the university
of Tubingen, on the extreme danger of receiving people who had no written confession of
faith; and to one of the questions sent to the legal faculties at Tubingen, they replied, “That the
Vaudois could not be allowed the free exercise of their religion in any place incorporated with
the ducal territory, but might enjoy it in one dependent on the Duke,” “Non de territoris Wirtemburgis
sed in terris,” &c.
In the year 1687, 200 men were allowed to assist in the harvest, and though a Swiss commission
the next year made little impression on the Duke, an embassy from the States General effected
the establishment of 200 Vaudois near Malbrun. These unfortunate people were obliged
to return to Switzerland in the autumn of the same year, 1688, in consequence of an attack made
by the French army on Baden and Wirtemberg. After passing the winter among the Swiss cantons,
about 1000 marched into Wirtemberg in spring, where they were but ill received, although
they agreed to purchase all their provisions beyond the limits of the dutchy; “Lest,” to quote the
words of the demand, “any scarcity should be felt by his Highness’s subjects, for the sake of a
handful of Calvinistical sojourners.”
At this time, and for many months preceding, serious thoughts had been entertained of sending
the Vaudois to the Cape of Good Hope; a plan to which many showed repugnance, but some
assented. In a letter, still extant, from one of their pastors, Bilderbeck, is this passage, “A letter
from the Hague, bearing date May 31st, 1688, informs me that Messrs, the States General have
destined the sum of 39,000 livres for the transport of the Vaudois to the Cape of Good Hope.”
Dated Cologne, June 3rd, 1688.
Why this idea was abandoned does not appear from the remaining records: it was probably
met by unwillingness on the part of those who designed to return sword in hand to their valleys.
Some of the above-mentioned settlers in Wirtemberg joined their compatriots in this undertaking,
and eighty of them were seized in the attempt to do so, in the canton of Uri, and sent in
chains to Turin.
The history of the expedition is written by Henri Arnaud, down to the treaty with the Duke of
Savoy. In consequence of a total change in politics, in 1690, that prince united with the emperor
and the kings of England and Spain against Louis the Fourteenth; and, on this occasion, wrote
directly to the duke of Orleans, declaring that he had sacrificed these Vaudois to the court of
France, contrary to every rule of sound policy. He also set at liberty the prisoners who had been
condemned to death, allowed 1200 of his Vaudois subjects to receive English pay, (that they
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might serve in the war,) and permitted the rest to return to their homes in the valleys. The allied
powers were eager to make use of the Vaudois, conceiving them to be justly irritated against
France; their interested and philanthropic views both promoting charity towards the Vaudois who
behaved with such bravery in the war, that England and the States General again pressed on the
duke of Wirtemberg for concessions towards them. In consequence, in the year 1694, the free
exercise of their religion and customs was granted them in the dominions of Wirtemberg.
The exertions of Messrs. Cox and Valkenier, the English and Dutch envoys at Berne, had
previously obtained leave that the wives and children of those Vaudois who had returned to the
valleys, in order to judge of the possibility of residing there, should remain in Wirtemberg, their
subsistence being paid for beforehand.
These men found their country in such a state of utter devastation, that they gave up the idea
of remaining and returned to their families. After a series of disappointments, too tedious to detail,
a prince of the house of Wirtemberg, Frederic Augustus, came forward as a protector to the
poor exiles, and took such active measures for the establishment of a colony at Gochsheim, that
he laid the first stone of the new Augustadt in 1698, and obtained from his brother, Duke Eberhard
Louis, articles of reception. Unhappily, when these were published, they were found to require
a written confession of faith, and a great delay and dispute took place on that account,
though the Vaudois endeavoured to show from Leger’s history (then just published) what their
doctrine was. In the midst of this new dilemma, occasioned by the unyielding spirit of the Lutherans,
the Duke of Savoy concluded a peace with France; in conformity to which, he commanded
the inhabitants of the valleys of St. Martin and Perouse, as well as the parishes of St.
Barthelemi, Prarustin, and Roche Platte, formerly subjects of France, to leave his territory. This
part of the ducal dominions, always inhabited by Vaudois, (long before the house of Savoy
gained any part of Piemont,) had been ceded to France in the former part of the reign of Louis
XIV, and was now returned to Savoy upon the above condition.
It appears from Arnaud’s preface, that the Duke ordered only those not born in the valleys to
leave his dominions. All statements concur in asserting that 3000 Vaudois were thus forced into
exile, and that they submitted to their fate without resistance, and arrived in the greatest misery at
Geneva, where they were relieved. Until some plan could be determined on, they were dispersed
among the Swiss cantons for the winter, and in the mean time extensive collections were made
for their support throughout Protestant Europe. Arnaud was himself one of the 3000 re-exiled;
and, in 1698, was one of the three deputies sent to discuss the points of reception with the privy
council of the Duke of Wirtemberg. The English and Dutch envoys at Berne were also ordered
by their courts to press the subject with the Duke, and urge the examples of the Elector of Brandenburg,
the Landgraves of Hesse Cassel, Darmstadt, and Homberg, as well as the Counts of
Hanau, Ysenburg, &c. who had already received Vaudois colonies. The next year, 1699, William
of England, the elector of Brandenburg, and the states general again renewed the most
pressing solicitations, and took upon themselves to guarantee the Duke from all expense on account
of the Vaudois, requiring only from him land and building materials in the rough.
In the meantime the difficulties on the score of doctrine were gradually overcome; the situations
fixed on for the colonies were marked out in the spring near Malbrun, and money was advanced
by the commissioners of subscriptions in England, Holland, and Switzerland, to enable
the Vaudois to buy provisions, until they could bring the land which had long lain waste into cultivation.
The colonies now received the names they have at this day, and in June the Duke issued
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a regular edict, which was followed by the concessions-brief in September. (1699) This act contains
twenty-three articles of privilege and protection, for which the Vaudois were entirely
obliged to the unremitting zeal of William of England, and the states general. For the most part
the government kept faith with them, but some of the articles have fallen into disuse, and others
have been entirely broken; some of the most important among them during the last fifty years.
The government of the Vaudois was settled in the hands of a syndic, six counsellors, a secretary,
and a serjeant; because the point of their forming an integral part of the Wirtembrerg dominions,
being always opposed, a separate form of government was necessary for them, dependent
solely on the Duke. Their church government was arranged exactly on the plan of that in the
valleys, with a moderator, council, called la table, &c., together with occasional synods. The
numbers in each parish having been estimated, the total was found to amount to 1600, which
shows how many must have proceeded to Holland and other countries. The distress of these
poor exiles during the first year, was most severe; they had no houses but the remains of some
old forts, thrown up during the war; the land was covered with weeds, swamps, and brushwood,
nor was it in any parts good originally; bricks were to be made, stones and wood collected and
prepared for building, wells sunk, marshes drained, &c. All this too was to be done by a people
worn by suffering, encumbered with children, and sick, and having expended the whole of their
private means. To add to their distress all the strong and vigorous, the ingenious and best educated
had gone to the colonies established in the former years of their exile. Those in Wirtemberg
were the poorest and most helpless of the whole.
In an original letter, still existing at Heidelberg, Mons. Fabrice thus describes their situation:
--“Was it not,” says he, “for the charity of the States’ General of Holland, they would actually
perish for want; about 272 have been appointed to the bailiwick of Mosbach, near Bretten, to
clear and cultivate the lands assigned to them. These bare nothing but weeds and wild herbs, on
which these miserable people support life, the alms which we send them not sufficing for so
many. Working from morning till night to clear the land, which is as yet entirely unproductive,
eating nothing but roots and herbs half boiled, and drinking nothing but water, they strive not to
be chargeable to any one. * * * * I have seen them with my own eyes, when I passed over their
desert, during my visitation of the churches of the bailiwick: we distributed 100 sacks of corn,
and some money to the sick and feeble.”
Mons. Fabrice was probably a minister and an officer of the Lutheran Consistory. The country
alluded to is now occupied by the Vaudois of great and little Villar, and the land is in most
parts so bad as to be kept in cultivation only by the greatest industry. A poor woman of Gros
Villar, is now in the habit of walking to the weekly market of Carlsruhe, a distance of fifteen
miles, to carry the eggs and poultry of the village there for sale.
To return to the articles of the concessions-brief, no provision was made for the incidental
expences of repairs of churches, schools, &c., so that these from time to time reduced the parishes
to the greatest poverty, and exhausted the deposits laid by for the use of the poor.
Had the Vaudois been at first admitted instead of being kept eleven years in suspense, they
would never have been reduced either individually or collectively, to their present distress. Poverty
has prevented the holding of synods, and dissolved, in great measure, the bond of union between
the parishes, as well as that between the people and their pastors, while instruction failing
from the same causes, has induced many to allow their children to remain in ignorance, or to go
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to the German schools; by this they have gradually been losing their knowledge of the French
language, in which their sermons have been preached till very lately.
Under these circumstances it is not to be wondered at, that the German Vaudois should fall
short of the purity, intelligence, and education of their brethren in Piemont.
By the recent commands of the Wirtemberg government, all sermons are in German, and the
schoolmasters teach in that language only. The resolution of the government to bring the Vaudois
into their own church establishment, with whatever reason formed, and with whatever consistency
acted upon, must in a few years succeed in its object: the Vaudois church will be no
more in Wirtemberg, (as is already the case in Baden,) nor can the pastors from their intimate
connection with the Lutheran church, consistently receive henceforward the portion of the English
royal bounty due to them.
It is hoped that the charitable Englishman will consider the case of those few surviving pastors,
who accepted their cures in reliance on the bounty of England as promised by her sovereigns,
who when that bounty ceased, (from the unfortunate causes lately investigated by the
Vaudois committee in London,) instead of deserting their posts, persisted for twenty years in
poverty and in misery to perform their duties, and support their church against encroachments
and anarchy. Although their annual receipt was small it sufficed when added to their other
means, for their simple wants and the loss of it has plunged them for half their lives, in poverty,
which would be justly complained of by the meanest peasant in England. They are now old and
infirm, and some have had half their wretched pittance taken from them to provide for Lutheran
curates, because they themselves were unable to obey the order to preach in German. It is for
these veteran ministers that the feelings of Englishmen should be awakened, more particularly
because their long and patient sufferings have been endured on account of the non performance
of the promises of England given at first by William III., repeated by Queen Anne, and latterly
again pronounced by our late revered monarch.
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The Roman Catholics of these kingdoms having endeavoured to persuade
the people that their unchangeable religion is changed, the two
following letters of Peyran, containing observations on the similar
stratagem, first put in practice against the Protestants in France, 150
years ago, by the celebrated Bossuet, may be interesting to those who
are willing to be both candid and charitable, though not at the expence
of truth.
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Not having read the answer of our brother Mondon to the pastoral letter of the Lord Bishop
of Pignerol, I cannot tell you whether what has been said by the former respecting Bossuet is foreign
from the purpose or not. I do not even know for what reason he has spoken of him at all,
either good or bad; but this I know that this Bishop of Meaux, this pretended Father of the
Church, need not be treated with much delicacy by a Protestant, after the infamous manner in
which he behaved towards our brethren of the reformed religion in France, during the reign of
Louis XIV., which prince became a bigot, in consequence of the propensity which he had for
pleasure, a propensity to which he delivered himself up without restraint; and a fault which he
thought he could redeem by forcing his Protestant subjects to embrace the Catholic religion, by
seduction, and violence; means most likely to discredit the most numerous conversions, and to
reflect infamy and contempt upon those who recommended such measures; among whom certainly
was the artful Bossuet. It is not by the Protestants alone, that it has been asserted, that this
bishop himself was married, and that St. Hyacinth, well known by the share he had in the pleasantry
of Matanarius was his son. This, however, I will not positively affirm; because I do not
think the proofs produced of these facts sufficiently authenticated. But I will boldly assert that
there existed in Paris a family of great consideration, from which have sprung persons of distinguished
merit, who have positively stated that there had been a private contract of marriage between
Bossuet, when a young man, and a demoiselle des Vieux: that this lady sacrificed her affection
for him, and her situation in life to the elevation which the eloquence of her lover might
procure for him in the church: that she consented never to avail herself of this contract: that
Bossuet, thus ceasing to be her husband, took orders: and that after the death of the prelate, the
family already mentioned, had the adjustment of the matrimonial compacts. The same family
declare that this lady strictly preserved the dangerous secret in her possession, and that she always
remained the friend of the bishop. He gave her the means of buying the little estate of
Mauleon, within five leagues of Paris, from whence she took the name of Mauleon, and lived
nearly to the age of 100. Voltaire pretends that Bossuet entertained philosophical sentiments, at
variance with his theology. If this be true, it would only the more clearly prove the crafty mind
of this too celebrated prelate, who did not by many degrees deserve the reputation he acquired.
Never did any man discover in him a shadow of good faith. With respect to the solidity, which
the Catholics attribute to his writings, I have been unable to discover it, whatever effort of
imagination I have made for that purpose. Solidity in the writings of the Bishop of Meaux! I
have discovered in reading his works, a great degree of delicacy, especially when art and dissimulation
were required. It is certain that he was thoroughly conversant with every turn of the
most refined duplicity, and it requires more than moderate skill to be aware of his artifices. His
disputes with the minister Claude have shewn his character in its true light; and one may judge
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by the narrative of these disputes, what was the solidity of his doctrine; and from thence may
learn how far he could carry chicanery; of what degree of sophistry he was capable; how well he
understood the art of disputatious trifling; how he could carry boldness to the excess, not to say
impudence, of denying or disguising truths the most evident. If that be solidity, we cannot deny
Bossuet the praise of it.
His exposition of the Catholic doctrine, which he gave only to take Protestants by surprise, is
nothing but one long tissue of dissimulation and fraud, as La Bastide, Moguier, Jurien, and many
others have clearly demonstrated. How is it possible to attribute solidity to this prelate, when
even in his favourite work nothing can be found compatible with what is called solidity? This
name cannot be given to what must only pass for an artful snare, spread with dexterity to entrap
the simplicity of the ignorant. The Bishops of France themselves satirised it most severely, for in
ranking this book with the abridged methods of Father Maimbourg, (the most headlong and impetuous
man who ever busied himself in writing,) and of Father Veron, author of the lowest and
most shameful chicanery ever thought of since religion became the subject of dispute; they did
not show much esteem either for the author or his opinions. To place the exposition of the celebrated
Bossuet on a level with this absurd quibbling, (which every one considered as the production
of the most malignant and lowest sophistry,) was not giving a very advantageous testimony
in its favour, or one likely to do him honour. In doing so, they have given a decided contradiction
to all those who have attributed solidity to his works. Who could help observing a revolting
disregard of truth in his “Histoire des variations,” so full of puerilities, sophisms, and false
views, for which he was sharply attacked both by French Protestants, and by foreigners, such as
Kendorf, Basnage, and Burnet. A man, who with an utter disregard of truth writes with levity of
mind against what he actually knows to be the real state of the case, as does the Bishop of
Meaux, can never give to his works the sterling and noble character of solidity. This quality can
be combined neither with falsehood nor error. A man of ability, even a great man may be involuntarily
deceived, and the works of such a man may, notwithstanding some mistakes, be solid.
Falsehood and error may be decked with all the ornaments of fallacious rhetoric, but real solidity
belongs exclusively to truth. We must, however, do justice to Bossuet, and confess that he has
shewn the force of his judgment on occasions on which we cannot avoid being overpowered by
it. In the fine discourse which this prelate delivered at the opening of the assembly in 1682, from
the text, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob,” Numbers, xxiv. 5; he takes occasion in the invocation
at the end of his exordium, addressing himself to the Almighty, and imploring his grace, to
quote to Him the authority of St. Gregory, to convince Him of the truth of what he says. Here is,
without doubt, a striking specimen of the sublime, the solid, and the judicious! To prove a thing
to God by the testimony of a man; to cite the fathers, in order to persuade him; to urge to him
that the thing ought to be so, because St. Gregory said it. To exhibit this effort of rhetoric in a
place so remarkable, at a conjuncture so extraordinary, was certainly doing what no one had ever
thought of doing before, or will ever be induced to imitate. What could those brilliant lights, his
brethren, the clergy of the Gallican church think of it? Had they not here a striking proof of the
claim which this pretended father of the church has to the character of solidity as a teacher? I
will not deny that this great prelate possessed some rare talents. He knew how to persecute in
the most cruel manner, and at the same time to deny with most revolting assurance, that there
was any persecution. He knew how to unite in the business of conversion, fraud with violence,
to close every inlet by which one ray of truth might reach the world. In order to stop their
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mouths against himself he opposed all those who ventured to say what they thought adapted to
undeceive the people. He had ever at hand a veil of darkness to be thrown over the purest light
of truth, whether in doctrine or in history. He knew how to make use of the orders of the higher
powers for the discomfiture of his adversaries, when argument failed him. He was an assiduous
courtier, and a pastor but little troubled with pastoral anxieties. Such are the rare qualities which
distinguished the bishop of Meaux.
As you may not be acquainted with M. Bossuet’s “Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic
Church,” upon the subjects of controversy, I will observe to you, that this treatise appeared three
different times, and every time in a different state. The fist edition came to hand in 1669, the
second in 1671: from a former impression, which had been withdrawn; M. Bossuet inserted in
this the articles of the eucharist, of tradition, of the authority of the church, and of the Pope,
which all together form the most extensive and important part of his treatise. At length a third
appeared; which the printer calls the first edition, though it was in fact the second; it is in this
second, principally, that we find Bossuet has changed many passages, both of the first edition
and of the manuscript copy, which he had circulated among the Protestants of France.
It ought not to appear strange that a person writing on the subject of religion should correct
and recorrect his work, especially if on a matter of controversy; because in such a case it is necessary
not only to establish one’s own belief, but to answer the arguments of one’s opponent;
which requires a perfect knowledge of the principles and dogmas of each. But if it be true that
the Roman church is an uniform plan of doctrine, as Bossuet wished it to be believed; if his treatise
were merely an exposition of faith, as the title professes, and as he gave it out from the first,
it does not seem that any contrivance or address was required. Nothing was necessary but to declare
at once simply and openly what was believed, and the manner in which it was believed; and
for this purpose the most natural and least laboured style would have been the best. I am going,
Sir, to point out to you the differences between the first and second editions; because I am convinced
nothing is more apt to shew the real sentiments of an author than the different views he
appears to take of the same things at different times. A man may begin with axioms and infer
conclusions; he may draw out a long chain of reasoning, enlivened by striking figures; he may be
curious in the choice of terms; he may employ sometimes those which are equivocal and undetermined;
yet, after all, one word escaping from him unawares refutes more, it is said, than the
whole book can prove: and the very care which he may take to recall that word discovers still
First, In the beginning of the first edition, M. Bossuet declares, that he intends to state the
doctrine of the Roman church simply; separating the questions which she has already decided
from those which do not belong to faith. Thus saying openly, that all those which are not proposed
in his treatise have no reference to faith: and that granted, the Protestants are at once relieved
from a great number of doctrines and practices of the Roman church, which M. Bossuet
does not propose at all, or separates from those he does propose. In the last edition, Bossuet
withdraws this declaration, and says quite another thing: he means, he says, to declare (to the
Protestants) the sentiments of the Roman church, and to distinguish them from those which have
been falsely imputed to it.
Secondly, In the first, speaking of the worship of saints, he had said, that the honour paid by
the Romish church to the saints is religious, yet it is religious only because it gives them honour
with references to God. He proves even, that so far from its being necessary to deny them hon-
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our, because it is religious, it would, on the contrary, be blameable if it were not religious. In the
last edition, perceiving that he had said too much, and proved too much; and not being able to
retract all he said; he turns the subject into a matter of doubt, as if after reconsidering the subject.
“If the honour,” says he, “which the church pays to the Holy Virgin, and to the saints can be
called religious, it is because it necessarily refers itself to God.”
Thirdly, In the first, when the Protestants established as a fact, that no trace of the worship of
the saints is to be found in the first three centuries; himself says, with respect to confining one’s
self within those ages, “It is a settled point, that in those three centuries, the church, more occupied
in suffering than in writing, has left many things to be cleared up, both with respect to its
doctrine and practice.” In the last he passes a sponge over these words, however happily turned.
He thought it was acknowledging a fact too favourable to the Protestants, to admit that not only
the worship of the saints, but many other dogmas and customs, cannot be found in any part of the
writings of the three first centuries, since there have been many Roman Catholics who have
made the same assertion.
He perceived also, without doubt, that the reason he had chosen to give for this silence was in
fact but a very feeble pretext; because, notwithstanding the sufferings of the church in those early
periods, there exists a sufficient number of large volumes, written by various great men of those
three first centuries; such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Origen, and several others
before and after them; for though Tertullian and Origen held some erroneous opinions, (or what
have been subsequently considered as such,) that would not have prevented their ability of making
some mention of the worship of saints, had it been true that they saw it practised in their
Fourthly, In the first, having brought forward all the various ways in which one may imagine
the saints to hear our prayers; “or be it,” adds he, “that by some other means more incomprehensible
and more unknown, God causes us to receive the fruit of the prayers which we address to
these blessed spirits:” which in this place means in plain terms that, whether the saints hear our
prayers or do not, God will not fail to reward the devotion paid to the saints; which is the doctrine
of Hugo de St. Victor, an author of the 12th century. In the last, M. Bossuet again passes a
sponge over this opinion, which shewed not only too much uncertainty respecting the foundation
of a religious worship, but a sort of inconsistency in addressing prayers to saints, if one could
suppose that those prayers were not heard.
Fifthly, In the first edition, speaking of images, he inserts these words: “That the Roman
church does not so much honour the image of an apostle or a martyr, as it honours the apostle or
the martyr in presence of the image:” for that means that no honour was in fact paid to the image
itself, or very little; but this does not say enough according to the Roman Pontifical and the
Council of Trent, and still less according to the general custom of the Roman church. For which
reason, in the last edition, M. Bossuet says a little more strongly, “When we pay honour to the
image of an apostle or a martyr, our intention is not so much to honour the image as to honour
the apostle or the martyr in the presence of the image.”
Sixthly, In the first edition, in the conclusion of the article upon the worship of saints, he
says, “There is nothing so unjust as to object against the church, that it makes piety wholly to
consist in this species of devotion; because, on the contrary, it does not impose any obligation on
individuals to adopt this practice. I have already remarked,” he adds, “the words of the Council
of Trent, which contents itself with calling it good and useful, without teaching that it is either
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necessary or required.” Therefore it appears clearly that the church only condemns those who
avoid it from contempt, out of the spirit of dissension or revolt. That was saying plainly that the
worship of the saints might be dispensed with, since the church does not enforce any obligation
to practise it. But in the last edition Bossuet altered the whole of this passage, for on the one
hand, he leaves out these two propositions, that “The church does not impose any obligation to
practise the worship of saints; and that the worship of saints is not a custom necessary or commanded:”
as if he did not wish to say the same thing, at least so clearly or so positively as he had
done before, but to leave it in a more indefinite shape; and, on the other hand, instead of saying
as before, that the church condemns only those who reject this custom out of contempt or from a
spirit of dissension; he puts, “If it is not from contempt or error.” So that, supposing the Protestants
to be in error, as the Roman church supposes, this last edition would replace them under the
anathema from which the first had saved them.
Seventhly, In the first, at the conclusion of what he says upon justification, he had added, that
it was not necessary to know any thing more to form a solid Christian: which disencumbered
religion from a great number of distinctions, decision of canons, and anathemas of councils. Because
this prelate put aside all those doctrines, concluding that those which he had noticed would
be sufficient: in the last, he changes this opinion into one quite different, and says only that his
doctrine was sufficient to teach Christians that they ought to give to God, through Jesus Christ,
all the glory of their salvation. It is thus that this prelate often changed the latter part without
having altered the beginning. You may judge, Sir, how far any reasoning can be well grounded,
from which different conclusions are without hesitation drawn from the same propositions.
Eighthly, In the first edition, at the end of the article upon indulgences, he asserts that “this
subject belongs principally to discipline:” words very remarkable; because the things relating to
discipline may be taken away or changed according to circumstances of time and place. In the
last, he no longer says that indulgences themselves belong to discipline, but merely the manner
of dispensing them.
Ninthly, In the first, speaking of the mass, he says, “It may reasonable be called a sacrifice;”
which is as much as to say, that it is not necessary to give it that name. In the last, he changes
this determination into a very different one; for he says, strongly, “that nothing is wanting to the
mass to constitute it a true sacrifice:” which are two very different consequences deduced from
the same doctrine; and what the prelate advances in this place, as a proof that the mass is a true
sacrifice, does not in fact prove it any better than it proves that it may be called one.
Tenthly, Now I come to the conclusion of Bossuet, (omitting for your ease several articles.)
In the first edition, this prelate says, that “the foundations of salvation are the adoration of one
only God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and reliance on one only Saviour,” &c. In the last, he
retracts this definitive proposition, perceiving probably that, by admitting these facts, he was acknowledging
that we were in possession of the fundamental grounds of salvation; since the
whole of our doctrine reduces itself to these two points, and we admit nothing that is contrary to
them. It is easy to see that Bossuet had in his treatise two principal ends in view; one to insinuate
plausibly into the minds of his readers the doctrine of his church, by extenuating as much as
he could the most revolting parts of it; and the other, to combat the doctrine of the Protestants,
upon two points in particular, with respect to which he thought he could raise the greatest difficulties
against them, viz. the real presence of the body of Jesus Christ at the eucharist, and the
authority of the church. It is easy however to perceive, that it is only upon the subject of the
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positive doctrine of the Roman church that he has hesitated, altered, and realtered, effaced,
added, and in short, made all the changes which I have pointed out to you.
From whence, Sir, can this sort of variation arise in an exposition of faith? For one cannot
deny that this prelate was an enlightened man, capable of expressing himself with great facility
and nicety, or that he was not as thoroughly acquainted not only with the doctrine of his own
church; but with that of the Protestants, when he published his first edition, as he was when he
published the last.
All these difficulties can only arise from the nature of the dogmas upon which he wrote,
which having no certain foundation, do not hold sufficiently together, and have not the relation
one to another which the different parts of a doctrine ought to have. 1st. We are to believe what
the church believes, because we believe that the church cannot err. That is very soon said; but
when it is necessary to explain what the church believes, upon what motives and what principles
she founds her belief, the mind tossed about in uncertainty knows not where to fix; the light of
reason draws one way, the authority of the church another; the writer says more or less than he
intended, or differently from what the Council of Trent, the doctors, or general custom require
should be said. In such a case, an author must write, efface, replace, in the endeavour to satisfy
every body; and this is what happened to Bossuet: but after all it is not easy for a man to satisfy
himself with what he proposes to others. This would justify Voltaire in having said, that the philosophical
opinions of this prelate were very different from his theological ones.
You may easily discover, Sir, by reading the treatise of Bossuet, in the shape in which he put
it in the last edition, that (with the exception of what he appears evidently to have sought to explain
away in the worship of saints and images, in the article of satisfaction, in the sacrifice of
the mass, and the authority of the Pope) the difference between his exposition and the common
doctrine of the church of Rome consists principally in Bossuet’s having enveloped the most difficult
parts of the subject in vague and general terms, and suppressed a great number of other
doctrines received among those of his own communion.
From the high station he occupied in his church, Bossuet could, if it were necessary to explain
himself more exactly upon all these differences, have given to his expressions a colour
which might more or less agree with the tenets of the church, and also in what concerns the doctrines
which he appeared to give up: and what he actually did after the dragoon crusade, of
which he was an ardent promoter.135
But I will not, Sir, leave you in any doubt about the prelate’s want of good faith. Bossuet
says then that the Protestants shall not be forced to invoke the saints if they do not choose it, provided
they do not condemn those who do invoke them; that what had been called till that time
adoration or worship of images, is properly only an honour paid to religious persons, a help for
the instruction of the people; that works and satisfactions are only an application of the merits of
135 This refers to M. Louvoy’s proposal to the king, to send the dragoons to live at free quarters upon the Protestants,
which was acted upon at the revocation of the edict of Nantes, A. D. 1685, of which there is a terrible account
given by Bishop Burnet, (who was an eye-witness of the miseries it occasioned,) in his History of his own Times.
Last edit. 8vo. vol. iii. pag. 69-76. Oxford, 1823. In p. 73, note a, is a curious narrative of Speaker Onslow’s
mentioning what it was which gave rise to this cruelty. Burnet has also a passage in his critique upon the History
of the Variations, Art 7, concerning this crusade, and the encouragement of it by the bishops, as well as their flattery
of the king for it; which he contrasts with the contrary conduct of Martin, the apostle of France, as he calls
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Jesus Christ; the mass only a display136 of the sacrifice of his death; transubstantiation nothing
but a word or expression which implies, after all, only the real presence of the body of Jesus
Christ in the sacrament, which we ourselves believe: that for the sake of peace the cup might be
given to the people: that, provided a primacy in the person of the Pope is acknowledged, for the
sake of order and unity, the rights which he claims beyond are only things which are disputed
about in schools, but do not belong to faith, &c. &c.
On the other hand, the form of profession of faith, or the formulary of the profession of faith
of the Council of Trent, says in as many words; “That it is necessary to believe and receive all
the traditions, all the justifications and all the practices of the Romish church,” which comprehends
in general all of them that we know and all that we do not know. It says still more expressly
again: “that it is necessary to invoke the saints, venerate their relics, to have images of
Jesus Christ, of the Virgin, and of all the saints, render to them the honour and veneration due
them; to believe seven true sacraments, all that the Council has said and decreed upon justification,
and consequently the merit of works, satisfactions, purgatory, and all the doctrine of indulgences,
the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body of Jesus Christ, and the
conversion of the whole substance of the wine into his blood; which is called transubstantiation:
Jesus Christ entire in the one and the other sacrament, under one and the same kind: the Romish
church, mistress of all the churches; to swear a true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and receive
generally all other things which are taught by the councils, and particularly by the sacred Council
of Trent.” This comprehends generally any thing which they please, and which has been the subject
of dispute. This is what it formally exacts of those who present themselves before the parish
priest, the bishop, or the great council.
Compare, Sir, these articles of faith with the style of Bossuet’s treatise, and judge whether
this prelate was sincere, and whether the doctrine of his “Exposition” is one and the same with
the doctrine of the Council. Whoever does not perceive the difference is blind, and has eyes in
his head in order not to see. What can be thought of a prelate who disguises the doctrine of his
church, except that he intended to lay a snare for the unwary? And how can one esteem a man
who employs deceit in an affair of such importance as religion. A Father Brasset is to be preferred
to him. Perhaps I may shew to you, another time, the object of the work of this too celebrated
I am, &c.
136 Or illustration – Fr. explication.
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I promised at the end of my former letter to shew you the design M. Bossuet had in view
when he compiled his “Exposition de la doctrine Catholique,” and in order to do so, shall avail
myself of two works by two celebrated Englishmen; one of the Dr. Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury,
the title of whose book is, “The Letter to the last Assembly of the Church of France.” (held 1682)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
137The other, by Dr. Wake, (whom his rare merit raised afterwards to the Archbishoprick of
Canterbury,) who wrote his “Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England,” a “Defence
of the Exposition,” and a “Second Defence of the Exposition;” which works have furnished me
with a multitude of curious particulars concerning the end M. Bossuet had in view in writing his
famous “Exposition of the Catholic faith.”
It is universally known that after the peace138 of the Pyrenees, they had determined in France
to extinguished the Protestant religion, and some of their censors have even acknowledged that it
was one of the secret conditions of that treaty; but the difficulty consisted in accomplishing this
design without exciting a civil war, or alarming the Protestant powers. The politicians took excellent
measures for gradually weakening the reformed party in France, and for laying asleep or
making a division among the foreign powers, who were of the same communion; and you are not
ignorant with what success. Their triumph would have been more complete, if the theologians
employed to support the cause of Rome had succeeded as well as the makers of the proposals,
and the inventors of edicts. But it was not from a deficiency of ability that in the outset they persuaded
no one. The first person who tried to give a tone to these controversies was the famous
Arnaud, a doctor of the Sorbonne. This great man, a philosopher, a mathematician, learned in
the fathers, and tolerably well read in the Scriptures, one of the first writers of his age, and who
had gained considerable victories over adversaries in his own communion, had only one story to
tell in writing against the Protestants, repeating in different forms in his “Perpetuit้ de la foi de
l’Eglise Catholique touchant l’Eucharist้e,” that as transubstantiation is now the received doctrine
of the church, it follows that it must always have been so, because it was not probable that
Christians would unanimously have agreed to change their opinions; and if they had done so, that
it would be possible to fix upon the precise time when the universal church varied upon this
point, or when and how each particular church corrupted the ancient doctrine.
M. Aubertin had brought forward so many proofs of the actual belief of the holy fathers, that
it is astonishing a metaphysical argument should have acquired so much celebrity, and have received
such universal applause from the Romish church.
The Protestants might easily have overthrown these chimerical trophies, they had only to
point out that according to this mode of reasoning, no error could be introduced into the world,
or adopted by a numerous society. The origin of idolatry is still disputed, and the question not
yet decided. Is it, therefore, to be inferred, that idolatry is not a pernicious error; and that it must
have existed from the beginning of the world, because the precise time is not known, in which
137 A fourth edition, in which these excellent works are published in quarto, bears date “London, 1688, printed for R.
138 A. D. 1659
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the worship of the heavenly bodies was introduced, nor who was the first hero that was deified?
Yet it would be arguing quite as justly as M. Arnaud.
With respect to the universal agreement of Christians, which M. Arnaud asserted, they
clearly proved to him that the eastern churches, which Rome calls schismatic, did not agree with
her in opinion upon the eucharist; and that if they had any idea of a real presence, they approached
much nearer to the consubstantiation of the Lutherans, than to transubstantiation. It
was in vain that M. Arnaud brought forward attestations of some Greek priests, to shew they embraced
upon that point the hypothesis of Rome, for it was proved against him that these attestations
had been obtained by bribery. The Englishman Wheler, who was travelling in Greece at
that time, assures them that he conversed with several papas, whom M. de Nointel, M. Arnaud’s
nephew, had endeavoured to bribe; and the same thing may be seen in the Miscellanea of another
Englishman, Smith.
The reply which was made to M. Arnaud was more than sufficient; yet, as the superstitions of
Christian Rome are not so ancient as those of paganism, the reformed, by dint of researches, discovered
the origin of the monstrous dogma of transubstantiation. They have shewn how the energetic
expressions of the fathers, respecting the Eucharist, gave rise during the dark ages, to the
obscure idea of some incomprehensible union or change. They have even pointed out the authors
of two opposite opinions; a figurative, and a literal one. That is to say, consubstantiation,
or the union of the bread and body of Christ, which doctrine John of Damascus began to preach
in the east, in the year 728; and transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of the one into
the other; which the monk Paschasius Rathbert, first published in the Latin Church, in 818.
Thus all the advantage which the Roman Catholics of France gained from this dispute, was to
see their strong hold levelled to the ground by M. Claude, who, although an eloquent and ingenious
person, would have been unable to cope with M. Arnaud on many other subjects.
The Roman church perceived by this defeat, that she ran the risk of losing all credit with ingenuous
minds, if dogmas began to be discussed. She therefore had recourse to chicanery, and
entrenched herself in formalities, in prescriptions, in the plea that these were points on which
discussion was not to be allowed: upon which pretences she pronounced her adversaries worthy
of condemnation, without its being necessary to examine which party was actually right or
wrong. M. Nicola took upon himself to manage this part of the controversy, and, in his “Prejug้s
l้gitimes,” expressed himself against the reformed, with all the artifice and eloquence
which might have been expected from a disciple and friend of the great Arnaud.
The Jansenists, to whose party these gentlemen belonged, had been defeated at Rome, and in
France, in the celebrated dispute of the five propositions; and had taken as their strong hold the
assertion that the five condemned propositions were not in the Augustine of Jansenius: it followed
clearly from this that neither the Pope nor his councils were infallible in point of fact,
since they could condemn persons as heretical who were not so, by imputing to them opinions
which they had never taught, and which were not found in their books.
Not only the Jansenists saw the inference which might be drawn from this, and advanced
several maxims, which destroyed the authority of the church and its infallibility; but the Protestants
of France immediately perceived this contradiction of doctrine between the author “des Prejug้s,”
and his friends or disciples, and did not lose this opportunity of embroiling them with
each other. Pajon did this with an acuteness and force of argument which silenced M. Nicola.
At the same time Claude answered Nicola in a direct manner, by shewing that the excess of cor-
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ruption to which the doctrine and the worship of the church of Rome had arisen, obliged the fathers
of the Protestants from thenceforward to examine religion, and consequently to separate
themselves from a society which would oblige them, under pain of damnation, to receive a belief
and a practice contrary to the Gospel.
This was sufficient to make the Catholics repent of having given this turn to the controversy.
But as this was their last retreat, they did not wish to abandon it; and, therefore, contrived to
bring forward their “Prejug้s” under different forms; and to propose them with as much assurance
as if they had never been refuted. Their defeated arguments pleased the assembly of the
clergy of France in 1682, so much, that they composed from them sixteen methods of prescription,
upon the plan of which, they were, to endeavour to convert the reformed. These gentlemen
went still farther; they thought their arguments so convincing, that they requested of the king that
he would order a copy to be sent to all the consistories of the Protestants; imagining that there
would be some of the ministers and elders who would suffer themselves to be dazzled by these
illusions, or frightened into submission by the menaces of the pastoral advertisement. “If you
still refuse to obey us, as your last error will be worse than the first, so will your last punishment
be worse than the first.” “Sic erunt novissima vuestra pejora prioribus.” But all this was of no
avail. Pajon immediately made remarks upon this advertisement, and addressed a letter to the
clergy, in which fewer figures of rhetoric are perceptible, but more good sense and solidity. The
famous Jurieu, perceiving that the greatest part of the French ministers were not in a situation to
defend themselves, took the trouble of examining the little book of the French prelates. At last
Jurieu answered them, by way of recrimination, in his “Prejug้s l้gitimes” against Popery; proposed
by him to the number of nineteen; which are so many methods, of which the least plausible
has more force than all those of the clergy.
All these systems were in vogue when the work of Bossuet made its appearance. The new
turn which he gave the controversy surprised the Protestants more than all the subtleties which
the theologians of France had hitherto invented. He was a prelate of reputation, preceptor of the
dauphin, who had never taken any part in the disputes about grace, and therefore was not distrusted
either by Jesuit or Jansenist; either by Rome or by the Gallican church. They saw him, I
say, publish a work furnished with numerous testimonies of approbation, in which he endeavoured
to soften down what was most revolting in the hypothesis of his sect, to bury in oblivion
the gross abuses, and to extinguish the greater part of the disputes of the school.
It was difficult to suppose that a man, supported by all that was most powerful in a communion
of which he seemed to be the oracle, would write only to deceive his fellow-citizens; or that
he could imagine a simple exposition of the doctrines of his church, to be capable of bringing
back into its bosom those who had left it after long hesitation, and who continued in their separation
in spite of all that they had been made to suffer. It is not to the antipodes that the dogmas of
Rome are taught. Our knowledge of them does not arise from the uncertain accounts of ignorant
or ill informed travellers. Its ceremonies and devotions are practised before our eyes: the writings
of their theologians are sold every where; and the reformers themselves had most of them
been either bishops, priests, or monks, so that neither they, nor their disciples could be ignorant
of the tenets of the Roman church. Besides their ministers had no interest in disguising their
opinions, for there is much more for ecclesiastics to gain in her communion than in any other society.
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This reflection may make us doubt the sincerity of M. Bossuet, who declared in the beginning
of his work, that his design was to give a true notion of the sentiments of the Catholic
church, and to separate them from those which have been falsely imputed to it. The reformed,
brought up in a religion which inspires sincerity; and besides disposed to desire a reconciliation,
from the hope of its putting an end to their sufferings, thought, and with reason, that this charge
of the bishops was only a pretext for getting rid of their creed, which caused them the more pain.
In addition to the rumour, which had been circulated for some years among the people, of an accommodation
between the two religions, and of which divers plans had been laid before some
ministers; Bossuet and his imitators, from time to time let many general promises of reformation
escape from them, if they would reconcile themselves to the church.
If it has since appeared, that there was not a shadow of sincerity in all the advances which the
Roman Catholics made, and that even then enlightened persons could discover that these were
mere illusions; surely the reformed are to be commended for not believing them, and their adversaries
condemned for trifling with all that is most sacred, in order to deceive the simple.
To ascertain whether Bossuet was one of these deceivers, (as the Protestants have accused
him of being, and have even proved him to have been, by showing the opposition which existed
between the opinions he professed and those of the other teachers of his communion,) it will not
be without advantage to know the history of his book; because, by the manner in which a design
is conducted and managed, we see what is the end proposed.
Marshal Turenne, who had perceived for a long time that his religion was an invincible obstacle
to his advancement, and who had the law and mean ambition of becoming Constable,
would have been very glad to be able to conform to the Roman Catholic religion; but the gross
practices of that church are so revolting to those who have been brought up in other principles,
that the prince could not prevail upon himself to join a society which imposed such ridiculous
superstitions on its devotees. To remove this scruple, Bossuet composed a work in which he endeavoured
to show that these same devotions were not essential to the Catholic doctrine; and that
you might live and die in its communion without practising them.
This work, or rather the caresses and liberalities of Louis, having made M. de Turenne
change his religion, the prelate flattered himself that it might produce the same effect upon others
of the reformed, and resolved to publish it in 1671; after having let the manuscript circulate for
four years, after having added to it divers sections, as those of the eucharist, of tradition, of the
authority of the church and of the Pope; and after having obtained the approbation of the archbishops
of Rheims and of Tours, and of that of certain bishops.
At that time, as they still retained the simplicity of considering the Sorbonne as the depository
of the Gallican theology, Bossuet wished to obtain its approbation, but he could not succeed;
for having sent his “Exposition,” as soon as it was printed, to some of the doctors of the Sorbonne;
instead of approving it, they marked several passages, as either contrary or little favourable
to the doctrines of their church. This edition was immediately suppressed and another substituted,
in which the passages objected to by the Sorbonnists were altered. This was done with
the greatest possible secrecy, but notwithstanding Messrs. Naguier and de la Bastide remarked
the changes which Bossuet had made in his work; they also objected to him, that the true Roman
Catholics were not satisfied with these temporizing opinions, and that one of them had completed
a refutation of his book before any Protestant had printed a reply; though he was forbidden
to publish it.
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Although Bossuet had sufficient influence to suppress the direct answers which those of his
communion would have made him, he could not prevent the malcontents from taking an indirect
method of saying (and often too) what they thought of it. The Jesuits, with their monks, like the
inventors of superstitious impositions, which enriched them, did not pardon him. The famous
Father Maimbourg, in his History of Lutheranism, drew the picture of the prelate, and made a
critique of his “Exposition,” under the name of Cardinal Contarini, and says plainly, that those
accommodating and temporizing methods in religion adopted in the pretended “Expositions de
Foi,” which suppress, or only mention in ambiguous or softened terms, a part of the doctrines of
the church, satisfy neither party, who complain equally of such trifling in a thing so delicate as
that of faith.
Father Cresset gave M. Bossuet still harder blows, in his work, entitled “De la v้ritable Devotion
envers la Sainte Vierge,” printed at Paris in 1679, with the king’s privilege, by the permission
of the archbishop and the consent of his provincial, and three Jesuits, inspectors of the
works of the society. A preceptor of M. le Dauphin was an adversary requiring some circumspection.
He could not be attacked directly without risk. But M. Widenseldt, intendant of the
prince of Swarzenberg, having published, “Monita salutaria B. Virginis; Avis salutaires de la bienheureuse
Vierge Marie เ ses D้vots indiscrets;” a publication which made a great deal of
noise, especially after the bishop of Tournay had recommended it in a pastoral to his flock, as a
work of solid piety, and well calculated to prevent the excesses to which superstition leads; Father
Cresset boldly affirmed that this work had given offence to good Catholics; that the learned
of all nations refuted it; that the Holy See condemned it; and that the bishops forbid it to be
printed or read, as containing positions suspected of heresy and impiety, which tended to destroy
piety and devotion to the Mother of God, and in general the invocation of saints and the worship
of images: and all this because the German gentleman had adopted the sentiments of Bossuet
upon these articles.
Nearly ten years after Messrs. Nagui่r and de la Bastide had refuted M. Bossuet without his
making any reply; he published, instead of a formal answer, a new edition of his little book, with
an advertisement at the beginning, nearly half as large as the work itself. You may suppose, Sir,
that the composition of fifty or sixty pages, 12mo. was a less arduous enterprise than the taking
of Troy; but though the time was long, it was a good deal for Bossuet to do , to be able in that
time to procure the determination of the Pope,139 and the court of Rome to approve a work entirely
contrary to their maxims. It seems that the secret end of this work had been discovered to
them, and assurance given that, as soon as the reformed should be converted, either by persuasion
or force, every thing should be revoked, which had the appearance of relaxation to those
who were not in the secret. From being ignorant of this intrigue, some Catholics, worthy of a
better religion, were ill used. M. Imbert, doctor in divinity, having taken upon him to say to the
people, who were going to the adoration of the cross on Good-Friday, in the year 1683, that the
Catholics worshipped Jesus Christ crucified, before the cross, and that they worshipped nothing
of what they saw: the vicar of the parish immediately cried out, “It is the wood, the wood.”
“No, no,” replied M. Imbert; “it is Jesus Christ and not the wood.” There was no occasion for
more to bring him into trouble. He was cited before the tribunal of the archbishop of Bourdeaux,
139 It is remarkable, that nine years passed before this book could obtain the Pope’s approbation. Clement X. refused
it positively. Maclaine’s translat. of Mosh. Ecc. Hist. vol. v. sect. 2, p. 1, c. 1, p. 126, Not.
u. Where references
are given to books from which the fullest account of the dispute may be obtained. Innocent X. licensed it in 1689.
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and when he thought to defend himself by the authority of Bossuet and his “Exposition;” they
urged, by way of reply, what was objected against this book, that it explained things away; but
that the sense of the church was contrary. After which he was suspended from all ecclesiastical
functions. The accused appealed, as from an abuse, to the parliament at Guiennes, and wrote to
M. Bossuet, imploring his protection against the archbishop, who threatened him with perpetual
imprisonment and fetters.
M. de Wille, priest and dean of Saint Mary de Malines, having explained the infallibility of
the Pope according to M. Bossuet’s ideas, underwent numberless persecutions. He pleased that
he had only followed this prelate’s authority, and that his “Exposition” did not require more from
an orthodox Catholic. But this did not prevent the university of Louvain from declaring that this
proposition, “The Pope is only the first bishop,” is scandalous and pernicious.
In the mean time the reformed were not forgetful of M. Bossuet. As soon as his advertisement
made its appearance, M. de la Bastide refuted it. M. Jurieu soon after wrote “A Preservation
against a Change of Religion,” in opposition to the Exposition of this bishop; but all these
works, as well as those which were written against his Treatise upon the Communion, in both
kinds, remained unanswered. This prelate, who saw himself roughly handled, waited prudently
for the booted apologists (the dragoons) who were soon to reduce his adversaries to silence.
When Mr. Wake published his “Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England,” M.
Bossuet denied that any Roman Catholic had written or wished to write against him, or that the
Sorbonne had refused their approbation of his book; and denied also having read the book of Father
Cresset, or even having heard it spoken of.
Mr. Wake showed in the defence, which he wrote of his “Exposition,” in 1686, with how little
sincerity M. Bossuet denied the most evident facts with regard to Father Cresset. One may
fairly say, that this prelate carried his audacity to a height which well deserved an epithet I dare
not give it. Can any one believe that M. Bossuet had never heard of a thick volume, written expressly
against, “Les Avis salutaires de la Sainte Vierge,” after the bishop of Tournay’s pastoral
letter, approving of this work, had made so many disputes in France? Can one imagine that M.
Bossuet could be ignorant that the opinions of this Jesuit were contrary to those contained in his
“Exposition;” after M. de la Bastide had objected this to him in his reply to his advertisement;
after J. Jurieu, the author “Des Reflexious generales sur son Exposition,” had made long extracts
in his “Preservatif,” from the book “De la v้ritable Devotion;” after M. Arnaud had turned Father
Cresset into ridicule, in his reply to the “Preservatif;” after M. Imbert, in his letter to this
bishop, had offered to refute the “Preservatif,” provided that they would engage he should not
suffer for it, and that they would allow him to speak his opinion freely; in short, after he himself
had answered many parts of the “Preservatif,” in his Treatise upon the Communion, under both
If you add to all this, Sir, what M. Bossuet dared to advance, in his pastoral letter, concerning
the dragoon persecution. “I am not surprised,” says he, “my dear brothers, that you have returned
in crowds, and with so much readiness, to the church. No one of you has suffered violence
either in his person or effects. Far from having suffered torments, you have not even heard
of them; and I receive the same accounts from other bishops.”
Compare, Sir, this notorious falsehood with the apology made by Bossuet for this same persecution
to one of his friends, signed with his own hand, and the original of which an author offered
at the same time to show, and you will be obliged to acknowledge that a man must push
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Catholicism very far before he can contradict himself so grossly. What an idea does such an instance
of dissimulation give us of the character of a person unfortunately too celebrated, and how
is it possible to esteem him?
But we need not spend more time in discovering the mystery of the Exposition. Bossuet
himself let out the secret unawares, confessing that he had weighed all his words, and had taken
pains to deceive the simple. You will easily perceive this, when you read the following sentence
in his advertisement. In the meantime they laboured at the Italian version with all the accuracy
which so important a matter required, in which a single word ill rendered might spoil the whole
Although one must be stupid indeed to look upon these pious frauds as sincere, and worthy
of a bishop; nevertheless, M. Bossuet was so much alarmed, lest it should be imagined that he
had a design to amend anything, or any abuse, or to labour in good earnest for the reformation of
his church, that he afterwards gave incontestable proofs of the hatred which he had always borne
the Protestants, and which he thought proper to conceal beneath an assumed mildness, till the
dragoon mission. It was in his Histoire des Variations, that he pulled off the mask, and by the
abuse and calumny with which he loaded the reformers, and all the Protestant churches, he
shewed what he really was, and gave an example of the manner in which he himself deserved to
be treated.
If this prelate advanced falsehoods, he might console himself that his approvers did not act
with more integrity than himself; for whoever has read the works of the Cardinals Capisucchi
and Bona, will perceive that they have taught a doctrine very different from that of the Exposition
Catholique, concerning the invocation of saints, and the worship of images.
Mr. Wake, in answer to an apologist of Bossuet’s, says, “Of the remarkable things which I
should scruple to conceal from you, I will only mention in this place two of the most important;
one concerning the division of Presbyterians and Episcopalians, and the other the death of Charles
First. With respect to the first of these articles, he confesses that several of those who had
been driven from the kingdom by the persecution of Mary, became prepossessed in favour of the
form of discipline which they saw at Geneva; but that this spirit of schism was fomented by the
Roman Catholics, who mingled amongst them, pretending to be of their number; and in support
of this information he refers his readers to . . . . . .
It was in 1568, that the Puritans began to make a noise, and their principal chiefs were concealed
papists, as appeared from a letter which fell from the pocket of Heath. Mr. Wake refers to
Archbishop Bamhall, in a letter140 of his to Archbishop Usher.
The Roman Catholics had colleges in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain, where they educated
young men in the sciences, and mechanic arts, and instructed them twice a week, to dispute
for and against the Presbyterians, Independents, and Anabaptists; after which they sent them to
England to act the part they were best fitted for. A Jesuit of St. Omer, (Fox Firenbrand,) confessed
that there had been fathers belonging to that society concealed for more than twenty years
amongst the Quakers.
140 The letter, dated July 20th, 1654, but from what place is not mentioned, (probably Paris,) from Bramhall, then
Bishop of Derry, to Archbishop Usher, is printed at the end of Parr’s Life of Usher, fol. Lond. 1686. No. 293, p.
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In 1625, (Mercure Francois,) the Jesuits published a book, entitled Mysteria Politica, with a
view of breaking the league, which several princes in Europe had formed against the house of
Austria. It contained eight letters, equally abusive of France, of England, the Venetians, the
Dutch, and the Swiss. In the last of these letters, the author, who counterfeited the Protestants,
has omitted nothing which he thought likely to give a contemptible idea of King James, and to
sow divisions between that prince, his son, and the princess Palatine, the lords of parliament, the
clergy of the church of England, and the puritan ministers.
Second. Concerning the civil war in England, and the melancholy death of Charles I. Mr.
Wake honestly acknowledges that the fear of seeing popery re-established made the people take
arms, who since the reformation, have had a great aversion for this superstitious worship; but he
maintains that the Roman Catholics were the first authors of the troubles. This accusation was
brought against them by M. du Moulin, Doctor in divinity, and Chaplain to Charles II., very soon
after the restoration of that prince to the throne; and not content with having brought forward
many proofs of it in his answer to the Philanax Anglicus, he offers to prove it judicially. Many
persons were still living who were ready to depose that they had seen a consultation of the cardinals
and doctors of the Sorbonne, in which it was declared, that it was allowable for the English
Catholics to drive the king on to his ruin, in order to try to change the religion with the government
of the county. The Roman Catholics, instead of accepting the challenge, made use of
Charles II.’s authority, to prevent Doctor du Moulin from pressing the decision of this trial. The
book, however, and the accusation remained unanswered. Seventeen years afterwards Du
Moulin renewed his challenge in a second edition of his work, and he died without any one’s
having ventured to refute him. These are the proofs which Mr. Wake produces.
First. At the beginning of the troubles, the king was aware that the fanatics were excited by
the Catholics. Their maxims he declares in his manifesto against the Scotch rebels are those of
the Jesuits; the sermons delivered by their preachers, are in the style of Bekan, whose very
phrases they have borrowed. The wretched arguments contained in their seditious libels, are
copied from Bellarmine and Suarez. The means which they employ to gain proselytes, are mere
fables and jesuitical inventions, forged tales, false prophecies, pretended inspirations, women’s
visions, &c.
Second. In the year 1640, a scheme was made known to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in
which the Pope, the Cardinal de Richlieu, and several English Roman Catholics were concerned,
but most of all the Jesuits, the object of which was to excite a sedition in the church, which was
soon after effected. This is an undoubted fact, fully detailed in the histories of those times, the
justificatory papers of which are found in the collection of . . . . . . . . . . . . vol. 3, p. 1310.
Third. Sir William Boswell141 was at that time, ambassador to Charles, at the Hague; this
conspiracy was made known to him there (Life of Usher,) and he was informed that the Romish
clergy seduced the English, with the hope of establishing the Presbyterian form of government
amongst them; that indulgences had been granted from Rome, and dispensations from the Pope,
with the approbation of the college of Cardinals, permitting the clergy to instruct their pupils
how to dispute against episcopacy and the English liturgy; and, that in the space of two years,
more than sixty priests or monks had gone over from France to England, in order to preach the
141 Sir William Boswell’s letter is in the same life of Usher, No. 17 of the additional letters from the Cotton MSS.,
dated Hague, Jan. 12
th, 1640, to the M. R. William Laud, late Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Scotch formulary, and to endeavour to destroy the bishops, whom they looked upon as the chief
support of the crown.
Fourth. Archbishop Bramhall, who was in France sometime after the death of the king, was
there informed how the affair had been contrived in 1646. Above 100 Romish ecclesiastics
crossed the sea, and having enrolled themselves in the parliamentary army, they engaged in a
correspondence with the Catholics who served under the king, for the sake of communicating to
them all that passed, which they did almost every day. The following year, having deliberated
amongst themselves whether for the advantage of their affairs, it would not be right to put the
king and the prince to death, they concluded in the affirmative. But some priests and regular
clergy were of the opinion, that it would be better to consult the universities, and amongst others,
that of the Sorbonne; which answered, that for the good of religion, and the interests of the
church, it was allowable to change the government, especially in an heretical kingdom, and that
so they might get rid of the king with a good conscience.
Fifth. Le Pere Salomonet in his history of the troubles of England, printed in France, with
the king’s permission, relates, that the parliament had in its service two companies of Roman
Catholic Walloons, and that after the battle of Edgehill, several Catholic priests were found
amongst the dead of their army.
If after these proofs, sir, you consider the principles of the two religions, and the practice of
those who profess them, you will have no difficulty in discovering the real authors of the death
of Charles I. The reformed send no pastors to Vienna, to Italy, or Spain, to excite seditions there,
or to beset the princes, and induce them to violate the privileges of their subjects. Both the doctrines
and discipline of these people, alike incline them to a quiet life. All their ministers may
marry, and as this state of life is most suited to grave and sedate characters, few of them remain
unmarried. Those who are engaged in ties so binding, seldom think of making disturbances, or
of rambling abroad; where those who serve the Roman Catholic church, are free from all engagements
of that nature, except with a mistress, which they may break through when they
please, and which they seldom fail to do when preferment presents itself, or their superiors call
them elsewhere.
Besides the conspiracies of the Roman Catholics against Elizabeth and King James, (without
mentioning Henry IV., and so many other princes,) increase the preconceived suspicions, that the
priests and monks were the first authors of the overthrow of Charles I. Would they scruple to do
any thing against a king who loved them not, and who died in the firm profession of the Protestant
faith; since we have seen them sacrifice the repose and reputation of his two sons, the last of
whom, James II., professed himself of their communion, when he came to the throne. After such
an important step, it seems that the church of Rome had reason to be satisfied, and she ought to
have thought of nothing but to make her past cruelties forgotten, by a more moderate and gentle
conduct. You know, sir, how far the Jesuits instigate this too easy prince; and his retractations
are undoubted proofs of the infractions to which they excited him.
The Protestants accuse the Roman Catholic church of idolatry, and of having recourse to
other Saviours than Jesus Christ. The palliating party, (amongst whom was Bossuet,) have exclaimed
against this as an atrocious calumny, and have insisted that a religious adoration ought to
be performed to God only, and that we are saved by the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Thereupon
what have the reformed done? They have proved that they do invoke the saints; that they do
pray to them as well as to the cross, to images, and to relics, a worship in all respects similar to
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that by which the pagans reverenced their heroes, their inferior gods, their statues, and their
idols. That they think divine justice may be appeased by satisfactions, indulgences, vows, and
pilgrimages. That according to them, the merit of these actions, and of those of their saints,
joined to the merits of Jesus Christ, procure the reconciliation of sinners with God. They have
proved to them that these are the doctrines taught by their theologians, their popes, and their
councils, not only in the large volumes which are written for the learned, but also in their catechisms,
their hours, and other books of devotion, intended for the use of the people. They have
added, that this was not the practice of some of the laity only, and of a few ignorant and superstitious
monks, but of all the Roman Catholic church, in its rituals, its breviaries, it missals, and
other public offices; and that she has never condemned any one of those who have carried superstition
to the excess which the palliating party have pretended to blame. But very far from having
had a design to reform these abuses, she has persecuted all those who were suspected of having
a design to abolish them, as the Jansenists, and the Quietists, though at heart these were cowardly
or insincere persons.
Mr. Wake observes what Daille allows, that the Roman Catholics believe all the fundamental
points taught by the reformed.
M. Bossuet has been wrong and very wrong, in pretending to justify his church, and to prove
its purity, since this confession only serves to fix the state of the question between the two parties;
and that the object now is not to examine whether the fundamental doctrines of the Protestants
are true, since they are received by both sides; but to ascertain whether what the Roman
Catholics teach in addition, are articles necessary to salvation, as they pretend them to be, or
whether that addition does not overthrow those truths, which by both parties are held as divine,
and ought to be rejected for that reason conformably to the practice of the reformed.
I will not repeat to you, sir, all the good and excellent things which Mr. Wake has said upon
the endeavour of the church of Rome, (which has always sought to set the reformed at variance
with each other,) to persuade those who are ill informed upon the subject, that the church of England
agrees with her in many more points than the other Protestant churches.
First. The invocation of saints, says Mr. Wake, in the name of his church, is an extravagant
practice wantonly invented, and so far from being founded upon Scripture, is contrary to it in
many senses. It is true, that in conformity with a custom, as innocent as it is ancient, we make
mention at the holy table of saints departed in the communion of the church, thanking God for
the good he has done them, and praying him to give us grace to follow their example; but this
respect which we bear to their memory does not prevent us from condemning a practice which
M. Bossuet seems to have omitted, and which shocks us extremely, which is, that the Roman
Catholics recommend to God the offering of the Eucharist, through the merits of the saints whose
relics lie under the altar, as if Jesus Christ whom they pretend to offer in sacrifice needed the
recommendation of St. Matilda, or St. Potentiana, to become acceptable to his father.
Second. The church of England does not hold confirmation to be a sacrament, nor that the
use of the Chrism,
although of great antiquity, is of apostolic institution; for which reason she
does not use it, but as the laying on of hands is a very ancient custom, derived from the Apostles,
the English have preserved it, and according to their discipline, the bishops alone have the right
of administering it. The officiating prelate addresses a prayer to God, to beg that he will
strengthen with his Holy Spirit the person on whom he lays his hands; that he will defend him
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against temptations; and that he will give him grace to fulfil the conditions of his baptism; all of
which, he for whom the officiating bishop prays, ratifies and confirms by his own promise.
Third. Neither are orders a sacrament, according to the English church, because they are not
common to all christians; but this church holds that nobody ought to intrude into the functions of
the ministry, without ordination, and it belongs to the bishop only to give it. She admits of distinction
in orders, though she has none below the rank of deacon, because Scripture mentions no
others; she, nevertheless, allows they are ancient.
Fourth. Concerning the question whether any one can secure his salvation in the Romish
church. The English believe, that as this church maintains all the fundamental doctrines of christianity,
those who live within her pale, with a disposition to gain instruction, to reject all pernicious
errors, and to make profession of all the salutary truths which they discover, may be saved
by the grace of God, faith in Jesus Christ, and a general repentance, which places their errors in
the number of their unknown sins: but that this charitable concession may not be abused, the expositor
(Wake) adds the following restrictions.
First. That it is more difficult to be saved in the communion of this church since the reformation
than before, because its errors were neither so well known, nor so solidly refuted, which
rendered ignorance more invincible and more excusable.
Second. That those who live among Protestants, and in a country where they have the opportunity
of learning and making public profession of the truth, are more to be condemned than the
others; and,
Third. That the priests are more so than the laity.
In a word, the Protestants hope that good people in the church of Rome may be saved, but
they have no certainty that they ought to be; while on the contrary, they are assured of the salvation
of those who live in a christian manner in their communion. They do not know whether
God will condemn the Roman Catholics for the errors which they have professed, mistaking
them for truths; but they are certain that those, who being convinced of the superstitions of the
religion of the Pope forsake the Protestants through motives of interest or ambition, and defend
the tyrannical dogmas and idolatrous worship of Rome against their conscience, fall into a crime
which does not deserve pardon.
With respect to idolatry, the homilies of the church of England, as well as all the English
doctors who lived under Edward VI. and Elizabeth, accuse the Romish church of it.
The Catholics object to her; that the learned men of this kingdom changed their opinion under
James I., and began to assert that the Roman Catholic church was not idolatrous, but those
gentlemen were so unfortunate in their proofs, that of six authors whom they quote, Archbishop
Laud, Drs. Jackson, Field, Heylin, Hammond, and Thorndike, there is not a single one who has
not said the contrary.
The Presbyterians would not say Anathema to St. Ignatius, to St. Clement, to St. Polycarp, to
St. Ireneus, to St. Cyprian, and to all the church of the second, the third, and a good part of the
first century. At the end of this defence of Mr. Wake’s are several curious documents.
First. A parallel between the old and new popery.
Secondly. An extract from the sentiments of Father Cresset, and of Cardinal Bona, upon devotion
to the Virgin Mary.
Thirdly. The letter of M. Imbert to Bossuet.
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Fourthly. The letter of St. Chrysostom to Cๆsarius, with the preface of M. Bigot, which was
suppressed at Paris, in 1680; and a dissertation of Mr. Wake’s upon Applinarius.
You may gather from all the circumstances which I have related concerning M. Bossuet,
what confidence we may place in his good faith. What would this be had I represented him to
you as the enemy of Fenelon, persecuting him, seeking his ruin, only from a principle of low
jealousy, and in order to gratify an ambition which could not bear a rival. But I have said
enough about his man, who has obtained more celebrity than he has deserved.
I am, &c.
Useful Information to the electronic edition of the
Ancient History of the Valdenses
I have retained all original spellings.
I did omit line-by-line quotation marks referencing scripture passages and have used quotation
marks only at the beginning and end of the passage.
Piedmont is often spelled Piemont.
Words ending in ize will be found as ise. Any other time you might suspect a word to be spelled
with a “z”, try using an “s”.
One will find the spelling for negotiations as negociations. And there are other such older spellings.
Words ending will a double “ll” will be found with one “l”.
As an illustration, we spell the word Saviour as Savior; honour as honor; favourite as favorite,
etc. The “ou” combination is retained throughout the book. As you search for words and
phrases, please keep that in mind.
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1 Patarines, so called from Pataria, a place near Milan, where those Vaudois who took part with the Bishop of Milan against the Roman Pontiff, Nicholas II., held communion together. See the Sermon of Archbishop Wake, preached for the relief of the Vaudois, A.D. 1669, at St. James’s Westminster.

2 Collins’ Ode

3 She died in 1825

4 It is hoped that these remarks on Mr. Gilly’s excellent work on the Vaudois will be pardoned, as coming from one who has the highest opinion of the author, and is fully aware of the gratitude due to him from the Vaudois for his great exertions in their behalf.

5 It is possible this objection may have arisen from a difference in words only. The first ecclesiastical superintendants mentioned both as contemporaries or successors to the Apostles, were called overseers. – See Haldane’s Evidence and Authority of the Christian Religion. The late Mons. Peyran was much attached to the episcopal church government, and may, in his eagerness, have confused the state of the Vaudois when forming part of the Latin church, and consequently being under episcopal government, with their state after the time of Claude, Bishop of Turin, as separatists from the Roman Catholic Church, or rather recusants to its corruptions.

6 The churches of Geneva and Lausanne cannot properly be identified, as if holding the same opinions, the later having not long since formally protested against the tenets of the former, as leaning strongly to Socinianism.

7 The payment has been resumed since this letter was written.

8 Since the above was written, a collection has been made for the hospital, and the money placed in the British Funds, the interest being remitted to the moderator.

9 The union with the Lutheran Church

10 This Memorial was signed by all the ministers of the German Vaudois church.

11 Vide Extract from the Register of Sch๖nberg.

12 The College of Propaganda fide, in Rome, is synonimous with the Italian Inquisition.

13 John, chap. vi. ver. 67.

14 The author here states his obligations to Mons. Certon of Rotterdam, pastor of the reformed church, and to some others, from whom he had received manuscripts. He then gives some other particulars, not interesting to the general reader, and proceeds as above. – T.

15 The Lollard tower in London takes its name from one of the disciples of Lollard, who in the age of intolerance was confined there.

16 All those villages were once Vaudois.

17 The translator saw no wheeled carriage in this valley, and doubts if one of any description could now be used there.

18 He writes at Utrecht.

19 Many hundreds went to Holland.

20 Vide population in 1820, about 22,000

21 Beza, the editor of the famous bible of Geneva, and friend of Milton.

22 Portraites des hommes illustres, p. 985.

23 Traite touchant la Papesse Jeanne, p. 8.

24 The Vaudois language seems as ancient at least as the Proven็al, and very similar: it would be interesting to trace their origins and distinctions. Vide French work on the Proven็al poets and troubadours, and Sismondis languages du midi de l’Europe.

25 Ennemio murir, another reading.

26 The Vaudois’ state seal bears a candle, with rays, surrounded by clouds; motto, Lux in Tenebris. – T.

27 The noble Lei็on, quoted above; vide extract at the end of Bresse.

28 St. Augustine relates, that Constantine sent a band of troops, after his victory over Maxentius, to destroy the statue of Jupiter Peninus, in the temple of Mont S. Bernard, (now the site of the modern convent,) and gave them his golden thunderbolt as a reward. – T.

29 Established b Pope Adrian I.; vide Storia dei Pontefeci.

30 Vide Histoire de Charlemagne, by

31 It should here be remarked, that the Vaudois recognize for orthodox the decisions of the four first great councils of the Church, Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedone, the last of which was held in 451; and that they recommended the reading of the fathers of the first five centuries.

32 Piemont making then part of France, it did not pass under the sway of the house of Savoy till the twelfth century.

33 Genebrand Chronic, Liv. 3.

34  The title of the Bishop’s work, of which fragments are cited by Leger, is Apologeticum rescriptum Claudii Episcopi adversus Theodemirum Abbatem. And after a careful examination of these fragments, and some of the Vaudois MSS. I am inclined to think that the latter are no more than a development of the former; for there is the same connection of ideas, and the arguments are placed in the same order; so that the writings of Claude seem to have been the text on which the Vaudois amplified, which is natural, as the Bishop addressed men of education and learning, and had not occasion to use so many arguments and explanations as the Vaudois writers had, who wrote for the illiterate and the multitude. – Note by Peyran.

35 He also wrote Memorie Historiche, Turin, 1645.

36 Rorenco says in another place, that it is impossible to say with certainty at what period this sect took root in the valleys. – p. 60 of Nar. Del Introd.

37 His disciples after his death, published a book, declarative of his reasons for opposing the Roman Catholic Church; a copy of which, in ancient Gothic characters, is extant in the library of Cambridge.

38 From Cathari, white, pure.

39 The Vaudois of these valleys formed one body with those of Luzerne, Perouse, and St. Martin.

40 The expressions are sempre, al solito, da equi tempo, immemoriale, conforme all’ antico solito, conforme a loro antich้ franchizie. The collection is printed at Turin, 1678.

41 Portraits des hommes illustres.

42 Historia Caroli Quinti Imp. lib. xvi. p. 534.

43 Relatione al consiglio de Prop. Fid. Turin, 1636.

44 Bibliotheque des P่res, de Gretserus Trait้ contra les Vaud.

45 Epistle of St. James, chap. i. ver. 22.

46 Still the case in the valleys in 1825.

47 Annales de Bourgogne, par Guillaume Paradin, Lyons, 1566.

48 Qui vivent dans Poisivet้, et donnent parla un exemple pernicieux. – Perhaps this is translated in too favourable a sense.

49 Note. – Having had the opinion of my friends, the commissioners of the Walloon Synod, upon my MS. and this having been thought too bright a picture of the Vaudois morals by one of those gentlemen who had never visited the valleys, I thus replied to one of them: – “I am not surprised that my picture of the manners of my countrymen should appear to you too highly coloured. But if you had lived some years among these excellent people, as I have done, and then in a country where the corruption of manners is as great as it is here, and in the towns in Switzerland, you would not think so. For, although we may be degenerated from the purity of our ancestors, I protest to you, that it is only those parishes immediately adjoining to Piemont which have incurred this reproach. In all the rest, their kindness of heart, frankness, benevolence, and zeal for religion, would enchant you. I have more than once visited all the parishes, and have resided in most of them, being acquainted with a great many of their inhabitants; and, by all this experience, I am confirmed in the belief that there does not exist, in our days, a people in morals so pure, life so irreproachable, and piety so exemplary, as the Vaudois. (The author’s sister is still living in the valleys, and is the wife of one of the most exemplary pastors. –T )

50 Barbe, the ancient word for pastor.

51 Gilles and Gros, two retired pastors, only remained.

52 Who acts as churchwarden. – T.

53 Literally parliaments.

54 An ancient Vaudois manuscript, of 1587, asserts that 140 barbes once assisted at a Synod in the valley of Laus, in the Pragelas.

55 L’intendant de la province envoye de la part du government.

56 This perfect liberty of conscience is a natural result from the Vaudois maxims, before stated, and proves them equally devoid of superstition and fanaticism. – Note by Bresse.

57 Vid. Anecdote of the elder Moundon of S. Jean.

58 The Catholics used the word Barbets, as a term of reproach for the Vaudois.

59 Vide Note at the end of this chapter.

60 Catalog. test. veritat. cap. 15.

61 It is much to be regretted that an attempt to put these schools upon the Lancaster system, has been rendered abortive. After the revolt in Piemont, in 1820 though no Vaudois was engaged in it, the government (attributing this event to the increase of knowledge) absolutely forbad this rapid mode of instruction.

62 Latin, Hebrew, Greek, French, and Italian.

63 ฃ40, a year at least.

64 Vide Llorente istoria della Inquisition passim; it is translated; the statement which this learned Spaniard gives, who was himself once a chief officer of the holy office, and has been since entrusted with all its registers, perfectly bears out the sketch given by Bresse. – T.

65 Foreigner’s Town. – T.

66 The barbe Gilles, who visited them, affirms this.

67 Under Pope Clement the Seventh.

68 A title frequently used by the Popes is “servant of servants.”

69 Bearing date, Rome, 1477.

70 Articulo mortis.

71 The MS. of this bull is in the library at Cambridge.

72 Temple is the word always used by the Vaudois for church.

73 One Geimet was absolutely put to death by the wounds inflicted by quantities of the scarabeus stercorarius, confined under a vessel placed on his stomach.

74 Cited in the second page of the original collection.

75 He wrote a History of the Vaudois.

76 A copy of this letter is to be found in Leger.

77 In 1825, a Catholic priest, educated at the episcopal college of Lugano, asked his Protestant guest if he had been baptised. – That guest was the Translator.

78 Printed at Geneva, 1644.

79 One named De Petit Bourg.

80 This seems to have been necessary every new reign, these confirmations being personal acts of the sovereign. – T.

81 Which excited the compassionate muse of Milton. – T.

82 Behind the mountains in their rear was a Catholic country.

83 The translator has spared the feelings of the reader by omitting many of the horrors mentioned by Bresse.

84 Leger, chap. ix. second part.

85 Bresse here gives the names of those who most distinguished themselves.

88 Three years after the first mission of Morland, consequently a large sum had been paid out of the collection, for present use. Of this large sum, it has been asserted, that the government of Geneva possessed themselves of a great part, to repair their fortifications. – T.

89 Jones says, 38,241l. 1s. 6d. – T.